Cover Image: We Were Kings

We Were Kings

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Member Reviews

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. 

When it comes to reading YA fiction, thriller/mystery books are usually my least favourite genre. I suppose it’s because I find them slightly predictable sometimes and the ones I’ve read in the past use stereotypical genre tropes. Having said that, I am so glad I decided to read We Were Kings as it defied all my expectations. I was gripped from the first page. 

The book follows protagonist, Nyla, who is on a mission to uncover dark family secrets whilst trying to save a woman facing the death penalty. There are a lot of characters in this book  but I feel they are introduced at a steady pace so you don’t lose track of who is who. The plot is very fast paced with twists and turns that I never anticipated. If this was a series on Netflix I would have binged it in a day! 

One of the great aspects of this narrative was that although it centres around Nyla’s ambition to uncover hidden truths, there is an overarching moral question surrounding the death penalty itself. Lots to discuss and unpack within these pages!
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Twenty years ago, eighteen-year-old Francis Quick was convicted of murdering her best friend, Cora King, and sentenced to death. Now the highly debated Accelerated Death Penalty Act has passed giving Frankie thirty final days to live. Surprising everyone, one of the King family members sets out to challenge the woefully inadequate evidence and potential innocence of Frankie Quick.

The at-first reluctant but soon-fiery Nyla and her unexpected ally—handsome country island boy Sam Stack—bring Frankie’s case to the international stage through her YouTube channel, Death Daze. They step into fame and a hometown battle that someone’s still willing to kill over. But who? The senator? The philanthropist? The pawn shop owner? Nyla’s own mother?

Best advice: Don’t go to family dinner at the Kings’ estate. More people will leave in body bags than on their own two feet. And as for Frankie Quick, she’s a gem . . . even if she’s guilty.

Ohh the storyline was fascinating, deep, intense, thrilling, and shocking! Honestly, as much as I needed to know how it ended-I didn’t want it to! I needed more!! Overall this was a fun, exciting book that gave me several hours of escapism and enjoyment.
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one of my main issues with this book was the characters. like, i feel like the characters were barely developed and that i think that the characters could have had so much growth with it all and had so much developed with this heavy topic. but, i mean, the characters all kind of blended together and didn't really have a different voice from the other people and i think that they never had a big enough plot / personality for me to like this book and actually get behind the characters. and like nyla is like supposed to be 17/18 years old, where she honestly read like an older mid-twenties character, which it was so stupid and i really hated. 

but, i also think that the whole mystery wasn't that good. like i feel like you can kind of tell when this is going and that it was just kind of pushing you into this way, which you can honestly tell when it is happening. but, i feel like the build up was honestly kind of cool and epic and that it was most of the story, it was this really big build up, but i feel like the ending was kind of a mess. 

but, i also think that this book had a lot of plot holes. like with all these different incidents and plots brought up, that it honestly felt off and it took away from this book cause of all the plot holes. and i mean, it was just kind of annoying and got on my nerves, since a lot of these plot points were just brought up for page stake and nothing else. which got to be on my nerves and i really hated it.
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3.75, rounded up. I didn’t LOVE it, but I’m not sure why. It felt long to me, and I think it took a while to get to the good stuff. The plot was compelling and kept me reading…the characterization was so-so and the dialogue seemed belabored. It just moved slowly unless major action was happening. Some great twists, though!
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Well this was fun and quite entertaining! I can see many a teen girl loving this! Thanks for the chance to read it!
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thank you so much NetGalley for the earc! I’m completely obsessed with this ya mystery (rare for me for this genre!!) 

the story follows Nyla as she slowly discovers who she is and who her family is. her mother has been a huge advocate for her best friend, Frankie, as she sits in jail for the murder of Cora King. Not only is she in jail, but she’s set to be executed due to the accelerated death penalty laws. I don’t wanna say what puts into motion Nyla’s search for the truth (bc spoilers & also OMG I was shocked!) but she finds herself digging into the background of her mother and the strange goings on of her hometown. Nyla, along with help from a local boy Sam, start a YouTube channel on the case called Death Daze. they do interviews and find evidence as to what’s really going on.

what I loved most about this book were the reveals. the first for me being the reason why Nyla and her mother are connected to Frankie & her case. the next happened about 50% in (which is not my favorite but didn’t affect my enjoyment) I loved how slowly clues were revealed and connections made. the King family was soooo interesting with their connections and how they functioned. I think what really did it for me was THE ENDING! double & triple OMG moments 🤯🤯🤯 I gasped out loud! 

just read the book its sooo good!
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💭My review 🐻
Wow Wow WOW!! This book was absolutely awesome and so interesting. The mystery in it is pretty cool and I love the setting of the story. This book was a roller coaster of emotions from start to finish. I very much enjoyed the different perspectives of this murder mystery and it had many twists and turns just the way I like it and you didn't see them coming (even better). Oh, and you can't forget that ending!!! so perfect. I really enjoyed this book and the author's writing and fabulous!. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson for this incredible ARC in exchange for my honest review
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This book was the perfect mystery/suspense book - tons of twists and turns, but not so many that you couldn't keep up.  Nyla's whole world is turned upside down, and the way she handles herself is commendable while also being relatable to the feelings someone in her position would surely be experiencing.  The book does deal with the death penalty, which is a controversial topic.  I feel the author handled the topic well and showed both the political side and the personal side.  I also liked the message about "true crime" enthusiasts and how that affects public perception of high-profile cases. We also appreciate the author's use of mild language and no descriptive romantic scenes.  In fact, the budding romance between Nyla and Sam was not the focal point of the novel but instead was a by-product of the events. We will definitely be recommending this book to our high school students!
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I enjoyed the different perspective of this murder mystery. Some twists I saw coming and some I did not. I think it definitely brings up some interesting topics that could be good for discussion. 
I find the author enjoyable. I like the setting she places her stories in and find the stories just real enough to be convincing.
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I completely devoured We Were Kings.  Although labeled as a YA thriller, I think all lovers of mystery and suspense books would like it.  The book centers around Death Daze, a You Tube channel, started by Nyla Wagner with the purpose of proving the innocence of a family friend and convicted murderer on death row.  Frankie is about to be executed so it is a race against time for Nyla to find out the real truth of what happened in the death of her aunt Cora King. This is a hard book to review for fear of giving too much away.  From cover to cover, this book is full of family secrets, surprising twists and turns, and an ending I definitely never saw coming!!  I also appreciated that this book was free of language.  I appreciate this characteristic in any book especially one geared for young people.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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3 for neutral.  Was not able to finish, as I just couldn’t get into it.  I’m a very moody reader, so likely what was happening during my few tries!  Will update if able to read at a later date!
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I’ve wanted to read this author’s books for quite a while (she also has several published under Courtney C. Stevens), but just hadn’t been able to fit them it. When I saw her newest release pop up on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and was so excited to be approved.

I couldn’t pry the Kindle from my fingers with this novel. In fact, I was so caught up in the last 20% I was late meeting a friend for dinner – I needed to know how it would end. No way could I wait until later that evening to find out.

Nyla’s been raised my her mother (no father is in the picture), and they’ve lived with a family friend for the past several years. After her mother’s best friend receives the death penalty for a murder whe allegedly committed twenty years ago, secrets upon secrets are spilled about her mother’s past and what happened all those years ago. Nyla and her new friend Sam (whose dad was a friend of Nyla’s mother growing up) soon dive deep into the mystery of who really killed Cora King. Once Nyla meets the King family, they all come under suspicion at some point during the story. They’re one dysfunctional bunch with plenty of skeletons stuffed in the closet.

The buildup to the big reveal had me suspecting almost everyone, and the twists are whiplash-worthy. And the scene of the reveal itself – shocking and so vivid I could see it playing out in my mind as if I was watching it on screen.

We Were Kings is a fast-paced mystery full of secrets, surprises, and maladjusted family dynamics. I’m just sorry it took me this long to read a book by this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Okay, wow! 

I loved Court Stevens’ The June Boys - it made my top 30 reads of last year - but this one, this one is better!!!! 

I loved every twisting, turning moment! I literally could not put it down! I read it all in one day! And I have nothing but good things to say! I was stunned by the ending, and totally pulled in to the story and taken on a massive roller coaster ride! You’ve outdone yourself Court!! This is totally YA, but totally a gritty thriller at the same time. With family secrets, an island, a cold case with a death row deadline ticking on it, and an ending worthy of an Agatha Christie mystery… what more could you ask for? Literally. 

Honestly there are no more words for how good this was! Read it, please!!! It’s just brilliant!

Thanks @tnzfiction and @netgalley for the ARC. I was only required to provide an honest review in return and here you have it!
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We were kings follows the story of 18 year old Francis who twenty years ago was convicted of murdering her best friend, Cora King, and was sentenced to death. Now the highly debated Accelerated Death Penalty Act has passed giving Frankie thirty final days to live. Surprising everyone, one of the King family members,Nyla, sets out to challenge the woefully inadequate evidence and potential innocence of Frankie Quick.

I think I saw another reviewer say this has Knives Out vibes and I really had to agree. The family had all these deep dark secrets and it was fascinating to see the story unfold. I felt like this was a YA novel that didn’t have the same feel as a typical YA novel which is always a plus. It had me turning each page to try to figure out what was next.

 Mystery isn’t usually genre but this one had me wondering if should be picking up a few more. This book was definitely a great ride and I enjoy it quite a bit. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC for my honest review.
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I received an e-ARC of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own.

The story follows a teenage girl whose mother's best friend is sentenced to die in a month for a murder committed 20 years ago. The MC teams up with a local boy to try and figure our what really happenned two decades prior.

It was an enjoyable mystery with enough twists to keep you interested. One of the plot points might be rather easily guessed by more experienced readers - I did guess it well before it was revealed on the page - but the ending managed to surprise me.

There seem to be some timeline issues when characters are associated with things which were not around at the time of the past events which bothered me.

Otherwise the novel was pleasant to read.
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The June Boys was my first experience with a novel by this author, and I really didn't end up enjoying it. However, I typically love a really well done young adult mystery, and the synopsis of this one definitely had me intrigued. I figured I'd give one more of her books a try, and hopefully end up liking this one much more than I did her last.

Unfortunately, this book didn't end up being anything like what I was expecting, and I think I've sadly come to the conclusion that this author is just not for me. I will say that the storyline did pull me in right away, and I honestly ended up reading the majority of the book in one sitting as I was couldn't bring myself to put it down until I figured out what on earth was going on.

However, I thought the characters weren't developed enough, and I kept getting characters confused with one another, and never really did end up thinking that we received enough background information as to why the crimes had all happened in the first place. 

I was also really disappointed in how the big build up for the mystery is the majority of the story, but the ending wraps up so fast that I actually had to go back and reread it twice to make sure I understand what had actually happened. 

I have to agree with other readers that I don't believe Nyla's character is believable at 18 years old, and if you had skipped over the sections where this is mentioned, you'd definitely think the protagonist was at least in her mid twenties. 

Too many plot holes, content I could have done without, a rushed ending, and characters that all blended together kept me from enjoying this one, and I didn't really feel like it lived up to its amazing potential. Nothing about it stood out, and at the end of the day, it felt like a million other young adult mysteries that have also failed to live up to the hype surrounding them.

It's not a book I'll be rereading or recommending, and I think in the future I'll know that this author's books aren't for me.

Final Rating: 2/5.

Thanks so much to Thomas Nelson for allowing me to advance read and review this!

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary advance reader copy of this novel from the publisher (Thomas Nelson) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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<b> WOW... This book was incredible! </b> 

Nyla is a typical teen with a very not so typical life. Beth, Nyla's mom is spends more time worrying over her best friend Frankie who is currently on death row for murdering her best friend Cora over 20 years ago than her daughter. Nyla doesn't really understand how Frankie can be facing death with such little evidence and goes searching for the truth. 

The King Family could best be described as the Kennedy's of Kentucky. Politics, scandal, and lies combine to create one of the best mysteries I've read in a long time. The twists and turns in this book will keep you guessing like never before! I could NOT but this book down and look forward to more from Court Stevens.
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With a fast paced plot, a controversial subject matter and twists and turns to boot, this book reaffirms Stevens as one of the outstanding writers of their time.
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Guilty, or innocent? 

A simple-sounding question with incredibly complicated ramifications. WE WERE KINGS is set in a near-future version of Kentucky in which a new law has been implemented to fast-forward execution for inmates on death row. It's a charged subject by itself, but for Lion, it's even more personal - because her aunt is about to be executed for a crime she swore she never committed. 

I loved Court Stevens' previous thriller, THE JUNE BOYS, and while this one didn't quite capture my attention the same way, it's still jam-packed with Stevens' trademark lyrical writing and explosive twists. It's unpredictable and unflinching in its evaluation of justice in America, with a great YA voice (and even a dash of romance). 

Solid recommend for YA contemporary mystery/thriller lovers.
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Enjoyed this generally, but there were a few things that let it down.

I know many reviewers have said the writing was too sophisticated and “old” but I have to say that was a plus point for me in terms of readability. Although I must say in my mind the protagonist was mid-20s rather than teen as a result.

Thought the premise was good and interesting, and I definitely wanted to know who did it. Liked the idea of this complex - hating each other family with fallouts and mystery and intrigue.

The downside for me is that it was lacking in character development, which really let it down. The adults were the suspects but we didn’t know nearly enough about them. I kept getting Ned and Ben confused and couldn’t remember if Cassandra or Rachel were the senator.

Mainly it felt rushed. I light a tight book but I think it needed another 100 pages to flesh out the characters and relationships and build the tension. The ending was very speedy and almost thrown away too.

It’s a shaming because it has the makings of a GREAT book and all the ideas are there. It just needed a lot more depth and character work to pull it off.

Thought Sam was a bit meh as a love interest too.

All that said, I polished it off fairly quickly and it was enjoyable if not spectacular.
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