Saturday Miscellany—10/12/19

Yeah, I’ve been quiet this week, I’ve been running on fumes for most of it, I’m not sure why. Given the number of Book Tour Stops I’ve got scheduled for next week, I’ll be a little noisier (or, I’ll have a few tour organizers and authors not speaking to me).

But that’s for another day (at least Tuesday). For now, here are the odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode you might want to give a listen to:

  • Once & Future Podcast, Ep. 200: Felicia Day—Anton Strout celebrates his 200th episode with this great chat with Felicia Day (I’ve got to make time for this book)

    This Week’s New Releases include one book I’ve already read and three that sound like they’d be up my alley, but I don’t know if I’ll manage to get to (make sure you click the links to get the full blurbs on these):

  • The Princess Beard by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson—high seas adventure, hijinks, many jokes, many elf butts and personal growth are featured in this concluding Tale of Pell. My original post is here.
  • Look Both Ways:
    A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
    by Jayson Reynolds—a novel told in ten stories about what happens after the school bell rings and people walk home. There’s also a bus falling from the sky that no one notices.
  • How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason—a mix of Fairy-Tale and Space Opera
  • Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia—a dying billionaire sends one woman and a cast of dreamers and rivals on a treasure hunt.

Lastly, yesterday I posted a couple of things with a new bullet style (in case you’re one of the 2% that noticed), today, I’m back to ol’ reliable. What do you think—are those others too much for a post like this? Would it just make things too noisy?


Opening Lines—System Failure by Joe Zieja

Head & Shoulders used to tell us that, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That’s true for wearing dark shirts, and it’s especially true for books. Sometimes the characters will hook the reader, sometimes the premise, sometimes it’s just knowing the author—but nothing beats a great opening for getting a reader to commit. This is one of the better openings I’ve read recently. I’m sure we can all relate to it.

Lucinda Hiri was pretty sure taking over the galaxy hadn’t been in the job description when she was offered this intern position six months ago. Then again, it wasn’t impossible. The Snaggardir corporation’s paperwork was notoriously long and detailed, vetted by droves of lawyers at every level of approval to make sure that the language had all the right loopholes in all the right places. Lucinda supposed that somewhere on page 356 there could have been a small asterisk that said “in the event a nascent people rise up after two hundred years of secret collusion, you will be required to take detailed notes at their strategy meetings.”

It had seemed like a dream come true at the time. Sal Snaggardir and his family’s company were arguably the most powerful economic force in the galaxy. The possibilities for her career as a businesswoman were endless. Not liking interning at some space technology company on Urp, where she would likely move laterally for the entirety of her disappointing, coffee-supported life. Snaggardir’s was the place to make it big.

In retrospect, though Lucinda should have noticed that Mr. Snaggardir was trying to conceal just how big his company had gotten. Subsidiary corporations literally thousands of banks all across the galaxy holding funds under different names, and that nondisclosure agreement she signed threatening to eradicate her family line if she ever told anyone anything about the company. The legal department said that was boilerplate, and, really, what did she know? She was just a thirty-year-old unpaid intern with three advanced degrees in business arts.

from System Failure by Joe Zieja

Saturday Miscellany—10/5/19

A brief one this week—but such is the joy of being miscellaneous, right? Here are the odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Mohit Malviya, jackiesreadingcorner, and Patrick Lynn for following the blog this week. Don’t be a stranger, and use that comment box, would you?

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the timely and compelling Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel. But before I get to talking about the book, let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?

Book Details:

Book Title: Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr
Release date: February 22, 2019
Publisher: Roundfire Books
Format: Paperback/Ebook
Length: 336 pages

Book Blurb:

Chosen by among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
Crime Review

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and aging blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

About N. Lombardi Jr:

N. Lombardi JrLombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Visit his goodreads page:

Social Networks:

Facebook ~ Website ~ Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Waterstones ~ Kobo

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

Cradle to Grave by Rachel Amphlett: A Twisty, Quick Paced Hunt for a Murderer/Kidnapper to Rescue a Child

Cradle to Grave

Cradle to Grave

by Rachel Amphlett
Series: Det. Kay Hunter, #8

Kindle Edition, 370 pg.
Saxon Publishing, 2019

Read: September 26-27, 2019

This was my first time reading Rachel Amphlett and I wasn’t sure what to expect—I’ll cut to the chase now, I really enjoyed it, and Amphlett impressed me from the first chapter on.

The first chapter features some good character moments and a well-drawn figure for characters whose sole purpose is to find a dead body and get the police involved. A lot of authors wouldn’t have bothered with making these characters so fleshed-out. Many wouldn’t have bothered with showing the discovery of the dead body. I liked this touch.

When the police arrive and look at the dead body, almost impossible to identify, it looks like this could be a long investigation. But one of the instigators notices all the children’s belongings in the vicinity and quickly realizes that a child should be at the scene. They have to make a quick decision, do they treat it as a homicide, or a kidnapping. They (wisely) decide to treat it as a kidnapping (while searching for signs of the former). Not only are they hunting for a murderer, they’re probably trying to prevent any harm coming to the child.

Not that they’d be taking their time with a murder inquiry, but missing child adds n element of intensity and immediacy to their search for the killer. Which makes the whole novel more tense and fast-paced. As introductions to a series/author go, this was pretty intense.

One thing I appreciate about UK procedurals (in distinction from the US-based) is the trust for the method and procedure. With US procedurals, there’s an urgency to an investigation—a strong sense that the longer the investigation takes, the less likely it is that they’ll arrest anyone. It feels (at least to me) the opposite with good UK procedurals. There’s a trust in the system, that the gears of police work will eventually establish the guilt of someone as long as the gears keep turning. It’s almost like they longer things go on, the more certain they are that they’ll catch the responsible party. That’s certainly the case here, yet, it’s well-balanced with the scramble to save the child.

Another thing about UK procedurals is the way the whole team is involved in the investigation—it’s not (for example) Det. Bosch, and maybe his partner, barreling through things, with the occasional assist from someone else in the office or a forensic specialist. There are all sorts of officers, of all ranks and assignments running around, making contributions to the overall effort. It’s probably a whole lot more realistic, a whole lot more believable—but it comes at a cost. There are so many people running around, that it’s hard to keep track of them all, hard to get to the point where you can get a feel for most of the characters—and it’s likely that you’ll confuse a couple with each other. This isn’t a criticism of Amphlett, I’ve had the same problem when it comes to other UK procedurals that I’ve read. Maybe it’s just me. It just takes a few novels before I can get a feel for anyone beyond the character the series is named after. That’s definitely the case here. I have a decent sense for Kay Hunter, and the beginnings of a sense for one or two others on the team, but that’s all. Ask me again when book 10 comes around (or if I get to some of the backlist), and that’ll disappear.

I did like the characters, and think I could grow to be fans of a few of them—but that’ll take time (and the ability to differentiate them easily). I could tell they weren’t just interchangeable names, that there were individual characteristics and drives behind them. And none of them served as Detective Exposition or Detective Comic Relief—which is a big plus to me.

Now, when it comes to the witnesses, family of the victims, and suspects? I thought Amphlett did a good job with them all—colorful in the right ways, believable, and did a good job of moving the plot forward (also, police interactions and reaction to the witnesses were handled very nicely).

One thing I truly appreciated about this is just how wrong the police frequently were—and not in little ways, either. Justifiably wrong given the information they had, I should stress. But as soon as they realized they were heading down the wrong path, they quickly fixed it. They didn’t spend a few dozen pages in self-recrimination, they didn’t get a time-consuming talking to from their superior, or anything like that (although that might be forthcoming…). Instead, they regrouped, shook off the error and acted on the correct information right away. Sure, most procedurals (mystery novels in general) feature some wrong theories, some half-baked notions that have to be discarded. But this seemed to have a larger than usual—and more believable—quantity and quality of errors. But they dealt with them appropriately. I wish I saw more like that.

Was this a perfect book? No, in fact, I was annoyed more than once or twice with either the writing or the plot. But they were all minor annoyances, and nothing worth listing and nothing really took me out of the moment while I read. Better yet, the strengths quickly canceled out the problems/doubts I had. This was a quick, compelling read that did all the right things for a procedural. Entertaining, twisty, and engaging. This won’t be my last Amphlett.

3.5 Stars

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Cradle to Grave by Rachel Amphlett (plus a Giveaway)

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the twisty Cradle to Grave by Rachel Amphlett. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But before I get to talking about the book, let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay? Be sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post for details on the Giveaway!

Book Details:

Book Title: Cradle to Grave by Rachel Amphlett
Release date: October 6, 2019
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Length: 370 pages

Book Blurb:

When a faceless body is found floating in the river on a summer’s morning, Detective Kay Hunter and her team are tasked with finding out the man’s identity – and where he came from.

The investigation takes a sinister turn when an abandoned boat is found, covered in blood stains and containing a child’s belongings.

Under mounting pressure from a distraught family and an unforgiving media, the police are in a race against time – but they have no leads, and no motive for the events that have taken place.

Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

Cradle to Grave is the eighth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett, and perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves, Peter Robinson and Ian Rankin.

About Rachel Amphlett:

Rachel AmphlettBefore turning to writing, USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, and dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC. She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

The Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold have been sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series are published by Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, print, large print and audiobook formats from libraries and worldwide retailers.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance.

Rachel Amphlett’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram


Rachel Amphlett will be giving away 2 paperback copies of this book! To enter, simply comment below or retweet my tweet about this Book Spotlight. Open Worldwide.

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) provided.

Saturday Miscellany—9/28/19

This has been a strange week, I kept running out of steam in the evenings and was honestly and pleasantly surprised to find that I’d played around on social media enough to actually have anything to post today. How I got anything written this week is beyond me. I did do more reading than I expected to—still, I have a need to be reading 5 books right now rather than writing anything (and I don’t mean reading a chapter or two and then switching, I literally mean reading 5 simultaneously). When I say that I overcommitted for Sept./Oct. I really mean it. (and that’s not counting the two books I pre-ordered months ago that arrived in the last 10 days and are sitting ignored on my shelf).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this list of odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye—I did:

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode you might want to give a listen to:

  • Author Stories’ Episode 724 | Craig Johnson Returns With Land Of Wolves—Hank Garner’s fifth chat with Johnson. Pleasant chat about a great installment in the series (my post about the book will be up soon, I think)

    Among an interesting looking crop the this week’s only New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon is:

  • Fallen by Benedict Jacka—the tenth in the Alex Verus series is out now, and I’m hoping I can squeeze it in soon. Incidentally, I like the fact that the US covers are starting to be multi-colored. I can’t give an abbreviated single-sentence synopsis, because I like walking into these without any idea what’s going to happen. It’s enough that it’s a new Verus.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Aqsa haleem, OwlBeSatReading, and bryan_lunsford for following the blog this week. Don’t be a stranger, and use that comment box, would you?