Friday, 6 October 2017

Book Review: Breeder - Cara Bristol

Cara Bristol


Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley for free, with the intention of providing a review. All thoughts, notes, opinions are my own.
I will include vague spoilers but nothing that would ruin the story line, just potentially give away a few character and plot points.

Where do I even start with this book.... I've had highs and lows with reading this. And honestly? At one point I struggled to pick it back up again. But I did, and I'm glad I did.

First off, I'd recommend completely skipping the first page which gives a lot away. Go straight to chapter 1. You wont miss anything as everything is explained. I did and I think I enjoyed it more. 

At first I thought this was another book that wasn't my usual genre. Set on a different planet, similar to ours, we meet the main characters within the first chapter. Commander Dak is an 'Alpha', a highly ranking ruler of a province on an alternative planet. 
You find out that whilst this race is similar to ours in looks, they are not in customs and traditions. Woman are seen as inferior and only used as slaves and what they call "Breeders". Basically their job is to produce offspring for the Alphas and then after that they are relegated to cleaning etc. 
Our anti hero, Dak, is searching for a Breeder when he meets Omra. I wont go into specifics as the way he meets her and how are parts of the main story line further along so I wont ruin it. 
The first half of the book is basically them adjusting to each others new roles and how they deal with their lives now they have each other in it. Obviously they engage in a romantic relationship which is severely frowned upon and they both have to cope with the implications of this. 

So before I continue, i'll do a first half briefing. I absolutely LOVE this. I'm completely engaged and drawn in by this fantastic alternate world with their quirky dressing, their language, their weird ideas on how woman work and act, alien animals and transport. Its incredible. I'm already hoping this is the first of a series (it is) and that I will get to read the rest (I will).

Then the next bit happened. Dak's and Omra's sexual tension becomes too much and they do the deed. They apparently like it so do it again. And again. And again.

This is where I struggled to pick it back up.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a young 32 year old. I'm also married and have been with my husband for 10 years. We have a son. I'm not a prude, by far. But when it comes to reading (and writing) I think a lot can be left to readers imaginations. When I write, I imply and I lead up to but writing sex scenes just isn't for me. I'm an adult so if its implied, that's cool, power to them. I don't mind reading them, at all. I've read 50 Shades. We've all read 50 Shades. I'm definitely not a stranger to it (also looking at you James Herbert with 'Once').

What I'm not a massive fan of is 13 chapters (exaggeration) of solid sex.  
Again, its cool. Its well written. Due to their language some of the gross words normally used are replaced so its not unbearable. 

What mostly upset me was that I felt a lot of the book was taken up with this. I kind of had an idea of how the story line was going to go, which I was looking forward to, and subsequently did happen. But I felt like it was rushed. The big built up, anticipated, final event was over so quickly. Cara could have really made a big deal out of and written so much more about what happened. 
She wouldn't even need to cut the smut. If the last event and the lead up was more detailed, not so easily resolved and had a bit more drama to it, it would have been balanced. Which is a shame because once I got over that hump and picked the book back up I thoroughly enjoyed it.

To be fair, once that main chapter or two of sex stuff was over it wasn't as intense. There was a lot less of it and when it did happen it didn't drag on. But I do feel like the depth of the story line was compromised due to the extent of the word porn in the middle.

So to summarise, I think the book was great. My copy included two chapters from the next one which looked interesting. Same place, same characters, different situation. And Cara explained enough about the characters in Breeder to captivate your interest for the next book. Which I will be buying. The story line was brilliant. I think this alternate world shes created is wonderfully done. Its alien but its believable! 

Would I recommend this book? Probably. Not to my Nan though. 

Book Review; It Was Always You - Georgie Capron

Georgie Capron
It Was Always You

Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley for free, with the intention of providing a review. All thoughts, notes, opinions are my own.
I will include vague spoilers but nothing that would ruin the story line, just potentially give away a few character and plot points.

Let me first begin by saying that this isn't the type of book I normally go for. Sure, I'm a sucker for the occasional Nick Sparks book and I do like a romantic story line but I tend to like that sandwiched between tonnes of drama and action. But, as I've got older, I've noticed my tastes are becoming more diverse with music especially and with reading. So reading the description to this book peaked an interest.

Almost instantly were introduced to the main character, Libby. We also find out quickly that she's in Italy and is travelling. I like how this Georgie Capron doesn't mess us around with the characters and you get a feel for them as soon as she introduces them so its easy to like/dislike them. 

This care free, unable to settle down girl is on her last stint before returning home to her best friends to start her normal, office job to try and create some stability in her life. As you have already got a feel for this girl, you already clock on that this isn't what she wants but thinks is what she needs so you instantly connect to her. 
At home is her two best friends, a married couple, who have been her friends since school and clearly have a close bond. Jules is obviously her confidant and the "fun" friend and Angus is clearly the one she a deeper bond with. Her constant worry about his disapproval or disappointing him is endearing. We learn quickly about a brief romantic dalliance between the pair when they were young but its something that they never continued and its something that isn't heavily played on. 

During the entire book, Georgie manages to keep a nice balance of descriptive text and actual conversations. Nothing that irks me more than 14 paragraphs on the type of grass shes standing on. She gives you enough to set the scene but doesn't drown you in directions and how many different colour shades she sees. 

My only criticism is that I found it kind of predictable. Not constantly. I mean, to be fair, the name of the books a touch of a giveaway but you are thrown off the case during the first half of a book. Every time something of significance happened I could fully predict the next big event in the story. Maybe its just because I've read a lot of books, I don't know.
That being said, It wasn't annoying. Because even though I found myself predicting what happened next, after I put the book down I spent the rest of my time wondering how she would react, cope or deal with said issue. 

I will mention that there is a mention of depression. One of the characters close to Libby suffers and I think Georgie Capron dealt with it well. I have a very good understanding of depression having close people to me that suffer so the way she approached it and how the characters supported and offered advice etc was great. I applaud the author for including this part of the story. The main thing I got from it was that it's OK to have depression. It doesn't define you or make you less of a person and it's certainly OK to ask for help. Whether its advice, to talk it out or medication. I definitely like the message she gave.

Another nice little sidenote is that she uses modern social apps. WhatsApp, email, Skype. I thought that was a great touch and would resonate with younger or more tech savvy readers. Its not included too much so that older or less tech savvy people wouldn't understand. My Nan - who refuses to touch an iPad (although I did get her to read a Kathy Reichs mini story on my iPad once in Greece!) and has only just upgraded her button keypad phone to my old touchscreen - would understand the references due to the way its written in.

When I read this book I was on a short break in the forest with my husband and son. I started reading before I left and finished it whilst there. I read from the minute my son went to bed until It was time for me to sleep, keeping my iPad next to me whilst I was cooking dinner or sitting on the balcony/decking. It was incredibly hard to put down! The night I did finish it Id stayed up stupidly late to read the last few chapters and even when I had put it down I spent the next hour thinking about it and going over it in my head. Mostly because I knew I had to review and I was mentally writing it but Its rare that a book gets me like that. 

In conclusion, the ending was great. I really got invested with the characters and rooted for Libby all the way through. I was thrilled with the ending and thought it tied up everything perfectly, the result being what I was really wanting, what the character Libby needed and the others involved. Even though there wasn't explosions, or murders, or kidnapping etc she still get you on your toes and it didn't get boring at all. Literally only lost a star due to the predictability.

Would I recommend it? Definitely would. I'd even re-read it. Which I don't do that often as my to-do reading list is massive.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Book Review: Kathy Reichs - Two Nights

Kathy Reichs
Two Nights

Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley via Simon & Schuster Publishers for free, with the intention of providing a review. All thoughts, notes, opinions are my own.
I will include vague spoilers but nothing that would ruin the storyline, just give away a few character and plot points.
Also, I was given a pre-release, uncorrected readers proof so I may report on things have changed since publication. Due to my vague writing to avoid ruining the storyline, I doubt this will have an impact.

Let me just start off by saying that I am a major Kathy Reichs fan. Her Tempe Brennan books were some of the first proper 'adult' books I began reading when I was younger and what got me into this genre of book. I would actually also credit her into getting me into reading as a hobby. Perhaps even into reviewing. As such, I feel I know her books well enough to understand her way of writing.

Which is perhaps why I've only four starred this book. Kathy has broken free of her Brennan series with this – so far – stand alone book with a new character and story. I know she came away slightly with her Virals series but not far enough with the main character being her nephews daughter with Tempe herself making appearances.
Unfortunately I don't think she came away enough.

Sunday Night. She's our new heroine. A tall redhead with a surly attitude, war wounds and a past. So far so good.
Its instantly apparent that it Reichs' writing. I could have received this book with no author information and know it was hers. Her style, her penchant for first person narrative and even her terminology make it clear who's typing these words.
One example of this on the very first page is referring to something as a “Dead maggot jamboree”. Not even a chapter in and we've got a Temperence comment.

To be fair though, the first chapter gets the book moving in the right direction. By the end we've got the plot taking shape. Sunday, an ex army, ex cop has been co-erced into a new job and out of retirement. Cool.
After this, without giving anymore away, she continues down this avenue and sets the scenes as only Kathy can. Pure description on weather, noises, surroundings, buildings etc. Her ability to really set up the scene in your imagination is second to none.

At this point I'm still struggling to connect with the character of Sunday. Reichs' insistence that this woman is closed down, sarcastic and dry seems to be going beyond my thoughts of “oh this woman is hardcore” towards “this woman is actually just being an intentional bitch”.

Still, I continue. Chapter after chapter bring awesome drama and action keeping me reading way past my bedtime. The only slight draw back is Kathys descriptions of places and directions she's taking. I know she's trying to set the scene but an entire paragraph on which streets she's walking seems to be a touch excessive.
Not too far in we have a new character introduced which is frankly extremely confusing. Without ruining it, her relationship to this person completely conflicts with her description of this persons appearance. The character seems to be in a similar profession, but I don't recall this ever being explained. Other than this, their personalities are completely different, which is refreshing reprieve from reading in the perspective of someone who'd I'd probably do all I could to avoid if in real life.
Fast forward to the very last chapter and this relationship is briefly explained in a confusing moment during a conversation with a reoccurring background character. I had to read the page twice to make sure I understood and didn't miss anything.
Nope, it was still vague. BUT. I think this was intentional due to her continuing this character into a series much like the Brennan stories. Perhaps she intends to explain in more detail later on. I hope.

A twist I loved during the books entirety was every few chapters or so the Sunday Night story line was interrupted with a second story. Written in the third person, this separate narrative really gets the head scratching going.
Until the conclusion, I was constantly wondering if this new, nameless, character was to do with Sunday's case, something related, unrelated, or Sunday herself.
A clever twist that really keeps your interest and is a nice little break from the main storyline. Keep with it and resist flicking to the end to spoil it.

By now, my interest in the book has peaked and I'm not reading because I have to write this, but because I want to. Because its a new book by my literary hero and I'm invested in her and the new character.
The plot continues with twists, turns and typically predicable parts, but its great reading.

Then the end happens.

Same old Kathy. Our heroine, having discovered the main antagonists evil schemes is executing her plan to catch the baddy/baddies. Sunday's on a role. Doing her usual Reich's leading lady habit of not listening to what she's told by authority figures, going rogue and getting herself into trouble of some degree.
Then she goes off chasing a minor part of the puzzle, enters a showdown, is saved/helped/assisted then END CHAPTER. New chapter begins some time afterwards with bit part players filling in the gaps because she was off doing something else instead of being in the thick of the main action. It gets me every time. That quick, “Oh, this is what you missed” run down instead of seeing the rest of the story through.

When I first loaded this onto my iPad, that was the one thing I didn't want to see. Yes, she branched away from Forensic Anthropology – which she knows better than anyone – and ventured into partially new territory (not too far though as she writes about FBI, Police and that side of things often with Brennan so has obviously done previous research) but she just didn't break away from her usual story structure of 1. Meet Badass, 2. Learn to love Badass, 3. Roll your eyes constantly from her being a bit reckless but secretly love it. 4. TWIST TWIST TWIST. 5. Rushed ending.

If you read my last review on Kathy's last Brennan book then you'll see that this particular irk has plagued me during reading the last couple of her books. Its clearly a formula that works but as a big fan of hers, whose entire works I have read (in order, I may add), its a played out scenario for me.

But, in conclusion, I would recommend her book. To fans and non-fans. Its a good, interesting read. The characters do get under your skin and you begin to love them. You'll feel like you know the cities/towns she describes like you've been there yourself. But if you're like me, it will leave you feel slightly unfulfilled with lack of explanation with the characters.

I'm genuinely hoping she does continue this into a series and I'll read it, as I have every time she's released something. There is no doubt some of the loose ends in this one will be explored in future books and I believe it will get better.

All in all, its a great book from a new angle and I do recommend it.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

I Volunteer As Tribute

So. I'm back. Again. Hoping this time for good. 

I'll try to do a tl;dr version (just skim read the bold bits) for anyone bothered before I delve into my latest development. 

My kids 2 and a half now. He's going through that dickheady "Terrible Twos" phase which is delightful.

Our car was stolen whilst my husband was away with work which was a nightmare. A week later we decide to cut our losses and buy a new car whilst we waited for the insurance payout. The next day the car was recovered. FACEPALM.

I did start my talked about business but unfortunately it has had to be closed down for a while, if not permanently. This was a horrible thing for me, mainly because the decision was taken out of my hands, almost literally. 

I learned to drive! Passed my test the first time with only two minors. As if by magic the Kuga (the stolen/recovered car) had been repaired and was ready and waiting for me. Within a few days I was insured and away on my merry way doing coffee dates and nursery runs. A week and a half later, just over 2 weeks after passing, this all changed.

Saturday March 18th. A normal Saturday at my mums with the family. I'm gearing up to leave as I've got to get home, changed and back out in my own car (still seems surreal) to get to my best friends to babysit. 
My kid decides on a trip upstairs whilst I'm having a slash. I dash out and hold his hand to bring him back down. About 1/3 down my foot goes from underneath me. Luckily I let go of my son, but in the mean time I've rolled from my ass to my left side, the momentum taking me over the edge of the stairs (no bannisters, just because of an outdated design).
And I'm falling. 
5ft foot later and I've landed on the stone floor. I've gone to put my arm out but don't quite manage it and land on my elbow.

Returning to the scene of the ?crime? Where I am standing is where I went over.

Thankfully, my husbands already en route so we head off to the hospital where I'm in X-Ray quite quickly where its seen I have snapped my humerus bone completely in two. Spiral fracture.
I broke my arm and it fucking hurt.

Not mine as they wouldn't let me take a picture but this is the closest I've found. Mine was longer and more gap.

To make matters worse my radial nerve crosses my arm at the break site and has been damaged in the process. I was diagnosed with Radial Nerve Palsy and my entire arm braced up. 

GINORMOUS arm brace, check/back supports and sling.
Wrist brace to help with the RNP or "Wrist Drop"

I avoided surgery twice but I'm waiting for the results of my tests (more on that later) to been seen by my consultant. Fingers crossed I can avoid it a third time. 
Physiotherapy is going well and, whilst my wrist and thumb are as dead as you like, my arms out of the big brace and sling. I have limited movement but a million times more than before.

I'm going to be doing a more detailed, in depth post series about this. I found reading forum posts and blogs about other peoples experiences have kept me sane, especially during those horrendous first few weeks. In between other blog posts i'll do the medical ones. Its just going to take me a while as I'm typing with one hand and its not my dominant, so having to learn to do things with lefty.

But hey, I'm almost 11 weeks into recovery. Things aren't ideal. Hoping a blogging return will keep my mind active a bit more. 
But I'm still going. Always keep fighting, right?

Hope my newer shit appeals.

Laura x

Bonus picture. 
Heres me dominating bowling. Broken arm, nerve damage and using my left hand...still won.