Fun and Intense Yet Slightly Lacking. This book was a really fun, really quick read. Truly hilarious through most of the book, a handful of super steamy scenes – remarkable considering the overall length of the book – and some genuine drama… kinda. It is actually in the drama where the book is lacking, as every time some major conflict comes along, Rose just brushes it away within a paragraph or two with only about that many exceptions. While I generally go with the flow, this book had significant enough jumps that it was difficult to maintain that attitude while reading this particular book – specifically due to these jumps. It almost felt as though the author felt she couldn’t maintain the fun nature of the book while exploring these legitimate conflicts – or she was trying to keep the page count down arbitrarily for some reason. Still, a strong effort that was genuinely enjoyable and absolutely recommended. It simply could have been more.
This week, we’re changing things up a bit because I noticed that a release wasn’t getting the attention it deserves and the book that was going to go in this spot has a fairly powerful marketing machine behind it. This week, we’re looking at When It’s Time For Leaving by Ang Pompano.
This book is really as laid back as its setting, along the gently flowing waters of the Savannah River just outside Savannah, Ga. It opens in a similar setting in coastal Connecticut, and also has a scene at the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia and northern Florida. It even references a region upriver from Savannah at Augusta, GA/ Aiken, SC (the two towns are on opposite sides of the River) known to locals as the Central Savannah River Area, or CSRA. Since starting this book blog I’ve lived in the northern Florida area, but I lived in and near the CSRA for several years before that and have been in the Savannah region several times. Since this book is one of few I’ve seen not named Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil set in the region, it had my attention from the beginning.
The mystery and action are just enough to keep the plot driving along – starting with our hero being involved in a major car crash in Connecticut that kills a suspect he is chasing and flowing with dead bodies, people being attacked, mysterious notes being left, and concluding with an epic showdown in the River itself. But the real star here is the area itself, and despite being a Yankee himself, the author really nails the actual feel of the region. Yes, we have our hot summer nights both on the water and not. We have our animals dead set on killing us if we don’t leave them alone. We have our crazy neighbors and our hot coworkers with high libidos. And we have our family members slowly losing their minds to Alzheimer’s.
Truly a great mystery, even if not in the action packed vein of a Reacher novel or the crazy whodunit plot twists every other page Gone Girl mold. But when you’re in the mood for a more relaxed yet enjoyable time, reach for this one. You won’t be disappointed. Very much recommended.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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To The Victors Go The Pizza Rolls! Ok, so that title is an in-joke from the prologue of this book. But it is also indicative of the fun of this book. More on the romance side than the adventure side (vs the first book in this series being a bit more equal between the two/ maybe slightly more on the adventure side), this book keeps the romance as the central piece while the adventure is more there to drive the romance plot along than anything. Some very interesting commentary about reviews included that while overtly are about a character’s business, almost seem as if the author is speaking to the reader directly about more real life situations – I’ve certainly seen *many* authors saying much the same thing in real life. Excellent work, with some interesting angles for the third book in this series – I will be intrigued to see if Pine goes that direction or just uses it as set up for the obvious third book main character’s overall arc in that tale. Very much recommended, though do read Book 1 (Finding Alexander, also a 5* read) first.
Fascinating Yet Complicated. I seem to be the first Autistic person to be reading this book, at least from reading the available English language reviews on Goodreads after finishing the book yet prior to writing my own review.
Overall, the story is about Henry Markam, his relationship with his son Kai, and how that led to one of the most revolutionary “discoveries” in modern neuroscience: Intense World.
I personally refuse to call this a “theory” because it is fact – a fact which pretty well any Autistic Adult that can communicate can tell anyone who asks. And through this section of the book, roughly the first 2/3 of the text, this is a SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS level AMAZING book. SOOO many times I wanted to literally go to skyscrapers and shout to the world “READ THIS BOOK AND UNDERSTAND ME AND MY PEOPLE!!!!!”. And even with this being something like book 135 or so on the year for me, those level of reactions are indeed rare.
But then we realize that Markram isn’t just trying to *understand* Autistics. He wants to “cure” us. Which is genocide. The text tries to couch this and make Markram and his second wife (and research partner) seem more benevolent, but at the end of the day their research is focused on the eradication of my people.
Along these veins, the recommendations the Markrams make about how Autistic children are to be treated is horrible bordering on monstrous – they want a world devoid of any stimuli other than carefully screened, carefully controlled ones, as they believe that to do otherwise is to “trigger” the development of Autism in young children.
I’m not a neuroscientist, but neither am I neurotypical. I may not be able to point to the exact chemical processes within my brain the way the Markrams can, but I can explain what I understand to be happening within my own skull better than most of my fellow Autistics (though there are some far better than even myself at this).
So I have to say, regarding the back 1/3 or so of this book, to take it with about a boulder of salt. The relationsip aspects amongst the Markrams seem genuine, and the overall goals of creating a legitimate simulation of the mammalian – and specifically human – brain are commendable and needed. But the post-Intense World proscriptions on how parents should raise their children? Take it about as you would any random stranger offering you advice – do some independent research before you commit to an action, and in this particular case… *ask an Autistic adult*, or better yet: several of us.
Overall a highly recommended yet ultimately flawed book, the front 2/3 of it are simply too good not to recommend the book as a whole.
Intriguing History Hampered By Lack Of Focus and Repetition. Pearl Harbor and Football. Truly, do you get more American than that? 🙂 And that is what drew me into this book, about a particular facet of the events of December 7, 1941 that I’d never heard about. When the book concentrated on detailing that couple of months, it was at its peak. Unfortunately that is less than half of the book – maybe even around just 25% or so of the book.
The rest of the book is a detailed examination of the public lives of each of the players and coaches, the last of whom died just a couple of years ago. It is within this section in particular that the lack of focus and repetition comes into play, as McWilliams describes the entirety of the events happening at any particular locale any one of the players or coaches happened to be involved in, including the WWI service of some of the coaches. Eventually we focus on what the particular player was doing at that location, but it can seem like a while before that happens at times. Further, when the players and coaches wind up in the same or nearby places, it almost seems that McWilliams literally copies and pastes some of the descriptions – not overly lengthy passages, perhaps no longer than a half page or so, but enough to be noticeable. While this is somewhat a peril of the way he chooses to serialize the tales, it also speaks to a need to edit just a bit more and provide just that extra layer of polish.
Overall this is a military history book for military historians. If you come into this book wanting to hear more about how these football players were involved in securing Hawaii in the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks, well, that is here – but ultimately only about half of what this book is about. The other half being the detailed military histories of each player’s involvement in the war efforts and beyond. Very much recommended within the particular niche, I’m just not sure it would be embraced in a wider audience.
This story is absolutely a sequel to Wildflower Heart, and the events of Heart – particularly its ending sequences – play heavily into the tale here. So it is fairly difficult to even hint at the overall plot of this tale without revealing spoilers of Heart. I can tell you that it follows the same general structure of that tale, as we continue to follow Kara Hart as she continues to try to rebuild her life after a horrific tragedy that opens Heart.
I can also tell you that where Heart was about surviving tragedy, Hope is more about fully recovering from it. Here, Greene does an excellent job of showing just how difficult doing this can be, particularly when one feels completely isolated in the process.
But by the end of this one, we do in fact have a bit of … hope… that perhaps maybe our protagonist may have finally turned a corner, and the planned third act of this series should be something amazing indeed. Very much recommended, though absolutely read Wildflower Heart first (also very much recommended) if you haven’t yet.
As always, the Goodread/ Amazon review:
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The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction Yet Again Breaks New Ground. I’ve been calling Robinson “The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction” for at least 5 yrs now due to the fact that there are few if any areas of science fiction that he hasn’t touched in some way. He’s done monsters (of all kinds). He’s done zombies. He’s done time travel. He’s done space opera. He’s done kaiju. Etc etc etc etc
And now he’s done ghosts. Robinson style.
Yet another wild ride that will make you question just how close to the brink of insanity this man’s mind gets, this book opens up with a giant explosion that someone leaves one survivor at its very epicenter… and doesn’t slow down from there. Seemingly set up for a potential short series, this one could just as easily play into an Avengers Level Event 2 that Robinson seems to maybe be building to – that will be far wilder than even his first such event, just given the nature of the characters he has created of late, including here.
Very much recommended, I can’t wait to see what this man comes up with next!
Challenged Romance. This book did an excellent job of following the standard tropes while making it seem like that might not happen – at least for someone who had never read this author before. The particular challenges this couple face could be considered insurmountable, but the author does a great job of showing the couple come together through the challenges, rather than fall apart because of them. Excellent work, and very much recommended.
This week we look at the exciting conclusion to Maggie Dallen’s High School Billionaires trilogy. This week, we’re looking at The Man The Myth The Nerd by Maggie Dallen.
This book was Tieg Larson’s long awaited story, and it did not disappoint. Dallen did the best friends to lovers thing in the first book in this series – Tall, Dark, and Nerdy – but honestly, she outdid herself by coming back to the same trope in this tale.
I’m not going to bother with a description of the tale other than this: It is effectively a happy version of A Star Is Born. Same romance-with-a-musician concept, but to me done so much better because it doesn’t have the depressive notes of that tale. Instead, we get a lot of angst about a three year separation, but we also get a truly epic concert scene to close the book.
And really, while the rest of the book was solid, it is that concert scene that really works to truly elevate this book into phenomenal territory. The entire series is fairly quick, fun reads, and this was one epic way to cap it all off. Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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Splendiferous. This was a surprise follow up to the March 2019 release of Good Man, Dalton, where apparently this book came to McQuestion in a rush and she pushed it out rapidly. And it works well, particularly in fleshing out secondary characters from the earlier book and giving them a story of their own where they all come together, along with the lead couple from Good Man, Dalton and a few others. Not quite as intriguing in its real life commentary as the earlier book, but presents some issues some may scoff at, but that even this reader has experienced before. Excellent tale that does a great job of telling its own tale while also serving as a coda for the tale of Good Man, Dalton. Very much recommended.