As I have mentioned before, I am struggling with my reviews. For those that care (there must be 1 or 2 of you out there), I apologize. However, after issuing my mea culpa, I am happy to present to you - ta da - 2 mini-reviews.
The 1st is Unleashed, by David Rosenfelt. This is the 11th book (out of 14 novels) in the Andy Carpenter series. I've read and enjoyed them all. Is he the best legal/mystery writer out there? Most definitely not. Are his books entertaining? Most definitely yes. He reminds me of local author Sheldon Siegel's Mike and Rosie series, about San Francisco attorneys (partners and ex-spouses) who also have courtrooms and murders in every book. Sheldon is better, but Rosenfelt is good enough. Here's Goodreads' synopsis:
Andy Carpenter's accountant, Sam Willis, is stunned to receive a phone call out of the blue from Barry Price, a high school friend he hasn't spoken to in years, pleading for help with something too frightening to discuss on the phone. Barry needs Sam's financial acumen and lawyer Andy Carpenter's legal expertise and he needs them immediately. But when Sam almost runs over an injured dog lying in the road on the way to Barry's house, he can't drive off without waiting for help to arrive. By the time Sam makes it, Barry's already taken off on a private airplane headed who-knows-where. Assuming their help is no longer needed, Sam and Andy turn their full attention to helping the dog Sam found recover from his injuries. Then they learn that Barry's plane has crashed, and they come to the terrifying realization that Sam was also supposed to have been killed on that plane. Barry was in far more serious trouble than either of them knew, and for Sam and Andy, the trouble is only beginning.
any series, you come to know a variety of characters and hope/expect that they
will be in each book. That is certainly the case here. In fact,
Marcus, who is a strong-arm/bodyguard type, and who never speaks, only grunts,
has a short chapter all to himself. It's the 1st time Rosenfelt has done
that. And I have to say that that was a fun twist. Besides that,
there were a number of other surprises in this book. Considering it's
#11, I was surprised that he surprised me several times. Solid effort -
3/4. Like any series, you come to know a variety of characters and hope/expect
that they will be in each book. That is certainly the case here. In
fact, Marcus, who is a strong-arm/bodyguard type, and who never speaks, only
grunts, has a short chapter all to himself. It's the 1st time Rosenfelt
has done that. And I have to say that that was a fun twist. Besides
that, there were a number of other surprises in this book. Considering
it's #11, I was surprised that he surprised me several times. Solid
effort - 3/4.
The 2nd book is Astonish Me, by Maggie Shipstead. This one was sent to me by a publisher upon my request. Her 1st book, Seating Arrangements, was widely acclaimed, winning the Dylan Thomas Prize (whatever the heck that is) and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction (this one I can figure out). I didn't read Seating Arrangements but was happy to try Maggie's 2nd endeavor. And I definitely liked it. Here, once again, is Goodreads' synopsis.
Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a ballerina whose life has been shaped by her relationship with the world-famous dancer Arslan Ruskov, whom she helps defect from the Soviet Union to the United States. While Arslan's career takes off in New York, Joan's slowly declines, ending when she becomes pregnant and decides to marry her longtime admirer, a PhD student named Jacob. As the years pass, Joan settles into her new life in California, teaching dance and watching her son, Harry, become a ballet prodigy himself. But when Harry's success brings him into close contact with Arslan, explosive secrets are revealed that shatter the delicate balance Joan has struck between her past and present. In graceful, inimitable prose, Shipstead draws us into an extraordinary world, and the lives of her vivid and tempestuous characters. Filled with intrigue, brilliant satire, and emotional nuance, Astonish Me is a superlative follow-up to Shipstead's superb debut.
This book is very similar to Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret. Both books are very well written. I liked each of them about the same. It's a 3 out of 4 for me. And, again, like Secret, I didn't connect all that much with the characters, even though I liked them. It's so interesting how that happens. Here are 2 books that are getting national attention and acclaim. Yet, I'm reading local author C. Lee McKenzie's 2 YA books and care so much for the 16-year old protagonists (along with other characters in each book - especially Shawna's grandmother in Sliding on the Edge). I guess that's the great thing about books. There's something for everybody. And even when 2 people like the same book, they may differ widely in how much they like it and how much they relate to, and connect with, the characters. Having said all of that - I know that my opinion is the correct one. Because, after all, I am THE BOOK SAGE!