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Read: E is for evidence by Sue Grafton

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E is for evidence by Sue Grafton is the most complex of her novels in the alphabet series thus far. Someone is framing Kinsey for a recent crime but the current case actually has ties to older shenanigans as well.

The plots of Sue Grafton novels get better with each novel. Not only is the current crime complex, but it is linked to an older death originally deemed a suicide but turns out to be foul play. As the story unfolds, the twists and turns really give this plot enormous depth. It truly is a wild ride!

Kinsey as a character continues to develop and shows new levels of her savvy and cleverness. She is tough and when the going gets tough she persists even more than usual. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters of all time.

One of the best aspects of this particular novel is the development of a character who Kinsey usually doesn’t get along with. Darcy works at the insurance company and she is almost the exact opposite of Kinsey. However, for this case, they team up and work to solve the crime together. Their relationship develops into something positive and I am sure that we will see more of them in upcoming novels. They have a great dynamic and it is fun to see Kinsey expanding beyond just herself especially when in need.

Recommended?: For mystery novel fans and of course fans of Sue Grafton. This novel stands well on its own but as always with her series, it is better read within the set.

E is for evidence by Sue Grafton book cover

My other reviews of the Kinsey Millhone series:

1 A is for alibi

2 B is for burglar

3 C is for corpse

4 D is for deadbeat

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Read: We are holding the President hostage by Warren Adler

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Successful marketing can make all the difference. That is certainly true for We are holding the President hostage by Warren Adler. Although published in 1986, I just heard about it this year and so did other people reviewing it on Goodreads. The audiobook was released fairly recently, which created new buzz.

As the title isn’t subtle, the plot itself is giveaway. However, it is well-down and intriguing nonetheless, especially considering this book was written in 1986. In the novel, Egyptians are taking American hostages and the Americans don’t want to negotiate with terrorists. A pretty basic plot but the twist comes when the hostagetaking goes wrong and the mother and the sun are grabbed instead. The main issue with this is that they’re part of a mob boss’ family. In order to get his daughter and grandson back, the padre takes the President of theUnited States hostage during a state dinner. From there, it becomes a cat and mouse game of force versus politics.

At the White House, the main question is whether or not the president is compromised. The NSA director soon joins the hostage party, along with his state of the art computer, and helps the president achieve his goals while staying in power. The political savvy of this book is interesting since the Vice President is an outsider that was just put on the ticket for the win. He believes that he must take over power in order to deal with the situation levelheadedly but the rest of the President’s cabinet does not believe in him. Among all the action, the political intrigue is fascinating. Everyone wants to affect the outcome and pulls different strings to do so.

The story itself takes place in the White House and with the kidnapped daughter and her son hostages in the Middle East. Other than their poor living conditions, there is it really description about how or if they are mistreated further. It’s clear that their main purpose is bargaining chip. Nowadays with all the detailed violence portrayed in various media, it’s nice that it’s not the focus in this book. The point is how, or even can, the President free the kidnapped hostages in the Middle East without being killed or ousted himself. Is it possible for him to remain President and in control?

Alder’s writing is simple and action-driven, making it a very quick read. It reminds be of a Vince Flynn or Dan Brown novel but with much more political intrigue. That was the part that I enjoyed the most–different characters motivations and the justification of how to achieve what they believed to be the correct course of action.

Recommended?: Yes, for anyone who enjoys a politically savvy, action novel that’s a very quick read. Well there’s not much depth, it is fun and not exactly the plot you might expect. Also, I’m sure it’d be a great audiobook.

We are holding the President hostage by Warren Adler title page

Read: D is for deadbeat: A Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton

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Once again, Kinsey Millhone is on the trail of an unknown killer in D is for deadbeat. Sue Grafton’s next is the alphabet mysteries fits right in.

Once again, Grafton has a multitude of characters in this novel. That makes the whodunit aspect of the mystery much more intriguing. For me, it really did end up being a surprise, which was fun. Her characters feel realistic and especially in this one cover a range of emotions due to the plot and everyone’s terrible relations with the deadbeat that everyone is connected to.

As far as the plot goes, it is definitely well written but is by far the saddest so far in the series. The body count is higher and as readers we are invested in a couple of them. Oddly, the plot is a bit of a conundrum, as the deadbeat hires Kinsey first of all to deliver a cashiers check to someone that he can’t locate but then is himself killed towards the beginning of the novel and she sticks on to try to figure out who killed him because she has a sense it wasn’t an accident like the cops claim. So even though we don’t care for the deadbeat we care about the people around him who are connected to him and those who want to get even with him for the terrible things he’s done in the past. That’s what makes this plot most intriguing is because many people have a motivation to get rid of him.

As with Grafton’s other novels, this one is also a quick read, facilitated by her engaging and compelling writing that has a wonderful flow. Other than the sassy, no-nonsense main character Kinsey, her writing style is what keeps me coming back to this series.

Recommended?: Yes, as long as you don’t mind a sad ending (perhaps it’s more tragic than sad). First, of all the books so far, this one stands well on its own. There aren’t that many ties to the previous book and it is more self-contained than any of the other one so far. While the others are fun and do add to the bigger picture of Kinsey Millhone, this one could be picked up out of order or just as a single read of the series and it would be okay. There’s quite a bit of drama, lots of desire for revenge, and slightly more graphic descriptions of injuries. Still, it’s a great mystery novel.

D is for deadbeat book cover

My other reviews of the Kinsey Millhone series:

1 A is for alibi

2 B is for burglar

3 C is for corpse

Read: Rich people problems: a novel by Kevin Kwan

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The final book in the trilogy, Rich people problems by Kevin Kwan achieves the same outrageous, glamorous, fabulous stratosphere of the first two novels. Kwan once again returns to Singapore to continue following the stories of Nick Young and his large and larger-than-life family. This time, his beloved grandmother Su Yi, owner of family estate Tyersall Park, is dying and everyone rushes home to be by her bedside.

Since the plot is so clever and complex, I won’t give away much about the novel. However, it really does follow the last two closely so the complete trilogy needs to be read. It wouldn’t be quite as enjoyable if read is a standalone book due to the backstory of all the characters, plot lines, and relationships that build up to the start of this final novel.

As with the first two in the trilogy, this third installment has the same satirical tone. It captures the glam and glitz of crazy rich Asians, from the posh old money Singaporeans to the brash new money Chinese mainlanders. Even among each group, there are reserved and flashy people as well. Kwan captures many nuances among the different types, motivations, and mentality of the über wealthy elites. He once again balances being bizarrely outrageous while still believable. For some reason, no matter what over-the-top occurrence happens, as a reader I was still completely bought into the characters and the story.

Rich people problems expands its breadth of main characters to encompass those who had previous lesser rolls and other books. While Nick and Rachel are still two of the main characters, Astrid and Charlie get more story time and another main focus surprisingly is on Kitty Pong–who has once again married up for even more fame and fortune. Quan deafly intertwined various storylines until they all match up and get resolved. However, he continues to use his true cliffhanger style, though sometimes irritating, in alternating chapters to different characters; sometimes I just wanted to keep reading a certain character’s storyline but that desire put aside as a reader, his novel is well-planned out just like the others.

Recommended?: Yes, for anyone who’s read the rest of the series. The other two are excellent so if you haven’t read them, start there first. There is so much back history between all the characters that plays into this novel that it only truly makes sense with all of the previous history. As it is the final book in the trilogy, all of the stories wrap up and some characters get what they truly deserve so a real pleasure comes from having read the first two in order to understand all the situations and relationships leading up to this final novel.

Rich people problems by Kevin Kwan book cover

My other Crazy rich trilogy reviews:
Book one: Crazy rich Asians
Book two: China rich girlfriend

Read: C is for corpse: a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton

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Finished the third in the series and can’t wait to read the next! C is for corpse: a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton continues to follow the sassy, twice divorced Kinsey Millhone as she takes on yet another perplexing case. This time, her client winds up dead and she even more doggedly tries to solve the case.

When Kinsey meets Bobby Callahan, he’s already been purposefully run off the road and is disfigured from his injuries. There is no evidence of a crime, however, and it appears that he just had an accident but his best friend died in the crash and Bobby is determined to figure out who is trying to kill him even if he can’t remember a thing before the accident. As Kinsey and Bobby become close, when he dies in a fatal car accident, she digs into the case even harder, wanting to figure it out not only for herself but for him.

Compared to the other two in the series, this is my least favorite so far. While Kinsey is still her same sassy and sometimes rude self, the plot just didn’t grab me. Bobby is killed about halfway through (which is spoiled on the back cover so it’s not really a spoiler) and the. It drags for a bit but picks back up at the end for a thriller. Also, the side story abut her landlord sly new girlfriend didn’t interest me even though it’s its own mini mystery inside the novel. It just felt in the way of the main plot.

Grafton includes many more characters as well, starting to include more of a cast than just a handful which is good. It may allow her to do more complex mysteries in future books in the series. In this novel, they are all well-used, even if briefly. The world felt more full and complete, though the simplicity and tightly-bound stories of the first two worked as well. It’s just a different approach. Since it is a large series, it’s nice to see variety this early on. Cookie cutter books are never much fun for me.

Recommended?: Yes, if you want to read all in the series. If you are new, better to start at the beginning and then work up to this one especially as there are only two before it. If you don’t care about reading them all, you could skip. While it stands alone better, I wouldn’t recommend beginning with or only reading this one, though. Next up: D is for deadbeat!

C is for corpse: a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton book cover

My other reviews of the Kinsey Millhone series:

  1. A is for alibi
  2. B is for burglar

Read: The diary of a Tokyo teen: Japanese-American girl travels to the land of trendy fashion, high-tech toilet and maid cafes by Christine Mari Izner

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The diary of a Tokyo teen: Japanese-American girl travels to the land of trendy fashion, high-tech toilet and maid cafes by Christine Mari Izner is a fun illustrated overview of visiting Japan.

Izner writes about going back to her home country of Japan for a summer when she was a teenager. She stays with her grandparents for several weeks on her own and then the rest of her family joins for the last part of her trip. During that time she sees Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara, along with enjoying the company of her grandparents in their small town outside of Tokyo. Several popular foods, sites, and noteworthy cultural aspects are explained as she explores Japan.

Although the graphic novel is simple with only a photo or a few drawings and minimal text on a page, it really is meant for a teenager. However, adults can enjoy too especially if you need a quick idea of what it is like to visit Japan. For the most part, there isn’t anything offensive, but there is a reference made to love hotels.

The overall style of the graphic novel conveys the bright and trendy as well as historical parts of Japan very well. She uses snapshot photos, drawings and doodles to tell the story. Sometime she makes comparison drawings while other times she depicts the scenery of an area. The style makes for a fast and breezy read, and if you have a bit of time, it can be finished in one sitting.

Recommended?: yes, for any teens or adults traveling to Japan, lovers a graphic novels, and anyone who wants to be transported on a whirlwind adventure. Although it’s told from the perspective of a teenage girl, everyone can enjoy it.

Diary of a Tokyo teen by Christine Mari Izner book cover

Picture of pages 56 and 57

Read: China rich girlfriend: a novel by Kevin Kwan

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Crazy rich Asians have nothing on a China rich girlfriend. This sequel by Kevin Kwan is even more over-the-top, a feat that doesn’t seem possible, making it another fabulous time in Singapore, Hong Kong, and of course mainland China.

Rachel and Nick are back with another whirlwind adventure trip to the East. This time, they go to China but Nick’s family features fairly prominently as well in Singapore and Hong Kong. Drama seems to follow them despite their low-key attitudes, making this another fun and enjoyable read.

While the first novel focused on Nick’s family dynamics and their desire to remain private and frugally spend their wealth (or not), China rich girlfriend is all about the publicity-seeking, gigantic-spending, wealth-inheriting Chinese mainlanders of Nick and Rachel’s generation. The more bling the better! No price is too much.

Again, Kwan plots an extravagant story that has believable characters despite the grandiose setting and spending sprees. He is very deft at walking the fine line between ridiculously unbelievable and just crazy enough. Rachel and Nick head to China once again on a trip that has likely found her actual birthday father but his family is less than thrilled that she found them. As she tries to enjoy China, drama ensues with her stepmom and they try to make the best of the trip anyway.

Recommended?: Yes, especially if you’re a fan of the first novel or want a peak into how the opulent young mainlander Chinese unload their money without so much as blinking an eye. While not required to enjoy this sequel, it certainly makes more sense since you will know right away who everyone is and what their relationships are to each other. I can’t wait to read the third in the trilogy!

China rich girlfriend by Kevin Kwan book cover