Sunday, 28 June 2015

The TBR 100 Book Countdown Challenge 598-571

My tbr has managed to sneak up over 600 books again and action must be taken!!! So I am setting myself a pretty tough challenge-to get that tbr from 612 as it stands today, down to 500 books by December 31st. Yes it is an impossible sounding task but not everything on the tbr is full length reading-there are short stories, novellas and novels to be devoured! Even if I don't get to the target, I'll be pleased if I get close. It would be the first time in 5 years that my tbr was 500 or less! My updates on my progress won't be weekly, just whenever I have something to report! Anyone who wants to try and reduce their tbr is welcome to post on my update posts about their progress!

I am FLYING with this challenge! I'm so happy I could conga! I am over a quarter of my way to my goal and it's still June! The reason for my success is simple-most of my reads were grabbed free off the internet and I haven't liked most of them. But whether I finish or DNF, it still gets them off the tbr list so it's really a Win-Win situation! This week I have 3 categories-Finished, Abandoned and Abandoned without reading. So I better get the next lot listed...


Nicholas Pileggi-Wiseguy 

Nicholas Ryan-Ground Zero 


Mike Mullin-Ashfall 

Anne Bishop-Written in Red

Laura Bickle-The Hallowed Ones

Simon R Green-The Man with the Golden Torc

Simon R Green-Something from the Nightside

Simon R Green-Ghost of a Chance

Amy Plum-After the End

Sophie Littlefield-Aftertime

Kate L Mary-Broken World

KR Griffiths-Panic

Priscila Santa Rosa-Those who remain

Iain Rob Wright-Ravage

LT Ryan-Affliction Z

Michael John Grist-The Last

Frank Tayell-Surviving the Evacuation: London

Danielle Paige-Dorothy must die

John A Burks Jr-Flesh worn stone

Jason Brant-Devoured

These books were deleted from my ereaders without being read because I had either decided I no longer wanted to read them or because I didn't like an earlier book in the series and didn't want to read anything else in the series.

Mike Mullin-Ashen Winter

Mike Mullin-Sunrise

Anne Bishop-Murder of Crows

Laura Bickle-The Outside

Sophie Littlefield-Rebirth

Sophie Littlefield-Horizon

Nicholas Ryan-Die Trying

Bentley Little-The Policy

Bentley Little-His Father's Son

Jason Brant-Consumed

Jason Brant-Ravage

Frank Tayell-Surviving the Evacuation: Wasteland

Frank Tayell-Surviving the Evacuation: Family
Jeremy Bates-The Taste of Fear

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Stacking the Shelves #90

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 so you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
So it's that time of the week again. I've been really busy with clearing out years of junk from the house but I didn't get as much done as I hoped so next week will be busy again I think. My back is just ready to give way...still it needs to be done. We plan to get the last of the redecorating done so we can replace the horrible carpet downstairs. Then things might look a bit better! My family are all hoarders so none of us wanted to tackle all the bags and boxes of junk-now I feel it needs to be done. Ugh. And sadly we didn't find any antique heirlooms!

On the book side of things I have got lots of reading done, tackling all those free zombie books I picked up earlier in the year, most of which have not been great due to dreadful MCs. But even if they are bad, it reduces the tbr so I'm still happy! There will be another challenge update in the next few days on the blog to let you see how I'm getting on but I'm pleased with progress so far and I'm confident of hitting my target now which is great-IF I control what I buy...On the book buying front, I had a mixed genre week which was nice!


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Book Review: Forget the Alamo by RJ Spears

When Grant was forced to land in San Antonio with his protectee, Sam Jenkins, he didn’t expect to be there for more than a day or two. That was until a strange viral outbreak started bringing the dead back to life and those reanimated dead started attacking the living.

After a few harrowing days, Grant and a handful of other survivors find themselves trapped inside the Alamo, surrounded by a horde of the undead with their options narrowing. If the zombies don’t get them, starvation, or a military strike will.

With their backs against the wall, they must learn to use their ingenuity to find a way to escape and then to survive.

My Review:
Grant is taking Jenkins into protective custody when their plane is diverted to San Antonio. They are stuck in a hotel there when the zombie apocalypse begins in the city and they try to escape, only to end up with a group of tourists inside The Alamo. The group are trapped by the zombies with no supplies but when they hear that in 90 minutes San Antonio is going to be bombed, escape becomes vital. A daring plan is hatched...

This was good zombie fun! It followed the traditional zombie plot of a group of people trapped by the undead, a crazy ass plan that would never work and a dangerous escape attempt with tons of zombies! The plan itself sounded totally bonkers and I couldn't see how it would actually work, but in a zombie novel, things being a bit unrealistic doesn't bother me as long as I enjoy it. And I did enjoy this book.

We spend just enough time getting to know the survivors so we care what happens to them, without slowing the plot down. There is tension in each stage of the plan, building up when the escape is at its height and characters are in danger. I got quite attached to this group of people which is surprising for a zombie novella. The action is pretty much non stop with lots of well described zombie attacks to enjoy. The fact that the clock is ticking down adds another level of tension to the situation.

It's hard to say too much without spoiling the plot but it is one of the more entertaining zombie novellas that I've read and I'd certainly recommend it to zombie fans. I plan to grab other books by the author if I get the chance. 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Book Review: Grace Lost by M Lauryl Lewis

Twenty-year-old Zoe Kate is young and na├»ve, and quite frankly a loner. When her lifelong friend, Adam Boggs, comes home for the summer they find themselves thrust into the middle of a zombie plague. As they flee their hometown in hopes of finding safety, they come across two other survivors, Emilie and Gus. The group of four quickly form bonds and must make difficult choices at every turn in order to stay alive. They will witness unimaginable horrors and experience unthinkable losses as life and death mix together in ways that were never meant to be. Things aren't always as they seem when God's Grace has been Lost to humanity. 

My Review:
When Zoe and her best friend Boggs see their first zombie in the woods, Boggs leads them to his house to gather supplies and flee. Now they are on the road trying to survive and unsure whether or not to trust other survivors.

Zoe has to be the worst character I've seen, as well as being the most whiny. She is childish and sulky even before the zombies arrive, going into a mood and pouting if Boggs doesn't agree with her. And she getts ten times worse when the zombies come into the story.

Every time she is meant to be keeping quiet, she talks, cries or screams-and frequently does all three. She screams when she sees a zombie. She even manages to scream at her own reflection as she looks through a window. Now that is dumb on a whole other level. In his house, Boggs continually asks her to help him with things they need to do but she just sits and wallows in misery until he virtually needs to yell at her to get moving, which starts the waterworks AGAIN. He keeps telling her to stay away from the windows so she doesn't attract attention and she of course ignores him several times and then is ready to cry at what she sees outside. She knocks things over and makes a pile of noise...she is totally useless.

Boggs gives her instructions about what to collect from upstairs for the journey while he starts packing the car ready to go. And despite being in the bathroom to grab medicines and knowing they are going on a long car journey, she doesn't use the toilet. Five minutes into the trip she is whining that she needs to go pee. Seriously bitch, what are you, three years old??? Then she is crying AGAIN because Boggs is frustrated with the whole mess and she doesn't like this side to him. Will you stop whining and crying for five seconds you dumb cow??? I was yelling at the book because I was so sick of her and this was still the start of the book!

They stop at a petrol station where she refuses to stay in the car, and while he is getting useful things like medicine, she manages to grab crisps and dips. Great help you are Zoe!

Frankly after 30 odd pages I was fed up with the whining, bleating, crying and screaming and I wanted to feed her to a zombie myself. I swiftly deleted the book from my ereader. I certainly won't be reading anything else by the author.

star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Book Review: This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress #5)

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .
With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"; the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

My Review: 
Cat and Bones meet informants who tell them that masterless vampires are vanishing and more ghouls are appearing. The scared informants agree to join Bones line when their friends vanish. Apollyon wants to start a war of ghouls v vampires and Cat being the ultimate half breed is the threat he uses to scare the ghouls.

The characters are all developing nicely in this book. Justina realises that it is time to embrace her vampire nature and start training for whatever is to come. I'm liking her more and more with each book. Cooper is about to change into a vampire while Dave uses his ghoul status to spy for the team. Tate finally starts to get the message that Cat will never want him the way she wants Bones. Oh at last! I've been waiting ages for this obsessed idiot to realise that he has no chance with Cat and finally he gets the message! He is a lot nicer in this book I'm glad to say.

I loved the reappearance of Timmie! He is nosing into paranormal affairs as he looks for a missing reporter friend, getting a bit too close to the truth as he digs. It was also nice to see Marie taking a role in this book and causing enough trouble to make things interesting. Vlad as always is just way beyond cool and it is fun to see Denise get Spade worried by wanting to help in Cat's plans. I love seeing as much of the gang as possible in the books.

However, the dominant thing for me in this book is what is happening to poor Don. I like his character though I suspect he is hiding secrets about the work he does that haven't been revealed yet. His illness casts a shadow over the team and it is a very emotional storyline. I'm such a soft touch that yes, I did shed a few tears during this book! I loved the ending-the good and bad. It added real emotion to the book.

Cat herself has plenty of issues to deal with in this book. Don is family and what is happeing to him makes her feel helpless, so punching some bad guys is good therapy for her. She is also adapting to the changes made by becoming a strange form of vampire-a heartbeat, only being able to drink from other vampires and consuming their powers temporarily when she drinks from them. She is less able to deal with reading minds than Bones and struggles to cope at times. I liked the fact that in some ways, her new strengths actually left her weaker. I'm always pleased that this author develops her characters in each book, which adds more interest to the overall story.

The war with the ghouls was interesting and I liked what happened at the battle, plus the revenge of Joan of Arc! You'll get what I mean if you've read the book. I love this series and always look forward to the next adventure! 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The TBR 100 Book Countdown Challenge #1 612-598

My tbr has managed to sneak up over 600 books again and action must be taken!!! So I am setting myself a pretty tough challenge-to get that tbr from 612 as it stands today, down to 500 books by December 31st. Yes it is an impossible sounding task but not everything on the tbr is full length reading-there are short stories, novellas and novels to be devoured! Even if I don't get to the target, I'll be pleased if I get close. It would be the first time in 5 years that my tbr was 500 or less! My updates on my progress won't be weekly, just whenever I have something to report! Anyone who wants to try and reduce their tbr is welcome to post on my update posts about their progress!

So here I am with my first update and we're off to a great start! I felt really motivated and have been reading every night. I have went from 612 books to 598 which is a pretty good start! Here is the list of what I read and what I abandoned so far.


Matt Handle-Storm Orphans

Mark Horell-Tigers and Tamangs 

Mark Horell-To the top of Central America 

Mark Horrell-The Ascent of Manaslu 

Mark Horrell-Wrath of the Turquoise Goddess 

Mark Horrell-Volcanic Activity 

Mark Horrell-In the footsteps of Mallory

Mark Horrell-Denali Nights

RJ Spears-Forget the Alamo

Patricia Briggs-Alpha and Omega

William Massa-Fear the Light

Kelley Armstrong-Bounty Hunt

Kelley Armstrong-Forbidden

Kelley Armstrong-Framed


Joseph DiBartolo-The Rise of Peter Troy

M Lauryl Lewis-Grace Lost

Jessica Meigs-The Becoming

George S Mahaffey Jr-Vertical City

Jeremy Lazlo-Left Alive

Mykle Hansen-HELP! A bear is eating me!

So have you read any of these books? What were your opinions on them? Are you currently tackling an overflowing tbr? Be sure to leave a comment below!

Reading with Chuckles #40

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!

Erk! It's been a while since I did one of these posts so I'm only going to share a selection of what I've read this month. I'm hoping to be more organised over the summer and back to regular daily blogging. Real life does get in the way though! 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Book Review: Fear The Light by William Massa

Who Murdered Dracula?

Many had tried to kill the Count over the centuries. All had failed. Until now...

Eight vampires gather at their maker's castle to solve the mystery of who killed Dracula. But as the sun rises outside the chateau, a voice cries out and another vampire is slain. Trapped inside their master's lair, the sun burning bright outside, Dracula's children realize that they have met their match - a formidable killer who plans on picking them off one by one! As the daylight reigns and their numbers dwindle, a dark suspicion grows - could the killer be hiding in plain sight?

My Review:
Who killed Dracula? That is the question that his clan have been brought to his Paris estate to discuss and investigate. With little time to talk before the sun comes up, they agree to meet when darkness falls to start investigating. When the others are awoken to a death scream just hours later, they realise that Dracula's killer is inside the house and the sun cuts off any chance of escape. Now they must solve the mystery and outwit the killer by staying alive until dark...

I really enjoyed this book and devoured it in one night. It gets straight into the story as we follow Vincent who refuses to feed on humans or have anything to do with the clan, being forced to join the others in Paris. They are all children of Dracula, turned through the ages, with different views on what their Master was. Is it one of them who killed Dracula or is there another unknown enemy hiding in the castle? It's like one of those old murder mysteries you see on Sunday TV where the suspects all gather and point the finger at each other. Then the killer starts to take them out one by one, using their vampire weaknesses against them.

I liked seeing the vampires vulnerable and scared, trapped inside by the sun and not knowing who to trust. These are killers at the top of the food chain who are used to hunting and now THEY are the weak prey being hunted. They cannot go into the sun and are trapped in the castle with an enemy who seems to anticipate their every move. The author had me thinking about everything that was said or done, trying to find that clue as to who was the killer. It was fun! To start with I had two suspects in mind but they died quickly so that ended that! But I did pick up on a couple of clues and guessed who was responsible by just after halfway through the book. That was very satisfying!

I liked the clever ways that each vampire met their death, just like a good horror film. There was enough tension as they try to find a way to escape the castle and evade the traps set for them. I also felt as if I was rooting for a couple of the vampires to escape but hoping others would die, based on the characters that I liked. I also liked the addition of the two human hostages being held by the vampires as their story and involvement was intriguing!

There were twists and turns and the book moved along at a fast pace which I liked. There is no slowing of the action from the minute they arrive at the castle and something is always happening. It was a good thriller that non horror fans can enjoy as it is not graphic in the death scenes for the most part. I would certainly read more by this author in the future.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Stacking the Shelves #89

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 so you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!
This has been quite a productive week. I've launched my new reading challenge-to get over 100 books off the tbr by the end of the year-or as near as possible anyway! I'm off to a decent start with 8 completed novellas/short stories and 3 or 4 abandoned books. Nice! I'll be posting updates about my progress on a blog post after the weekend. So things are good on the reading front PLUS I've showed suitable restraint in book buying so it's another small haul for me this week. If I can keep this up I might hit my book targets! 



Friday, 19 June 2015

Chuckles Corrie Mania #4

Welcome to Chuckles Corrie Mania! I watched Coronation Street all through the late 70's, 80's and early 90's but lost touch with it by 1999 due to work. So discovering that kind Corrie viewers have uploaded a ton of classic episodes on YouTube was great! I've spent two years gathering as many as I can, ready to get watching, and as I work my way through them, I'll be reviewing what I watch and sharing my thoughts. Would love to hear the thoughts on these episodes from other fans.

Thank you to Auntie Corrie(1976-1994), Mr Magister(1961,1995-2000), Classicsoap(2001+), CLKfanvideos(2006,2010,2011), corriestuff(various), OZZY45100(1960's, 1970's), FullEps(2009), XCorrieClassicsX(2006-2009), albiondean(2012-present), Sevin Alsoylar(2006,2011), Soap Fan 2013(various), JonathanOpenshaw(various) and everyone else who has supplied episodes online.

I have now reviewed the 8 episodes that featured in the 1960 section of the dvd box set. The next 8 episodes were screened on Granada Plus and can all be found on YouTube. I'm starting to review those episodes here.

Episode 9: January 6th 1961
Lucille packs to go back to the Orphanage and Harry asks Concepta out on a date. Frank is furious that Ken is receiving political mail at the house and threatens to kick him out of the house if he goes on the protest march with Susan. An insurance man investigates May's death to Christine's dismay. Ena and Martha are still not talking and Elsie (right) gets a visit at the shop from Norah to pester her about the divorce.

Ken is so annoying in this episode, looking down his note at his dad again and refusing to accept than anything other than his opinion is correct. You really do want to give him a slap! I love watching Elsie in a temper and the fued with Ena and Martha was amusing. It reminds me of those childhood fights with your best friend!

Episode 10: January 11th 1961
Frank is furious at Ken for defying him while Ida is worried that Ken might be moving out. Elsie is furious at Ena spreading rumours about her and decides to take action. Christine is getting worried about money when her rent goes up. Harry and Concepta (left) go on a date and Elsie's warning about slander appears in the paper.

It's really strange to see a cheerful version of Albert in this early episodes, making him a much nicer character. I'm still not warming to Christine and Ken is still getting on my nerves. The fun part was Elsie in a foul mood about the gossip.

Episode 11: January 13th 1961
The milkman can't get an answer from Albert (right) so he, Ken and David break the door down. The doctor wants him to go and live with his daughter Beattie but Albert refuses. The plumber's mate Joe Makinson feels sorry for Christine when she can't pay the bill so he takes it away to check for a mistake, giving her more time. Linda leaves after a fight with Dennis. Elsie lays into Ena in the pub over the gossip and Concepta is not impressed with Harry's drunkeness on their date.

Ena was so funny in this episode, loudly exclaiming how sad it was that someone was abusing the wonderful Mrs Tanner...when it was her all along! As always, her fights with Elsie are so well acted.

Episode 12: January 18th 1961
The insurance refuse to pay Christine what she expected to get because May witheld information about her mental illness to get the policy. Frank tells Ida (left) that it should be Beattie who looks after Albert, not her. Elsie agrees to give Arnold his divorce when he tells her that he knows about her affair with Steve Tanner. An embarrassed Harry apologizes to Concepta. Ena and Martha make up.

There is less action in these older episodes but there is humour and a lot of good acting. I can see why so many people became hooked on the series.

Book Review: Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #0.5)

Alpha and Omega 0.5 by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago pack- and inspires a power in Anna that she's never felt before.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift, too, and it's about to be let loose.

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
In a New York auction house, a Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery redheaded mage named Claire. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of Mixed Blood- part Monere, part human, and destined to be alone. Then she meets a man who could be her salvation- or her downfall.

My Review:
I picked up this anthology years ago to read the Alpha and Omega short story. I had just got into the Mercy Thompson series and decided to read the start of the spin off series. I didn't like it as I didn't know the characters and I lost interest in the entire series. This week, many years later, I decided to give it a second chance. The reason? Well, having read all the Mercy books so far, I now know a lot more about Bran's pack and figured that I'd now be more interested in reading about them. Last night I re-read this short story-and loved it! So it WAS a good idea to give it a second try!

Anna sees a report in a newspaper about a missing boy-who she saw locked in a cage at the house of Leo, her abusive Alpha. Despire her fear of Bran, the ruler of the werewolves, she reports it to him. He is sending his son Charles, his executioner, to investigate a few things that are wrong with Leo's pack and asks Anna to meet Charles so he can offer his protection to her. There is an attraction between them as Charles discovers his wolf wants her as a mate and she is a rare Omega werewolf, a calming influence on other werewolves.

There was a lot to like in this story. Anna is abused, damaged, knows little about the werewolf rules, changed against her will and raped by various pack members. Her life has been miserable and she finally sees that there may be a better life on offer away from Leo if Charles wants her as a mate. Anna is a sad character that you can instantly feel sorry for, and you want those that hurt her to be punished. As an MC she is able to carry the story well.

Charles is very much an Alpha, with dominant personality and striking looks. I already found him intriguing from what he hear about him in the other series. Perhaps I carry the same werewolf gene as Charles because, like him, I get irritated by people in crowded places! I hate shopping and anywhere with rude people pushing into me and being loud! So I had sympathy for Charles from the very start. I like the way he is determined to put the bad wolves in their place and protect Anna from them.

So, Charles has to find out why all the females in the pack except Leo's mate are dead-except Anna and why a lot of older wolves in the pack are also gone. I'm not going to spoil the plot by saying what he uncovers but it was a good plot twist, and it explains the brutal treatment of Anna. It was a twist that had me changing my mind about a few of the characters in the book.

Enjoyable read and I will certainly be going on to read the first full book in the series to see what happens next.

NB I did not read the other three books in the anthology.
 star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Book Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress World #2)

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness . . . And now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears, this fearless, beautiful . . . human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

My Review:
After enjoying the first spin-off book featuring Denise and Spade, I moved on to this one but I didn't really like it. I find Mencheres a good enough character in the Night Huntress books when he appears in scenes but I don't feel that he has the charisma or interest to be the main hero in a book of his own. I got tired of his suicidal attitude and comments about his non sex life all the time. I just didn't connect with him as a solo male lead and prefer him as part of the ensemble in Night Huntress.

I liked Kira as a female lead though and thought that she was much more interesting, with all her family problems. She made a pretty good match for our Angel type brooding vampire so she wasn't the problem.

I just never got into the book and the plot was pretty slow to get into. I found my mind wandering constantly and I'd plough through a chapter and then leave the book a few days before forcing myself to go back to it. After a few weeks of this I made the decision to abandon it. I know how they meet so that will do me for reference for the Night Huntress series if they feature in upcoming books. I will read a solo book about Ian though... 
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress World #1)

The night is not safe for mortals.

Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows – her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield – and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s dark past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness – and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who craves a taste of her.

He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human – even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the demon nightmare together…

Because once the first drop of crimson falls, they will both be lost.

My Review:
This is the first spin-off book from the Night Huntress series and comes between 'Destined for an early grave' and 'This side of the grave'. I think it's a good idea to read this spin-off before reading Cat and Books #5 as it gives essential background to Denise and the changes in her life.

Denise already knows what lurks in the dark and has been on the wrong end of vampires and ghouls. She finds out that her cousins have been murdered by a demon and reaches out to best friend Cat Crawfield for help. With Cat and husband Bones unavailable, Bones best friend Spade agrees to help but by the time he gets there, Denise has been marked by a demon. One of her ancestors cheated a demon and this demon will turn Denise unless she delivers Nathaniel.

It was interesting to see a novel built around Denise and I very much liked the story. Knowing the character and her trauma in previous books made it easy to get right into the story. Spade is a strong enough side character to carry a book on his own and I liked seeing him as a heroic male lead and not just a friend of Bones. I liked the chemistry between the characters and the way their relationship developed as it felt like a natural progression.

What begins as a search for Nathaniel through the bloodlines of Spade and Ian soon becomes more deadly. When Spade feeds from Denise, he goes on a bad trip and tries to kill her, her demon infected blood being highly toxic. Spade realises that Denise would be worth a fortune to drug dealers which makes it harder to protect her. The vampire guardians would also regard Denise as a risk to vampire health and will kill her if they discover her secret. Spade is also stressed at trying to keep the whole mess from Cat and Bones, giving a gleeful Ian the chance to blackmail him. Now Spade has to find demonologists to help Denise and drug dealers who might know Nathaniel.

I liked having some of my favourite characters like Cat, Bones and Ian making short appearances, but this book is really about showcasing Spade and giving him a good strong love interest. I liked the usual humour and action scenes that you expect from this author as well as the plot twists that come along. I also think the ending was quite satisfying, fitting in with what we know about Denise as a person. She is going to have challenges ahead but I like the fact that she will be able to contribute to future Night Huntress adventures. I really like what the author has done with her character and there are endless possibilities for Denise. And of course it is nice to see Spade get a decent girlfriend!
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Book Review: Destined for an early grave by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress #4)

Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they've fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it's time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She's having visions of a vampire named Gregor who's more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn't know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won't stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor's hold over her. She'll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she's ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

My Review:
Cat has quit her job with Homeland Security and gone on vacation with Bones, but she is finding it hard to sleep because she has vivid dreams about another vampire. Gregor claims that Cat belongs to him, not Bones and the dreams are enough to have a worried Mencheres waiting in Paris with a team of vampires to protect her. Gregor is a Dreamsnatcher and if he catches Cat in a dream he can pull her out. Gregor is determined to win Cat back and sends teams of vampires and ghouls to retrieve her.

The plot is more serious in this book as Cat has to face up to being with another vampire when she was a teenager and possibly being married to him, making her union with Bones void. She has no memory of these events, thanks to Mencheres and this causes strain between them. I liked the idea of Mencheres getting visions of Cat and Bones being destined for each other and being determined to do whatever it took to manipulate Cat to ensure it happened. Cat is wondering if she actually did belong to Gregor and isn't sure if she really wants to find out what her missing memories could tell her. Her anger and frustration create strain in her relationship with Bones. Don tries to help with dream suppressing drugs but Gregor still seems able to track her with ease, causing untold problems for their security.

We meet a new character in this book as well. Fabian is a ghost and he is going to be very useful to Cat in their new friendship. But it is the characters we know who are doing bad things in this book. Tate is using every trick he can to persuade Cat to finish with Bones so he can have her. I wanted to shoot him, I really did. I never really took to him because of his attitude. He just has that 'I want you so you should be mine and I don't care what you say about it'. Caveman! Bones is pissed at Cat for not trusting him to deal with Gregor and their relationship hits rock bottom, which was so worrying! I wanted to hit Bones at various times in this book. I was also pretty hacked off at Mencheres.

I wanted Gregor to die so badly. He was a really interesting bad guy and I liked the plot of this book, even though it was much darker. Gregor does something really terrible in this book and it leads to scenes that were pretty upsetting. These things were great for the plot but so hard for poor readers like me to cope with!

Good things about this book? Vlad. I love that guy! Cat's decision to become a full vampire and the consequences of that idea. It was a great plot twist. The action scenes were well written as always and there are some really emotional scenes as well. Gregor and Cat's story and the plotting of Mencheres. The battles and the kidnappings. I won't say more as I don't want to spoil it.

The author keeps me glued to this book and I can't wait to see what she does with the characters next. The great writing continues in this fourth book.  I first read this book back in 2010.
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Monday, 15 June 2015

Book Review: Desert Children by Waris Dirie

U.N. Special Ambassador Waris Dirie was born to a family of tribal nomads in Somalia. She told her story—enduring female circumcision, fleeing through the desert, and, improbably, becoming a top model—in her first book, Desert Flower. In Desert Dawn, she wrote about her return to Somalia and her work as a U.N. Special Ambassador against FGM (female genital mutilation). Her latest book recounts her investigations into the practice of FGM in Europe—it is estimated that as many as 500,000 women and girls have undergone FGM or are at risk. Here are the voices of women who have felt emboldened by Waris Dirie’s courage.

My Review:
I was a great admirer of the work that Waris did and I very much enjoyed her first two books which I certainly recommend to readers. When I heard about a third book on FGM I was interested in reading it. Sadly I ended up angry and frustrated by the attitudes of Waris to Western people which bordered on racism. Not impressed at all by her now.

First thing is, I am totally opposed to FGM and I can't imagine the trauma of what these girls go through. I'm not against giving them medical help here in the UK and providing trauma therapy for their ordeal. I feel in cases where FGM is discovered, punishments need to be given. On this I agree with Waris. But I do not agree with the amount of blame that she unleashes on western governments and its people during her crusade.

Lets start with her attitude of 'do as I say, not as I do'. She talks about having a relaxed attitude to timekeeping and appointments, turning up whenever she feels like it. However, when the woman she is meeting is late, Waris makes a big fuss about there being no apology or reason given. So it is ok for Waris to do what she wants and be late but everyone else has to be on time to meet her. A bit of hypocrisy there. Still, that is a niggle and not part of my real complaints.

Waris clearly has it in for Western governments, blaming them for cases of FGM, blaming them for not doing enough. Funny, when we do intervene in African affairs we are told to mind our own business and that we don't understand African culture. If we don't intervene we are suddenly responsible for FGM and genocide and every other problem in Africa. We can't win. We give a lot of money for things like famine relief and medical care in Africa...where does that money go? It goes to government officials to buy private planes for its leaders instead of helping ordinary people. I suppose THAT is our fault as well.

Getting back to the point, I was getting pretty angry as I read on. Waris starts pointing the finger at western people for things like FGM. It seems that because we don't integrate African people into our society, they cling to traditions like FGM so it's our fault that girls are still being cut! That Waris, is a pile of steaming bullshit! A lot of African migrants don't speak English and don't WANT to be part of the local community, preferring to stick with a community of their own people. So how the hell am I meant to make friends and make them feel welcome when most aren't interested??? How is it MY fault that these families take the horrific step of mutilating their daughters??? How am I meant to know who is doing it and who to report them to? That is a bloody ridiculous thing to say!

Waris also blames us for not putting enough money towards FGM and other issues. Right. The people in Africa are the ones who are mutilating their daughters. Let Africa pay the money to re-educate people and pay for corrective surgery and other procedures! Let them police this! Most FGM is still happening in Africa itself with girls being sent home to stay with relatives where they can be cut, safe from western justice. So I say again, how is this all our fault Waris??? Are we meant to send troops into Africa to examine every girl and arrest countless parents? Oh please!

We are also not doing enough to stop FGM in our western countries. Right. These families pay women from their community to come and do the cutting. They don't tend to seek treatment in western hospitals for fear of the results of FGM being seen. They keep this secret in their own community. They don't cooperate with the police, social workers or health professionals . They don't shop others in their community. Yet Waris thinks we are doing nothing. She wants girls to be examined in schools for evidence of FGM! Are you serious??? Can you imagine the outrage it would cause if you take every girl who does not have white skin out of class for an examination like that??? Parents would go mental! And I expect the British taxpayer is expected to pay for it too.

Waris also complains about people not integrating in the community because they have no papers, living in grotty bedsits and are hiding like criminals, making them cling to the old traditions. They are ILLEGALS for fuck's sake! What are we meant to do, put them up in The Dorchester??? It's not our fault that they sneak into Britain and hide away and cut their daughters! We didn't put them there!

Waris needs to get her head out of her arse and point the finger in the right direction. It is the elders in the tribes and towns who tell parents that this tradition needs to be upheld. It is African governments who are not making FGM illegal or enforcing punishment. It is African communities in western countries who keep having their daughters cut and hushing it up. It is African people who are not telling the authorities about girls they know who are in danger. Perhaps Waris should concentrate on going to Africa and telling the people there to change their ways instead of blaming the countries who have taken in so many African refugees and given them a chance at a new life.

If they are all at grateful as Waris, maybe we shouldn't bother.  
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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police Service. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - We do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I'm dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden - and that's just routine. There's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying. Which, I don't mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.

My Review:
I was in two minds about reading this book based on the blurb. I liked the sound of the story and where Peter was working but I just wasn't sure about whether I'd like it. As it happens it didn't work out great for me but this is more due to my taste than any issue with the book.

I read a lot of American based books in the urban fantasy realm and one problem I have with them at times is the way authors try to be funny and fail. Some authors are trying to grab you and say 'LAUGH HERE, it's funny!' and I end up rolling my eyes at whatever it is and not laughing at all. It's too forceful and I find that annoying to read. They are trying to impose what they find funny onto the reader and I don't enjoy that kind of writing much.

There are plenty books, American and British written, that go for more subtle humour and this is one of them. The author presents Peter's ironic observations about life as his own thoughts, and I found myself smiling at a few of them. The author isn't trying to force you to laugh at anything, he is presenting quirky humour in a low key way and it is much more entertaining to read. Peter doesn't think much of the British people or his police duties and I enjoyed a lot of his grumblings. It just works well.

"Nothing builds character like being abused, spat at and being vomited on by members of the public'.

Peter as a character is someone you could like. I've worked with guys like him who are a bit grumpy and sarky so I can relate to him! He is smart, witty and amusing as an MC.

So why did I give the book 2 stars? Well basically, I felt as if I was reading a crime novel and not an urban fantasy novel. By page 70 we had seen one ghost and a spell to silence a barking dog. Most of the story was exploring crime scenes and talking to witnesses, and I wasn't really excited by the slowness of the plot. I don't like crime novels because long drawn out investigations and asking a group of suspects the same questions does not greatly interest me. So having this book follow that pattern disappointed me.

There is nothing really wrong with this book. If you like crime novels and like a bit of paranormal, I think you would probably enjoy this book as there is a lot to like about it.  
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