Sunday, 30 November 2014

What's on Chuckle TV #12

Welcome to Chuckle TV! 
Every week I will be talking about what I have been watching in the world of TV, be it sport, documentaries, TV series, films, soaps or interesting news items. I'll be talking about favourites from the past and all the great sounding stuff that I haven't watched yet. Believe me, there are a lot of popular series that I haven't had the chance to see! Let the Count and I be your guide in the world of entertainment! Comments are welcome on what I'm currently watching but no spoilers please or your comments will not be published!

Well over the last two weeks I've been busy reading and not had any time to catch up any TV series. I have had time to watch a few old favourites films that I got cheap on Amazon. When I first bought these dvds, they were in those cardboard covers that you had to click shut on the front so I'm replacing them with the normal dvd covers. It's a good excuse to watch them again!

There is so much to like in this film! I'm a huge fan of James Woods as an actor. For me he is one of the best character actors out there, along with Kevin Spacey. There is the added advantage of the gorgeous Eric Roberts who I also think is a better actor than he is given credit for. Add in the other stars like Sylvestor Stallone, Sharon Stone and Rod Steiger and you are guaranteed great acting. There are lots of explosive action scenes, clever bombings, great humour from Woods and you have an excellent action film.
I admit it, I'm a Schwarzenegger fan! I watched all those great action films of his in the 80's and 90's with the witty one liners and all out action scenes and loved them! OK so this is not his greatest film but it was a bit different from his usual films in term of plot. There is still plenty action, a lot of backstabbing and a few twists thrown in for good measure. It's still a good action film and it was nice to go back and watch this for a change. I've got a few of his newer ones to watch and I'm looking forward to it!  

It has been a good few years since I watched this film and I forgot how much I liked it. Stallone and Russell are a great pairing and the banter between them is similar to the great pairing of Gibson and Glover in Lethal Weapon. Again there are great action scenes, lots of humour and a good strong storyline of two cops framed and jailed, escaping to clear their name. Really enjoyed watching this again.

I love the Aliens films. I love the Predator films. I love Lance Henriksen. So it was pretty much a no brainer for me to know that I was going to love this film. Lots of action and a very good story. Hope to watch the follow up soon when I get a bit more time for film watching which has sadly been lacking over the last few years. 

This film scared the living crap out of me as a kid but left me with a lifelong fascination about the Bigfoot and Sasquatch legends from around the world. I found this on an old VHS tape last week and decided to watch it. It is still a decent film but this copy is not great. You can't see a damn thing in the night scenes so maybe a DVD copy would be a bit clearer. Not sure if I will be buying a new copy though. Haven't decided! But it was nice to see this film again. 

Book Review: Lost Girl by Colleen Vanderlinden

Molly Brooks is a telepathic vigilante with a few secrets and a mysterious past. Determined to make something of her bizarre powers, she devotes herself to saving those who need her most. One night, she's followed by a powerful being in a pickup truck, and her world will never be the same. Finding herself thrust into a world full of supernatural beings she could have only imagined, Molly learns how powerful she really is, and how much she stands to lose.

Combining elements of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, Lost Girl is the first book in the Hidden series by author Colleen Vanderlinden.

My Review:
Molly is using her strange powers to try to rescue girls who have been kidnapped in her local area. But when she meets Nain, he offers to train her to control those powers and join his supernatural team who fight against evil. Molly needs the help but she isn't much of a team player and finds it tough to fit in-until she becomes the main target of the bad guys.

This was one of those books that I liked but it also had things in it that annoyed me enough to drop my rating.

Lets start with the good. I liked Molly and her mission to find the girls using the powers that she doesn't fully understand or control. She is feisty, antisocial and tough, a real kickass heroine who only wants to do good and save those that the police can't find. When she gets involved with Nain's gang, there were a few good characters there. I also loved the Imps! They were very funny and entertaining. They were certainly my favourite part of the book. Molly's expanding powers were also interesting. I liked the action scenes and every scene that featured the imps. The magic fights were good and there was a lot of well written scenes. However a few things really let the book down for me.

The biggest issue for me was the relationship between Molly and Nain. I get that they wouldn't fully trust each other in the beginning but the bickering between them was never ending and the pattern was the same over and over. Nain is always angry at her, talking down to her and treating her like crud, and then he gets mad when she wants to get away from him. He is a bit of a bully and the anger issues from his demon side got boring very quickly. I never felt any chemistry between the characters, just a lot of anger and distrust. It is hardly the great basis for a relationship.

The members of the gang had such interesting powers but Stone, Ada and Veronica were vastly underused. This crime fighting gang were supposed to be a team but you would have team members off fighting something nasty while Nain and Molly were having yet another fight of their own and that was so frustrating. I wanted to see the team together, not just more relationship angst which started to bore me. Molly's lack of brains also started to get annoying. She would sneak off to tackle something alone, discover that she couldn't deal with it, get hurt and call Nain for help. Then a few chapters later she would do the same again. And again. When characters refuse to learm from their mistakes, it just becomes annoying. Take some backup you stupid woman and don't be such a baby!

Also suddenly throwing in the stupid attempt at a love triangle so far into the book really spoiled the group dynamic and screwed up the story for me. It seemed to have been thrown in just to add more angst to the story-like we needed any more of that with all the fighting already there. It seems to me that some authors have a checklist of things they believe MUST be put into a book and follow it even if it isn't working. Love-hate relationship? Check. Pointless love triange? Check. Stupid heroine who isn't strong enough to handle a situation and has to keep being rescued? Check. There were just too many cliches in this book to get a top mark from me.

So the story itself should be a four. I liked the characters enough to want to know what happened next. I want to see more of the Imps. But the thought of dealing with more relationship issues, bad tempered fights and so on just put me right off so I doubt I will continue with the series.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Stacking the Shelves #60

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews
Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! Click on the link under the book to find its page on Goodreads or Smashwords.
Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress. 

Well, this was a busy week for me so I didn't get much time online. In fact I haven't posted anything on the blog since Monday. Erk! I had a lot of stuff to do around the house and plenty reading so that's my excuse. So I need to get a few reviews done today!

Yesterday of course was Black Friday and seeing those manic violent scenes made me very happy that I was sitting safely at home, browsing Amazon for deals on my computer! My dad and I managed to spend close to £100 on dvds and book bargains so we were pretty happy. Doing it the online way was MUCH safer than what I was seeing on the news! So who got some good bargains then? Planning to do more shopping this weekend?
My books this week are a bit of a mixture. I've been looking to get a copy of Jimmy Anderson, my favourite cricketer's book for a while but I've stopped buying full price biographies as I only read them once. I got this for less than a pound on Kindle which is a good deal! I love the film Heavenly Creatures and I've been searching for 15 years to get books about the murder. This week I finally found two on Amazon though they were quite expensive. One of my other interests has always been the Bigfoot legend so I treated myself to a pile. The rest should arrive in time for next weeks STS hopefully! 




Monday, 24 November 2014

Reading with Chuckles #14

Welcome to Reading with Chuckles! This is where I fill you in on what I'm reading each week-what it is, where I got it or heard about it, what I think of it, if I'm continuing with it or abandoning it and any special offers I'm aware of where you can try the book yourself. Comments are welcome but no spoilers please! It's not fair to other readers!

I am now on to my winter readathon. This means I'm turning my attention to series that I've started and liked but never got round to finishing. So I hope to get through a LOT of books and catch up with a few favourites! So I finished up with Sookie Stackhouse with the bland and boring After Dead (see my review for details). The I moved on to the Kelley Armstrong 'Women of the Otherworld' series. Waking the Witch was a glorified crime novel which I didn't like much. Spellbound was a decent read but the big finale '13' was a total let down. Men of the Otherworld was very good, looking at the Danvers family background-Malcolm, Jeremy and Clay.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

After Dead by Charlaine Harris (Sookie #13.5)

Dead Ever After marked the end of the Sookie Stackhouse novels—a series that garnered millions of fans and spawned the hit HBO television show True Blood. It also stoked a hunger that will never die…a hunger to know what happened next.

With characters arranged alphabetically—from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli—bestselling author Charlaine Harris takes fans into the future of their favorite residents of Bon Temps and environs. You’ll learn how Michele and Jason’s marriage fared, what happened to Sookie’s cousin Hunter, and whether Tara and JB’s twins grew up to be solid citizens.

This coda provides the answers to your lingering questions—including details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after…

My Review:
OK this was a pretty major let down and smacks of cashing in on fans wanting to know more, yet not putting in the time and effort to make it pretty good for the readers. This was not good.

Firstly it was so short that I had the whole thing read in 20 minutes. Don't be fooled by it saying 208 pages. Each person gets a page of their own and some of the entries are no more than a line or two. That's why you can get through it so quick. The second issue was that most of the people in the A-Z are people that I had never heard of. It left me wondering how bad my memory was if I was staring blankly at a lot of the names, but reading other reviews has assured me that other readers had the same problem. The book has that 'thrown together' feeling and I think it was rushed out without taking the time to make it something really cool.

Some of the entries were quite funny-Jane's being rather appropriate, and Bubba's was the one that got me sniggering. I did like the resolution for Pam, Sam, Sookie, Eric and especially Bill. A few of the entries were pretty sad though. But to be honest most were just bland and boring. To be honest, you should just ask someone who has the book to read out the best bits to you or just skip it altogether and leave Dead Ever After as your finishing point for the series.  

Or you could just read on for the best bits and save yourself money. Here they are.

-Sookie and Sam get married and have four kids.
-Jason and Michelle stay married.
-Tara splits with JB when he won't stop cheating.
-Amelia and Bob split up.
-Eric and Freyda have a HEA though he still checks up on Sookie.
-Bill gets richer making violent vampire video games and becomes King of Louisiana.  
-Bubba visits his own grave and starts a riot.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (Sookie #13)

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart...

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough...

This review contains BIG plot spoilers!

My Review:
I read this book in one night to find out how the series ends and I have to say that I'm pretty satisfied with it overall.

Sam is acting strange after being brought back to life and things between him and Sookie are strained which upsets her. Eric has to formally break his marriage to Sookie, leaving her with a broken heart. And of course, her enemies are closing in on her, meaning that she needs all of her friends to rally round when she is accused of murder.

There is plenty to like in this book. Firstly, that whining bitch Arlene gets what she deserves, which was very satisfying! I hated the way she treated Sookie like her personal slave, then treated like she was human filth because of her love life, and in spite of plotting to kill her, Arlene still thinks she she is the victim and Sookie is the bad guy. Sadly, it is Sookie who is set up for her murder. This is when she sees who her friends are. Eric pays her bail, Desmond, Diantha, Quinn, Amelia, Bob and Barry all come to town to help her to clear her name, with help from Alcide's pack. It is what they find out that is interesting.

Desmond finds out that Amelia's father did a deal with the devil and wanted the Cluviel Dor as part of the deal but the devil got there just after Sookie used it. Amelia admits that she told him about it, causing Sookie to get quietly mad at her again.

But it is Sookie's relationship ending that dominates a lot of our thoughts, upsetting some fans. I feel that the relationship had run its course as soon as the wedding was announced. Eric cannot get out of it and Sookie cannot wish it away now. It is now that Eric shows his selfish side, wanting Sookie to be his secret mistress in Oklahoma behind the Queen's back, with a plan to turn Sookie into a vampire at some point. Sookie is angry that it is all about what Eric wants, making her leave her job, her friends and risk the wrath of the Queen when the secret affair is uncovered. Having Eric admit that he was determined to turn her was the last straw for Sookie. I do believe Eric loves her but it is the kind of love that doesn't take account of what is right for her.

I was also mad at Eric for stopping Sam from helping Sookie, as I had guessed what Eric was doing. There was no way that Sam would have chosen to stay away from Sookie at this dangerous time unless someone was making him do it. It seemed like poetic justice that it was Bill who happily told her that Sam went to beg Eric to bail her out, and as part of the deal Eric prevented Sam from helping or seducing Sookie. I think Bill was pleased to finally get revenge on Eric for splitting him and Sookie up. Having Pam get Eric's job keeps Sookie safe so that was good. I always enjoy scenes with Pam!

I liked the predictable Sookie kidnapping this time. For Claude to be so angry at her because she never wanted to sleep with him, despite him being gay, was just perfect for the vain moron! And the two hapless flunkies then turning on Claude for being gay was just priceless! Nice to see he got what was coming to him!

So Sam and Sookie finally get together! I was surprised that this ending seemed to upset so many people. Yes I love Eric and his relationship with Sookie was great to read about but I feel that Sam is the right choice for her future. This is why. Sam would never have asked her to use the Cluviel Dor for him, even to save his life. He has been there for her as an employer and friend for longer than anybody, back when everyone though she was just weird, friendless Sookie. He has always stood by her, let her cry on his shoulder over her love life and looked after her when she was in danger. He is a shifter and can fully protect her but is not part of the pack so he would never put shifter business before her or use her for the pack good like Alcide. He can give her the children and the family life that she wants. And unlike Eric, he would never expect her to become a shifter or turn her against her wishes. This is why my vote is with Sam and I was so happy that they got together!

My complaint about the book? No Bubba! Ok I'm splitting hairs a bit! Since the series started with Bill I did expect him to be in it more, but his contribution set the scene for Sam and Sookie to get together, so that was pretty important. Overall I liked the way things were tied up, with Sookie looking as if she just might get that happily ever after that she deserves.

Great end to the series! 
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie #12)

Sookie has a murder investigation on her hands.

A young girl has died at a vampire party - and it looks as though her lover, Eric, might be responsible. Eric swears he didn't do it, the police don't believe him, and even Sookie isn't so sure. Nor is she inclined to take his word for it, not having caught him enjoying the victim's blood minutes before she was killed.

But something strange is going on. Why had Sookie been asked to come to the fateful party a few minutes early - just to catch Eric in the act? And why had the victim spiked her own blood before approaching Eric? Was it simply because she wanted to be irresistable, or was it something more sinister?

Sookie will have to find out ... but it's the worst moment to investigate, as her Fae family are having troubles of their own and Sookie is, inevitably, drawn in. And there is one last complication. The cluviel dor her grandmother left her. It will grant her one wish, which could fulfil Sookie's heart's desire. The only problem is, she still doesn't know what - or who - her heart truly desires ...

My Review:
This review contains BIG plot spoilers!

There are very mixed reviews for this book as it seems to have divided Sookie fans. It wasn't the best in the series but I still found it to be a good read. There are always good things in each Sookie novel as there are usually plenty threads running through the main story.

Sookie is not happy with Eric feeding from a human girl at a party and she is even less pleased when the girl is found dead outside minutes later, leaving them up to their eyeballs in cops again. She doesn't really think he did it but it adds to the doubts she has about Eric breaking the wedding, especially after meeting the beautiful and rich Freyda. Can a human really compete with her? Is all that power too much to give up for Sookie? Sookie also has to deal with Jannalynn telling her to stay away from Sam and starts fearing for her safety again, suspecting that the werewolf was involved in the party murder. Even Sam seems to be having doubts about Jannalynn, and worries about her obsession with Sookie.

Sookie also discovers that her grandmother was in possession of a rare fae jewel-a Cluviel Dor, which will grant one wish to the owner to give them their hearts desire. Sookie isn't sure what to use it for but Eric expects her to use it to get him out of the wedding when he hears about it, but Sookie isn't convinced she should use it so quickly. While Eric wants Sookie to use it for their future, the fae want it badly and are willing to kill for it, putting Sookie in more danger. Just as well she has a cool demon lawyer watching her back!

Now is it wrong for me to feel smug about being right about Claude and Jannalynn? Ok everyone could see that Jannalynn was a psycho bitch from hell who was never right for poor Sam but her level of betrayal was unbelievable. I really liked the action scenes with Sookie's latest kidnapping and the big pack meeting. The pack meeting was very tense and you just knew that bad things were going to happen. My heart was in my mouth over Jannalynn's reckless actions and when Sam was dead I was in floods of tears. I love Sam! He's my favourite character and I was horrified that he died! I'm glad that Sookie kept her head better than I did and used the Cluviel Dor to bring him back. It was a very dramatic scene that nearly did me in!!!

Which brings me to the bigger plot. Jannalynn was in it to overthrow Alcide and take the pack as reward but it was Claude who was pulling the strings. He was looking for the Cluviel Dor and the chance to overthrow Niall, bewitching Dermot and endangering Sookie to lure Niall back to help her. I never liked the guy and I thought he might have been responsible for what happened to Dermot but I never thought he was as bad as he turned out to be.

I never thought Niall was bad but I was never sure how much he cared for Sookie but he does something good for her. He told Eric about the Cluviel Dor so that Sookie would see his reaction, wanting to use Sookie's wish to solve his problem. Perhaps Sookie was being a bit unfair by saying that Eric should have got out of his mess if he wanted her enough, as I think Eric did try. But he never will understand that Sookie's friends are important to her, as his reaction to her saving Sam shows. I think the relationship is pretty much over between them.

So it was a very exciting end to the book, setting us up nicely for the final book. Who wins Sookie's heart? Who will kidnap her this time or try to kill her? What other surprises are in store in the final book? I can't wait to find out! And thankfully, I was able to read it soon after this one so I didn't have to wait long...

star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Book Review: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (Sookie #11)

There's a reckoning on the way ...

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. It's a job which has its own challenges, but now the vampires and the shapeshifters are finally 'out', you'd think the supernaturals would get on with each other. But nothing is that simple in Bon Temps!

... and Sookie has a knack for being in trouble's way; not least when she witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but before she can investigate something else - something even more dangerous - comes up.

Sookie's lover Eric Northman, and his 'child' Pam are plotting something in secret. Whatever it is, they seem determined to keep Sookie out of it; almost as determined as Sookie is to find out what's going on. She can't sit on the sidelines when both her work and her love life are under threat - but as their plans gradually become clear Sookie finds the situation is deadlier than she could ever have imagined.

My Review:
Sam's bar is losing it's customers to a new bar owned by Victor...and getting firebombed doesn't help the situation. Sookie is sure that the bomber wasn't human. There is domestic upheaval with Dermot moving in with Sookie and Claude, Pam getting mad at not gaining permission to turn her dying lover, Sandra Pelt is on the loose and Eric wants to find a way to get rid of Victor.

There was a lot to like about this book. We get to see Pam in love, wanting to turn her lover Miriam before it is too late but Victor refuses her plea. Eric is also feeling helpless to do anything about Victor, having to watch Pam being attacked by Victor's men and he and Pam narrowly avoiding being hyped up on drinks spiked with fairy blood which a waitor alerts Sookie to just in time. We have the return of the mad Sandra Pelt and her evil schemes which I always enjoy. Nobody seems to learn that places like hospitals are not secure enough for Sandra and she breaks out to cause more mayhem. Lovely! And I really enjoyed the concert at Fangtasia starring Bubba! I always like it when he makes an appearance, and I like the relationship between him and Bill. It was great to see Bill getting back to health as well. I don't like or trust Claude but I do like Dermot and it was weird to think of him bonding with Jason!

Sookie's personal relationships are under stress as well. She knows that Eric and Pam are plotting behind her back and she hates being excluded. Eric is unhappy that Sookie wants to break the special bond with him when Amelia finds a way to do it. Sookie and Amelia have a big fight after Amelia tells Alcide that the bond is broken and the relationship has broken down, causing Alcide to invite himself into the furious Sookie's bed. Sookie kicks them both out, suspecting that Alcide wants her more for what she can do for the pack than for herself. Sookie is unhappy about Sam seeing someone who hates her though he and Bill continue to look out for her safety.

When Sookie discovers the big secret that Eric has been keeping from her, her world is about to fall apart. Appius set up a vampire wedding deal for Eric and the Queen of Oklahoma and he is struggling to find a way out of it. Sookie is now faced with the prospect of losing Eric and can't help wondering if gaining all the power from the union would be attractive to him, more than a human wife. I can't help feeling here that this could be the end of the road for the couple. I have enjoyed Eric and Sookie having the romance but I keep thinking that it won't last anyway with Sookie determined never to become a vampire. I can't see Eric accepting that from his wife. Maybe if Sam would stop going after bitches, he and Sookie could hook up. It would be better for her in the long term.

The two big finales were good. I loved the mayhem of Bubba's concert at Fangtasia which was the perfect way to deal with Victor, the massive Elvis fan. Then we have the showdown with Sookie and Sandra which I was looking forward to. The Pelt sisters were good characters and I liked all their plots.

So this was certainly a better book to read with lots going on and a lot of angst for poor Sookie. As the series gets closer to the end, I'm intrigued by what might come next.

star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: Bloody Boulevard by Karen Greco (Hell's Belle #0.5)

Nina Martinez is part of Blood Ops, a government agency so top secret even the President doesn't know it exists. Tasked with taking out rouge supernatural creatures, Nina and and her partner Frankie must clean out a vampire nest in Newark before it overtakes the entire city. Ever try taking on vampires in a party dress? Bloody Boulevard is a quick prequel to Hell's Belle.

My Review:
Firstly there is only about 7 pages to this book so don't expect an in depth novella(or an in depth review!). It is hard to get people interested in reading your novel with such a short introduction-but I feel that the author does this very nicely. It gives the impression of a good urban fantasy which kickass characters, action and humour which is exactly what I'm looking for.

We get introduced to our heroine Nina and her vampire partner Frankie as they pursue vampires through the streets. We are introduced to their cheeky banter and the fact that they trust each other a lot. It is an all action battle with the vampires who in this world, are very difficult to kill, which I liked. The good guys indicate that even staking them through the heart isn't enough, that they need to cut off the head and destroy the heart. We also have the humourous character of the kickass Mayor who I instantly liked and I really hope that all three feature in the series.

I'm definitely keen to read the first book Hell's Belle. I had bought it before I read this short story but now I am really intrigued to see what the series has to offer. 
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Stacking the Shelves #59

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews
Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! Click on the link under the book to find its page on Goodreads or Smashwords.
Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress. 

I've got onto my winter reading series catchup this week, so by January, I hope to have completed a few series that have been sitting unfinished for a while. That will help to reduce the tbr and it is nice to rediscover great series that I just never had time to get back to. Darn those pesky new books that keep distracting me! I've picked up a few book bargains this week but I'm trying to keep it small over the next month or two to save up some money, and to stop the books piling up again! In a few months my tbr has been reduced from over 900 back down to 680 which is pretty darn good! So maybe by January I'll be down close to 600 which would be great!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Book Review: Incubus Dreams by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake #12)

In the latest New York Times bestselling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, Anita's life is more complicated than ever, as she is caught between her obligations to the living and the undead. A vampire serial killer who preys on strippers is on the loose. Called in to consult on the case, Anita fears her judgment may be clouded by a conflict of interest. For she is, after all, the consort of Jean-Claude, the ever-intoxicating Master Vampire of the City. Surrounded by suspicion, overwhelmed by her attempts to control the primal lusts that continue to wrack her, Anita does something unprecedented: she calls for help.

My Review:
This was another big book to plough through and it took me ages to finish it. When I did finish it, sadly I was left with the feeling that it was another book padded with the same issues that I didn't like in other books in the series. I feel like a parrot saying the same things in every review but for me it is out of frustration because there are things and characters that I do like, and it gets overshadowed by the stuff I don't like.

OK lets start with the story. There is a plotline dealing with women being found dead outside paranormal strip clubs and the other story of Malcolm no longer having his vampires swearing a blood oath to behave well towards humans. These parts of the book were interesting and were back to the early Anita investigations that we saw. I do wish that she would be at one crime scene where we don't have a sexist, bigoted cop to fight with. There are so many fights in this book that we didn't need another set with the police. I do like seeing Jason in the story, talking sense into Anita about treating Nathaniel right and giving him the life that he needs without being ashamed of it. I wish we could see a bit of Anita and Jason hanging out as friends to lighten up the books a bit.

The best bit of the book for me was the emergency with Damian. It was quite exciting to see Damian losing control and the gang trying to calm him down. Yes ok, it does lead to sex for Anita and a big fight with Richard but I did like the idea, and the way that Anita has formed a new triangle with Damian and Nathaniel. Her lack of attention to eating and feeding keep endangering her people and I liked that it was being explored. What I didn't like about it was the fact it meant the ardeur needing feeding more often which is the last thing the series needs. At this rate there won't be enough men in the world to feed the damn thing. Jeez, I wish a cure could quickly be found.

But it was the non stop fights in this book that spoiled it for me. Now as well as Dolph having his say on Anita's dating habits, we have Jessica Arnet starting on her. Anita takes Micah and Nathaniel to Larry and Tammy's wedding, and the female cop Jessica Arnet is fixated with Nathaniel, jealous that Anita has two hot men and that Nathaniel has no interest in her. Later in the book she sees Anita taking part in Nathaniel's show and accuses her of abusing him physically. This bitch gives me a massive headache. She obviously took the Dolph role for this book.

Richard is at it. Just for a change, he is having a fit about Anita having new lovers, and being dragged into things he doesn't want to face. He hates that Nathaniel is acting like it's his home and Anita says that it is and she loves him. Then Ronnie comes over to moan about being rushed into monogamy with Louie, which leads to her having a go at Anita for sleeping around and being happy with her life. She also insults Anita's men which starts another bitch-fight. Between Richard, Ronnie, Dolph and Jessica, my head was ready to bloody explode. And frankly, Ronnie's behaviour in this book would have been the end of the friendship for me but she has even better bitching to come in later books.

It's just too much fighting for me. The decent story is lost under layers of bitching and misery which is a real shame. And the levels of sex go way up in this book. I'm frustrated that the potential of these books are being lost in the sex and angst. 
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Book Review: Cerulean Sins by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake #11)

Anita Blake is trying to get her life back to “normal” after a break-up with her werewolf lover. She has settled into a pattern of domesticity, which means that the new man in her life, the leopard shapeshifter Micah, has no problem sharing her with Jean-Claude, Master Vampire of the City. Things are as peaceful as they ever get for someone who raises the dead, when Jean-Claude receives an unexpected and unwelcome visitor: Musette, the very beautiful, very twisted representative of the European Council of Vampires. Anita soon finds herself caught up in a dangerous game of vampire power politics.

To add to her troubles, she is asked to consult on a series of brutal killings, which seem to be the work of something un-human. The investigation leads her to Cerulean Sins, a vampire-run establishment that deals in erotic videos, videos that cater to very specific tastes. Anita knows one creature of the night who has such interests — Jean-Claude’s visitor. But if Anita brings Musette down, the repercussions could cost her everything she holds dear.

Once a sworn enemy of all monsters, Anita is now the human consort of both Master Vampire Jean Claude and leopard shapeshifter Micah. When a centuries-old vampire hits St. Louis, Anita finds herself needing all the dark forces her passion can muster to save the ones she loves.

My Review:
This was one of those books that had good bits that I quite enjoyed and then bits that I really didn't like. I'm actually finding that in most of the books in the series and I think that is why those of us complaining about the series keep reading. There are still good things in each one and part of you still wants to know what happens to the characters you like.

It was nice to see Jason getting a bit more action in this book and he would be a much more interesting match for Anita than the boring Micah. I just can't see anything exciting or interesting about Micah. Yeah I know he is there to help rule the leopards but I still don't get him. Nathaniel has much more potential. I liked that Jean Claude finally felt fear about what was going to happen to his people and that he and Anita had to start thinking about ways to protect them from Musette. The vampire delegation were of course creepy and dangerous and I found a lot about them interesting. Anita is also forced to look at her inability to share Jean Claude with Asher, when he allows her to have so many lovers.

So these are the things that are getting on my nerves, things that annoyed me in other books and keep get repeated in each new one.

Now, how much abuse is Anita going to take from people who are meant to care about her? Dolph assaults her, drags her around a crime scene while she is very ill, arrests Jason for murder with no evidence, and starts calling her a whore and a monster for having had sex with Jason. I would maybe not have pressed charges on him but I would have told him in front of everyone that he is never to contact me again, he has no right to pass comment on my private life and that I would never work another crime scene with him ever again. Anita is meant to be tough so why not get tough with this guy? He stopped being your friend a long time ago.

Richard. Jeez this guy is driving me crazy. In every single book since about book 6 we have had him sulking about not being Anita's one and only. I did have sympathy back in book 6 as Jean Claude threatened Anita to force her to date him, and finding out that she had sex with the vampire before him was going to hurt. But even now when he is not her boyfriend, he is STILL moaning on about who she has slept with. And he puts his petty sulks ahead of Anita's safety. When there is obviously an issue happening at the meeting with Belle's people, Richard doesn't want to hear what is going on and is so self obsessed with giving orders to his wolves that people are getting hurt around him. It takes ages for him to realise that that people he knows are in danger because of his actions. While he is calling Anita the usual names, Micah is trying to protect Asher from serious harm. The man is all ME ME ME and I'm sick of him. For goodness sake, find a way to break ties with him and tell him to get lost.

For me this book had potential but I get so annoyed with the same crap coming from Dolph and Richard, the ever annoying ardeur and visiting vampires trying to attack everything. I just don't feel we are getting anything new in most of these books, just the same rehashed plots maybe with different people in them. It's just not keeping me engaged or entertained much anymore.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Book Review: Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake #10)

Hamilton's vampire-hunting Anita Blake faces a plethora of foes in her tenth outing. Just returned to St. Louis after six months away, Anita is still no closer to choosing between her lovers--Jean-Claude, a vampire, and Richard, a werewolf. But she has to rely on both for help after two of the wereleopards that she has been watching are abducted at a seedy club called Narcissus in Chains. Anita and her boyfriends rescue the wereleopards from the sinister people holding them, but Anita is wounded in the fight and put at risk of becoming a wereleopard herself. Richard angrily captures the wereleopard he believes is responsible and threatens to execute him. Anita must now rescue that wereleopard from Richard and the werewolves he leads, even as she mourns the apparent end of her relationship with him. Then she realizes that those who kidnapped the first two wereleopards are targeting other lycanthropes. Maybe she will be next. 

My Review:
After the joy that was Obsidian Butterfly, it's back to reality. The very title of the book had me fearing what was in store. So lets do a summary of the main plot details. Nathaniel is in trouble and needs rescued(shock!), Micah arrives to become leopard leader with Anita, Richard is trying to kill one of Anita's leopards and Anita stops fighting uniting with Jean Claude and Richard and it turns her into a sex mad succubus. This was the arrival of the ardeur.

So at this point in the series I have several questions going on in my mind.

1)Does Anita actually work for a living? I'm finding it tough to see how she can even fit in going to the bog between her sex and makeout sessions and all her fights with Richard, never mind having a job.

2)Why has Richard, such a great adorable character in the beginning, turning into the biggest asshat on the planet? If he loves Anita why does he treat her like crud and bully everyone she cares about? Stop being such a dick all the time. Don't you think that if you treated her better and stopped yelling for ten seconds that you'd have a better chance with her. Yes I know you are the tough pack leader but you don't have to try and kill everyone you meet. I'm really starting to hate him. Every time he enters a room I think, oh here we go AGAIN. I could say the same thing about Dolph as I really hate his attitude-and Ronnie's.

3)Can we have a main male who doesn't fancy Anita? Just one? I don't count Edward in this as he isn't always around. And what exactly is the point of Micah? He is so bland and boring and I'm not getting even a whiff of chemistry or personality from him.

4)Where is our feisty but vulnerable Anita? She's become a whiny brat! She has to out-bitch everyone, be a complete cow to everyone who cares about her and is whining all the time. Can someone explain to me why all these men love her? It certainly is not for her winning personality!

For me, this book had a very weak plot and this rescue of the leopards was just a way of introducing the next set of lovers that Anita is going to have. All we get from the book is Richard becoming a bigger asshat, Anita becoming more of a bitch, and potential love interests being lined up. And a lot more sex of course, which brings me to the bloody ardeur. I hate the damn thing. I'd rather have seen Anita decide to sleep around because she wanted to or because of animal attraction or something, not the ardeur turning her into a whore against her will.

This was the book that really broke me in terms of enjoying the series. Part of you wants to know what happens because you care about the characters but the other part wonders how much of each book you'll have to skip to avoid the ardeur and Richard's tantrums. I'm only continuing because I'd already bought other books in the series and I'll quit when I get to the end of them.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Book Review: Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake #9)

There are a lot of monsters in Anita Blake’s life. And some of them are human. One such individual is the man she calls Edward, a bounty hunter who specializes in the preternatural. He calls her to help him hunt down the greatest evil she has ever encountered. Something that kills and maims and vanishes into the night. Something Anita will have to face alone…

“MY NAME IS ANITA BLAKE. I’D LIKE YOU TO MEET EDWARD… ” Edward was a hit man. He specialized in monsters. Vampires, shape-shifters, anything and everything. There were people like me who did it legal, but Edward didn’t sweat the legalities or, hell, the ethics. He was an equal opportunity killer. I may be one of the few friends that Edward has, but it’s like being friends with a tame leopard. It may curl on the foot of your bed and let you pet its head, but it can still eat your throat out…

My Review:
Edward asks Anita to help him solve a grisly case of murders where he lives with his new family, under a secret identity.

I was so pleased to see that there was going to be an Edward themed book as he is one of my favourite characters in the series. I loved it when he turned up in The Killing Dance which is still my favourite book from this author. I was hoping that this might lead us back into proper urban fantasy and this book certainly delivered.

Edward is living as normal guy Ted, with his girlfriend, playing father to her two kids. They have no idea about his other life as a deadly hit man and Edward wants to keep it that way. His relationship with Anita in this book goes from professional rivals to friends and I liked that development. It was fun to see this other side of Edward and gave him that human side that we had never seen. Of course that does not mean that Edward has gone soft...

I didn't like Anita's attitude to Donna. It seems to me that Anita gets jealous every time another woman is the centre of attention. She may not want to bed Edward, but I think she's pissed that he doesn't want to bed her, instead loving a normal woman. This is Anita's excuse to sneer at the woman for her age, looks, inability to see Edward's true nature etc. Anita has been worshipped by all the men in her life for too long that she can't stand being second best to another woman. Maybe this is why she sneers about Ronnie's relationship as well. She hates when a man doesn't love her, even if it's a friend's lover. It's like her relationship with Richard-she can have any number of lovers she wants but when Richard has other lovers, she gets pissed and whiny about it. Her thuggish behaviour to Donna when the poor woman is crying over her family being threatened is disgusting. I'm surprised that Edward didn't bitch slap her for that coz I wanted to. Badly.

Yes the story is disturbing when Donna's kids get abducted but this was used to show more depth to Edward-his conflicted feelings of loving stepdad and hit man. You can argue that what happens to Peter is not needed but it was there to shock you, showing that even Edward can't stop the bad guys all the time. It didn't detract from the book for me, though that might be because I read authors like Edward Lee who take shocking to crazy heights. Olaf also adds to disturbing as you are just waiting on him to lose control and attack Anita. It creates some good tension.

This book was full of action, magic, danger and great characters-all the things that I really enjoy in urban fantasy. The plot moved at pace, we had interesting interactions between the characters, Anita gets into lots of trouble as usual and Edward is trying to protect those he loves. This was an enjoyable book and it was wonderful not to have the whole Anita love triangle getting in the way of the story. I really hoped that this was a turning point for the series and that we'd go back to the Anita of old, but sadly it was just a break from her tangled love life, the exception to the rule.

star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Book Review: Blue Moon by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake #8)

When she chose master vampire Jean-Claude over her ex-fiancĂ©, alpha werewolf Richard Zeeman, Anita learned that sometimes love is not enough. But though she and Richard won’t be walking down any aisles, she can’t turn her back on him when he’s arrested on a rape charge in Tennessee. Anita knows firsthand that Richard has the morals of a saint—or at least a boy scout. But his guilt or innocence is not the issue. He’s behind bars, and in five days a full moon will rise…

My Review:
Richard is arrested on trumped up rape charges by crooked cops who want him to stop interfering in local matters, so Anita and the gang go down to bail him out. Soon it becomes clear that the police are happy to kill everyone while Anita deals with werewolf politics, supernatural psychos and learning to rule her pard.

OK this book was a real let down for me. Anita has turned from feisty human to whiny bitch in this book. It was obvious that she was going to have sex with Richard which was fine but her attitude really bugged me. She had dumped Richard for Jean Claude but kept moaning about Richard sleeping with other people as if he was cheating on her. Then when she agrees to date Richard again, she thinks its unfair that he intends to sleep with other people as well-Anita, you are not intending to give up Jean Claude to be faithful to Richard so why in the blue hell should he owe you monogamy??? The constant whining about this really got on my last nerve.

Secondly, Richard's mother and brother are raped by the bad guys this time instead of his pack members. The rapes are just thrown into the conversation as an excuse for Anita to torture a man and then it isn't deemed important enough for more than a quick summing up paragraph at the end. Why bother having it happen then? I'm not bothered by having rape used as a storyline as such if there is a point to it and the story is followed through but I don't think that happened here which left me wondering why it was used.

The werewolf politics really bored me to tears-whole sections on how to great each other correctly and where to sniff and all that stuff and in the end, Anita doesn't even go to the pack meeting! So what was the point in all that stuff being described? It was a waste of time. All this political stuff is just shoved in to pad the book up and it is not interesting or relevant to what happens in the book. Can I also add that Nathaniel continually getting into trouble is becoming old very fast? I'm getting tired of the constant explanations about her being lupa and queen Leopard and how soft and used her leopards have been. I got it the first time you wrote it, I don't need to hear it another 50 times in each book thank you.

As for Richard, if I was Anita I would have kneecapped him. What the hell kind of man are you? You are such a good boy that you can't lie to the crooked police about leaving town to save the woman you love from being molested by one of them? Really classy Richard. It also bugged me that we never found out what the hell happened to the trolls which was the whole reason for Richard being there and being arrested.

There was too much in this book that annoyed me-the constant meetings being arranged, the weak leopards, Anita's whining, half baked plot threads that led nowhere, over descriptive pack political crap, repetition of the story so far about 100 times, descriptions of every outfit that every single person was wearing, the usual description of every weapon every time her hand touched one...Grr.

The only thing left to wonder at the end of this book is when Anita is going to start screwing Asher, Damien, Jason, Zack and Nathaniel.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: Burnt Offerings by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake #7)

"You can't trust anyone who sleeps with the monsters."

That's what I've always said. That's what I've always believed. But now I'm the one sharing a bed with the Master Vampire of the City. Me, Anita Blake. The woman the vampires call the Executioner. From part of the solution, I've become part of the problem. So it hits close to home when an arsonist begins to target vampire-owned businesses all over town -- an arsonist who seems to want to destroy more than just property. It's the monsters who are in danger now. And it's up the the Executioner to save them from the inferno...

My Review:
Anita never thought that anything would scare Jean Claude until the Vampire Council come to town and start torturing and raping his people. They are accusing the vampire of plotting against them and it is clear to Anita that unless they come up with a plan, they will all be killed. Having to work with Richard is more than awkward as is Anita's new status of pack leader of the were-leopards.

This book is more vampire politics than actual action plot and it's not as good as the last book was. The Council's game playing, torture and rape just didn't really entertain me as much as previous books did. Although I have it at 3 stars it is probably more 2.5 than 3 but I can't give half stars and it's not bad enough for 2 stars. Richard really does my head in here. Look mate, you've been dumped-get over it already! Anita really needed to grow a backbone and say to Richard that he doesn't get to talk down to her and humiliate her in her own home like that in front of other people. All his bitchy comments about loyalty just grated on my nerves through this book. I'd have shown him the damn door the way he was acting like a spoiled brat.

You can also see in this book the start of the departure from the Anita that I liked so much in the early books. She is still the big mouth that is fun to read about but here she is starting to discover her powers and the hint of sexual adventures to come is clear in the writing. She has just begun to lead the were-leopards and has exerted power drawn from them and the wolf pack so she is departing from the normal vulnerable human that she was in the first 6 books. She is pretty bitchy in this book, having digs at other people's relationships yet she gets angry when Ronnie digs at her and Jean Claude. That being said, I really dislike what Ronnie is starting to turn into. You might not like who Anita is dating but if you are her friend you'll stand by her.

I liked the addition of Asher to the series. He is intriguing, damaged and interesting and I know from later books that he continues to be so. Much more interesting than Richard's sulks and rages. And you wonder why Anita couldn't pick him over Jean Claude? I just wish that Jason wasn't such an eternal victim because I like his character and he'd be a much better partner for Anita. The wereleopards are an interesting bunch and in later books I really came to like Nathaniel.

The changes are subtle but you know that the series is shifting. Whether I'm going to like the changes remains to be seen when I get through the other books on the shelf. I'm not a big fan of all-sex-no-plot so I have my doubts but we'll see.

star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png