Author: Robert Harris
Published: February 1, 2000
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Fluke Kelso was once a scholar of promise, but like so many in the highly competitive world of academia, he’s never delivered. But one night, at a symposium in Moscow concerning the release of secret Soviet archives, he is approached by Papu Rapava, a former Kremlin bodyguard with a story to tell. No one but the desperate Kelso would believe the tale, for what Rapava describes is a sort of Holy Grail among researchers: an actual diary left by Joseph Stalin himself. Such an artifact, if it’s genuine — and if Kelso can survive the fascist Vladimir Mamantov, who wants it for his own agenda — would be the coup of a lifetime for the discredited researcher.
Before Kelso can learn the location of the diary, Rapava disappears, and Kelso’s search for the former bodyguard leads him to the man’s daughter, a whore selling herself in the new Moscow of drugs, corruption, and the Russian mafia. With an unscrupulous American journalist hot on their heels, a major of the new KGB close behind, and the shadowy Mamantov following them all, the two follow a trail that leads from Moscow’s seedy underbelly to the industrial city of Archangel, where Russia once built her fleets of submarines, to a remote camp on the edge of the Siberian nothingness, and finally to a shocking conclusion that bites like the wind blowing off the tundra. What Kelso sees as the coup of his career might turn out to be the catalyst for an actual coup in Russia. There is a legacy behind the diary, a legacy of evil and death, and Fluke Kelso is unwittingly about to unleash it on the world.
Robert Harris has nudged his way onto my list of favorite authors! A hunt for Stalin’s lost papers?? Yes please! If there is indeed that expedition, I volunteer!
Archangel gave a great look at the little details of Russian politics, culture, geography, history, etc. Harris included references to before the fall of communism along with the more current government structure of recent years. He manages to write new stories about current subjects that you can’t help but believe, yet never names real leaders or current politicians. The beginning started a little slow, but I enjoyed the details of the old man’s story and Fluke’s plethora of research.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure how everything was going to come together. I was almost disappointed with the ending, yet Harris surprised me and I was pleased with how everything was tied up. Overall, this is a great book for historians and even for those who love nitty gritty historical detail!
Siri, Who Am I?
Author: Sam Tschida
Published: TODAY, January 12, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 25, 2020- January 4, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars
Mia might look like a Millennial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with short-term amnesia after an accident, Mia can’t remember her own name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), she senses she’s wealthy, but the only way to know for sure is to retrace her steps once she leaves the hospital. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in posts but finds Max, a cute, off-duty postdoc supplementing his income with a house-sitting gig. He tells her the house belongs to JP, a billionaire with a chocolate empire. A few texts later, JP confirms her wildest dreams: they’re in love, Mia is living the good life, and he’ll be back that weekend.
But as Mia and Max work backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles to learn more about her, they discover a surprising truth behind her perfect Instagram feed, and evidence that her head wound was no accident. Who was Mia before she woke up in that hospital? And is it too late for her to rewrite her story?
Siri, Who Am I? would be the perfect beach read if you can get to a beach these days! Mia wakes up from a coma with no memory of who she is and how she ended up in the hospital. She even relies on her phone to tell her her own name!
The only negative for me is that this is one novel where you MUST suspend your belief in reality, as someone with no memory/ knowledge of who she is or who she knows with no wallet/ID/medical insurance cards would never be let go on her own accord from the hospital. Mia doesn’t even know where she lives so where is she going to go? There is 1000% no way a hospital would release her! Ok, now that is over…
This is an entertaining read and I enjoyed going on the ride with Mia as she slowly discovers who she is and what her life is like (including her job!). But things are not quite what they seem as Mia beings to discover reality via Instagram and more. There are many popular culture references from recent years and not so recent years that just about everyone reading can catch and add enjoyment to while reading. The character of Mia actually has a real Instagram handle: @mia4realz. There are not many posts on this account but it was still fun to see. Of course the author has her own Instagram account: @therealsamtschida
Siri, Who Am I? has the ending I was rooting for, but was not sure would happen. This novel is a very light read, and is pure escapist fantasy that will definitely bring enjoyment to the reader. While far from perfect, this novel is definitely one for fans of chick lit. I could also see this book becoming an entertaining film, one that I would definitely watch.
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me an arc copy to read and review.[Top]
The Alice Network
Author: Kate Quinn
Published: June 6, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.
I hate to say it, but I was rather disappointed in this book. Thankfully, most of the plot and the characters saved it from being a total loss, but after the success of The Huntress, I was expecting much more. Charlie was the true downfall of this book. I didn’t understand the beginning of her search for Rose. Was it truly her hallucinations that drove her? And I know that slut shaming is looked down upon nowadays, but damn girl! A lot of people lost family in the war and they didn’t hop in the sack with every available person! I didn’t respect her and frankly, I didn’t care what happened to her. I feel bad about that, but actions have consequences and she also didn’t seem to grasp that completely.
I liked all the other characters well enough! Eve and Finn were great! Eve’s history of a female spy during WW1 was fascinating and entertaining. And her big heart while helping Charlie search for her cousin just made me like her more. I even liked the way it ended, which is good because I didn’t like the way it started at all.
Overall, it was ok, just ok.