#BookReview: What Jesus Intended by Todd D. Hunter

Solid Work Within Its Field. For those already familiar with the arguments presented here – at an extremely high level, essentially that religious leaders rarely know what the hell they are doing and tend to create “bad religion”, but Jesus Himself is “good religion” – this is fairly standard stuff, presented in the fairly typical Christian Living genre format of some essay around a given topic with a few application questions at the end of the chapter. At least as someone well versed in what Mr. Hunter was talking about, there was nothing particularly ground breaking here, but perhaps this is the presentation that will allow some to approach the topic – in which case I’m fairly certain Mr. Hunter and I would agree that it would have been worth it for that reason alone.

The star deduction here is for the rampant proof texting, but it is rare to find a book in this particular genre without this practice.

And the other thing I felt I needed to call out here was the devotion of the final chapter to a particular ministry… where it turns out that its leader is one of Mr. Hunter’s mentors, as he mentions just pages later in the Acknowledgments. This to me felt at least a touch improper, perhaps another similar minstry could have been highlighted there rather than one so closely personal to Mr. Hunter. But this is far from an allegation of actual impropriety, simply something that pings my own ethical philosophy – which I never hold anyone else to.

Overall a solid work in its field, and one worth considering even if you *are* familiar with the general arguments. Very much recommended.

This review of What Jesus Intended by Todd D. Hunter was originally written on March 27, 2023.

#BookReview: War Made Invisible by Norman Solomon

Russia : Ukraine :: United States : Afghanistan (and Iraq). This is the point that Solomon makes over and over and over in various forms, looking at varying facets of the same simple refrain. Not a long book at just 240 pages, 28% of which (at least in ARC form) was documentation – which is on the higher end of “normal” in my experience – a truly in-depth analysis, this book is not. But the point it makes, and the bias it openly stakes, is in stark and balancing contrast to the dominant narrative through US media – which is its very point.

Basically, Solomon’s entire point comes down to the fact that in focusing on cruise missile bombing – not even as many actual bomber planes, certainly relative to prior generations of American war as recently as Vietnam – and, more recently and perhaps even more ubiquitously, drone bombings, the US Department of Defense has shifted the conversation about war away from the dangers faced by soldiers on the ground. Complicit with this is an American media that even when showing atrocities, also “reminds” people of the tragedy of 9/11 – without ever noting that the US DoD commits a 9/11 seemingly every few days, and the constant terror of hearing a drone hover around can be even worse, psychologically. (This is particularly clear in one passage in particular where he discusses speaking directly with Afghan citizens in the southern provinces, away from US media coverage.) A generation later, with Russia invading Ukraine on just as flimsy a pretext, suddenly the American media is hyping up every remotely-connected-to-Russia instance of civilian suffering in the affected region… because suddenly, the invader is not the US itself, but an enemy of the US.

Solomon even takes square aim at Samuel Moyn’s September 2021 book Humane, where Moyn posits that the US use of drones has made modern warfare “more humane”, with some valid points here. (Though to be clear, I also believe Moyn has some valid points from his side as well, and stated so in my review of that book.)

I made it a point to read this book on Medal of Honor day, and it is a truly fascinating – and needed, for Americans – book any day of the year. It brings a refreshing balance to overall US discourse about war and its repercussions, it certainly can open eyes that are willing to be opened, and it will strengthen the views of those who are already “in the know” of this subject. Very much recommended.

This review of War Made Invisible by Norman Solomon was originally written on March 26, 2023.

#BlogTour: The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a second book in a very loosley connected series that proves to be even more powerful than the first. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane.

Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Second Verse More Powerful Than The First. This was the second book in this new trilogy where Lane combines both sides of her writing to phenomenal success. As Soraya M Lane, Lane generally writes compelling and seemingly realistic historical fiction. As Soraya Lane, Lane generally writes more contemporary romance, with all that said genre entails. With this series, Lane manages to execute on Digimon Frontier’s Susanoomon ultimate combined evolution and combine both sides of herself into one truly powerful writer. Both sides of this work just as well as any fan of either side of her writing would expect, and combine to breathtaking and heartbreaking result. Cuba comes alive in this tale in ways few American media really allow it to do, both in the historical side and in the contemporary side – which may be helped by the fact that Lane lives in New Zealand and this particular series is published by a British imprint? 🙂 Truly an excellent book, and one loosely coupled enough from its predecessor (who is only briefly alluded to near the beginning of this tale) that anyone can pick up either book in either order and not really miss anything or be spoiled of any details from the other book. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media, and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane”

#BookReview: Singularity by Jeremy Robinson

The New God Of Science Fiction Outdoes Even Avengers: Endgame. First off, let me tell you up front: This isn’t the book for you if you haven’t read the other 12 books in the Infinite Timeline first. That noted… you NEED to read those books, because you NEED to read this book.


Because it is quite possibly *THE* unique novel in all of human history. Certainly in my own expansive, yet *very* tiny relative to all novels, few thousand book reading history. Here, Robinson openly takes inspiration from the “event” form comic books have taken for decades and which movies finally got a taste of with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and brings this structure into novels – hence, the Infinite Timeline itself.

SINGULARITY, this book, is its “Avengers: Endgame”, and Robinson is able to execute on the things that Endgame does well *even better* than it did… *and* add several instances of depth, fan service, and meta commentary that Endgame could never have attempted, let alone fit in.

The darkness in this book is intense. The world is about to end, and our ragtag group of simple humans, enhanced humans, and outright Greek Gods has to come together to stop it… with enough humor to make one think your favorite group of comedians had somehow written a dark and gritty scifi action epic. You’re going to *feel* the world ending, the threat growing and becoming impossible to defeat. Even through this, you’re going to laugh your ass off at the antics of our heroes as they fight with all the (considerable) might and talent they can bring to bear.

Are there any outright “Avengers! Assemble.” moments here? For me, there was in fact one. The moment we encounter the titular Singularity. The moment the MCU could never hope to replicate (even though it has tried, post-Endgame).

This is quite possibly *the* unique novel in all of human existence.

It will very likely be *quite* some time – if ever – that I encounter a *better* novel.

Do yourself a favor. Read the Infinite Timeline. Just so you can experience this particular OHMYGODAMAZEBALLSAWESOMESAUCE novel yourself.

Very much recommended.

This review of Singularity by Jeremy Robinson was originally written on March 21, 2023.

#BookReview: The Syndicate Spy by Brittany Butler

Near Future Examination Of Toxic Femininity. Did I grab you with that title? Well, as it turns out, one of the more interesting lasting features of this book is, in fact, its look at feminism and how even here, noble ideals can be perverted. But the setup to get to that particular moment – and its resultant *need* for Book 2 of this nascent series – is at least as compelling, showing two women from such divergent cultures – one “enlightened” Western, the other “repressed” Muslim – and how women truly live in each, for worse – and for better – and with all of the resultant struggles within each system. The action is intense and at times literally explosive, and the chase for the almost Osama Bin Laden type terrorist looming in the background is easily reminiscent of many of the Vince Flynn written Mitch Rapp thrillers. Overall a pretty solidly written tale that brings enough “new”/ “different” to the genre to be refreshing, without deviating so much from genre standards as to be alienating. Very much recommended.

This review of The Syndicate Spy by Brittany Butler was originally written on March 21, 2023.

#BookReview: Love In The Alaskan Wilds by Jennifer Snow

Need More From These Characters. Maybe it was because this novella was on the back of a full length novel (Second Chance Alaska) where best friends suddenly became lovers, but this novella – while technically a complete romance according to all RWA standards as I know them – feels more like the beginning of a romance than an actual full fledged romance. Which is weird, because in pretty well every other novella Snow has done, you never get this sense at all. Yes, they are all similarly paced and have a similar page count, and this one does in fact continue both of these. But with the others, it felt like we were getting a complete romance tale… condensed. Here, it feels more like we’re getting the first date/ very beginning of the relationship. Which works and was great… it just felt like there was so much more to do with these two characters. Thus, if the series is in fact continuing, this reader in particular hopes that this couple can become at least prominent secondary characters in a follow up tale. Even for the brevity here, this is still an excellent introduction to this author, her manner of storytelling, and the general setting and stories of this particular series – for any that may be coming into this new. For longer time fans, this is a solid outing in this particular series. Very much recommended.

This review of Love In The Alaskan Wilds by Jennifer Snow was originally written on March 21, 2023.

#BookReview: Second Chance Alaska by Jennifer Snow

Spicy Tropey Romance. Up front: If you prefer no sex/ “fade to black” sex in your romance books… this one isn’t for you. The sex in this one would get an automatic NC-17 if it was ever shown on film exactly as described in the text, even though there are only a couple such scenes in the book. That covers the spicy side of the title, but what about the tropey bit? Well, we’ve got a widower who hates his job, embraces his family legacy… but would love to leave it. He also happens to have one remaining daughter after his wife and older daughter vanished in the period before this story takes place – and yes, he does eventually get his closure on those topics within this story, thanks to cameos from other characters earlier in the series. We’ve got the small town shop owner (a book shop, in this case) who is perhaps a touch secretive about a few things… that she then learns maybe she wasn’t as secretive as she thought she’d been. And our shop owner happens to be the best friend of the missing wife… who harbors hidden feelings for our widower. So like I said, very tropey, very Hallmarkie type small town romance. If that is your jam and you either don’t mind or even actively like the higher heat level here… Snow always manages to slam these types of stories out of the park, and this one is absolutely no different. With the particular events in this book, I would actually recommend newbies start at least at the beginning of this Wild Coast series (even if you don’t go all the way back to the Wild Alaska series it spun off from, which isn’t really necessary to understand the events of this particular book). Readers who have already read the first two books were going to read this one anyway… but I’m fairly positive most will agree with me that this was another excellent entry into the series. And while it almost seems like our story in Port Serenity has finished, particularly with some of the seeming meta commentary built into this tale… that bonus novella advertised on the cover (Love In The Alaskan Wilds, a separate review for me) points to the idea that perhaps Snow isn’t quite finished with Port Serenity after all. Overall, as mentioned, a solid romance tale well told as always, and very much recommended.

This review of Second Chance Alaska by Jennifer Snow was originally written on March 21, 2023.

#BookReview: The Last Port of Call by Elizabeth Bromke

Solid Tale Of Parent/ Child Issues Later In Life. This is one of those tales I’m starting to see more of, and we admittedly probably need more of in general – that of older people (in this case, the mom is near 80 and the daughter near 50) and their own struggles and issues. Here, Bromke plays it with both humor and heart, and in the end pulls out a tale most anyone of any age can relate to at some level. Yes, there is some romance here and it does in fact technically meet every RWA rule I am aware of, but this one is more about both of these women finding themselves again and finding each other again in the process, after decades of things left unsaid. The Alaskan Cruise elements are great, including a couple of scenes that will get the blood pumping in different ways. Overall a truly solid tale that works quite well. Very much recommended.

This review of The Last Port Of Call by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on March 19, 2023.

#BookReview: In My Life by Kay Bratt

When Art Imitates Life. This deep in this particular series, you really need to read the first two books in the series – which are both excellent, btw – in order to fully understand all that is going on here… and to avoid major spoilers from each of those two books. Once you’ve read those books, you’re going to want this one on hand anyway, as it picks up shortly after the events of Book 2. Once again, the crime being investigated is one Bratt had heard a similar tale of in her real life, and once again (as is so often in Bratt’s writing), those who have paid attention to her for in some cases not long at all will notice other details of her life making their way onto the page. In a glancing reference here, we get a reference to a child currently living on Maui, as Bratt’s own youngest daughter currently does. But much more interestingly, there is a minor plot point here – that helps build into something that could become much larger – that those familiar with Bratt’s postings on social media from just a few months ago will be all too familiar with. To be clear, while the character here pursues the more criminal method that Bratt was *tempted* to do in real life, in real life Bratt did in fact pursue numerous *legal* methods of achieving the same result. Her socials are worth perusing for that story alone, for those that also come to enjoy her fictional work. 🙂 Overall another solid tale that expands the world while also keeping the “freak of the week” episodic nature of the series intact. Very much recommended.

This review of In My Life by Kay Bratt was originally written on March 13, 2023.

#BookReview: Moonlight On The Lido Deck by Violet Howe

Solid Blend Of Several Elements. This book, despite its 230 ish page length, has quite a bit going on. You’ve got a women’s fiction type tale of a woman losing everything and having to discover anew just who she is and what she wants out of life. You’ve got the good looking adventurous dude with a shady history. You’ve got a fake relationship between the two… set up by the sister of the woman/ gay best friend of the guy. And you’ve got all of this set in bustling NYC, sandy Cocoa Beach, FL, and the wonders of the Caribbean on a beautiful cruise ship. And yes, the titular moonlight on Lido deck… can truly be life-changing (noted from near-personal experience – it is almost always magical, at minimum). Overall truly a solid tale that combines all of these elements and makes them enhance each other into a fun, and short-ish, story. Very much recommended.

This review of Moonlight On The Lido Deck by Violet Howe was originally written on March 12, 2023.