Breathless Adventure With A Ripped-From-The-Headlines Hook. This is one of those adventure tales that doesn’t sound like it would be an adventure tale… until you read it and realize it is an adventure tale. 😀 Ostensibly, this is a near-future tale of the race to find a full-on *cure* for COVID-19. Not just a drug or vaccine to alleviate some symptoms, but an actual cure for the disease. Along the way, we get quite a bit of real-world commentary smoothly rolled into the overall plot so that even while it really *is* kind of preachy… it doesn’t actually *feel* like it is kind of preachy. There is quite a bit within these sections that some readers will be more familiar with than others, but which anyone outside of academia generally and Big Pharma specifically will likely learn a touch about how things actually work. Which is always interesting to see in fiction. Ultimately the single star deduction here was not for the quality of the tale – it really was excellent – but instead because Chesler uses the race for a *COVID-19* cure, rather than literally any other disease. It is an excellent attempt to tap into the current zeitgeist (though one might argue a race for a cure would have been even more buzzworthy in 2021, prior to full vaccine rollouts), but I am waging a personal war against any book that mentions COVID for any reason at all, and the automatic one star deduction is really the only tool at my disposal in this war. Very much recommended.
Wherein My Own Reading Habits Do Me In. The story itself here was an excellent romp through mostly northern, Inside The Perimeter, Atlanta, and a great tale of a woman who has become quite good at skills few have. Maybe it got a touch bogged down in the backstory in Iraq, but before that point – when our main character is trying to really figure out what is going on – and after that point – when the tale switches gears to a cat and mouse game with someone even better at these skills than she is – this is actually a remarkably different book than its predecessor. It also *ends* with the title… which blatantly sets up at least one more book in this series.
But here’s where my reading habits did me in: I never once realized that this book was the sequel to 2020’s Never Turn Back while reading it. Because I had read 434 books between the two entries in this series. Yes, over a span of just 17 months or so. Indeed, I only realized it was the sequel when coming to Goodreads to write this review and seeing it labeled as “Faulkner Family #2, then reading both the description and my review of Never Turn Back.
So do yourself a favor: Don’t wait hundreds of books between the two in this series – and when you finish this one, you’re going to wish Swann already had Book 3 ready to put in your hands (which he may have, depending on when you read this review/ read this book). Very much recommended.
Tropical Adventure Turns Mystical / Fantasy. This is one of the rare books from Wood (in this series, he does have a pen name that is more pure fantasy) that has any level of actual fantasy in it, and even here it is more of a mystical bent that *could* be read as more scifi – though it is certainly on that boundary, in a similar place as roughly half of Ted Dekker’s Circle Quadrilogy.
What starts out as a tropical vacation quickly turns into a race to find and obtain priceless artifacts which leads to the mystical/ fantasy payoff – meaning that prior to the fantasy section, this is a pretty standard Maddock Adventures book, with the usual elements – various people showing up from prior adventures, Bones showing up where he isn’t “supposed” to be, Bones wise cracking and cracking bones, Maddock outsmarting most everyone and being all chivalrous while doing so, etc. The things that long time fans know and love, but done in a way such that newer readers won’t be lost – but will be enticed to go back and read about these prior adventures with the various connections.
Overall a fun and quick – just under 200 page – read, and thus a good actual beach read. 😀 Very much recommended.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that is a solid introduction to this author’s ability to showcase her chosen settings so beautifully. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan.
Interestingly, NOT A Beach Read. For my own tastes, “beach reads” are light and breezy that don’t really have much (if any) drama. Maybe action, yes, but no dusty room kind of stuff. Which actually makes this tale *not* a beach read, as there is quite a bit of drama and a few dusty rooms to be had in this tale.
But don’t get me wrong, it really is a strong tale and beautifully set in a small beach town in California, and the story itself is excellently told. If you haven’t read this author before, this is actually a great tale to introduce yourself to her with, as it shows her ability to both pull heartstrings and capture the beauty and charm of wherever she chooses to place her tale. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan”
Emotional Tale Of Loss And Recovery. This is one of those tales where you know up front that it is dark… and then it gets darker. And darker. And darker. With just enough humor to lighten things up a bit… and then a gut-punch of a form that may be used a bit often (as another reviewer claimed), but which works within the tale being told here. Similarly, as this is ultimately a tale of *recovery* from such devastation, one element of the epilogue that I’ve panned as unnecessary and even detracting from other books in other reviews actually works in this particular tale. And it works *specifically because* of the tale told up to that point. Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.
Short, Quick Introduction. This a short novella – just 56 pages according to Amazon – that is meant to introduce a new small Alaskan town and series. This complements the “back door pilot” from Alaska Dreams – Book 6 in Snow’s Wild *River* (Alaska) series, where the Coast Guard actually played a role in that tale as well and it was clear what Snow was doing the instant it happened.
This tale itself is a solid introduction to Snow’s overall style, without the 350 ish pages she normally works with. Which makes it a great first book for someone that may be wanting to try Snow out for the first time, as the time investment here is minimal – pretty sure I finished this book in under an hour, and I’ve already got the official Book 1 of this series – Sweet Home Alaska – on deck. Very much recommended.
Solid Middle Ages Tale Told With Modern Storytelling Structures. This is a tale where the Middle Ages comes alive in a manner very consistent with how it is portrayed in fictional tales of the era such as The Canterbury Tales (and yes, Canterbury itself features in this tale) and The Decameron. As a potential series starter, it really could go the direction of either of those historical books, though the setup for a Decameron type series is less clear here (but I could still see the ultimate direction being to do a modern version of each of the ten tales therein). There is not one thing inauthentic to the period that I was aware of, though it is possible an actual Middle Ages historian may claim that X didn’t happen until some period later or some such. Still, with Beth Morrison herself being an actual Middle Ages historian… it becomes quite clear just how authentic the siblings tried to make this book. And yet even with the Middle Ages trappings re: customs and available weaponry, the actual story here, of a soldier intent on vengeance who suddenly becomes the protector of a woman and her secrets, could well be told in *any* time period and ultimately reads with a 21st century flair for storytelling even while telling a Middle Ages tale. Truly excellently done, and very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a truly strong series continuation that explains several things from the first book from new perspectives while also building anticipation for the concluding book of the trilogy to a fever pitch. This week we’re looking at No More Lies by Kerry Lonsdale.
Excellent Book 2. This is book 2 of Kerry Lonsdale’s newest trilogy, and while the timelines of both Book 1 (No More Words) and Book 2 overlap – they *do* deal with siblings, at their core – you really do need to read Words first to understand particularly later developments in this book. But this book also explains how certain situations in Words came to be as well – and it is this truly well layered storytelling that is arguably the strongest feature of both this book and this series so far. Yet again, by the end of the tale you’re going to want the next one… which is a problem when you’re reading an ARC nearly 6 months before publication when the author has barely *started writing* said next book. 😀 Truly a well told story both here individually and within the series, and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on No More Secrets, Book 3 of this series, as soon as I can. Very much recommended.
Big Lift That Mostly Hits. This is going to be a very different book for most American/ Western readers, as it is essentially an “Annie” tale from a century ago or so in the US, but in modern India. As an American currently charged with “leading” a pair of teams of Indian developers, this was particularly eye opening to me to see just what still can happen over there. (And admittedly, there are quite a few parallels re: Eminent Domain in the US right this second.)
Between Rakhi’s struggles as an orphan essentially growing up on the streets before being abandoned in an orphanage to the slums she lives in to the (Indian) “White Knight” that “saves” her – yet expects slavish devotion because of it, Rakhi’s tale has quite a bit in and of itself. Then the back third really gets into a discussion-without-saying-the-words of urban redevelopment and the havoc it can wreak on those “least” able to handle havoc. And of course “least” has to be in quotes in the prior sentence because the tale through this section actually does a great job of showing just how resilient those people are – and how fragile those that think themselves resilient can be.
Overall a strong book that could have used a touch better editing – the flashbacks to Rakhi’s childhood and back to the current timeline were a bit jarring – but that certainly has more depth than is readily apparent to a casual reader. Very much recommended.
Mind-Bending Scifi Action. This is one of those trippy books that has enough mystery up front to draw you in, a lot of exposition in the middle to make you understand what is coming, and a balls to the wall back third to show off all that you now know within the context of the original setup. At 440 ish pages, it may read a tad long to some, but I felt the length was pretty solid for all that it was doing here. And the ideas it discusses are intriguing in a vein similar to Marcus Sakey’s Afterlife, where death… may only be the beginning. The backstory here was perhaps a well tapped a bit too often in the genre, particularly for anything of this form, and yet was still done well and was truly horrifying (though fortunately not too much of it actually “onscreen”). Overall the tale here was interesting and well told. Very much recommended.