Sunday, May 28, 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh

Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh
  • ISBN-10: 0399171630 - Hardcover $17.99
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (May 16, 2017), 416 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewers program.

The blurb:
There was only ever one expectation for Mariko, a prominent samurai's daughter: that she would marry. Her twin brother was the one trained in the way of the warrior while Mariko was left to nurture her love of science and invention in secret.  But on her way to the imperial city, where she was to meet her betrothed for the first time, her convoy was attacked and everything changes.  The assassins kill everyone -- or so they think. Despite almost being burned alive, Mariko escapes.

Driven by vengeance, she flees the forest and seeks out her would-be assassins, the Black Clan, joining their ranks disguised as a peasant boy.  She's determined to discover who ordered her death and why -- and to make them pay.  Little does she expect to find a place for herself among the Black Clan.  A place where her talents and intellect are appreciated.  Little does she expect to fall in love.  And never did she expect to have to choose between them and everything she's ever known.  But when the secrets of the imperial city, the Black Clan, and her family converge, choose is exactly what she must do.

Flame in the Mist is the first in a new series by Renee Ahdieh. Set in a mythical medieval feudal Japan, it follows the story of the twins of a high ranking feudal samurai as they are starting to come into their own. The older male twin Hattori Kenshin is known as the Dragon of Kai for his courage and skill as warrior. The younger sister Hattori Mariko is chosen to marry into the Imperial family.  While Kenshin is popular and well regarded, Mariko is often seen as too intelligent and too blunt to conform to society's expectations.

After Mariko's convoy is ambushed and all her attendants and guards murdered, she runs away into the woods.  Mariko undertakes to infiltrate the closed rogue group, the Black Clan.  Before the attack, Mariko had been pampered and protected.  But with her world and resources gone, she finds that she's able to think on her feet and to save herself from dangerous situations.  Mariko is an engaging heroine with her commitment to the Code of Bushido, her creativity and resourcefulness, her determination to be honorable while being forced to remain in disguise.

Mariko pretends to be a young, penniless boy with scientific and military skills.  Okami, one of the leaders of the Black Clan, doesn't know what he finds unsettling about the new recruit  "Sanada Takeo" and he fluctuates between distrusting him to wanting to give Takeo and his inventions a chance.  Takeo/Mariko is surprised to find friendship and companionship among the Black Clan as well as a greater sense of belonging than she had as the daughter and heiress of the Hattori clan.  But Mariko must push past her discomfort and the sense that she is betraying her friends in order to discover who betrayed the Hattori, who is behind the plot to have her killed and what their true goal is.

Flame in the Mist is a deeply engrossing, fun adventure where honor, loyalty and identity force good people into heart wrenching situations. Politics, martial arts, and the code of the samurai all give this story an added level of complexity. Highly recommended!

About the Author:
Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.

Lisa Scottoline's Exposed - the next in the Rosato & DiNunzio series

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline
  • ISBN-10: 1250099714 0 Hardcover $27.99
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (August 15, 2017), 352 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewers program.

The blurb:
Mary DiNunzio wants to represent her old friend Simon Pensiera, a sales rep who was wrongly fired by his company, but her partner Bennie Rosato represents the parent company.  When she confronts Mary, explaining this is a conflict of interest, an epic battle of wills between the two ensues--ripping the law firm apart, forcing everyone to take sides and turning friend against friend.
My mother introduced me to Lisa Scottoline's legal thrillers when I was at UPenn Law school. Scottoline's thrillers center around young women lawyers, UPenn Law graduates who somehow become entangled in investigations that involve murder or a horrific crime. Scottoline has two manin heroines: Bennie Rosato - athletic (nearly made the US Olympic crew team), so focused she comes across as cold and determined, a brilliant litigator and appellate attorney, name partner in the firm. Mary DiNunzio, the younger lawyer, formerly an associate in Rosato's firm. Italian American from South Philadelphia who has strong ties to the community. She knows nearly everyone in the neighborhood and has developed a strong practice helping small businesses and individuals solve their problems. She'd prefer to settle cases than litigate them. She is great at helping people cut through red tape and regulations.

In this latest novel, Exposed, Scottoline gives both Rosato and DiNunzio equal billing as leads. The story begins with DiNunzio having been promoted to partner in the firm. When her father and family friends bring a case of illegal termination to her attention, Mary decides to take it on without doing the requisite conflicts check. It turns out that Simon, the dismissed employee, works for a subsidiary of Bennie and the firm's oldest and largest clients, Dunbarton. Bennie tells Mary that they're conflicted from taking the case, but Mary decides to dissolve the partnership instead of decline the case.

The interaction between Bennie and Mary lead us to think through the nature of partnership, of loyalty, and of individual responsibility. As the employment case goes forward, sudden violence leads to murder and both Bennie and Mary put aside the employment issues and join forces to solve the murder. Exposed is one of my favorite Scottoline novels so far. It gives us a fuller insight into both of her lead lawyers and is a testament to friendship.

About the Author:Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author of seventeen novels including her most recent, THINK TWICE, and also writes a weekly column, called Chick Wit, for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has won many honors and awards, notably the Edgar Award, given for excellence in crime fiction, and the Fun Fearless Female Award from Cosmopolitan Magazine. She also teaches a course she created, called Justice and Fiction at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and regularly does speaking engagements. There are twenty-five million copies of her books in print, and she is published in over thirty other countries.Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and her concentration was Contemporary American Fiction, taught by Philip Roth and others. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She remains a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area, where she lives with her array of disobedient pets.