Featured Release Of The Week: Divided We Fall by David French

In light of last week’s US Supreme Court rulings upholding the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and striking down Roe v Wade, and the fact that the middle of this book contains two prognostications for how the US could completely come unglued and each of those decisions last week plays into one of them, I’m doing something never before done in the history of this blog and bringing back a former Featured New Release and making it this week’s Featured Release post. Thus, this week we are again looking at Divided We Fall by David A French.

Looking through French’s tweets and writings on his site, it appears that there is much we will disagree over on many policy issues – I’m not exactly quiet about being an avowed Anarchist and 2nd Amendment Absolutist. (Pretty much an entire Bill of Rights Absolutist really, but there is at least some commonality with French on at least some of those points, apparently. :D)

But ultimately, I think we largely agree that the partisanship America is seeing right now is destroying it – and we seem to be edging ever closer to the moment of no return.

Indeed, with last week’s events in mind, they immediately triggered memories of the two most chilling and traumatizing chapters I’ve ever read in any book, anywhere. As it turns out, French actually posited in his “Calexit” chapter here – where he describes a fracture of the US from the left – that by a 6-3 SCOTUS decision, California would be transformed into a “shall issue” State for gun licenses. This has already happened, as California has already dropped its “good cause” requirement for obtaining a concealed carry license. He *also* pointed to Roe V Wade being overturned in his “Texit” chapter, where he describes a fracture of the US from the right.

I said two years ago when I first wrote my Goodreads review of this book that “Quite simply, Iโ€™ve yet to encounter a more important book for every American to read *immediately*, and *particularly* before you vote in the General Election this fall.” I thought then that this book should get quite a bit of attention, that it mattered and could help save this nation.

Given the events of the last week – not to mention the last 20 months or so since the publication of this book – I maintain this position with even more voracity. We’ve seen demonstrations all over the place. We continue to see both sides blatantly lie about the other side. We continue to see the hate and vitriol expanded on both sides to truly chilling degrees. If you care about saving this nation, if you care about preserving the American experiment even so much as another decade, you *need* to read this book and take its recommendations to heart.

And maybe, *maybe*, *together*, we can still save this land.

#BlogTour: The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an excellent book where I found some of the secondary characters even more intriguing than our leads. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Evil Isn’t Born. It Is Created. Of all the WWII historical fiction books I’ve read over the years – and at this point, it is a decent number – this is the first to highlight one particular scenario that I’m almost positive has impacted my own life. Specifically, Rimmer does a phenomenal job with one of her characters fighting in WWII and having a particular experience that I’m nearly positive (as much as I can be, given the dearth of records) my own grandfather had a very similar one. She shows how, particularly if the soldier perhaps had already endured some level of trauma, this particular experience (and I’m being intentionally vague to avoid spoilers) could truly push them off the deep end and take them from troubled-yet-manageable to outright evil. But even there, Rimmer takes care to show that there is still hope that the person can be redeemed. Similarly, she also uses another character in a similar mold, but at a much different age and on the opposite side of the war. Rimmer does a great job with making the story hit notes not always seen in this genre, and in the process manages to humanize many types of people that are all too often dehumanized by various groups today. Truly an astounding work, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer”

#BookReview: The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

You Think You Know Me. This is a con artist/ revenge tale where if you think you know either of our main characters… well, you need to read through the end of the tale. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I found it close enough to thriller territory to warrant that label, as I was constantly wanting to further uncover exactly what was going on. Despite some other reviews claiming the contrary, there actually are a few twists… though I fully admit they are more of the “no narrator is honest” type, as the text openly admits. Ultimately I had fun with this tale, and that is all I really ask of a book. Very much recommended.

This review of The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark was originally written on June 22, 2022.

Is Amazon Returning Books Without Users Actively Understanding This?

Recently, I wrote about the divergent financial realities of readers and authors. In that post, I called out readers who return books for refunds, as those refunds come directly out of the authors’ paychecks.

HOWEVER, after I wrote that post, another issue was brought to my attention via Facebook and specifically via a public post from Stephanie Heinritz on Facebook on June 16, that:

Did you know, if your readers have purchased your title within the last seven (7) days, that ‘Permanently Delete’ button in the iOS app DOES NOT DO WHAT IT SAYS IT DOES? No if a reader has purchased your title within that window, this button also INITAITES A FULL RETURN. 😳 The cherry on top? The Kindle iOS app – you know the one with 3.6 MILLION user downloads on Apple alone – offers your readers ZERO alternative within the app to remove the title from their library without registering as a full refund, and of course a negative profit on your back end, if they are within that seven (7) day window. I also checked this on my account from my repurchase, which I marked as read, and it does the same thing for FULLY CONSUMED CONTENT.

Heinritz then goes into further detail that *after* that initial 7 day window, the “Permanently Delete” option works as most of us would expect – it simply removes the book from your Kindle Cloud entirely *without* initiating a refund.

While Heinritz’s commentary is apparently exclusively about the iOS Kindle app, I personally tested the charge against Amazon’s own Kindle App on the most recently available Kindle Fire 10… with identical results, as seen here:

So what can readers do?

First, you need to understand very clearly that this is happening. As of this writing, if you use the “Permanently Delete” option on a book on your Kindle / Kindle App within the first seven days after purchase, Amazon is initiating a full refund, and that refund ultimately comes not from Amazon, but from the Author’s royalties for that book (as we’ll see momentarily).

I personally recommend never using the “Permanently Delete” option to begin with. “Remove Download” will instead remove the book from your device… but keep it in your library. Maybe you’ll want to come back to it someday. More importantly for the purposes of this commentary, Remove Download will not initiate a return of the book. Ever. At least as the apps currently work as of this writing.

If you *must* use “Permanently Delete”… wait a month or so first. Please. Because if you use that option within the first 7 days, the net effect of this return is actually a *negative* balance for the author, as detailed in this twitter thread in particular from Quenby Olson that has gone viral over the last 18 hours or so as of this writing.

And hey, maybe if we as a book community put pressure on Amazon to address this, they might actually do so? While I am a professional software engineer as my day job and I *suspect* this shouldn’t be an overly hard fix, I’ve never worked for Amazon and can’t say definitively how much effort would be required on their end to fix this issue. But I can say without hesitation as a reader that, to me, it seems like the right thing to do, and that the current practice seems shady to me. (To be clear, without making any actual legal claims regarding whether or not this actually constitutes any breach of any legislative or regulatory act. I am simply noting from a commonsense perspective that in my personal opinion, this is wrong and needs to be fixed.)

What say you, readers?

#BlogTour: Here For The Drama by Kate Bromley

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun and witty romantic comedy with heart – where the author seemingly read my review of her last book and corrected the issue in this one. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Here For The Drama by Kate Bromley.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

The One Where The Author Seemingly Read My Review Of Her Last Book. I’ve now had the pleasure of working both of Bromley’s books as blog tours, and this book shows her progression as a writer and storyteller – she is able to make a book that is just as fun and witty as her debut, but add in some serious angst and drama to boot, and in turn morph this romantic comedy into a blend of romantic comedy and women’s fiction. But the most interesting facet of this book, for this reader looking back at his review of her last one, is my commentary on an unnecessary feature in that first book’s epilogue… which gets mirrored (to a degree) in this book’s epilogue. It seems that at minimum, Bromley was aware that this issue existed, and actively chose to go a different (and refreshing) route in the epilogue here. Oh, and this is one of those romantic comedies where the dog dang near steals every scene he is in, if not the entire dang show. Truly a fun and witty tale with heart, and very much recommended.

Below the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Here For The Drama by Kate Bromley”

#BookReview: It All Comes Down To This by Therese Anne Fowler

Nothing Technically Wrong, Yet SLOW. This is one of those books where there is nothing technically blatantly *wrong* about the storytelling… and yet the reader is left with the sense that this story could have been so much more engaging had it been told differently. To the level that while this book is around the 350 page mark, it almost reads as though it is a dense academic tome of twice its length – even though it very clearly is *not*. As other reviewers have noted, there are a LOT of characters to keep up with early, but that does in fact get easier probably by even the 25 – 33% mark, once we’ve visited each a couple of times and get a sense of where their individual arcs are. In the end, this is a solid slice of life family drama that touches on very real and very messy issues, but could have been better told in this format with several dozen fewer pages (to speed the pacing) or with this number of pages in a different format. Still, as noted, there is nothing technically wrong here and other readers may have a better time with this book. Recommended.

This review of It All Comes Down To This by Therese Anne Fowler was originally written on June 20, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Beyond The Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean

This week we’re looking at a book that is a master class in how to take a tale that could veer into the prosaic and at least somewhat uninteresting and elevate it into a captivating and charming tale simply by making smart decisions in exactly how to tell exactly the same story. This week we’re looking at Beyond The Moonlit Sea by Julianne Maclean.

Interesting Case of Storytelling Excellence. This is one of those books where had the author chosen to tell this very same story in a more typical fashion, with just a single narrator that we follow over several decades of her life, it wouldn’t have been near as engaging or near as engrossing as the tale becomes by telling it the way she instead chose to tell it. As a singular narrative, the story is a solid tale of a woman struggling to find herself in her twenties and thirties, both as she finishes college and a bit later in the aftermath of a tragedy, who then has to deal with the repercussions of these events throughout her life. With the particular perspectives that MacLean adds – which do add extra length to the text that wouldn’t be present without them – we get a much more fleshed out tale that actually adds extra depth both to certain characters and to the overall story, and thus the extra length is absolutely warranted in this case. Ultimately a satisfying tale in a vein somewhat reminiscent of the great Robin Williams movie Bicentennial Man, without its length in years. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

#BookReview: The End Of The World Is Just The Beginning by Peter Zeihan

A Realist Looks To The Future. I’ve read several books in the last few years covering the general real-world end of the world scenarios and/ or projections for the next few decades, and this text is refreshing in just how grounded and real Zeihan’s approach is. There may in fact be squabbles about a particular point here or there, or even Zeihan’s entire general premise, as the only other review on Goodreads at the time I write this points out, but for me the analysis was close enough to be at least one plausible scenario among many that *could* play out – unlike most others I’ve read in this field. Add in the fact that this isn’t a dry academic look, but instead a somewhat humorous and even crass at times real, straightforward analysis… and you’ve got my attention. Note: If you’re a reader that absolutely WILL NOT tolerate f-bombs, even the occasional one… eh, you’re probably gonna wanna skip this one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Instead, this reads more like you’re sitting at the bar with a few drinks with an absolute expert in his field, and he is going over a very detailed look at what he thinks is coming over the next 10 – 30 years. As a text, it is thus quite remarkable. The *singular* weakness I found in the text that was star deduction worthy was a complete absence of a bibliography, and the frequent use of footnotes without actually noting even when they were happening was a touch irritating, but not additional star deduction worthy. Very much recommended.

This review of The End Of The World Is Just The Beginning by Peter Zeihan was originally written on July 13, 2022.

#BookReview: Iris In The Dark by Elissa Grossell Dickey

Solid Sophomore Effort That Doesn’t Live Up To The Author’s Debut. With this book, Dickey gives a solid story that has elements across several genres – and thus may not work for readers who are exclusive to any given genre. For readers who are more open though, this one actually works quite well. There is a mystery/ creepiness factor (combined with a tragic/ dark backstory) that almost gives mystery/ suspense vibes, but when combined with the more romance side of the tale switches to almost a romantic suspense vibe. Then there are the women’s fiction elements of a woman trying to find herself yet again when her world begins to collapse – or is it simply her mind collapsing? In the end, I would suggest that the book ultimately follows all rules I know of for the romance genre, and thus likely best fits there – though I’m not sure that this is what Dickey or her publisher (not known for romances) intended. I appreciate that Dickey tells a dramatically different story here than her debut (The Speed of Light), and I encourage all readers to go check out that book as well, no matter your own thoughts on this one. This book is ultimately the well-travelled tale of a phenomenal debut making the next work so much harder, as it has so much to live up to. Judged on its own, this story is truly a solid and intriguing one. Recommended.

This review of Iris In The Dark by Elissa Grossell Dickey was originally written on June 10, 2022.

#BookReview: Miss Memory Lane by Colton Haynes

Raw. Brutal. Not A Name-Dropping Hollywood Story. Like so many others, I first “met” Haynes when he showed up on my TV screen as Roy Harper in CW’s Arrow. A show which I didn’t want to like at first because it came *so* close to Smallville and Justin Hartley’s own excellent portrayal of the same (now titular) character, but whose grit and realism shined through and made me a fan (at least of its earlier seasons). But I never knew too much of the actual Colton Haynes other than knowing that he seemed to be friends with his female cast mates in particular and that he had previously been on the MTV version of Teen Wolf.

And while both of these shows are mentioned here (with more details about Teen Wolf than Arrow, though not a Hollywood-gossip type entry on either of them), the focus of this book is more about Haynes’ upbringing, from his earliest memories to his first sexual abuse at age six to his later sexual abuse throughout his teenage years, and his life as all of this was happening. Even when we get into the areas where he came into the public eye, beginning with modeling in New York and LA (after h

This review of Miss Memory Lane by Colton Haynes was originally written on June 9, 2022.