Saturday Miscellany—4/25/20

Hope everyone endured this week of the pandemic/Stay at Home/Isolation/whatever-you’re-calling-it and is healthy and sane. Things at Irresponsible HQ are good, but I hope the end of this is near (I’m going to have to get used to shoes again, however). I can’t believe that we’re in the Home Stretch of April

I simply ran out of oomph by the end of this week, I sat down the last couple of nights to get some blogging done, wrote a paragraph or two and then…nothing. Oh well, a backlog of stuff to write about will come in handy when I start Winslow’s The Border.

No new releases caught my eye this week—which probably means that I missed something. Add your fresh recommendations in the comments!

I think I’ve rambled enough, on with the links:

Odds n ends about books and reading that caught my eye this week. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:
          bullet A Flowchart for Making Impactful Purchases at Your Indie Bookstore—a handy flowchart (minus that pesky “chart” bit)
          bullet When “Serious” Writers Write Books For Kids
          bullet He’s written 32 books, all while surrounded by a pack of dogs—There’s no actual discussion of David Rosenfelt’s books or writing, but it’s a nice look at the great work he and his wife do with rescue dogs. Love watching the sea of fur around them.
          bullet The Top 10 Most Lethal Characters in the Thriller Genre Right Now
          bullet From Atticus Finch to Saul Goodman: The Evolution of Lawyers on Screen and Page—No surprise here, Paul Levine pens an entertaining answer to the question, “How did heroic lawyers turn into dirtbag defenders?”
          bullet Book Series for the Long Haul

A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode (or two) you might want to give a listen to:
          bullet Under a Pile of Books Episode 69 – Sarah Chorn Interview—Sarah Chorn talks about her upcoming novel, Of Honey and Wildfires, and her mind being a weird place.

Lastly I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Chiddicks Family Tree, ginnymalbec (great blog concept!), and Narun Garg for following the blog this week. Don’t be a stranger, and use that comment box, would you?

Saturday Miscellany—3/21/20

In the words of @Fred_Delicious, “what’s the most annoying thing that’s happened to you this week? for me it’s the global coronavirus pandemic”.

So let’s try to distract ourselves for a moment, all right? (although, looking over my open browser tabs, I’m going to end up talking about it a lot…hmmm, maybe I should re-write that intro)

Odds n ends about books and reading that caught my eye this week. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:
          bullet Let’s start with the good news: Amid Pandemic, and Sales Skyrocket—Yay! Indie shops get a boost!
          bullet And the bad news: Emily Powell on bookstore’s future: ‘I am doing everything within my power to keep Powell’s alive’—truly depressing.
          bullet Independent Bookstore Day Has Been Postponed—because what hasn’t?
          bullet Narnia to Wonderland: Oxford’s Story Museum brings kids’ books to life—a cool place to visit, if, y’know, you could visit places now.
          bullet How to Support Indie Bookstores During COVID-19—I posted a very similar article from We Are Bookish last week. Still a good idea.
          bullet We Are Bookish remembers the authors, too: How to Support Your Favorite Authors When You Can’t Go to Events
          bullet And one more from that blog: 2020’s Virtual Bookish Events—this should be helpful
          bullet Paterson’s David Rosenfelt launches a new series and talks dogs with New Jersey Authors—Ahead of next week’s release of The K Team
          bullet Lee Child: Not “The Man”—Lee Child on a PBS show I’ve never heard of before (if you’re familiar, hit me with must-watch episodes in the comments)
          bullet Book Riot lists 20 Must-Read Feel-Good Fantasies
          bullet The 19 Best Crime-Solving Writers in Fiction, Ranked—I enjoyed this more than I probably should have (it also gave me something to think about for one of Monday’s posts…stay tuned)
          bullet Fun Things to do at Home that go with Audiobooks—a good start for a list…you have any you’d add?
          bullet How Can We Get Others to Read?—Bookidote’s Lashaan suggests some drastic measures to correct “people not picking up a book for whatever reason they got.” Also, Robert DeNiro gifs.
          bullet No, it’s not YA—The Orangutan Librarian tackles one of my pet peeves.
          bullet My top 5 tips to interact with the book blogging community—(I really need to pay more attention to #2)
          bullet 10 Biggest Disasters for Any Bookworm—I think I’ve fallen prey to all of these…you?

This Week's New Releases
That I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:
          bullet Lenny by B.R. Stateham—the tried-and-true story of a military vet turned local law enforcement. Put this one in a Texas border town facing a narcotics cartel, add in the Fahrenheit 13 spice, and this is guaranteed to be a great read.
          bullet Last Couple Standing by Matthew Norman—a couple goes the extra mile to save their marriage when all their friends divorce. Norman’s third novel promises to continue his winning streak.
          bullet Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs—Mercy’s on the hunt from an escapee from Underhill, the fae’s abandoned prison.
          bullet Agatha H and the Siege of Mechanicsburg by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio—It’s been four years since the last novel about Agatha Heterodyne, I hope I can remember enough of it. Fun steampunk fantasy novels (and comics, which I gave up trying to catch up on ages ago).

I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to beyondthecryptsandcastles, Uniquely Portable Magic, and Daniel MacKillican for following the blog this week. Don’t be a stranger, and use that comment box, would you?

(I don’t have a source to link this to, wish I knew where this came from, but…

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls

I’m very pleased today to welcome The Ultimate Blog Tour for Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls. So I’ve got this little spotlight post and my take on the audiobook coming along in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this novel, okay?

Book Details:

Book Title: Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls
Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group
Release date: April 10, 2018
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Audiobook
Length: 236 pages

Book Blurb:


Welcome to Eon. An alternate dimension where fantasy and paranormal is reality, and humans sit at the bottom of the food chain. In this world of unadulterated power and ability, the innocent suffer greatly. The ruling council of Eon has selected two humans, born of the Venator bloodline, and brought them through the gate—wishing to manipulate their strength and special abilities for the council’s corrupt purposes. But, Grey and Rune have very different ideas.

When their college dorm is infiltrated by creatures from another realm, Rune Jenkins, her twin brother Ryker, and old friend Grey Malteer are thrown into unexpected, twisted chaos. While Rune and Gray are able to escape, Ryker is kidnapped away to Eon, the alternate world from whence these dark beings came.

With the help of a supernatural guide, Rune and Gray must now travel to Eon to save Ryker, and discover the illuminating truth about their ancestry. In this new world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards, power is abundant and always in flux. Rune and Grey are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game and must find their way through – and out of – Eon before it consumes them.

Fast-paced and supernaturally entertaining. It will leave you hungry for more!” –Addison Moore, New York Times bestselling author of the Celestra series

What an original and captivating fantasy! Venators: Magic Unleashed will suck you in, keep you guessing, and leave you breathless for more. I can’t wait for the next book!” –Chelsea Fine, bestselling author of the Archers of Avalon series.

About the Author:

Devri WallsDevri Walls is an international best selling author. She lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband, two children and one adorable little mutt. Writing in all things fantasy, she would do just about anything for a working magic wand.

Mostly because she’s a walking disaster and a wand would be of enormous help…although she’d probably trip and break it. So, there’s that.

She graduated with a degree in theater and has studied vocal performance most of her life. She now teaches voice lessons when she’s not writing novels, cooking dinner, playing taxi, spending time with her amazingly supportive husband or trying to read.

Social Media:

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Youtube ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Bookbub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

My thanks to The Write Reads for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

Hidden Steel by Stuart Field: An Ambitious Thriller on Land and Sea

Hidden Steel

Hidden Steel

by Stuart Field
Series: John Steel, #2

Kindle Edition, 618 pg.
Next Chapter, 2019

Read: February 15-17, 2019

It sounds like the first volume of this series has John Steel working closely with a group of detectives from the NYPD, but the sequel has them (ultimately) pursuing the same criminal group from very independent directions—Steel is in Britain and then on a trans-Atlantic cruise ship following leads he uncovered while investigating his family’s death.

Meanwhile, Det. McCall and those she works within Homicide are investigating a serious of suspicious deaths (deaths that would be easily written off as random crimes or accidents). Eventually, the detectives conclude that they are murders, the question then shifts to why these people were killed as much as who did the killing.

Ultimately, as one would guess from the outset, the work that Steel and McCall are doing lead to the same culprits and there is plenty of interaction to satisfy fans between Steel and the team in New York over the course of the novel.

I want to stress that this is one of the most complex and ambitious plots that I’ve read in months. The more you read of this the wider-spread the scope of the action is. I can’t imagine how much planning this took to get all of the parts and pieces to line up just right with each other to produce this—I’m close to using the word audacious to describe the scope of the novel. Once it all starts to come together and the reader can understand all the ways that the criminals were moving to get their schemes rolling, the mind will reel.

Most of this book reads like the novelization of a TV episode/Movie. More often than not, the visuals evoked by the book belong to a visual medium. The way people move, stand dramatically, climb out of this or that, and so on is very screen-inspired. Once I realized this is what’s going on, everything made so much more sense.

I don’t like being this guy, but the number of proofreading problems in this book were very distracting. I don’t remember any words that were spelled incorrectly, but there were repeated instances of similar words being used instead of the correct ones, e.g. “guy’s” instead of “guys,” “he’s” instead of “his,” “draw” rather than “drawer,” and so on. There were scenes/passages that begin the same way they began, a sentence that is a direct contradiction of something mere paragraphs before; commas that serve no function; commas that are missing; unnecessary question marks; and so on. This kind of thing happened so frequently that it drew attention away from the action and I couldn’t focus.

At the end of the day, whatever good I’d want to highlight from the novel was offset by a problem, concern or drawback to either the logic, grammar or word choice. There’s a lot to commend, but the issues suck all my enthusiasm for it away. This is the kind of thing that will truly entertain an audience if it finds one, and I hope for Fields’s sake, it does.

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.

Radio silence

So my neighborhood’s Internet service died yesterday afternoon (probably more than just my neighborhood, actually, but that’s what I know). I’m assured that technicians are working on it and we’ll be back online by Monday morning.

Good grief.

Anyway, that’s why there was no Friday oath the Founding, why there’ll probably be no Saturday Miscellany, and nothing else until Tuesday. I’ll try to use this time to draft some other posts, but as my family won’t have Hulu, Netflix or social media to entertain us, we may end up-gasp-interacting with each other and I may end up accomplishing anything.

Also, this is the first time I’ve tried, and I’ve decided that I hate composing on the Android version of the WP app. Just in case anyone was wondering.

The Dead of Winter by A. B. Gibson: A Creepy Tale Perfect for October Reading

The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter

by A. B. Gibson

Kindle Edition, 154 pg.
Consolidated Gibson, 2017

Read: October 10-11, 2019

I’m going to preface this post with this: The Dead of Winter is not my kind of book. That’s not an evaluative statement—I didn’t read the blurb as carefully as I should’ve, it’s just not the kind of thing I’d typically read. Like collections of haiku, Amish Romances, or Military Fiction. Given that, take what I’m going to say with the appropriately-sized portion of salt, it’s probably better than I think it is.

When I was in junior high/high school, I remembered we’d frequently find ourselves watching some Horror/Thriller kind of movie where a handful of teens/young adults would go on a trip, find themselves in a remote area being terrorized/hunted/killed by locals. Sometimes they’d get away (sometimes they wouldn’t); sometimes they’d stop the locals (sometimes they wouldn’t); more often than not, it’d be a mixture of the two and any victory would be Pyrrhic.

In this case, we have 5 twenty-somethings who agree to meet at the Pumpkin Patch Bed and Breakfast for a weekend of picking apples and pumpkins and having fun with hayrides and the Giant Corn Maze.

One of their number (the one who was supposed to arrive first), isn’t around when the others check-in, they assume she’s uncharacteristically decided to not come at the last minute. Then another guest comes to them with a warning about strange happenings and disappearances around the B&B, which they just laugh off. The hayride features some horror F/X that’s disturbingly real and the scarecrows are dressed really fashionably.

Which gets the friends set on edge and starting to wonder if the other guest was on to something—if only she hadn’t left in the middle of the night so they could ask her some questions.

Before they realize what’s happening, the four are separated and largely isolated; Ma and Pa seem to be less hospitable and down-homey; and their children are less eccentric and not-well-socialized and more menacing and disturbing. Things get worse from there.

The plot was at the same time exactly what you know it’s going to be, yet it kept going in unexpected directions with unexpected results. It plays to the conventions of the genre but not always in the ways you’d predict.

The young professionals and other guests weren’t as fleshed out and developed as you might hope—but they don’t need to be for this kind of story. Their antagonists aren’t either, but they are more multifaceted and are the embodiment of hazardous. Which is exactly what you want.

As I said, the book was never really going to work for me. But it kept me engaged, kept me turning the pages, and kept me wondering just how messed up the ending was going to be (the answer: very). The Dead of Winter didn’t make a fan out of me, but I can easily see where it’d make fans of many other people. I hope it finds its audience—and if you’re the kind of reader who likes this sort of story, you should really give it a shot.

3 Stars

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

Love Books Group

Saturday Miscellany—9/7/19

Not a big crop this week, but some good stuff. 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:

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

  • The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire—Toby, the Luidaeg, and Selkies—what more could anyone want out of the 13th Toby Daye? It’s been sitting on my shelf since Tuesday, and I’ve been kicking myself for agreeing to post about things so I can’t get to it yet. I need to plan better.
  • The Nobody People by Bob Proehl—Proehl’s second novel looks like a literary version of the X-Men. Looks good.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites, KATO NASHIF, William Johnson, tourinfonepal and AKidneyStory (I’ve been reading their stuff for a few months, and really appreciate this blog) for following the blog this week.