#BlogTour: Meet Me In Madrid by Verity Lowell

For this blog tour we’re looking at an interesting FF romance that dives into some areas not usually seen in romance novels, but which does have a couple of major flaws. For this blog tour we’re looking at Meet Me In Madrid by Verity Lowell.

Interesting FF Romance Brought Down By Preachy Politics And Blatant Racism. As a romance, this book works. It starts out as a “forced” (ish) proximity before turning into a bridge-the-gap, all revolving around two female academics at different points in their careers. Not for the “clean” / “sweet” crowd, as others have noted there is a fair amount of sex in the first four chapters alone. Also falls into the trap of describing both women as very buxom, which is a bit of a cop-out to my mind designed to get those of us with… “active imaginations”… more into the book. But that point is but a minor quibble. The preachy politics, and in particular the blatant racism, is the reason for the star deduction here. Let me be perfectly clear. My standard is this: If you reverse the [insert demographic in question] and keep everything else absolutely identical, would anyone cry foul? I believe this book fails that test in its characterization of its singular straight white male character, and thus the star deduction. But still, on the whole this is a mostly solid book, and thus it is *only* a singular star deducted. Fans of the romance genre generally should enjoy this one, fans of FF romances in particular will probably thoroughly enjoy this one, and it does indeed dive into areas not frequented, particularly academia and art professors. Thus, this book is recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio and contact links, and a link to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Meet Me In Madrid by Verity Lowell”

#BookReview: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID!!!!!!!

A note to any and all authors and publishers, up front: I ABSOLUTELY, 10000%, DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID!!!!! I READ FICTION TO *ESCAPE* THE “REAL” WORLD!!!!! Write the stories if you feel you must. Maybe for your own mental health, you *need* to write COVID stories. For the rest of us, PLEASE do NOT publish them for a while. It is still *TOO* real, no matter what one thinks about the virus or any of the politics around it. (And remember, no matter your own thoughts on it, there are large segments of your potential customers who will disagree with you.)

All of the above noted, the actual story here is well crafted and well told. Picoult manages to bring in, from a more mysticism side, one of the aspects of Bill Myers’ Eli that made that book one of the most influential of my own life – even as he approached the concept from a more science/ science fiction side. The scenes in the Galapagos in particular are truly viscerally stunning. You feel yourself being there as much as our lead character is, in all of the messy situations she finds herself trapped in on this paradise as the world falls apart. Indeed, had the entire book been based there, to me it would have been a much better book overall – even though I objectively rated this story as a 5*, I must admit the latter third of the book, while still strong and compelling storytelling objectively, was less interesting to me (other than the mysticism mentioned above, as this is where those aspects come into play).

At the end of the day, I write this review roughly six weeks before publication and this book has nearly 600 reviews on Goodreads – at the time I began writing this, it looked as though this one will be number 569. Which speaks to the marketing reach and prowess of its publisher, and Picoult’s own status as, as I described her on Facebook earlier this morning “a grocery store book section level author that seems to occupy half of said grocery store book section”. And the mystic hook being so rarely used is perhaps reason to rate this book as more compelling than others, but overall the tale here and the level of the writing… as I mentioned on my review of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising: there is absolutely *no* doubt that this is a strong tale strongly crafted. But I really have read oh so many authors from less powerful publishers that are at least as good, and thus I truly don’t understand the hype.

For those that *do* want a “real” look at COVID in their fiction, whether that be in 2021 or later, this book is absolutely must read. For those that want island escapism and don’t mind COVID being a central part of the tale, you’re definetly going to want to read this one, even if you’ve never read Picoult (as I had never before this book). But for those who, for any reason at all, just can’t deal with COVID “realism” in their escapism/ fiction… maybe hold off on this one until you’re at a point where you can. And then read it, because it really is a great story overall. Recommended.

This review of Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult was originally written on October 15, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Write My Name Across The Sky by Barbara O’Neal

In what is just about the only tradition we have here at BookAnon, yet again Barbara O’Neal has released a new book, and for the fourth year in a row, it is the Featured New Release of the Week on release week. This week, we’re looking at Write My Name Across The Sky by Barbara O’Neal.

Swinging For The Fence… But Not Quite Putting It Over. This was another of O’Neal’s works over the last few years where she is very clearly swinging for the fence in attempting to write a masterpiece that will leave you breathless – which she nailed in 2019’s When We Believed In Mermaids – that doesn’t quite make it over. Ultimately this is a solid double/ stretch triple – powerful and great, but also very clearly not quite what she was hoping for. And honestly, most of that has to do with the ending and particularly the flash-forward epilogue. As at least one other review has mentioned, this could have been better with another hundred pages or so to flesh out that particular area, or perhaps (my own suggestion here) as a duology wherein the resolutions to the varying plot threads are set up, and then executed (with complications, of course) in the second book. Still, truly a solid and compelling read that hooks you in early and makes you want to read all the way through. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Exploding Turkeys and Spare Trousers by Ken Pasternak

Travels and Aphorisms. This is one of those quick, read any way you want type books that you can read straight through or you can read a short chapter in a few hurried minutes, in any order you want. Those familiar with Christian daily devotional books will recognize the overall format, though this is a purely secular book based on Pasternak’s near 50 years of travelling all over the globe as a high level corporate businessman. Filled with short yet interesting stories, many of them apparently already shared on his LinkedIn page in nearly the same (200 ish word) length, this is a great book for someone looking for a light read or a businessman looking for a business-oriented read with some solid truths in that space. Very much recommended.|

This review of Exploding Turkeys and Spare Trousers by Ken Pasternak was originally written on June 11, 2021.

#BlogTour: The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid debut featuring tough choices in the aftermath of a disaster. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell.

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

Tough Choices. Great Debut. This is a solidly written, compelling story that is a tremendous debut book. Farrell manages to use a miracle during a disaster to show that miracles… are not always that… while also showing just how complicated and messy real life is in oh so many ways. The mystery is solid enough to keep the reader invested, and then the action kicks into high gear a bit as things begin to unravel. Finally, a choice is made in an instant that will affect numerous lives – and Farrell shows all of this with remarkable reality. The overall style and tone won’t necessarily be exactly to everyone’s liking, but stick around – the book really is very, very good. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the publisher’s press release about the book followed by some praise for it from a variety of sources:
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#BookReview: 101 Pat Downs by Shawna Malvini Redden

Enlightening. As someone who had their first flight literally weeks before 9/11 (ATL to MCO in late July 2001) and who has experienced TSA quite frequently in *cruise* terminals (rather than airline terminals, which are the focus here), I can truly say that I absolutely enjoyed this book and that the author’s general observations tend to ring true with my own. Where she goes off to examine the actual communication channels in more “research” mode… well, that was the very subject of her PhD dissertation, and thus the impetus for this very research. 🙂 The description of this book claims in part that it is “the story of Malvini Redden’s research journey, part confessional, part investigative research, and part light-hearted social commentary”. I would say that this is a spot-on summation right there. There is quite a bit here, much that even infrequent air travelers like myself will see from even our experiences. (Though many claim I am more observant than many, so perhaps the observations Malvini Redden shares here won’t be *as* obvious to others?) The approach here is much more conversational and much less “ivory tower”, and I seem to remember this book having a shorter bibliography that others – which is perfectly fine for a more first-person, personal investigation/ memoir style book. In other words, exactly this type of book. Overall a very good book to put in the hands of first time flyers and maybe even to have on hand for those situations where someone is being a major PITA through security at the airport – find a convenient way to offer them this book once you’re both through the line. 🙂 Ultimately, this was truly a fun and informative read, and thus is very much recommended.

This review of 101 Pat Downs by Shawna Malvini Redden was originally written on April 23, 2021.