Featured New Release of the Week: Snow Job by Beth Bolden

This week we’re looking at a solid if tropey MM romance. This week, we’re looking at Snow Job by Beth Bolden.

As I said in the intro, this is a solid MM romance. It has a decent enough overall plot of ex step-brothers who almost could not possibly be more different getting set up to be in the same place at the same time by their parents… and then getting trapped in that location for a couple of days via the mechanism of this iteration of the Valentine’s Inc marketing ploy: being snowed in. As far as Valentine’s Inc itself goes, this particular book only mentions them once, in passing. (Others in the series make a bigger deal of the organization.) Sometimes a hot, fast, and not overly angsty book is just what the doctor called for, and this certainly hits those notes.

Since I don’t think I’ve really discussed it in this blog, let me mention how brilliant I think the overall idea of Valentine’s Inc is. With this – as much a marketing collective as an actual book series – you get authors who generally write in the same genre (in this case, MM romance) with varying degrees of “fame” (some authors in any iteration of the collective are more well known than others) to come together and write books on their own but with some loosely connecting theme. This is at least the third time it has been done with this loose grouping within the past year, beginning last Valentine’s Day with the original Valentine’s Inc books, then late summer with Valentine’s Inc Cruises, and now Valentine’s Inc – Snowed In. (There is a fourth series, A Snow Globe Christmas, which worked a similar idea with at least some of the same authors, but I am unsure at this time if it was part of this same effort.) And it is a brilliant idea to pool marketing resources together and try to enhance everyone’s sales and fan bases while still allowing near total freedom to the author to write nearly anything they want. I’ve seen the idea replicated somewhat in similar arenas, such as with last summer’s Boys of Summer series, and particularly for established yet not necessarily as well known as they’d like authors, this seems like a solid way to work with authors in the same field to benefit all.

Overall I very much recommend this particular book, Snow Job by Beth Bolden, as well as both the general approach (for authors) and the actual series (for readers) discussed here. 🙂

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Dark And Depressing Period Accurate Love Story. This is a seemingly period accurate story of the travails of one woman circa 1855. Told in dual timelines of her time in prison awaiting execution for certain crimes and the tale of how those crimes came about, the overall tone here is fairly depressing but an overall intriguing read. (And at least the second story of this type set as historical fiction Lake Union has published in the last few months.) Set mostly in winter, this is a near perfect deep winter fireside read. Very much recommended.

This review of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore was originally written on January 15, 2020.

Featured New Release of the Week: Cat Tale by Craig Pittman

This week, we’re looking at a wild and maddening tale of the fight to save the Florida Panther. This week, we’re looking at Cat Tale by Craig Pittman.

This was a tragic story of how humans actively brought a particular sub-species to the brink of extinction, how human involvement and greed kept the sub-species at that point until it was too late to come back without dramatic human intervention, and how even that intervention nearly didn’t work due to human politics. It is yet another tale that will turn a person into an anarchist, as it shows just how inept and even corrupt government is at all levels. The narrative mostly focuses on the last 50 years or so, and indeed includes data up through 2018.

But the style of the narrative is forthright and even funny, with puns and other humor rampant, including one pun that apparently the author’s wife thought of. Overall simply a well told, compelling tale, and it is thus very much recommended.

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#BookReview: Charming the Cheerleader by Maggie Dallen

Another Solid HS Romance from Dallen. This one perhaps has a bit more internal drama than many of Dallen’s stories, but overall is typical of her style – short ish (less than 200 pages on this one apparently) and Hallmarkie. She dives deeper into the issues her characters are facing – including new schools, new families, and other new dynamics – than she usually does, and it works well here. Very much looking forward to seeing more in this world. Very much recommended.

This review of Charming the Cheerleader by Maggie Dallen was originally written on January 12, 2020.

#BookReview: When The Stars Align by Isabel Jolie

Solid Debut Romance. This is a solid second chance romance that happens to apparently be the author’s debut. It does touch on some difficult subjects – sexual harassment in the work place primary among them – but it does a good job of working that element into the overall romance. (No, the harasser is not one of the couple.) Very much looking forward to more from this author. Very much recommended.

This review of When The Stars Align by Isabel Jolie was originally written on January 9, 2020.

#BookReview: The Math Of Life And Death by Kit Yates

No Formulas. Just Numb3rs. In this book about how math shapes our lives, British math professor Yates doesn’t take us into the algebra, geometry, and even trigonometry that we all use daily – whether we realize it or not. Instead, he takes an approach similar to the now decade old US television show Numb3rs, starring David Krumholtz and Rob Morrow, wherein he shows applications of higher level mathematics in fields such as epidemiology, medicine, law, journalism, elections, and several others. Yates cites real world examples including unjust convictions and Ebola outbreaks and many others to show how math was used incorrectly and what the math actually showed in that situation, to help the reader begin to get an overall sense of math without getting bogged down in the technical calculations. Truly an excellent book for even the more arithmophobic among us, as it shows the numbers all around us and explains how we can have a better sense of them.

Disclaimers: 1) I LOVED Numb3rs back in the day and would still be watching it if it were still on the air. 2) I have a computer science degree and very nearly got secondary mathematics education and mathematics bachelors degrees at the same time as my CS one – so obviously I’m a bit more attuned to math than others.

This review of The Math Of Life And Death by Kit Yates was originally written on September 29, 2019.

Featured New Release Of The Week: All The Silent Voices by Elena Mikalsen

This week we’re looking at a story in many ways ripped from the headlines of the last couple of years. This week we’re looking at All The Silent Voices by Elena Mikalsen.

I gotta admit, when I first saw this book shortly after reading The House By The Cypress Trees, I was torn. On the one hand, Cypress had been awesome – light and fun and almost feeling like you were there in Italy experiencing everything with the characters. On the other, this was very obviously a female writing about the MeToo movement – something I’ve seen very little balance on when I’ve seen it in my feeds. So I was leery of this book, but ultimately I decided to take it on and try it.

And yes, it had its moments of wanting to throw it through the nearest window.

But by the end of the book there actually is much more balance and nuance than it initially appears there might be – Mikalsen truly does a great job placing that in the book, even if much of it comes in the last quarter of the book in its final scenes. She uses a concurrent plot of Big Pharma corruption to balance the scales a bit, even while having characters she clearly thinks of as the protagonist and antagonist, and this plot could well have been described in the 2019 book Drugs Money and Secret Handshakes by Robin Feldman it was that seemingly plausible.

Frankly this was an excellent story, and its dichotomy with the author’s previous work shows just how good of a storyteller Mikalsen really is. Very much recommended.

As always, the Amazon/ Goodreads review:
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#BookReview: Ghost Of A Memory by Pandora Pine

A Confrontation Decades In The Making. With the way the previous Haunted Souls book ended, the anticipation for this book was *sky* high. On the relationship side, the book absolutely did not disappoint, particularly in relation to this being a spinoff series from the Cold Case series. (Jn other words, the Cold Case characters are referenced but never actually appear “on screen” in this book.) On the action and mystical side, I gotta admit, the final fight was a bit more anticlimactic than most of either this series or its main series. Until the final confrontation that side of the story was its usual excellent nature, it was that particular scene that had issues. Still, truly one of the best books of this series and an absolute must read for those who have been invested in it. As always, it *can* work as an entry point to both this series and the overall universe- and actually my issues with the final confrontation may be lessened for someone using this book as an entry point. Very much recommended.

This review of Ghost Of A Memory by Pandora Pine was originally written on December 31, 2019.

#BookReview: The God Game by Danny Tobey

Solid Yet Could Have Been Transcendental. If you’ve seen the 2016 movie Nerve, you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting into here. The two are very similar in overall concept, though ultimately both use the common concept to speak to different issues. With this particular book, you get more into The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase’s mantra – everyone has a price – even as the book tries in spits and spurts to discuss much weightier metaphysical topics. Hell, the book name drops Aquinas and Lewis and uses Thoth, Christ, Freud, and Heaphestus as characters! And while all of these add some interesting wrinkles to the overall tale, ultimately this book suffers from the same fate as Marcus Sakey’s Afterlife. By this I mean that, as I said in the title, it is a solid action/ scifi book that could have been transcendental with a bit more care. Very much recommended.

This review of The God Game by Danny Tobey was originally written on January 3, 2020.