#BookReview: Hunting Blackbeard by Pandora Pine

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.

This review of Hunting Blackbeard by Pandora Pine was originally written on September 30, 2019.

#BookReview: The Boy Who Felt Too Much by Lorenz Wagner

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.

This review of The Boy Who Felt Too Much by Lorenz Wagner was originally published on September 29, 2019.

#BookReview: Scrimmage For War by Bill McWilliams

Intriguing History Hampered By Lack Of Focus and Repetition. Pearl Harbor and Football. Truly, do you get more American than that? ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 review of Scrimmage For War by Bill McWilliams was originally written on September 28, 2019.

Featured New Release of The Week: Wildflower Hope by Grace Greene

This week we look at the same-year-published follow on to another 2019 Featured New Release of the Week. This week, we’re looking at Wildflower Hope by Grace Greene.

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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#BookReview: Tether by Jeremy Robinson

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!

#BookReview: Christmas By The Lighthouse by Rebecca Boxall

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 review of Christmas By The Lighthouse by Rebecca Boxall was originally written on September 19, 2019.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Man The Myth The Nerd by Maggie Dallen

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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#BookReview: Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion

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.

This review of Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion was originally written on September 17, 2019.

#BookReview: The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier

Sometimes It Takes Losing Everything To Find Everything. Not that I haven’t lived this before. Not at all. Yes, this story of two sisters awkwardly reconnecting 3 yrs after a major fight that left them not speaking to each other somehow managed to resonate with a guy who only has brothers. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, great job from new-to-me author Nicole Meier in crafting a very readable and relatable tale, that admittedly I wanted to stop reading at one point because it got a bit *too* real and brought back some difficult memories of my own. Hallmarkies and/ or foodies in particular will get a kick out of this one, but a strong book for any crowd I’ve ever come across. This is due to Meier’s skill in focusing on the very human even while also relishing the particulars she has set in motion here. Very much recommended.

This review of The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier was originally written on September 15, 2019.

#BookReview: Life Is Short And So Am I by Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl

Luck O’ The Irish. It is … interesting… to read a memoir from someone just months older than my middle brother, as one typically expects a wrestling memoir to be written from someone a bit older (or maybe it just seems I’m getting old – Dwayne Johnson’s and Chris Jericho’s first books had to have come out around a similar age, 20 yrs ago). But Dylan ‘Hornswoggle’ Postl has lived more and done more than most of us outside of the wrestling world will ever do, and this is his tale. From growing up in small town Wisconsin with an addict for a mother to being part of some of WWE’s most legendary moments with two different McMahons, this is the story of the past and future of WWE’s wee Irishman. Strong memoir, both from a wrestling perspective and not, this is one everyone will enjoy but WWE fans of the last decade or so in particular will have many fond memories of. Truly excellent work from someone The Rock once thought was a Make a Wish Kid. (Read the book, you’ll get it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Very much recommended.

This review of Life Is Short And So Am I by Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl was originally written on September 13, 2019.