Esteemed Vampire Cat (Colt Harper #1) by Tyrolin Puxty

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Synopsis: Colt Harper hates it when you pat a cat the wrong way, or when you upload their faux pas to YouTube. In fact, he’ll probably kill you for it.
As a self-proclaimed master vampire cat, Colt never imagined he’d be sent to community service at a revolting community theatre. And for what? Killing humans who don’t buy the expensive brand of cat food? Talk about unfair.
Still, working with a nervous werewolf and a monster addicted to tickling wasn’t on his to-do list.
What’s worse, is he’s falling for a human. Sure, she has green eyes. Sure, she fosters stray cats. But she’s still a disgusting human.
So why is he risking his own life to save her from the chasers?

My review: I picked this book to review purely because of the title and it didn’t disappoint. It’s as bonkers as you’d suspect. Colt Harper is in trouble again. He possesses people who are cruel to cats and uses their ‘meat suits’ as he sees fit. He now has to do community service at a amateur dramatics theatre as penance where he meets a werewolf and a woman who tickles people to death.

It’s a short book, it’s really funny and doesn’t care who it offends which just makes it even more perfect. I just loved it

Free arc from netgalley

Released 26th June 2017

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

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Synopsis: Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.
Mud, mice, and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.
Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.

My review: The book felt so much longer than it actually is without ever feeling like a lot of happening. Then you get near the end and realise you are completely wrong. It really does sneak up on you. There are so many layers to it with various points of view as told by the characters stories but also the viewpoints of city life versus country life.

Downsizing after the collapse of their marriage but like many modern day couples unable to afford to actually split up due to housing crisis and rising costs. They have to learn to be together as incomers to the country while dealing with unemployment, money worries, bringing up children, the impact of infidelity and so much more. Quinten refuses to accept his actions and any wrong doing until a tragic loss. Lottie is trying to rebuild her life. Son Xan is trying to find his place in the world learning about how the other half live with his immigrant girlfriend and 12 hour shifts in the pie factory. He has a learning curve that ultimately makes him a better person.

I really wasn’t sure about Sally’s story. All her chapters seem to say the same thing and while her ending played  apart in all the big reveal I think a lot of her story could have been dropped.

There’s a  lot of love for these characters and some of them appear in Craig’s other works. You can really see how much the author cares for them. They’re so loving described and created. It’s a really beautiful piece of work.

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Out now

 

The Crown Jewel Mystery: A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Story (Book 4) by Anna Elliott, Charles Veley

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Synopsis: A young American actress arrives in London hoping to learn her identity, just as Sherlock Holmes is closing in on a master criminal. Their worlds collide, and not even Holmes could have foreseen the impact!
The prequel to The Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery series.

My review: The synopsis is a little misleading as while the two stories overlap the characters don’t interact beyond a phone call. It’s a fast page  turner that can be read in a couple of hours.

Lucy James is at a bank in London trying to establish her identity and the mysterious benefactor that has been paying for her upkeep and education when the bank is attacked by armed robbers. It’s a little bare on the descriptions – no characters really get much detail and the big reveal at the end comes out of nowhere. I’m assuming that as this is a prequel that Lucy & Sherlock have a lot more involvement in later books but this one is not one worth buying just for the Sherlock name as he’s hardly in it. It’s all about Lucy.

It’s a fun little book though and a good introduction to Lucy herself.

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Out now

 

Spanky by Christopher Fowler

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Synopsis: 23-year-old Martyn has a dead-end job, a miserable family, few friends, and no love life. Then he meets a Spancialosaphus Lacrimosae, his own personal demon. Spanky’s friendship brings confidence, the good life, a better job, a girlfriend. But Spanky is a demon, and Martyn has a price to pay.

My review: This is a twist on the Faustian pact. There’s an interesting introduction at the beginning of this version which explains how the book came about, how it was originally bought to be made into a film. The falling apart of that deal led to the development of the authors best selling detective series. Funny where life leads is isn’t it? There’s a saying that is you’re turned down for something it’s because better things are on the way. Very true in this case

The book itself is set in the 80/90s when greed was good. I have to admit I did keep forgetting that and wondering why Martin has to keep looking for a phone box! Phone box aside there’s some frightening parallels with today’s society. As much as the old hippies like me want love and peace there’s still a huge amount of people obsessed with owning things, possessions and the needs of the few seem far more important than the needs of the many (stealing a bit of general election slogan there oops). I can just see some poor, down trodden person being blindsided into the idea of a better life without spotting the potential consequences. Nothing in life is free. Martin kind of questions that but then gives in to the idea of a better job, flat, girlfriend and not spotting all the good things that are under his nose until it’s too late.

Really what he needed was a life coach (like me)  not a daemon!

There’s a good mix of fantasy and horror with Martin in a battle to not become possessed and Spanky’s increasingly horrific methods to win the opportunity to take over his body. It’s a great book, recommended

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Out 20/6/17

The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole

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Synopsis: Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.
Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.
Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?
Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

My review: Ok before we do the review I have a huge bone to pick with the synopsis of book 2 which is at the back of this. HUGE spoiler so if you buy this book and really like it – stop before you get to that page. It really could’ve been done worded just that bit differently. I don’t understand the need to stick a great big plot point so visibly for all to see. It just spoils it. Now there’s no air of suspense for what happens next.

Anyway… this book.  I really enjoyed it. It lulls you with its charm. It starts with a bored teenage girl seemingly getting caught in a bar brawl before being handed a mysterious book by a handsome stranger. Can’t say that ever happened to me in my drinking teenage years.  If it wasn’t for the fact the book is an artefact that helps control peace or create violence dependent on how it’s read that would be my perfect romantic scenario. Ok well, without the nightclub and fighting. Hmmm ok if a handsome guy gave me a book in a coffee shop then… where was I?

Oh yeah the backdrop to the story is potential World war 3. The powers that be are meeting for a peace conference. The idiots with their fingers on the nuclear buttons are itchy to press and it’s up to Callie to stop impending disaster while all the while dodging death from evil demony types. One of the more scary thoughts I had from this book is ignoring the demons, this could so easily happen in the present climate.

It’s fast paced, everything happens in just a few days so there’s no let up in the action. I’d highly recommend it

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Out now

No Good Deed by John Niven

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Synopsis: What do you do when the homeless man on the street you’ve just given money to thanks you by name and turns out to be one of your ‘closest’ friends, one you haven’t seen for over twenty years? Take him for a hot meal and see him on his way? Give him a lot more money than you usually would? Or take him in and try to get him back on his feet?
For Alan, there’s no question – only natural that he’d want to see his old mate Craig off the streets, even if only for a few nights, and into some clean clothes. But what if the successful life you’ve made for yourself – good job, happy marriage, lovely kids, grand Victorian house (you did well out of the property boom, thank you very much) – is one that that your old pal would quite like to have too? Even if it means taking it from you? Gradually, inevitably, mayhem ensues as Craig turns Alan’s orderly household upside down, threatening to wreck Alan’s life for good.

My review: For the most part I really liked this. A taut, fast paced story as Alan, a successful restaurant reviewer and cook book author, bumps into his high school friend now living rough in London.

Alan decides to help his old friend get back on his feet, inviting him into his home, helping him reclaim monies owed to him and eventually move forward with his life in a positive way. But strange things start happening. He ends up in trouble with the Inland Revenue, his wife is sent a video of him cheating on  her, and he loses his job. All while Craig, the now not homeless guy, starts to reclaim his career and fame and fortune. Just what’s going on?

While it doesn’t come out until the end that Craig definitely causes these things there are clues and a couple of moments where you’re told but not told. The big question and justification for any thriller then is why? And that’s the bit where for me, the book fell down. I just didn’t like the ending. But was too neat and the reasons just didn’t make sense. I wanted some earth shattering reveal, or a reason for one man to loath another but it boiled down to nothing really.

It’s a good beach read, I had it finished in a day but for me personally, I wanted a bit more at the end

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Released 29th June 2017

 

Pew! Pew!: Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My! Volume 1 by various authors

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Synopis: 9 Comedic space opera tales of big spaceships, poor life decisions, and lots of Pew!
From fights against the Hive, to the quest for the perfect coffee bean, to helping the little folk in a big, bad universe, Pew! Pew! has the tales to keep you entertained and maybe bust a gut while you’re at it.

My review: Nine space novellas ranging from  action heroes coming out of retirement to save the day to aliens who live on plastic and eat the space station that’s landed on their planet. Completely bonkers all of it but in a really good way.

As is often the case for me personally, the first story as the best. Take the A-team, make three of them women, change the van into a black spaceship complete with red stripe, action, adventure and saying ‘Fool’ a lot. What’s not to love. We even sort of had a montage. I could probably cope with more of their adventures.

It’s fun, in some cases just downright warped and opened me up to some new authors. Brilliant

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Out now

Full list of authors: M. D. Cooper, Felix R. Savage, Barry J. Hutchison, M. Pax, Chris J. Pike, Amy DuBoff, Zen DiPietro, Drew Avera, Rachel Aukes

 

Anchored by Death by Catherine Finger

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Synopsis: Police Chief Jo Oliver needed a little time to herself. But when her escape to Wisconsin turns deadly, she teams up with FBI agent Nick Vitarello, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Their romantic past and complicated present leads them into uncharted territory as they match wits with a psychopath bent on destroying everything they hold dear.

My review: This, for me was a little bit different from either your standard detective novels or the quirky bookshop-turned-sleuth novels simply because it’s quite a Christian book. I can’t really think of a better way to put it. I’m spiritual rather than religious and wasn’t brought up in a religious household so it’s not something I really see in my reading material. Every so often lead character Chief jo Oliver will stop and pray for guidance and author Catherine Finger will write out these prayers and then off we go with the rest of the action. And you know what, it’s cleverly done and doesn’t detract from the story and gives jo Oliver a bit of a different but good character background. I liked it. Different (for me) but effective.

The book is fairly short and packs a lot of action into it. I think sometimes a little bit too much action in too short of time seeing as I’m sure no one slept. The story starts at 4 murders in and very quickly Oliver and FBI boyfriend Vitarello work out the whodunnit and where-he’ll-next-do-it which is a shame in a way as it makes small town Sheriff look like well a small town Sheriff. He brings the FBI in, who straight away decide it’s personal against them and go off and solve the crime. No misdirection, no plot twists. It’s a very simple cut and dried tale. If only all killers were caught so easy. I would have liked the secondary characters to have had a bit more about them seeing as Jo insists in the narrative she is so dependent on them as friends and mentors.

But we can’t have everything. It’s a nice little book, a great beach read and I’d quite like to read more

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Released 1st July

(not on Goodreads for some reason)

Ashes of the Phoenix (Phoenix Rising, #1) by Jess Haines

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Synopsis: Legend says a phoenix will rise again—but all that remains of the immortal bird are ashes and whispered fairy tales…
Lyra Adams enjoys her job as a rare books dealer, but when an angry wizard barges into her store and demands she fork over a unique tome from the antiquities section, she’s not about to let him get away with grand larceny without a fight.
Except it’s suddenly very difficult to defend her wares, seeing as the wizard turned her into some kind of weird red bird by flinging a handful of ashes in her face.
Her only hope of returning to her normal, human self lies in the hands of the one man she never wanted to see again: her lying, stealing, sorcerous scumbag ex, James Pierce. The same light-fingered thief who tried to steal that very same tome from her a few days before.
She knows she can’t trust James with her heart or her inventory. Can she trust him to turn her back?

My review: I really don’t know what to make of this. It tries too hard I think to be a number of different things. The romance angle doesn’t really have any romance in it. Lara is turned into a phoenix by a wizard who steals one of her rare books. There’s then a race against time with her ex-boyfriend to turn her back human again. So there goes the romance because no one wants to see a love story between a man and a firey bird.

The biggest problem is length. At 150 pages it’s more a novella and once you take out all the action of which there is a lot, you don’t leave a lot of room for character development. Or even character introductions. People just are there and you kind of just have to go with the flow and hope someone introduces them at some point. Which they don’t

Hopefully the next one will rectify that but for now a so-so start to the series

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Out now

Return to Ithaca (Tales from the Odyssey #6) by Mary Pope Osborne

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Synopsis: After struggling against the gods and his fate for more than twenty years, Odysseus has returned to Ithaca at last. But things have changed: what used to be his island has been overrun by suitors who clamour for his wife’s hand in marriage and plague his son, Telemachus. With the help of the grey-eyed goddess, Athena, Odysseus and Telemachus must set out to regain control of Ithaca. In these books based on episodes from Homer’s Odyssey, Mary Pope Osborne brings to life the exciting adventures of one of the greatest heroes of all time.

My review: This is the fifth book in the Mary Pope Osborne’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey. Odysseus journey is nearly at an end and this book sees him finally being released from his island prison and making his way home. The story is interwoven with that of a new character Eperitus, not in the original saga but added as a best friend foil to add some more drama to the story. Eperitus blames Odysseus for the death of his wife and child but struggles with his anger towards that and his love of his best friend.

Alongside those stories is the struggle for Penelope to keep hold of the kingdom in Odysseus absence and trying to believe he is still alive and her son who at not yet 21 isn’t old enough to rule

It all comes together in a thrilling fight at the end, bad guys being defeated and the promise of one more adventure for all. It’s an easy read and a great way of introducing the classics not just to the younger reader but to anyone who may find the original just that bit too challenging

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Out now