Remarkable Biography Of One Of The Most Influential Men Of The 20th Century. In this, the first biography of John Moses Browning ever written by anyone other than a descendant (and only the second ever written, period), Gorenstein does a truly remarkable job of showing the life, times, and inventions of a man who could arguably be said to be more actually influential on the 20th century than even Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. Yes, Edison revolutionized how we are able to see and gave us the truly 24/7 world, and Ford revolutionized both transportation and manufacturing more generally, but Browning revolutionized how we *kill things* – animal or human – and that alone has driven many of the most important issues of the 20th century. It was Browning’s early rifles that may not have won the West – but certainly made it even easier to live there. It was Browning’s (then-Colt) 1911 that is *to this day* one of the most popular types of pistol in the world, over a century after Browning won the competition for the US Army’s new service pistol (a contract it would keep for over 70 years and through both World Wars, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War). Indeed, that very model – the Colt 1911 – played a legendary part of the lore of one Lieutenant George S Patton and the first motorized military raid in the 1916-17 Punitive Expedition. In WWII, many infantry units – very likely including both of my grandfathers’ own units – carried up to four different Browning guns into battle, between his 1911, his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), and his “Ma Deuce” Browing M2 .50 caliber machine gun.
And Gorenstein does a phenomenal job of showing the development and importance of each, including Browning designing the gas-piston system of modern automatic and semi-automatic rifles *in a single day*. Gorenstein shows how Browning, of truly humble beginnings, designed his first gun from scraps laying around his dad’s engineering and repair shop – just to hunt small game to help feed the family. Gorenstein shows how these humble beginnings played such a role in Browning not even really beginning to invent until at or beyond the age when others in more academic professions say genius decays – and how this “lost decade” played such a role in Browning’s later drive and inventiveness.
It doesn’t matter what you think of how Browning’s designs and their derivatives over the last 100+ years have been used. You know about Edison, or can. You know about Ford, or can. You deserve to educate yourself about this genius as well, if only to learn the lessons of his genius. And this book is the very first time you really can. Very much recommended.
And here are (most of) the guns in question, just to show how truly prolific this amazing man was.
This review of The Guns Of John Moses Browning by Nathan Gorenstein was originally written on March 27, 2021.
Fascinating And Short. To be such a compact tale – 220 pages or so – this volume puts in a fairly dense amount of information at a very high level (for its extremely advanced concepts anyway, some of which deal with literally the smallest entities known to mankind), which is even more remarkable when one considers the volume of space dedicated to the often stunning imagery included in even this months-prior-to-publication advanced reader copy. (For those unfamiliar with ARC work, actually getting to see most imagery referenced in a book is a rarity. :D) As to showing these ten patterns and roughly how they can all be seen to link up to explain the universe. Clegg definitely shows – again at a very high level – that links are there, often in ways not everyone would think to look. As to whether these fully explain the universe… that, is a much larger question that Clegg never really dives into too deeply, seemingly satisfied that they seem to explain the universe *as we currently understand it*. Which is a major concession, particularly in light of just how recent most of the developments Clegg details are in human history. (Quite a few within the last 150 years or so, vs the few thousand years of even recorded history.) Overall truly an interesting book and a quick ish read to boot, that doesn’t *completely* require a science related degree to understand (though having some degree of familiarity with STEM subjects will certainly help any reader here), and thus very much recommended.
This review of Ten Patterns That Explain The Universe by Brian Clegg was originally written on May 11, 2021.
Solid Use Of Misdirection. Here, Pine seems to be building to an epic confrontation through much of the book, and then… boom. Quick resolution to that conflict, move on thankyoukindly. Still, one thing that Pine truly excels at is misdirection – the tales that it seems like the resolution will come quick, you get intense, epic showdowns. The books you’re anticipating the intense, epic showdown, you get something else. And yes, along the way you get the standard “police procedural” stuff of showing the friendship and family among our primary cast – this time featuring primarily medium and witch extraordinaire Copeland Forbes, private investigator with a supernatural connection Jude Byrne, and former Cold Case Captains in the Boston Police Department Ronan O’Mara and Kevin Fitzgibbon. And yes, this book is primarily focused on the Titanic disaster, with Pine showing several features many likely were unaware of, as well as crafting a few fictional details to suit her needs in this story. Yet again another book in this series that if you don’t mind coming into an existing universe and having various prior books spoiled to some degree or another is a perfectly fine entry point. (So fans / followers of the Titanic and related stories, here’s your shot!) And yet, also yet another book that long time fans of this ever expanding series and world will love. Very much recommended.
This review of Ghost Ship by Pandora Pine was originally written on May 11, 2021.
This week we’re looking at an in-depth look at how and why we lie to each other via scams from history through modern times. This week we’re looking at The Truth About Lies by Aja Raden.
Thought Provoking, But Could Have Used More Documentation. This is a very thought provoking book that looks at lies and how we deceive both ourselves and others, using scams from prehistory all the way through the 2010s. In its examinations of how we deceive both ourselves and each other, it seems to this reader to be very well reasoned, very well thought out, and very well written. Lots of education, a fair degree of humor, and (warning to those “sensitive” to it), a few F-bombs to boot. Indeed, the one main weakness here is the dearth of its bibliography – coming it at just 6% ish of the text rather than the more common 25-30% of well-documented nonfiction texts. Also, the cover – I don’t believe Washington and the (very likely apocryphal, and thus… a lie) story of his childhood cherry tree is ever mentioned in the text. So the cover lies… which may be the point. 😉 Overall a superb book, but the bibliography issue knocks it down a star. Very much recommended.
Dense Yet Enlightening. This is a book about the history of the philosophical and legal thoughts and justifications for transitioning from the brutal and bloody wars of the 19th century (when the history it covers begins) through to the “more humane” but now seemingly endless wars as currently waged, particularly by the United States of America. As in, this treatise begins with examinations of Tolstoy and Von Clauswitz during the Napoleonic Wars and ends with the Biden Presidency’s early days of the continuation of the drone wars of its two predecessors. Along the way, we find the imperfections and even outright hypocrisies of a world – and, in the 21st century in particular, in particular a singular nation on the ascendancy, the United States – as it struggles with how best to wage and, hopefully, end war. Moyn shows the transition from a mindset of peace to a mindset of more palatable (re: “less” horrific / “more” humane) perma-war. But as to the description’s final point that this book argues that this might not be a good thing at all… yes, that point is raised, and even, at times, central. But the text here seems to get more in depth on the history of documenting the change rather than focusing in on the philosophical and even legal arguments as to why that particular change is an overall bad thing. Ultimately this is one of those esoteric tomes that those with a particular interest in wars and how and why they are waged might read, if they are “wonks” in this area, but probably won’t have the mass appeal that it arguably warrants. The central premise is a conversation that *needs* to be had in America and the world, but this book is more designed for the think tank/ academic crowd than the mass appeal that could spark such conversations. Still, it is truly well documented and written with a high degree of detail, and for this it is very much recommended.
This review of Humane by Samuel Moyn was originally written on May 5, 2021.
This week, we’re looking at an explosive and twisty mystery with an ending that will leave you breathless. This week we’re looking at Six Weeks To Live by Catherine McKenzie.
Ironic, But Explaining That Is Spoilery. My singular biggest takeaway from this book is just how *HIGHLY* ironic it turns out to be. But explaining that involves discussing specifics of the ending of the book, and thus isn’t something I’m going to do in a review. Just not my style. At all.
What I *can* tell you about this book is that for the most part, you’ve got your expected Catherine McKenzie level mystery here. By which I mean there will be all kinds of twists and turns. Secrets all over the place – including some revealed only in the final pages. Solid pacing. A compelling introduction. And a general sense after reading it of “WOW”/ “WTF”. If you’re looking for that kind of book, I’ve yet to be let down with anything I’ve read from this author… including this very book. Very much recommended.
Visceral. When you start off at one of WWII’s most infamous defeats (of the Allies) at Dunkirk and go right into one of its lesser known war crimes (the slaughter of nearly 100 British soldiers at Le Paradis), you know this is going to be one *intense* book. And it is. Here, Lane uses a British nurse and two French sisters to tell a tale of survival during the war’s early years, when Germany seemingly could not be defeated. The way she tells it reads as some of the most gripping suspense (arguably even horror, without the supernatural elements often part of that genre) I’ve yet come across in tales of this era – and indeed, even in most other tales, period. From the opening chapters where the Germans attack through the closing chapters (other than the extended epilogue), Lane never really gives these characters – and thus, the reader – any real sense of calm or safety. The Germans are always *right there*, in mind if not in body, and the threat of capture and execution – or worse – is never far from anyones’ thoughts. Releasing just one week before the 81st anniversary of the events it fictionalizes, this is easily one of the best books of Summer 2021, particularly for those looking for dark/ suspense tales. Very much recommended.
This review of The Secrets We Left Behind by Soraya M Lane was originally written on May 1, 2021.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a story of a war between assassins… playing out on the streets and in the casinos of Las Vegas. For this blog tour we’re looking at Third Kill by John Ryder.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Assassin On Assassin Action. In Las Vegas. This is a semi-weird (in a good way) mashup of a police procedural and a straight up shoot-em-up action thriller. On the police procedural side, one half of the “problem solving” team is an FBI agent with the usual FBI agent problems, plus at least a hint of a personal life. On the shoot-em-up action thriller side, the other half of the “problem solving” team is a former Royal Marine turned mercenary turned private assassin. Now, this team is tasked with tracking down and assassinating an assassin who has been let loose on the Las Vegas strip – and whoever is paying them. It is an intriguing premise in that it hasn’t been covered a thousand times in a thousand variations of the exact same thing, and when this British author is focusing on things *other* than guns in his action, it is at minimum plausible and seemingly realistic. But his British blind spots shine through in his repeated – pretty much every time – use of “clip” when he should be using “magazine” to denote where in the gun the bullets are stored and what is replaced when you need more bullets. This is where having an American fan, particularly of the “uses guns semi-actively” sort, would come in handy in the proofreading process – a technique I’ve known even American authors who are still less familiar with guns to use to polish their texts before publication. And this *is* an ARC, so there is at least the possibility that this can be corrected in the month or so before publication – in the Kindle variant, at minimum. Still, a truly strong story such that other than this particular point, all other British to American linguistic differences are easily explained away as the one lead character being British himself. Very much recommended.
Update exclusive to BookAnon.com: I’m told that the “clip” v “magazine” issue did in fact get resolved pre-publication. 🙂
Below the jump, the various publisher details including book description and author bio. 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Third Kill by John Ryder”
Balanced Yet Contrived. This is a story where you almost feel like it is more of a 4*, but there is nothing *really* there from a more objective standpoint that I try to rate on to justify the reduction. Yes, it could use better separation of its various narrators’ voices, rather than just the one word at the top of the chapter with their name. Yes, at times it feels that so many situations are thrown in just because the author was hoping some bookstagrammer would hashtag that situation and help market the book based on it. Yes, talking to cops without an attorney present is so GLARINGLY stupid and cringeworthy. *PARTICULARLY* for minorities. And yet, even with all of this, the story ultimately works. Not as a “thriller”, mind you, but more as a women’s fiction/ suspense character study. As a thriller… well, the book spends the first half setting up the titular Party, about 10-15% on the actual Party, and then the back part of the book dealing with the aftermath. It has the requisite secrets, lies, backstabbing, and comeuppance, and ultimately it really does tell a fairly balanced tale from a few different perspectives, but it just never quite feels as satisfying/ mind bending as many readers in this space typically look for. And yet, again, nothing truly “this is objectively wrong/ bad” here to really hang a star reduction on. Thus, 5* and recommended.
This review of The Street Party by Claire Seeber was originally written on April 29, 2021.
For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid young adult/ new adult tale of lesbian love in high school. For this blog tour we’re looking at When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer.
First, here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Solid Lesbian High School Romance. This one has the metric shit-ton of angst one would expect from teenage girls – you’ve got the foster kid trying to fit in. You’ve got the spoiled rich kid hating herself over something the foster kid knows nothing about (but finds out about eventually) who leads one group of friends. You’ve got the spoiled rich kid’s ex-girlfriend who shared in the tragedy and the guilt… and who leads the other group of friends. You’ve got the foster kid trying to fit in with both sets. And along the way, you get all kinds of will-they/ won’t-they teasing between the three… which *also* leads to quite a bit of angst. 😀 But yes, somewhere along the way it becomes a bit like Sky High’s *awesome* final line, and you do in fact get an actual romance as it does so. Zimmer also did an excellent job of making this a shared universe with her first book, but while making it effectively a standalone book rather than a true “series” book. So if you’re into high school and/ or LGBT/lesbian romances, give this one a try. Even if you’re not, this one is a good book to experiment with. As is typical of many high school based romances, there is less sex than many/ most older adult romances and more kissing. Though there is an eventual rounding of the bases. Or several. It just primarily happens “off screen”. Not for the “clean”/ “sweet” romance crowd, though I’ve seen little evidence of that crowd looking to the LGBT romance arena anyway. Very much recommended.
Below the jump, the publisher information, including the book description, a bit about the author, and some direct buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer”