Book review: Singapore Sapphire by A.M. Stuart

Singapore Sapphire by A.M. Stuart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first in a series (because, of course, I have finished reading all the other books in all the other series I have started). This book caught my attention because it takes place in Singapore in 1910 during British colonial rule, and it’s a period I know very little about.
I really enjoyed the debut novel to this series. The heroine is strong-willed but flawed, and the portrayal of the constraints of her position as a woman as well as the privileges of her position as a British white woman are both realistically described with little fanfare. The plot is interesting and well-paced. Even though you know the heroine survives (because, a series), the anticipation towards the climax is well done. And the author does an excellent job of portraying Singapore as it was with all its warts without either being preachy and with a deft touch, as the best historical mystery authors can do.
I have already bought the second book in the series and look forward to learning more about the main characters and Singapore during this time period!

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Book review: Priority Target by Ethan Jones

Priority Target by Ethan Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t generally post reviews of books that I didn’t particularly like (mostly because books are a deeply personal thing, and authors work hard at their craft, regardless of whether I liked the book or not), but this book irked me in ways that I felt the need to express.
I started reading it because I like action/adventure/thriller books, but the main protagonist in these types of books is almost always male. In this case, the author made a deliberate choice to have a female protagonist, and I was intrigued.
Unfortunately, the book was a disappointment. The plot was quite interesting and was well-paced, so that was a plus. But if you are going to write a female protagonist, you’re going to have to do better at differentiating the protagonist than throwaway lines like “I put on mascara and lipstick” or “I brushed my hair and put it in a ponytail.” There are differences between a male and a female protagonist that go beyond hair, makeup, and clothing. Not exploring those differences shows a lamentable lack of imagination by the author.
So I’m passing on this series. If you are interested in female protagonists in thrillers, I highly recommend Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country series. At least the female protagonist in his books is not messing with her lipstick.

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