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review 2017-02-22 15:35
Unseen World
The Unseen World: A Novel - Liz Moore

 

 

When Ada Sibelius turns 13 in 1984, she has been living an orderly albeit unconventional life.  Raised by a homeschooling single father, David Sibelius, she spends most of her days by his side at the Steiner Lab, which he runs at the Boston Institute of Technology, or Bit.  David and the lab staff and graduate students treat her much like a colleague, and she is immersed in mathematics and computer programming as they progress in their work in artificial intelligence.  Their ongoing project is a "chatbot" called ELIXIR.  All members of the team work on the project of teaching it to converse by engaging in regular text-chat sessions with it.

 

Ada begins to notice signs that David's memory and cognition appear to be slipping.  For a while, he denies that there is a problem--but before too long, it becomes apparent that he is losing his faculties to early-onset Alzheimer's.  When David is admitted to a longterm care facility, his friend and colleague Diana Liston takes Ada in.  During the process of establishing legal guardianship, certain irregularities about David's vital records and background come to light.  Suddenly, there is a mystery about his past, and David himself is no longer capable of explaining.  However, he has left behind clues and codes that Ada can use to discover the answers.

 

The book mostly moves between two timeframes:  1980s and 2009.  Ada's quest to unlock the mysteries of David's past extend into her adulthood, though she does discover his true identity while still into her teens.  The book's narrative also extends into the future, in a segment labeled as "soon."

 

Listening to the audiobook, I developed an affection for Ada and found the mystery intriguing.  Most of the way through, I felt the book was on its way to a four-star rating from me.  But the last couple of chapters shifted my impression somewhat, ending on what felt to me as sort of an anti-humanity/pro-AI note.  This might not have been the author's intent, but that was the effect, and it felt a bit cold to me. 

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review 2017-02-22 13:37
The Hanging Man
The Twelfth Card: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel - Jeffery Deaver

I dithered about the rating for this book. I ultimately enjoyed the book, but I got really tired of all the Red Herrings in this book. It's beyond absurd. I also don't think Rhyme has super human abilities that he can figure out what the true motive is beyond all of these people he investigates. I did love seeing Kara from the previous book in this one though. And we get to see some more scenes with Rhymes and Sachs that show them as a couple.

 

Rhyme and Sachs are called in by Lon Selitto to investigate when a young African American girl (Geneva Settle) is almost sexually assaulted at a museum. It honestly doesn't make any sense to me why they would be asked to look into what I think most people would consider a waste of their resources. However, we readers of course find out that a hired killer is out to murder this girl for reasons unknown at this point.

We are initially offered clues that perhaps the killer wants to kill this girl so she can not reveal some secret truth about one of her ancestors....and yeah. I maybe rolled my eyes at this whole line of questioning. And also at the fact this girl had letters from the 1800s in her possession and they had not fallen apart. And that her family member wrote better English than most Americans in this time period who were taught to read and write.

 

There is also some unfortunate stereotypes about African Americans in this one and good lord a whole thing about Ebonics (remember that mess?) that just made me tired. When I stuck to just the science pieces in this book I enjoyed it more.

 

The Red Herrings in all of Deavers books (The Twist) needs to stop though. At this point I am getting used to the fact that the team will end up being wrong at least 2 or 3 times. And that the murderer will become obsessed with either Sachs or Rhyme (it was Sachs in this one) and that Rhyme will put off going to the doctor repeatedly and tell himself it's not because he's scared.

 

The main thing I found interesting was that this book is taking place after 9/11 and that Rhyme goes into a whole before and after with New York City. He feels annoyed at the people and changes taking place. I wish that we had gotten more of that in this book. However, we really don't besides some throwaway lines.

 

We get some Lon is scared story-line due to him standing next to someone who gets shot and killed in front of him. I don't know how realistic I found it though. The guy has been around forever. We do get Dellray (I love him) and he is back in this one protecting Geneva. We also get a new face in the police department that I hope we get to see again.

 

We also get into the mind of the killer in this one (per usual) but I didn't find that aggravating or distracting like in previous books. Maybe because this one was developed as well as The Bone Collector was in book #1.

 

The ending of the book was a bit weird. We get a sense that Thom and others have collected Geneva a bit into their lives. I wonder if she will be back in future books or at least referenced.

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review 2017-02-22 13:22
What's In the Box?
The Black Box - Michael Connelly

Image result for what's in the box gif


I am so going to need someone to hold Bosch down one of these days and say going off to investigate solo has never worked out well for him. Bosch runs afoul of another person who is in charge of the Open/Unsolved unit he is back on who is out to get Bosch tossed. And due to Bosch ticking off the Chief of Police (seriously at this point how does Bosch have a job) he may be getting kicked after the events of this book. You don't know since that is left up in the air. I do have to say that it's getting a little old that Bosch is always the only person in the world to care about victims. If anything, I say his single minded obsession ends up getting everyone else around him killed. And for such a smart guy he keeps getting into it with people in power. He literally has no one to keep him safe anymore so I am just wondering about the long-game with this character.

 

It's been a year since the events in "The Drop" which gets referenced throughout this book. After the events of the case involving Irving's son that Bosch investigated, we find out that Irving did not get re-elected to the City Council. A more pro-police person won the seat. Kiz and Bosch have not spoken after he finds out she used him to set up Irving. Kiz is now a captain somewhere and the Chief is struggling to hold onto his job. The last thing puzzles me since it seemed like based on the previous books the Chief was well liked. But now he's a politician according to Bosch so that makes him a not okay guy. Bosch seems to have few friends and is still dating a woman from the last book he met named Dr. Hannah Stone.

 

Bosch investigates a cold case involving a victim that he and his former partner J. Edgar called Snow White. The victim was found shot to death during the LA riots and many thought she was just in the wrong time and place. However, Bosch believes a gun that was used was involved in several other gang related homicides and starts trying to track down who owned the gun first. We have Bosch exploring the world of gangs in LA and also how this all tracks back to the Iraq War (Desert Storm).

 

This is typical Bosch going blundering around and acting like a jerk to a ton of people. There's also a weird scene when Bosch is reprimanded for calling someone by their last name and he realizes he may have been insulting his partner David Chu for years by calling him Chu, and then proceeds to keep calling him David that was just awkward to even read about. Lord Bosch needs to do something besides listen to jazz. Maybe read a book on how to interact with others or something. His romance is pretty boring and part of me wonders why he is even with Hannah Stone. At this point he has been dating her for at least a year. He knows about her son and even gets into some trouble because of him. I am surprised he didn't cut his losses and break up with her. I guess we will see what goes down between them in the next book.

 

Bosch's daughter Maddie is now 15 or 16. I can't even remember. She is in this book more than previous books though so that's one positive step forward with her character. However, I am going to complain that I found most of the things that Connelly included about her to just be padding the novel. We go off with Maddie and Bosch at one point where he takes her to a simulator that the police use to train. And Maddie is apparently the best shot ever and also has better critical thinking than the average person. So yeah, we are setting her up to be a special snowflake. Sigh. I heard from a fan that he thinks that the Bosch novels are ultimately going to focus on Maddie. I don't know if I will continue with the series if they do. I ultimately find nothing about her compelling.

 

There's really no one else in this book besides Bosch, Maddie, some references to Chu (they barely interact), Hannah Stone, and Bosch's new boss and the Chief of Police. Bosch takes one of the guys from the unit into his confidence, but once again Bosch can't listen to anyone giving him rational advice so that character gave me no joy. He's not talking to Kiz, J. Edgar, his other two partners are dead. Bah.

I have to say I ultimately found this case boring. Bosch is focused on this case because reasons. I called BS on the whole story-line (we find out who murdered the victim and why) since it was such a mess with plot holes galore that I kind of gave up trying to make it make sense. I also laughed when it looks like Bosch is finally going to meet his maker, and then someone randomly shows up to get him out of trouble. I mean hello plot contrivance.

 

In the end I just found the book all over the place.

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review 2017-02-22 07:13
One simple explanation!
His Dark Kiss - Eve Silver
I read this for the Gothic square for Romance Bingo.

"If I was a new governess come to Manorbrier," he said, drawing out each word, "I would pay no mind to the Round Tower. No mind at all."

OR you people could tell her the reason why she should stay away instead of overacting your side-eye, ghoulish, and secretive roles. This was so gothic, it was a bit paint-by-numbers; every trope and characteristic from the genre was added. The dark lord, murder mysteries, disappearances, and gloom are always going to be present in gothics, along with the melodrama but the usual lingering questions that aren't or can't quite be answered yet that create the mystery was so incredibly forced. Our heroine is told death is in the tower and to stay away. The spoiler is the explanation for this, so don't read if you don't want to know because you don't get the answer until the second half.

the hero is a doctor, he researches diseases in the tower

(spoiler show)
Why, at no point, did he or no one simply say this to the heroine?!? Drove me batty. If your story falls completely apart because of forcing off one simple explanation, that's pretty weak.

I get that the usual culprit in gothics is supernatural and the author makes it

science

(spoiler show)
 here, which works because of the time period but it was ridiculous how this explanation just wasn't said right away. If you couldn't tell, this ruined the story for me. Felt like insta-love, too many inner thoughts from heroine, villain was clever and mysterious; wish that had been the only focus of the mystery and built up more over time to give its shocking conclusion.
I thought the first one was much better in characterization and story.
 
 
 

 

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review 2017-02-22 00:37
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Murder at the Vicarage - Agatha Christie

‘Nobody knows a thing about it except you, Padre.’ ‘My dear young man, you underestimate the detective instinct of village life. In St Mary Mead everyone knows your most intimate affairs. There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.’

The Murder at the Vicarage was the first Christie I have ever read, and although this was a long time ago, my recent re-read of this book still held the same enchantment as my first encounter with the book. 

 

There is something fabulous about this book that makes is quite different from Christie's other books, and I still can't put my finger on what it is that makes this one so special (other than a slight twinge of nostalgia of discovering Christie for the first time).

 

The book famously is the first of the Miss Marple mysteries but I really enjoyed all of the characters in this story, especially our narrator - the Vicar - and his wife:

‘It is a pity that I am such a shocking housekeeper,’ said my wife, with a tinge of genuine regret in her voice. I was inclined to agree with her. My wife’s name is Griselda— a highly suitable name for a parson’s wife. But there the suitability ends. She is not in the least meek.

They were such a lovely couple and Griselda seemed the kind of young woman with gumption that make Christie both fun and modern in her time. However, as some of you may recall, one of my main peeves with Christie is that she seems to have a problem with modern attitudes, and whilst I enjoyed Griselda's character, I could not help but notice during this re-read how often she is being patronised. 

What are you doing this afternoon, Griselda?’

‘My duty,’ said Griselda. ‘My duty as the Vicaress. Tea and scandal at four-thirty.’

‘Who is coming?’

Griselda ticked them off on her fingers with a glow of virtue on her face. ‘Mrs Price Ridley, Miss Wetherby, Miss Hartnell, and that terrible Miss Marple.’

‘I rather like Miss Marple,’ I said. ‘She has, at least, a sense of humour.’

She’s the worst cat in the village,’ said Griselda. ‘And she always knows every single thing that happens— and draws the worst inferences from it.’

Griselda, as I have said, is much younger than I am. At my time of life, one knows that the worst is usually true.

It's not just her husband who attributes her youth with naivety, but also the other villagers, especially one old biddy, which makes me question my perception of Christie's attitude towards young(er) characters. I mean, in her later novels, her high-Edwardian morals become problematic because they are so disconnected from the time she wrote in, but I (apparently wrongly) assumed that her earlier books did not have this problem. 

‘Don’t you think,’ said my wife, ‘that Miss Cram may just like having an interesting job? And that she considers Dr Stone just as an employer?’ There was a silence. Evidently none of the four ladies agreed. Miss Marple broke the silence by patting Griselda on the arm. ‘My dear,’ she said, ‘you are very young. The young have such innocent minds. 

As most of you know by now from my other Marple reviews, I don't like her as a character. That does not change my love of the book as whole, however, which is such a perfect construct of suspense, tight plot, and that little bit of satire of the English village. 

Miss Marple always sees everything. Gardening is as good as a smoke screen, and the habit of observing birds through powerful glasses can always be turned to account.

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