Featured New Release Of The Week: Loss Lake by Amber Cowie

This week we’re looking at a solid mystery surrounding a small Canadian town on the shores of a lake that has a particularly dramatic ending. This week, we’re looking at Loss Lake by Amber Cowie.

Full disclosure: I’m writing this part of this blog on release day as I get ready to head down to EPCOT at Walt Disney World for the day – and I read this book almost two months (and 45 books) ago. Yes, as with very nearly *all* of my reading this year (other than three books over this past weekend), this was an ARC project – with all that this entails. 😀

This book is one of those mysteries where you’re never quite sure what is really going to happen. The titular lake features prominently and forebodingly throughout the narrative, and in fact plays an ultimately central role in the book. But really, the singular most defining piece of this book is its final words. Which led me to almost literally verbally scream out:


Now, I mean this in the best possible of ways. Seriously, it is more joke than actual rage. Because the ending is truly that explosive in both what and how it does its thing.

And that is the primary reason you need to read this book. To determine for yourself if my reaction mirrors your own. So go pick it up already. 😀

As always, the Goodreads review:
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#BookReview: The Answer Is by Alex Trebek

Unprecedented Look At A Man We All Came To See As An Uncle. For me, this book will always be tied up in so many emotions. I listened to it while driving home from my hometown, which is never easy to begin with, knowing that the next time I come back, it will be to say goodbye to the house I spent my teens and early 20s in – the house I truly became a man in. And I listened to Alex tell me about his life, with the assistance of Ken Jennings – the person who won the most Jeopardy games ever – for much of the book. Alex himself did the introduction and final chapter, as well as chapters about Ken and other mega winners and about his wife. And in the Audible form, with Alex reading the final chapter, some combination of himself and/ or the engineers actually allowed his cancer-ravaged voice to come through in much of this final section. Though the final paragraphs, with Alex saying goodbye, return to the “old” Alex – the Alex Trebek I daresay is known to billions. It was a bittersweet ending, knowing that his time was limited by the pancreatic cancer he had revealed nearly two years before I read this book on November 8, 2020. And therein lies the final reason this book will forever be tied into so many emotions for me. Within roughly an hour of finishing this book while just arriving in the far side of my (largest US city by land area outside of Alaska) town, I learned that Alex Trebek had passed away that very morning, quite possibly as I was listening to this very book. (Though less likely as I was listening to him actually say goodbye.)

Alex Trebek as a cultural icon is right up there with Mr. Rogers.

Alex Trebek, the human revealed in these pages, is the same as any of the rest of us, though perhaps with a much higher sense of decorum than many of us.

RIP Alex Trebek, and thank you for writing this truly excellent book. Very much recommended.

This review of The Answer Is by Alex Trebek was originally written on November 9, 2020.

#BookReview: Cowboy Karma by Laura Drake

Fun and Quick Cowboy Romance. At just under 100 pages, this book is one of those easy, quick reads that is perfect for stepping away from the family for a few minutes during the holidays and getting a quick read in without feeling too guilty. And guilt is actually a large theme of this book – specifically, arguably undeserved guilt and in particular guilt that really only exists inside your own skull. If you’re into this particular subgenre, this book will hit most everything you’re expecting. Even if you’re not necessarily into this subgenre, this book will give you a solid taste without demanding too much from you, so is a great introduction to both the subgenre and the author. Very much recommended.

This review of Cowboy Karma by Laura Drake was originally written on November 8, 2020.

#BookReview: The Order Of Time by Carlo Rovelli

Physics, Metaphysics, and Poetry. I read the Audible version of this while driving to my hometown in another State (a solid book for such a mid-distance, 6 ish hr drive) and thus had the unique pleasure of having Alan Turing himself (as played in The Imitation Game and read here by Benedict Cumberbatch) lecture me on theoretical physics, metaphysics, philosophy, and poetry. If you’re looking for a more concrete look at the exact theoretical physics at hand… this isn’t the book you’re going to want to pick up. If you’re looking for more of an easy-read, high-level, pop science level look at whether or not time exists… this is a very good book from that perspective. And indeed, ultimately the text is all about perspective. At the most distinct levels, time simply does not exist, according to Rovelli. And yet obviously we humans experience time. So how can these two prior statements be resolved? Read this book for Rovelli’s solid examination into the question and attempt at resolving this seeming paradox. Very much recommended. Particularly the Audible. 🙂

This review of The Order Of Time by Carlo Rovelli was originally written on November 8, 2020.

Featured New Release Of The Week: A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields

This week we’re looking at an excellent coming of age tale featuring the dawn of the war on drugs as seen through the eyes of a 13yo New York City girl in 1965. This week we’re looking at A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields.

Once again, as I write this in late August 2020 I am still being afflicted by a form of “writer’s block” that makes even Goodreads level reviews a bit difficult to write at the moment, so that level is all I really have to offer still.

Solid Coming Of Age During The Dawn Of The War On Drugs. As a coming of age tale set in the mid 60s, this evokes feelings of The Outsiders, Dirty Dancing, and My Girl – all phenomenal works. The use of a 13yo girl as the primary character is an interesting perspective that really allows Fields to tell a tale in a newish way even as she deals with things that most anyone who knows anything about that period at all is aware of on multiple levels. Truly a great story, and one that several of Fields’ fellow Lake Union authors have appropriately lauded in words far more poetic than anything I’ll be able to create, even in a review. As counterprogramming to the 2020 US Elections – it releases on Election Day 2020 here – it actually provides a truly interesting perspective that all too often gets lost, particularly in this particular Presidential election. And yes, since I am writing this review on August 23 and it releases on November 3, this is indicative that this is in fact an ARC, with all that this entails. But pick this up on release day. Go ahead and preorder it so that you have it on release day. You’re going to want a distraction, and this tale is an excellent distraction. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Saxon’s Savior by Pandora Pine

Superior Saving Skills. In this continuation of the new (non-paranormal) series from Pine, a lot of people need saving in a lot of different ways, and everyone saves everyone else in their own ways. 😀 Along the way, yes, Saxon does find a Savior – in more ways than one (though religion is never mentioned, for those worried about that either direction). But you get all kinds of other things too – superheroics during a traffic accident gone bad (think: severe accident, 80s movie style action 😉 ), more superheroics during a hurricane to bookend the tale (with a different person/ people being the superhero(es) here), and some subtler saving – saving from preconceptions, saving from bad relationships, saving from family disasters that could have been far worse, etc etc etc. Overall arguably one of the strongest books in this series, and yet another fine example of family coming together – particularly the family you choose. Very much recommended.

This review of Saxon’s Savior by Pandora Pine was originally written on October 28, 2020.

#BookReview: Faking The Harmony by Maddie Evans

Fun, Fast Read With Lots of Heart. This is a shorter novel at around 150 or so pages, and that actually makes it near perfect for a quick escape from family during the holiday season. You know, for those who may desire such an escape for some reason or another. 😉 Small town second chance romance that deals with some pretty weighty issues including bullying and attempted suicide, but in the typical Evans fashion of tackling them head on yet still sensitively. Excellent foundation for the series, with several secondary characters introduced – enough such that one gets the sense this series could go for a while, but none standing out quite so blatant as to be the obvious main character in the next book. Very much recommended.

This review of Faking the Harmony by Maddie Evans was originally written on October 28, 2020.

#BlogTour: The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher

Once again we come to a Carina Adores Blog Tour, which are always awesome. Seriously, I haven’t encountered a bad book in this program yet, and I’ve found several authors doing this that have taken me to places I’d never been before – and that is always awesome. 🙂

This time, we’re looking at The Secret Inredient by KD Fisher.

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

Fun Foodie FF Romance. This is a lesbian romance where the two ladies are about as opposite as it gets – one is a trained chef working for a corporate restaurant group, the other is a legacy baker who took over and revitalized her mom’s shop. As a short romance, it works well in that it hits all the requirements of the genre (yes, including sex) and executes each solidly – but you’re not going to get the conflict and growth of a 100 page longer book. Though there are still significant, more complicated than Hallmarkie, conflicts here. Ultimately a fun book that hits all the right notes and even manages to highlight the particular region it features very well. Very much recommended.

And below the jump, a page-ish excerpt from near the front of the book (Chapter 2, IIRC):
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#BookReview: Hadley and Grace by Suzanne Redfearn

Required Mention Of Thelma And Louise Meets Fast And Furious. Redfearn blatantly admits that she set out to do a “modern” retelling of Thelma and Louise and to honor a guy she met at her restaurant. Here, she did both exceedingly well. (Well, I never knew the real Skipper, but the fictionalized version of him is a great character.) But where so many reviewers focus on the Thelma and Louise aspect or the kid aspect, allow this childfree dude to bring in another aspect no other review I’ve seen has: This book is *also* exceedingly similar to the Fast and Furious franchise, with its emphasis on the family you create and doing the right thing by them while running from law enforcement agents who may or may not understand what is really going on – or care. Yes, Hadley and Grace could be seen as the Thelma and Louise that Redfearn blatantly set out to emulate. But they can also be seen as Dom and Brian, just trying to make bad situations right. Great light adventure story and a great way to begin a new year. Very much recommended.

This review of Hadley and Grace by Suzanne Redfearn was originally written on October 26, 2020.

#BlogTour: Feel The Fire by Annabeth Albert

Welcome back to yet another Blog Tour from Carina Press, the first of two this week in as many days. Both feature excellent though very divergent tales, and we’re gonna see my own reviews of each, a couple of pages from when the characters first see each other in each, and all of the relevant details to make it really easy for you to jump over to your eBook market of choice and buy the dang books. 😀

First up, we have the most recent entry (and possibly last, if it is a trilogy?) in Annabeth Albert‘s High Heat series, Feel the Fire.

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

Feel-Good Finale. This second-chance romance tale, seemingly the last book of this year’s Hotshots series, was a solid way to go out. It is *very* loosely coupled with the previous two books – both prior couples make cameos – but can largely be read as a standalone. Fans of the MM genre will like this one, as it contains pretty well all of the standard elements of the genre. But that actually gets to one of my quibbles with the book. One of the guys here is alternatively described as both demisexual and asexual – which are both elements of the spectrum that don’t get mentioned as much, and thus it is always awesome to see. Yet in playing too much into genre expectations, to me it felt like Albert did the asexual aspect a disservice in almost making it seem that an asexual may just turn out to be a horn dog… with the right person. Similar to a character described as being comfortably childfree winding up with a kid at the end of the tale. (Note, that is just an example – in this particular tale one of the two is actually already a father.) The other quibble? Not enough actual firefighting in this book, particularly relative to the other two books in the series. Though the jobs here are actively away from the front lines, and for what they are, the jobs seem well represented in and of themselves. Still, a solid tale and a satisfying conclusion. Very much recommended.

And after the jump, a 2 page-ish excerpt from near the beginning of the book, when one of our leads learns he is about to run into the other for the first time in many years:
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