Featured New Release Of The Week: The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal

This week we’re looking at a solid tale of intergenerational family drama across four generations of a single family. This week, we’re looking at The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal.

Two years ago, O’Neal’s 2018 book The Art of Inheriting Secrets was one of the very first Featured New Release posts here. A year ago, her 2019 release When We Believed In Mermaids was also a Featured New Release. Today, we continue that emerging tradition with O’Neal’s newest release.

And I admit, at first I didn’t think I really had enough to say about this book to be able to give it this slot. But when I sat down to write the Goodreads et al review, it turned out I had more to say than I thought, so here we are.

This book doesn’t have Secrets‘ sense of discovery and wonder. It doesn’t convey the abject pain and heartbreak and waterworks of Mermaids either. What it does have, and what it shows remarkably well from many different angles, is the drama of how certain events can play out in the lives of family across multiple generations. Just to use the same example I used in the Goodreads review, in particular it shows how the second generation’s decision to begin living her life for herself – when her daughter, the third generation, was still a child – plays out not just with her daughter, but also her mother (first generation) and her daughter’s daughter (fourth generation). We see the complexities of the mother/ daughter relationship between 2 and 3, but we also see 1 and 4’s perspectives on it and how that decision impacted each of their lives. There are multiple other similar issues between various groupings of the four, and O’Neal does a remarkable job of balancing each voice.

A bit of action near the end feels a bit out of place, but wraps up the primary external plot thread in a way that manages to feed into the drama between the family members.

All in all an excellent display of O’Neal’s storytelling abilities, and one not to be missed. (Though you can largely leave the handkerchief at home for this one, fortunately.) Very much recommended.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: Kissing the Debutant by Michelle MacQueen and Ann Maree Craven

Dancing Queen. This was a solid tale of one person knowing how good they might be – and the other not having a clue. Fun but with some solid in-world discussions of class and elitism. As the third in a four part loosely coupled series, it holds it own and can be read in order or standalone. Very much recommended.

This review of Kissing the Debutant by Michelle MacQueen and Ann Maree Craven was originally written on July 14, 2020.

#BookReview: Home To Me by Catherine Bybee

Excellently Done. In this entrant to the Creek Canyon series, we lose focus on the work of the male lead – while it is there, it isn’t as prominent as the first book – while getting even more in depth with the emotional trauma of the female lead. Which, full disclosure here since it is such a sensitive topic for some, is domestic abuse. Bybee does an amazing job of bringing us in to Erin’s worlds and her fears about them ever meeting. The suspense built up through one part of the book in particular is some amazing work, ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable levels. But then the payoff comes rather suddenly in the closing pages of the book, and that is arguably the book’s one flaw. Still, truly excellent work and very much recommended.

This review of Home To Me by Catherine Bybee was originally written on July 14, 2020.

#BookReview: Standoff by Jamie Thompson

Solid, Compelling, Yet Blatantly Biased In Favor Of Cops. Four years ago nearly to the day when I read this book on July 11, 2020, Dallas cops used a brick of C4 to murder a suspect in a college building, rather than arresting him and bringing him to trial. This book is a detailed telling of the events of that night, taken from multiple interviews and videos with many of the very people in question. It doesn’t really delve into race or policing generally so much as the thoughts and histories of those involved, and not one person involved comes out looking like so much as a good person. Even with the narrative blatantly biased to put them in as favorable a light as possible. A compelling read that very much puts the reader in the night in question and in the heads of the cops in question, and this fact alone is the reason it rates so high. A great primer on exactly what cops think of the rest of us in modern America, and thus very much recommended.

A final note: While I absolutely recommend reading this book, I recommend getting it from a library or waiting until it hits the used market because the cops in question stand to benefit financially from its sale. This is a novel recommendation from me, but warranted in this case as these people should *not* stand to make money from murdering someone.

This review of Standoff by Jamie Thompson was originally written on July 12, 2020.

#BookReview: What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Fun And Quirky, Touches On Serious Issues. Center does an excellent job here of showing how behavioral extremes – from both directions – can be the result of serious mental trauma. And she does it in a mostly very fun and light manner, only getting truly serious in a few key scenes before going back to the mostly light and playful side of things. If you’re a fan of the author’s previous work, you’ll definitely want this one. If you’re new to the author, this is a solid first book to try out. Very much recommended.

This review of What You Wish For by Katherine Center was originally written on July 10, 2020.

#BookReview: A Cowboy For Keeps by Laura Drake

Irresistible Force, Meet Immovable Object. This is a fun story of a rich-yet-still-driven cowboy meeting up with a barely-keeping-things-together woman in the midst of a massive tragedy… and each finding out that they really don’t understand the other’s motivations. Like, at all. So sparks fly. Repeatedly. And then things get a bit more… intimate. If you like the romance genre at all, you’re going to like this book. It hits all the points you’re expecting and does so with excellent flair. If you’re not quite as sold on the genre, give this one a chance. Drake does an excellent job of keeping things much more real than others of this type. Overall, a very fun read and very much recommended.

This review of A Cowboy For Keeps by Laura Drake was originally written on July 8, 2020.

#BookReview: Members Club by Piet Hoebeke

Factual Overview Of The Penis. This book, written by a Belgian urologist, has a bit of everything when it comes to factual information about the penis. We’ve got history. We’ve got biomechanics. We’ve got anatomy. We’ve got medical recommendations for a wide range of topics related to the penis from basic hygiene to STDs and when to seek further consultation. If you’ve ever wanted to know really most anything about the penis, this is the book you should probably look to if you don’t already have some degree of academic knowledge of it. Seemingly comprehensive, though the version I read (nearly 5 months before actual publication) didn’t have much of a bibliography at all – just about 5% of this text, vs closer to 25% of an average nonfiction text. Still, Dr. Hoebeke mostly relies on his own decades of experience and appears generally authoritative – at least in a general sense – even without the extensive bibliography (which may yet be added between the date I write this review in early July 2020 and the date of publication in early November 2020). Very much recommended.

This review of Members Club by Piet Hoebeke was originally written on July 8, 2020.

#BookReview: The Pattern Seekers by Simon Baron-Cohen

Intriguing Theory. Full disclosure up front: I *am* Autistic, and thus these types of books tend to demand my attention as I attempt to understand my own mind and body. That noted, Baron-Cohen (no apparent relation to the actor of the same surname) here proposes a theory that those who are “high systemizers” – those he defines as people driven by a process many in programming will recognize as a version of Agile Programming – are the ones who have driven human innovation from the dawn of the species. It is a theory that has at least some degree of merit, but perhaps has a few weaknesses that the author omits – though he does make a point of discussing some competing theories, it is possible that there are other explanations that fit at least some of the data better according to Occam’s Razor. Still, he makes a repeated point that even those suspected of being Autistic should not seek a diagnosis unless their abilities are somehow causing problems, which is a point that many in the Autism literature – at least that which I have read – fail to make or even contradict, and for that reason alone this book is a refreshing change of pace. (It also opens with one of my favorite quotes, from The Imitation Game – the story of Alan Turing, the father of Computer Science and a suspected Autistic – that “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”)

Overall a a must-read book for those seeking to understand Autistics, as it really does make a lot of very solid points – points that were affecting me nearly as much as my first viewing of The Imitation Game. This is yet another one that I will absolutely be recommending those seeking to work with me professionally read, as it can give them many clues both how to understand me – and how to use me much more effectively. Very much recommended.

This review of The Pattern Seekers by Simon Baron-Cohen was originally written on July 8, 2020.

#BookReview: Bone Music by Chrisopher Rice

Interesting Spin On Both Serial Killers And Superpowers. This book is an interesting blend of serial killer lore, Hollywood slasher films (particularly of the serial killer variant), and superpowers ala Limitless. Starts off slowish, but then begins building and increasing the tempo to the point that by the end the reader is nearly breathless with anticipation of exactly what will come next. Very much recommended.

This review of Bone Music by Christopher Rice was originally written on July 7, 2020.

#BookReview: The Rule Of One by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders

Yet Another YA Dystopia With A Few Interesting Twists. As a YA Dystopia, this book fits pretty squarely within the mold. To the tune that it can easily become forgettable to an extent. But there are some interesting twists to the mold that make this stand out a bit – the focus on twins without any form of romantic subplot chief among them, but also some of the overall tech and concepts about when, how, where, and to a lesser extent why the dystopia could emerge. Ultimately this is interesting enough as a “pilot” to want to see the next episode before making a decision on whether to keep going or not, and sometimes that is good enough. 🙂 Recommended.

This review of The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders was originally written on July 7, 2020.