Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Duplicate Effort (Retrieval Artist #7) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

5 stars for Duplicate Effort (Retrieval Artist book 7) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

In my opinion, an author who ventures - and more importantly is willing - to kill off her story characters is one who will go far in spinning stories that are remarkably different and then proceed to top them off with phenomenal sequels. Rusch, author of the Retrieval Artist series definitely qualifies as one such; she takes me by surprise book after book with the unexpected and irrevocable dropout of characters most of whom at first instance give the impression of vital importance.

In this seventh and final instalment of the Retrieval Artist series, Rusch skilfully gathers all the big names and put them to work as they scramble to solve the mystery - a case which seems to be mostly about technology and designs - of the year.

  • First, we have Ki Bowles, an investigative reporter who used to work in InterDome Media, the biggest media conglomerate on the Moon, making a huge comeback with news that stagger even the most calm.

  • Following closely behind the footsteps of Ki Bowles is Detective Bartholomew Nyquist, a down-to-earth character who prefers to live his life, do his job and spend time with the people he cares about. He is assigned the lead detective in the case.

  • Then we see the return of Attorney Wagner from Wagner, Stuart and Xendor, the Moon’s largest law firm which also happens to be one of the largest law firms in the Earth Alliance.

  • Next, we have investigation in the works by none other than Noelle DeRicci, Miles Flint’s former partner at the police department. As Security Chief for the United Domes of the Moon, DeRicci is now charged with protecting not just Armstrong but all the Domes on the Moon against the unknown and unimaginable.

  • Last but not least, we have the star of the series, Miles Flint, without whom there will be no story to tell. Though Flint has left the Detective Division about four years ago to work - as a Retrieval Artist - at the edges of the law, he is still pretty well known at the precinct and carries some clout to aid in his research.

As with most cases - and in reality - in the series, not everything has an answer. But yet the author works her way through the haze of a maze to emerge with brilliant solutions to dilemmas that grapple with ethical issues. This in conjunction with the enterprising attitude makes Rusch an extraordinary author; one who continues to roll out the greatest science fiction fantasy novels of all time.

Though I am happy to have travelled alongside Flint for the past many weeks, I am sad to have reached the end of his/our journey. Yes, I have a lovely and memorable time but I also agree that all good things must - come to an - end. And so it is with some reluctance amid much joy that I part with Flint, the Retrieval Artist.

Publisher: WMG Publishing
Publication date: 9 Nov 2012


Retrieval Artist Miles Flint has a mission: take down the law firm of Wagner, Stuart, and Xendor. He enlists the aides of old friends and old enemies. But as the mission gets underway, one member of his team dies horribly.

Flint can no longer take on the entire universe. He violated the rules of his Retrieval Artist mentor and now has a lot to lose. But he can’t reverse the events he set in motion—and the crisis he caused might destroy everything—and everyone—he loves.

*Blurb from author's website*

Add to:

Links to purchase:

icon icon

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: Recovery Man (Retrieval Artist #6) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

5 stars for Recovery Man (Retrieval Artist book 6) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

The moment I finish reading book 5 Paloma, I move on happily to book 6 where I read and read and.. suddenly halt - my eyes literally zoom in and freeze on a particular sentence that makes my jaws drop and my eyebrows to shoot up to my hairline - for the author has dropped a bombshell so huge that I am momentarily stunned into silence and stillness.

To recap, the author introduces the art of retrieving via the Retrieval Artists since inception of the series. Somewhere along the way, Trackers who join the lucrative business of searching for the Disappeared are disclosed. In this latest instalment, the author adds a third category to this esoteric profession - Recovery Man – and brilliantly spins a splendid story that takes on a life of its own.

Retrieval Artist
Retrieval Artists are private detectives who specialise in finding the Disappeared, people who deliberately go missing, usually to avoid prosecution or death by any one of fifty different alien cultures. Most - if not all - Retrieval Artists will do everything they can to ensure the Disappeared can continue living their new lives in their new identities without being found by people who meant them harm. Usually Retrieval Artists worked for lawyers or insurance companies to find a Disappeared who is up for an inheritance or is the beneficiary of a policy; though occasionally, Retrieval Artists work for the families who want to notify the Disappeared that the search is off and they are welcomed to return home.

Trackers use any means possible to bring a once-safe Disappeared back to face their legal charges or to serve their sentences with no regard for the consequences. They usually piggyback on the work of others – Retrieval Artists especially – to find the Disappeared and gain a finder’s fee for the effort. Usually Trackers find people for alien governments, though sometimes they worked for lawyers or human governments. A real Tracker, one who is registered with the Earth Alliance agency, is expensive; most governments only hire Trackers for the most grievous cases as they do not have enough resources to engage a Tracker for every Disappeared.

Recovery Man
Recovery Men work like Trackers, except without the regulations as they are not members of the Earth Alliance. Usually they recover artifacts such as heirlooms, rare and exotic creatures/plants/non-sentients; and in exceptional cases, people. A Recovery Man is at best, a con artist and at worst, a ruthless thief who will stop at nothing to get whatever he is after.

This time, the story takes us to a brand new place. Readers are transported from the usual backdrop of Armstrong Dome on Earth’s Moon to the city of Valhalla Basin on Callisto, one of the larger moons of Jupiter which is also the eighth closest (outermost) satellite to said planet. Besides the new story setting, the author also brings forth a new alien group, the Gyonnese – an extremely rule bound species – who come from a planet named Gyonne.

Once again, I am awed by the author who has a unique way of affecting and influencing readers through her work of fiction. Indeed, all her writings in this space opera book - orbital rides, off-Moon hotels, Moon space, solar system, contaminants, environmental suits, medical programs, escape pods, nanobot, enhancements, etc – make me look at the world with a different understanding and question the status quo.

Perhaps what takes my breath away most of all is the skill and ease in which the author moves her characters around and about. I am utterly bowled over by the workings of the author's mind. How is it possible that one can come up with such an intricate plot - one after another - and write so seamlessly well that the story characters not only float in a forward-moving fashion but have the capabilities and abilities to step back to the past?

Notably though, this time round the story concludes in a way that I do not expect it to. Looking back, I cannot agree more with the way the author wraps up Recovery Man. The intended ending is, after all, for the greater good - while leaving space to be expanded upon and loopholes to be exploited against in the next book - in the grand scheme of things.

Publisher: WMG Publishing
Publication date: 28 Nov 2011


When she arrives home from school on Callisto, Talia Shindo finds two strange men in her house. They terrorize her, and kidnap her mother. The men leave Talia behind. She’s thirteen, brilliant, and determined to find her missing mother.

Retrieval Artist Miles Flint works a seemingly unrelated case, digging into files left him by his mentor. Only he finds a connection to the Shindo kidnapping, a connection that shatters everything he ever knew.

The two cases collide, changing Flint, changing Talia, and changing the universe around them—forever.

*Blurb from author's website*

Add to:

Links to purchase:

icon icon

Friday, September 11, 2015

Review: Paloma (Retrieval Artist #5) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

5 stars for Paloma (Retrieval Artist book 5) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

When I start off with book 1 The Disappeared some time ago in mid-July, I am aware that the Retrieval Artist series is comprised of 7 instalments. However, I have only a vague impression of book title 5 which means pretty much nothing to me at that time. It is towards the last couple of chapters in book 1 that it dawns on me that the name Paloma is no light-weight but one of significance and importance. With this realisation in mind, I slowly inch my way towards book 5 - a book named and dedicated solely for a retired Retrieval Artist - Paloma.

Who exactly is Paloma? Not much is known about this lady - who goes strictly by a first name with no last; not even on records - besides the fact that she used to be a Retrieval Artist before selling her business to Miles Flint and retires for good. This book is where the author reveals it all. Ingeniously.

Book 5 starts the ball rolling - where book 4 Buried Deep leaves off - with the return of Miles Flint from his vacation, one which he uses as an excuse to get away from everyone and anyone so as to be alone by himself with nothing to think about and yet all the time to re-examine everything about himself and his string of careers from computer specialist to Space Traffic patrol officer to City of Armstrong detective to Retrieval Artist.

I love it that the author sets aside this particular story to reveal a part of Flint where she has kept hidden in the earlier books. Here, Flint is caught up in a maelstrom of emotions including but not limited to confusion, anger, betrayal, grief, respect and - most of all, a feeling he himself is not even aware that he is capable of - love. Paloma is after all, the one out of his two contacts, other than Noelle DeRicci, that he ever let himself be close to; his friend if he ever has one and a mentor as well, not just a retired someone whom he buys the business from.

As I read along, the story slowly turns into a civil case involving the most powerful attorney – one that makes its appearance in one of Flint’s early cases - from the Moon's largest law firm located in Armstrong and one of the most notorious Retrieval Artists of all time.

Once again, the author does a remarkable job of writing and spinning a splendid plot where it does not seem deliberate even when the paths of the same few characters - Miles Flint, Noelle DeRicci, Bartholomew Nyquist and Ki Bowles - cross to make headlines.

Best of all, this is a book where I get to enjoy to my heart's content, the third person narratives on most if not all, the characters that I adore.

Publisher: WMG Publishing
Publication date: 23 Sep 2011

*** Favourite quote 1 ***

The police didn't like Retrieval Artists, anyway; that Flint — a former detective, considered one of the city's best — had gone to that barely legal world made them angry.

*** Favourite quote 2 ***

"You suspect me?" Flint asked. "We don't have enough information to suspect anyone right now," Nyquist said. Flint smiled coldly. "You mean, you suspect everyone right now." Nyquist nodded. "That's the other way to put it," he said.

~ Paloma
Kristine Kathryn Rusch


Retrieval Artist Miles Flint gets an urgent message from his mentor, Paloma. But by the time he arrives at her apartment, she’s dead, the victim of a terrible murder. The police, already on the scene, think Flint’s connected to the death.

Effectively frozen out of the investigation, he starts one of his own, and discovers secrets that Paloma kept, secrets that make Flint question everything he knew about her, everything she taught him about honor, ethics, and being a Retrieval Artist.

*Blurb from author's website*

Add to:

Links to purchase:

icon icon

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Return to the Dark House (Dark House #2) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

5 stars for Return to the Dark House (Dark House book 2) by Laurie Faria Stolarz.

By sheer chance or hard work, I find it, see it, grab it and hoard it. By it, I mean the hardcover book of Return to the Dark House; a book I seek high and low ever since the credits start rolling in my front row seat to Welcome to the Dark House. Gripping the hardback against my chest - ecstasy beyond words - I thank my lucky stars for this unbelievable find.

Some people awake to escape their nightmares. Ivy Jensen - the only known survivor since the Dark House amusement park night - awakes into one (after another); on top of the ordeal she suffers from her parents' murder seven years ago, she now has to contend with the latest horror since the Dark House weekend.

In this sequel, Ivy continues to receive the Nightmare Elf e-Newsletter from the anonymous someone who orchestrates the entire elaborate setting two months ago. Much as she works to put her nightmares behind, in the deep recesses of her mind, Ivy knows that she will not be able to move forward until she finds closure - by seeking out Parker Bradley and the rest of the Dark House Dreamers whether alive or dead - to the whole Dark House episode. As the author so plainly puts it in her book title, Return to the Dark House is all about Ivy's return trip to the dark house; one that is spooky, gothic and complete with creepy gargoyles.

In my opinion, the author has done a fantastic job of putting readers in the shoes of the narrators such that I feel as if I am the wronged party who has been dealt the injustice. Reliving the pain that originates from the Dark House weekend through flashbacks by Ivy - as she grapples with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder - makes me feel as if I have gone on an intense emotional rollercoaster ride.

In book 1, we know that one of the contest winners - a girl by the name of Taylor Monroe - leaves the Dark House way before the die is cast for her role in the amusement park. Back then, I am so preoccupied with the rest of the 6 characters that I am not in the least bit bothered about the reasons that give rise to Taylor's disappearance. In this book 2, the author brilliantly draws her back and builds upon this character by giving her a voice, one that subtlety keeps me intrigued - from the moment of her appearance - to keep the pages turning to unravel her side of the story.

In all honesty, besides the almost predictable return of Taylor Monroe, that and the starring of Ivy Jensen in her lead role - where there will be actual sequel filming by the Nightmare Elf; a psychopath - in Return to the Dark House, I have not the faintest idea what to expect in this instalment. As a result, almost every chapter is loaded with spine-tingling surprises that give me the heebie-jeebies and at the end of it all, I am simply awed by the creativity of the author in spinning such a smooth sailing tale of horror origins.

In reading Return to the Dark House, I feel as if I have made a return trip - by myself - to the same big screen to catch the sequel of a horror flick, one that is even more involving and mind-boggling than the first. At the end of it all, when the credits start rolling yet again, I feel both relieved and sad; relieved to have survived another heart-stopping dark house adventure and yet sad that it has come to a close. The good thing is that based on the way the story concludes, I am 99.9% certain that a book 3 is in the pipeline. Yay!

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: 21 Jul 2015


Two months have passed since Ivy narrowly escaped the Nightmare Elf’s grip, but the memories of Parker, Natalie, Shayla, Frankie, and Garth continue to haunt her. Their killer is still out there—somewhere. The police trail has gone cold, though, and it’s up to Ivy to piece together the clues to find him.

When a cryptic video arrives in her inbox, Ivy soon finds herself back in the spotlight, this time on a twisted scavenger hunt through the dark, ancient halls of a long-forgotten Gothic school building. Ivy’s not alone, either. Taylor Monroe has returned to the scene. But can Taylor be trusted? Or is she another pawn in the Nightmare Elf’s deadly game?

*Blurb from author's website*

Add to:

Links to purchase:

icon icon