Three to get deadly (Janet Evanovich) Stephanie Plum 3

(This post was sitting in my Draft queue for months. I have no idea why I stopped mid-sentence. Completed now!)

Book three of the main storyline of Stephanie Plum, New Jersey’s accident-prone bounty hunter not-quite-extraordinaire, continues. The first novel was reviewed here, the second was reviewed in this post.

The standard author stuff: Janet Evanovich is an American crime writer. Wikipedia, personal page, and Amazon. She started off as a romance writer under a pseudonym, but came to fame when she moved to crime, winning several awards.

Story background: some recurring characters: Stephanie Plum, is a fugitive apprehension agent, more excitingly known as a bounty hunter. Joe Morelli, sex fiend, Trenton cop, Plum’s not-quite-boyfriend, and general good-guy. Ranger, whatever the male equivalent of a Mary-Sue is. Lula, bounty-hunting filing clerk. Connie, office manager, and generally described as a few inches shorter than Stephanie, a few cup sizes larger, and all Italian woman. Plum is on the wrong side of community opinion, as she has the unenviable task of tracking down Mo Bedemier, more affectionately known as Uncle Mo, a neighbourhood fixture. He has quietly sold candy and ice cream to generations of children, but has gone missing after failing to show up for court on a weapons charge. She is abused and reviled for daring to sully his reputation by chasing him down. However, the more that Stephanie investigates, the more fishy Mo’s angelic reputation seems.

It’s more of the same. Honestly, it is. And like I’ve said before, and will probably say another dozen times, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nothing really stands out in the book. (If you check the previous post, you may note that I’ve been a bit busy recently!) It was fun, it was light, it was easy to dip in-and-out of.

I think this was the one that Ranger insisted that Stephanie go jogging with him if they’re going to work together. Now, this is definitely a vector for blogging discussion! I’ve been kinda-vaguely-but-not-really getting into the running thing over the past nine months. I ran the City2Surf in August last year. It’s 14 point something kilometres from the centre of Sydney out to the beach at Bondi. I did reasonably well on not a massive amount of training. I never feel like I’m particularly “good” at running, but there are moments where it almost feels like I have a rhythm going, and that I’m not going to die, and maybe this is a thing that I could do more often, better, for fitness and enjoyment. And then reality sets in, and I realise that I’m a sweaty, spluttering, staggering mess!

I managed to hit up Park Run during Winter. (There are international versions too, it’s definitely not just an Australian thing.) Five kilometres, community-run, it’s a good thing.

Anyhow. The book. It’s alright. Evanovich is finding her rhythm, the characters are developing, the story is still grounded in something approximating reality (the later stories veer a little towards slapstick in places).

Obligatory Amazon Links

Three to get deadly isn’t available on Kindle, but there is a box-set of the first three Stephanie Plum novels here: Plum Boxed Set 1, Books 1-3 (One for the Money / Two for the Dough / Three to Get Deadly) (Stephanie Plum Novels).

Ice Cold–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 8)

Ice Cold (or The Killing Place) by Tess Gerritsen is book eight in the Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles Season 2 DVDs and on Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 3 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 5 on Amazon Play. Enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author writing romantic suspense and medical thrillers, as well as the Rizzoli & Isles series. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, The Mephisto Club, and The Keepsake.

Again, I wasn’t very good at keeping notes for this one, which is something of a shame, as this book was a reasonable departure style-wise from the previous few novels. Dr Maura Isles, upset at the difficulties of having an illicit love affair with a catholic priest, takes up an offer of an impromptu ski trip after a medical conference with an old school friend, his daughter, as well as another couple. Unsurprisingly, things go quite wrong, with the car getting stuck in a snowstorm. They seek shelter at Kingdom Come, a religious community (a cult) that appears to have been very recently, very suddenly, abandoned.

Further disasters occur, with medical emergencies, one of their number trying to ski out for help, the inevitable “are we truly alone?” fears in this abandoned community, plus determining the truth behind the abandonment.

Up to this point, Detective Jane Rizzoli has nothing to do. This changes with news reaching Boston that the car has been found off the side of a cliff, with the burnt remains of Isles and her companions inside. Needless to say, this is just a red herring, but the local law enforcement and community, as well as the powerful religious leader (cult!) are determined to prevent the questions.

Stylistically, it’s a shake-up from the past few books, which is a point in its favour. It’s difficult to separate reviewing the book on its own merits from reviewing the book as part of the ongoing series. Each novel is sufficiently self-contained that a reader can pick up one at random and get the story and the backgrounds of the characters.

The Keepsake–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 7)

The Keepsake (or Keeping the Dead, depending on which region you’re in) by Tess Gerritsen is book seven of her Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles Season 2 DVDs and on Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 3 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 5 on Amazon Play. Enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author writing romantic suspense and medical thrillers, as well as the Rizzoli & Isles series. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, and The Mephisto Club.

I have only moments previous put down my Kindle to write these notes, yet I’m struggling to form sentences to describe the book.

It feels awful to say, but it is kind of more of the same. It’s not bad, but nothing outstanding. Dr Maura Isles disappears from the last fifteen of the narrative. Detective Jane Rizzoli is kept in the background until needed to advance the plot. Isles’ affair with the catholic pries Fr Brophy advances to its inevitable doom. Detective Barry Frost, who is yet to develop as a character suffers marital troubles, which comes across as some clumsy social commentary from the author. Or possibly just a weak effort regarding some character development. The problem is the story never returns to this particular subplot!

We open with a media circus surrounding a CT scan of an Egyptian mummy. Dr Isles is there only as an observer. She is drawn in more significantly when the scan shows the mummy is a murder victim mummified! The archaeologist Jennifer last-name-unimportant, appears to be the target of a deranged personality, as a shrunken head, followed by a peat bog body appear; all creative disposals of murder victims.

Aside: I studied the poetry of Seamus Heaney at school. He wrote on many subjects, of course, but is well-known for his compositions on peat bog bodies of Ireland. There you go.

The book is fine. Honestly. It’s solid detective fiction, I’m just being finicky and picky. (So unusual, that!)

The Mephisto Club–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 6)

The Mephisto Club is book six of the Rizzoli & Isles series of books by Tess Gerritsen.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles Season 2 DVDs and on Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 3 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 5 on Amazon Play. Enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author writing romantic suspense and medical thrillers, as well as the Rizzoli & Isles series. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, and Vanish.

Okay, again I was a little slack and didn’t take good notes for this one. We are back in Boston with homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr Maura Isles. And unfortunately, the painful subplot involving Isles and the catholic priest Fr Brophy has been returned to, and there is only so much lusting that can be written about before the author has to take things to the next logical step. So lusting has turned into a surreptitious affair and hiding from the congregation. Good grief.

A series of disturbing murders, that’s far more palatable! There are overtones of satanism, and the occult, and better still, weird symbols (oh Dan Brown, the damage that you caused!), all of which draw in a mysterious sleuthing society who also hunt demons. (Jinkies!)

Re-reading the plot summary I wrote above, it sounds a whole lot worse than it actually is. The plot is clunky, and the character development is more stilted than the last few novels, but it is still actually not bad.

It’s readable, it’s enjoyable. There are worse books out there.

Oh! Just like the previous few novels, there are passages told from other character’s first-person perspective to help the story along. It’s a good technique, and thankfully Gerritsen doesn’t overuse it.

Vanish–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 5)

Vanish by Tess Gerritsen, the fifth book of the Rizzoli & Isles series.

I, unfortunately, didn’t take notes during the reading or immediately after reading this book, so this review is going to be sketchy at best.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles: Season 2 DVDs and Amazon Play. Ahem.

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, and Body Double.

In short, Boston Homocide Detective Jane Rizzoli is thoroughly pregnant and ready-to-go at the hospital. Unfortunately, a corpse that turns out to be alive wants to take some hostages, and the book wouldn’t be all that exciting if one of those hostages wasn’t one of the titular characters. All this mystery woman wants is to tell her story, and fears that she will be silenced before she can do so. There is a house of sex slaves who were brutally murdered, and the requisite cover-up. It progresses like a crime thriller novel.

There is a deviation from the previous standard style: some of the story is presented from the point-of-view of one of the enslaved sex workers. It allows for a variation in the storytelling, and it allows the plot to develop more naturally, and somewhat more closely to “real time”. One of the problems with crime and detective novels is that so much has to be presented through analysis and exposition. Very rarely do we see the story unfold as it happens.

There is a lot more of Dr. Maura Isles lusting after the priest, Father Brophy. It’s jarring, to be honest. I know that I need to divorce the character from the TV show from the novel character, but even here, it is a stretch.

Less surgery and gore in this novel, but an increase in horror from sex slavery. These books are pretty tough-going at times, which isn’t out-of-the-ordinary for the genre, but I find that it’s taxing on me as the reader.

Amazon linky!

Body Double–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 4)

Body Double, the fourth of the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen.

Amazon DVD links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete First Season (Amazon Play) and Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1 (DVD). Rizzoli & Isles: Season 2 DVDs and Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Second Season (Amazon Play). Ahem.

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice and The Sinner.

Hmmm. A lot of pregnancy in this one. And the meaning of family. The second of those points I can relate to. The former? Not so much. Again, the chief protagonist of this novel is Dr Maura Isles, with Detective Jane Rizzoli relegated to a more supporting role. Rizzoli is currently happily married, massively pregnant, and completely unwilling to compromise on, well, anything. After hints dropped in the last novel about Isles’ mysterious parentage (we knew that she was adopted, and very little else), this is essentially the focus of the novel. Her birth mother (or not, the story takes a pretty impressive twist) has been revealed to be a particularly unpleasant woman. Her murdered (twin?) sister was very likeable indeed, but unfortunately crime novels need a healthy supply of unhealthy acts. Pregnant women are being kidnapped, murdered, and the fetusses (fetii?) are being sold. Isles’ “family” are intimately tied up with this rather nasty business.

The majority of this novel was read on a train journey to and from Sydney. I went up for a tech expo. I have no buying power for my work for tech stuff, mind you, I was attending as a curious enthusiast, even if I have no need for POS machines, servers, embedded devices, marketing … stuff, 3D printing, connectivity, startups, and a crazy myriad of other things. This aside was brought to you by the ridiculous amount of sugar I consumed that day, and the effect it had on my note-taking ability.

The book was good. I remain a little squeamish about some of the surgery scenes. The characterisation is solid, the pacing steady, the romance not too intrusive (though Isles lusting after a priest is … odd. Disconcerting, even.)

Amazon linky

The Sinner–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 3)

The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen, is the third book of the Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete First Season (Amazon Play) and Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1 (DVD) Alright, enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. (Of interest, her first name is actually Terry, but she feminized it when she was writing romance novels. Source.) She initially wrote Romantic Suspense, through the 80s to the mid-90s, changed to Medical Thrillers, before embarking in 2001 into Crime Thrillers with the (at time of writing) eleven-book series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles.

The third of Gerritsen’s series of novels focusing on the Boston police department, detectives, medical examiners, murder and mayhem. Book 1 (The Surgeon) focused on Thomas Moore, with Detective Jane Rizzoli a secondary character, and Dr Maura Isles not appearing at all. Book 2 (The Apprentice) has Jane Rizzoli taking over protagonist duties, and the Queen of the Dead, Dr Maura Isles making her debut. Here, with the The Sinner, Isles is finally sharing co-star duties with Rizzoli.

Note how I said finally? I’m still expecting somehow that the novels will spontaneously acquire the characters of the TV series. It’s definitely not going to happen. The glossy TV versions are too far away from the flawed novel characters.

A brutal attack on two nuns has left one of them dead, and the other in a coma. It is the depths of winter, and everything and everyone is affected by the cold, the snow, and the ice. Dr Isles’ ex-husband returns, and manages to worm his way back into her life, much to her libido’s pleasure common sense’s horror. Detective Rizzoli is trying to convince herself that her affair with Gabriel Dean ending is for the best. A state of affairs complicated by a, uh, complication. The majority of the novel is much more complicated and nuanced than the romantic highlights I’m giving. A Jane Doe who was murdered and then dismembered was found to have leprosy, and probably had been present in a village massacre where one of the nuns was performing aid work. (Good grief that was a complicated sentence.) Isles’ ex-husband is connected as well.

The plotting is improved over the first two books. The characterisation is better too–the characters are better-described, more nuanced, and the story is more complex. Gerritsen still has moments where a scene plays out, and then the characters react to the scene, and there is something of a disconnect between the two. It’s clear that the reaction is what is required for narrative purposes, but the writing wasn’t quite there on the scene.

My mind wandered a bit whilst I was reading this. It’s A Wonderful Life and Slumdog Millionaire (snow and winter, and poverty in India, respectively). It was an odd combination to be sure. There was a lot of religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, which I have opinions on. These opinions vary dramatically given the day and the length of time it’s been since I read about any of the horrors committed by members of the clergy or in the name of the church.

The book ends in a most unexpected way. Not wishing to spoil anything, but Rizzoli’s complication could be quite dramatic, and Dean appears more permanently present.

Amazon linky!

The Cuckoo’s Call

Annnnnd we’re back to detective stories ! Very good.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is billed as a Cormoran Strike (the lead character) novel. Perhaps this is going to be a series. I wouldn’t object. (That’s a hint (and summary) for the rest of the review, I guess.) This book was forwarded onto me, and so I came into it with no expectations. (Note: I have found out since that this will likely be a series.)

About the author: most of this review was written on the iOS WordPress app, with gaps left to fill in the details that I needed to look up. The author is listed as Robert Galbraith. Cool. That name rang no bells, so I read the book, and quite enjoyed the book. Wrote the review. Turns out Robert Galbraith doesn’t exist. Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. Yes, that J. K. Rowling. Okay. Wow. I suppose that she doesn’t need much introduction. She, uh, wrote some books about a boy wizard, a book about depression, misery, and drug-taking in middle England, and apparently is writing detective fiction under a male pseudonym. There’s a quote, “Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience… It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name”, which I can’t link to the source, because it’s behind Murdoch’s paywall protecting the Sunday Times.

Cormoran Strike is a contradiction, like all good private detectives. He is physically imposing; large in all dimensions, somewhat brutish, and rather intimidating. This is paired with an incredibly sharp, disciplined mind, and some rather limiting personality flaws. He is ex-Army, physically disabled (these two facts are connected), and recently separated from his cheating, manipulative partner, and is living in his dingy office. His downward spiral is interrupted by Robin Ellacott, a temporary secretary that he can’t afford. Robin is enarmored by the work, but not by Strike himself. A former friend contacts him about the apparent suicide of his (the friend’s) half-sister, Lula Lantry. He is convinced it was murder, and despite initial reservations, Strike investigates. So far, so standard. However, the backdrop of London fashion, nightlife, wealth, and power provide an interesting flavour to the story. Very few of the characters are particularly likeable, with their flaws being highlighted as part of their motivations and character.

It is difficult to discuss the book without talking about the finer details of the story. I don’t want to spoil the narrative, which is one of the biggest issues with attempting to review detective fiction.

I’m in two minds about it: when I was reading it, I found it excellent. The following day, still excellent. When I was first thinking about this review, trying to pinpoint some of the reasons I rated it highly, I struggled. In retrospect, the characterisation was a highlight. There were excellent description passages, the story weaved together nicely, and the dialogue was definitely a notch or two above what is average for this genre.

The denouement is well-done. All of the pieces were there if you had been looking for them. If you were an aficionado of the genre, you may have thought that they were laying it on a bit thick. However, hindsight is always 20/20, so maybe I’m being unfair there.

It’s a good example of modern British character-driven detective fiction. I quite liked it, even if I seem to be unable to quite articulate the reasons why.

Epilogue: I wrote all of that before I know who the author was. I think I still stand by all of it.

Buy the book using these links! (For some unknown reason, Amazon isn’t allowing the link to the Kindle page. It’s available on Kindle, as well as dead-tree editions.)

The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike)

Cool Beans (Maya Davis book 1)–Erynn Mangum

This one has been languishing in my drafts for too long. Time to push it out the door.

Erynn Mangum (it took me a while staring at that name to work out that it’s a “creative” spelling of Erin) has an Amazon page, but no Wikipedia page. She has a personal page as well. There we learn that she’s fanatic about coffe, the colour pink, all things girly, and the Food Network. She also offers a critique service, which is something I’d not heard of. Of which I had not heard. Huh, prepositions.

I made some notes on my phone as I read the book. Therefore, this review is a little more stream-of-consciousness in style.

Cool Beans is the first of the Maya Davis series by Mangum; the series has finished up at three books. The blurb reads: “Everything seems to be going perfectly for Maya Davis: She has a great job at a coffee shop, gets along with her parents, and is happily single. That is until her best friend starts dating Maya’s high school sweetheart.” A fair summary.

The kindle has a strange feature of opening the book at the first page of the story, rather than at the graphic for the cover. So, I always flick back, look at the cover page, read the bibliographic information, check out the contents, the dedication–all of the normal stuff (right? I’m not that strange, am I?) Doing so with this book, I notice that this is a book about Christian people supported by Christian activities, and so on and so forth. My initial reaction isn’t positive. I’m not a fan of organised religion in general, I feel that it leads to harm in the world, and has been the cause of a lot of very bad things. I’m not going to go on further than that. However, I was aware from the start that this was going to be a book with heavy Christian overtones, and that gave me pause.

Despite that, (clearly, else why would I be writing this review?), I pressed onwards. I did spend quite a bit of my reading time wondering when the preachiness was going to start, and was happily surprised to find that it wasn’t too over-the-top, in-your-face, or excessive. At least, not for a while. It did arrive, and when it did, it was a little jarring. Actually, that’s not fair on the book–it’s not a bad story, in fact, it’s quite readable, even if all of the characters put too many points into their Earnest and Cuteness skills. There was a constant feeling that this novel had been sketched out first with all of the major plot-points noted down, and then the gaps were filled in.

Oh, and there are side-hugs. That was a giant warning sign to me. (For those are not aware of the Christian side-hug, allow me to mockingly explain. The side-hug is designed to prevent contact between people for fear that if two people happen to have their fronts touch, it will lead to sinful activities. Apparently having breasts pressed into your chest/having your breasts pressed into another’s chest means that you will lose all restraint, and be caught up in a whirlwind of lascivious activities. Ahem. *fans self*)

The lists. Our protagonist makes little lists of four or five reasons for something that’s bothering her. It’s a coping mechanism, nervous tick, way of organising her thoughts. At least, that’s what it’s presented as, until it is revealed that it’s supposed to be part of her daily devotions. I don’t think it works if she’s just trying to justify the latest development in her romantic entanglements.

I realise that this a Christian book about Christian people for Christian people, but I still find it odd that everyone seems to have a bible at hand. Who keeps a bible under the desk at a coffee shop? Or is that just one of the things that I should not be questioning?

Alright, a problem that is not specifically about the Christian preaching intrusions: the author attempts to include “colour” into her descriptions–little interactions with customers, or a description of the milk being frothed for a mocha. I understand that these are attempts at colour, but they seem superfluous. I don’t think that I’m being overly-critical here, several times I was left wondering why I’m being told about the age, clothing, demeanour of a customer whose only purpose appears to be lengthening the novel by a paragraph or two.

The love story for the protagonist is telegraphed from a mile away. Or, and this is a valid hypothesis, I’m just cynical and figured the shape of the story. (When I was making notes from this review, I left myself one “Was I wrong about this?” No, no I was not wrong. Things developed pretty much as I expected them to develop.) It’s all a bit obvious.

I know that it sounds like I’m being critical, and you’re wondering why I bothered reading and finishing the book if there were such issues: the story actually wasn’t too bad, and skimming over some of the more preachy bits worked for me. The characters do their job, but the subplots don’t go anywhere. We’re introduced to characters who are essentially filler. They’re not quite caricatures, but nor do they make it much beyond one-dimensional single-purpose backstory.

I don’t remember when I purchaed it; probably during a “I have an Amazon giftcard, let’s spend it” evening. It’s not terrible. I won’t be seeking out books two or three in the series though.

Amazon links. (Clicking and purchasing from this link earns me the tiniest sliver of money, and doesn’t cost you anything!) Paperback and Kindle versions are both available.

Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula (Elise Stokes)

Ah, teen drama. So very straightforward. There needs to be an outsider, a spurned love interest, a former enemy now ally with whom things are just beyond platonic. If the parents could be wonderful role models, that would be great. An annoying younger sibling, and your choice of distant but ultimately supportive older sister, or a twin!

I tease, of course, but not by much. There is a definite familiarity to stories such as Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula (the first in what is sure to be a series).

We are introduced to Cassidy as an uninterested, not popular but has friends, typical 15 year-old high school girl. With all of the accompaniments listed above. Her father is a journalist, who brings Cassidy along to watch him interview a geneticist who has been making great advances with gene therapy.

There is an accident!

There are dark forces!

There is a mysterious fire at the lab, the scientist goes missing, her son arrives to be cared for by Cassidy’s family, and she wakes from the lab accident with super-speed, super-hearing, super-sight.

Will she prevail against the dark forces who want the gene therapy for nefarious purposes? What do you think?

I may be teasing about the story, but it is actually pretty good for the genre. Our heroine is a bit cliched, but her internal monologue shows some character, and the first-person narration is used to reasonable effect.

I think I picked this one up on a random book buying spree on Amazon. It was worth the few dollars. There is a website for the series, and the author is on twitter. I haven’t really looked to see whether it’s a normal thing for authors these days to embrace social media. So kudos to your Elise!

Elise Stokes has an Amazon page, where we learn that Ms Stokes is a former teacher-turned-full-time parent who draws on her experience with three teenage daughters provides an (and I’m quoting from her PR) “understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate young teens to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence.” I applaud the sentiment, I honestly do. There aren’t enough female authors writing strong female characters that can be role-models for girls growing up in a world that tells them that they’re defined by their appearances.

The obligatory Amazon stuff: the Kindle edition is currently on sale.