BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the very strange Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be posting a Q&A with the author (he came back for another round — the third author to do so!) and then I’ll be giving my take on the novel. Sounds like plenty of material to get to — let’s jump in. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Book Details:

Book Title: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Release date: October 17, 2018
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (A few f-bombs, and mild sex scenes + some casual drinking/pot smoking)

Book Blurb:

In the spirit of The Good Place, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, author Russ Colchamiro has gone back to the future to deliver his wildest, funniest novel yet–the updated Sci-Fi/Fantasy tale Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition.

When a jar containing the Universe’s DNA falls from Eternity, bumbling backpackers Jason and Theo find their loyalties–and sanity!–put to the test. Unaware that a motley crew from another realm is chasing them across the globe to retrieve that radioactive vessel, these intrepid new friends are forced to contend with passion, responsibility, and their own mortality–and the fate of the Solar System, which hangs in the balance.

Traversing Europe, New Zealand, and the backbone of Eternity, Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition ultimately asks one simple question: Is the life you’re living the life you actually want . . . or does the Universe have more to offer than you can possibly imagine?

Book Trailer

About Russ Colchamiro:

Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space opera, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.

Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, and Brave New Girls. Russ is repped by The Zack Company.

Russ Colchamiro’s Social Media:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Purchase Links for Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Playster ~ Kobo ~ 24symbols
Add to Goodreads

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

If the nifty Rafflecopter isn’t working for you, just click here.

My thanks to iREAD Book Tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

Advertisements

Flashback Friday: Fate Ball by Adam W. Jones

The post I’m working on just isn’t going to be finished on time — at least not while leaving me capable of working today. So here’s a post from the past about a book that I’ve thought about lately.


Welcome to Part One of our participation in the Fate Ball Book Tour — a brief interview will follow in a couple of minutes. Hope you enjoy both of these posts half as much as I enjoyed this book.

Fate BallFate Ball

by Adam W. Jones
PDF, 279 pg.
Wisdom House Books, 2016
Read: April 14 – 15, 2016

Parents always seem to think that saving the day is a good thing, but really it just postpones the inevitable. Sometimes, they should just let their kids crash and burn, so they learn their lesson the hard way. Parents can be the biggest enablers of them all when they’re acting out of love and kindness, but that usually just makes things worse.

That’s not the most dazzling piece of writing in Fate Ball, nothing catchy or inherently memorable, like I try to start with — but this is the heart of the book. People trying to help an addict not ready to be helped, and inadvertently making things worse.

In the prologue, Able Curran receives news that Ava Dubose has died — Chapter One takes us back 14 years to 1980 to meet her. In Chapter Two (one of the best chapters I’ve read this year), Able meets her — and falls for her almost instantly (and many readers will, too). Over the next few chapters, you see the two falling deeper and deeper in love — one of the cutest couples you’ve read.

All the while, you know that things are leading to the fateful phone call Able receives in 1994. We start to see some signs of trouble (well, those started before this) long before Able does. When he finally gets clued it, it destroys him — and they don’t see each other for some time. From there we watch these two lives intersect from time to time over the next 15 years (usually, Able trying to help her), as well as getting glimpses of their lives between the intersections.

This is really the story of two addicts — one who lets their dependency control and destroy them. The other who learns how to live with the problem, controlling and eventually overcoming. And even as you know it’s happening, you still hold out hope for Ave to shake things off, to achieve the serenity — or at least the contentment that she so desperately needs. Things get worse and worse — yet Jones is able to keep things from despairing, there’s a lightness to the prose that keeps things moving. While things fall apart for Ava, they move on for Able and their friends — success, new love, children, life.

In some hands, you’d be beaten over the head with the contrast, Jones doesn’t do that however. It all spools out naturally, easily (the kind of ease that takes work to pull off). You like everyone here enough that you’re pulling for them, no matter what stupid choices they make. Jones as come up with a perfect blend of humor, romance, drama, and tragedy.

There are plenty of little touches along the way to keep things light, to immerse you in the world — which is good because the book could become too fixated on Able and Ava.

His mother was always asking, then answering her own questions. That’s why she was always right. She could have a whole conversation with herself, even a fight depending on the subject matter, and no one had to say a word. All Able needed to do was just nod his head once in a while and she would take care of the rest.

This is not the best book I’ve read — not even the best novel on addiction. But it works well enough that it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, or there are glaring problems — but objectively, I just think it could be better. But when you’re reading it? It delivers everything you want, and some things you don’t expect. I really enjoyed this and think you will, too.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the kind folks at Wisdom House Books in exchange for an honest review.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd: A Deadly Game of Hide-and-Go-Seek

Godlefe’s CuckooGodlefe’s Cuckoo

by Bill Todd
Series: Danny Lancaster, #6

Kindle Edition, 270 pg.
DLE-Fiction, 2018

Read: December 19 – 20, 2018

He lit another cigarette. Popped the ringpull on another can of Stella.

This was pointless.

He could sit here forever debating the pros and cons like some poncy intellectual while all the time he knew what he would do.

Fuck it, those bastards had to be sorted out.

Anyway, you had to die of something.

So Danny Lancaster is a former soldier, injured in the line of duty — leaving him with one prosthetic (see also, Cormoron Strike). He didn’t seem to know what to do with himself after leaving the army and ended up a small-time criminal who did a little time in prison. Then he started working as a P. I. (I’m not sure if he could have officially done that given his record, but I don’t know). He seems to have skirted the edge of legality through this career — helping the police frequently, but a known associate of noted criminals (see also, Rebus and Big Ger). The picture I get is of a less intellectual, more violent, and less alcoholic Matt Scudder.

Given that this is Book 6 in a series, Danny Lancaster is a pretty established character and the novel doesn’t spend a lot of time exploring the character, mostly it’s just using him. Which makes sense, especially given the plot — but that means I have to rely a bit more than I normally would on extrapolating from what we’re given and comparing him to better known characters.

When the book opens, he’s been missing — presumed dead by many — for months. There are some hoping he’s still alive, who wish the police (or someone) would find him. There are some who are convinced (hoping?) he’s dead, and are fully prepared to leave him this way. And then there’s one person who is convinced he’s alive — and will continue to be convinced until he sees a body — and he’s determined to find Danny.

The problem is that this man is a Russian mobster, with a lot of money, a lot of power — and no patience or much time to live. Shortly before the “accident,” Danny had disrupted this Russian’s smuggling enterprise and he wants revenge. His associates in England pursue a particular strategy to bring Danny out of wherever he’s hiding — they start killing people associated with him, and will continue to do so until it works. They do this in such a way that it takes the police a long time to realize that’s what’s going on (and no one believes the first one to come to this conclusion).

Once Lancaster realizes what’s happening, he takes definitive steps to bring this to an end. Now that the prey has been flushed from cover, it becomes a matter of hunter vs. the hunted (I’m not sure which is which, really). The action scenes are great, and it’s easy to see why Danny Lancaster (the series or the character) have made it through five books already.

Most of the characters, like Lancaster, are clearly previously drawn and established. There are plenty of them, too. Again, if I knew them, I could appreciate their appearance and use. Those characters that are used for the first time I have a strong handle on and appreciate for.

I’m convinced that I’d have enjoyed this more than I did if it wasn’t my first Danny Lancaster book. That said, you can absolutely read this as an entry point to the series — it won’t work as a stand-alone, you’re going to want to read a possible seventh, and at the very least to go back and read the previous five. I just don’t see anyone reading this and thinking, “yeah, I’m done now.” I didn’t fully appreciate everything that happened here, but I could tell that long-time readers would and that there was something about these characters that could inspire loyalty and excitement.

I liked it, I think I should’ve and could’ve liked it more, if I’d only done my homework. Give it a shot — or better yet, read some of the earlier books and you’ll like this all the more.

—–

3 Stars

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

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the thrilling Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit.

Book Details:

Book Title: Godlefe’s Cuckoo by Bill Todd
Publisher: DLE-Fiction
Release date: March 10, 2018
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 270 pages

Book Blurb:

Danny Lancaster has been missing since the fishing boat exploded. Police are closing their inquiry but Wanda Lovejoy continues her campaign to find the truth. An evil man kept alive by machines nurses a corrosive hate. As drugs and disease pull his dying mind apart he throws his crime empire into a scorched earth quest to find one man. If Danny Lancaster isn’t dead he soon will be.

About Bill Todd:

Ruth SuttonI’m a journalist and travel writer who has visited more than 40 countries from the white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. Love a good wilderness. I received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.

I’ve written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster and was startled and delighted to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. I’ve also written three short factual military histories. I live to write although keyboard time has been cut lately with the arrival of grandson Theo.

Bill Todd’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram ~ Amazon Author Page

Purchase Links for Godlefe’s Cuckoo:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US


My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

Murder in the Dark by Betsy Reavley: This look at murder’s aftermath feels as authentic as a True Crime book

Murder in the DarkMurder in the Dark

by Betsy Reavley

eARC, 245 pg.
Bloodhound Books, 2018

Read: December 10, 2018


One fateful day, Tilly, a veterinary student in Cambridge goes to the bookshop she works at to open for the day. Inside, she finds the owner of the shop, her boss, hanging and clearly dead. She calls the police, who (unlike Tilly) realize that this was not suicide and begin their investigation right away.

While the investigation goes on, we spend a lot more time with Tilly and her coworkers as well as the family of Dennis Wade than you do in most Crime Fiction. Tilly is haunted (practically literally) by what she found. Her other coworkers are focused on trying to act appropriately in this situation, or worried about their jobs. Wade’s widow, her sister, and the Wade’s son all react in very different ways. His poor widow’s life is shattered, her pain and lost-ness is palpable — just great work on Beavley’s part, although watching what Tilly goes through may be more devastating.

Meanwhile, DCI Barrett, DI Palmer and their team start their procedure — knowing full well they need to close the case early for the good of the city, the Wade family — and because no one wants to spend Christmas (which is just around the corner) finding out why a body was left hanging. When other bodies start to be discovered, the pressure builds (internally and externally) and yet the procedure has to continue. Even when the procedure involves things like thoroughly vetting Wade’s son (with a criminal record) and spending a good deal of time pursuing other dead ends.

Beavley’s work showing the way the police have to tick off every box, have to turn over stone — even when they are virtually certain that no answers will be found by doing so — just to move on to another stone. There’s no maverick cop saving the day here. No detective relying on instinct. Just dedicated professionals doing their jobs the way they’re supposed to do them to get the result they need. It’s really kind of striking that in the ocean of “police procedurals” out there, just how few actually rely on the procedure.

When the answers come — they come from going through all the steps and no one is more surprised than the detectives who uncover it. It feels as authentic as you could want. The depravity uncovered by these detectives is the kind that makes you glad this is fiction, so you can pretend that such things only happen in books. And you will keep turning the pages until you get to the bottom of everything.

You get a much better sense of Tilly, a couple of coworkers, and the Wade family than you do the detectives investigating the case — which isn’t to say they’re strangers to the reader. But by and large, these are primarily people doing a job – with the emphases on the job, not the person.

I’d have appreciated more time with the family and friends of some of the later victims — just to see Reavley get to show off a little. We get a little taste with the second victim’s family — just not as much. But their reactions are so different from Wade’s family and friends, it’d be great to get more time seeing that.

One tangent — I’m counting on readers to comment on this — there’s a golf club mentioned a couple of times in the book, “The Gog Magog Golf Club” to be specific. Now, when I read that name I think of the figures and places mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelation. Neither of which is suggestive of a stroll along the greenways or putting around. Is this the kind of names used in England? In the US, courses are named after hills, valleys — that kind of thing. Not names steeped in apocalyptic visions. It’s a minor point, but it really threw me.

This is (I believe) the second book to feature DCI Barrett and DI Palmer and their team — I’m curious about how they work together both before this case (also book related) and in the future. But this works well as a stand-alone, too. You don’t have to sign up for the long haul to get anything from this. A solid mystery, one of the best procedurals I’ve read in ages, and a depiction of the aftermath of violent crime that you won’t easily forget. A Murder in the Dark will stick with you.

—–

3 Stars


My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided. The opinions expressed are all mine, however.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Murder in the Dark by Betsy Reavley

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the aptly named Murder in the Dark by Betsy Reavley. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit.

Book Details:

Book Title: Murder in the Dark by Betsy Reavley
Publisher: https://www.bloodhoundbooks.com/
Release date: December 12, 2018
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 245 pages

Book Blurb:

Without a motive, how do you identify the killer?

Imagine a quaint little bookshop. Outside the snow is falling. Inside the shelves are stacked with books by authors waiting to be discovered. What could be better?

When Tilly Edgely lands a position working at Ashton’s bookshop in Cambridge she thinks she’s found her perfect job. But one winter’s morning, when she arrives to open up, she discovers the body of her boss suspended from the ceiling, hanging by a rope around his neck.

DCI Barrett and DI Palmer are called to the scene and quickly find themselves searching for a twisted killer whose identity and motive are nearly impossible to trace.

But just when they think they have the murderer in their sights, another body shows up throwing the case wide open…

Who is behind the killings and why?

The police have their work cut out and key to unlocking the gruesome mystery might be found right under their nose.

But one thing is for certain, this killer will leave you hanging…

About Betsy Reavley:

Betsy ReavleyAuthor of The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s Wife, Murder at the Book Club, Frailty, Carrion, Beneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in Cambridge with her husband, 2 children, dog and quail.

Betsy Reavley’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads


My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Mr. Pizza by J. F. Pandolfi: A Winsome Tale of a Rookie Teacher

(WordPress is doing that thing again where it messes up the html in my post header. I think I’ve fixed it, but if the beginning of the post looks ugly, sorry, I’m doing my best)

Mr. Pizza
Mr. Pizza

by J. F. Pandolfi


ePUB, 298 pg.
L&A Publications, 2018

Read: December 4 – 5, 2018

On the verge of graduating from college, Tony Piza (long “I”, and yes, he’s heard all the jokes), decides he’s not ready to head to law school and would like to take a year off. Inspired by a suggestion from his roommate, he applies to teach at a Roman Catholic school near his home. He figures that it’ll be pretty easy — spout some facts and figures from the text-book, assign some homework, do a little grading, catch up on his reading. All while living rent-free with his parents and sister. Despite never having taken an education class, nor showing any previous interest in education, and some iffy interview questions, he’s hired.

Early on, he performs his duties just as he planned — and it’s as successful as you imagine. But before long, he starts to see his students as individuals, not some faceless mass. It’s just a few steps from there to caring about their education and trying to do something about it. Tony also makes some friends with fellow teachers — two other lay teachers (including the other male staff member), and one nun. They start to rub off on him — and even inspire him.

But that doesn’t mean he turns into Professor Charles W. Kingsfield Jr or George Feeny, he’s more like a version of Gabe Kotter or Charlie Moore. Unconventional, off-kilter, and comical — yet challenging. Both his lectures and his assignments bring out the strengths and weaknesses his students (and their parents) were unaware they possessed. They also get Tony in trouble with parents, school administrators and school board members.

Essentially, the novel is a bildungsroman, watching Tony’s development from someone who sees teaching as a vacation from his real life to someone truly invested in it. I don’t want to say that it’s a smooth transition or that he flips the switch and becomes the World’s Greatest 6th Grade Teacher ™. That would make for a very dull novel.

Pandolfi writes in a very smooth, assured style. There’s not a lot of artistic flourishes — that’s not a critique, just an observation. It is charming, frequently amusing, and pretty earnest. I was a little afraid after reading the description that this would be a satire that tried too hard, one of those books where you can see the writer trying to be funny (which almost never works) — but I’m pleased to say that it wasn’t. Tony seemed to try too hard, but not Pandolfi — a character doing that is annoying, but it’s a character trait; a writer doing that is frequently a a deal breaker.

Tony’s antics and judgement are a mixed bag, as I mentioned. Early on, some of his jokes/behavior didn’t seem like fun, they seemed capricious and even mean — but so did M*A*S*H‘s Hawkeye and Duke Forrest (the book and movie versions, anyway). From the get-go the 1973 setting and sensibility put me in that frame of mind, so that’s where my mind went. And sure, part of the book is to show his growth from that, but it’s pretty off-putting. Similarly, I had trouble swallowing how tone-deaf he was when it came to jokes about Roman Catholics (even after being warned), yet he was reflexively sensitive to other people/problems (frequently in a way that seemed at least somewhat anachronistic).

Ultimately, I was able to get past that — and it’s possible that without me putting something about that in my notes, I’d have forgotten to mention it. Because of his growth, by that last third or so of the book, you see almost no signs of this (except when his past comes back to haunt him). So, I guess I’m saying, if you’re put off by some of his early behavior, give him a chance.

His sister, Patty, has Down’s Syndrome. I really appreciated the way that Pandolfi treated her. She’s simply a character — there’s no After-School Special moment with her, she’s not an object of pity — she’s simply Tony’s little sister. There are funny moments with her, some sweet moments with her — just like there are with Tony’s mother and father.

Tony’s students, fittingly, come close to stealing the novel from Tony. As is the case with the Bad News Bears, the Sweathogs, Fillmore High’s IHP class, etc., you have to want to see the kids do well to care about their teacher. They’re a diverse group, each having some distinctive characteristics and/or problems. They come to believe in their “Mr. Pizza” long before the staff, or even Tony — and stay his biggest supporters through the ups and downs that ensue. If you don’t like at least most of the students, there’s something wrong with you and you should seek professional help. Or just re-read the book, because you probably missed something.

The rest of the cast of characters are well-drawn and believable. There are a few that I’m glad we didn’t get much time with (Tony’s extended family, for example). His friends, fellow teachers and principal are strong characters, a couple of them are better developed. But that’s simply due to time spent with them. Pandolfi has a gift for good characters, which is half the battle in a novel.

Mr. Pizza is a charming tale of a young man maturing at a turning point in his life. There’s some good laughs, some uncomfortable moments, and some earnest emotional beats. The book is a pleasure to read and it — and it’s protagonist — will win you over and get you rooting for them both.

Disclaimer: I received this book from RABT Book Tours in exchange for this post and my participation in the book tour.

—–

3.5 Stars

✔ Read a book with your favorite food in the title.

RABT Book Tours & PR