Book Review: Fatal Frost (Defenders of Justice #1)

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Following in her absentee father’s footsteps in a law enforcement career, U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan has just recovered from being shot in the line of duty. And, unbeknownst to her, her father’s recent reappearance in her life has put her in the sights of St. Louis’s most powerful gang. Her boss assigns Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark St. Laurent-Mercy’s ex-boyfriend- to get her out of town until her safety can be guaranteed.

Unaware of the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark, it isn’t until a freak ice storm strands them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy to put them in great danger. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive-if help is even coming at all?

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl is a novel about cops and U.S. marshals, along with gangs, drugs, and criminals. It takes place in St. Louis where cartels and criminal activity are running wild. When I first read the premise of this book, I was interested, but not expecting much, to be honest.

The first chapter starts out by introducing us to the overall atmosphere of the city.

The seemingly deserted street was lined with empty houses, their windows as blank and vacant as the eyes of those who had become casualties in St. Louis’s war on heroin. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan gazed out the window of the black van as cold tendrils of rain slid down the darkened glass next to her, reminding her of tears. It was as if the tortured city of St. Louis wept because of the treacherous drug that had invaded her. The influx of cheap heroin had turned neighborhoods into war zones. The gangs that claimed ownership over their communities were killing men, women, and children for the right to rule. Crime was out of control, and many good people were trapped in their homes, praying they or their loved ones wouldn’t be the next victims of the violence that raged around them.

One particularly interesting thing about this novel was that it did not just follow Mercy’s point of view. We also saw snippets from the gang members, cartel leaders, and other detectives and marshals. It was a really intriguing way to let the reader see the thoughts of the lesser characters.

Characters

Our main character is a U.S. Marshal named Mercy Brennan. She is strong-willed and stubborn with a tendency to keep people at arm’s length, as we see in her relationship with Mark. Mercy is extremely prepared and organized, not to mention always armed with a back-up plan, which is just the thing that ends up saving her life, as well as the lives of every else involved. We get to see her transition from a young woman who is scared to let anyone get too close to an emotionally vulnerable person that isn’t afraid to cry or get a dog. Throughout the story, I was rooting for Mercy and I wanted her to find her own piece of happiness.

Another major character is Lieutenant Tally Williams. Tally and Mercy have been friends since they were kids and though Tally is married with his own children, the two are still as tight as ever. In fact, they’re neighbors. I really liked Tally. His character was warm and kind and just a great guy in general. I also adored his wife Annie. I wish we could have been introduced to his kids and seen his family more, but his part in the story worked very well. He was a very honest and sincere person and it was absolutely precious to see how much he cared for Mercy.

He was angry with himself for not seeing through his charade. Now Mark and Mercy were in terrible danger. He loved Mercy as if she were his own sister. Knowing she was in trouble and that he had no way to help her grieved him to the very center of his soul.

Now for the love interest. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark St. Laurent. Aka Mercy’s ex-boyfriend. Talk about awkward an awkward situation… Anyway, I absolutely loved the dynamic between Mark and Mercy. I thought it was a really great balance of tension and familiarity between the two and I enjoyed how we got to see the reasons behind their break-up. Though I did keep screaming, “Stop being idiots and just make out already!” And, lo and behold, they did…after a few chapters of confessions, gun fights, mortal danger, and terror. It may have taken awhile, but the point is, they did it. I loved the little moments of their relationship from the past that was interwoven in the current story.

Mark pulled Mercy’s cellphone from her purse. “What’s your code?”

Marcy rattled off the numbers before realizing what she’d done. She searched Mark’s face, but he didn’t seem to notice anything unusual. She breathed a sigh of relief. She was still using the date he’d first told her he loved her. She’d meant to change it many times but just hadn’t gotten around to it. A voice inside her whispered Liar! She ignored it and steeled herself to concentrate on the situation at hand. 

As for the minor characters, I thought we got to see some nice background for even the smaller characters, like some of the gang members and crooked agents. It was interesting to see that a lot of the minor characters were connected in ways you couldn’t even begin to expect. While I guessed who the mole was pretty early, it was still a great read and I was surprised a few times.

Plot

I truly did enjoy this novel. However, I would have enjoyed it a lot more without the religious aspect thrown in. Now, I have read my fair share of novels with a Christian component and it usually doesn’t bother me. In this particular book though, it felt out of place. I wasn’t expecting it and it threw me for a loop at first. It was hard to equate religion with the situation and the characters. My mind just sort of skimmed over everything that had to do with religion because it seemed to take away from the story. I felt like it was a distraction and I think the book would have moved along much more smoothly without it. While it was important to understand that Mercy went through an enormous transition, it wasn’t necessary to show this through religious faith and church. We could see it in the little things, like Mark and Pippin and her demeanor.

Conclusion

This book was wonderful. I am giving it four out of five stars because of a few small things. First, I wish that we had more characterization of the minor and some of the major characters. We got to delve into their psyches a little bit, but I wanted more. I wanted a more concrete definition of the things that made them tick. Second, the religion aspect seemed foreign with the plot line. If it had been introduced earlier in a more subtle way, I feel like it could have worked, but as it was written, it felt forced. Because of the relationships and plot, however, I would definitely recommend this book.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

 

 

Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox (The Jenna Fox Chronicles #1)

Summary:

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson’s vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson is not a book that you can put into a box. It is a myriad of genres and a myriad of topics thrown into one novel. To be perfectly honest, this book was not one of my favorites. It did not deliver what was promised in the very intriguing synopsis. I have read a great deal of books that deal with amnesia in some way, but never one that took on a sci-fi perspective so I was excited to dive into this book. To be fair, the opening was very gripping and in general, the novel was well-written.

We start out with our narrator showing us what she knows right off the bat.

I used to be someone.

Someone named Jenna Fox.

That’s what they tell me. But I am more than a name. More than they tell me. More than the facts and statistics they fill me with. More than the video clips they make me watch.

More. But I’m not sure what.

I really liked Jenna’s voice from the very beginning. She was honest and blunt and you could feel the detachment coming from her as she acknowledged that she really didn’t understand herself. She was plain in the best way possible. Having a distinct lack of memories left her as sort of a blank slate and I really liked how she chose to fill it in.

Characters

To expand on the above point, Jenna was the kind of character you rooted for from the start. I wanted her to succeed and I wanted her to figure everything out. She had this quality about her that made you want to hug her and help her find everything that she was looking for. She was disjointed and completely realistic in terms of her narration. Jenna Fox woke up without any memory of who she had been before the accident. She didn’t even remember that there was an accident. She relied on what her parents told her and what she could pull from the pieces of memories that started coming back. She questions things that she doesn’t understand and it makes you feel for her.

A Question I Will Never Ask Mother:

 

I may not remember everything, but I know there should be these things.

Something.

I know when someone is sick that people check on her.

What kind of person was Jenna Fox that she didn’t have any friends?

Was she someone I even want to remember?

Everyone should have at least one friend.

Jenna refers to her parents as “Father” and “Mother” and I really like how it showed the audience how truly detached Jenna felt from her everything around her, including her family. She calls her grandmother Lily instead of by a term of familial endearment.

Jenna’s parents were rather bland and not in a good way. I couldn’t feel anything for them because they never popped for me. It was like they were just strangers to me. When Jenna figures out what they did, their explanation didn’t redeem them in my eyes in the slightest. They didn’t feel like a family to me, though the father was more endearing than the mother.

Lily, the grandmother, is the only member of the family that really stood out to me. I enjoyed her honesty and her reactions to the things that were going on around her. She was fresh and I liked it.

“I don’t hate you, Jenna,” she finally says. “I simply don’t have room for you.” Harsh words, but her voice is tender and the contradiction is a stony reminder that I am missing something vital. I know the old Jenna Fox would have understood. But the timbre of Lily’s voice calms me just the same. I nod, like I understand.

As for other characters, I felt most of them were unnecessary. I enjoyed Bender and I enjoyed Ethan. It felt like Dane was completely pointless. He had half a story line. He’s just this jerk that shows up once or twice with no backstory or explanation for his behavior. It was out of the blue and paused the story for no reason. Allys was interesting to a point and then she just became annoying and seemed to have no motivation. For all of the other minor characters, it felt like half their characterization was missing. They were just kind of there.

Plot

The plot itself could have been a lot better. As I stated before, the premise was extremely interesting to me, which is one of the reasons I was so disappointed. Every plot twist was easy to see coming and it felt like the story was mainly Jenna thinking to herself about what she was and where she belonged. Her narration was flawless for the most part, but I wanted more action. I wanted more characterization and more plot.

The ending absolutely pissed me off because of how rushed it was. It was like we finally get to a conflict that has the potential to cause major panic and it was completely skipped over. The conflict is introduced and boom! The conflict is suddenly resolved and we’re looking at things over a hundred years later and everything is just dandy. It was ridiculous and I hated it. When I first read it, I thought I’d accidentally skipped a few chapters. This was not the case.

Conclusion

I have to give this book 3 stars because Jenna’s narration was beautiful, as well as Lily and Ethan’s characterization. However, everything else fell flat. The minor characters were boring and the plot itself was laughable at parts. There was really no conflict except for Dane’s random appearances and Jenna’s existence. However, neither of these conflicts were given the chance to really blossom and lead to character development and a climactic turning point. Bottom line is this book was extremely disappointing. There were some high points, but in the end, too many things were missing to make this an enjoyable read. Sadly, I would not recommend this novel.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm