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The single biggest barrier that prevents me from being the frantic book inhaler I want to be is sleep. No matter how excited I am to read my book, once I get all snuggled up and cozy, it’s just a matter of time before I nod off like Grandpa in front of the TV after turkey and stuffing. Last week I was on vacation from work and determined to use the time to read as much as possible, so I broke out the big guns--I sat in an uncomfortable chair. And through this ultimate sacrifice, I finished this delightfully dark fantasy novel!

I love court intrigue, and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is court intrigue on steroids. Add a heroine who wants power more than she wants a man, and I’ll be a fan for life. Xifeng is beautiful, but she wants to trade on more than just her looks. She has a thirst for power and prestige, and her aunt Guma teaches her to consume the power of other living things (in a really gross way, too! Like I said, this book is dark!). But what Xifeng hasn’t accounted for is that magic has its cost.

Still, I’ve never seen a character more motivated to claw her way to the top, and it makes me really like Xifeng despite her at best selfish, at worst sociopathic behavior. Super glad this is the first in a series--I am definitely on board for the next installment.

Find it at your library!

This twisty thriller comes with an unusual premise that hooked me from the start: it’s set in an alternate world where once people hit adulthood, their ability to make new memories is drastically reduced, resulting in a stratified society where Monos, who can remember only one day prior to today, are second-class citizens to Duos, who can remember the past two days.

If you’re wondering how a murder mystery can possibly work under those conditions, well, I was skeptical too, but for the most part Yap pulls it off. Characters are dependent on their iDiaries (Apple and Steve Jobs are called out by name), which are cell phone-like devices on which they record each day’s events for review later on. Of course, you can see the problem with  a system like this--whatever a person chooses to write in their iDiary becomes fact for them in one or two days’ time, regardless of omissions or falsehoods. Hence the detective in the novel always tries his best to solve cases within a single day (which is probably the part I had the toughest time suspending my disbelief about).

Claire and Mark are a rare “mixed” marriage--she’s a Mono, he’s a Duo. A woman’s body is found in the river near their house, and the detective shows up to interview Mark. This stirs up all kinds of trouble, in their private and public lives. Mark is a famous novelist and aspiring politician, and any whiff of scandal could taint his name forever. If he was involved with another woman, let alone implicated in her death, Claire, needless to say, has questions.

I like mysteries and  thrillers, but as they can start to all feel the same to me, I’m always looking for ones with a little something extra. The memory-challenged world Yap has created felt fresh, and couldn’t have been easy to execute. If I rated this book using the Olympic gymnastics scoring system, I would rate it very high for starting difficulty and add moderate style points, with a deduction for a slight loss of form in the air. (Tortured metaphor? Perhaps. But I like it! I think I might start rating all books like gymnastic routines. How did I not see before that books and gymnastics are basically the same thing?!)