BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Robot, Take the Wheel by Jason Torchinsky

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Spotlight Tour for Robot, Take the Wheel by Jason Torchinsky. I jumped at the chance when asked if I’d participate in this because: 1. Content I didn’t have to work for at all; 2. It looks like a fun book that I’d like to help get eyeballs on; 3. How often to I get asked to do anything with a non-fiction book?; and 4. Check out the cover — that’s just awesome.

Read the post, enter the giveaway — or don’t wait for fortune to smile on you, go buy the thing!

Book Details:

Book Title: Robot, Take the Wheel: The Road to Autonomous Cars and the Lost Art of Driving by Jason Torchinsky
Publisher: Apollo Publishers
Category: Adult Non-Fiction
Release date: May 7, 2019
Format: Ebook/Hardcover
Length: 207 pages
Content Rating: PG (this book is accessible to everyone)

Book Blurb:

From the witty senior editor of Jalopnik, Gizmodo Media’s acclaimed website devoted to cars, technology, and more, comes a revealing, savvy, and humorous look at self-driving cars.

Self-driving cars sound fantastical and futuristic and yet they’ll soon be on every street in America. Whether it’s Tesla’s Autopilot, Google’s Waymo, Mercedes’s Distronic, or Uber’s 24,000 modified Volvos, companies across industries and throughout the world are developing autonomous cars. Even Apple, not to be outdone, is rumored to be creating its own technology too.

In Robot, Take the Wheel, Jason Torchinsky explores the state of the automotive industry. Through wit and wisdom, he explains why autonomous cars are being made and what the future of automated cars is. Torchinsky encourages us to consider autonomous cars as an entirely new machine, something beyond cars as we understand them today. He considers how we’ll get along with these robots that will take over our cars’ jobs, what they will look like, what sorts of jobs they may do, what we can expect of them, how they should act, ethically, how we can have fun with them, and how we can make sure there’s still a place for those of us who love to drive with manual or automatic transmission.

This unique and highly readable volume is brimming with industry insider information and destined to be a conversation starter. It’s a must-have for car lovers, technology geeks, and everyone who wants to know what’s on the road ahead.

Purchase Links for Robot, Take the Wheel:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Indiebound ~ Book Depository

About Jason Torchinsky:

Jason TorchinskyJASON TORCHINSKY is senior editor of Jalopnik, a website devoted to news and opinions about all things automotive. As a writer and artist, he is known for his articles, artworks, talks, and videos about cars, technology, and culture. He has raced cars, wrecked cars, and driven possibly one of the most dangerous cars ever made with the King of Cars on the Emmy-winning Jay Leno’s Garage. He lives in North Carolina.

Connect with the author: Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

Win a print copy of Robot, Take the Wheel (5 winners / open to USA only)
(ends May 31, 2019)

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Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan: A fast, taut thriller that’s sure to please.

Deadly SecretsDeadly Secrets

by OMJ Ryan



eARC, 331 pg.
Inkubator Books, 2019

Read: May 2, 2019

Marty had built his career on this kind of ill-informed information delivery derived from minimal facts. Until this moment, he had never appreciated the damage his ruthless ‘hunting’ had inflicted on so many innocent people caught in difficult situations. He had lived by the mantra, ‘throw enough mud and eventually some sticks.’It had never been truer than right now, ironically. The realisation of who and what he had become over the years left him feeling sick to his stomach.

Frequently, I have said that what you think of a particular book’s protagonist is going to determine what you think of the book — for example, if you don’t like Mark Whatney after a few pages, set The Martian aside — you’re not going to like the book. Or a certain protagonist’s charm or whatever is going to make up for some flaws in a book. That is not the case at all here — in fact, OMJ Ryan has pulled off the difficult feat of writing an entertaining and gripping novel featuring a character that I couldn’t stand. Honestly, at more than one point I thought I’d be okay with Marty Michaels spending the rest of his life in prison — if not for the miscarriage of justice and the fact that the real killer got away scot-free.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself — apparently, I needed to get that off my chest. So, Marty Michaels — a superstar of British radio (because, those things still exist?) — wakes up in a hotel room he doesn’t remember checking into after a night of drinking that he remembers almost none of. He stumbles around a bit and finds a dead woman — again, doesn’t remember this woman — in the room. So, naturally, he calls his agent. This is the caliber of person he is. Before his agent can show, the police — who seem to know what to look for — come pounding at the door and throw some cuffs on him and parade him out of the hotel, making sure many cameras get the chance to get photographs. Not that long ago, Marty had done some stories about the local police that had ruined a few careers, and these particular detectives take the opportunity for a little revenge.

In the early stages Marty thinks that his fame will get him out of the trouble he’s found himself in, or that it’ll all blow over quickly (probably aided by his celebrity). But it doesn’t, and he soon has to deal with the reality that he’s bound for prison unless something truly remarkable happens. His agent appears to be as loyal as you could want in a friend, his lawyer is about as smart as you could want (we’re told, I’d appreciate seeing more evidence), but they’re about all he’s got going for him. The evidence against him is overwhelming, the media smells blood in the water and they’re ready to tear him to shreds, and Marty is his own worst enemy doing stupid, reckless, ill-advised things (almost all of which are contra his lawyer’s advice) that keep getting him in more and more trouble.

After a week or so of this, Marty starts doing stupid, reckless and ill-advised things that are also actually constructive — he realizes that he can’t count on anyone else to help him prove his innocence and finds the best kind of ally for this kind of situation — a fellow journalist who believes him and is desperate to uncover what’s happening. Not for Marty’s benefit, but for the story. As far as the police are concerned they have their man — Marty’s two associates aren’t that much help — on his own (or with this ally) do enough to uncover the truth about what happened in that hotel room?

Ryan’s got a very complex novel here for us. Not the kind of complexity that will cost him readers because it’s too much to keep track of, but (thankfully) the kind of complexity that makes you more curious at every turn. The pacing is fantastic, the pages just melt away without you noticing because all you care about is finding out what happened. Everything else — including Marty’s well-being and lack of character — is tertiary at best.

It takes a long time (arguably too long) before Ryan tries to give us reasons for wanting to like Marty — and I don’t think they work (maybe if they’d been presented earlier), he’s a short-sighted, self-involved, self-important numbskull. Now, almost everything he does make sense given the context and are probably the same kind of stupid reactions 98% of people would naturally have in the face of the legal situation. But that didn’t once stop me from muttering (or jotting a note) about what a dunce Marty’s being at any given point.

This is very effective, entertaining and gripping. It’s not a perfect thriller, but it’s really good, and the flaws are minor and easily ignored. I would like to see what Ryan’s capable of with a protagonist I care about, but I’d be willing to try another adventure with a jackwagon like Marty Michaels if Ryan can make the circumstances as interesting. I recommend this one to the thriller readers out there, you’ll enjoy this ride.

—–

3.5 Stars


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

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan

Today I welcome the Book Tour for suspense-filled Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit.

Book Details:

Book Title: Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Release date: May 12, 2019
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Length: 331 pages

Book Blurb:

Millionaire Marty Michaels had the perfect life — until he found a dead girl in his bathroom.

For twenty years, superstar radio host Marty Michaels has used his vast fame and power to make or break the careers of celebrities and politicians.

But Marty discovers that power comes at a price when he wakes in a strange hotel room and finds a murdered girl in the bathroom. He’s been setup. Someone wants to destroy him.

Desperate to clear his name, Marty is propelled into a dark world of danger, corruption and depravity, and with the media world he once ruled now baying for his blood — the hunter has become the hunted.

Not knowing who to trust, or where to turn, Marty fights alone against a powerful criminal network as he tries to save his reputation, his job…and his life.

About OMJ Ryan:

OMJ RyanHailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards. In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last.

OMJ Ryan’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram

Purchase Links for Death at the Dakota:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US


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

Death at the Dakota by M.K. Graff: A pleasant little near-cozy mystery/romance that’s sure to earn some fans

 Death at the Dakota Death at the Dakota

by M.K. Graff
Series: Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries, #2

eARC, 336 pg.
Bridle Path Press, 2019

Read: April 29 – May 1, 2019


So Trudy Genova, a nurse turned TV medical advisor, is acting as the on-set medical staff for a made-for-TV movie. She’s primarily supposed to be keeping an eye on the star to help with her undisclosed pregnancy, but she’s available for everyone. Things are going swimmingly for her on set, everything seems fine with the pregnancy, etc. Until towards the end of shooting, the star doesn’t come back from lunch and isn’t seen for a couple of days. Not long afterward, another member of the cast ends up murdered. Trudy, a would-be mystery novelist, has a Nancy Drew streak compelling her to look into both the disappearance and murder on her own.

Meanwhile, the NYPD Detective she met in the first volume of the series and has been dating, Ned O’Malley and his partner have caught a pretty grizzly murder on top of the string of burglaries they’re investigating. The murder investigation soon turns to a wealthy family and their potential prodigal son. They’re also tasked with the missing person’s case (and then the murder) giving plenty of opportunity for Trudy’s antics to be discovered and disapproved of. Although the fruits of her time are used by the same detective that doesn’t want her getting them.

Either storyline would be enough for a novel, but combining the two of them is a pretty strong move that allows Graff to keep things moving and see these characters in very different worlds. Trudy’s chapters are told in 1st person and have a strong sense of immediacy. Ned’s chapters are in the third person. The change in voice is subtle, but it’s there, and adds to the effect of telling the two stories in the same book. It’s like getting two S. J. Rozan Lydia Chin/Bill Smith novels mixed together. For me, the Ned chapters are the most appealing part of the book — as are his cases. But this is the Trudy Genova series, and the weight of the book falls on her adventures (and I think most readers will find her chapters more appealing)

I had a few issues that I can’t not mention in the interests of full disclosure. I’m not opposed to the characters in mystery novels I enjoy having a love life, and even spending a lot of the book talking and thinking about their significant others (or potential significant others). Robert B. Parker was too formative for me to have a problem with that — and I’ve seen it done well too often since then to really have a problem with the idea (from noir to cozies and all stops in between). But here the romance story was a touch too much for my taste, I don’t need all the space devoted to Trudy’s angst over the right wardrobe for her romantic evening and so on. But that’s me, I can see a lot of readers loving it.

Dialogue isn’t Graff’s forte, too often it seems like she learned dialogue writing from Law & Order or Blue Bloods — particularly the more cop-talk passages. For example, lead detective to his partner: “Sometimes people don’t want to get involved, worried about testifying to what they saw.” Because his partner somehow made detective in one of the most competitive departments in the world without noticing that. The sports banter the two detectives reads like someone who knows nothing about baseball imagining what fans saying to each other. As long as you think of this as a TV procedural, you can get through this kind of thing without too much bother beyond a quick eye-roll. But novel dialogue should be better than that — if you feel you have to hold your audience’s hand that much, move those observations to interior monologue.

I think the writing could be a little tighter, another grammar pass would be a good idea, and there were a few too many awkwardly phrased sentences for me to not mention it. When I find myself quoting Inigo Montoya, “… that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” repeatedly, I’m taken out of the story — forced to analyze rather than just enjoy. Especially when I’m bothered enough that I have to stop and look something up just to see who’s right, the author or me. These technical matters didn’t ruin the novel for me, but it certainly detracted from my appreciation. I’ve had a run lately of novels ruined by style and technique, and that wasn’t the case here — I didn’t once regret reading this (what a nice change), I just wish Graff had done better by her own work.

Yes, this is a sequel, but it’s easy to read as a stand-alone — you’ll pick up everything you need to know. It’s completely accessible for anyone who hasn’t read the first — but people who dig this will undoubtedly enjoy Trudy’s previous adventure. This was a fine little mystery novel with some fun characters. Ultimately, it’s not really my thing — but I can think of a half-dozen people in my immediate circle who’ll really enjoy this and will want more (some of whom I buy books for occasionally, and think I will make gifts of this). Whatever problems I had with character or writing are forgivable and easily passed over — the characters and writing have a charm and it was a pleasant read. I’m not saying I wouldn’t read more Graff or Trudy, I’m sure I’d have a pretty good time. I’m just not going to rush out and look for them.

—–

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

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Death at the Dakota by M.K. Graff

Today I welcome the Book Tour for M. K. Graff’s Death at the Dakota. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit.

Book Details:

Book Title: Death at the Dakota by M.K. Graff
Publisher: Bridle Path Press
Release date: April 1, 2019
Format: Paperback
Length: 336 pages

Book Blurb:

Nurse Trudy Genova is making plans to take her relationship to NYPD detective Ned O’Malley to the next level, when she lands a gig as medical consultant on a film shoot at the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, which John Lennon once called home. Then star Monica Kiley goes missing, a cast member turns up dead, and it appears Trudy might be next. Meanwhile Ned tackles a mysterious murder case in which the victim is burned beyond recognition. When his investigations lead him back to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself wondering: how can she fall in love if she can’t even survive?

Readers of Death Unscripted, the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series, will find the same pleasures in this sequel: fast pacing, engaging characters, twists and turns on the way to a satisfying close. From the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries, this second series is a winner. Once again M.K. Graff reveals her talents in crafting this delightful mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

About M.K. Graff:

M.K. GraffMarni Graff writes The Nora Tierney English Mysteries, featuring an American writer living in England with a nose for murder, and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries, based on Graff’s real work as a medical consultant for a movie studio. She is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, a member of Sisters in Crime, the NC Writers Network, and The International Association of Crime Writers, and writes crime book reviews at Auntie M Writes, www.auntiemwrites.com.

M.K. Graff’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram

Purchase Links for Death at the Dakota:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Book Depository ~ Google Books


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

EXCERPT from Searching for Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward: ‘Right, this is it then. . . The end.’ FIX LINKS, ETC

Ravenscroft was Tordorrach’s nearest neighbour. Hoping the owners, Matthew and Coral Fulham, would be more civil than Shamus had been Paul drove out to see them. After witnessing the dire poverty of Shamus and Mary he wore no tie, and a shirt that didn’t need cuff links. Their house was freshly painted and had solar panels, so he assumed they had survived the hard times. Given the state of the two homesteads he was perplexed that Noël had chosen to buy Tordorrach rather than Ravenscroft.

A woman came onto the veranda carrying a basket full of washing. His spirits flagged when he saw her expression.

He smiled. ‘Hello, I’m Paul Knight, a solicitor from – ’

‘Matt! Matt!’ she shouted. Her voice was panic-stricken.

Before he could attempt to reassure her, a man came round from the back of the house holding a spade. His hands were dirty and his face and arms were powdered with red dust.

‘It’s a solicitor – ’

Before Paul could apologise for interrupting his gardening Matthew threw down his spade and rushed into the house. Paul’s bemusement turned to fear when he came out holding a revolver.

He looked straight at Paul. ‘Right, this is it then,’ he said quietly. ‘The end.’ ‘First I’m going to shoot my wife. Then I’m going to shoot myself. Do you like animals?’

Paul was too stunned to do anything other than nod.

‘Good. Because we have two cows, three horses and some hens. I don’t want them to suffer. You can shoot them yourself or call a vet. Or give them to the neighbours.’

Paul dropped his briefcase and held out his hands. ‘Mr Fulham, why – ’

‘You ask me why? You know why. It’s because of your type – you greedy lawyers and bankers, that we’re losing the lot.’

‘I’m not here to get money – it’s – ’

Coral’s eyes shone with tears. ‘Why then? More threats from the banks?’

‘No. I’ve got good news – please will you listen?’

Matthew lowered the revolver. ‘What good news? You’re sure not here to give us money.’

‘In a way I am.’

Coral’s expression was dubious. ‘What?’

‘Tordorrach has been sold – ’

The hope that had wavered in Matthew’s eyes, dimmed. ‘Well that’s good for Shamus – can’t see that it’s good for us.’

‘How come he can sell that tip?’ Coral burst out bitterly.

‘I don’t know – your house is much better, but it’s still good news for you.’ The wind blew a cloud of dry earth in his face. ‘Can I come inside and explain?’

‘No. Tell us what the good news is,’ demanded Matthew.

‘I don’t think there is any good news,’ said Coral. ‘He’s stalling. He’s come to evict us and once he’s inside – ’

His eyes were gritty with dust, but worried that Matthew would raise his revolver again Paul got to the point. ‘The buyers of Tordorrach want to employ a manager. Shamus turned it down so they asked me to offer it to you – or another near neighbour.’

They looked incredulous.

Paul picked up his briefcase. ‘I’ve got all the papers in here. Are you interested in the proposal?’
Coral put down the washing basket and wiped away her tears. ‘Come inside. Would you like some tea?’ Her tone was more friendly, but they both looked wary.

Because of their hardship Paul was about to decline, but knew if they accepted Noël Carlyle’s offer they would no longer be poor. He picked up his briefcase. ‘Thank you,’ he said. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. He wished he could splash water on his eyes, but owing to the scarcity of water, he didn’t ask, just blinked.

The inside of the house showed no sign of poverty, which given their desperation, confused Paul. Even Shamus hadn’t been suicidal. On their way to the kitchen he saw a study with a flat screen computer that looked new, the furniture in the rooms he passed looked comfortable, the units in the kitchen were in good condition, everything was clean and tidy, and neither Coral or Matt’s clothing was threadbare, although it was faded.

Read the rest in Searching for Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward .


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

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Searching for Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward NEED TO FINISH

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for Searching for Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward. Along with this spotlight post, I’ve got a nice little excerpt from the novel here in a bit (I didn’t have enough time to read the book, but it looked good enough I wanted to do something for the tour).

Book Details:

Book Title: Searching for Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Release date: April 30, 2019
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 417 pages

Book Blurb:

Sylvia has been missing for thirty years. Will her daughters ever find her?

Tordorrach is 70,000 acres of drought-stricken land in the Australian outback. Why do a group of wealthy people from London want to buy it?

Seamus, the owner of Tordorrach, lives in poverty. His homestead is derelict and he is heavily in debt. The new owners run Outback Experience holidays on Tordorrach. Seamus becomes one of the gardeners, and he and his wife Mary move to a comfortable cabin on the property. Why does he hate the new owners so much that he plans to murder one of them?

The idyllic life of the new owners is shattered when the body of a woman is found buried on Tordorrach. Forensics find a bullet in her body. Who was she? And who murdered her?

About Joanna Stephen-Ward:

Joanna Stephen-WardJoanna Stephen-Ward was born in the Australian outback, and grew up in Melbourne. Her school days were spent dreaming about being an opera singer or a writer. To the exasperation of her parents and teachers she spent her final year sitting at the back of the classroom writing a novel set in WW2.

When she left school she went to an opera school where she was taught drama, movement and language pronunciation and had small roles in the workshop productions. She was not good enough to become a professional opera singer, but the seeds of her novel Vissi d’arte were sown.

She left Australia and spent a year travelling around Europe and the UK. While working in outpatients for the NHS she met Peter and they married in 1985. They lived in Richmond Surrey and she worked at The National Archives, an enthralling place for anyone interested in history or crime.

Having been brought up as a lonely only child, she was astonished to discover in 2010 that she was one of eight children. She and her sister had last been together on a verandah in the outback when they were babies. They had a joyous reunion in Cornwall in 2012.

Joanna has written seven novels and is working on her eighth.


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