#BookReview: The Defector by Chris Hadfield

Former International Space Station Commander Channels Spirit Of Tom Clancy. Growing up, I *loved* Tom Clancy’s writing – and yes, I was reading it as a young teen, including Without Remorse in just 8th grade. Here, Hadfield – he the Canadian who rose up the astronaut ranks in NASA to have quite a remarkable career in actual space – brings us a historical fiction / alternate history spy thriller that truly does channel Clancy in both the spycraft and the technobabble. Yes, there are some intensely thrilling fighter action scenes, particularly in the early and late phases of the book. But while there is no 10-pages-covering-the-first-nanoseconds-of-a-nuclear-detonation level intensely detailed technical description… there is quite a bit more than at least some readers will prefer. I personally enjoyed it… but I’m also a guy that wrote a HS paper on the technical specifications and capabilities of the F-14 Tomcat fighter. Overall, the tale as told works quite well, though in the end it does almost feel like this was always meant to be the middle tale of a trilogy. As such, it does have quite a few spoilers for Book 1, The Apollo Murders, so those who are particularly sensitive about those things should absolutely read that book first. But then this book picks up soon after, and trust me… you’re gonna want to read this one too. Very much recommended.

This review of The Defector by Chris Hadfield was originally written on October 19, 2023.

#BookReview: On The Wings Of Hope by Ella Zeiss

ATypical WWII Novel. In several ways, this is a typical WWII romance-ish novel, maybe of a Russian kind (ie, hard times all over the place, can be seen as depressing at times, yet ultimately a story of survival and love). In many other ways, this is a very *atypical* WWII novel. For one, it doesn’t take place in the more common Western Europe setting, but instead mostly in Soviet forced labor camps. For another, well, the whole “Soviet” thing doesn’t get seen too much in Western WWII historical fiction novels. And finally, this is actually directly based on the real-world travails of the author’s grandparents, making it the first time I’ve seen a novel of the type I myself hope to write someday. Overall truly a tremendous work, and very much recommended.

This review of On The Wings Of Hope by Ella Zeiss was originally written on November 30, 2020.

#BookReview: A Transcontinental Affair by Jodi Daynard

One of the More Intriguing Historical Fiction Novels I’ve Ever Read. The title says it all. In this story of a legendary train ride from coast to coast – just a year after doing so was even possible – Daynard manages to put some aspects into this tale that were very much unexpected, but does so in a way that is at least possible. Indeed, for much of the back half of the book the reader constantly expects something to happen – whether or not it does is up to you to read and find out. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very much recommended.

This review of A Transcontinental Affair by Jodi Daynard was originally written on October 29, 2019.

Featured New Release of the Week: Once Upon A Cowboy Christmas by Soraya Lane

This week we are looking at a romance book written by someone I previously knew as a historical fiction author. This week we are looking at Once Upon A Cowboy Christmas by Soraya Lane.

The book itself is, as I titled the Goodreads review below, a “solid romance”. It hits billionaire, cowboy, and second chance tropes all in one book, which is a feat unto itself at times. And it works well as an entry point into the series, even though it is Book 3.

But really what I want to talk about here is that dichotomy between the genres Lane writes in and how brave – and skillful – she is for doing so. Some authors may shy away from risking splitting their fan base or not wanting to take the effort to grow a “second” fan base, and let’s face it, far too many readers will absolutely refuse to read outside of a given genre. I’ve spoken with those types online numerous times, and honestly I just don’t get them. A good story is a good story, no matter the genre or language or anything else. And Lane has conclusively proven to me that she can give me a good story in at least two different genres – so I for one would *love* to see her try even more. ๐Ÿ˜€

I absolutely love when authors are willing to take risks, whether that means staying within one genre but doing nearly every subgenre possible within it, ala the “Modern Day Master of Science Fiction” Jeremy Robinson or pushing the bounds of their given genre ala Laura Heffernan’s Gamer Girl series or outright writing in multiple genres as Lane does. And I genuinely wish more authors had the balls to do it and more readers had the balls to follow authors they know can give them good stories no matter where that author decides to push themselves. Everyone involved in publishing, from the authors through the publishers through the sellers and all the way to the readers themselves would be stronger for it if authors would challenge themselves in this way. I get playing it safe and the reasons there, and let’s face it, there is arguably a steadier income stream from the author/ publisher side when authors choose to go that route. But, well, I’m a guy that has always lived by the words of Garth Brooks’s Standing Outside the Fire: “Life is not tried it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.”

Take the risk. Live a little. If you’ve never read romance before, give this one a try. If you’ve never read Lane’s work before, this is as good a place as any to start. Stop reading this review and go buy the book already. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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