Intriguing Look At Evolving Science. Thirty years ago, if you asked someone to show you the scientific basis for consciousness – human or otherwise – they’d have laughed in your face because the concept was that much of a joke. Now, Seth is among the researchers actually pursuing the inquiry – and they’ve made some solid strides. In this text, Seth lays out what we now know via evidentiary science and can also posit via a range of philosophical approaches. He readily explains how both prongs of research feed off each other, and his explanations are sufficiently technically complicated to speak with some degree of precision… without being so technically complicated that you basically need to be working in his lab to understand a word of what he is saying. (Though don’t get me wrong, even as someone with a BS in Computer Science and who reads similar books on consciousness, cognition, and perception a few times a year… this one was still technical enough that I readily admit I don’t fully understand it, even now.) Absolutely a fascinating topic and a well written explanation of it from someone actively engaged in furthering the field, and it is very much recommended.
Strong Case Studies Marred By Author’s Biases. Overall, this is a strong case study following three people the author somewhat randomly stumbled into when tasked with reporting on the closure of a particular factory and its implications on the 2016 and 2020 elections. The author openly admits in the very first chapter that she is a fairly typical New England Liberal Elite, and that flavors much of her commentary and several of her observations – but also provides for at least a few hints of potential growth along the way. But once her own biases are accounted for, this truly is a strong look at a deep dive into the three people she chronicles and their histories and thoughts as they navigate both their personal situations over these few years and the national situations as they see and understand them. At times funny but far more often tragic, this is a very real look at what at least some go through when their factory job closes around them, to be moved elsewhere. (Full disclosure, my own father living through this *twice* in my teens in as Goodyear shut down their plants in Cartersville, GA has defined my own story almost as much as a few other situations not relevant to this book. So I have my own thoughts on the matter as someone whose family underwent similar situations a couple of decades before the events of this book, but who saw them as the child of the adult worker rather than as the adult workers chronicled here.)
Ultimately, your mileage on this will vary based on whether you can at minimum accept the author’s biases for what they are or even if you outright fully agree with them. But I *do* appreciate the flashes of growth she shows, particularly in later sections, as she learns just how fully human these people are, even as her prejudices early in the book somewhat openly show that she didn’t fully appreciate just how fully human people like this could be before actually spending considerable time with them. Indeed, the one outright flaw here is that there is at least a hint of impropriety when the author begins engaging perhaps a bit too much with the lives of her subjects – but again, that ultimately comes down to just how sensitive your own ethical meter is.
Overall a mostly strong book, and very much recommended.
God And Football. This is Mark Richt, and this book is being published by a publisher that is a division of Lifeway Christian Resources, which originated in the Southern Baptist Convention. (I am unsure at this time of Lifeway’s connection to the SBC. I know there has been news of it in the years since I left the SBC, I just haven’t followed it.) Which is to say, you gotta know up front that you’re getting a lot of talk of both football *and* God. In the 20 years I’ve been following the man, since his first games as Head Coach of the University of Georgia’s football team – when I was 18 and fresh out of high school, but attending another school just outside of Atlanta -, the man has never shied away from either topic, virtually any time you hear him speak away from the sidelines of a game.
Within that context, and particularly with the timing of this book’s release – the week of the traditional opening of the College Football season -, this book is almost a sure fired hit. *Particularly* within Georgia and UGA fans, but even with FSU fans,(since an equally large part of the book, maybe even slightly more, is dedicated to his time as an assistant at FSU under the legendary Bobby Bowden), Floridians, and even in Miami, where he ended his coaching career as the Head Coach of the University of Miami Hurricanes – the very team he had played on in college.
But really, even if you don’t *overly* like Football or God, this book has a lot of strong life lessons, lessons Richt learned along the way either from meetings or, sometimes, the hard way. Lessons that are strong enough that as long as your disdain for those two topics is only mild ish, you should read this book to see anyway. Granted, if you have an utter revulsion to either topic… eh, you’re not going to like this book. Pretty well literally every single page has both topics, and at *minimum* one or the other.
Fans of FSU in the 90s, you’re going to get to relive some of the best highlights of that era of FSU football with a man who was on the sidelines and even calling some of the very plays.
Fans of UGA from 2001 – 2015 – arguably its best 15 year run in the history of the program – you’re going to get to see a lot of the highlights – and some of the lowest of lows – here as well. From Hobnail Boot – and man, I still miss hearing Larry Munson’s voice on that play – to Blackout I (against Auburn, a W) and Blackout II (against Bama, a L where the “can’t win the big games” narrative that would ultimately get him fired from UGA really began) all the way through the meeting that made his departure from UGA at the end of the 2015 season official. (For the record, I *still* say UGA was insane for this move, though CMR himself, as expressed in this book, is at peace with it.)
Fans of Miami will get to see both his view of the program as a player in the late 70s and early 80s and as Head Coach in the late 2010s and how much had changed.
And along the way, Christians will get to see the growth and maturity of a Christian man many – many more than he will ever know himself – have respected and looked up to for many years.
Ultimately this book will play and sell better in certain circles and areas than others, but I suspect that it will do at least as good as similar books by other Christian football legends such as Tony Dungy and Tim Tebow. Which seems to be decently well indeed, given that both of those men are almost constantly on Christian bookstore shelves and often even on chain and sometimes independent bookstore shelves, period.
Very much recommended.
PS: The reason for only 4 stars after praising this book so heavily? Prooftexting. Unfortunately all too common in Christian books, including this one. And an automatic one star deduction every time I see it, no matter how strong the book may otherwise be, in my own war on the practice.
Excellent Series Starter. This is a romance that manages to be both first-love *and* second-chance, as HS sweethearts who had been friends then best friends since forever before finally dating had broken up a year before the events of this book – and this book is as much about the fallout/ reconnecting there as it is about soccer. And yet, the actual soccer does indeed play a prominent role in this tale – which is not exactly a common feature of many of the previous Tomboy tales Benjamin and friends had worked on in the previous couple of years. So a marked improvement in the balance there, and in integrating both sports and romance. The secondary couple here being so prominently displayed throughout this particular story shows quite blatantly who Book 2 will be about, and this reader is looking forward to that tale as well. Very much recommended.
Never Bring A Rock To A Gun Fight… Unless You’re A Former MLB Starting Pitcher Turned Private Eye. Full confession here: These books have seemed interesting enough over the years, and they’ve been at the right price points often enough ($2.99 or less, and likely free) that I’d actually picked up the entire series before this book… and never read any of them. So even while I already had the previous four books in this series in my library, this was the first book in it – or from this author at all – that I had actually read. And it totally works as a standalone, as long as you don’t mind commentary that references the previous stories in ways that absolutely spoils many of them.
So far as this book itself is concerned, it was a fun tale full of quite a bit of banter between Jake Longley and his friends and colleagues, with a bit of “oh, crap, our friend is in trouble in a way that we might be able to help with” thrown in. So even while many of the characters are PIs, this isn’t a case they are getting paid for. And it is a stalker case, with only the last few chapters having any real, direct action. Which is actually where the title of this review comes in. Early in the book – possibly when Jake is first introduced, that early – it is mentioned that Jake often travels with baseballs both in case he runs across fans *and* to use as a weapon if the need arises. Well, in our finale… he doesn’t have his baseballs with him. So he gets creative, in ways that even by that point in this book – even if it is your first book in this series – you’ve come to expect. Very much recommended.
Interesting Use Of Second Person Perspective. This book uses second person perspective for most of the narrative, which is interesting enough in its scarcity that the review needs to be based around that simple fact. And I gotta admit, it was the only real issue I had with this book – yet it was fairly significant. To the tune that I could easily see others reducing stars over this issue alone.
Still, as a story, this one was compelling. You had all the right elements for a solid missing person thriller, including a tragic backstory for our primary narrator. You had the major reveals spaced well and a plotline that never felt overly lagging. For fans of this type of story, this one was perfectly within the usual wheelhouse there, and you’re likely going to enjoy this one.
If you can get beyond the second perspective storytelling, which was so jarring that I truly feel the need to bookend the review with noting its presence. Very much recommended.
Fun Romp Through Star Trek: TNG In Its Heyday. This is a fictionalized loose autobiography featuring Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation – and more specifically, Brent Spiner, the human actor who portrayed him. As one of those Autistics that Spiner mentions during the course of this story as eventually being told so many of us looked up to that character, I can absolutely attest to that being true… and one of the reasons he became so legendary to me. But the story itself is pure light-noir Hollywood, with quite a bit of comedy tossed into a plot that is nominally about obsessive fans and the more serious aspects of how that can go a bit off the rails. Most of the rest of the cast of TNG comes through in various bits, with Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton getting the most “screen time” here but even Michael Dorf, Gates McFadden, and yes, Sir Patrick Stewart himself all getting at least one scene of direct interaction with Brent within these pages. Still, as a “fictionalized autobiography” / noir, these scenes aren’t meant as literal “this happened” so much as “this is true to who these people were in my experience, even as these exact interactions are fictionalized”. As such, it offers a great view “behind the scenes”… without *actually* going “behind the scenes”. Great use of the medium, and a quick ish read to boot- I read it in a single afternoon. Very much recommended.
Another Fun Bonebrake Conspiracy / Action Tale. Secret societies. Texas history. Haunted graveyards. A Knight’s Tale reference. Battle inside a Duck Boat. And even some cave diving to boot. Seriously… what more do you want in 120 pages of fun action/ adventure? This one has it all, including a couple of hot/ steamy scenes… both in the naked sense and the literal one. 😉 Another wild romp, this time through a fair swath of Texas, and featuring Bones’ usual witty banter and bone-shattering physicality. Very much recommended.
Blend Of Historical And Women’s Fiction That Leaves The Room Dusty Through Its Final Quarter. This was an excellent blend of historical fiction on one end and a “current” (mid-80s) timeline women’s fiction tale on the other. Not quite an either/ or thing, but both play well with each other (and most of the historical stuff is done by the 2/3 point or so). Just be prepared for a VERY dusty read through the back quarter of the book, where Davis does an excellent job of revealing things but then letting them play out in a more natural setting and timeframe than other authors may have done. The book starts off with a lot of The Giver type vibes before becoming something so much more than that work ever intended to be – but the fact that it even feels similar to that award winning book speaks to just how well Davis crafts her story here. Very much recommended.
For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid road trip romance that really does work for fans of Kerry Lonsdale and Diane Chamberlain, as the publisher notes – both of whom are authors I’ve read and reviewed on this very site. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner.
Strong Road Trip Romance. This is a really solid road trip romance full of misunderstandings, some hijinx, tragic backstories for our main characters, and an element or two of danger – all while traveling the backroads of America as two strangers who happen to get thrown together due to, well, a major misunderstanding. 😀 You’ll laugh some, you’ll cry some, you’ll imagine yourself getting a bit wet – from rain, get your mind out of the damn gutter -, and yeah, you’ll probably fall in love with these two yourself. Very much recommended.
Below the jump, the “publisher details” including the book description, author bio, and social media/ buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner”