You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa

You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa

When Amaya is invited to her former best friend Kaavi’s extravagant wedding in Sri Lanka, she decides to attend. Her plan is to make sure the wedding does not happen - Kaavi is marrying Amaya's ex-boyfriend Stephen. The tale goes back and forth in time from the day of the wedding to three months earlier and several times in between, especially the week of the wedding. The points of view switch between Amaya in the beginning, an unreliable narrator at best, and Kaavi through the second part. There are also transcripts of interviews with various guests on the day of the wedding. None of the characters are actually likable. Yes, Amaya has been hurt, clearly, and she has some major issues, but listening to her inner dialogue can be too much. Kaavi is a spoiled brat in a lot of ways, but she runs a charity that she clearly believes in. Stephen seems to be charming, but we all know...
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Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Is it any wonder I enjoyed Under Lock & Skeleton Key? It's a locked room mystery, more or less, with delicious descriptions of food, multiple secret rooms and staircases, and even a family curse. Tempest comes from a magic family- even if none of them are currently performing. The family construction business does keep up the tradition though - it's all about creating hidden rooms, secret staircases, and the like. The misdirection theme runs throughout the book, almost too repetitively. The mystery itself is well done. The whodunnit didn't surprise me exactly and I was glad of a certain twist near the end. This is one of those books that's more about the how, which was actually pretty simple in the end, but I didn't put the pieces together. I like Tempest and her family. They are interesting and charming and feel real in their concerns. Her friends make a great team too and I hope we see more of...
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A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

First, go read A Memory Called Empire if you haven't yet. It's a fabulous book and I'm not sure you can fully understand/ enjoy A Desolation Called Peace without it. It's where we are first introduced to the Teixcalaan Empire, which spans across galaxies. It's an empire full of political intrigue and poetry. We also met Mahit Dzmare, the ambassador to Teixcalaan from Lsel Station, a small, independent mining space station with its own culture, identity, and most importantly technology. Lsel creates imagos, memory imprints that are designed to meld into the personality of the wearer and preserve the preceding generations of knowledge. This time around we meet the aliens, the ones killing people on the edges of the Teixalaan Empire. There is so much I could say about this book. The world-building is amazing and the aliens interesting, although maybe not unique. The main characters, and there are several, are each fully drawn with strengths and flaws and...
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Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

I don't read a lot of YA, but Queen of the Tiles combines murder and Scrabble and how could I pass that up? The Queen of the Tiles, Trina Low, is dead. She died a year ago during a championship Scrabble game, but someone has resurrected her Instagram account and is implying that she was murdered. This was just such an entertaining book. It was well-thought-out and just full of wonderful words. The characters were diverse and, while they had the typical teenage jealousies and overreactions, they weren't annoying. I was surprised by who the "bad guy" was and happy with the solution, especially because it wasn't the typical direction a murder mystery heads. I listened to the audio, which was a good choice. The narrator did a good job with the voices and the teenage emotions. I'm also not sure I could have pronounced some of the Scrabble words without help. Those kids had a massive vocabulary. Complicated female friendshipsScrabble and wordplayExploration...
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The Verifiers by Jane Pek

The Verifiers by Jane Pek

The Verifiers is a fun book, part mystery, part family drama, and part exploration of the data we provide online to corporations and how they might use that. Claudia Lin, our amateur detective, is the youngest, and at least according to her mom the least successful, of three siblings. She has left her low-level corporate job to work at Veracity, but she hasn't told her family. Claudia is a mystery lover and Veracity is a bit like a detective agency, allowing wealthy clients to investigate people they meet on dating sites. Veracity takes on a new client, a woman who wants them to investigate two men she met online, but whom she is no longer in contact with. At first, it's just interesting, but then the client is found dead in her apartment, an apparent suicide. Claudia is a likable character. She's smart and funny. She loves books and bicycling through New York. She's a lesbian and a romantic by...
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Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

Heaven, My Home is the follow-up to Bluebird, Bluebird and I really think they need to be read in order. Heaven, My Home has Texas Ranger Darren Matthews investigating a new case, a missing boy with connections to a white supremacist group, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT). But events from the first are still hanging over his head, threatening his career and marriage. In Jefferson, a 9-year-old boy, Levi King, was out at night in a ramshackle boat on Lake Caddo, but never makes it home. Levi is far from being a perfect child or even a nice child and his father is the head of the ABT, currently serving time in prison. An apparently reformed Bill is worried about Levi's disappearance, and Darren's boss sees the situation as a way to gain more information on the ABT. Locke sets the novel in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election and a Texas in which the repercussions are being felt in the...
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