Good detective story. Liked Leo as a character. Pacing and unfolding of the mystery part was done perfectly. I didn't figure out who the ki4 1/2 Stars
Good detective story. Liked Leo as a character. Pacing and unfolding of the mystery part was done perfectly. I didn't figure out who the killer was, which is always a plus. Secondary characters also interesting and nicely written. ...more
I loved, loved this book. I'm still trying to figure out how to write a review of it, if I can. Or maybe this is my review? It's so deep and nuanced aI loved, loved this book. I'm still trying to figure out how to write a review of it, if I can. Or maybe this is my review? It's so deep and nuanced and maybe too hard for me to articulate everything I felt about it. It left me feeling like I had spent time with an old friend I hadn't seen for a long time, catching up on old times, which by the way is some of the theme of this story.
This story touches on so many different issues, but particularly issues around being an African American lesbian and the expectations of both the white and black community both culturally and on a personal level on being that. The way the characters experience their lives is expressed with a lot of insight into those issues.
It's also about the importance of shared experiences in making relationships work and also the comfort involved in that even if a relationship doesn't flourish.
That this story is about mature women was another huge plus. It's fairly rare to read about women who are at a stage in their lives when experience has taught them that they don't have to rush into anything and can be cautious in relating, but also that they still can have all those exciting and fearful feelings and emotions around new attractions.
Author Renee Bess excels at in-depth characterizations. Each of the characters in this story have distinct personalities and we get to see how each change slightly depending on who they are relating to. They are all connected even if they are unaware of how. And I particularly respect that all of the characters have flaws. Just when I'd think, oh I like this character and hope it works out for them, they do something kind of crappy. However, their vulnerabilities were shown as well, so it was easy to see their point of view even with negative traits at times.
I think this author's writing is getting better and better. Will definitely pick up another of her books. ...more
This is a typical Murakami story. It's a mystery with lots of philosophical musings and psychological insights mixed in with fantasy. Most3 1/2 Stars-
This is a typical Murakami story. It's a mystery with lots of philosophical musings and psychological insights mixed in with fantasy. Mostly it's about the pain and longing of unrequited love.
If you've not read Murakami before and don't know how out there his stories can be, you might have a hard time with this. There's no clear ending or at least one with closure that eases the mind. However, this is what I love about his books. You're always wondering what's going on and you're left with more questions. Gives a lot of fodder for the brain. Whenever I've read any of his books, I basically let go of any logical, linear thinking and just allow myself to go with the flow.
I read this mostly due to the lesbian story in it even though most the story is told through K the male best friend of Sumire who is a lost woul-be writer. K is in love with Sumire, but she is in love with Miu, an older woman whom she gets close to then works for.
Just like K's love for Sumire is intense and causes deep longing in him, Sumire's un-returned love for Miu in the end breaks her. Or maybe it doesn't. It's more about the journey of these three people in dealing with their feelings vs any outcome. ...more
Really enjoyed this story. It's a typical Marie-Elise Bassett short. Loved the theme of a re-kindled relationship years later. And as per usual, a nicReally enjoyed this story. It's a typical Marie-Elise Bassett short. Loved the theme of a re-kindled relationship years later. And as per usual, a nicely written, sensual sex scene. ...more
I had a hard time getting into most of the stories and ended up skimming a lot. Even by authors I've really liked in the past. I did love one story, TI had a hard time getting into most of the stories and ended up skimming a lot. Even by authors I've really liked in the past. I did love one story, The Princess' Princess. It's a very unique story. ...more
I started reading this particular detective series a couple of years ago and all have been reviewed here on LVLM or Goodreads in case you’re curious. I started reading this particular detective series a couple of years ago and all have been reviewed here on LVLM or Goodreads in case you’re curious. I happen to be really fond of Laura McCallister as a character and have enjoyed reading these books due to it. This book was good as well even though I had some minor issues with it.
Unlike in the last three books, this story revolves mostly around Laura’s personal life, rather than some mystery or case she’s working on. Although a mystery she’s gotten sucked into and her personal life are connected in this case.
On the one hand, I liked this because there is more detail about a character I like. Kind of like when you like someone and you want to know more about them. However, for the purposes of the story as a whole, I felt sometimes there was too much personal emoting/dialogue that left the plot and mystery part, the exciting part really, lacking.
I was really sucked in by the first part of the book. There are several mysteries going on that Laura is dealing with that piqued my curiosity about what’s going on. It starts out as a traditional detective novel, which I liked. There’s been a succession of teenage suicides on a local bridge that Laura wants to stop, and a woman who was in an accident and has amnesia is found to have Laura’s business card on her.
The main mystery going on is the amnestic woman, even though the rash of suicides is how the book starts out. Although it’s not really a case that Laura needs to work on, because of this woman having Laura’s business card, Laura tries to figure out what’s going on with her. As Laura tries to help the woman remember anything about who she is, she comes to a painful conclusion that throws her into a lot of emotional turmoil as she’s pulled into her own painful past. This in turn causes her to make a rookie mistake that almost kills her. She is then forced to deal with long suppressed feelings, which she doesn’t want to do.
OK, so that story line was very intriguing to me. It unfolded slowly enough to keep up mystery and tension. However, how it all resolved and come to a head still left me with many questions about why some characters acted the way they did. Some of it just didn’t make any sense to me, or seemed illogical. A little more psychological motivation of the other characters would have helped I think. Laura’s personal journey is interesting though, and that kept me going.
The other mystery story line also left me wondering what that was all about. I kept thinking there was going to be a linkup between the two threads or some other connection to the main plot, but that didn’t happen. I felt there should have been some explanation as to why it took up as much book space as it did since there seemed to be a suggestion of possibly something more sinister going on. I think this would have been a cleaner, neater story if that part had been left out since it distracted a bit from the focus of the book. But YMMV.
It’s actually kind of hard to categorize this book. I can’t say it’s really a mystery because it doesn’t solely focus on the mystery in the traditional mystery/detective book sense. I can’t say it’s a romance on any level, but a lot of the dialogue between Laura and Holly, her partner, is about their relationship, their life together and Laura’s emotional state. It bordered on being a little too mushy for my taste. But I can’t be nitpicky about that because I do feel that a lot of readers will love that, will love the expressions of a deep emotional connection between them.
Overall though, I enjoyed this book. It flows nicely and at a fast pace, and there is just enough intrigue to keep it interesting and compelling to read. Laura grows as a person quite a bit in this story, which also added to my enjoyment. I hope there’s another Laura McCallister book coming; I’ll definitely read it. ...more
I don’t exactly know where to start in expressing my feelings about this book. I enjoyed much of it and yet there were lots of moments in w3 1/2 Stars
I don’t exactly know where to start in expressing my feelings about this book. I enjoyed much of it and yet there were lots of moments in which I felt conflicted. I think the main problem for me is that this book didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. It wants to be a romance, however, the romance was so drawn out with too many separations, misunderstandings, and focus on external events that it lost its steam many times. It also tries to be a Civil War drama with the author spending a lot of book time on the specifics of the social/political issues of that time. This part suffers due to returning the focus on the romance towards the end, with things left unsaid or not finished.
The romance: the two main protagonists, Jordan and Laura, meet through both their brothers being best friends and classmates at West Point. Right away both Jordan and Laura notice each other, but are initially put off by each other’s opposing viewpoints on the current political situation. Jordan has no qualms about dissing the Southern way of life as far as owing slaves, which of course puts Laura’s back up. Laura feels defensive of her family’s heritage and Southern culture. So while they feel an attraction and want to be around each other, they are leery of getting too close.
Due to a series of events: Jordan working as an actress near Laura’s home, plus the fact that she’s been recruited to spy and gather information to help the Union—urged to get closer to Laura’s family who are in contact with Jefferson Davis-- and Laura getting very sick needing some help, she and Laura end up spending a few weeks together. Of course, while this is going on the attraction between them grows despite differences.
On this point I really liked how the author slowly built up their attraction. Internally, neither women know what to call what they feel; it’s alien to them because it goes beyond what friends should feel. This is done very realistically for the time period I felt. Unfortunately, just as they reach a point where an acknowledgment that this is something more that each have been afraid to say out loud, they are kept apart for various reasons, only meeting briefly in what are acrimonious moments until the last part of the book when the focus starts in again on the romance.
One thing that stuck in my mind, and I don’t know how women would have really interacted then, is that I felt it strange that no one, not Jordan’s father, nor Laura’s family who hated Jordan, questioned why each of them would go to such lengths and act in questionable ways where the other was involved. They both explain it away all the time as “she’s my friend.” Maybe female friendships were such in those days that it was normal for friends to act in ways that today would cause someone to wonder what’s actually going on between them?
Laura: Out of all the characters in this story Laura has the most growth and she’s the most complex character even though on the surface she doesn’t stand out as strongly as Jordan does. And she, out of all, has the most malleable mindset, learning and changing her viewpoint from events that happen as life goes on. She starts out of course angry, as most of the South, that the North wants to impose its ideology on them. She defends her family’s ownership of slaves saying they treat their slaves well even if she has a niggling suspicion they are not. However, when she learns about and opens her eyes to the truth of many things she’s been conveniently ignoring to keep the status quo, she does change her mindset even if begrudgingly at times. And she stays steadfastly loyal to Jordan even after being betrayed.
Jordan: Initially Jordan seems to be the stronger, more dynamic character. She’s not shy, expresses her beliefs to anyone and has guts to be an independent woman, not living the typical social norms that women were expected to live. She’s appalled by slavery and can’t understand how Laura can even think it’s OK to own people. Yet her attraction to Laura is such that she’s willing to look beyond that and try to form a close relationship. She risks her life to spy for the Union so she’s initially portrayed as an honorable and upright person.
The issue I had about Jordan is that ultimately she’s not that honorable. She feels bad on some level that she has all these strong feelings for Laura while she’s using Laura and her family’s hospitality to gather info on Confederate activity. But then disses Laura, mistakenly thinking that Laura betrayed her and not believing her when she states otherwise. Finding out that Laura didn’t betray her she then risks her own life, Laura’s life, friends’ lives, and so many people working for the Underground Railroad for what I felt were utterly selfish reasons.
And this is where I talk about the bigger picture. If the author hadn’t spent so much time on the social/political issues of the civil war, maybe what Jordan did wouldn’t have bothered me as much; it would have had a different context. But what was going on during this time period is expressed in intricate detail from many viewpoints through characters’ actions and words: slaves, free black people, leaders, Southern plantation owners, abolitionists, Lincoln, etc. giving a fairly realistic overall view, or so I felt. This increased my investment into what’s going on with the secondary characters as much as the main characters and how Laura and Jordan’s actions affected and are affected by them. They don’t live in a bubble.
Since the author didn't spare anything on how slaves were actually treated, it showed that even though Jordan is progressive in her thinking and therefore “good” vs the "evil" South, her privilege in doing what she did was glaringly clear comparatively, adding to my discomfort about her.
I’m not saying this was a completely problematic book. I enjoyed it overall. It’s a long book and the fact that I read it in a fairly short amount of time for me- slowest reader ever-- says a lot. It is engaging, the storytelling well done, and I liked that the author included many interesting characters as well as some action and history. However, as a romance it suffered. And the ending was very weird. What happened? We only get Laura’s perspective from the prologue, and it’s all about her and visiting her family home 10 years after she set up life in the north. There’s nothing about her and Jordan, or what happened to pretty much everyone else in the book that got a lot of book time.
Heat level: 2- one sex scene, not graphically written...more