Nothing Technically Wrong, Readers May Hate It Anyway. This is one of those books by a master storyteller that is at once too cerebral *and* too cliche. It is overall a good story, but there is so much to *not* like here. From the hard core leftist politics that get pretty damn preachy (including several anti-Trump diatribes blaming him for all the ills that have been present in this country since its Founding) to … other events of a personal nature that get too close to spoilery territory to reveal. And yet there is nothing technically wrong here. The story is well edited, it flows well within its frame, it is reasonably researched (and then flung out to left field, X-Files style – though not to a scifi level), the characters are reasonable within the boundaries described in the book (though in real life many of their actions would leave an observer scratching their heads). Ultimately there is enough here to warrant reading the story – and enough here that no matter your politics, you’re probably going to want to throw it down in disgust. And yet there is no objective “this is bad” thing to hang removal of so much as a single star on. And thus, this book is recommended.
This review of Truly Like Lightning by David Duchovny was originally written on January 26, 2021.
This week we’re looking at an amazing examination of the science of the human voice. This week we’re looking at This Is The Voice by John Colapinto.
Phenomenal Discussion, Perhaps Marred by Blatant Political Preferences In The Closing Chapters. This was a truly phenomenal discussion of all things related to the human voice: its physiology, evolutionary development, and impact on all areas of human life. However, the ultimate “taste” of the book will likely be more based on whether the reader agrees with the author’s fawning over former US President Barack Obama and blatant disregard of current US President Donald Trump. Even in these sections of the book, however, where Colapinto is discussing the actual voices of the two men and how they are created and perceived, the book continues its phenomenal look at an oft-overlooked topic. The “YMMV” bit is more concerned with where the author steps away from a strict analysis of the voice and instead veers into editorializing over which man is preferred and why. Still, ultimately a well written and researched book, and very much recommended.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid Book 1 of a potential new superhero fiction series. For this blog tour, we’re looking at We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen.
This is a book that feels very much at home with the kind of superhero world the CW’s Arrowverse has built out – and indeed this world could fit in right alongside that renowned universe.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
My First Foray Into Superhero Books. As much as I’ve read scifi for literally decades, this is actually my first foray into the actual superhero fiction genre. Yes, I’ve read a few comic books in my day and am a big fan of most of the major franchises, but this was my very first superhero fiction novel. And y’all, I found it quite compelling – even as a 38 yo married male reading about two people closer to that Young Adult / New Adult category. While the Arrowverse inspirations for this project were quite clear in so *very* many areas, Chen still managed to create an intriguing and interesting story that could plausibly hold its own against any of those shows – and maybe even be better than some of them. This book definitely feels like a Book 1 for a potential new series, and this reader for one would be down for that. Very much recommended.
Below the jump, we have an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book along with all of the relevant information from the publisher. 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen”
Forgive the Low Star Reviewers, For They Know Not What They Do. Apparently I had a *completely* different experience with this book than most of the other ARC readers, because while this thing wasn’t mind blowing in the slightest, it was a solid romance with a crap ton of sex, characters who both despised and loved each other, and a solid concept for at least a short series. Really, it was fairly standard ish romance – which is all that I really expected here. If you’re looking for LGBT romance, this isn’t it – and never claims it is, despite the author being more well known in that space. If you’re looking for sweet or clean or tidy… this isn’t that either. There is a lot of hard core, rough, passionate, hate filled sex – because that is the space these characters are in after the way life has treated them over the last decade, and the last thing either of them wants to be dealing with is the one that got away all those years ago. And yes, there is an out and proud gay brother – and another brother whose sexuality is less clear in this text – who will be the foci of the next book in the series. Which alone merits reading this series, as *extremely* few authors have the balls to combine different sexualities into the same series – or even write books outside a set sexuality. I’ve actually already started the other book, since I’m also reading it early – for a blog tour, in fact – and so far it continues in the same tone as the others.
Ultimately, I would’ve read this one from the hate filled reviews alone – just because when a book gets *so* heavily panned, I find myself reading it for myself just to see if indeed the hatred is warranted. It wasn’t in the most personally-famous case of me doing this (reading DIVERGENT trilogy because ALLEGIANT got this same level of hatred over its ending), and it isn’t in this book either.
This book, and so far this series, is a refreshing change of pace in so many ways, and is therefore very much recommended.
This review of Forgiven by Garrett Leigh was originally written on January 22, 2021.
Premium Presentation. This is a solid start to a new series from Benjamin, and one that does its job of telling a compelling romance, creating a new world, and introducing the remaining series leads. The romance here is a tad trope heavy (billionaire heir questioning family legacy, woman on the run), but it works well even so. Overall a solid and fairly standard-ish Christina Benjamin Young Adult Romance – meaning if you’re open to the genre at all and haven’t read her works, this is a good place to start. If you’re a fan of hers already, you’re going to like this one as well. And I, for one, am looking forward to seeing just where the stories go next. 🙂 Very much recommended.
This review of Palmetto Passion by Christina Benjamin was originally written on January 22, 2021.
This week we’re looking at a strong tale of often under-explored topics. This week we’re looking at What’s Worth Keeping by Kaya McLaren.
And here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:
Strong Look At Often Unexplored Topics. Glancing through the other reviews (as I generally do before writing my own, fwiw), it seems that so many people miss what I happen to see as the overall point of the book: Exploring how individuals can find themselves again and discover what they feel is worth keeping in the face of overwhelming tragedy. Here, McLaren uses three primary characters: A mother who has “survived” cancer, including a mastectomy and radical hysterectomy, only to have to piece back together her sense of self and whether she is still attractive. (A battle, it seems, that the author herself went through in real life.) A father who began working as a cop in order to provide for his then-young family, and who was one of the first responders shifting through the rubble behind Timothy McVeigh trying to save as many people as possible after the bombing of the Alfred P Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City – a tragedy that still haunts him all these decades later, at the end of his career. And a daughter who learns that her mother’s cancer is to some degree hereditary, causing her to question any future she may have even as she graduates high school.
In these situations, McLaren points to tragedies and situations that are relatable to many of us, and paints a story that even across roughly 500 books read in under three years, I’ve rarely if ever seen. A story of survival (which is common, in and of itself) and of finding love (also common), but these particular wrinkles of the overall story have often been overshadowed in the stories by other, “flashier” topics.
While I am genuinely sorry that the author lived through at least some of this, I am exceedingly happy that she was able to use those real life experiences to craft this tale in this way. It is a story that needed to be told, and it is a story that needs to be read by far too many. And for that reason, it is a story that is very much recommended.
Conflicts as Advanced Mathematics and Theoretical Astrophysics. I gotta admit, as a more “hard” science / numbers guy, when I saw that Coleman’s solution here was based in the realms of advanced mathematics and theoretical astrophysics – gravity wells, complexity theory, etc – I was astonished to see someone put into words ideas I’d long thought of in conflicts in my own life. Though the way Coleman is much more systematic and systemic about them is simply phenomenal bordering on the profound. Yes, the man is an admitted progressive and yes, some of his throw away level comments are solidly from that perspective, but if you’re of a type who would normally throw a book down in disgust just over those points alone (or if you’re the type who would do those if he were an admitted conservative making similar comments)… you’re pretty well exactly who needs to read this book anyway. 😉 Pretty spectacular, and a *needed* read pretty well right this second – I write this review at the beginning of US Presidential Inauguration Week 2021, nearly six full months before the book’s scheduled publication at the beginning of June. Something tells me the book will be at least as relevant as it currently is at that point, and you should absolutely read and strongly consider Coleman’s points as soon as you can. Very much recommended.
This review of The Way Out by Peter Coleman was originally written on January 17, 2021.
Fun and Funny. This was a fun, funny read featuring a role I’d heard of but had never considered in depth – seat fillers at awards shows. This book gives some interesting looks at some things that people don’t often consider, but does it in ways such that a joke or some other hilarity is never far away. And for some reason I kept imagining Noah as Josh Brolin, even though that totally does NOT match the actual physical characterization of the character. But it was so prevalent in my mind that it had to get into the review. Truly an excellent book, and a world I wouldn’t mind coming back to. Very much recommended.
This review of The Seat Filler by Sariah Wilson was originally written on January 17, 2021.
Complete And Well Documented Examination of Disaster. This is a book that looks not just at one disaster or one type of disaster, but at all of them. It doesn’t look to one threat or another threat or a third threat, but moves between types of threats and shows how they, really, are all interrelated by a common element: the human, and in particular the governmental, response to them. From ancient plagues and volcanoes to hot-off-the-press (at the time of writing a few months prior to even my own seeming first public review level early read) details of the current global catastrophes. While docking a star for Ferguson’s high praise of John Maynard Keynes (suffice it to say I tend to hold economists such as Hayak, Bastiat, and Von Mises to levels Ferguson holds Keynes), that isn’t really my style since those are more a couple of aside level comments randomly in this near 500 page volume. But also, don’t let the near 500 page count deter you – in my copy, 48% of that text (or nearly 200 pages) was bibliography, making this one of the more well documented books I’ve read in the last few years. Truly a book that needs to be considered by at minimum policy makers but really the public at large, at times it doesn’t really go far enough to point out that voluntary community based disaster preparedness can often do more good than government top down approaches (even as he continually points out that the failures most often happen at middle management levels). Very much recommended.
This review of Doom by Niall Ferguson was originally written on January 17, 2021.
Too Much Faith, Not Enough Doubt. I’ve read McLaren for a few years and knew him to be of the more “progressive Christian” bent, so I knew what I was getting myself in for in picking up this book. But as always, he does have at least a few good points in here, making the book absolutely worthy of reading and contemplating. However, he also proof texts a fair amount, and any at all of this particular sin is enough for me to dock *any* book that utilizes the practice a star in my own personal war with the practice. (Though I *do* note that he isn’t as bad as other writers in this.) The other star removal comes from the title of this review, which is really my core criticism here. As is so often in his previous books as well as so many other authors, McLaren has good points about the need for doubt and how to live in harmony… but then insists on praising cult figures on both sides of the aisle such as Greta Thurnberg and David Grossman. In encouraging evaneglicals to doubt their beliefs, he seems rather sure of his own beliefs in the religions of science and government – seemingly more comfortable worshipping these religions than the Christ he claims. Overall, much of the discussion here truly is strong. It simply needed to be applied in far more areas than McLaren was… comfortable… in doing. Recommended.
This review of Faith After Doubt by Brian McLaren was originally written on January 17, 2021.