#BookReview: Running With Purpose by James Weber

Cilantro Rub On A Perfectly Cooked Filet Mignon. Yes, the title of this review is an allusion to a particular meeting covered in this book, wherein Warren Buffett once invited James Weber to enjoy a steak with him in Omaha – and yet also describes this book to a T. Part memoir and part business leadership book, this is the story of James Weber pre-Brooks, and Brooks with James Weber at its head. And when the book is in either of these modes, it is truly tremendous. And I don’t just say this as a Millenial former runner (who needs to get back into that) who *loves* his Brooks Ravenna line shoes. I also note this as someone who has read and reviewed over 800 books in just the last 3 years alone across a wider range than most any other reader out there. Weber’s tale is remarkable, and his business insights and leadership principles are sound – and seem like they would be great guiding principles for those starting out or even those (like myself) in mid-career. The cilantro rub comes when Weber starts diving into political issues near the end of the text – though he *is* careful to come back to his own story and Brooks’ story after, in a classic sh*t sandwich layering approach. Why is there a cilantro rub on this great filet mignon? Well, like cilantro, the political discussion is going to be one you either love or you hate – there likely isn’t going to be any middle ground there, and there likely won’t be any convincing of those on the other side that they should change sides. So if you agree with the somewhere-left-of-center politics he describes… yay! You’re one of the ones that likes this cilantro! If not… read the book anyway. There really is a lot to be learned here. Very much recommended.

This review of Running With Purpose by James Weber was originally written on April 18, 2022.

#BookReview: The Road To Me by Laura Drake

Baaaa! Goat! But seriously, this book packs a *lot* in to its 320 or so pages. Both road trip comedy – including the aforementioned goat – and serious family drama, this is Drake at her best knowing when to make the room so dusty your eyes can’t help but leak from the strain and when to pull back and make you have to be careful about throwing out your back you’re laughing so hard. Ultimately a heart warming tale that many will identify with in so many ways, I happened to read this book on the week of the 9 year anniversary of my own grandmother’s death – making it hit a little different for me. For Laura’s cowboy romance fans, know that there is in fact a romance subplot here, and the trials and hijinx of Route 66 are on full display as well – so while there aren’t so many Stetsons, the West is very much integral to even this story. Very much recommended.

This review of The Road To Me by Laura Drake was originally written on April 16, 2022.

#BookReview: Coal Cages Crisis by Judah Schept

Avowed Anti-Capitalist Screed Still Highlights All Too Real Issues. And these issues absolutely need to be more openly discussed. If you dismiss the blinders to anything other than the set premise and worldview the author comes to this research with and look at the points he raises instead, this is a solid examination of at least some of the ways the central Appalachia region of (primarily) Kentucky / (some) West Virginia / (some) Virginia has transformed from being driven by a coal economy to now being driven by a prison economy – largely on much of the exact same land. With a bibliography clocking in at 38% of the ARC I read *even with* the author conducting much of the research and interviews himself, the scholarship within his worldview is largely beyond contestation. This truly is one of the most well documented ARCs I’ve come across in nearly 800 books (across all genres, fiction and nonfiction). Ultimately the star deduction here was because the author never leaves his particular biases to even make strawmen of opposing views, much less actually examine whether they may explain the issues at hand better than his own views do. Still, for what it is, this truly is a remarkable text that covers a particular topic that few others do. Very much recommended.

This review of Coal Cages Crisis by Judah Schept was originally written on April 16, 2022.

#BookReview: The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

What Is Reality? This is a phenomenal book that really brings forth the question: What is reality? In situations where you observe one thing but someone you trust says a completely different thing occurred – who can you trust and why? And what can happen if you trust the wrong person and/ or for the wrong reason? To me, this book worked quite well on all of these fronts.

Reading the other Goodreads reviews (briefly), it seems that there were massive edits in the ARC process. I can’t speak to that. I can tell you that I originally downloaded the book way back in August 2021 – and only finished reading it nearly a full week after publication. (Such is the sheer volume of such reading I do.) I don’t know if the back parts of the story – where apparently the subsequent editing was heaviest – were the edited versions or the original versions. What I *can* speak to is that *I* thoroughly enjoyed whichever edition of the story I read, and I thought this version did in fact work very well indeed.

But read the other reviews too. Read the book. And decide for yourself.

Very much recommended.

This review of The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth was originally written on April 14, 2022.

#BlogTour: Summer At The Cape by RaeAnne Thayne

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that is all about second chances and the hope they can bring. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Summer At The Cape by RaeAnne Thayne.

Second Chances. Sometimes… sometimes life *does* give you a second chance. A chance to re-evaluate what you thought you knew, and perhaps a chance to reconnect with those you had massive misunderstandings with previously. And Summer At The Cape? Well… it is all about those second chances… and the ones that will never happen. Beautifully written and heart felt, this is one that will pull your heartstrings in so many directions. The *one* negative, for me, was that the epilogue felt tacked on. I personally would have been perfectly fine without it – the story didn’t actually need it, and the things it adds are for me superfluous tropes that added nothing and somewhat detracted even. But hey, read the story for yourself and see what you think of the epilogue. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
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#BlogTour: 214 Palmer Street by Karen McQuestion

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun, quick thriller that shows the range of the author without going into her horror alter-ego territory. For this blog tour, we’re looking at 214 Palmer Street by Karen McQuestion.

Fun, Quick Thriller That Could Have Used Better Editing. This was a book that starts slow – nowhere near as slow as The Great Gatsby, but definitely on that end of the speed spectrum. But like Gatsby, the writing and pacing eventually get much stronger and towards the back of this already shortish (280 ish page) book, the pace very much picks up into a quick sprint to the finish, followed by perhaps too much epilogue after the climax – but any runner will tell you that cool down is important, and such an extended epilogue does that well and likely reduces any book hangover here. Indeed, the only real complaint I have here is that particularly early, the transitions between character perspectives could use a LOT more clarity – one of the things that helps the back parts of the book is that these become more clear by that point, and it is much easier to see who we are following along with at any given moment in these later sections. Still, not enough of a problem for me to drop a star, though I could see others doing so and it is at minimum worthy of mentioning. Overall still a good book that provides a nice brief escape from reality, perfect for those times when you need something to occupy 3-4 hours or so. Such as maybe when a kid or spouse is at some sports practice or some such? Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the media pack including book description, author bio, and a buy link ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: A Family Affair by Robyn Carr

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an otherwise strong family drama marred by COVID references and bigotry. For this blog tour, we’re looking at A Family Affair by Robyn Carr.

Bigotry And COVID Mar Otherwise Strong Family Drama. On its whole, this is a mostly solid family drama about a mom and two of her three children dealing with a tragedy and trying to move on with their lives in the wake of it.

However, it does have significant problems, problems I’ve yet to see any of the other 44 Goodreads reviews in existence at the time of this writing address.

The first is the near-constant references to the insanities of 2020-2022, mostly as a way to ground the story in a sense of time and place. But here’s the thing: I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. PERIOD. And thus a star was deducted for this. Maybe you, the reader of my review, are less adamant about this or maybe you even appreciate such references. Good for you, you’ll enjoy those parts of this text. But for those who feel as I do on the matter, know that it happens here.

The second major issue is the portrayal and handling of the Autistic third child. To say that this is a highly bigoted view along the lines constantly spewed by the Autistic hate group Autism Speaks is still being a bit too polite, to this Autistic’s mind. This character is every tired and worn out Autistic stereotype rolled into one, and while the family claims to love her, they also drug her into oblivion so that Carr can write her out of the back half of the book. Indeed, if an author treated pretty well any demographic other than the neurodiverse/ Autistics like this in a book, that author would likely go viral for social media cancelling them – and yet something tells me most will be silent about or even praise Carr’s reprehensible treatment of this character. That it publishes just days after World Autism Acceptance Day and during World Autism Acceptance Month is a slap in the face to Autistics from the publisher, but perhaps they were not aware of just how offensive this characterization truly is and were not aware of April being so designated.

The third issue, a throwaway line that further reveals Carr’s political leanings, is a reference to a school shooting where the shooter got “automatic weapons” from his dad’s garage. In California. In the 2000s. BULLCRAP! For one, while *some* automatic weapons *are* legal, the manner in which they are legal is INCREDIBLY expensive to obtain and subjects one to an entire alphabet soup of agencies – both Federal and State, particularly in California – knowing exactly where and how you store such weapons. Further, in the *extremely* rare case of Columbine/ Parkland style attacks as is described in this part of the text, such truly automatic weapons are virtually *never* used. But someone who only follows certain paranoid propagandists on this matter would have no clue about these facts, and Carr reveals herself to be just such a person in this instance. However, this did *not* result in a third star deduction as this was more of a one-off throwaway backstory line and not a pervasive element within the book as the first two issues were.

Ultimately, this is one of those books where your mileage may vary quite a bit. If you don’t mind references to COVID in your fiction and if you agree with Carr’s views on Autism and guns, you likely will enjoy this book quite a bit. And to be clear, other than these issues – which were *not* on every page – the story itself really is quite good. But if you feel as I do on these issues… still read the book. It really is that well written, mostly. Just know there is going to be some infuriating moments. Recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: A Family Affair by Robyn Carr”

#BlogTour: Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a strong summer/ beach tale that is marred by pervasive references to COVID. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak.

Strong Summer Beach Romance / Women’s Fiction Tale Marred By Referencing COVID. If one takes away the pervasive references to COVID, this is a strong summer island getaway beach romance/ women’s fiction tale of three women escaping to the far coast from where they currently live in order to get a break and maybe even heal or find themselves in the process. At it absolutely works in those elements, particularly as our central character unpacks her history and uncovers an astonishing family secret. Truly the only reason for the star deduction is because I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. PERIOD. And thus I’m waging a one man Crusade against any book that mentions it via an automatic star deduction. So if you feel as I do, know that this book does reference COVID quite a bit, but at least in this case it is more backstory/ explanatory than something the characters are actively living through within the text of this tale. Truly a strong, fun summer/ beach type read, great for those who have been stuck inside for two years and are just now beginning to venture out again. Though one final note: For those that want their books “clean” or “sweet”… this isn’t that. Hell, there are some XXX scenes here – as is typical in many romances. Closed door, this ain’t. So know that going in too. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak”

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Spectrum Chick Trilogy by Janey Klunder

This week we’re looking at a book truly near and dear to my own heart. This week we’re looking at The Spectrum Chick Trilogy by Janey Klunder.

Now, I don’t actually have a Goodreads review to post of this book – even though I’ve read every word of all three Spectrum Chick books.

You see, the story of this book’s existence is that long ago, I started on Facebook what I wanted to become an Autistic advocacy organization that had Autistics helping fellow Autistics. Not in pursuing government “services” or in spewing propaganda, but simply members of our community doing what we could to help other members of our community. We would also be able to use our own voices to share our own experiences directly with the larger world and hopefully destroy the “veil” that exists between the larger world’s understanding of Autism and how we Autistics actually think about it ourselves. Thus, because I sometimes lack any degree of creativity, it was called “Autism Through Our Eyes”.

During the course of that short-lived project, a young Scottish lass reached out to me. She was trying to write a book, but she couldn’t figure out how to get it published. It was semi-autobiographical in that while completely fiction, it was also to some degree based on her actual real life and her struggles both before and after the fateful day when she first heard the term “Asperger’s”. This was 2014, the lass in question was named Janey Klunder, and the book in question was one she was calling The Spectrum Chick.

Even at that point in my life, I had read a LOT of books and was already doing *some* proofreading level Advance Reader Copy reading for one other author. I also knew that if it involved code or similar computer constructs, I could largely figure it out. So I told Janey that I would help her out. I couldn’t guarantee anything, but I would read her book and help her edit it as well as I could, and I could help her get it online through Kindle Direct Publishing.

We’ve been on one hell of a ride ever since, releasing four more books between 2014 and 2022 – The Spectrum Chick II, Led By Example, The Spectrum Chick III, and last December’s In An Office. And now, this combined edition of all three The Spectrum Chick books. I was working on this particular edition primarily on April 2, World Autism Acceptance Day, and got it fully on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub over the last couple of days.

If you’ve read this far, I really hope you’ll give this book a chance, and if you like the tale of Tigerlily, maybe you’ll leave us some reviews on both the original books’ pages and this combined edition’s. Maybe you’ll even read Janey’s other books and hopefully review them, if you’re so inclined. Janey truly is a great storyteller, particularly for the stories she chooses to tell, and she really does bring Autism to life through her own eyes quite well. She and I have largely divergent experiences with Autism, but hers is a much more commonly known – though I would say still quite misunderstood – version of the Autistic Experience, and Tiger Lily’s story reflects this.

Thank you for reading these nearly 600 words. Below the jump, the Book Description for this new The Spectrum Chick Trilogy edition, which encompasses all three of the prior The Spectrum Chick book descriptions. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: Crimson Summer by Heather Graham

For this blog tour we’re looking at the second book in a series that has an interesting take on the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse as cover for murder. For this blog tour we’re looking at Crimson Summer by Heather Graham.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Strong Police Procedural With Overarching Mythology. Read Book 1 First. Upfront, I’m disagreeing with most other reviews currently on Goodreads for this book. Yes, technically it *can* be read as a standalone, as there are more than enough spoilers from Book 1 to give you what you need to follow along here. But with this being an overarching mythology involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and who each horseman is and who is controlling them… this is absolutely a series that is best started with Book 1. And then, of course, you’ll want the next book and the next and the next, until you’ve finished the series – no matter how long Graham keeps it going. (Presumably no more than 6 or 7 books or so, with a potential Book 5 revealing the mastermind, Book 6 unveiling the mastermind’s true plot, and a final showdown in Book 7. Though all three of those last things could be done in a single epic tale.) Great for those who love at minimum nation-trotting creepy action tales that span the US. This reader in particular is a sucker for such tales, and is looking forward to seeing where this series goes from here. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the prologue of the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Crimson Summer by Heather Graham”