Featured New Release Of The Week: A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields

This week we’re looking at an excellent coming of age tale featuring the dawn of the war on drugs as seen through the eyes of a 13yo New York City girl in 1965. This week we’re looking at A Frenzy of Sparks by Kristin Fields.

Once again, as I write this in late August 2020 I am still being afflicted by a form of “writer’s block” that makes even Goodreads level reviews a bit difficult to write at the moment, so that level is all I really have to offer still.

Solid Coming Of Age During The Dawn Of The War On Drugs. As a coming of age tale set in the mid 60s, this evokes feelings of The Outsiders, Dirty Dancing, and My Girl – all phenomenal works. The use of a 13yo girl as the primary character is an interesting perspective that really allows Fields to tell a tale in a newish way even as she deals with things that most anyone who knows anything about that period at all is aware of on multiple levels. Truly a great story, and one that several of Fields’ fellow Lake Union authors have appropriately lauded in words far more poetic than anything I’ll be able to create, even in a review. As counterprogramming to the 2020 US Elections – it releases on Election Day 2020 here – it actually provides a truly interesting perspective that all too often gets lost, particularly in this particular Presidential election. And yes, since I am writing this review on August 23 and it releases on November 3, this is indicative that this is in fact an ARC, with all that this entails. But pick this up on release day. Go ahead and preorder it so that you have it on release day. You’re going to want a distraction, and this tale is an excellent distraction. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Divided We Fall by David French

This week we’re looking at THE book every single American needs to read before they vote in the 2020 General Elections in a few weeks. This week, we’re looking at Divided We Fall by David French.

Note: In light of the events unfolding this weekend following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’m moving this post’s publication up by a couple of days and giving it that much longer at the top of the site and my socials. Yes, this is *that* important. Particularly now. -Jeff, 9/20/20

I’ve read some *extremely* disturbing books. Books with some of the most graphic, horrific acts any human can possibly imagine. Some of them have even been nonfiction.

And y’all, the scenarios French lays out at roughly the halfway mark – one from the left, one from the right – of how America as we know it could dissolve nearly instantaneously are at least as horrific as any of them. This is the clarion call that will hopefully snap people awake and get them to realize just how perilous the path we are on truly is. Particularly since these scenarios are truly so real that in theory either one of them could happen between when I write these words on July 4th, 2020 and when they publish – along with the book – on September 22, 2020.

He spends the front half of the book building to this point by showing, in crystal clarity, the stark realities of exactly where we have been and exactly where we are now. His analysis of history and current events seems solid to my mind, and it is only once he is finished showing exactly where we are – at least through the end of 2019 – that he unleashes his horrific master strokes.

French then spends the back third of the book in “this could happen – but it doesn’t have to” mode. Here, he expounds on really two primary points – which I’ll not spoil here – that would require a commitment from us all to actively work towards, but which could ultimately walk us back from the brink we currently find ourselves at. Neither of his points are nearly as readily achievable as the disaster scenarios, but both – particularly when working together – present arguably one of the best defenses against the disaster scenarios I’ve come across of late, and indeed actually play into my own “stop the pendulum” philosophy of the last decade.

Ultimately, if you are an American reading this, you need to stop reading this review and go read this book already!

As always, the Goodreads/ Bookbub review:
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#BookReview: The Next Great Migration by Sonia Shah

Interesting and Applicable. This is a truly remarkable work that traces the sociological and biological impetuses for and restrictions on migration at levels from the individual through the species. Shah does a superb job of combining history and science to make her case, and even impeaches at least a few organizations currently in the headlines along the way – even while clearly having no way of knowing that she was doing so, as the book was written before they became so prominent more recently. Spanning from the guy that developed the modern taxonomic system through late breaking issues with the Trump Presidency, Shah shows a true depth to her research and builds a largely compelling case. Very much recommended.

This review of The Next Great Migration by Sonia Shah was originally written on April 10, 2020.

#BookReview: What You Need To Know About Voting – And Why by Kim Wehle

Even The Good Parts Will Rapidly Be – Admittedly – Outdated. This was yet another of those books whose premise held such promise, and yet whose execution was sorely lacking. The only redeemable parts of this platitude, inaccuracy, and outright lies that are damn close to libel (but to be absolutely clear do *not*, in my understanding, actually cross that line) filled book are the numerous charts of where the law stands on various issues relating to voter registration, ballot access, and similar State level issues. The rest of the text is at best a series of platitudes about how “vital” voting is and at worst lies such that if the target were not a public figure would likely be a fairly easy libel case. (The standard for libel against a public figure is much higher than the one for just a “normal” private citizen.) The charts are the *only* thing preventing this text from being a “gold mine” level – my singular worst personal rating – and as the author admits every time she discusses one, will be outdated within just a few years and potentially even before this book actually goes to print. This is one of those books that in all honesty I personally would not publish with its existing text, but which could make a buck or two from the charts alone. It is for these charts that I can recommend this book at least for the next couple of months, but other than the charts I would not recommend it at all.

Just to be perfectly clear, I have never supported the current President, nor his predecessor and in all likelihood nor his successor. Instead, I am a person that has a fair degree of expertise in election laws and issues myself, having ran for City Council twice in rural southern Georgia, recruited a Statewide candidate for office in Georgia under a non-D/R Party, been that Party’s Legislative Director, ran a Facebook group promoting open ballot access, ran a political blog focusing on various issues including election laws, and even interviewed both Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams as a result of some of those other efforts. I am no law professor as the author is, but I am *far* more knowledgeable about these issues than the average reader and, based on my reading of the text, it seems that I may in fact be more knowledgeable on these issues than the author herself. Despite much of my knowledge being 10 yrs out of date on exact particulars.

This review of What You Need To Know About Voting – And Why by Kim Wehle was originally published on February 27, 2020.