Friday, December 23, 2022

Mini-Reviews: Lost and Found In Paris, The Last White Man, Confidence

Well, the year is quickly coming to a close and I'm so far behind on reviews that I'm going to have to resort to a few mini-reviews to get caught up. This week, three I've finished in the past couple of months, two hits, one near miss. 

Lost and Found In Paris
by Lian Dolan
Published April 2022 by William Morrow Company
320 pages

Publisher's Summary: 
Joan Blakely had an unconventional childhood: the daughter of a globe-trotting supermodel and a world-famous artist. Her artist father died on 9/11, and Joan--an art historian by training--has spent more than a decade maintaining his legacy. Life in the art world is beginning to wear on her--and then one fateful afternoon her husband drops a bombshell: he's fathered twins with another woman.

Furious but secretly pleased to have a reason to blow up her life, Joan impulsively decides to get out of town, booking a last-minute trip to Paris as an art courier: the person museums hire to fly valuable works of art to potential clients, discreetly stowed in their carry-on luggage. Sipping her champagne in business-class, she chats up her seatmate, Nate, a good-looking tech nerd who invites her to dinner in Paris. He doesn't know she's carrying drawings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But after a romantic dinner and an even more romantic night together, Joan wakes up next to her new lover to discover the drawings gone. Even more shocking is what's been left in their place: a sketch from her father's journals, which she thought had been lost when he died on 9/11, and a poem that reads like a treasure hunt.

With Nate as a sidekick, Joan will follow the clues all over Paris--from its grand cathedrals to the romantic bistros to the twisty side streets of Monmarte--hoping to recover the lost art, and her own sense of adventure. What she finds is even better than she'd expected.

My Thoughts: 
Lian Dolan has never disappointed me yet and this one delivered exactly what I've come to expect from her, with the added twist of it being set outside of California. Dolan's books always give the reader what they want in the end of the book, a happy ending for our heroine without the completely neat and tidy finish that makes some books too saccharine. This book had more unexpected twists that usual, several things that I did not see coming which was nice. Dolan clearly knows her way around Paris and the art scene. Does it look like a romance novel? It does and it is, to an extent. But it's so much more than that, which Dolan's books always are. 

The Last White Man
by Mohsin Hamid
Published August 2022 by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Read by Mohsin Hamid
3 Hours

Publisher's Summary: 
One morning, Anders wakes to find that his skin has turned dark, his reflection a stranger to him. At first he tells only Oona, an old friend, newly a lover. Soon, reports of similar occurrences surface across the land. Some see in the transformations the long-dreaded overturning of an established order, to be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders's father and Oona's mother, a sense of profound loss wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance to see one another, face to face, anew.

My Thoughts:
I always read Mohsin Hamid's books because they always make me think, always make me think of the world in new ways. This one was no exception except that it didn't take me where I expected it to take me. I was looking for a bigger picture, rather than the relatively narrow scope of this book. My fault. I checked out the book without reading the summary and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the summary (which, as you know, is the opposite of what I usually say). This was the first time I've listened to Hamid read his own book (and I've listened to him read three (four?) of his own books now) that I felt like a different narrator might have done a better job, given it more of the emotion that I felt was lacking. 

by Denise Mina
Published July 2022 by Mulholland Books
7 hours, 29 minutes
Read by Rona Morison and Jonathan Keeble

Publisher's Summary: 
Anna McDonald has made a terrible mistake. She has forced her blended family to vacation together. The weather is bad, her daughters are bored, and her ex-husband still insufferable. Oh, and Fin Cohen brought his latest girlfriend, too. So when news of a shocking kidnapping breaks, Anna and Fin do the responsible thing. They take off to solve the case.

Lisa Lee, a young YouTube star, has vanished after answering the door to what she thought was a pizza delivery. Police suspect her dad or the delivery guy, but in Lisa’s last known video she ventured into an abandoned chateau in France, where she uncovered a priceless artifact. Anna knows they must find this young woman before it’s too late. To do so, they need to track down that treasure, a casket that could hold answers to the greatest questions ever asked.

But Anna and Fin might have misunderstood the stakes of the game. Soon, they find themselves mixed up with some very dark characters, on another thrilling chase across Europe—and another race to save their own lives.

My Thoughts:
This is the second in the Anna and Fin series and, while I suppose you could read this as a standalone, I don't recommend it. We open with Anna and Fin on a trip with their makeshift family and how they came to be there together goes a long way with understanding why they bolt when the opportunity arises. 

Mina's plots are complex, surprisingly thought provoking (here we're made to think a lot about religion), and she shows readers just enough to make you think you'll see what's coming. You won't. I mean, we all know I won't see what's coming but I really don't think you will, either. 

Because of the front end set up of this one (and the fact that it is now listed as Anna and Fin #2), I'm already looking forward to the next installment in this series. 


  1. All of these books are new to me.

  2. Paris would be nice this time of year, even with a doubtful lover, lol.