Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Call to Arms ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo, Audio Book Review, & Giveaway!

Detective Kay Hunter, Book 5
Narrated: Alison Campbell
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Categories: Mystery, Police Procedural
Released: March 5, 2018

Loyalty has a price.

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country's most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn't the only victim of that investigation.

DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But, as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay's enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…
Buy Links

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

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.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.


I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rachel Amphlett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio Book Review. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when I got the invitation to review the audio book of Call to Arms. I’m a huge fan of the Detective Kay Hunter series and have read with my ears all four of the prior books. This one did not disappoint, and like with the other books in the series, I listened to it straight through in a day.

Though Call to Arms is enhanced by my having read the prior installments in the series, this one stands works as a stand-alone since it is a story that doesn’t rely on prior events or character relationships. Amphlett does a great job of establishing who is who and what is what, so I don’t think readers new to the series will have any trouble jumping in.  
"Just stay out of trouble this time, Hunter."

As with prior books, Call to Arms starts with action and a possible crime, this one ten years ago. In a break from prior books, readers don’t really have chapters that are told from the bad-guy perspective. As a result, readers don’t ever get into the heads of any characters other than our main character, Detective Kay Hunter – and it works just fine for this installment. For fans of the police procedural, Call to Arms is excellent because readers are uncovering information right along with the detectives assigned to the case. The danger element isn’t quite as high, but it’s fascinating going through investigative process and seeing the attention to detail that’s required to do build a solid case against a suspect (or several).

I listened to books one through four, back to back, and it has been a little over a month since I finished them. In a way, the break from the series made Call to Arms more fun because many of the familiar elements were new again and just as delightful as ever. Kay’s husband Adam, as well as his animal house guests, are all bright spots and so is the mandatory cuppa tea or coffee that are staples to solving any crimes.  Returning readers will also be surprised by an ever-so-subtle shift in the relationship between Kay and DCI Angus Larch (spoiler: he’s HUMAN).
"Penny for your thoughts."
"I'm not sure they're worth that at the moment."

While Call to Arms doesn’t really do much with further building any relationships between individual characters, I like how it does tighten the group of core detectives readers have known from the beginning. This group has each other’s backs and is starting to work like a well-oiled machine, but they also genuinely care about one another. They keep it professional, but it’s clear that there is a camaraderie that only comes from being through the kinds of hell this group has experienced together. Readers get hints at the mental anguish Kay continues to feel (but tries to deny) from her past traumas, and it is likely those unresolved issues will rear their ugly head at some point down the line. She shows much weariness and some growth as there is more careful decision making and less impulsive than in other books, but she’s realistically flawed. Thank goodness! Otherwise, Kay would be too perfect, and we just can’t have that. 

Rachel Amphlett knows how to tell a story and keep the readers engaged in it from start to finish. I can’t speak to the editing of the print book, but the dialogues are natural, the characters are distinctive, and the action is realistic. I have the same gripe as always -- there is far too much glaring – and there was one semi-major contradiction, and a couple of scenes that were left sitting out there, seemingly unimportant/unneeded. But overall, Amphlett nails this story, and it is firmly among my favorites.

The narration by Alison Campbell is as excellent as ever. Her pacing and expressiveness are perfect, and she voices the numerous characters without any of them sounding the same. One character was supposed to have a hint of a German accent, and I didn’t hear it, but it didn’t detract in any way. I have to say, I was sorry there was no creepy bad guy for her to voice in this book – she always does a fabulous job with that. I listened at 1.25x, and that kept the story moving at a pace I enjoyed.

I am thrilled that Amphlett is already working on the next book in the series, and I guarantee I will be grabbing it as soon as it’s out. The books in this series immerse you in another world and keep interest piqued without graphic sex or violence. The Detective Kay Hunter series is truly addictive! Get your fix!

Thank you to the author and Audiobookworm Promotions for providing me a free download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

Free Audiobook + Rachel Amphlett Mug
Audio book promo code for Audible US or UK (your choice)
Runs May 27th-June 3rd, 2018⎮Open internationally!

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Buckaroo Buckeye ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo, Author Interview, & Giveaway!

Illustrated by Nadia Komorova
Genre: Children's Fiction (Ages 3-7)
Pages: 36 pages
Publisher: KLAC Enterprises, LLC
Release date: September 1, 2012
Categories: Friendship, Social Skills & School Life, Bullies, Growing Up & Facts of Life

Book Description:
Winner of the Mom's Choice Silver and OneBookAZ Awards!

There's a new cowboy in town! Hit the trail with Buckaroo Buckeye, a lovable little nut who falls from his tree in Ohio, as he dodges the bumps and bullies along the way in a magical journey to find his true place in the world.
Created by Reading Specialist Kristin Cetone, Buckaroo Buckeye teaches children 4-8 to: • Learn to ignore bullies

• Improve their self-esteem

• Connect with reading

• "Dream, Believe and Achieve" no matter their size!

Your child will be inspired by Buckaroo's determination in this touching story with unforgettable characters illustrated by Nadia Komorova. Get yours today!

Buy the Book:



Buckaroo Buckeye seems all about journeys. Where are your favorite travel spots?
My favorite travel spots would be the U.S. and Europe.  I had a very magical journey several years ago to Beijing, China on an educator exchange.  There were 300 educators from the U.S. from all grade levels.  We visited and observed their classrooms that matched with our grades we taught.  Fascinating!  We had meaningful conversations with their educators while sharing our experiences.  It was also so rewarding to make new friends with the educators from all over our nation.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The days of the old Wild West.  I would love to live on a ranch with horses of my own to ride.
I was born and raised in Ohio and over the years, my life journey took me to Arizona where I put down roots.  I had travelled all over, but Arizona is where I found my true calling as a reading specialist to help struggling readers and where I created my book characters and wrote their stories.

Who was the inspiration for this story?
This story is based on MY life journey.  The little girl who picks up Buckaroo is me.
There is only one main character in my story, and his story was easy to connect to me and my life journey.  My three characters in my sequels were also easy to write as they directly relate to three very influential female members of my own family.  The hardest part was coming up with my character names, since they are buckeye nuts, and giving them human experiences.
Also influential was my own life growing up in Ohio and the strong guidance and influence of my “family tree.”  The whole premise for Buckaroo Buckeye came from my father.  In his elder years, he would often ask, “Do you know what a buckeye nut is?”  To humor him, we would always say, “No, Dad, what is a buckeye nut?”  His response was ALWAYS, “It’s a worthless nut!”  This became the trigger for Buckaroo’s journey of self-discovery.

“Success comes from a tiny ‘seed’ within each of us.  This tiny seed contains our hopes and dreams and passions in life.  When we receive encouragement and nourishment from family, culture, education, and life experiences, the seed will sprout and grow mighty, and rise above the bumps and bullies and setbacks along the way.

Discouraging words…discourage dreams,
Encouraging words…sprout dreams,
Parents plant the seeds.”
              -- Kristin Anderson Cetone

About the Author: Buckaroo Buckeye grew out of author Kristin Anderson Cetone's imagination and joy of reading.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, she traveled many miles before putting down roots in the Arizona desert. Influenced by family, education, life experiences, and a desire to teach others, Mrs. Cetone discovered her purpose---just like Buckaroo Buckeye did.

Her true calling and passion is writing and helping others become successful readers. She created Buckaroo to encourage children to believe in themselves and follow their dreams while dodging the bumps and bullies along the way. Reading will help guide the way. Being a Reading Specialist, she has also created Nuts About Reading™ an informal, supplemental, online reading service. She shares her insights and suggestions to help parents strengthen their children's reading process and become successful readers.

Her joy now is to inspire and help kids to find the Buckaroo Buckeye in themselves.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Bonnie and Clyde: Dam Nation ~ ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo, Review, & Giveaway!

Bonnie and Clyde #2
Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 
Publisher:  Pumpjack Press on Facebook
Date of Publication: March 24, 2018
Number of Pages: 266

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting people back to work.  Set to harness the mighty Colorado River for electricity and irrigation, the dam is an engineering marvel and symbol of American can-do spirit. 

So, why is someone trying to blow it up?

When an informant on the construction site is murdered, Bonnie and Clyde—spared from their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life working for the government—are given their second assignment: stop the bomb and protect the thousands of laborers and families in the company town. It's their most dangerous mission yet: working for a living.
Can the notorious lovers put aside their criminal ways long enough to find out who wants to extinguish the American dream, and hopefully reclaim a shred of redemption along the way?
The thrilling story cuts back and forth between the modern era where a reporter interviews the now-elderly Bonnie Parker, and the dangerous 1930s undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde, as they are thrust into a fight to defend the working class against corporate greed.

Dam Nation, a historical thriller with unsettling contemporary parallels, continues the explosive "what-if" series, started in Resurrection Road, about two unlikely heroes fighting to defend the working class during America's Great Depression.

Crisply written, well-researched, thoroughly entertaining. As in Resurrection Road, Hays and McFall evoke time and place well in this sequel. The story’s politics are fresh and timely. Readers will find Bonnie and Clyde to be great company, and the novel’s framing story (the widowed Bonnie’s 1984 recollections) gives their relationship an extra layer of poignancy. 
-- Kirkus Reviews

“Dam Nation” highlights the real-life turmoil of the 1930s as only Hays and McFall can — shadowy intrigue, plenty of suspects and enough behind-the-scenes and under-the-covers action to keep the narrative sizzling along to the final page. 
-- East Oregonian

A rollicking good read. The real history of the rise of unions and worker rights against the backdrop of a nation recovering from the Great Depression contributes an engrossing, realistic scenario; a vivid read that blends fiction with nonfiction elements in a way that makes the book hard to put down. 
-- Midwest Book Review


HALL WAYS REVIEW: When I read and am WOW’d by a first book in a series, I am always nervous about the second book. What if that first one was just a fluke and the next one is a fail? What if the author(s) take it in a different direction? What if I am disappointed? And for a series that’s all about WHAT IF, waiting for the publication of Bonnie and Clyde: Dam Nation, the anxiety level was even higher. I guess I have book series trust issues. In my gut, I knew that in Dam Nation, good ol’ Bonnie and Clyde would kick ass and take names, but the brain kept whispering WHAT IF they don’t?

"You don't use good dogs to guard the junkyard; you use the
meanest g****n dogs you can get a collar around."

I am happy to report that the gut was correct, and my trust issues were terribly misplaced. Dam Nation is a full throttle thrill ride. Seriously, I am worn out by the action and like “Brenda and Clarence” (as they are renamed), after this adventure around the building and saving of Hoover Dam, I need to go collapse on a Mexican beach for a while, adult beverage in hand.  Authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall continue the story of Bonnie and Clyde, who are very much alive and very much owned by a secret government operation.

As in book one, Resurrection Road, there are dual story lines going on in Dam Nation. One is set in 1984, with a Lubbock journalist helping an aged Bonnie investigate loose ends and record the real story of Bonnie’s and Clyde’s lives after their supposed demise in 1934, at the ambush in Louisiana. A (mostly) reformed Bonnie wants to make amends for past wrongs done by her and to her, and she’s chosen Royce to make that happen. Readers will enjoy seeing that the spunk and spark in eighty-year-old Bonnie is much the same as the version of her fifty years earlier.

"Everyone has a purpose in life,
and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs."

The second story line is the beefier of the two, with Bonnie/Brenda and Clyde/Clarence sent on assignment to learn who is sabotaging the building of Hoover Dam. Is it the union? The mob? Italian anarchists? Of course, nothing is as straightforward as it should be, and the story progresses with B & C turning into working jerks who must put in a full day to make their living. The scenes of the two of them dealing with being nine-to-fivers were some of the most humorous (I hear ya, Clyde, on waking up too early and to an alarm every day; and I hear you, Bonnie, on not taking on the domestic goddess role. Groceries are overrated.). The couple is still as sexually charged as ever, and they are fiercely loyal to and protective of each other. There is a unique dynamic to their relationship not only because of all they’ve been through together, but because of a mutual respect for each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Readers can’t help but love this couple and will be reconciling their current and former personae, seeking to forgive them as Bonnie and Clyde do the same of themselves. They continue to be works in progress, and that’s one of the best hooks in the series.

In Dam Nation, the scenes are more realistic, and readers don’t have to suspend their disbelief or stretch to accept the action. Bonnie and Clyde are good at being bad, and they have skills beyond the average person, but they aren’t over the top, and that’s a good shift in this book.

The writing in Dam Nation is excellent, with the dialogue being especially good. Due to the word choices and sentence structures, writers will really hear Clyde's voice.  Hays and McFall incorporate interesting facts of the times (like the expense of the twenty-five-cent movie) and factoids on the size and scope of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam program, but it’s organically done and never feels like an info-dump. There were some references (like my fave girl, Nancy Drew) that will surprise readers who may not realize how long those things have been around. The book is well-researched, and as with Resurrection Road, it draws parallels and highlights the flaws in the political system that persist into current times. Except for some typos and run-ons (that won’t likely distract anyone from the fabulous story), it was cleanly edited. (For those who care [who, me?], in true journalistic form, the Oxford Comma, sadly, is missing.)

As Bonnie and Clyde might say, Dam Nation was a fun kick in the pants, and I highly recommend it. I know I am going to suffer the consequences of reading it straight through and seeing the sun rise as I finished, but really, isn’t that how the best books work? The hangover is well worth it. Based on that ending, I had better rest-up because it feels like a next installment is coming. Better be!

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the authors for providing me a gorgeous (this COVER) print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. 

Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book. 

Three Winners Each Win a Signed Copy + $10 Amazon Gift Card
MAY 16-25, 2018
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