Thursday, November 26, 2015


Twister by Genanne Walsh
Black Lawrence Press: 12/1/15
eBook review copy; 400 pages
trade paperback ISBN-13: 9781625579379

Twister by Genanne Walsh is a highly recommended story of turbulence in a small town. There is an actual tornado in the story, but the real storm is in the interpersonal relationships.

It feels like a storm is coming to a small Midwestern town that has fallen on hard times economically. All the residents can feel the change in the air and comment on it, even as the weather announcer on the radio forecasts the warnings. Walsh slowly introduces the residents of this town, revealing their inner thoughts, secrets, and longings. The town is a cyclone of unresolved issues and ongoing grievances.

A mother, Rose, is beside herself with grief as she mourns the death of her soldier son, Lance. Stella is Rose's estranged stepsister. What caused the rife between the two when they once were so close is not revealed until later in the novel. Walsh continues to introduce us to Rose's neighbors (the old man, Perry, Nina, Sill), Ward (Stella's husband), Louise (a local bank teller), and Scottie (the current owner of the shoe store), all while allowing the foreboding tension to slowly rise and build. You know things have happened in the past. You know something is going to happen - between individuals and with the approaching the storm.

Walsh does an excellent job capturing the complex emotions and interpersonal connections between the residents while allowing the reader insight into their thoughts. The beauty of allowing us to get an insider's view into each character makes them more human and complex individuals. My one qualm was with the pacing. It seemed to move too slowly and the big insights into the characters really don't come until later in the novel. Additionally, once the twister hit, we heard nothing more about it for pages while Walsh shares additional backstory. At times this slow, steady pace seemed detrimental to the plot. On the other hand it, did evoke the slower, measured routine of life in a small town, where daily routines and secrets are known about almost everyone.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Black Lawrence Press for review purposes.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Findings: An Illustrated Collection by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi
Grand Central Publishing: 11/24/15
eBook review copy; 144 pages
ISBN-13: 9781455530496

Findings: An Illustrated Collection by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi is a recommended, irreverent collection of the bizarre and beloved back-page column of Harper's Magazine. What the column does is present a tidbit from a scientific study somewhere and illustrates the often hilarious and absurd fact.

Facts presented and illustrated include little tidbits like:
"Scientists made graduate students provoke spitting cobras into attacking them."
"The faces of Lego people have been growing angrier."
"Vanilla yogurt gives mice glossier coats and larger testicles."
"Pond snails on crystal meth are better at remembering pokes from a sharp stick."
"Croatian boy previously thought to be magnetic was more recently thought simply to be very sticky."

The very short book has a long  A Conversation with the Author section and includes citations for each scientific fact presented and illustrated.
As noted in the Conversation with the Author section: "I think the people who read this column and understand and appreciate it are over the idea that science takes place for science’s sake, to the extent that this idea both is and isn’t true. Findings celebrates the idea that modern science is a tremendously powerful and productive and beneficial and motivating and clarifying force, but the idea that everything that goes on is part of this heroic, conclusive, triumphalist narrative is also silly. You know, the universe defies and denies and startles and confounds us just as our own bodies defy and deny and startle and confound us. Findings’ being funny is partly a corrective to that particular form of triumphalist narrative."

The greatest drawback and reason for many of the low ratings is that this is a very, very, extremely short book. You also may need to take note that some of the facts contain more earthy humor.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Grand Central Publishing for review purposes.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

All of Us and Everything

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher
Random House: 11/24/15
eBook review copy, 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385343930

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher is a recommended book about an eccentric, dysfunctional family of women.

Augusta Rockwell was an eccentric mother as far as her three daughters are concerned. Esme, Liv, and Ru all grew up hearing that their absent father was a spy and couldn't have any contact with them for their safety. Their mother devoted her life to starting movements, unsuccessfully. Now all of their lives are in flux and weathering storms that will bring them home and, once there, they are going to learn some truths about themselves and their absent father.

Augusta survives a literal storm, Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane leads to the discovery of some letters that are given to Augusta. At the same time Esme and her teenage daughter, Atty, are reeling from their husband/father running off with his dentist in France. Atty is hyper-connected to social media and tweets incessantly. Liv is done with yet another marriage and needs to go to rehab. Ru, after one best-selling book, has left the country to do research for another book, but may just be trying to escape her engagement. All the daughters head home, ostensibly to help Augusta recover from the storm.

Really, most of the storm recovery consists of airing the emotional baggage they have all been carrying for years. None of the sisters really like each other or their mother. Augusta is an eccentric, but not as crazy as the girls imply. Augusta was a wealthy single mother, so the girls grew up in a safe, secure environment. I couldn't help but think that all of the damage they claim as a direct result of their childhood was not necessarily as awful as they claim.  Okay, some things were explained as unknown outside interference, but still... Stuff happens. You move on. While I basically liked this book, I had a hard time feeling a lot of empathy for any of the characters - with the exception of Atty.

This is an entertaining, light novel. You are going to be able to read it quickly and follow the action and the quirky emotional angst of all the characters. Even though I didn't connect with any of the characters, I was interested in what happened to them and what they learned about their father, and in the process their mother. The writing is decent, though some of the dialogue felt forced.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Random House for review purposes.

Yesterday's Gone: Season Two

Yesterday's Gone: Season Two by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
Collective Inkwell: 11/16/13

eBook review copy, 495 pages
ISBN-13: 2940148889588

Yesterday's Gone: Season Two by Sean Platt & David W. Wright is a continuation of the serialized set of six books/seasons. Each book is broken down into episodes. After reading Season One, I continued on to Season Two and I'll have to admit that my feelings about the series have plummeted to a so-so rating. There is too much swearing, gore, violence, and not enough character and plot development for me. Sure there is action and lots of stuff going on, but the forward movement seemed lacking. Action just for its own sake is not plot development.  Obviously, I'm in the minority as most readers are rating it higher but this second book, while entertaining, will be my last in the series.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Collective Inkwell for review purposes.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Yesterday's Gone: Season One

Yesterday's Gone: Season One by Sean Platt, David Wright
Collective Inkwell: 9/30/11
eBook review copy, est. 500 pages
ISBN-13: 2940152172553

Yesterday's Gone: Season One by Sean Platt, David Wright is a (maybe) highly recommended start to a serialized post-apocalyptic series.

The premise to Yesterday's Gone grabbed my attention immediately: very few people are left alive after a world changing event occurred at 2:15 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, on October 15th. At that time everyone fell asleep and then 99.9% of the world's population simple vanished after a reported dark cloud ascended on everyone. There are other, odd things missing as well.

The book is written as if you are following episodes of an ongoing TV series where, as the questions abound and multiply, all the answers are yet to be revealed. The episodes introduce us to the cast of characters: a journalist, a serial killer, a mother and daughter, several teens, a special agent, and an eight-year-old boy, and then follow their actions as they try to figure out what has happened and where they should do. As they are seeking answers, terrifying creatures/monsters begin to appear and are becoming more and more common. The monster only purpose seems to be to kill the survivors.

But, you need to know going into this that it may be a long haul to get some answers since this is "season one" of six so-called seasons (books) and each season contains "episodes."  I would agree that this first book did make me think of The Stand and Lost, but, at this point after season one, it's not nearly as good as either of those. It's also clear that some scenes and actions are loosely based on other shows and books, which may bother some readers.

Yesterday's Gone: Season One lends itself to a good news/bad news review summation:
The good news is that you can likely find a digital copy of this first season somewhere for free. The bad news is that there are currently 6 seasons. The good news is that it is fast-paced, entertaining, sometimes gruesome, and additively readable. The bad news is the writing quality and character development aren't always very good.

I am going on to read Season Two because I have a review copy of it and perhaps I'll know after that if I want to continue on reading the series or not. I do tire of novels written in parts. I much prefer novels that stand alone and have a beginning, middle and end. (There are some exceptions, such as Margaret Atwood's three novels in her MaddAddam trilogy, which work together but can stand alone.)

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Collective Inkwell for review purposes.


Gold! by Fred Rosen
Open Road Media: 11/17/15
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9781504024488

Gold!: The Story of the 1848 Gold Rush and How It Shaped a Nation by Fred Rosen is a recommended nonfiction account of the historical California gold rush and how it changed American culture.

When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California on January 24, 1848, it infected the nation with gold fever. "Over the next six years, three hundred thousand prospectors raced to the California gold fields to make their fortunes, leaving their lands and families behind in order to chase a dream of easy wealth, but all too often encountering a reality of lawlessness, disease, cruelty, and death."

Rosen, a former columnist for the New York Times, weaves historical facts and details into this account of the real people and places of the gold rush era and the get-rich-quick mentality it ignited in average citizens.  He argues, while presenting the historical information on the discovery of gold and the subsequent gold rush, that once the common man could dream of instant wealth it fundamentally changed American culture to one of selfishness and greed.

Having read several books on the California gold rush (as well as the Black Hills discovery and the Nevada Comstock Lode which are mentioned too) I did find Rosen's account easy to read and basically informative. Since I read it while on vacation, it suited me perfectly under the circumstances. I am admittedly unsure of his Jesse James argument. Those who follow my reviews will understand that the lack of source notes and very short bibliography bothered me; I like my nonfiction to have some great notes and a thorough bibliography. 

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Open Road Media for review purposes.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Crimson Shore

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing: 11/10/15
eBook review copy, 352 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781455525928
Special Agent Pendergast Series #15

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is a very highly recommended addition to the Pendergast series.

When sculptor Percival Lake asks Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast to investigate the theft of his precious wine collection, Pendergast initially declines, but, after hearing more information, he accepts the challenge. He and his ward, Constance Greene head off to Exmouth, Massachusetts to investigate. Once inside the wine cellar of the lighthouse where Lake lives, Pendergast discovers a clue that leads to more questions about who stole the priceless collection of wine and why.  Clearly, the ineffectual police chief is not a reliable source of support. It seems that the small town of Exmouth may be hiding more than one secret.  Which raises the question: Could the past transgressions of the town be responsible for the deaths that have occurred, past and present?

Preston and Child always deliver and this fifteenth novel featuring Special Agent Pendergast is no exception. The case this time is a private investigation rather than an official inquiry. The terror found in several of the previous novels is back and the tension is ratcheted up several notches. Even after the case is solved, there is an even larger and more malicious threat looming. This addition to the series only features Pendergast and Constance, so long time fans are going to miss some of the other on-going characters.

I found this novel to be fast-paced, or perhaps that was simply due to the tension created and my desire to keep reading to see what happened next. Crimson Shore is well written, perfectly paced, and there is even a surprise or two thrown into the mix! This is another winner for Preston and Child, a writing team that simply always produces a winning novel for me. I can't wait for the next one!

At this point in the series I think this could be a stand-alone novel, but that is hard for me to say with any certainty because I have read (and own) every Pendergast novel. Yes, the series is that good.


Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing for review purposes.


Ball: Stories by Tara Ison
Soft Skull Press: 11/10/15
eBook review copy, 232 pages
Trade paperback ISBN-13: 9781593766221

Ball is a collection of eleven dark, creepy short stories by Tara Ison.
Contents include:
Cactus: a young woman's boyfriend dies in a freakish accident
Ball: a young woman adopts an ugly dog who likes to play ball
Bakery Girl: a teen works at a bakery
Wig: a woman cares for her dying best friend while having an affair with her husband
The Knitting Story: a woman knits and knits...
Staples: a boyfriend's other, older, rich girl friend gets a face lift
Needles: a couple leave Iowa and stay in a Motel 6 in Needles, AZ.
Apology: a woman resorts to self mutilation to win back her husband
Fish: a woman plans to feed her uncle's remains to some fish
Musical Chairs: a man cheats on his fiance 
Multiple Choice: a woman has a boyfriend who requires choices that need to be made

The collection is well written, but the themes of several stories were not very appealing, including the titular Ball, and they were a bit too disturbing. This was a so-so collection for me.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Soft Skull Press for review purposes.

Avenue of Mysteries

Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving
Simon & Schuster: 11/3/15
eBook review copy; 480 pages
ISBN-13: 9781451664164

Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving is a highly recommended story of a man looking back at his childhood while navigating a trip overseas.

Currently Juan Diego Guerrero, 54, is a recently retired professor and writer with a limp from a childhood accident. He is taking Lopressor for his blood pressure and experiments with Viagra. He lives in Iowa but in Avenue of Mysteries he is going on a trip to the Philippines. As Juan Diego travels, he dreams, and in his dreams he is 14 and his sister Lupe is 13. During his trip, his dreams take Juan Diego back in time and tell the story of his childhood.

Many years ago he and Lupe grew up as dump kids in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was a self-taught reader and interpreter for his sister, whose speech no one else could understand or interpret. Lupe is known for her ability to read minds, which she freely shares while Juan Diego translates to those around them. In these dreams, he and Lupe freely discuss their problems with the Catholic Church, their prostitute mother, their unknown fathers, and love of dogs.

While traveling he meets two women, Miriam and Dorothy, who he thinks are a mother and daughter. He lusts after both of them and they assist him in his journey, in a manner of speaking. There is a lot of sudden naps, pill dosage juggling and sex in the present day.

First and foremost the quality of the actual writing is excellent, which helps facilitate following the present and past story lines. For me, the dream segments, which take you back to Juan Diego's childhood, are much better than the present day travels with the eerie women. Admittedly, I grew tired of the sex-capades and simply kept reading to learn about what happened in his childhood and to confirm what I thought about the two women.

For Irving fans there are going to be many themes repeated here that have shown up in previous novels. Those who are new to Irving may struggle a bit with these themes; specifically, anyone who is a practicing Catholic might want to pass this one. I'd have to reread some of his earlier books, but this time around it felt excessively critical of Catholicism.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Simon & Schuster for review purposes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Night Clock

The Night Clock by Paul Meloy
Rebellion Publishing: 11/5/15
eBook review copy, 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781781083765

The Night Clock by Paul Meloy is a so-so horror/fantasy set in London.

Phil Trevena is a mental health worker whose patients are killing themselves. This trend actually signals the start of the end of all reality unless he and a time traveling hypnopomp named Daniel can help the Firmament Surgeons stop the Autoscopes and keep the Night clock running.

The Night Clock is a dream/nightmare world that switches between characters points of view, settings, realities, and time. It took intense concentration to follow who was what and where and why as more and more characters and elements were added to the story. Opening in a world where Mars is the moon and then switching to a scene with a zombie attacking a farmhouse, I thought I had misunderstood the description and this was a collection of short stories, but after the two jarring opening scenes, the actual novel starts.

Meloy is a descriptive writer and packs a lot of information into his sentences and chapters. He also has a whole host of characters and incidents taking place. This may be the indicator of the underlying problem I had with The Night Clock. It was, simple put, difficult to engage with any of the characters and hard to follow the plot. This resulted in the feeling that Meloy needed a larger canvas for this story, perhaps a series set in this world rather than cramming everything into this one book.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Rebellion Publishing for review purposes.

The Five Times I Met Myself

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart
Thomas Nelson; 11/10/15
eBook review copy, 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9781401686116 

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart is a recommended novel with a Christian based message.

Brock Matthews’ life looks like it is going great from the outside.  He is part owner of a family owned multimillion dollar coffee importing business. He is married and has a teenage son. The problem is that his marriage is in trouble, he's distant from his son, and the business is in trouble according to his brother, the majority owner of the company. Brock has been having some strange dreams too, featuring his late father. He needs to find a way to change the course of his life.

When Brock shares the fact he is still having troubling dreams with a friend, his friend gives him a book on lucid dreaming. Brock begins to put into practice the information and techniques in the book and starts to control his dreams. He goes back in time and talks to his younger self, his father, and his wife and shares advice. When he discovers that the dream conversations are affecting his real life, he also notices that the change isn't for the better.

In the end, Rubart presents a valuable and clear message about loving your family and others. But the main, essential message is the importance of totally surrendering to and relying on God completely. The inspirational message will appeal to those who enjoy Christian fiction.

I have no problem with Christian fiction, but I did have a few quibbles with this novel. The Five Times I Met Myself is a well written novel but, for me, there was a pacing problem. It seemed to drag at times and I also agree with the Kirkus review that the structure of Brock's dreams felt repetitive. And, while we're on the subject of the lucid dreaming, it is an interesting premise, but it wasn't an entirely successful plot element for me, especially combined with Brock's less-than-believable character.  

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Thomas Nelson for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Lost Codex

The Lost Codex by Alan Jacobson
Open Road Integrated Media: 11/3/15
eBook review copy, 428 pages
ISBN-13: 9781504003636
OPSIG Team #3

The Lost Codex by Alan Jacobson is a highly recommended international political thriller.

The novel opens decades earlier with the unearthing of a new Dead Sea Scroll that is hinted at being world-religion-changing, the action switches to the present day and terrorists are targeting Washington. D.C.. After a bombing (and it's more complicated than that) members of the Operations support Intelligence Group (OPSIG) are called into action. The group is a team of uniquely trained covert operatives and includes FBI profiler Karen Vail (featured in another series by Jacobson), Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, and FBI terrorism expert Aaron Uziel.

The team discovers that t
here is a terrorist cell making personal vest bombs for suicide bombers. As they uncover and break up the cell in D.C., they discover more information that points to a host of other international terrorist plots that somehow tie into the ancient scrolls, two of which have gone missing. The team is asked to work with former Palestinian Mahmoud El-Fahad of the CIA, but they aren't sure they can trust him. Their search takes them to New York, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

The Lost Codex is really more of a political thriller with terrorists rather than a concentrated focus on the information in the ancient codex. Setting that aside, it is an outstanding tactical thriller with plenty of action. I need to warn readers that it starts out fast and then slows down as Jacobson needs to impart a whole lot of background information before moving on to the action. This information is essential to the story and covers terrorist activity. (Jacobson did his research so much of the background information he provides is true.)

Jacobson is a seasoned writer so he knows how to tell a story while keeping the plot moving and the reader's interest high. I appreciate the research he did to realistically cover terrorist activity. The Lost Codex is a great stuck-over-night-at-the-airport book. The action should keep you awake - once you get past the slow down due to the background information (get coffee here). Then there is nonstop action and enough tension to entertain you for hours. Even though this is part of a series, it works as a stand-alone novel.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Open Road Integrated Media for review purposes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It Ended Badly

It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright
Henry Holt & Company: 11/3/15
eBook review copy, 256 pages
ISBN-13: 9781627792868

It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright is a hilarious yet historically accurate account of thirteen of the worst breakups in history. Very highly recommended! One of the best, most notable, books of the year!

Did I mention that each of these memorable, irreverent essays is side-splitting-laugh-out-loud-funny and yet still presents all the historical facts surrounding the breakups? True. Not only are you guaranteed mirth and laughter with each breakup story you are also going to learn a plethora of facts along the way. And it is extraordinarily well written! Educational, well written, and funny: a wonderful combination!

"It Ended Badly is for anyone who's ever loved and lost and maybe sent one too many ill-considered late-night emails to their ex, reminding us that no matter how badly we've behaved, no one is as bad as Henry VIII."

Rather than explain the contents, look at the chapters for just a peek of the wonder that is It Ended Badly.

1. If you have been replaced by a surprising choice Read about Nero and Poppaea
2. If you are accomplished and independent and fierce Read about Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II
3. If your family didn’t like your ex and thought you could do better Read about Lucrezia Borgia and Giovanni Sforza
4. If you have ever made the same mistake twice Read about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard
5. If you have started snickering at happy couples on the street Read about Anna Ivanovna
6. If you believe in ghosts (and love social media) Read about Timothy Dexter
7. If you have just sent your ex a very intense emotional e-mail Read about Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron
8. If there were body image issues Read about John Ruskin and Effie Gray
9. If it was just a sad affair Read about Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas
10. If you were dumped Read about Edith Wharton and Morton Fullerton
11. If you are struggling to find anyone as good as your ex Read about Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler
12. If you deserve an apology Read about Norman Mailer and Adele Morales Mailer
13. If you want to believe it will all work out for the best in the end Read about Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor
Epilogue; Sources; Acknowledgments

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of  Henry Holt & Company for review purposes.

The Pestilence

The Pestilence by Faisal Ansari
Matador Publishing: 10/31/15
eBook review copy; 269 pages
ASIN: B016L1R08Q

The Pestilence by Faisal Ansari is a highly recommended debut thriller featuring good vs. evil.

There is now peace in the Holy Land. On the Srour family farm near a small village, Samuel Srour is taking care of his animals when a rocket attack is launched. The attack and subsequent retaliation destroy the farm and seem to set a world wide electrical storm into motion. The electrically charged storm/cloud travels around the world, with lightning pulsing through the clouds. "The lightning which comes from the east, shines as far as the west, turning night into day." The phenomenon originated from the Srour farm. 

Two men are changed by the lightning storm. Samuel Srour should be dead after the direct hits which destroyed his farm, but instead he now sees people's auras and has the power to heal. Samuel and his longtime friend/girlfriend, Mariam Fara, set off healing people and/or giving them immunity. Samuel wants no compensation or nothing from the healing. The other changed man is business man Victor Pierre Chaput. From all outward appearances, he seems to be a philanthropic man, but now that he has power from the storm too, he has other plans.

The Pestilence features a countdown timeline of the days to the start of The Pestilence. The action moves swiftly and the countdown increases the tension since you know something awful is going to happen. Take note, however, that The Pestilence doesn't hit until the very end of the book and that this is book one of a new series, The Jerusalem Chronicles. Readers may also want to take note that this is loosely Biblically based on Revelations so it may be a long extended series like The Left Behind books.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Matador Publishing via Netgalley for review purposes.

YouTube video

Monday, November 2, 2015


Pacific by Simon Winchester
HarperCollins: 10/27/15
eBook review copy, 512 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062315410

Pacific by Simon Winchester is a very highly recommended look at ten pivotal events in history since 1950 that reflect a greater truth about the Pacific Ocean then and in the future.

The Pacific is a vast ocean. It covers sixty-four million square miles - almost one-third of the planet's surface. Forty-five percent of the planet's total surface waters are found in the Pacific Ocean. It is what is left of the once all-encompassing Panthalassic Ocean. "It is the most biologically diverse, the most seismically active; it sports the planet's greatest mountains and deepest trenches; its chemistry influences the world; and the planetary weather systems are born within its boundaries." There are so many different directions he could take and stories that could be told about the Pacific that Winchester choose to focus on ten events in chronological order which have taken place since 1950 and show trends or developments that will likely continue to evolve in the future.

Contents ( highlighted, dated event for the chapter is followed by my brief comment) include:

List of Maps and Illustrations
Authors Note on Carbon
It was agreed upon by scientists for the purpose of carbon dating that "the present" begins at the start of January 1950, which is why that date was chosen by Winchester as the date to start his look at events over the past sixty-five years in the Pacific.

Chapter 1: The Great Thermonuclear Sea - January 19, 1950: Truman backs Making the Hydrogen Bomb.
The Pacific is an atomic ocean. More dangerous than that, it is the ocean where most of the world's thermonuclear weapons have been tested.

Chapter 2: Mr. Ibuka's Radio Revolution - August 7, 1955: First Japanese Transistor Radio is Made
The invention of the transistor radio and the beginning of the Sony Corporation.

Chapter 3: The Ecstasies of Wave Riding - August 21, 1959: Hawaii becomes the fiftieth U.S. state
The movie Gidget, was released on April 10th, 1959 and surfing, which started in the Polynesian Pacific, became a cultural phenomenon.

Chapter 4: A Dire and Dangerous Irritation - January 23, 1968: the USS Pueblo is captured by North Korea
The split of Korea at the 38th parallel and the creation of North Korea has had far reaching consequences that are still evident today.

Chapter 5: Farewell, All my Friends and Foes - January 10. 1972: the RMS Queen Elizabeth sinks at Hong Kong.
Recent years have marked the withdrawal of colonial control of the Pacific.

Chapter 6: Echoes of Distant Thunder - December 25, 1974: Australian Supercyclone Tracy touches down
This devastating storm brought attention to the fact that the Pacific Ocean is the generator of much of the world's weather. Ultra-low-pressure storms occur five times more often in the Pacific.The Pacific is where the El Nino and La Nina events start.

Chapter 7: How Goes the Lucky Country? - November 11, 1975: Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam is dismissed
A serving Australian prime minister was suddenly dismissed by a representative of the British queen and marked a turning point for Australia.

Chapter 8: The Fires in the Deep - February 17, 1977: the submersible Alvin spots an abyssal heat source
The Pacific is a seismically active region. The discovery of the first smokers, deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, and the curious life forms around them was a startling revelation. This is the ocean with The Ring of Fire, where plate tectonics results in over four hundred volcanoes and the majority of the earth's earthquakes.

Chapter 9: A Fragile and Uncertain Sea - December 12, 1981: Coral bleaching is seen on Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder of earth and home to such diverse marine life that the bleaching of coral indicates a problem of far reaching significance that is the planet's problem, not just Australia's problem.

Chapter 10: Of Masters and Commanders - June 15, 1991: Mount Pinatubo erupts, Philippines
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo smothered two U.S. bases nearby, one of them a navy headquarters, and resulted in their abandonment. The Chinese navy, always a presence in the area, moved in and is now aggressively trying to expand their control of the Pacific.

Epilogue: The Call of the Running Tide - June 2, 1976: the Hawaiian canoe Hokule'a complete her maiden voyage
May 17, 2014: the the Hawaiian canoe Hokule'a starts her global circumnavigation
"She and her crew of thirty were sailing for forty-seven thousand miles across all the world's oceans without the use of any navigational instruments whatsoever. They were taking no compass. No sextant. No radar. No radio. And certainly no GPS. They would sail alone, unaided, as their predecessors sailed across this very ocean, many centuries before." They are still on this voyage.

Acknowledgments; Note on Sources; Bibliography; Index

Winchester is one of my favorite authors. He is a great researcher and writer whose nonfiction reads like a fictional thriller, keeping your attention glued to the pages. Even if you know the history and what is going to happen or remember many of the events, he makes it infinitely entertaining. Occasionally, his point of view may annoy some readers, especially in his sweeping "the American's..." comments which might be better taken if he were more specific in pointing blame and if this same point of view was universally applied to the British, the Chinese, the Japanese, and The North Koreans. There are enough skirmishes and blame to be passed around regarding colonialism and current power struggles over the Pacific. It is not all Western civilization exploiting or infiltrating Eastern civilization. That ship is sailing both/all directions.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.