First, Middle, and Last Impressions – December 14, 2022

I love taking a look at a book cover and description and then coming up with my own idea of what the book will be about. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m so wrong it’s almost funny. So I’ve decided to write about my first, middle, and last impressions of each book I read, as well as a little bit on why I wanted to read it because sometimes, when I’ve finished, I really can’t remember.

The first impression is based solely on the cover and description. What do I think it will be about?

The middle impression is kind of a check-in on how the story is going about halfway through.

The last impression is my final thoughts on the book, what I’m left thinking.

I hope you have as much fun with this as I will!


The Alpha Trial by Lian Skaf – Legal Thriller

Why I want to read this: Legal thrillers tend to confuse me, but I still enjoy reading them. I was particularly drawn to the fact that this also involves a medical procedure that eventually led to unfortunate side effects later on.

First Impression: A medical legal thriller? At least, that’s what the description makes me think, but I tend to be wrong with books like this. I expect to be lost, but am interested to see how the trial progresses.

Middle Impression: I’m a little lost when it comes to the legal process, but I feel like it’s at least mostly written in an accessible way. At least, I don’t have a lost at sea feeling, nor do I feel like I’m missing out on crucial information when I just don’t get it. I’m finding the characters to be particularly interesting, and really like the levity Andy’s assistant adds. This is male dominated when it comes to the legal teams, but I do like the peppering of women into key roles.

Last Impression: Even if I didn’t fully understand everything, I found the trial and entire process, as well as potential next steps in the process, to be fascinating. I felt like I was there in the courtroom, being swayed one way or another by both attorneys. What I really liked, though, was that the author writes with such authority and knowledge that, even if I didn’t grasp something, I still had faith in him for making it work. I wasn’t as fond of the open ending, but I liked that it was a bit haunting and possibly hints at what might come next. Overall this was a very immersive read, and definitely made me feel like I was back in Philadelphia.


Beckoning of the Gate by Benjamin J. Ryan – Fantasy

beckoning of the gate benjamin j ryan

Why I want to read this: This one sounds really interesting. It reminds me of another indie book I enjoyed where a character was influenced by a magical object, and I can’t quite tell if this is portal fantasy or just plain high fantasy, but I like that it hints at something in Santha’s past that is anything but good.

First Impression: Well, the way the description is written makes me think this could be a portal fantasy, though, with a name like Santha, I’m also thinking this is just high fantasy. I do expect plenty of magic and fae creatures, though, so this should be interesting.

Middle Impression: So far this feels like a fairly standard hero’s journey kind of story. I’m really liking the diversity and that various groups have had to come into contact with each other over time and learn how to work together. The magic is interesting and there seems to be some guidelines surrounding it, but the intricate details are not exactly shared with the reader, so it’s interesting and can do interesting things and is actually outlawed, but it’s still interesting to read about. The only thing I’m really struggling with right now is Santha and her characterization. I understand her, but I don’t really feel like I know her.

Last Impression: This feels more like a hero’s journey mixed with a quest, though it’s only the first book in the series, so I can’t say for sure. I like how the ending wrapped up the story while also leaving it open. Santha still bothered me as I couldn’t pick apart who she is, so it felt like she was just a tool in this story. I also didn’t like how so many other characters were just casually tossed aside. I did like the fae, though. They were interesting, some malevolent and some benign, but it also made the fae world a little harder to figure out. Fortunately, the world we get to travel through appears to be fairly standard medieval European fare, so it’s easier to figure out and get comfortable in.


Back in a Spell by Lana Harper – Romance, Fantasy

Why I want to read this: This is the third book in the Witches of Thistle Grove series, and I already noticed the fourth is scheduled for summer 2023. This one is focused on Nina of the Blackmoore family. They’re not exceptionally well-liked, but I always liked Nina in the other two books, so I’m excited to get into her story.

First Impression: This one looks to be about winter, where the first two were fall and spring, respectively. I don’t really know what to expect since the first one had a tournament and revenge and the second was a mystery, but I expect romance and witchy things.

Current Progress: 18%. From the glimpses we get of Nina in the first two books, I really liked her, and that remains true so far. What I’m not really liking is that there’s some weird Lady Lake stuff happening and it just feels oddly forced. I’m hoping it works well with Nina, but, clearly, I’ve got a ways before that happens. I am, though, dying to see how she and Morty proceed as they’re the most unlikely pairing I could possibly think of in this town. Right now, something’s just not clicking for me, so I like Nina, but I’m hoping I don’t get bogged down in this one. Not exactly the most promising start, but maybe it’ll get better when the romance part of this really gets going.


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