Upgrade by Blake Crouch (2022)
In the near future, gene modification and editing are possible but highly regulated. Logan Ramsey works for a government agency that fights against illegal gene editing. During a raid gone wrong, Logan is hit with shrapnel in an explosion and later told he has been infected with a virus. Soon, he notices both physical and mental changes far beyond his imagination. His DNA has been rewritten in an "upgrade," but who would do this, and why? This sets up a fast-moving thriller as we follow Logan and find out the answers to these questions. I love Crouch's novels; I always find them to be perfectly (and quickly) paced - the reveals keep coming. You won't want to stop reading anyway, because even though the science-y bits get a little dense, you'll want to know what's coming next and how Logan will respond. I don't want to give too much away, because it really is a treat to immerse yourself in the story. It brings up some interesting questions about our humanity and what makes us who we are. 4.5 stars
The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey (2022)
A dual timeline story that focuses on Julia and her grandmother Babs in the present day and Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt in the past, as the four women forge their own lives, briefly connected by a wedding veil. I have to admit, I was disappointed in this story. I was expecting much more of a focus on the wedding veil, its ties to the families, and how they were connected, but there were only brief mentions of it and the connection turns out to be very obvious and poorly executed. I found myself not caring at all about Julia and her grandmother; Julia is a runaway bride and Babs is trying to move forward in her life after her husband's death. There were just far too many coincidences and happy accidents, it made the story so unbelievable. In the past, Edith and Cornelia have to learn to take care of themselves after their husband/father's death. I was much more intrigued by the Vanderbilt storyline, especially as parts of it take place at the iconic Biltmore, although since it happens over such a long period of time, it felt very scattered. Overall, the story lacked focus and some of the characters and their situations felt contrived. 3 stars
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