8 Oct 2015



INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: In a refuse dump next to the Charlotte racetrack, a flash of lightning illuminates a hand reaching out of a barrel of asphalt.

There's not much that can shock Dr Tempe Brennan, forensic anthropologist, but even she finds the sight of the hand macabre. And with race week just a day away, she's under pressure to find answers and clear the area before thousands of NASCAR fans arrive. 

- Full of spoilers to read a full unabridged synopsis click on the book title.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: Looking back, I think of it as race week in the rain.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 111}: "Did you discuss Cindi's nervousness with your folks" I asked.

"You think they sought my middle school views on my high school sister's mood swings?"

MY THOUGHTS: Whilst I have of course enjoyed some books in the series more than others generally speaking I'm a huge fan of these Kathy Reichs books (along with Faye Kellerman she's my favourite when it comes to this genre) which is why I feel compelled to ask anyone new to the series who has started with this, the 14th book, to consider reading one of the earlier instalments.

Self contained in so much as each deals with a different case I'd nevertheless suggest the books are best read from the beginning and in order if you want to get the best out of them - after all they aren't all about the crimes but also Tempe's relationships etc. However this is not my only reason for suggesting a previous book(s) be read. More than a tad disappointed with Flash And Bones part of me would hate to think that people went away thinking this was the best this author had to offer.

With a poorer than usual plot, little in the way of tension and even less in the way of forensics (my favourite aspect of the books), even the relationships seemed a bit contrived, I'm afraid this for me has very little to recommend it. Unless of course you have a fascination with stock car racing in which case it might hold a bit more appeal.

Tempted as I am to give this a 'I liked it' rating (equating to three stars on GoodReads/four on amazon.co.uk) because I think previous books so much better I'm afraid it's an 'It's OK' two/three stars (depending on which site I'm reviewing it on) for me. 

TBR READ-A-THON.Having read 3 books - The Fourth Lad by Sydney Carr, Cranky, Beautiful Faith For Irregular (And Regular) People by Nadia Bolz-Weber and Demons Not Included by Cheyeen McCray - I also managed to read 220 of the 271 pages of this book before the deadline for the Read-A-Thon thus making my TBR pile just short of four books smaller than it was.

7 Oct 2015



BACK COVER BLURB: Meet Nyx. This half-human, half-Drow private eye investigates paranormal crimes by day and is an elite Tracker of demons by night. She prefers working solo - and playing rough. So when a terrifying force starts murdering innocent humans and paranorms, leaving behind strange demonic symbols, it's a case Nyx takes very personally.

Meanwhile. Nyx's fellow Trackers are being killed one by one - and a sexy new Tracker named Torin is shadowing her every move. Torin has powers Nyx can't read, and sometimes she wonders whose side he's on. Nyx's instincts tell her something's brewing in the city's meanest supernatural streets, and that it's ready to unleash hell on Earth. Who can she trust? Now it's five minutes to permanent midnight ... and Nyx's last chance means risking everything - even her own life.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 26}: I reached the Doppler bouncer and smiled as Fred grinned at me. "Decide to take me up on dinner yet?" 

No, I just couldn't. To me he'd always be that sweet golden retriever I'd first met and played Frisbee with in central park. 

SOURCE: Given to me by a friend.

MY THOUGHTS: Instantly put off by the cover (I make no apologies, I'm just one of those readers for whom the scantily clad female/bare chested, muscle-bound man just doesn't have me reaching for a novel). Despite that inner voice that told me here was a book that the odds were I wasn't going to enjoy I was talked into reading into.

Pleasantly surprised, Demons Not Included was actually OK. Nothing special but certainly readable enough even if 'some of the goo splattered my pants' (easily cleaned, one of the advantages of leather I suppose) 'and bare belly' did confirm my thoughts that the whole bare mid-riff (and no doubt, though we can't actually see them in this particular cover, high heels) look to be found on so many books of this genre are anything but practical.

Part one in a series as you might expect there was a lot of foundation laying going on - characters being described, their various 'supernatural' traits being gone into - but was there anything remotely new about the series?

No, not really. 

I did quite like Kali, a blue Persian cat, who (as we are told numerous times) has a thing for shredding our heroines underwear but apart from that it was 
the usual collection of muscle bound, sensual males and your equally stereotypical females with 'large melons' (Melons! I ask you?) as are typical of the urban fantasy/'romance' hybrid. 

As for the plot. Average is the word that springs to mind. Reading this put me in mind of several other books of this genre - all of them better done it has to be said.

The one thing I did find interesting however were the sort-of entwining of Viking mythology. Armed with several weapons, I thought it intriguing that Nyx's daggers were given names ('Thunder' and 'Lightning') even if they weren't very original.

So the million dollar question - will I be reading any more of the books in the series? Despite having received several, alas I'm afraid the Night Tracker books aren't for me. 

TBR READ-A-THON.The third full book read for this Read-A-Thon (I did read 220 pages of a fourth book, my review of which I'll post tomorrow/Friday). Reviews of my first book (The Fourth Lad by Sydney Carr) can be read here, my second (Cranky, Beautiful Faith For Irregular (And Regular) People by Nadia Bolz-Weber) here.

6 Oct 2015


My not being a person of faith this might seem a bit of an odd choice of reading material but it really was one of those occasions when fate, destiny (call it what you will) stepped in and I felt compelled to read it.

Now I just need to think of a way to review it in the same impersonal way, without personal circumstances clouding my thoughts, as I would any other book.


BACK COVER BLURB: Former stand-up comic and unlikely pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber weaves personal narrative, hilarious rants and powerful spiritual insight as she relates her unusual journey of faith, offering a fresh and uncompromising look at the transformative power of grace. As one of today's most provocative Christian leaders, she blends irreverence and brilliant theology to offer a new portrait of faith - one that is edgy, outrageous and, above all, real.

FIRST SENTENCE {Fall 2005}: 'Shit,' I thought to myself, 'I'm going to be late to New Testament class.'

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 83}:You hear a lot of nonsense in hospitals and funeral homes. God had a plan, we just don't know what it is. Maybe God took your daughter because He needs another angel in heaven. But when I've experienced loss and felt so much pain that it feels like nothing else ever existed, the last thing I need is a well-meaning but vapid person saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. It makes me want to ask where exactly that window is so I can push him the f**k out of it.

SOURCE: A book belonging to Mr T.

MY THOUGHTS: Beautifully written and not nearly as 'preachy' as you might imagine it to be. I think it safe to say that Nadia Bolz-Weber's isn't the kind of pastor that most of us come across every day, her church, House Of All Sinners And Saints, hardly what you'd call mainstream. And that is what makes it such a fascinating and refreshing read (yes, even for someone not of the faith.)

A woman who comes across as wonderfully compassionate and insightful, a woman who is well aware of her own frailties and short comings. Take away her obviously deep faith and what you are left with is a very human story that focuses on real life.

Funny, quirky, raw, sad (I defy anyone not to cry as they read of the author sitting with two children whose mother has just died), poignant, heartfelt - all this and so so much more. I guess that ultimately what I enjoyed most about the book was its potential to challenge what may well be the readers perceptions of what a Christian should (or indeed should not) be. 

TBR READ-A-THON.The second book read for this Read-A-Thon. My first review, The Fourth Lad by Sydney Carr, can be read here with my review of Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray to follow tomorrow/Thursday.

5 Oct 2015


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance.

When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. 

- Full synopsis here on amazon.co.uk 

Not a book I have read but for me this brings to mind ...

#1 TWO BROTHERS. 'Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.' The story of two 'twins' one Aryan, the other Jewish. A 'Holocaust' novel with many threads - the political, the economics of that time, homosexuality amongst the ranks of the Nazi elite, education, its all there in what I found a real page- turner of a read.

#2 ASH. Not a thing I can remember being talked about a lot and I certainly can't remember homosexuality ever featuring in any novel I read as a teenager. How fantastic then to have books such as Ash. A re-telling of the traditional fairytale Cinderella but aimed at the young gay/lesbian market.

#3 THE LOLLIPOP SHOES. Hardly the traditional glass slippers. In this, the sequel to Chocolat, Vianne and Anouk (the former now known as Yanne, the latter as Annie ) seek refuge in the cobbled streets of Monmartre where the winds seemed to have stopped blowing until into their lives blows Zozie, the lady with the lollipop shoes.

#4 THE WIZARD OF OZ. Talking of slippers and winds (well, tornadoes to be precise) perhaps the most famous slippers of all are the ruby slippers which, worn by Dorothy when tapped together three times, the words 'There's no place like home' spoken, take her3 home to Aunty Em and Uncle Henry. 

#5 STORM FRONT. My favourite wizard? No, not Harry Potter. I love Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, the only one of his kind to be found in the yellow pages. In this the first book in the series Harry is called in to consult on a gory murder committed with black magic.  

#6 THE RIVERS OF LONDON. A mix of crime and magic but alas PC Peter Grant (apprenticed to the last wizard-come-detective) is no Harry Dresden in the making in this very British novel.

A monthly meme hosted by Annabel and Emma who from now on will be taking it in turns to do the honours. 6 Degrees Of Separation invites readers to link six books according to whatever connections come to mind. Hosted by Emma this month you can see her chain here.

3 Oct 2015



(An abridged) BACK COVER BLURB: My memoirs of my first twenty years provide an insight into Northeast, Post-War life in hilarious and painful detail. The fourth lad of eleven children raised by a chauvinistic father and self-obsessed, vindictive mother, I was initially raised in Pont Street, considered at the time to be one of the toughest but friendliest streets in Ashington. Badly burnt, almost drowned, battered and bruised, I had to learn quickly how to survive my environment and my mother. After seven eventful years, we move to the Fifth Row, another wild but friendly street where my growing pains continue on into my time as a Pit Lad and finally, a faltering soldier.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part 1 - Pont Street: 1 - A Painful Beginning}: Completely unaware that I was doing my utmost to drown out his voice, Winston Churchill growled triumphantly from within the wooden boxed radio standing on the sideboard in the kitchen of our gloomy miners' terraced house.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 62}: 'Trust ye to say something stupid,' she growled, 'how the bloody hell could he hit himself on the back of his heed with an axe ye simple bugger, eh?

SOURCE: A GoodReads win.

MY THOUGHTS: One of eleven, from his Ashington childhood (by far my favourite portion of the book) in one of the 'toughest but friendliest streets in one of the toughest towns of the North East' The Fourth Lad chronicles a childhood (by far my favourite part of the book) that, yes, harsh in so many ways is nevertheless filled with a certain innocent carefreeness that few (if indeed any) of today's children will ever experience through to his time as a soldier via time 'doon the pit' in an extraordinary book written by an 'ordinary' man.

As far as memoirs go one of my favourites of 2015. Whilst not particularly well written and in my opinion a book that could have benefited from a good editing nevertheless a natural story teller Sydney Carr's The Fourth Lad is a real page turner. 

A nostalgic read that will no doubt take some readers back in time. Both funny and sad, whilst the happenings make for compelling enough reading, as is very often the case with this genre it is the characters themselves who truly make the book. Characters such as the larger than life Ma Carr (a woman we'd describe as 'as rough as a badger's a**e' who despite her seemingly cruelty was one of my favourites) who give a great cultural insight into many of the women of this time and place.

Whilst I believe this will be a huge hit amongst 'the locals' I should think it holds just as much appeal to those with an interest in social history or indeed those who simply enjoy a good yarn. Be warned though there are some colloquialisms used that may well baffle though this is aided somewhat by a dictionary at the back of the book.

TBR READ-A-THON.The first book of three read for this Read-A-Thon. Reviews of Cranky, Beautiful Faith: For Irregular (And Regular) People by Nadia Bolz-Weber and Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray are to follow.

2 Oct 2015


3aI hold my hands up, I'm a bit of a prude when it comes to books that are overly sexually explicit AND I abhor too much swearing/crude language, even more so when its sexual, BUT that of course doesn't mean that I'd see any book banned ... not now, not ever, not for any reason. 

Just like my thoughts on TV programmes which, broadly speaking, is ' if you don't like it/find it offensive, switch it over/off', likewise if a book is proving too racy, is full of language/violence you find inappropriate, you always have the option to not read it. 

What then of the labelling of books?

The slippery slope towards banning OR just a way of notifying readers of what they can expect?

Hmm, not something I'd ever thought about if I'm being honest. That is until I won a copy of The Seed Collectors (if you haven't already done so you can read my review here) by Scarlett Thomas on GoodReads.

Not a lot to help me clarify my thoughts on the internet. An initial search led me to this 2009 article which told of parents campaigning to have a library label books that they deemed necessary of labelling.

Alas not particularly helpful as (1) the article dealt with the labelling of books aimed at a teen market (arguably a whole other matter) and (2) Though I could be mistaken in this I came away with the distinct feeling that far from being satisfied with the labelling of these books this group (Citizens Against Pornography) would cheerfully see the books in question banned altogether.

'Relentless crude sexual language', the fact the 'without exception the male characters are all extremely aggressive in their sexuality', the '(to me) odd sexual fetishes - Ah, a case in point, TO ME they were odd, that's not to say the next reader wouldn't find them perfectly 'normal' but most of all the women seemingly 'obsessed by their 'rape fantasies.''

Do I think this book or indeed any with similar content should be labelled? Do you know my first thoughts were yes, after all forewarned is forearmed, right? But on thinking about it  ... 

Who decides what constitutes crude sexual language, what is offensive and what isn't? And at what point is the line drawn when something is deemed so offensive that a cautionary label is deemed necessary? Is it your average reader (if there is such a thing) or is it the individual determined to be offended at the merest hint of physical contact between consenting adults in a loving relationship?

Soooo, back to my original question .... labelling books - the slippery slope to banning them?

I'm beginning to think that it could well be. What thinks you?