Saturday Miscellany – 6/22/19

Runnin’ late — been running late all week, really. No time for an intro, really. Go directly to the links, do not pass go, do not collect $200. 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:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind by Jackson Ford: — A mouthy and fun psychokinetic is on the run for her life — and her friends’, too. I had a blast with this one, as I said here.
  • FKA USA by Reed King — I’ve seen a ton of ads for this one, and the premise/tone intrigue me (go read the link, I’m not going to try to summarize in a sentence). Not sure, I’ll like it, but I’m quite curious.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Thomas Neil for following the blog this week.

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Saturday Miscellany – 6/15/19

This has been one of those weeks…I seem to have a lot of them, lately. I’ve barely been online — as this short list will demonstrate. Still, some good stuff.

Also, I’ve been trying to adjust to Progressive lenses. Trying being the operative word. I’m spending a lot of time with my new lenses in my pocket, to be honest. Which is not what I spent the money for. My old glasses took up space in my pocket while I read for a lot less money. Any glasses that interfere with my reading are not going to spend a lot of time on my face. Anyone else out there dealt with Progressive lenses? Anyone have better success? Tips to share?

Still, I cobbled together a few 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:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe — I didn’t finish O’Keefe’s last SF series (which really bugs me), this one looks as good — maybe better. As Paul’s Picks said..

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Kyles for following the blog this week.

EXCERPT: Dead is Better by Jo Perry

So in lieu of posting a review-ish post of Dead is Beautiful, I’m doing something better, namely, I’m shutting up. Instead, I’ve been given the first few pages of the first Charlie and Rose book — Dead is Better. Everything you really need to know about the series is here — the epigraphs, the humor, the tragedy, the mix of humor and tragedy, Charlie’s brutal honesty about himself, and Rose. I just re-read this post and had to fight the impulse to re-read the book. I just love this book.

Naturally, when corresponding with Perry this week about this post, I made sure to get the title wrong, because I’m a professional.

“Sometimes dead is better.”

––Stephen King, Pet Sematary

 

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another.

But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”

––Helen Keller

 

1.

“When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country

All I know is that I know. And I can’t stop knowing. There was no cinematic replay of my life, no white light, no luminous passage to a perpetual meadow populated by old friends and relatives––I didn’t float over my failing body as the life seeped out.

I couldn’t see a goddamn thing––my eyes were shut.

There was then––the team of EMTs working on me, one applying compressions to the disco beat of the Bee Gees’s “Stayin’ Alive,” and a small young woman with long, curly hair squeezing the breathing bag attached to a plastic tube they’d shoved down my throat. Then a tall young man with short black hair loads me onto a gurney.

That was that.

Bullet holes still interrupt my flesh. My sternum is cracked, my chest bruised yellow and purple from their efforts.

One thing about this place—it’s come as you were.

 

2.

“We do not need to grieve for the dead. Why should we grieve for them? They are now in a place where there is no more shadow, darkness, loneliness, isolation, or pain. They are home.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

No Virgin Mary Blue sky. No combustible darkness.  Just a flash, a bang, and a fade-out that delivered me to this quiet place without midnight or noon, twilight or dawn.  This place, if it is a place—a beach without a sea, a desert without sand, an airless sky.

Did I mention the goddamn dog?

For the record, she wasn’t mine on the other side––which proves that error is built into the fabric of the universe—if that’s where we still are.

No ragged holes singe her gut, and she walks without a limp, but there’s a dirty rope around her neck that trails behind her too-thin body covered with long, reddish fur.  The first moment I saw her, I could tell––She’d been tethered long enough without water or food to die.

Well, she’s not hungry or thirsty now.

Is that peace?

 

3.

“Whatever can die is beautiful — more beautiful than a unicorn, who lives forever, and who is the most beautiful creature in the world. Do you understand me?”

Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

In life I’d heard of dogs like her, cheap burglar alarms.  Solitary, lonely, they bark at passersby and garbage trucks from behind high fences in exchange for water and kibble when the people remember to feed and water them.

They bark out of fear.

And to remind themselves that they in fact exist.

Now that I think about it, I wasn’t much different. A nobody.  A man of no importance.

On the other side, being a nothing had advantages. People barely saw me and that made me free.  I moved among them like a shade, a cipher. And when they did acknowledge whoever they thought I was, they were often revealing, entertaining––overconfident, saying too much about spouses and ex-spouses and email passwords, and what the neighbor’s son really did in the garage, and about not really being married, or the time they shoplifted—confessing, boasting.

Being nothing– that’s my gift

 

4.

When you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

 

In case you wondered, yes. When you’re dead, you can attend your own funeral. It’s not required, but I decided to go––time is unknowable here––to try to find out what happened.  And I thought the dog might like a change of scenery–or any scenery.

I want to look at certain people’s faces, especially my own.

Late morning at Mount Sinai, Hollywood Hills––which should be named Travel Town 2.0. The final resting place of thousands of corpses sits next door to Travel Town, a collection of non-traveling train cars frequented by babysitters, little boys and blinking coyotes who venture out at noon, when the picnickers and homeless eat their food.

The ferocious September heat and smog smudges LA’s edges and boundaries––until it doesn’t seem that different from this place, except that the dog and I are temperature-controlled––perpetually lukewarm, courtesy of Who or What we do not know.

The living––palpable, whole, shiny and fragrant with sweat and irritation––nothing’s worse than LA traffic on a Friday afternoon––remind me of those silvery-mirage-pools that form on the surfaces of overheated streets and then evaporate when you get close. Although it was I who lacks presence, they seem insubstantial, like flames, the men in suffocating dark suits and ties, and the women–especially my four exes––lotioned and gleaming, tucked and tanned, manicured and lap-banded, and holding wads of Kleenex in their diamond-ringed left hands to signify their former closeness to and recent repudiation of the deceased, who lay by himself in a plain wooden box up front.

The dog, whose rope I hold in my right hand, urges me forward, and then waits patiently while I look.

Jesus. Why is the casket open? I look like shit. I must have Mark’s wife “the decorator” to thank for this grotesque violation. Why didn’t they shut the box as is customary, especially here in a Jewish place. What were they trying to prove? That despite being shot to death I was still in some sense, intact?

Was I ever really the poor fuck who lived behind that face?  The neck and chin have been painted with peach make-up, and the too-pink lip-glossed mouth forced into a grimace that was, I guess, supposed to indicate post-mortal composure.  It must have taken three guys at least to wedge my fat ass into the narrow box.  I’m large.

Or I was.

I feel strangely light on my feet now. Want to lose sixty pounds in a hurry?

Die.

Read the rest in Dead is Better by Jo Perry — and the rest of the series: Dead is Best; Dead is Good; and the focus of this tour, the wonderful Dead is Beautiful. .

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

Saturday Miscellany — 6/8/19

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 Episodesyou might want to give a listen to:

  • O&F Podcast, Ep. 196: Patricia BriggsStrout talks to Briggs about a whole host of stuff — I appreciated her talking about grief and what it did to her writing, and the pressures of hitting the NYT Best-Seller List. But just an enjoyable chat overall.

    This Week’s New Release that I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey — a PI is called in by her estranged twin to solve a murder at a Hogwarts-esque private school? Sign me up.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to weewritinglassie, crimebookjunkie and David for following the blog this week.

In Medias Res: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

As the title implies, I’m in the middle of this book, so this is not a review, just some thoughts mid-way through.

It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, I’d forgotten it was a thing I do. Whoops.

—–

Dead Inside
Dead Inside

by Noelle Holten

Book Blurb:

When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?

I’m at the 55% mark — and I’m hooked. Holten’s got this way to get into your head. While I’m loving every second of this book, I’m having a hard time shaking the bleak outlook on life and humanity that seems to be part and parcel of this novel.

Seriously, read a few pages of this book and see if you’re not willing to replace humanity as the apex predator with something careful and considerate — like rabid pit bulls or crack-smoking hyenas.

This is a slow build of a book — given the blurb, I figured the bodies would have piled up by now, but they haven’t (much). Slow, but things are happening and the story telling is gripping – pulling you further and further in with each chapter. I don’t have a clue who the killer is, but I think the motive is clear (but, honestly, if it’s something else, I’d be impressed that she did such a great job faking out the reader). I’ve got a list of candidates for the killer, and could make a case for each one — but again, I halfway expect Holten to shock me.

Unless everything falls apart in the next 40% or so, this is probably going to end up as one of the best Mystery/Crime Fiction novels of 2019.

May 2019 Report

…also known as that day my wife gets to see what I’ve been up to lately.

21 books for 6094 pages. Not my best, but not a bad month. Especially given the full amount of things going on in Real Life™. But man, I had a lot of fun — and cleared off a good amount of items from TBR (very happy about that). Read some really good stuff this month and it looks like June will be pretty good, too. Hope the same can be said for you.

So, here’s what happened here in May.

Books/Novels/Novellas Read/Listened to:

Death at the Dakota Deadly Secrets Grace Defined and Defended
3 Stars 3.5 Stars 3 Stars
Venators: Promises Forged The Liar Late Eclipses (Audiobook)
4 Stars 4 1/2 Stars 4 Stars
Storm Cursed Firefly: Big Damn Hero The Killing Joke
4 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
Going Dark Fletch and the Man Who The Controller
4 Stars 5 Stars 3.5 Stars
Killer Thriller Don't Panic Instant Karma
4 Stars 5 Stars 4 Stars
Carioca Fletch Josiah's Reformation The Flintstones, Vol. 1
2 1/2 Stars 3.5 Stars 3 Stars
The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind Stumptown, vol 1 How To Kill Friends And Implicate People
4 Stars 3.5 Stars 4 1/2 Stars

Still Reading:

Rediscovering the Holy Spirit Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Christology      

Ratings

5 Stars 2 2 1/2 Stars 2
4 1/2 Stars 2 2 Stars
4 Stars 8 1 1/2 Stars
3.5 Stars 4 1 Star
3 Stars 4
                                   Average = 3.79

Reviews Posted:

  • Fletch’s Fortune (Audiobook) by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller: Possibly the Most Entertaining Entry in this Great Series
  • Death at the Dakota by M.K. Graff: A pleasant little near-cozy mystery/romance that’s sure to earn some fans
  • Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan: A fast, taut thriller that’s sure to please.
  • That Ain’t Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire: Annie at the Crossroads (literally, mystically, metaphorically, and probably a couple of other adverbs, too)
  • The Liar by Steve Cavanagh: Another Fantastic Ride with the Wiliest Lawyer in Print!
  • Fletch and the Widow Bradley (Audiobook) by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller: An oddly contemporary-feeling Fletch novel that’s good but not really good.
  • Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs: Goblin Royalty, Coyote, the Strangest Zombies you’ve Run Across Combine and an excess of “Next”s
  • The Killing Joke by Christa Faust, Gary Phillips: The Legendary Graphic Novel Gets the Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Treatment
  • Going Dark by Neil Lancaster: An Action-Packed Thrill Ride, an Interesting Spin on the Hero, and a Dynamite Plot
  • Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg: The Best-Selling Author/Hapless Hero Ian Ludlow Returns to Save the Day Again
  • The Controller by Matt Brolly: The Good, The Bad and The Iffy
  • Instant Karma by Todd Morr: Nasty, brutish, and short (I mean that as a compliment)
  • The Flintstones, Vol. 1. by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh: A Yabba-Dabba-Doo time awaits the reader.
  • Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman, David K. Dickson and MJ Simpson: An Indispensable Guide to Douglas Adams and his Work

TBR Pile/Mound/Heap:

Physical Books: 2 Added (ONLY 2?!?), 7 Read, 25 Remaining
E-Books: 4 Added, 5 Read, 21 Remaining
Audiobooks: 3 Added, 3 Read, 4 Remaining

Book Challenge Progress:

2019 Library Love Challenge

2019 Library Love Challenge

  1. The Flintstones, Vol. 1. by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh
  2. Stumptown, vol 1: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth (link forthcoming)

While I Was Reading 2019 Challenge

✔ A book with a curse word in the title: The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind by Jackson Ford (link forthcoming)

✔ Read a book with “how to” in the title: How To Kill Friends And Implicate People by Jay Stringer (link forthcoming)

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

#LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

  1. Death at the Dakota by M.K. Graff
  2. Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan
  3. Venators: Promises Forged by Devri Walls (link forthcoming)
  4. Going Dark by Neil Lancaster
  5. The Controller by Matt Brolly
  6. Instant Karma by Todd Morr
  7. Stumptown, vol 1: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth (link forthcoming)
2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

  1. Death at the Dakota by M.K. Graff
  2. Deadly Secrets by OMJ Ryan
  3. The Liar by Steve Cavanagh
  4. The Killing Joke by Christa Faust, Gary Phillips
  5. Going Dark by Neil Lancaster
  6. Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller(link forthcoming)
  7. The Controller by Matt Brolly
  8. Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg
  9. Instant Karma by Todd Morr
  10. Carioca Fletch by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller(link forthcoming)
  11. Stumptown, vol 1: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth (link forthcoming)
Humor Reading Challenge 2019

Humor Reading Challenge 2019

  1. Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg
  2. Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman, David K. Dickson and MJ Simpson
2019 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge

2019 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge

  1. Josiah’s Reformation by Richard Sibbes link forthcoming

How was your month?

Saturday Miscellany — 6/1/19

For a week that contained both a sober Monday holiday (I meant in tone, not in day off alcohol consumption for most) and the last week in the month I have a pretty long list today. Odd. I don’t know if anyone’s picked up on this — over the past 313 weeks I’ve developed general outline that I like to follow with this post, and I try to get a flow going from one idea to another. It’s hard to describe — but for those who fixated on making the perfect mixtapes back in the 90’s, you know the idea. This week defied almost all of my attempts for any of that. It’s not important, and I’m 99.6% certain that I’m the only one who will notice. But I spent too much time last night working on it — oh the silly things we find to obsess over. It’s actually probably almost as much time to write and revise this paragraph than I spent on the effort, in point of fact — but it distracted me for longer than that last night.

Also, it’s just been a strange week around my house — not good or bad, just strange. All said, I’m in a generally amused frame of mind (which led to me counting how many of these I’ve done). Hopefully that comes through…

I think I’ve babbled on long enough — not quite Harry Knowles length yet, but getting there. On with 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:

    This Week’s New Release I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Dead Inside by Noelle Holton — First off, if you’ve ever read crimebookjunkie.co.uk or heard her on Two Crime Writers and a Microphone, you know that Holten knows Crime Fiction. And has a great deal of enthusiasm for it. She brings both to bear in this new book. I read the prologue/first chapter, whatever it’s called yesterday. It was dark. It was creepy. It left me with a deep sense of foreboding and dread. Which is exactly what it’s supposed to do. There’s a rash of abusive husbands being killed, and a probation officer (Holten’s actual profession, by the way) is a very likely suspect. A killer you’re going to sympathize with (at least a bit), an interesting suspect and a smart DC on the case? I can’t wait to get further in.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Sesame Limited, devouringbooks2017, theguywiththebook and geekhutdrone for following the blog this week.