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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Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Lena Scott's half-sister, former reality tv star Desiree Pierce, is dead. At first glance, it looks like an accidental overdose, but Lena is not convinced. You have to root for Lena. The book is told from her first-person point of view and she's smart, tenacious, funny, and sassy. The other characters are well-done too, from Desiree's best friend to Mel, the hip-hop producer father. And they each of secrets they're not telling Lena. There's a lot about Desiree's life that Lena doesn't understand and she doesn't know who she can trust. It's a very contemporary mystery. A lot of the clues are on Desiree's phone, contacts, messages, photos, her Instagram account. It had twists and turns and I was nowhere close to guessing the killer. It all made sense in the end though. The story kept me riveted to the page. I was invited into a world that I don't usually visit even in books, with rappers and "influencers" and...
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Putin’s People by Catherine Belton

Putin’s People by Catherine Belton

Putin's People is a clearly well-researched, possibly slightly biased, history of Putin, the KGB, and Russia from the fall of the Soviet Union to a couple of years ago. This was obviously published before the current war, but you can still see it coming. Honestly, the war is why I picked it up. I don't read much history or politics or economics, but then something happens and I wish I had more background to draw on. I am probably not the best audience for this book. There are tons and tons of people, places, companies, very few of which I'm familiar with. It's a dense book and I won't remember many of the details, but it's also well laid out and at times almost reads like a thriller. The Russia of today isn’t much different from the Russia before 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Not only are the viewpoints, world views, and goals for the most part...
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