The fifth installment of the Retrieval Artist series takes place over the course of about 24 hours. Paloma, retired Retrieval Artist, is found in herThe fifth installment of the Retrieval Artist series takes place over the course of about 24 hours. Paloma, retired Retrieval Artist, is found in her posh apartment, the victim of a grisly murder. Miles is her main beneficiary, quickly the prime suspect in her murder and also of an explosion of one of her ships, the Dove. That's a lot on a plate, even for a Retrieval Artist.
I really liked that what I suspected about Paloma and her secret involvement with the Wagners was so. When the law firm WSX was introduced, I had hoped this would come back around for a proper explanation and this really delivered. In good news for further reading in the series, the full reckoning is yet to happen. I can't wait to read the takedown.
I thought this one was well done (like the others) but admit that I did find myself wanting to skim some of Detective Nyquist's investigative parts because as a reader, I knew Miles was in no way guilty so the details felt a bit tedious. I didn't skim read though and when Nyquist reaches his clarity points it was very satisfying. Noelle didn't have much to do in this one but as she's off in a different level of the Moon security structure, it made perfect sense. She was still used to good effect and had good chemistry with Nyquist so she wasn't entirely tertiary. I do look forward to more about her investigation on all those other quarantined ships as it feels like there's a story or three there. I still don't really care about Ki even though I think decent effort went into rehabbing her and trying to make her relevant for future books. I did very much like attorney, Maxine Van Alen. I'd recommend this one if you're reading the series and you want the intel on Paloma. ...more
I can't say this was a fun read but it was engaging in a train wreck sort of way. I wanted to see what the falling out we're told happened at the outsI can't say this was a fun read but it was engaging in a train wreck sort of way. I wanted to see what the falling out we're told happened at the outset was going to be like. As the fallout is expected, the suspense is subdued but there was still a decent build up of tension between the couples. It's not a when but a how spectacularly will it all come crashing down into a mess. This did feel like it took a bit of time getting there and once it did, we don't see the details of the fallout, the confrontations are absent. It was very abrupt and then it's eighteen months later before the story ties up and shows us the door.
There are no heroes here and I can say that I'm not on anyone's side in this mess. They're all culpable and frankly only brought out the worst qualities in one another. Sara's a complete flake & very juvenile throughout. Lou & Gavin are shockingly messy & unconscionable. Lou's dilettantism was so transparent that only someone as teen girl star struck as Sara could miss it. Neil was least objectionable and even with his single transgression, I still more felt for him as Sara was playing the martyr and withholding her own sins. Have to say though, one of the most satisfying moments was (view spoiler)[Sara realizing that while she was trying her darnedest to get off with Gavin, Lou had actually got off with Neil (hide spoiler)].
I'd read another by Felicity Everett. She had a flair for prose that I enjoyed. Recommended if you need something to take along for the weekend. ...more
When springtime rolls around I'm always in the mood for a little chick lit and I tend to like the British variety. So When I saw that this had a settiWhen springtime rolls around I'm always in the mood for a little chick lit and I tend to like the British variety. So When I saw that this had a setting of a teashop and a great house, I was already half in. When I saw that this had two main characters that had had their self esteem whittled down but still weren't bitter and tried hard, I was all in. I promptly requested this on Netgalley, was quickly denied so I bounced over to Amazon to buy it. When the reading heart wants what it wants it can't be denied & this was exactly the kind of read I hoped it'd be. Simply put, I adored this book.
Amy & Josh were wonderful to follow and I enjoyed watching them both grow beyond the hurts their pasts had doled out so that they could carve out better lives. I felt that their fits, starts and even their retreats were realistic and well done. In addition, the supporting characters were sometimes surprising. And of course, there was cake. I admit to stopping while reading so I could look up recipes. While there was quite a bit I knew would happen, the reveal and unfurl was so enjoyable so I didn't mind. I'd love to read another with these two. Also, Gran was great (loved the resolution to the spoons & curtains). The alternate POVs was nicely done & didn't simply show the same scene from the other person's pov so the story never stalled. Also points to the cover art. I don't know what it is but these sorts of covers always make me want to pick them up and read.
This was my first read by Jane Lovering but won't be my last. Highly recommended if, like me, you like your romances alpha-hole free and also like to be reminded that kindness & niceness do sometimes win in this world....more
I have an on again/off again relationship with Margaret Atwood. When I don't like her books, I really don't like them & when I really like them, II have an on again/off again relationship with Margaret Atwood. When I don't like her books, I really don't like them & when I really like them, I really like them. I really liked The Handmaid's Tale. Well, maybe not liked as in enjoyed but I didn't want to stop this until it was done telling its story and when it was over, I wished I'd had more information. Atwood had finished but I wasn't ready to leave. That's no small feat as this is one of the more harrowing reads I've picked up.
So basically, Gilead is Hell and all the gods must be dead eventhough it's citizens claim the mantle of Christianity. I very quickly was swept up into the world that OfFred is existing in. It's unrecognizable as anything sane or preferential (& given that even the elite don't uniformly adhere to the rules they impose on everyone, apparently it's not). The men are sketches but none rendered deeply enough to know. The women don't fare much better because as OfFred tells us, they are forbidden to forge friendships but suspicion and fear is fostered, so it makes it difficult to get to know anyone. I wanted to know the stories of everyone OfFred encounters.
I did very much love that Serena Joy also became fettered by her own doctrine. She had to sit and be silent and an accessory with no use as the single thing this society she pushed for values, she can't fulfill. Talk about constructing & forwarding your own obsolescence. It's a sad thing to be bitter about a lot you said you wanted. Or perhaps she wanted it for some proscribed "others" and wanted to herself, be exempt.
I kept wondering about Gilead as a society. What the hell happened here? When?! How?! It didn't appear to be long in the past that the United States took this particular exit into absolute madness, as OfFred's lived in both societies. I really wanted to know not just what happened but how it happened so fast. Did they hold a public burning of the Constitution after hanging the Supreme Court justices, along with the Executive & Legislative Branches & all State Legislatures? Did they take over in all the states or is this just a 48 contiguous thing? After some of the things mentioned over the course of the book & in the epilogue, I wanted to know how fared persons of color (the Japanese visited as tourists but that didn't allay my concerns)? What happened with wider religious practice (& where did those people go)? Not all sects of Christian belief line up with the Gilead brand & this seemed like a place that Christians who didn't buy into this could exist, so the non-Christians would really be out of luck.
There's so much to say about this book but I recommend reading it for yourself. There are many things here that are discussion fodder but one thing is clear for myself, while OfFred's window into being a bipedal womb in Gilead was absolutely compelling, I need all the transcripts from the first eleven symposia on Gilead. Can I get an Epilogue to the Epilogue?!...more
I was in the mood for a cozy mystery and I had this in my TBR pile so decided it was time to finally read it. It made me want to read more of the seriI was in the mood for a cozy mystery and I had this in my TBR pile so decided it was time to finally read it. It made me want to read more of the series but I can't say this was the most compelling cozy I've ever read. It pulled me in because it's set in Philadelphia (who isn't drawn to books set in places they've actually lived?) & surrounding counties and had a historical preservation society fundraiser as the sleuthing heroine. Recently, it seems my favorite sleuths are book publishers, librarians or curators as there's a nice look in at the workings of those day to day careers from the inside as the mystery plays out.
I figured out ridiculously early who the thief was and was surprised Nell didn't. It's repetitious in places and meandered but I expect that was part of being a "set up to the series" story. Points also for giving characters last names of some familiar names in Philadelphia in Girard, Pratt & Drexel. I also enjoyed Nell's suburban commuter train mentions as it made me recall the same. I also will take away from this book that I really need a recipe for the Corn & Cheese Casserole that Marty Terwilliger makes here. I've never heard of or had it but it certainly sounded good. Recommended & I'll continue the series....more
Read this short as I was also reading the first in the series. I liked it and it helped me to exclude a character as a suspect in the first book. TherRead this short as I was also reading the first in the series. I liked it and it helped me to exclude a character as a suspect in the first book. There's something fun about reading a book set in a city in which you lived so this also made me nostalgic for Philadelphia & it's surrounding areas. Double points for the main character sleuth being a fundraiser for a preservation society (goes with my love of librarians, archivists & curators as sleuths). I'll definitely read more of this cozy mystery series....more
Read this in elementary school (I can't recall if this was in my school library or one I found at the local library in the Children's section) and itRead this in elementary school (I can't recall if this was in my school library or one I found at the local library in the Children's section) and it stayed with me. I had to look up the title today as I was chatting to someone about this book but couldn't recall the title but remembered vividly Monse's harrowing mechanism of death and the aftermath....more
This was a fast, engrossing read that while a great page-turner made me stop on a few occasions and side-eye the story. It's one of those books you reThis was a fast, engrossing read that while a great page-turner made me stop on a few occasions and side-eye the story. It's one of those books you read where you blaze through it but if you think about it a bit more you can see where the stitches didn't meet up with the panels perfectly. This would be practically disastrous in a mystery novel. This ultimately didn't read like the mystery I was expecting given the blurb so disaster averted. I can't believe I'm special for always believing that what happened, happened but I didn't mind joing Ava on this vision quest to find herself & her twin, Zelda.
The Antipovas, as a group, are a sniping clutch of multi-generational alcoholics who are truly no fun to spend time with. Their crumbling environs are the physical manifestation of their ennui and turpitude. I honestly think that even without the alcohol, they'd have been this way. I did pull for Ava and while I felt for the plight of Zelda and Nadine, I didn't think Ava was wrong for having tried to carve out a better existence away from her family. While Zelda too, got a raw deal in the parent lottery, I didn't think that if one burned all were required to (pun intended). Zelda's letters were acerbic, cruel and so well penned that I was hard pressed to believe she really was also suffering from Wernicke's encephalopathy (that was one of the explanations worthy of my side-eye at the end) woman we're told she was. Marlon's charm didn't come through to me in the reading but it's said he is and he has had multiple wives to show for it so... okay. Wyatt was benign and served his purpose. Overall, I felt the author did quite well with these characters.
As one who enjoys the occasional glass of wine, this has made me decide to give that a pass this week. Worth a read if you're looking for a twisty story of twins and like your families of the deeply dysfunctional variety. If you're a vocabularian, closet or otherwise, this will be a fun read. If you're looking for a true mystery, this isn't that. I'd say this is more of a gothic contemporary literary fiction. Three stars instead of four only because I was disappointed that this wasn't the mystery the blurb purported it to be. Points for a great cover! I'll definitely read more by Dolan-Leach....more
The cases continue for Miles Flint and Noelle DiRicci and in a circuitous way that remains interesting. This time the mystery surrounds a human gravesThe cases continue for Miles Flint and Noelle DiRicci and in a circuitous way that remains interesting. This time the mystery surrounds a human gravesite (which goes from the discovery of one skeleton to mass grave from a massacre years ago) on Mars that sets off an epic freak out of the Disty that renders them incapable of rational thought to the point that they act in ways that ensure their deaths & others. It's not pretty. An Earth anthropologist, Aisha Costard, is unknowingly caught up in the "contamination" as she came to help with the investigation of a skeleton found & she brings the case of identifying the skeleton to Flint as she & the remainder of the medical examiner team are all on the hook to be exterminated for their "contamination". On the Moon, Noelle is trying to settle into her new position as the head of security of the Domes and reporter, Ki Bowles is doing her level best to hinder her at every turn.
I enjoyed reading this one quite a bit but I admit that there were some things I wished were fleshed out more. I still don't know why Ki is so very opposed to DiRicci. I thought she'd see some sort of sense when she was shown reason and evidence or when she spoke to DiRicci's detractors (who had their own credibility & ethics problems) but she didn't. And she didn't even bother to research the Disty to get anything like an explanation for their behavior. I was hoping she'd find herself & her freelance team "contaminated" for just having the conversation about the contamination because that's a thing with the Disty apparently. I suppose it's simply a matter of Ki being able to make her own name and advance herself using DiRicci and nothing more.
I also wished to have learnt more about the Disty. I felt like I lacked enough information about them and understood how daunting this was for the human characters. I liked that I learned what I did learn about the Disty as the characters did. On the other hand, it's said repeatedly that the Disty are extremely private & were so offended when asked probing questions in aid of understanding them that I wondered if they were really interested in diplomacy or transaction at all. They seemed to feel they knew everything about humans (they didn't as admitted by one near the end) but didn't want to share anything about themselves but wanted to hold everyone to their expectations and rules. I don't know why humans have agreed to this situation, as it's not clearly laid out what they're getting out of these arrangements. If I'm honest, I was completely turned off and offended by the feckless leaders the humans appointed. It wasn't even that they were too deferential to the Disty (I didn't have enough information to make that assessment) it's that they were completely ineffectual in every situation they were presented with. They were more worried about their personal position than in actually helping anyone or doing anything that might be considered work. It wasn't a surprise view of some politicians but it was a reminder of how much it irritates me. While the Disty frustrated me, I still thought there might be something I was missing with their actions and demands. There was no question about the political humans on Mars or Earth. I love a good political dig in, in my science fiction so I hope there are some worthy of their positions in future books.
As with the other books, there's a solution that works out and the case is solved by our heroes so no real surprise there but still a solid story and I still want to spend more time in this universe. So, I will do. Recommended....more
I've had this in my TBR pile too long and as 2017 is my year of focused clearing of backlist books, I decided to give this one a go. Prep school senioI've had this in my TBR pile too long and as 2017 is my year of focused clearing of backlist books, I decided to give this one a go. Prep school senior, Emily Bird wakes up in a hospital after having been drugged to the point that her memory of the events of a night are gone and Washington DC is on the verge of full on outbreak crisis intervention and none of that is the worst news.
I expected more intrigue and urgency given the global outbreak of a virus that's decimating the population with some martial law tossed in but this book was surprisingly low-key. I stayed with the story because I was very interested in the characters, most specifically Bird (Emily), Coffee (Alonso), Aaron, Marella, Nicky and even the villainous Roosevelt. I was confused by Bird's parents, Carol and Greg. I suppose that was to be expected as Bird is afraid of her mother (with good reason and so was I) and distant from her father but as this story is told in shifting POVs and not told strictly in Bird's voice, I feel there could have been more provided for clarity with the family dynamic. Aaron was the best kid I've had the pleasure to read in a while and I even liked Nicky. While he may not be a paragon of success, he worked consistently to provide for his family, wasn't in any way a criminal and his children knew they were loved. He treated Bird like a second daughter and made her feel a part of a family. One more reason for me to put Carol Bird on ignore. Marella won all the true BFF points and I was pulling for her too. If there's ever a sequel to Love is the Drug or a Marella in Paris story, I'd read that.
By book's end, while the answer to how Bird was drugged and why is given, it was revealed in a way that didn't deliver a punch given all the build up. Again, the urgency was just about non-existent. I thought the relationship between Bird and Coffee was well done and I really liked that this story allowed her to grow on her own so she could save herself and the boy she loved. Bird also didn't display any characteristics or abilities out of the blue to solve her problems and I was glad of that. No insta-solutions or insta-love here and if I could find more YA like this, I'd read them. Another thing that was refreshing was to have Bird be told by Marella and those who were supposed to be her friends before, that she (Bird) either wasn't holding up her end of the friend ship or she wasn't trustworthy. It's not often you have a main character girl in YA who isn't universally & inexplicably loved by all when she does nothing to draw those feelings. Bird had to earn them and improve herself. Well done, ADJ. Points also to the author for the Jack and Jill mentions. I can't recall the last time I came across that in a novel. I also liked the conflict in Bird, a privileged girl of color, on how to be Black in a world where her parents want her to be a proud and accomplished African American but "not too black" so as to single her out in the profoundly white world they've raised her in. This extends to something as simple as how she wears her hair. The socially acceptable pod of other African American teens she's around also exercise a certain amount of pressure to conform and it was interesting how they felt mostly sequestered off from white students (Charlotte notwithstanding). Making the chemist/drug dealer, conspiracy theorist, the root worthy character, is a hell of a feat to pull off but the author does so here and it's believable. He and Marella (who was Black & openly gay, so had her own outcast issues from the "socially acceptable" groups) were the only people who seemed able to accept Bird for who she was & wanted to be.
The way this ends, I could envision a sequel because the danger is still out there. Bird, Coffee & Marella globe trekking, just a step ahead of the enemy could be fun & hopefully have a high-octane feel now that they're out of high school. Recommended....more
How did it take me so long to read this one?! I bought Crazy Rich Asians when it came out and my TBR list being an ever growing thing because I keep fHow did it take me so long to read this one?! I bought Crazy Rich Asians when it came out and my TBR list being an ever growing thing because I keep finding things I want to read, it languished. I was reminded of it when China Rich Girlfriend debuted but instead of reading it then, I bought CRG and they languished together. Last week I read a novel set in China that I loved so well, I determined to finally, FINALLY get what Kevin Kwan wrote in my brain. And it was good.
Economics professor, Rachel Chu of New York is invited by boyfriend, Nicholas Young (history professor) of Singapore to the wedding of his best friend Colin Khoo to Araminta Lee. Not that it sounds so simple to invite the Significant Other to a wedding, but this unfurls as a thing so complicated it reads as tantamount to an international incident. Nicholas comes from a family of dynastic wealth. The real sort, where it's so deep and far reaching that the social media driven world has never heard of them and more to the point, doesn't see them. Where their property is obscured on Google Maps and reads blank on a range of satellite imaging. I'm a sucker for a story about people who know the true value and power of anonymity and privacy so this captivated me straight away.
This is not to say that all of Nick's extended family are about privacy & eschewing ostentatious displays of wealth. There's a cast of true characters that follows in this family that run the gamut from eccentric (hello, Oliver!) to soulless (I'm looking at you, Eddie!). Like all cloistered enclaves, there's a lot of competition between the old money guard and the nouveau riche are attempting not just to get a foot in but also to learn the rules and if they can pull it off, break and remake some. It all adds up to a sometimes dizzying game.
Upon finding out Nicholas is bringing Rachel home to meet the family, his mother, Eleanor, spends the first half of the book avoiding meeting Rachel & on a quest to find out something scandalous about Rachel that I was sure would either be a lie or something Rachel herself had no knowledge of (did anyone believe her mother's story that Rachel's father was dead?). She even gets a sort of Mean Girl brigade to try to do some damage to Rachel & Nick's relationship. Nick's father spends as much of his of his time as he can in Australia away from his wife. No one sane or kind can blame him for that.
Cousin Astrid was a great character and had an interesting story going on herself. She married Michael who isn't from a wealthy family and the differences between the families status has taken its toll on her husband. While I felt for Michael, I have to say that the most romantic gesture in the story is done by Charlie, Astrid's ex-fiancee. The lengths he went to, anonymously, to help foster her happiness and marital success was lovely. It was illegal but grand. Cousin Eddie (brother to Alistair & Cecelia) is married to Fiona & they have 3 children (Constantine, Augustine, and Kalliste). He maintains spread sheets detailing his family's wealth & how much he'll inherit that he updates weekly as he waits for his grandmother to kick. He's a gaping maw of emptiness that is trying to fill in with designer brands. He fails. I think he was supposed to be a bit of a comedic foil but as I found him abusive to his family, so that fell flat.
Rachel luckily had some allies along the way. Piek Li, a friend from college, is from a nouveau riche family of builders. Her father is all kinds of put out about the Young property that Google dark. Her mom has three portly Pekingese dogs names Astor, Trump & Vanderbilt and has a penchant for gold covered everything. It hurt to read but their kindness won out over their taste challenges. I hope to see more of them in the following books. In addition to Piek Li, Astrid and Colin's cousin Sophie were also helpful to Rachel along the way and I hope they all grow closer.
Cloistered enclaves, no matter where they are, tend to be suffocating & limited petri dishes where nothing much is as great a pass time as gossip, back-stabbing and envy. Next level schadenfreude is happening. The descriptions of the opulence here didn't court my envy but the descriptions & variety of food did. I want a gastronome touring package holiday in Singapore with a side jaunt to Malay!
One slight criticism I have is that Rachel & Nicholas' angst sometimes read as teens and not the 29 & 32 year-olds they are. This problem extended a bit to the bachelorette guests (Francesca and Amanda specifically) as well. I had to keep reminding myself that these "girls" were full grown degreed women. The ending wasn't one so much as it was a scene cut. I can't be the only reader who hoped to actually see Nick propose to Rachel. I have the second book in my TBR pile so at least I can continue with the story immediately. This was compulsive reading at its best. Definitely recommended....more