[Review] THE LAST TOURIST (Milo Weaver #4) by Olen Steinhauer, DNF

About the Book

Title: The Last Tourist
Author: Olen Steinhauer
Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 2020)
Find it on: Goodreads | B&N | Google Books | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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Review

Abdul Ghali, a CIA analyst, is tasked to go after Milo Weaver — the head of The Library. The Library is a private organization collecting classified information all over the world. It does not trust the authorities, hence its creation, and is often involved with terrorists and violence.⁣
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But Abdul is not a field agent. For the longest time, he’s been sitting behind his desk and computer analyzing data. So the big question is, why is the CIA sending him and why now?⁣
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This book is the fourth installment in the Milo Weaver series, but it can’t be read as a standalone. It uses jargon, most of which I would not have understood had I not read similar spy books before.⁣
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The story-telling is dry and cold. The characters are two-dimensional. It’s easy to get confused between Milo and Alan, between Leticia and Alexandra because sometimes it’s not clear who’s speaking. There are no chapter headings to indicate whose POV it is.⁣
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There is no clear mission to the point that it gets frustrating. At first, they are tracking Milo, then Abdul, the Milo again, then someone else. The story is dragging, and things only quicken at ~30%. ⁣
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On a positive note, the book tackles relevant issues, is backed-up with good research, and is feminist.⁣

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.⁣⁣ Check my sidebar; follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish content and honest reviews!

[Review] THE UNEXPECTED SPY by Tracy Walder, Jessica Anya Blau, 4 out of 5 stars

Tracy Schandler recounts her younger years — from being bullied in high school to being a more self-aware Delta Gamma girl at the USC, to landing a career spot in the CIA and eventually, the FBI. Tracy is a sucker for history and, like most of us, she wants to make this world a better place. Getting face-to-face with the most wanted terrorists in the early 2000s, she had never once felt afraid. What really led her to start her revolution is learning that the discrimination against women is just as much of a struggle as having to catch and extract information from Islamic extremists.

The events in this book are based on real events, and because of the sensitivity of the information, several parts of the narrative have been redacted. There are also a few typographical errors present. In spite of these, the message that Tracy Schandler (now Walder) conveys is still loud and clear.

The writing style is expository, and there’s nothing more enlightening than learning recent history from a primary source. The content is heavy, but the book has the right amount of humor and sarcasm to balance it out. Initially, the fight for gender equality is not inherent, but as the book comes to an end, that seems to be the over-arching theme. The focus shifts abruptly from fighting criminals to fighting double-standards.

Though this book deals with war and violence, it is slow-paced in revealing the ups and downs of being a spy. The narrative slowly builds up and ends with an inspiring call to action. Trigger warnings include terrorism (e.g., 9/11), hypotonia, graphic injuries, death of a loved one, PTSD, racism, and sexism.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Check my sidebar, follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish stuff and honest reviews!

[Review] NO WE CAN’T BE FRIENDS by Sophie Ranald, 2⚝ (Did Not Finish)

This is my first DNF of the year. But from what I have read until ~45% of the book, I’d rate it a 2 out of 5. This review may contain some spoilers.

First of all, the book is promoted as a romantic comedy, but there is nothing funny going on, at least in the first half.

Secondly, most of the characters are problematic. Sloane’s husband, Myles, is obviously cheating on her with his colleague, Bianca. But instead of talking to Myles about it, her first plan of action is to “win the competition”, which means having lots of hot sex and then snooping around Myles’ phone for evidence. Myles is caught in the act but instead of apologizing, he gets angry with Sloane for not respecting his privacy. While that is really something to be mad about, that’s not the point. He is one cheating bastard and he won’t admit it. And then there’s Bianca. How can you even call yourself as Sloane’s friend when you’re fucking her husband behind her back? And instead of telling Sloane the truth, she gives her vague hints to somehow clear her conscience.

As I read along, the issues got heavier for me so I just decided to stop. None of the characters piqued my interest anymore and the story was not getting better. Still, thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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[Review] The Love Solution by Ashley Croft, 3⚝

Sarah and Molly Havers have been orphaned since their teenage years. Sarah, being the eldest, sets her dreams aside for a while in order to support younger Molly. Fast forward a bit, Sarah is now living happily with her boyfriend Niall and has even started her own jewelry business. Little did she know about what’s coming and how these events will shake her world. Dr. Molly Havers, on the other hand, is a behavioral ecologist working on a hormone that can alter people’s feelings and make them in love. She is doing this under the guidance of her boss, Dr. Ewan Baxter, whom she also has the hots for. Is this ‘Love Bug’ really the solution they’ve been looking for? Can love really be controlled?

I love that this book is feminist in nature. I also love that it has a good balance of romance and humor. However, I found the premise problematic. There have already been a lot of stories about creating a love potion and this one did not really stand out. I hated Sarah’s character but I adored Molly and Ewan’s relationship. My favorite character would have to be Liam because he is the gentleman we all need. I would recommend this to friends looking for a light but not-so-impressive read. Trigger warnings include a car accident, death, cheating, sex, pregnancy, profanity, and mental health problems.

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[Review] SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid, 4⚝

Happy last day of 2019 and happy Pub Day to this book! Thanks to NetGalley & G.P. Putnam’s Sons for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Emira Tucker is a twenty-five-year-old African American who is struggling to find a “normal” employment. She’s turning twenty-six soon and that means she has to find a job that will cover her own health insurance because she can’t depend on her parents anymore. She applies as a part-time babysitter for Alix and Peter Chamberlain’s eldest daughter, Briar. One night, the Chamberlains get one of their windows busted due to a racist comment made by Peter on national television. Filled with panic, Alix calls Emira, who’s in the middle of a friend’s party, to distract Briar for a while as they deal with the police. What Emira doesn’t know is that this night will have a huge impact on her life. This particular night, at Market Depot, Emira will encounter a racist guard, come to know her future boyfriend Kelley Copeland, and soon learn about the connection of Kelley and Alix.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is masterfully written. It is both feminist and diverse. Initially, the story was kind of slow for me but in the middle up ’til the end, everything got more exciting. I love how the friendships in this book were so relatable. I also love how adorable Emira is with Briar.

The conflict was so intriguing that I couldn’t wait until everything was explained and resolved. This book has got me scrutinizing Kelley and Alix page after page, looking for clues as to who is really telling the truth. I was also questioning and constantly checking-in with myself because this book made me realize that sometimes, privilege seems too mundane in our daily lives that we forget that there are people who don’t get to enjoy these things as much as we do.

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[Review] SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT by Sara B. Larson, 3/5

Zuhra grew up in the citadel with her mother, sister Inara, and their helper/family friend Sami. The citadel was already a fortified structure, but the night her sister was born, the hedge around the citadel grew triple its original height trapping them all inside. Also, his father, a Paladin (Paladins are tall creatures with magical powers and blue light in their eyes), was suddenly gone, leaving them not only with no place to go but also broken hearts. One miraculous day, a stranger was able to pass through the hedge and everything in their lives changed.

First of all, I love that this was a feminist story. There were several strong and empowered women who were treated as men’s equals in everyday lives, leadership, and battles. I don’t have a favorite but those who stood out for me were Sami, Ederra, and Sachiel. For the male characters, I found Alkimos and Loukas admirable.

Now let’s go to Cinnia, Zuhra and Inara’s mother. I tried to understand her but I just can’t. She’s one of the characters I hated in the book. She’s a mother but how can she be so weak for her daughters? I also didn’t like that she’s displacing all her hate to Inara when the poor girl is not even to blame that her husband left fifteen years ago. She’s very lucky to have Sami around who voluntarily stayed with them to act as the girls’ mother.

For our protagonist Zuhra, I’d say I have a love-hate relationship with her. At first, I was on her side because everything just seemed so unfair to her. She was acting as her sister’s protector and putting up with their lonesome mother all the time, but this was not enough for Sami to tell her the truth she deserved to hear. It took a stranger for the secrets in the household to start spilling. Then, on the second part of the book, I just felt that she became too stubborn and insensitive of others’ feelings. Suddenly, everything was about her. While I admire her courage, I can’t deny the fact that more characters got hurt or died because of her. I just hope she will be more mature in the next book.

For the romance part, I felt that Zuhra’s feelings for Halvor and Halvor’s feelings for Inara were all too sudden and forced. I’d say Raidyn was a good match for Zuhra, but Raidyn was also one problematic character who needs to grow up which is why I like Loukas more.

I found the first part slow but the second part was where all the action was. I was loving it until the last few chapters. I understand that this is the first book in a series and that there should be a cliff-hanging scene in the end. But instead a good closure and leaving just one big mystery, an awful lot has happened in the end that messed the story.

Overall, I still felt good after reading the book. I learned some lessons and there were a lot of quotes I liked. I was so happy at all the family reunions, no matter how short they were. I would recommend this to lovers of fantasy, adventure, and action. Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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[Review] THE LADY’S DECEPTION by Susanna Craig, 4/5

English countess Rosamund Gorse runs away from Kilready castle when she finds out her brother, Charles, has sold her to marry Lord Dashfort. While there’s nothing strikingly wrong with Dashfort, aside from the rumors about his illegitimate child and the recent death of his wife, Rosamund doesn’t love him and has no intentions of marrying this man who’s way older than her.

In her plight, she meets Paris Burke, an Irish barrister, who is looking for a governess for his two youngest sisters. Taking advantage of his situation, Rosamund pretends to be a governess to earn while she hides. He takes her right away to Merrion Square and the next thing they know, they have developed affections for each other. But will this work, especially in the times when the Irish are rebelling against the English? Can love hopefully blossom out of lies and deception?

This book had a slow start and I almost did not want to finish it, but I’m glad I did. The build-up and excitement did not start until I was in the middle and it followed through ’til the end. The first thing that I loved in this book was the hidden desires and therefore tension between Paris and Rosamund. It was a slow-burn romance that was worth the wait. I adored the couple’s character developments and how they eventually chose to be brave as individuals so they can live better lives.

I also loved that the book was feminist (and LGBT-friendly). It portrayed how men and women can be equal even in the earlier times when men were the only ones expected to rule and succeed. It also talked about forgiveness not only of others, but more importantly, of yourself. If you have a big family, you will definitely enjoy this one as it shows how noisy yet happy a big family can be.

I found a few typo errors, mostly missing punctuation marks. I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and romance. Trigger warnings include death and sex. Special thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and Lyrical Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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