Solid Escapism. This is one of those books with enough twists and turns that it truly provides a great deal of effective escapism – even if you manage to put it down, you’re going to be wondering what can possibly happen next. As a setup to a series… I’m interested to see where it goes from here, honestly. To me, it didn’t really feel too “setup” ish and almost completely read like a true standalone book. There weren’t any real threads left dangling here, so other than setting up the backstory of the primary character and a few key supporting characters…. like I said, not overly obvious what this series will entail. Which is unusual for a Book 1. Still, in and of itself this was an excellent twisty mystery/ action book, though the climax did feel a bit abrupt. Overall a fun read, and very much recommended.
This one got my attention mostly because I myself ran for rural small town City Council twice a decade ago – unsuccessfully both times – and so whenever I see an actual book come out about such experiences, I’m immediately interested. In this one, it turns out that this particular town has a couple of very big differences than my far-from-the-sea town did: 1) The jurisdiction here includes a cruise terminal and Glacier Point, a major cruise excursion destination. 2) While the town that I ran for Council in is the home of country singer Luke Bryan, San Fransisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, and American Idol Season 12 winner Phillip Phillips (and I have interesting experiences being in area crowds with both singers), Lende’s town – Haines, AK – happens to be the hometown of Parker Schnabel of Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush family of shows. And one of the controversies Lende spends a fair amount of time on in this book is her decision – along with other members of a split Council – to hire Parker’s aunt, Debra Schnabel, as the town’s Manager. It was a controversy big enough that it nearly led to her ouster less than one year into a three year term, and it apparently set the tone for the rest of her term and indeed for the narrative of this book.
Overall the book did exactly what I expected of it – it showed the realities of life on a small town City Council, the striking dichotomies of being “The Honorable Heather Lende” or “Ms. Lende” or such in meetings and “Heather” as soon as the gavel sounds to close the meeting. Of having disagreements about policy so stark that voters initiate a recall election against you… and then finding out people you thought were good friends, who go to church with you, shop at the store your husband runs, or other seemingly major small town connections… signed the damn petition that forced the recall to happen. I had a degree of that myself even in my unsuccessful runs, watching people as they walked into the singular voting precinct in my town (Lende’s had two, despite having roughly the same number of voters) as I waved campaign signs from across the street while talking to an area reporter. So while I was never recalled, I know well the… interesting… feelings Lende discusses quite well in the text.
In her calls for civility and her support for Robert’s Rules of Order as a mechanism for returning us back to a more civil era of politics and the Rule of Law, Lende actually manages to evoke a sense of President Andrew Shepherd as portrayed by Michael Douglas in The American President. Which their shared liberal politics helps to cement, to a degree. 😉
Ultimately, this was a very satisfying and fairly quick (for a nonfiction book) read, and it is very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Of Bears And Ballots by Heather Lende”
As I say in the Goodreads review below, this was a solid romance novel that has most everything fans of the genre will want, and is a good enough story within that lane that even those who haven’t enjoyed romance novels before might like this one. Also, a solid Hallmark movie style romance, for those into that kind of thing.
What *really* drew me to this book though was Snow’s new alternate identity. You see, last year a book came out that I described as “one of the darkest, most disturbing books I’ve read in quite some time”. That book was All The Lovely Pieces by J.M. Winchester. Which happens to be this alternate identity of the author of this Hallmark-type romance, Jennifer Snow.
So, the dichotomy intrigues me – and points to Snow/Winchester’s strength as a story teller. To get such divergent books from the same mind is quite remarkable given the fact that so many authors tend to stick to one particular genre and, usually, even one particular type of story within that genre. And thus this week I urge you to not only pick up this particular book, but also the other one – which was a Featured New Release when it released last summer to boot.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: Under An Alaskan Sky by Jennifer Snow”