Ho Lee Schitt! WHAT A RUSH! With this book, Laurence again ups his game and introduces a weapon that is arguably scarier than any he has unleashed yet… particularly since it seems plausibly real. The action, stakes, and sheer terror here are all off the charts, and Laurence pulls no punches. That so much of the backstory is based on documented real world events is arguably among the scariest elements of this book, even if at least some of it is in fact fictionalized so that Laurence can craft the story the way he wants. With all of this noted, this isn’t one of those books that you can just pick up this Book 3 in the series and go, you really do need to read both Book 1 (Extinction Agenda) and Book 2 (Annihilation Protocol) first. At which point you’re immediately going to want this book anyway. And when you finish this one, you’re going to want Book 4 immediately… which is going to make you rain curses of mild inconveniences down upon Laurence as you will likely have to wait a bit for it. 😀 Very much recommended.
Solid, Maybe Not ‘Real’ For Everyone. This is one of those Hallmarkie type books – from an author who apparently has had a few of her books become Hallmark movies – that goes a bit deep into the whole pro-military, pro-say-your-prayers portrayal of a “small town” that many will love and many others will find doesn’t exactly reflect their own experiences with small towns. But working within that Hallmarkie / conservative Christian / Christian Fiction type niche, this is one that will likely be beloved. And don’t get me wrong, as an overall story it is genuinely solid for *anyone*. It does a great job as it explores some deep issues – including loss of a spouse, second chance romance, unrequited love, and other issues – that many experience well outside of the *exact* target demo for this effort, and thus it opens itself to a much wider audience… as long as you can stomach the not-*quite*-constant rah rah Go Military! type. There is nothing objectively here to hang any star reduction on, as, again, it is a solid story well told. Thus, it is very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a poetic and in depth examination of the modern day issues of living in, on, and around the Mississippi River that would do Samuel Clemens justice. This week, we’re looking at Holding Back The River by Tyler J Kelley.
Hairy Harmony. Another solid entrant into this series, this time featuring the one natural child of the unifying parents of all five brothers this series revolves around. As with every other entrant here, if you don’t mind minor (and sometimes not quite so minor) spoilers about previous books, this one is perfectly fine as an entry point into the series. Solid MM romance with a rather shocking ending given how this series has been built to this point, and as with every other book in this series introduces the next brother and features him fairly prominently. (Including a rather interesting revelation about that particular brother’s mysterious past.) Very much recommended.
You’ve Heard Of The Imitation Game. Meet The Ultimatum Game. McCarthy-Jones does a phenomenal job in this text of analyzing what exactly spite – which he defines as a behavior that harms both oneself and the other – is, why it is seemingly necessary for human advancement, how it seems to have come to be, and even some of the biological bases of the behavior. In the process, he gives some startling and many times counter-intuitive insights on how exactly spite manifests, often using a tool developed in the 1970s called The Ultimatum Game as the basis of the science. Both a fascinating and disturbing book, this could potentially provide saavy operators yet more ways to control the masses in ways that most wouldn’t even realize they are being controlled – and yet by exposing these methods to the masses in question, gives us ever more effective tools to question the propaganda we are so incessantly bombarded with through so many modern communication channels. Very much recommended.
Poetic Narrative More Memoir Than Hard Science. This is a memoir of a man who was afraid of the sea as a small child and who had one chance encounter that turned his life around… and inspired his life long study of the sea. This book really is as much about the author’s own experiences and thoughts as it is the actual scientific facts he states throughout, which is seen perhaps most glaringly in the extremely short bibliography (at least on this advance copy I read). But truly poetic and beautiful regardless, one is almost inspired to pursue a career (or perhaps second career) in something that gets one out in, on, or under the water just from the sheer awe Francois shows here. All of this noted, I do have a bit of a bone to pick with the actual title: “eloquence” is “a discourse marked by force and persuasiveness”, according to Webster. And while I found quite a bit of beauty, wonder, and awe within this narrative, I found little truly forceful or persuasive. Francois doesn’t seem to be making any major point or trying to persuade anyone to any particular position other than the sheer wonder of all that exists under the seas. Truly an excellent work, even with the quibble over a part of the title. Very much recommended.
Gender Swapped Universal Soldier Meets Deeper Unique Lore. This book *very* much has a Universal Soldier feel through much of it – which isn’t a bad thing at all for this particular reader, since I *loved* that movie for *years*. And yet, these sections can still feel so… “well trod”… just because it *has* been done so often before. Even the gender swapping has been done to a slightly lesser extent.
But then the book connects to a much deeper lore, to a world that it seems that the author has been developing across at least a few books – and a quick perusal of Amazon confirms this suspicion. So even while setting up a seemingly routine-ish (with a few nice wrinkles) Book 1 of a new action series, the book does well to advertise the author’s prior works and encourage an exploration of those tales as well. Great marketing strategy, and a solid storytelling technique.
Overall the tale is interesting and the ending truly does leave the reader wanting more… this reader in particular simply hopes that it does more to stand out in future endeavors. Very much recommended.
Astounding History Of An Oft-Forgotten Era. One point Swift makes in this text is clear even in my own experience – *even as someone who has been to the NASA Cape Canaveral Visitor Center many times*: The era of Apollo after 11 and in particular after 13 is often forgotten in the zeitgeist. People talk about Armstrong and Aldrin all the time. People even talk about Lovell and Mattingly in Apollo 13 a fair amount (helped somewhat by the excellent and mostly realistic Tom Hanks movie and the fact that to this day, NASA sells quite a bit of “Failure Is Not An Option” merchandise).
But after that particular era is when the “real” lunar science began. And for that, NASA needed another tool that got a fair amount of (slightly inaccurate) press back in the day, but whose story has never been quite so thoroughly documented as this particular effort by Swift. That tool was the lunar rover, aka the “moon buggy”, and here Swift does an extremely thorough job of documenting the first inklings of an idea that it may be possible through the early history of American rocketry (while not hiding one iota from its roots in Nazi experimentation) through the conceptualization and manufacturing of the actual rover and even into its impacts on modern rover design, such as the newest Mars rover, Perseverance.
The book does get in the weeds a bit with the technical designs and what exactly went into each, along with the various conceptual and manufacturing challenges of each. Similar to how Tom Clancy was also known to get so in the weeds about certain particulars from time to time, so Swift is in good company there.
But ultimately, this is an extremely well researched and documented book that does a simply amazing job of really putting you right there as all of these events unfold, all the way to feeling the very dirt and grit the final men to walk on the moon experienced when they had certain cosmetic failures on the buggy… millions of miles away from being able to really do anything about it. Truly an excellent work that anyone remotely interested in humanity’s efforts to reach outside of our own atmosphere should read. Very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a book all about the history and development of an issue that was at the forefront of our minds one year ago during the Great Toilet Paper Outage of 2020. This week we’re looking at Pipe Dreams by Chelsea Wald.
Thought Provoking and Informative. I consider myself a well read guy, a guy that has thought through a lot of problems and who generally knows a lot about a lot. Admittedly, I did *not* know much about toilets and related plumbing, though I had read bits and pieces in other books. (Such as a more in-depth look at John Snow and his work during the 19th century London cholera outbreak in Dierdre Mask’s The Address Book.) But I had never read up on the general history of toilets – apparently because there are scant details about historical toileting beyond the last couple of hundred years or so – much less the bleeding edge issues and technologies of this field. And that is exactly what Wald provides here, a look at everything from the history to almost to-the-day bleeding edge issues, including the Great Toilet Paper Outage of 2020 during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Very well written and mostly reasonably documented (about 15% or so is bibliography), this truly is a fascinating read. Very much recommended.
When The Storms Of Life Slam Into You. This is a book that can be a bit oppressive at times in just how *heavy* it is. Our main character has suffered a lot of loss that she’s never fully recovered from – some more recent than others – and now she has to confront it all. And yet, it is because of such heavy tragedy that the book is able to explore all that it does and indeed show just the level of hope and forgiveness it does. By the end, the reader is left feeling much lighter and more hopeful for the future, and yet also somber in the face of all that has been lost and yet also all that has been found. If you’re looking for a lighter, quirkier book ala Nolfi’s earlier Sweet Lakes trilogy… this isn’t that. But if you’ve been through some White Hurricanes yourself, or maybe are currently in the middle of one, and just need some level of hope to cling to… this is the kind of book you’ll want to read. And let’s face it – we’ve *all* been through a White Hurricane, are in one, or are about to be in one. (And often all three at once.) For those times and any other, this book is very much recommended.