#BlogTour: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that further shows how an often stigmatized neurodivergence can actually be used for good rather than its stereotypical evil. For this blog tour we’re looking at Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian.

Complex Story With Interesting (But Unnecessary) Commentary In Finale. This is a particular idea that I didn’t really know I was drawn to until reading Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe books, about a slightly more mature psychopath than these college students here. So when I saw the premise here, I pretty well *had* to check it out. The overall story works well and will keep you guessing – and you’re most likely not going to guess right until the final reveal. The various aspects of psychopathy shown work well, and work well to show that *everyone* can lead a fairly normal life – thus helping (a bit) to destigmatize the condition. Including the romance that at least a few other reviewers panned – I enjoyed it for showing that even true psychopaths are capable of it, though admittedly this isn’t a romance book and thus that element is never a core focus of the tale. The switching from character to character was usually abrupt and could have used a bit better editing, perhaps naming the character at the top of the chapter and even breaking into a new chapter (with character name) when a perspective jumps mid chapter. But that is perhaps something that could be seen at the beta/ ARC level (and this book is still almost two months from publication as I write this review) and *perhaps* corrected. So if you’re reading this review years after publication, know that this particular issue may or may not exist any longer.

The commentary in the finale, about the doc and his perspectives, wasn’t really necessary but did provide an interesting, rarely seen wrinkle. One I happened to know about outside of this book and largely agree with, so it was refreshing to see it both discussed and discussed in such a positive light here. But again, it was ultimately unnecessary for the tale and thus a bit of a momentum killer in the final stretch. (Though fortunately it *is* fairly brief, so there is that at least.)

Overall a truly enjoyable read with a fairly rare and possibly unique premise. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the usual publisher details – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
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#BlogTour: The Summer Of No Attachments by Lori Foster

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a light hearted Southern romance that has a remarkable number of attachments for a book titled “The Summer of No Attachments”. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Summer of No Attachments by Lori Foster.

First, here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Record Scratch. There’s… a remarkable amount of attachments here for a book titled “The Summer of No Attachments”. #ijs 😀

But seriously, this is one of those feel good, not even quite Hallmarkie (since it doesn’t really even have any even pushover “big threat”) Southern romance tales. Yes, there are a lot of heavy elements here – mom abandons son, drug use (off screen), abuse (also mostly off screen), #MeToo moments (also off screen), etc – but there is also quite a bit of lighthearted banter and romance. And puppies! And an old cat! This is apparently book 2 of a series, but it totally works as a standalone, as the people from Book 1 barely show up at all – making this one of those barely connected tangential “series” that share the same world and even town, but don’t heavily feature in each others’ tales.

Overall truly a light and refreshing read, despite its occasional heft, and great for a relaxing summer read, or a relaxing read at any point in the year really. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the publisher’s information, including a description, author bio, and various links!
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Far Gone by Danielle Girard

This week we’re looking at a compelling mystery that keeps things refreshingly realistic – if completely twisted. This week we’re looking at Far Gone by Danielle Girard.

Compelling Mystery. This is one of those mysteries that has so much going on that it could feel disjointed in a lesser storyteller’s hands, but Girard manages to make it work quite well. We get the story primarily through three perspectives – Hannah, who witnesses a murder in her opening scene, Lily, a nurse who is a former kidnapping victim who is now working to rebuild her life, and Kylie, the detective who helped Lily in the first book and who here is investigating the murder. Girard manages to keep the pace of the reveals driving through the narrative, all while maintaining plausibly realistic scenarios. Indeed, even the ending is surprisingly refreshing in its realism on all fronts – despite what some activists would have liked. Truly a great story told very well. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Take It Back by Kia Adbullah

This week we’re looking at a strong British courtroom thriller that seems to set up a new series. This week we’re looking at Take It Back by Kia Abdullah.

Writer’s block still plagues me, but here’s the Goodreads/ BookBub review:

Nuanced Courtroom Thriller. This is an interesting one. One with a main protagonist that… has several rough edges, at least a couple of which come back to bite her. One with a strong commentary about the role of Muslims in British (and by slight extension, Western) society, at many different levels. One with a strong discussion of what it means to be the “other”… in so many different ways. And one with secrets almost literally to the last word. Tremendous book, and very much recommended.

#BookReview: Adulting by Liz Talley

Standing Outside The Fire. Ok, so possibly *too* on point or perhaps even a little cliché with the title of the review there, since Talley explicitly brings that song in late in the book with one character explaining to another that this is exactly what has been happening. But I *love* that song, it is easily one of my all-time favorites. 🙂

Anyway, on the book itself: Very fun, but also very deep. The two main characters – Olivia and Chase – are dealing with similar events in their worlds, neither of them realizing at first just how similar they are even if their perspectives on the events in question are very different. Along the way, many, many hijinx are had, including one very scared and borderline feral kitty cat. It is hard to note a particular trigger warning that is relevant enough to probably mention (even though I am not a fan of the practice generally, it is that significant here – though off screen, discussed by the characters as past events). So I’ll note that it ties into #MeToo and leave it at that. Truly a very balanced book about taking control of your own life and being open to possibilities that don’t seem obvious at first, and a very fun read. Very much recommended.

This review of Adulting by Liz Talley was originally written on October 2, 2020.

#BookReview: Someone Else’s Secret by Julia Spiro

Slow. Then Wow. This debut book is very much a slow burn. A recent college graduate circa 2009 becomes the nanny for a Martha’s Vineyard family, only to realize that there is much going on behind the scenes. One of her two charges, a 14yo girl, is coming of age at the same time and realizing that things are not always as they seem. Then, right around the 2/3 mark, The Event happens. Beyond saying that it ties into #MeToo, which is general enough to note a wide range within a given type of event, I’ll say no more about The Event itself. But both women experienced it, and the back quarter (ish) of the book flashes forward a decade to how it has shaped both of them. To the #MeToo era itself, though this is never directly mentioned in the text by that name. And it is here the book ends, with some of the heaviest punches outside of The Event itself. But who knows, maybe, for me, that was due to my own life and how I know all too well how trauma can shape a life, and thus identified remarkably well with a now early 20s and mid 30s female despite being a late 30s (ugh) male myself. Truly a remarkable debut, and I’m very much looking forward to more from Ms. Spiro. Very much recommended.

This review of Someone Else’s Secret by Julia Spiro was originally written on June 22, 2020.

Featured New Release of the Week: This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagan

This week we’re looking at a great tale of a woman picking up the pieces of her life after it is unjustly shattered. This week we’re looking at This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagan.

This was a fairly light hearted book that dealt with some pretty significant issues, including another perspective on the #MeToo movement. Pagan demonstrates her skill well in her ability to use a comedy of errors of sorts to tell a much more meaningful story, and we get to the title of the book something like 2/3 in. From the bumbling Mo to the seemingly ditzy Harper to the eccentric friends and family, this is ultimately a tale of finding yourself when you thought you’d already done that.

While this book doesn’t have quite the emotional punch of Pagan’s 2019 work I’m Fine And Neither Are You, it does well in more of a cathartic, palate cleansing role – and sometimes, those are exactly the kind of books we need as readers and, I would imagine, writers need to write for their own sanity and heart.

Very much recommended.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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Featured New Release Of The Week: All The Silent Voices by Elena Mikalsen

This week we’re looking at a story in many ways ripped from the headlines of the last couple of years. This week we’re looking at All The Silent Voices by Elena Mikalsen.

I gotta admit, when I first saw this book shortly after reading The House By The Cypress Trees, I was torn. On the one hand, Cypress had been awesome – light and fun and almost feeling like you were there in Italy experiencing everything with the characters. On the other, this was very obviously a female writing about the MeToo movement – something I’ve seen very little balance on when I’ve seen it in my feeds. So I was leery of this book, but ultimately I decided to take it on and try it.

And yes, it had its moments of wanting to throw it through the nearest window.

But by the end of the book there actually is much more balance and nuance than it initially appears there might be – Mikalsen truly does a great job placing that in the book, even if much of it comes in the last quarter of the book in its final scenes. She uses a concurrent plot of Big Pharma corruption to balance the scales a bit, even while having characters she clearly thinks of as the protagonist and antagonist, and this plot could well have been described in the 2019 book Drugs Money and Secret Handshakes by Robin Feldman it was that seemingly plausible.

Frankly this was an excellent story, and its dichotomy with the author’s previous work shows just how good of a storyteller Mikalsen really is. Very much recommended.

As always, the Amazon/ Goodreads review:
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#BookReview: What Set Me Free by Brian Banks

Powerful. Particularly in the age of #MeToo, Banks’ story stands out as remarkable – and his grace and restraint even moreso. While the cynic in me wants to look at most of these types of memoirs as little more than PR, the endless optimist desperately hopes that the Banks portrayed in this book is the real deal. His final recommendations seem warranted, particularly in light of how his own case has turned out. Possibly the one narrative change I would have made would have been to end it at what Joe Public would generally see as the climax of his story – the moment he stormed the field as an NFL player and knelt in prayer at the 50 yard line. But Banks himself sees that as just one moment among many, and does a remarkable job of showing his public priorities of the several years now since that moment. Truly a remarkable book, and absolutely one anyone interested in the US criminal justice system in particular should read.

Because the publisher wants it, I’ll note here that I am writing this review on June 22, 2019 – 10 days before publication of this book. Meaning that it is in fact an Advance Review Copy. As is my own standard for *all* of my reviews, ARC or not, my review is my honest reflection of my experience with the book.

This review of What Set Me Free by Brian Banks was originally published on June 22, 2019.

#BookReview: Fucking Law by Victoria Brooks

Fucking Ethics and Fucking Judgments. First, I will tell you that if the word “fucking” disturbs you, this book isn’t for you (but you may have suspected that from the title). If the various “raunchy” and “vulgar” words for human genitalia disturb you, this book isn’t for you.

But if you’re still reading this review, then I assume you’re at least ok with these words. In which case, allow me to tell you how sublime and thought provoking this book is. Part memoir and part academic philosophical treatise, this book truly takes a hard and intriguing look at the philosophical ethics of human sexuality.

This isn’t a light read. It isn’t a beach read (unless maybe you’re at a nudist/ swinger beach?). It is likely a read that will make you horny without actually being erotica. It is a read that will make you think. And maybe, just maybe, it is a read that will open you to the author’s own brand of sexual ethics, even though it is one she does not explicitly recommend – quite the opposite – herself.

This review of Fucking Law by Victoria Brooks was originally published on May 22, 2019.