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review 2017-09-24 15:44
Witness in Death by J.D. Robb
Witness in Death - J. D. Robb

In the last act of a sold-out play, the lead actor is executed in front of the eyes of the entire theater with a knife that was supposed to be a prop, but ends up being real. One of the thousands of witnesses in the theater is Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who, despite her dislike of the victim, thanks to what is uncovered during the investigation, finds death even more distasteful...Justified or not.


Yet another great addition to this series with an intriguing mystery, and although I knew who the killer was from the start, the motive eluded me until the end.
Unlike its predecessors, this wasn't heavy on the suspense, but focused straight on the mystery, with quite an Agatha Christie feel, filled with misdirection, suspects, possible motives, and red herrings.

The thick mystery didn't allow for much else, but there still was enough space for some evolution in the friendship between Eve and Peabody, and the budding relationship between Peabody and McNab...And space enough for some sexy and sensual alone time between Eve and Roarke. I absolutely loved that scene.

The pacing was spot-on (as pretty much always), the mystery intriguing, the procedural intense, the cast of characters even more expanded than usual...A great book.

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review 2017-09-23 05:55
The Crimson Meniscus, 7 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Stories from the Bubble by Jason Werbeloff
The Crimson Meniscus: 7 Mind-Blowing Sci... The Crimson Meniscus: 7 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Stories from the Bubble (The Bubble Chronicles Book 1) - Jason Werbeloff

The Crimson Meniscus, 7 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Stories from the Bubble by Jason Werbeloff did not disappoint. I've enjoyed this author's writing for a while and although some of it is a touch creepy, it's nevertheless intriguing. I gave it five stars.

 

Manufacturing Margaret is an intriguing science fiction/futuristic story about an android named Margaret.

 

"But my speech routines aren't programmed to express such thoughts. Instead, I find myself blurting my only programmed response to these situations. 'Please note that all activities in this cab are recorded.'"

 

Margaret drives a cab and observes thousands of humans. "I fly over Canal Street, parallel to the river, as though my grav motors are propelled by the spirits of the humans coursing through the thoroughfare below. From up here they look like an army of blood cells pumping through an artery."

 

Margaret discusses her increasing consciousness. "It's strange to think that everyone, everything, had a first moment of awareness. A point before which nothing was, and after which nothing would ever be the same."

 

Investing Isobella begins on a puzzling note. "'Look,' he says, 'I'm not going to lie to you, Paul. There's a risk. Sure.'

 

Jono Falanges slicks back his hair--his fingers leave track marks through the grease. He interlaces his hands behind his head. Stretches.

 

He knows I'm waiting with a thundering heart. Knows he has my full attention. I'm a desperate man."

 

It is a creepy tale indeed.

 

Oscillating Olaf tries to remain in an erotic dream but is interrupted by a phone call. He then has a sense of deju vu when the Roach called. Everything is going wrong. "My jaw was so tight, my teeth sang." He was learning to oscillate between two phases simultaneously. He was receiving messages from the future. A nice surprise twist at the end.

 

Patenting Peter is married to Cassandra who has what he called 'Lizard Eyes'. "Her gaze tore off me like a waxing strip. Landed on the frayed edge of the fedora on my head." She hated when he wore his father's hat.

 

His neighbor, Misaki with whom he had been flirting over the past few months as she came to borrow items arrived to borrow milk. He grabbed her wrist. "In the confusion, Misaki dropped the milk, which erupted in an ic spray over my naked feet. It took every fiber of my masculinity not to squeal."

 

Severing Sidney is an intriguing story about Geppetto's daughter Simona's merging with Neville. It's hauntingly poignant.

 

Aborting Andromeda is a twisted tale that is unusual to say the least. Christian works for the post-natal abortion clinic. A lovely surprise ending.

 

Defragmenting Daniel is a mesmerizing, yet somewhat creepy book. I gave it five stars.

"After six years working in the Organ Farm, Daniel still didn’t know why it was green – the Rejek they pumped through the organs. They’d said something in class about photosynthesis. All Daniel knew for sure was that after you ran Rejek through an organ, it was good for transplant."

 

Even those who work with harvesting organs have had many of their own taken away. "The knee was cybernetic, and you’d think it wouldn’t mind the cold. But ever since they’d harvested it when Daniel was nine, winters had been difficult. It was summer now, but the cold air in Administration wasn’t helping."

 

Daniel changed after they removed a segment of his brain. "He counted the full 49 seconds this time. Didn't feel the icy jets on his back. Daniel stood resolute against the arti spray. Even as the tears streaked down his cheeks, his mind tucked into itself. Numbed within a crease of a fold of a distant dream."

 

I received a complimentary copy from the author. That did not change my opinion for this review.

 

Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073PNRHK3

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review 2017-09-22 17:57
Select/Marit Weisenberg
Select - Marit Weisenberg

Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

 


What a strange and convoluted book this was!

 

I suppose I expected it to be a bit more fantastical, a bit more whimsical, a bit more sci-fi, and a lot more exciting, but... it wasn't. I started and stopped it many times because I kept getting bored.

 

I really just failed to understand a conflict early on between Julia and her father that ends up with her going to public school. I could not buy that premise and had a lot of negative feelings and questions as to why this was happening.

 

None of these characters felt particularly well developed to me. There was potential, but from a strange sibling relationship to a forced family dynamic to an almost suicidal friendgroup, all of the connections in this seemed very artificial and unreal. And don't get me started on the John/Julia thing--there was zero substance there. I couldn't get involved.

 

I like the idea of highly-evolved humans, but again, the backstory wasn't developed here and the future story wasn't really either. I think I'd be far more interested in reading about a character set in the future of these people. There was potential for a lot of commentary on the environment and on society, but these were all overlooked. It ultimately came off as having a cult-like feel and I couldn't really root for anyone.

 

There are far more exciting and engaging YA books upcoming that deal with important themes, and I'm not too fond of this one as a stand in for those.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-22 16:42
Stars Behaving Strangely
Noumenon - Marina J. Lostetter

A convoy of ships is sent out to investigate a star with unusual properties. To ensure the success of the mission the crew is selected very carefully for positive character traits, then cloned. The clones are sent out on a journey that for them will last around 200 years but due to the peculiarities of sub dimensional space travel about 2000 years pass on Earth. Obviously things don't go as predicted.

 

The story is less about what the crew find when they reach the star as about societal interaction on the outward and return journeys and the way the crew rearranges itself every time things don't go as planned. As far as that goes it was quite interesting. I personally would have liked to have spent more time at the LQPix, the star of their destination. Also, the ending didn't gel for me. It was obviously done to introduce a sequel but seemed a little forced. On the plus side, I liked what they found when they returned to Earth, that was quite unusual. I'm hovering between 3 and 4 stars: most of the concepts are not new and have been done better at one time or another and the author couldn't make the science seem credible for me but as the science was only a small part of the whole that wasn't too much of an issue. The package as a whole however was entertaining and I would definitely buy a sequel.

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review 2017-09-22 15:42
Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb
Loyalty in Death - J. D. Robb

A shady group, calling themselves Cassandra, is targeting New York landmarks, and Eve Dallas and Roarke personally. Eve because of her dedication as a cop, Roarke because of his capitalistic inclinations...Cassandra wants to see all of it destroyed, the fascist government, the corrupt capitalistic masses, the left, the right, and everything in between. The only right path is Cassandra...


This is what was missing in the previous book; the actual conspiracy. This story had it in spades...a shadowy terrorist group rising from the ashes of a previous one (a more murderous one, since they didn't have Eve Dallas and her team to deal with), political propaganda that was more an autocratic manifesto, a murder plot implicating an innocent bystander, a prophet in perfect disguise to hide the crazy core underneath...
The pacing was spot-on, with the final few chapters hurtling toward the end at breakneck speed, the mystery was intriguing, the big reveal of the true villain surprising (although the Heureka moment felt a bit rushed—more like a cartoon light bulb going off than a result of investigation).

The cast of characters was awesome as always, although I didn't particularly like Eve in this one, since she acted like either a bitch or an asshole without any obvious reason except the fact that she could and made for good conflict. I loved the bits with Peabody and McNab; from the animosity through those two "oh my God" scenes to the final cookie, and I really hope they work it out.

Good mystery and suspense, great action and speed, wonderful characters...It was almost perfect.

 

 



A gripe about chauvinism in representation and reception of the sexes in fiction (read at your own discretion):

Why is it that a man can do anything, even things we don't know him capable of doing, and we take it at face value, while a woman would be deemed as a Mary Sue?

In a fanfiction there was a woman, a capable, self-sufficient woman. Her father was a Navy SEAL, she worked for one government agency or another...And thanks to her training, she was good at hacking, and at hand-to-hand, and handling of firearms. She was good, but she wasn't perfect. She got herself kidnapped and needed rescue, she almost got herself killed before she overpowered her assailant...So, she wasn't perfect. But what do you think the readers in their reviews called her? A Mary Sue. Which is far from the truth, but I guess people, women included, couldn't accept the fact, there could be a woman out there (fictional or not) that was able to take care of herself or do anything beyond breathing without a man's helping hand.

Now, take Roarke as an example. We don't know anything about him, expect that he had a difficult childhood and started making money by pulling grifts, picking pockets, and smuggling. We have no idea (at least not yet), how he got from a street urchin to billionaire.
Yet, he's extremely good at hacking, he knows how to handle a banned weapon, he can make a kill both in the boardroom or in an alley...And in this particular book he also knows how to diffuse a bomb.
Eve gets her ass kicked on a regular basis, she's afraid of heights and speed, she doesn't know how to handle a computer beyond the basics, and constantly needs Roarke's help in getting certain information (Feeney, the Captain of the e-detectives, isn't as good, apparently), while Roarke is pretty much perfect. Beautiful, loaded, apparently inventive in bed, and capable of pretty much any feat Eve needs done to close the case.
But does anyone question his deus ex machina capabilities? Is he a Gary Stu? Nope, he's just Roarke. Because he's perfect.

Because he's a man. Yuk!

(spoiler show)
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