#BlogTour: The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid tale of four old friends coming back together in the face of a tragedy that is marred by its preachy real-world politics. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman.

First, here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Solid Story Brought Down By Emphasis On Real-World Politics. As a camp story and as a story of long ago friends coming back together after a tragedy and working through both the awesome times and the tragedies of both then and now, this story was really quite good. The way Shipman (a pen name for a dude, making this even more remarkable) is able to craft each of the characters and use the settings themselves as additional characters really shows just how strong of a storyteller she (he) is. Ultimately though the aftertaste of this book – if you even make it that far – will be flavored by your view of its politics and arguably more pointedly, how it portrays the side the author very clearly abhores. Me, I read to avoid the real world. Between the events of 20201 and my own real-world background as a political activist at various levels, I *really* don’t want politics in my books, and if it must be there, I want a balanced and non-preachy approach. Neither of which I got here, and thus the star deduction. Still, a worthy read and truly a good one, other than the preachy politics. Recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the opening of the book followed by the publisher details. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: False Allegiance by Nick Thacker

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an explosive action/ mystery that looks into an oft-neglected global topic. For this blog tour, we’re looking at False Allegiance by Nick Thacker.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

False Promise? Let me be extremely clear: As far as “facing constant threat of death from mysterious operators” plot lines go, this one was solid. After what has become a usual opening chapter establishing Jake Parker just trying to live his life, we pretty well immediately go into “constantly running from the bad guys while trying to solve a global mystery” mode, and in this part Thacker is excellent. We even get a bit of real-world discussion on yet another oft-neglected topic, in this case … well, revealing that is a bit of a spoiler. But an interesting one, for sure.

But no, the “False Promise?” question from the title more has to do with the ending of Book 2 and my own expectations for this book based on that. I was expecting a lot more direct involvement from Parker’s dad, leading up to a direct confrontation between father and son where guns would be blazing both directions. That… doesn’t happen here. Though Parker’s dad *does* play a role in most of the tale and there *is* (eventually) a confrontation and even a resolution. It just wasn’t the all encompassing explosive type I for some reason was expecting/ hoping for.

But Thacker does in fact do an excellent job of telling yet another globe trotting Jake Parker tale and both wraps up this current version while allowing for new possibilities down the road. This reader, for one, hopes we eventually get to explore some of those. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the publisher information, including a book description and buy links. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a tale that is an interesting examination of life and death. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Jumbled And Disjointed, Yet Somehow Works. This is one of those books that arguably *shouldn’t* work, given how truly disjointed it is with its time period and character jumps, and yet as more of a meditation/ reflective work on life and death, it really does actually work. As we work through the various streams of consciousness of Fred, Lil, Shelley, and Harvey, we see each of their lives through their own eyes as they struggle with past, present, life, and death. We see the traumas large and small, the regrets and the victories, the confusions and the joys. Admittedly, the particular writing style will be hard to follow for some, and even I found it quite jarring despite my own abilities to largely go with any flow of a book. But in the end it really does work to tell a cohesive yet complex story, and really that is all anyone can ultimately ask of a fiction tale. Thus, there is nothing of the quasi-objective nature that I try to maintain to hang any star reduction on, even as many readers may struggle with this tale. And thus, it is very much recommended.

And here’s the new paperback cover provided by the publisher, as well as a photo of the author. ๐Ÿ™‚

#BookReview: The Guns Of John Moses Browning by Nathan Gorenstein

Remarkable Biography Of One Of The Most Influential Men Of The 20th Century. In this, the first biography of John Moses Browning ever written by anyone other than a descendant (and only the second ever written, period), Gorenstein does a truly remarkable job of showing the life, times, and inventions of a man who could arguably be said to be more actually influential on the 20th century than even Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. Yes, Edison revolutionized how we are able to see and gave us the truly 24/7 world, and Ford revolutionized both transportation and manufacturing more generally, but Browning revolutionized how we *kill things* – animal or human – and that alone has driven many of the most important issues of the 20th century. It was Browning’s early rifles that may not have won the West – but certainly made it even easier to live there. It was Browning’s (then-Colt) 1911 that is *to this day* one of the most popular types of pistol in the world, over a century after Browning won the competition for the US Army’s new service pistol (a contract it would keep for over 70 years and through both World Wars, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War). Indeed, that very model – the Colt 1911 – played a legendary part of the lore of one Lieutenant George S Patton and the first motorized military raid in the 1916-17 Punitive Expedition. In WWII, many infantry units – very likely including both of my grandfathers’ own units – carried up to four different Browning guns into battle, between his 1911, his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), and his “Ma Deuce” Browing M2 .50 caliber machine gun.

And Gorenstein does a phenomenal job of showing the development and importance of each, including Browning designing the gas-piston system of modern automatic and semi-automatic rifles *in a single day*. Gorenstein shows how Browning, of truly humble beginnings, designed his first gun from scraps laying around his dad’s engineering and repair shop – just to hunt small game to help feed the family. Gorenstein shows how these humble beginnings played such a role in Browning not even really beginning to invent until at or beyond the age when others in more academic professions say genius decays – and how this “lost decade” played such a role in Browning’s later drive and inventiveness.

It doesn’t matter what you think of how Browning’s designs and their derivatives over the last 100+ years have been used. You know about Edison, or can. You know about Ford, or can. You deserve to educate yourself about this genius as well, if only to learn the lessons of his genius. And this book is the very first time you really can. Very much recommended.

And here are (most of) the guns in question, just to show how truly prolific this amazing man was.

This review of The Guns Of John Moses Browning by Nathan Gorenstein was originally written on March 27, 2021.

#BookReview: Ten Patterns That Explain The Universe by Brian Clegg

Fascinating And Short. To be such a compact tale – 220 pages or so – this volume puts in a fairly dense amount of information at a very high level (for its extremely advanced concepts anyway, some of which deal with literally the smallest entities known to mankind), which is even more remarkable when one considers the volume of space dedicated to the often stunning imagery included in even this months-prior-to-publication advanced reader copy. (For those unfamiliar with ARC work, actually getting to see most imagery referenced in a book is a rarity. :D) As to showing these ten patterns and roughly how they can all be seen to link up to explain the universe. Clegg definitely shows – again at a very high level – that links are there, often in ways not everyone would think to look. As to whether these fully explain the universe… that, is a much larger question that Clegg never really dives into too deeply, seemingly satisfied that they seem to explain the universe *as we currently understand it*. Which is a major concession, particularly in light of just how recent most of the developments Clegg details are in human history. (Quite a few within the last 150 years or so, vs the few thousand years of even recorded history.) Overall truly an interesting book and a quick ish read to boot, that doesn’t *completely* require a science related degree to understand (though having some degree of familiarity with STEM subjects will certainly help any reader here), and thus very much recommended.

This review of Ten Patterns That Explain The Universe by Brian Clegg was originally written on May 11, 2021.

#BookReview: Ghost Ship by Pandora Pine

Solid Use Of Misdirection. Here, Pine seems to be building to an epic confrontation through much of the book, and then… boom. Quick resolution to that conflict, move on thankyoukindly. Still, one thing that Pine truly excels at is misdirection – the tales that it seems like the resolution will come quick, you get intense, epic showdowns. The books you’re anticipating the intense, epic showdown, you get something else. And yes, along the way you get the standard “police procedural” stuff of showing the friendship and family among our primary cast – this time featuring primarily medium and witch extraordinaire Copeland Forbes, private investigator with a supernatural connection Jude Byrne, and former Cold Case Captains in the Boston Police Department Ronan O’Mara and Kevin Fitzgibbon. And yes, this book is primarily focused on the Titanic disaster, with Pine showing several features many likely were unaware of, as well as crafting a few fictional details to suit her needs in this story. Yet again another book in this series that if you don’t mind coming into an existing universe and having various prior books spoiled to some degree or another is a perfectly fine entry point. (So fans / followers of the Titanic and related stories, here’s your shot!) And yet, also yet another book that long time fans of this ever expanding series and world will love. Very much recommended.

This review of Ghost Ship by Pandora Pine was originally written on May 11, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Truth About Lies by Aja Raden

This week we’re looking at an in-depth look at how and why we lie to each other via scams from history through modern times. This week we’re looking at The Truth About Lies by Aja Raden.

Thought Provoking, But Could Have Used More Documentation. This is a very thought provoking book that looks at lies and how we deceive both ourselves and others, using scams from prehistory all the way through the 2010s. In its examinations of how we deceive both ourselves and each other, it seems to this reader to be very well reasoned, very well thought out, and very well written. Lots of education, a fair degree of humor, and (warning to those “sensitive” to it), a few F-bombs to boot. Indeed, the one main weakness here is the dearth of its bibliography – coming it at just 6% ish of the text rather than the more common 25-30% of well-documented nonfiction texts. Also, the cover – I don’t believe Washington and the (very likely apocryphal, and thus… a lie) story of his childhood cherry tree is ever mentioned in the text. So the cover lies… which may be the point. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Overall a superb book, but the bibliography issue knocks it down a star. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Humane by Samuel Moyn

Dense Yet Enlightening. This is a book about the history of the philosophical and legal thoughts and justifications for transitioning from the brutal and bloody wars of the 19th century (when the history it covers begins) through to the “more humane” but now seemingly endless wars as currently waged, particularly by the United States of America. As in, this treatise begins with examinations of Tolstoy and Von Clauswitz during the Napoleonic Wars and ends with the Biden Presidency’s early days of the continuation of the drone wars of its two predecessors. Along the way, we find the imperfections and even outright hypocrisies of a world – and, in the 21st century in particular, in particular a singular nation on the ascendancy, the United States – as it struggles with how best to wage and, hopefully, end war. Moyn shows the transition from a mindset of peace to a mindset of more palatable (re: “less” horrific / “more” humane) perma-war. But as to the description’s final point that this book argues that this might not be a good thing at all… yes, that point is raised, and even, at times, central. But the text here seems to get more in depth on the history of documenting the change rather than focusing in on the philosophical and even legal arguments as to why that particular change is an overall bad thing. Ultimately this is one of those esoteric tomes that those with a particular interest in wars and how and why they are waged might read, if they are “wonks” in this area, but probably won’t have the mass appeal that it arguably warrants. The central premise is a conversation that *needs* to be had in America and the world, but this book is more designed for the think tank/ academic crowd than the mass appeal that could spark such conversations. Still, it is truly well documented and written with a high degree of detail, and for this it is very much recommended.

This review of Humane by Samuel Moyn was originally written on May 5, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Six Weeks To Live by Catherine McKenzie

This week, we’re looking at an explosive and twisty mystery with an ending that will leave you breathless. This week we’re looking at Six Weeks To Live by Catherine McKenzie.

Ironic, But Explaining That Is Spoilery. My singular biggest takeaway from this book is just how *HIGHLY* ironic it turns out to be. But explaining that involves discussing specifics of the ending of the book, and thus isn’t something I’m going to do in a review. Just not my style. At all.

What I *can* tell you about this book is that for the most part, you’ve got your expected Catherine McKenzie level mystery here. By which I mean there will be all kinds of twists and turns. Secrets all over the place – including some revealed only in the final pages. Solid pacing. A compelling introduction. And a general sense after reading it of “WOW”/ “WTF”. If you’re looking for that kind of book, I’ve yet to be let down with anything I’ve read from this author… including this very book. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: The Secrets We Left Behind by Soraya M Lane

Visceral. When you start off at one of WWII’s most infamous defeats (of the Allies) at Dunkirk and go right into one of its lesser known war crimes (the slaughter of nearly 100 British soldiers at Le Paradis), you know this is going to be one *intense* book. And it is. Here, Lane uses a British nurse and two French sisters to tell a tale of survival during the war’s early years, when Germany seemingly could not be defeated. The way she tells it reads as some of the most gripping suspense (arguably even horror, without the supernatural elements often part of that genre) I’ve yet come across in tales of this era – and indeed, even in most other tales, period. From the opening chapters where the Germans attack through the closing chapters (other than the extended epilogue), Lane never really gives these characters – and thus, the reader – any real sense of calm or safety. The Germans are always *right there*, in mind if not in body, and the threat of capture and execution – or worse – is never far from anyones’ thoughts. Releasing just one week before the 81st anniversary of the events it fictionalizes, this is easily one of the best books of Summer 2021, particularly for those looking for dark/ suspense tales. Very much recommended.

This review of The Secrets We Left Behind by Soraya M Lane was originally written on May 1, 2021.