#BookReview: An Unfinished Story by Boo Walker

If Tomorrow Never Comes. This book could well be a sequel to the hit Garth Brooks song of many years ago, as it follows a widow as she finally tries to move on from her husband’s sudden death three years ago. Based on my own interactions on social media with so many writers, the struggles Whitaker goes through seem to be all too real – and his stalking of neighborhood people who don’t pick up their dog’s poop is one of the most hilarious-because-it-is-so-tempting-to-actually-do things I’ve read in quite some time. And the video game Whitaker finds himself playing just trying to give his mind space to come up with The Next Big Idea is apparently fake, but sounds like it could be *awesome* in the right hands. (I’m a Fallout/ Mass Effect / Outer Worlds kind of gamer, and it sounds like it might be in that vein, or at least Halo.) Overall a very strong book, one that manages to sink new hooks every so often as it propels to an arguably blatantly obvious yet still satisfying finale. Very much recommended.

This review of An Unfinished Story by Boo Walker was originally written on July 29, 2020.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Happily Whatever After by Stewart Lewis

This week we’re looking at a fun and quirky dramedy from a rare *male* Lake Union author. This week we’re looking at Happily Whatever After by Stewart Lewis.

Unfortunately I am being afflicted by a form of “writer’s block” right now, so all I have to offer is the Goodreads review that has been up for several weeks now:

Life… Finds A Way. Ok, so I blatantly ripped a line from a very famous franchise that has literally nothing at all to do with this book, but it completely fits. This is a fun, quirky story about how life’s seemingly random encounters can turn out to work out quite well indeed, and it does a phenomenal job of making the ride just dramatic enough to twist the heartstrings while ultimately staying true to itself. If you’re looking for a more laid back, “oh, this is happening now, ok” level of escapism in these trying times, this is the book you’re going to want to pick up. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Fabric Of Civilization by Virginia Postrel

Fascinating History. Postrel does a remarkable job of looking at the various people and technologies of making (primarily clothing) textiles throughout history and even into the future. She largely centers around the various types of entities involved in the work, from the source materials to the weavers to the sellers and a few other types, and shows how each contributed in some way to the overall history and to where we are now. Several tidbits I didn’t know, including just how much cotton yarn is in an average pair of jeans, and a few that sound plausible, but which I’d need to research a bit more (such as claims about textiles being an early form of computing). At least one passage in particular actually brought to mind the James McAvoy / Angelina Jolie / Morgan Freeman movie Wanted, where looms and weaving play a central part in the mythos. Very much recommended.

This review of Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel was originally written on July 26, 2020.

#BookReview: Kissing The Shy Guy by Stephanie Street

Not So Shy. This is one of those YA books where you know simply because of the subgenre that nothing is going to go above making out levels… and yet at times it almost feels like it might. It is *that* hot. Also feels overall somewhat similar to Lemonade Mouth (at least the Disney Channel movie version of it) with the focus on music and the guitarist from a band helping out in another performance. Which is an excellent comparison to have, in my mind at least, because I *love* Lemonade Mouth and still somewhat regularly listen to the soundtrack. ๐Ÿ˜€ Truly a great tale and a solid wrap up of this miniseries, even if I do have a quibble about the ending in a couple of respects. Very much recommended.

This review of Kissing The Shy Guy by Stephanie Street was originally written on July 26, 2020.

#HypeTrain: Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

In this second of two weekend-bookending #HypeTrain posts, we’re switching from MM romance to FF romance and from the high-stakes world of Hotshot firefighters to a more all-too-real-for-many-of-us tale of broken friendships and a road trip.

Today’s book is Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters, and here’s what I had to say about it on my normal review channels:

What Happens On The Road Trip… Won’t Stay On The Road Trip. This was a fun road trip tale featuring classic road trip items, much angst, some increasingly hot sexy times through much of the back half (ish) of the tale, and, since it *is* a romance, a HEA to close. I’m not quite as prolific in the FF romance ARC scene as MF or MM, but this largely follows the standard romance format no matter the particular sexualities. (Though in my experience, MM tends to have the most sex for some reason.) If you like romance at all, this is definetly a book to try out. If you like road trip tales at all, this is definetly a book to try out. If you’re looking for a good summer read or even trapped inside (for whatever reason ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) read, this is absolutely a good book to try out. Very much recommended.

As I mentioned, this really was a fun book, and I hope you’ll be open to trying it out no matter what you normally read. ๐Ÿ™‚

#HypeTrain: High Heat by Annabeth Albert

In this first of two weekend-bookending #HypeTrain posts, we’re returning to the world of MM romances set in the world of hotshots and smoke jumpers that Annabeth Albert created a few months ago now in this second book in that series.

Today’s book is High Heat by Annabeth Albert, and here’s what I had to say about it on my normal review channels:

Less Smoke, More Fire. In this second book in a new series, we follow one of the people who was featured in the first book as he continues his recovery from events there. And the book really is more about recovery and coming to terms with limits rather than the more overt firefighting of the first book. Here we get a much more personal drama rather than being so intensely focused on the overall world of Hotshots and Smoke Jumpers as the first book was. And there is a *lot* more sex. Which fans of the genre will likely appreciate. But much less actual firefighting, though one scene in particular *strongly* evokes the real-life drama of the Yarnell Fire and the book Granite Mountain/ My Lost Brothers by Brendan McDonough or the movie Only The Brave that was based on that book. Ultimately a strong book in its own right, it manages to hold its own in this world and in this particular culture while being free to be its own entity… which is actually a large theme in the book itself. Very much recommended.

These have been my first books from Albert, and she is truly showing a solid range of overall styles here, going from intensely in the overall culture of Hotshot firefighters in the first book to a more character driven focus here. Truly impressive work, and I hope you’ll check it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

#BookReview: Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz

Strong Start, Your Mileage May Vary On Ending. I gotta admit, as an American I’d never heard of Plastic Free July before seeing this book on NetGalley. (And yes, since I am writing this review on July 21, 2020 – the day after it hit NetGalley – and it doesn’t publish until December 8, 2020, this is certainly an Advance Review Copy, with all of the things that generally entails.) But the description of how Prince-Ruiz started the organization sounded promising. And the text of the book, for the first half – two thirds or so, showed exactly that promise. Someone deciding independently to choose to do something that could make a difference and work to convince her friends and family to do the same… in the age of social media. The back part of the book, where the organization shifts from voluntary action to political action – which is ultimately *always* at the point of a sword (in Ye Olden Times) or gun (in the modern era) – is more problematic and is where the book will likely be seen as much more divisive. I try to keep my own politics out of my reviews to as much a degree as possible, so I’ll simply note that through this section the voluntary actions the author describes are commendable, and I’ve actually supported a few of them myself, but the less-than-voluntary actions… any time politics gets involved, you invite problems. Ultimately a great look at various things we all can and arguably should do, marred by its descent into politics. Recommended.

This review of Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz was originally written on July 21, 2020.

#BookReview: Every Life Is On Fire by Jeremy England

Prooftexting In A Science Book? This was a first- prooftexting, the technique of taking random Bible verses out of context to “prove” a point, in a science book. Here, Dr. England looks at the origins of life from a physicist’s perspective… while using the life of Moses (he of the “Pharoah, Let My People Go” fame) as the overarcing narrative. One of the more prosaic, academic oriented science books I’ve read this year, Dr. England does a decent job of explaining high order thermodynamics – literally a form of rocket science – in an easy-ish way for most to understand. He simply does it in a way that is on the harder side of the actual reading experience from other science books I’ve read over the last year or two in particular. Truly fascinating stuff though, and very illuminating on the physics side of things, particularly as they relate to the future of “smart” polymers – which is not a subject Dr. England directly addresses here. Very much recommended.

This review of Every Life Is On Fire by Jeremy England was originally written on July 20, 2020.

#BookReview: Meet Your Maker by Matthew Mather

Intriguing Possibilities. This is similar in its application of emerging tech to Michael Crichton’s Prey – a couple of the scenes here in particular brought that tale *immediately* to mind – while doing an excellent job of using real-world politics as an equally interesting backdrop to the science/ science fiction. Mather plays with the ideas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in fascinating and terrifying ways – ways one hopes no one gets too many ideas from. Excellent story, and very much recommended.

This review of Meet Your Maker by Matthew Mather was originally written on July 20, 2020.