Let me just start off by saying that I thought, even though I saw it was only Part 1 of the story, that Tough Justice: Exposed was going to be a complete novella, and in actuality, it really only read like a 80 or so page prologue. It was an introduction to the characters and conflicts, but very little else, and it suffered for it. More than once I made a note to myself that the author was either rushing things or telling us things instead of showing them. I think there’s probably a lot of blame to lay at the format’s feet for those weaknesses – although I can’t be sure because I don’t think I’ve read anything else by this author. The story is about a Special Agent with the FBI, just coming out of her time as a protected witness, following a long undercover op with a particularly nasty crime family. But things go haywire right from the start of her new job, dragging her previous life – and the case she thought would be behind her forever – right back into her present. It’s a compelling, if not super unique story-line, and the fact that the series is written by four different authors shows that they’re trying to put their own spin on it. I’ll probably catch the rest of the series eventually, but this didn’t make me want to rush them to the top of my TBR-Mountain, unfortunately.
Also, while I got my copy free from Netgalley, Amazon also has the Kindle version available for free as of this posting, so if you’re interested, you can scoop it up too. Warning, however, that none of the sequels are free – they’re all listed from $.99 to $2.99.
Steven Loveridge’s Palace Library series (The Palace Library & Guardians of the Scroll) were two other books that should have been exactly my type of book – middle grade fantasy fiction, revolving around magical books and literally priceless libraries. But everything about them either felt too forced or too awkward (or both) to me – even in a land where there’s supposed to be magic, a character will still say things like “Harry was sure he heard the bird say, ‘Thank you.’ But he put the thought aside because, of course, birds don’t speak.” This is a child who has just witnessed a man’s eyes look as if they were burning with fire, who’s being chased by assassins unknown, with full out dragons on their team, but the talking bird is a bridge too far? The prose is often uneven – which is a phrase that hurts me to type, it sounds so pretentious, but how else to describe how things sound overly simplified in one chapter and excessively complex in the next? And the characters never really grabbed my attention or interest, even though there was nothing really wrong with them. It’s just a genre that’s populated with so many compelling characters, that these guys did very little to make it worth my while to keep reading.
All three of these books were provided to my, free of charge, for Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review (which they are probably regretting right about now).