Tuesday 27 September 2011

Slither - Not a Book Review

So I'm currently still reading Jim Butcher's Dead Beat - I hope to get it finished before the end of September...fingers crossed.

I will also be posting on DIK this week, will put a post here to direct you over there on the relevant day. :)

I watched Slither at the weekend, mainly because it starred Nathan Fillion. He was playing the same character he always seems to play but that was fine - that was why I was watching the film after all.

I just had this one doubletake moment when watching it. At one point in the film his character has the choice of whether or not to take a grenade when they go to kill the creature and he decides not to. It was just a complete Serenity moment. Which if you've never seen either Slither or Serenity is going to mean absolutely nothing.

But (just for fun) I put grenade, slither and serenity into google, and lo and behold the first thing that pops up is a reference to the coincidence on IMDB.

Monday 13 June 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (Not a Review)

This is not a book I would have ordinarily picked up. I think apart from anything else, there's been so much hype about it, that I found it kind of offputting. But someone offered to lend it to me, so I almost felt obligated to give it a go, especially as they were so enthusiastic about it.

I'm not sure I could say I enjoyed the book, as I think that's the wrong word. (I've watched Wallander on the BBC - another series based on a Swedish crime thriller - and there's a bleakness to that as well. So maybe it's a Swedish thing?)

However, having said that I certainly found it compulsive reading and I couldn't really explain why, especially as for the first part nothing really seemed to happen. If anything, I think it was the prologue that pulled me in, I wanted to know who was sending the flowers. And I think I was also genuinely surprised by the identity of the killer - which doesn't happen that often, I have watched far too much CSI, Law and Order etc. etc. to be surprised on a regular basis. So it makes a refreshing change.

A lot of it made for uncomfortable reading. I think it's not just that it has a misogynistic feel, I don't think it's that complimentary to men either. But Lisbeth Salander is one of the most interesting characters I've read about in a long time.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks - Josh Lanyon

Twenty-something artist Perry Foster returns home early from weekend in San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. But by the time Perry has got help, the body has gone. Something mysterious is going on at the isolated Alton Estate, and Perry and his fellow housemate 'tall, dark and hostile' former navy SEAL Nick Reno get pulled into investigating the disappearing/reappearing bodies.

After finishing The Dark Tide I found I was still in the mood to read Josh Lanyon. Maybe I was going into Adrien English withdrawal. Anyway I had this particular book on my TBR shelf and I think it was a good one to read after completing the Adrien English books. And this one comes with one of my favourite tropes - a brainy beta paired with an alpha tough guy. It's written in third person with alternating points of view between Nick and Perry, so different to the Adrien English stories which are first person. This gives us a chance to get inside Nick's head as well as Perry's. Though I did find the change from first person to third, a little difficult to get into, to begin with.

Perry did remind me of Adrien in a way, though he's a little more vulnerable and less snarky. I loved the fact that Perry thought he could make the dead body disappear by turning the lift off then on again, though if that had happened it would have been a different kind of story.

One thing I found a little jarring was how Nick's attitude toward Perry changed, especially as we're inside his head. At the beginning of the story he's referring to Perry as 'the queer kid across the hall', initially Nick is very disparaging of Perry. You kind of wonder how these two are ever going to get together - there's an antagonism between them. And yet at the end of Chapter One, Nick is comparing Perry to Bambi. But I like the fact that they go from 'speaking different languages' to finding common ground. Perry goes from being 'the queer kid across the hall' to the 'cute twink' to...

I think it's more interesting (or at least different) to see inside both of the couple's heads. I think it makes you appreciate that there is a little more to Nick than just his abrasive attitude.
"He was mad about the dumb bird, he was mad about the dumb kid, and he was mad that he was being dragged into this mess."
It also allows you to see that Perry has a quiet determination all of his own. Though Nick is not convinced that this is necessarily a good thing.
He (Perry) seemed to have patience to spare; it encouraged kooks in Nick's opinion.
One of my favourite scenes in the book beautifully illustrates this - Nick is determined to teach Perry how to shoot, even though Perry has quite clearly stated that this is something that he doesn't want to do. I really like what is revealed about both characters during this scene, and it's all revealed without telling.

They start out as such complete opposites, Perry is a morning person, Nick is not etc. And it's not that they change, but rather that they find a way to fit - which I think makes for a much more interesting story. Nick is older but not necessarily wiser, and he doesn't always understand what Perry is trying to say.
Nick said..."Nobody can make you do anything you don't want to."
Perry said quietly, "People have all kinds of ways of forcing you to do what you don't want to."
Perry is more perceptive than Nick allows for, whereas Nick can be a little insensitive and blunt. I would love to know how their story continues after the book ends.

I'd be grateful for more Josh Lanyon recommendations to help me through my Adrien English withdrawal.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Almost Like Being in Love was m favourite book of last year. So it was with a little trepidation that I started Last Days of Summer. I knew it was a different sort of book to ALBiL, so I wasn't sure if I would like it as much.

Last Days of Summer tells the story of Joey Margolis - a young boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940's. A boy, who rarely, if ever sees his father. Joey decides he's going to write (maybe harass would be a better word) Charlie Banks - the third baseman for the New York Giants. Charlie doesn't exactly welcome the attention (at first) but Joey is nothing if not persistent.

This (like Almost Like Being in Love) is an epistolary novel. Told in the form of letters, transcripts, notes and school reports. Before I read ALBiL and The Color Purple, I never thought I'd enjoy this kind of story. I think it has its pros and cons. On the one hand you get to see a very personal side of the characters that you may not otherwise have, but on the other there are things that you miss out on seeing because the book doesn't have a conventional narrative. For example I would have liked to experience the first meeting with Charlie firsthand rather than through interview, but we don't get to do that.

I think what made the book especially poignant for me is the Authors Note at the end of the story (which I did read before beginning). And I think in a way that does play a little bit at the back of your mind and because of this you pay more attention to the relationship between 'fathers' and 'sons' in the story.

Whether you like the novel or not, will probably depend on your feelings about the character of Joey - I loved him. Charlie is not so enamoured of him at first:-
"You are beginning to make a mess out of my life."
Joey really gets under his skin - like a tick. I think that the point I started to fall in love with the book was on p.88 when Charlie sets some boundaries on their friendship. I especially liked rule number 9
9. You will alawys remember that you are probably somebody very special. I do not know this for a fact yet...
I like how these rules keep cropping up throughout the story, and get adapted as circumstances change.

If I had to pick two letters as my favourites. One would be where Charlie tries to answer some of Joey's big questions. And the other would be where Charlie gives Joey advice about women.

The writing is beautiful. There are so many bits that I could just quote, because I want to share them. The friendship that develops between them and how they stand up for each other is just wonderful to read. I think Joey initially sees Charlie as something of a challenge but eventually they become friends. For Joey, Charlie becomes the father he doesn't have. However, America is about to be pulled into World War 2 - which of course we as readers know, but the characters don't. So there is a sense of time running out, history moves on, no matter what. And eventually it catches up with them - Joey's Japanese friend Craig is sent to an internment camp, Charlie enlists and there is a sense of seriousness that wasn't there before.
"Joey listen to me. Everybody gets handed a rotten deal sooner or later and your just getting it out of the way early."
If I had any problems with the story, it would be the baseball references. Being in the UK I don't really understand them. I have a vague understanding of how the game of baseball works but not enough to decipher the few commentaries and stats sheets. However, I don't think it's necessary to be a baseball afficionado to enjoy the story. It's the relationships between all the characters that make the story work.

I would hightly recommend this story. It's funny and sad and touching and heartbreaking. I've always been of the opinion that if a story can make you really laugh or cry then it's on another level. It has really touched you and that's a rare thing.

Monday 4 April 2011

The Dark Tide by Josh Lanyon (Adrien English 5)

The Dark Tide is the fifth and last book in Josh Lanyon's Adrien English series. And it keeps up the trend of Adrien inadvertently tangling himself up in a murder investigation. This time though, it's really not his fault...really. In the midst of renovating his bookstore a skeleton is discovered in the floorboards. When it proves to be over fifty years old, the case is handed over to the cold case squad. But Adrien's curiosity has been caught - could be something to do with the burglar who keeps breaking into the store - so he hires his ex-lover Jake Riordan (now working as a private detective) to investigate.

The Dark Tide opens shortly after the end of Death of a Pirate King (Book 4). Adrien has still not fully recovered form his heart surgery and is slightly resentful. His situation has changed and he's having to re-evaluate his life and he hasn't quite found his footing yet. I think this also explains why he's a little obtuse a little bit blinkered where Jake is concerned. He also has a new step-family who worry about him and who he worries about. He has old lovers popping up out of the proverbial woodwork and he has a fifty-year old skeleton in his floorboards.

What I loved most about this book is how Adrien and Jake have changed. Both characters have evolved over the course of the series. I think on a second read-through you'd appreciate more how Jake and Adrien are out of sync at the beginning of the book. Now Jake's out of the closet, he's mellowed a little. Whereas Adrien is more uptight - it's as if they're finally meeting in the middle.

All the things I love most about the series are here. Adrien's snarky inner voice,
I resisted the temptation to undo my apology by throttling her.
I wanted him so much, I could have cried. I wanted him now, and I wanted it to be three years ago when I had loved him without fear...
...and also brilliant dialogue:-
She summoned her patience. "I said perhaps this friend would be willing to act as your support partner."
"I don't think so."
"We never know until we ask."
"Sometimes we do."
And I realise how much I'm going to miss this series.

I also really like how Adrien has gone from being an only child, to having siblings. He doesn't have a perfect relationship with his stepsisters. But it's a very familial and loving relationship, with all the dramas that that entails.

I think this book ties up all the loose ends from earlier in the series but leaves it quite open as well. When I first finished the book I was a little uncertain about the ending. But having thought about it, I think it works, everything's resolved but it isn't all tied up with a nice pretty pink bow on the top. And I think it's better for that.

I've consistently said that A Dangerous Thing (Book 2) is my favourite Adrien English story. I think Jenre posted (possibly on my review of Book 4 or one of my other posts about this series) that The Dark Tide would change my opinion. And she's right. The Dark Tide is now my favourite Adrien English book and I look forward to re-reading the series again, in the not too distant future, reading it from the perspective of knowing how it will end. And I console myself with the fact that there are still many Josh Lanyon books for me to read.

Saturday 2 April 2011

Diana Wynne Jones Passes Away

I didn't realise she had gone until I read it on one of my groups this morning. I feel like we're losing a lot of authors recently.

Guardian - Diana Wynne Jones Obituary

Maybe it just seems that way. :(

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Archangel's Kiss - Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter 2)

Archangel's Kiss picks up pretty much where Angel's Blood left off and for that reason this book is really not a good place to start with the series. This is definitely a case where you need to read Book 1 first. And if you haven't read Book 1 then you should probably stop reading this review now because it's probably going to contain spoilers.

In book 1 Guild Hunter Elena Deveraux achieved the impossible - she tracked down a rogue archangel. She tracked down a rogue archangel and fell in love with another, with the archangel Raphael. But in the process she was irrevocably changed. And in doing so she steps into a world more dangerous, more callous and more beautiful than any she could have previously known. Raphael and Elena are perhaps seeing their relationship from different perspectives.
'"Do you think you have the right to give me orders now?" "Of course. You are mine." "I don't think you've quite got the hang of this true love thing."'
Raphael is used to being obeyed without question. But Elena is not used to obeying without question. So their relationship still has a few rough patches to iron out.

For the most part Elena is a great UF heroine, tough but vulnerable. But she makes one stupid comment.
"Fighting is not sexual."
That's okay. She can say that, she can have that opinion. But then to immediately say on the next page...
"A blade this sweet is as good as sex."
Just makes her first comment look inane.

I love how Nalini Singh has managed to make the angels alien and the archangels completely alien. And she doesn't take the easy way out and soften that or humanise it. Except with Raphael where there's a reason for him to behave in that way.

I like the Guild Hunter series. I like the world-building, I like the characters that inhabit it and the way they interact with each other. But I haven't quite reached the point of loving it. I think perhaps it feels a little discordant, somehow not quite hanging together. The plot feels a little all over the place. Maybe this is intentional, maybe in a couple more books I will have settled into it, or maybe it will all start to weave together and it will give the books greater re-readability as you go back to find out what happened when and where.

But at this point it's not quite working for me, or maybe it would be more correct to say that some parts are working more than others. I feel like I can see that there is a major arc to the story which carries over between books, but it's the minor arcs in each book I'm struggling to sort out. In a way this feels like an in-between (bridging book) but it's only book 2, so that feels too soon in the series.

I think maybe there is too much happening - Lijuan's ball, the angel attempting to become an archangel, Elena's training, Elena regaining her memories, Elena and Raphael's relationship. Other little things are also snuck in there - Raphael offering to rescue the 'boy' vampire for Jason. Little things that I'd actually like to know more about. I wish either that it had taken place over more books or perhaps better that this book had had another 200 pages. Even so I find I am looking forward to finding out what happens in book 3. And I hope that the little hints I'm intrigued by will be developed further.

* And to the list of amusing typos we can now add this one. On p.51 of the UK copy is the line:-
His own hunger had turned his face acetic...
I don't think vinegar face is what we were quite aiming for here, maybe ascetic?

Monday 28 March 2011

Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane (Downside Ghosts 2)

Before I wrote this review I went back to look at my review of Book 1 of the series - Unholy Ghosts. I remember having some misgivings about the feasability of having a drug addict for a heroine. Most of these were laid to rest by the time I'd finished the first book. And any that remained have been banished by the end of this one.

Chess's complicated life is becoming even more complicated. As well as keeping her drug habit secret from the Church of Truth. She's now trying to keep the two men in her life - who work for opposing drug dealers - separate. She's also got a haunted house to investigate and someone is murdering prostitutes in Downside. It won't take much for this house of cards to come down.

I thought I'd start the series challenge with a series that comes highly recommended. And okay, it's nearly April and I'm only just getting going, but better late than never.

I think the Downside Ghosts series is the most original UF I've read recently. In this one, there's a little less focus on Chess's use of drugs and more focus on plot. I think having read Book 1 you accept that the drugs are part of her life. They aren't forgotten but there's not such a continual emphasis on them. I love the relationship between Chess and Terrible (he's her drug dealers enforcer) even when they are miscommunicating there's an almost palpable chemistry between them. I think they're fast becoming one of my favourite UF couples.

Chess doesn't trust her own judgement. She second, then third and fourth guesses herself. She argues round in circles in her own head. She wants to trust Terrible, but can't allow herself to. Considering they're both very tough characters, what's between them is a very fragile thing, and that's what makes it so fascinating to read about. But when she's in trouble, Terrible is the one she calls. As you're reading there's a sense of impending doom.
"Nobody could really know another person and want them, love them."
Chess has woven this elaborate web of lies through her life and it's almost inevitable that at least one of them is going to be found out. In a way it feels a little like self-sabotage.
"It was easy to be wanted by a man when he'd never seen the bad parts."
She doesn't believe that she can ever be happy or that she deserves happiness, so she subconsciously engineers the situation to prove herself correct.

We find out a little more about Terrible, some of his family circumstances. This is interesting, because apart from anything else it forces Chess to reevaluate how she sees him. And they start to open up to each other. It's tentative and fragile (sorry to use that word again) and you just have this horrible feeling that it's going to be squashed.
"He stared at her for a minute, like he'd never seen her before. Maybe he hadn't."
I think the most heartbreaking thing, is that it's apparent that Chess is starting to feel emotions that aren't connected to drugs. She's starting to feel that being alone all the time isn't a good thing. And it's her friendship with Terrible that helps to bring her to this realisation.

Over the course of the book, Chess grows as a character. Til at the end she's willing to risk everything, and it's not for drugs and it's not for her next fix. I'm very interested to see how she develops in the next book, because I'm finding the gradual reveal of her psyche one of the most compelling parts of the story.

I thought the mystery part of the plot - haunted house and prostitute murders - was well written. I found I was more interested in the Pyle's haunting, though I think this may be slightly to do with the fact that I didn't always completely understand what was happening with the murdered prostitutes.

I'm still not completely sure how this world works outside of where Chess is. I don't think this bothers me much whilst I'm reading. The insularity works well to emphasise the claustrophobia and paranoia of the life that Chess is living. This is one series I will be continuing with, and I hope there are many more books to come in the Downside Universe.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Skip Over or Skip to?

A couple of weeks ago Kris posted a blog about 'Keeping Calm and Turning to Page 394'.

Now everyone else seemed to immediately 'get' that this meant turning to the end of a book to find out how it ends.

I'm not sure what it says about me - maybe that some of the books I read are 500 pages long? - but my first thought was that this meant skip to the sex scene. lol

Which brings me to the subject of my post.

Recently I've found more and more often that I skip over the sex scenes. Maybe it's because they all seem to read the same - cock, thrust, cock, nipples, channel, cock,...yawn! I seem to find the characters have more chemistry when they're not having sex, than when they are.

I can't remember the last really good sex scene I read. (Thinking hard about it, it was probably a m/m, either Jordan Castillo Price or Josh Lanyon, and that was a while ago).

Maybe it's because as soon as the characters get in bed (or wherever) that they suddenly stop being the characters and become just two bodies performing a mechanical act. I know the best sex scenes I've read, told you something about the characters, it wasn't just about the sex.

Anybody else feel the same? Or are sex scenes still working for you?

Saturday 19 February 2011

Sad News

Very sad to hear that Perry Moore - author of Hero - has passed away.

Read the news on
After Elton.

It's stupid to say it I know, but I hate this, it makes me want to go out and kick and punch things in my back garden. Coming so soon (it seems) after the passing of another of my favourite authors - Jennifer Rardin. Both these guys took the time to comment on my blog, which is still such a wow factor for me!

Both fantastic writers who I'm sure still had many stories to tell.

Life just...it just sucks some times.

I guess we just have to appreciate the fact that although they're gone, they've left their wonderful stories behind.

My review of Hero can be found here.

Monday 7 February 2011

Series Page Complete

I was inclined to title this post - I want to hide under the duvet.

'Cause that was kind of the reaction I had when I finally finished typing up my
Series Catching Up Page.

It's just so big. (insert your own smutty joke here) (And it's not even all of the series, just the ones that I want to get caught up on most of all).

To be honest, now I've typed it up, it's kind of putting me off the idea. Not the idea of taking a huge chunk out of my TBR pile this year - that's still a given. But having a better idea of what a humongous task it's going to be to catch up on all these series - well it's starting to feel a lot more like hard work rather than fun.

So after I finish Archangel's Kiss (my current read, which I'm sure I would be enjoying much more if it didn't feel so much like homework), I'm going to pick a couple of the standalone books off my TBR bookshelf to give myself a bit of a break. Maybe a banned book, or maybe just one of the books that I don't remember buying.

Hopefully then, I'll feel a lot more like tackling the ginormity of the task ahead.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Winner of Your Wall is Made of Holes Giveaway...


Sullivan McPig

And I didn't even have to go to random.org to pick a winner. Sullivan your copy of Real Vampires Have More Curves is waiting for you.

Monday 31 January 2011

Your Wall is Made of Holes

I start this post by admitting I wanted to title it - There's a Hole in Your Bucket - but I was kind of afraid that everyone would wonder why the content of the post was so different to the title.

After reading Anchored last week, it brought to mind something I'd read on one of the romance forums. (I have the feeling I may have posted about this before, so sorry if I'm repeating myself).

There was a discussion on this aforementioned board about a certain series, and someone posted that they'd really enjoyed the series and how solid the worldbuilding was, until they realized that the wall of this 'solid' worldbuilding was actually made of holes*. As soon as they realized this, they could no longer read the books because they no longer held together for them.

I think this is something different from 'jumping the shark', which is something that can happen very quickly:-

You read something in a story - OMG! - and the next sound you hear is the crash as the book hits the wall.

I think the 'wall made of holes' situation is something that can creep on you much more stealthily whilst you're reading. It can be a series of things that niggle at you and then just one too many tips you over the edge.

What's interesting is that those books which have jumped the shark for me - usually by killing off a character I was particularly attached to - I still have strong feelings (generally of hatred) for.

But the ones where I've realized that there's actually no substance holding them together for me - just complete apathy.

So has anyone out there had similar feelings about a book? Or are you more the 'I either love it or hate it type?'. I have a copy of Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett, to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number on Friday.

* - and I've realized whilst writing this post that hole is one of those words that if you say it more than five times, it loses all sense of meaning.

Friday 28 January 2011

Winner of the...

Under the Influence giveaway is...


She posted second and the number chosen at random.org was 2. I have a copy of Practical Demonkeeping waiting to be posted to you.

Monday 24 January 2011

Under the Influence

Last week, or possibly the week before...okay the week before, geez it's been a while since I posted...DL posted on the DIK blog about how she'd been inspired by the BDB series to learn American Sign Language. You can read that post by clicking here.

It got me to thinking if I'd ever been inspired to try anything or learn anything that I'd read in a book.

For some reason I had this niggling feeling that I had.


Then I remembered. I wish it had been something as interesting or as worthy as learning ASL, but it was not. In one of the Weather Warden books Rachel Caine wrote this yummy description of the Omnia perfume by Bulgari. I think she might have used the word chocolate. Of course, Omnia isn't sold in any of the local shops, I think in the end I tracked a bottle down online. I think it has a very nice smell but a bit heavy, not one I'd recommend if you're prone to migraines.

I still have this feeling though, that there's something else I've done/tried/attempted and failed at, after first reading about it. But I've obviously scrubbed the experience from my memory and replaced it with something less traumatic.

Anyway just wondering if you'd ever been inspired to try anything from what you'd read in your favourite fiction? I have a copy of Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number on Friday.