Featured New Release Of The Week: The Last To Know by Jo Furniss

This week we’re looking at a great book about the destructive power of secrets. This week we’re looking at The Last To Know by Jo Furniss.

Unfortunately I’m facing a form of “writer’s block” these days that is barely allowing me to write a Goodreads level review, so that is all I have to offer this week.

Secrets Have Consequences. When you’re the last person to know a secret, the community around the secret has a way of feeling a bit dense. When you think you know the secret, but there are even deeper secrets behind the secret, you can find yourself wondering “what if”. This was a strong look at these ideas, and felt a bit similar at times to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs’ Still Life With Crows, or at least that was the connection my Autistic mind made somehow. Truly a great book, and very much recommended.

#BookReview: Mill Town by Kerri Arsenault

MEmoir/ History / Political Treatise… all in one package. I’ll be honest, I picked up this book thinking it would be a bit closer to my own history of being in and around a mill town. In my case, the actual mill town was, by my time – roughly when Arsenault was graduating HS – , just a neighborhood of a larger County seat town it was founded just outside of around the same time as the mill Arsenault writes about. I know what it is like to live in such an area and have the mill be such an important aspect of your life, and I was expecting a bit more of an examination of that side of life. Which is NOT what we get here. Instead, we get much more of the specific familial and mill history of Arsenault and this particular mill and its alleged past and current environmental misdeeds. We even get a screed against Nestle along the way, and even a few notes of misandrist feminism. Also quite a bit of heaping of anti-capitalist diatribe, all tied up in Arsenault’s own complicated emotions of being someone who cares about her home town, but who it was never enough for. (The exact dichotomy I was hoping would have been explored directly far more than it actually was, fwiw, as that is exactly what I struggle with myself.) Overall, your mileage may vary on this book depending on just how ardent you are in your own political beliefs and just how much they coincide with Arsenault’s own, but there was nothing here to really hang a reason on for detracting from the star level of the review, and hence it gets the full 5* even as I disagreed with so much of it and was so heavily disappointed that it didn’t go the direction I had hoped. Recommended.

This review of Mill Town by Kerri Arsenault was originally written on August 11, 2020.

#BookReview: The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reeds

Full Of Surprises. I normally pride myself in picking up on things somewhat early. On this one, I didn’t actually know what was happening until the final reveal. Lots going on here, but all written and revealed in a compelling fashion. Pretty dark, involving serial kidnappings, many with murders. But truly compelling reading, there is never really a sense of “I can put this thing down for good now” until the last word is read and you’re forced to put it down for good. Very much recommended.

This review of The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reeds was originally written on August 8, 2020.

#BookReview: The Last Of The Moon Girls by Barbara Davis

Fun Story, Could Have Done Without The Epilogue. This was one of those moving yet fun and quirky stories about a person fleeing their home town as a teen only to be drawn back to it in the face of tragedy. The quirkiness was fun, and the magick was downplayed just enough to arguably keep this out of “paranormal” labels even while being present. (And the honeybee scene… that was cool. Freaky, but cool.) Overall has some similarities to the 2019 book The Scent Keeper by Erica Baurmeister, and that is not a bad thing at all. (This book takes a more paranormal tack, that one takes a more science based tack.) Really the only quibble I have with this book is the epilogue, where things are tied up maybe a bit too tidily for the overall tone of the book. Excellent work with a compelling mystery and fun characters – even if I did get at least part of the mystery solved by about the 36% mark. Though the ultimate unveiling was more of a surprise. Very much recommended.

This review of The Last Of The Moon Girls by Barbara Davis was originally written on August 6, 2020.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Fallout by Lesley MM Blume

This week we’re looking back at one of the most monstrous events in human history. This week we’re looking back on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on its 75th anniversary through the lens of Fallout by Lesley MM Blume.

Fallout is not the story of the Hiroshima bombing, but of the coverup of its true horrific effects – and one man’s efforts to uncover them. Fallout is the story of the expose Hiroshima, written by John Hersey and published in The New Yorker on August 31, 1946. As Fallout cites the essay heavily while telling the story of how it came to be, and since The New Yorker’s website currently has the essay free to view at least as of the writing of this post in late June 2020, I very much recommend you take a moment to go read the original essay. It really is as powerful as Blume describes, and truly deserves its story being told.

Blume does the singular most remarkable job I’ve ever seen in a nonfiction book in at least one way: Nearly 40% of the text of the ARC I read of this book was bibliography. In my experience, a seemingly comprehensive bibliography averages closer to 25% to 33% of the text of a nonfiction book. Though at least in my ARC edition, the notes were not referenced in the actual text. It is unknown at this time if that was intentional or if that will be fixed prior to publication, but the effect was that it made the story flow much easier without the constant footnote references, so perhaps it is a great thing that they were listed but not directly referenced.

Blume also has a knack for the narrative, and does a remarkable job of keeping what could be a dense and complicated issue taut yet crystalline. Reading this book really gives the sense of being there and searching for the truth, yet also having the hindsight to know which passages and influences will ultimately bare out in the annals of history. Her passion for this particular essay, the history of it, and the history it describes, becomes abundantly clear almost from the first words of this effort.

Hiroshima was an absolutely critical essay for every American to read, understand, and internalize, and Blume’s work here detailing the history of how it came to be should be read right alongside Hersey’s original essay. Very much recommended.

And as always, the Goodreads review:
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#BookReview: An Unfinished Story by Boo Walker

If Tomorrow Never Comes. This book could well be a sequel to the hit Garth Brooks song of many years ago, as it follows a widow as she finally tries to move on from her husband’s sudden death three years ago. Based on my own interactions on social media with so many writers, the struggles Whitaker goes through seem to be all too real – and his stalking of neighborhood people who don’t pick up their dog’s poop is one of the most hilarious-because-it-is-so-tempting-to-actually-do things I’ve read in quite some time. And the video game Whitaker finds himself playing just trying to give his mind space to come up with The Next Big Idea is apparently fake, but sounds like it could be *awesome* in the right hands. (I’m a Fallout/ Mass Effect / Outer Worlds kind of gamer, and it sounds like it might be in that vein, or at least Halo.) Overall a very strong book, one that manages to sink new hooks every so often as it propels to an arguably blatantly obvious yet still satisfying finale. Very much recommended.

This review of An Unfinished Story by Boo Walker was originally written on July 29, 2020.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Happily Whatever After by Stewart Lewis

This week we’re looking at a fun and quirky dramedy from a rare *male* Lake Union author. This week we’re looking at Happily Whatever After by Stewart Lewis.

Unfortunately I am being afflicted by a form of “writer’s block” right now, so all I have to offer is the Goodreads review that has been up for several weeks now:

Life… Finds A Way. Ok, so I blatantly ripped a line from a very famous franchise that has literally nothing at all to do with this book, but it completely fits. This is a fun, quirky story about how life’s seemingly random encounters can turn out to work out quite well indeed, and it does a phenomenal job of making the ride just dramatic enough to twist the heartstrings while ultimately staying true to itself. If you’re looking for a more laid back, “oh, this is happening now, ok” level of escapism in these trying times, this is the book you’re going to want to pick up. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Fabric Of Civilization by Virginia Postrel

Fascinating History. Postrel does a remarkable job of looking at the various people and technologies of making (primarily clothing) textiles throughout history and even into the future. She largely centers around the various types of entities involved in the work, from the source materials to the weavers to the sellers and a few other types, and shows how each contributed in some way to the overall history and to where we are now. Several tidbits I didn’t know, including just how much cotton yarn is in an average pair of jeans, and a few that sound plausible, but which I’d need to research a bit more (such as claims about textiles being an early form of computing). At least one passage in particular actually brought to mind the James McAvoy / Angelina Jolie / Morgan Freeman movie Wanted, where looms and weaving play a central part in the mythos. Very much recommended.

This review of Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel was originally written on July 26, 2020.

#BookReview: Kissing The Shy Guy by Stephanie Street

Not So Shy. This is one of those YA books where you know simply because of the subgenre that nothing is going to go above making out levels… and yet at times it almost feels like it might. It is *that* hot. Also feels overall somewhat similar to Lemonade Mouth (at least the Disney Channel movie version of it) with the focus on music and the guitarist from a band helping out in another performance. Which is an excellent comparison to have, in my mind at least, because I *love* Lemonade Mouth and still somewhat regularly listen to the soundtrack. 😀 Truly a great tale and a solid wrap up of this miniseries, even if I do have a quibble about the ending in a couple of respects. Very much recommended.

This review of Kissing The Shy Guy by Stephanie Street was originally written on July 26, 2020.

#HypeTrain: Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

In this second of two weekend-bookending #HypeTrain posts, we’re switching from MM romance to FF romance and from the high-stakes world of Hotshot firefighters to a more all-too-real-for-many-of-us tale of broken friendships and a road trip.

Today’s book is Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters, and here’s what I had to say about it on my normal review channels:

What Happens On The Road Trip… Won’t Stay On The Road Trip. This was a fun road trip tale featuring classic road trip items, much angst, some increasingly hot sexy times through much of the back half (ish) of the tale, and, since it *is* a romance, a HEA to close. I’m not quite as prolific in the FF romance ARC scene as MF or MM, but this largely follows the standard romance format no matter the particular sexualities. (Though in my experience, MM tends to have the most sex for some reason.) If you like romance at all, this is definetly a book to try out. If you like road trip tales at all, this is definetly a book to try out. If you’re looking for a good summer read or even trapped inside (for whatever reason 😉 ) read, this is absolutely a good book to try out. Very much recommended.

As I mentioned, this really was a fun book, and I hope you’ll be open to trying it out no matter what you normally read. 🙂