Sunday, April 28, 2013

Do You Have Any Unfinished Business?

From the Angry to the Sublime by Earl T. Roske is a collection of six short stories, each with a paranormal element.

The first story is 'Call of Duty' and follows Detective Saveman, preserving a crime scene until the cops arrive.

First Sentence:

"The house smelled of death -- violent, rotting death -- and detective Saveman was sick of it."

The second is 'A Family Reunion'. 

First Sentence:

"Standing at the road, looking at old man Kobb's place Billy Johansen began to feel like maybe this wasn't such a good idea."

Billy is a Boy Scout. His leader has told them to sell the birdhouses they previously made. Desperate to succeed, Billy tries the house of 'old man Kobb', the grumpy, old curmudgeon present in every book. But, when Kobb opens the door, Billy glimpses a room full of people behind him, all wearing old-fashioned outfits from multiple eras. Curiosity peaked, he and his friend Jackie investigate. 

In 'Pile Up' a young couple have just bought an SUV, and decide to test it out with a road trip from Boise, Idaho to Chicago. 

First Sentence:

"Patrick and Mary did what any young couple would do when they purchased their new SUV: road trip!"

Along the way, they find themselves lost at a crossroads, with a small, deserted town on the side of the road. They're deciding what to do, when the town comes to life. 

Story number four, 'A Place For Everything', follows Josh Butrow, a college professor, who has just bought his first house.

First Sentence:

"It was a small house, my first house, but I was proud of my purchase."

The house lay empty for over a decade, then was bought by a couple who redid the entire house. A week after moving in, they left, sold the house and never came back. It was only when Josh saw the ghost of a woman that he understood why.

'Duet' is the penultimate story. 

First Sentence:

"Mike Watergreen had not slept well."

Mike Watergreen is a violinist in the Spanaway Park Amateur Symphony. Currently touring France, he has a bad case of nerves as they reach the small town of Alleurs. Mike is used to being second violinist, a position he's comfortable with, but when the first violinist is suddenly called away and unable to perform, Mike is given the role. Trying to stave off a bad case of stage fright, he spots a woman in white during the rehearsal. It is then that he hears the rumour of a ghost, who supposedly haunts the hall.

The final story is 'Hallow Ground'. 

First Sentence:

"The sun pressed down upon the land with a heavy hand of heat."

Friends Jonah, Able and Luke are trying to strike gold. They're digging a tunnel to try achieve their goal. A tunnel big enough for all three to be in at once, with branches as support beams across the roof and stretching over 100ft. They're in the tunnel when an earthquake hits, trapping Jonah alone inside. Though he may not be as alone as he thinks.

These are not the usual ghost stories. Not one of the stories is chilling or terrifying. If you're looking for scary tales these are not them.  I'm not sure if it was the author's intention for this to be the case though. There are a couple of stories where I can see the potential for the unnerving or frightening, but these stories come away as far too tame for any spine-chilling moments. 

This by itself is not a problem. Ghost stories don't necessarily have to scare, but personally I found the stories lacking. Not just in thrills, but substance too. A couple were uninteresting and I found I'd completely forgotten about them before looking back at my notes. This is not to say all the stories are like this, however. I found a clear favourite in the last story and I really liked elements of the first, but that first story is so short, that the enjoyment is short-lived. 

I think a problem I had with this collection, was that there aren't really any surprises. If you label something as a ghost story, you're fully aware there are going to be ghosts. So when one actually pops up, it's expected. I know that the author probably wanted the 'element of surprise', but I found each story was predictable and I could easily guess the ending and 'twists' in the story. Perhaps if there had been more characters or depth to each story, I would've had a harder time figuring out who was the ghost, but as most of the stories contain between 2-3 main characters, there isn't really much mystery. Some of the stories just tell you who the ghost is and the focus is more on why they're there, but there's not enough depth to those stories to carry the ghosts. 

Myths and urban legends have always been close to my heart. I can't explain exactly why I enjoy them so much, but whatever it is wasn't in this book. At least, not for me. 

There are a few errors in the Kindle edition. I wouldn't normally mention it, but there are enough to be distracting at times. Not enough to stop me reading, but enough to be noticeable. 

A short book that doesn't necessarily offer anything particularly new or original, but does have enjoyable moments. For those who enjoy ghost stories without the scares or chills. 

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

If Batman Had Been Incompetent...And Had to Fight Zombies


First Paragraph:

"Dr. Malevolent stood before the one obstacle stopping her from collection her salary: the large brick wall of The Bank. Yes, they actually called it The Bank. Despite such an enticing name, the super villain never before thought to rob it. Too obvious. Yet here she was, preparing to breach The Bank, its benefits ripe for the reaping. A few feet away was the back door that Boris- her right-hand man- had lined with C5, a special cocktail he had cooked up. C4's big brother, he called it."

             Amazon /

A Drizzle of Zombies by Joshua Price is the first book in 'The Annals of Absurdity" series.

Dr. Malevolent is up to her super-villain ways again. This time she wants to rob the bank (aptly named 'The Bank"). With her schizophrenic sidekick, Boris (aka Charlie, aka Cecil DeWitt, aka who knows) and a group of unnamed lackeys, what could possibly stop her? With her "employee of the month' winning" rod constantly at her side and the most unsubtle getaway van of all time, nothing can hinder her cause- taking revenge on human-kind for her father's natural causes. She will have vengeance.

Enter Captain Rescue, the epitome of a spoof hero and arch-nemesis of Dr. Malevolent. Armed with a purple, spandex suit (with cape), plenty of unidentifiable (at least to him) Internet bought gadgets, and more neuroses than the average pollen-fearing bee in a florist's, he defends the citizens valiantly in the name of Justice. Or at least tries to. Captain Rescue is unfortunately 'one banana short of a fruit bowl' if you get my drift, and only succeeds in saving anybody through sheer, dumb luck. His idea to save the cliche cat in the tree, is to repeatedly ram his parent's truck into the trunk until one or both buckle. 

He travels in one of his many "Rescue" vehicles, but his most used is the "Rescue Machine", which he personally designed- with crayons. But why does he do all this? Why choose this path? His parents were killed by dolphins and now he must fight evil. They were very wealthy and it's their money that pays for all his escapades and funds his 'creativity'.

During this latest battle between the two foes, Dr. Malevolent and her crew get captured. This is important because their cargo gets taken into custody as well. Among their bank spoils is a vial of strange, green liquid with enough warning labels to make anyone think twice. Well, almost anyone. Seems one of the police men cataloguing the inventory thinks it looks rather tasty. From the title of this book, I'm sure you can guess what happens next. Yes, our clever cop has a coughing fit and seconds later becomes a zombie. Luckily his partner has seen enough horror movies to realise what's happening. Unfortunately, this leaves him paralysed with fear and causes his demise. 

When the city actually calls for help from their resident "hero", he's in it up to his neck, literally- zombies love necks. And what's our Batman-wannabe's (seriously, he lives in a cave and has a butler called "Alfonso") first reaction when encountering a zombie? Spray it with mace! Now why don't any of the movies ever think of that? Oh right, because it does absolutely nothing. Who would've thought? Note to self: Mace does not repel the undead. 

Eventually, he works his way to the police station and runs into Dr. Malevolent and her cronies. Together, they agree to help save the world (in Malevolent's case it's because she doesn't want to rule the undead), along with a huge mountain of muscle (Freight- who's a cop with a bloodlust to match his size) and his shotgun, Courtney. Boris (Malevolent's right-hand man) equips himself with his precious bunny costume and becomes 'Charlie', a born leader with enough smarts to possibly save them all- minus a few lackeys.

Along the way, this odd menagerie run into a zombie who's a little bit different- he can speak (plus he doesn't have a hunger for human flesh). He has no memory of his human life, but does get brief visions of how the zombie DNA (if that's what it is) was created. The group decide he might be useful and let him tag along. As he can't remember his own name, Captain Rescue 'kindly' names him Stubbs. Stubbs informs the group that zombies apparently don't like giant, fuzzy, blue bunnies and so Charlie is the perfect deterrent. Together they will battle through zombie nightclubs, a zombie birthday party and in general a lot than 'a drizzle of zombies', to find the creators and save the world.

In case it wasn't already clear, this is very much a comedy. For this reason, the zombies are hardly threatening. I'm fully aware that that these two things aren't necessarily related. I know you can have scary zombies in a comedy (thank you 'Shaun of the Dead"), but these ones aren't. Just to make that clear for anyone out there who's only interested in zombies that leave you devoid of all hope and with a death wish. 

There are also a ton of pop culture references, from 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' and 'Doctor Who' to 'Jurassic Park', 'Monty Python' and 'Donkey Kong' (with many, many more), there's bound to be something you recognise. Of course, there are also the obvious references to superheroes, mostly Batman, and the whole 'saving the world' thing. I feel I have to make it clear- this is a spoof. It is in no way serious. Absolutely nothing makes any sense in this book. Things get stranger and stranger and if you're the kind of person who can't not question what's going on, this may not be the book for you. If you can go with the flow, you may find this book more appealing.

Sometimes, the nonsense can be a little tiring, especially paired with the slapstick humour. Both are  constant and unceasing, but they can be odd enough to keep you reading. Just be aware that if you're looking for something with even an ounce of seriousness in it- this is not it. 

Overall, a story with quirky (if a little immature) humour, that is reminiscent of old-school TV shows, such as 60's Batman and Doctor Who episodes, with a little video-game oddness thrown in. If you like pop-culture references or spoofs, this is for you. For me, there was just a little too much absurdity to fully enjoy this book. Everyone has a different level of craziness that they can tolerate and this book exceeded mine. 

If this book has caught your interest, you'll be pleased to know it ends on a cliffhanger and the next book is available. If you can handle more crazy than me, why not check it out?

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Well, What's Family For?....No Really, What?!

This Can't Be Normal by Diana Estill is a collection of 23 true, short stories about everyday life. Or rather, her everyday life. Set around her home base of Dallas, Texas (with the occasional tale from abroad), we're given small snapshots into the daily goings-on of her household. 

There are far too many stories for me to give detailed descriptions of all of them (plus I don't want to spoil anything), so I've created a "mini-trailer" (or something) for the book as a whole. Text only of course. Try to picture a dramatic voice-over. Here it goes:

       In a world where garage sales are Utopia, we find these brave heroes on their extraordinary missions.

       From analysing the perfect cup of coffee down to its molecular level, to providing health risk statistics on death by "space pollution" to the public, these warriors may just be the answer we've been looking for.

         What really happens at the dentist? What is the perfect cookie recipe for catering an apocalypse?

       Fighting for humanity against the dreaded CAPTCHAs and taking on an epic quest to discover untold wisdom hidden in your drawers.

        One woman must conquer her fear of glasses containing unknown substances. And 
          could mens' boxers be the cause of the recession?

         This brave family battles onward, desperately trying to provide us with an explanation of what normal really means.

Coming soon to a book store near you! Actually it already has, pick up a copy today. Okay enough of that. Onto the actual book itself. The writing style is very similar to newspaper columnists. The stories are brief, anecdotal and tell of real-life situations. Therefore, the humour of each story will be completely subjective to the individual reading them. Whether a story is funny or not will completely depend on their own perspective and what most relates to them. But, the likelihood is that everyone will find at least one story that makes them smile in this collection.

The author mixes social commentary with her family oddities, intertwining the two so that both will be entertaining. She can be a little cynical at times, but then who isn't? It just adds to the humour. Her humour is very tongue-in-cheek and she's not afraid of writing degrading comments about people, but makes sure it's all in jest by including herself in the mockeries. 

An easy, afternoon read, that'll strike a cord with anyone who's ever wondered what normality really is? And if it's possible for their family to be part of it.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Broken Man's Journey to Save a Little Girl

First Paragraph:

"The man with the wild black beard walked down the hot, white sidewalk, slowly lifting up his old brown boots and then tentatively setting them down again as though he were not certain he wanted to move at all; sometimes he would stop, simply staring at the faded concrete, as if he were making up his mind whether to continue. His matted black hair hung over his forehead as his fiery eyes stared with a power that seemed to bore a hole clear through the heard cement."

The Searcher by Ray Dacolias stars Joaquin Bridger- a homeless man who is tormented by his past. The story starts off in Redwood, California, where we meet Joaquin as he wanders the same path he has taken for the last 5 years. He prays for agony and punishment. He wishes to die, but would consider that more of a blessing than he deserves. The villagers have nicknamed him 'El Buscar' or 'The Searcher', because he wanders with his head down, never looking up, as though he's looking for something.

But what caused this man to break? What thrust him down the dark hole to his never-ending torture?  His general story is this. Joaquin was part of the 110th Infantry Division. Then 15 years ago he settled in Redwood, becoming a police officer. One of the best. 5 years ago, an event occurred that turned him into the shell of a man he is today. There was a bank robbery. Two people were taken hostage as the robbers were escaping. Their car crashed and the police caught up to them. The car had flipped and the leader of the bandits had the hostages with him in the front. The police quickly surrounded the area and set up Joaquin for a shot at the leader (as Joaquin is an ace shot). The leader had completely covered himself and the two hostages with his coat, and threatened to kill both hostages if his demands weren't met. Joaquin had to take the shot, but before he could the leader shot one of the hostages. Joaquin quickly took a shot of his own, but as he fired the car slipped in the muddy ground and moved enough for his shot to go wide and hit the other hostage instead. Joaquin ran to the car, the leader threw out his gun and surrendered, but it was then that Joaquin discovered who the hostages were. His wife and daughter. The leader had killed his wife and he had killed his own daughter. It may have been an accident, he may not have been at fault, but the guilt and the grief broke him and turned him into the agonised man he now is.

Now 5 years later, events seem to be repeating. He happens to be standing outside the bank. Juanita Chavez (an old friend of his that offers him food whenever they happen to meet) is in town with her 4 children. She visits the bank and is on her way to her car when her youngest daughter, 9 year old Sylvia, realizes she's dropped her toy on the way and runs back to find it. Juanita runs to her as three men run out of the bank and grab her child. Another robbery is in progress and another hostage is taken as they make their escape. Joaquin briefly glimpses one of the men as they barge past him, and recognises the man who killed his family. Shock paralyses him and allows them enough time to get away with the child. Joaquin makes it his life mission to track down the man and bring back the child. He gives his word to Juanita. Her faith in him makes brief appearances throughout the book, as she and her family struggle to deal with the loss.

Along the way, Joaquin is helped by two men. Captain Ricardo Montoya, the chief of police in Redwood- who is an old friend of Joaquin and Supervisory Deputy United States Marshal Jacob Shipper, who is part of the investigation as the kidnapper is believed to be a fugitive. Joaquin's name has travelled far, but his story has not. Once Shipper hears it, he does all he can to help the broken man, even making him a Marshal in order to help him track down the kidnapper.

Thus begins a journey that spans nearly three years, across several states, including Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and many others. Through harsh environments and extreme situations, both mental and physical. We learn more about the tracker and his prey, John Slaughter.

If evil could have a physical form, it would be John Slaughter. He is a man who detests man-kind. So much so, that he wants to eradicate it and form a super-army, with himself at the lead. He travels with a convoy and has many safe-houses, all of which are well 'off the beaten track'. He always has young girls with him. He wants to 'educate' them to be the perfect 'ants'. To him, women are simply big children. A genetic mutation. He wants soldiers with no emotion and little 'ants' to tend to their needs. The girls will become the perfect women- 'ants' devoted to the colony, utterly devoid of self-preservation or being. All in his presence must call him 'The Master", for that is what he believes himself to be and what he wants to become. 

Sylvia is brought to the convoy two weeks after her kidnapping. It's a harsh life, constantly marching, constant physical exertion in Slaughter's very own 'survival of the fittest' world. The weakest are 'thinned from the herd'. He occasionally gives the girls tests. Whoever fails is left behind. All the girls are given ankle bracelets upon their arrival, which contain a tracking device, meaning the girls can't run or get away. If they try to remove it, it sends out a signal and they are found out instantly. She meets many other girls along the way, as Slaughter constantly leaves girls (whether at one of his safe-houses or alone in the wild) and brings others in. When the girls turn thirteen, they are left at a safe-house for further education. 

Joaquin is angry and desperate for revenge. He is willing to kill all who get in his way without a second thought. During one of his attacks, he finds himself taken down too. Saved by a massive man he calls 'the Giant', he spends a lot of time with the man as he recovers. 'The Giant' no longer remembers his name, but his story is seared into his mind and he tries to reason with Joaquin to leave his anger behind and accept forgiveness. This odd prophet delivers a pathway to inner peace for Joaquin. His story resonates so deeply and is so similar to Joaquin's own, that the man feels he has found a kindred spirit in this huge hermit. 

Joaquin tries to understand, tries to accept, but his mission and hate are so strong and burn so bright inside him that it is an impossible task. 

This is one of the few stories I've read, where you feel like you've been on the long journey with them. The weariness and tension experienced by so many of the characters, begins to take its toll on the reader as well. Joaquin's non-stop determination towards his goal. His extreme lows- where he becomes just a being, a creature and forgets everything except that he's tracking a monster and can never stop- are hard for the reader to bear too. Not as hard as it is for the characters, obviously, but enough to make the journey feel the length it actually is. This is a story that spans years and miles and the author does a great job making the reader not only believe that, but experience it to the greatest extent they can. 

There is very little dialogue in this book, and what is there feels very old-fashioned. The way they talk, the words they use, all add together to give the impression of an long ago story, though this is a book set in very modern times. There's technology and all the other marvels of the modern world, so the result is a world that feels a little juxtaposed with the people in it. Not necessarily a bad thing. Some people may find it a little distracting, but I found it more intriguing. 

Another thing that may be an issue for some readers is the changes in Point of View. It doesn't happen incredibly often, but the problem lies more in the manor of the changes. Every time the POV switches, the story returns back to the last moment we saw that character in, even if that means returning to the start of the book. It can be a little confusing in places at first, but once you get used to it, I don't think it's a problem. 

The characters are hard to describe. Everything is said through their actions and presence, with very little spoken between any of the characters. They come alive when they interact with each other, but when they're alone, they somehow become less of a person and more of a character. Maybe that's the problem, they're more characters than people. It's not that they're unrealistic, it's more that so many of them are so obscure or unusual that's it hard to relate to them. I fully believe that anyone can become any of these characters given the right circumstances. However, that doesn't make it any easier to understand them. I can understand their motives and the reasoning behind what they do, but actually understanding them is a different story. They interact so strongly together, that the reader is almost kept out of the loop. This means that while the characters are interesting and work well together, there's no real sense of loss when one is left behind or lost, because they're more important to each other than to the reader. 

As I mentioned earlier, there is an amazingly small amount of dialogue. Instead we get beautiful descriptive writing, that flows flawlessly and paints stunning landscapes and brings the characters and places to life. It fits very well with the strong 'back to nature' feel I got from this book. I'm interested in knowing whether I was the only one who got that vibe. The story is very big on leaving behind the cold, technological world in favour of the bounties of nature. This theme can be a little overshadowed by another sometimes. I know a lot of people got annoyed with this second theme- religion. There is a lot of forgiveness and God talk, but I personally didn't find it an issue. I know a lot of books with religion in them can seem preachy, but this wasn't a book about religion to me. It was just a book with religion in it. And the characters are preaching, but to one another, not the reader. Yes, some people might consider those two the same thing, but it's not. I live by the 'to each his own' motto, and am perfectly happy for people believe whatever they want to. Why should it matter to me? The only time I get irritated by it, is if someone tries to force their beliefs on others or if they use their beliefs as an excuse to do bad things. That's not how religion should work. Some people may say, but aren't the characters in this book forcing their beliefs on others? To an extent, maybe, but mostly they're just trying to offer comfort and support the best way they know how, which just happens to be in the form of religion some of the time.

Mainly, this is a story of forgiveness and hope in their purest forms. One man finding peace within himself and accepting redemption. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It's not what I'd call a mainstream book. I have a hard time categorising it. From the description I would call it a thriller, but it's so very atypical of your general thriller that it doesn't quite fit in the genre. For this reason, some people may dislike it, but if you're a fan of unconventional stories, that have more of an 'indie feel', or are a fan of adventure-thrillers, why not take a look?

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Things That Go Bump in the Night Are Real and You're One of Them

First Paragraph:

"Nothing like a smooth glass of scotch to numb the senses. Frederick has always offered top-shelf drinking for the sophisticated palate, but I prefer the local hole in the wall. There's something about the anonymity as lifetime abusers wearily stroll in and out, looking for their particular brand of coping mechanism. We don't ask personal questions, hell, I don't even know the bartender's name and he's wearing a nametag. This is one of the few places where I can publicly hide from a lifetime of secret stares and hushed whispers."

                          Amazon /

The Bonded by John Falin is the first book in the Adriel's Legacy series. 

The story starts in the small town of Frederick, Maryland, where we first meet Adriel. Adriel is in his 40's (though looks much younger) and stands out due to his appearance. His snow white hair and nearly translucent, but for a hint of green, eyes make it hard for him to blend in. Perhaps he could explain aware his hair with concocted stories of dye or cover his eyes with sunglasses, but his 6ft2in height just adds to his growing list of unique traits. 

Aside from his physical appearance, there are other aspects of Adriel that are a little unusual. For instance, he has a fast metabolism. Very fast. As in he can burn off a scotch in fifteen minutes kind of fast. He also has a very high body temperature, that is suffocating in the summer and perfect in the winter, where all he has to wear is a light jacket in the snow.

With all we know about him, it may not be surprising that Adriel has always felt different. But there's something else as well. Adriel believes he has a 'demon' inside him. Not a supernatural kind, but something that wants to break out. He has to constantly control it (which can sometimes be a little challenging due to his quick temper), and is very reserved for fear of it, which can put quite a strain on his relationships with people. This paired with his almost pathological need for moments of solitude during the day mean that Adriel spends most of his time alone. Generally drinking at any bar where he can be anonymous. 

On one of these occasions however, he draws a little too much attention to himself. Two men and a woman walk into the bar. The twin men exude an aura of unfriendliness and threatening unapproachability, one is a heavily built, muscular man, while the other is less so, but with more brains. Adriel instantly nicknames the duo 'Hanz' and 'Franz' (named for the SNL characters).

On the other hand, he is instantly drawn to the woman, the beautiful Percy (short for Persephone), though he can't put his finger on why. Sure she's stunning, but there's something deeper. All three of them could be siblings, with their jet black hair and translucent, blue eyes that look like ice. The three men peacock a little and Adriel pushes his luck. After leaving the bar, the twins follow him to his car. Adriel is prepared and brings out the knife he always carries, but it soon becomes obvious that this is a fight he can't win. The two men are unnaturally fast and can heal incredibly quickly. Panic starts to take over as one of the twins bites his neck and sucks his blood. Adriel blacks out.

When he comes to, Adriel discovers a whole new world. If he wasn't aware of the supernatural world before, he sure as hell is now. As it turns out, vampires are real. They are born essentially human. In their early twenties they go through a phase called 'The Resurrectio' (or 'The Awakening' to non-Latin speakers). During this time, their bodies and minds change to create the vampires they eventually become.They all have dark hair and ice blue eyes, and none of them is over 5ft10in, with the exception of their leader, Cassius. Cassius is an unnerving individual and the oldest of the vampires. He covets power and demands absolute loyalty. But Cassius is already the leader of all vampires, what more power could he have?

Well, it turns out there are other supernatural species too. And a battle is about to break out with one of them. The waer to be exact. There was a long-standing treaty between the two species that has now been broken and both sides thirst for blood. Not to mention, with the arrival of Adriel, everyone wants a piece.

The waer and the vampires share many similar traits, such as sleeping during the day, sucking blood for nutrients and they can only killed by decapitation, having their heart cut out or exsanguination. Neither of these species are immortal. Vampires generally live to around 1500. But waer differ in many ways. They are extremely tall- around 7ft, have bright yellow eyes and a huge amount of body hair, including beards. Their appearance is similar to very tall, wild mountain men. They also have four sharp incisors, as opposed to the retractable two that vampires have. Their hands are clawed, which make them best at close combat. They are led by Quilici, a very smart waer, who holds his cards very close to his chest.

As Adriel learns more about the culture and tries to discover what he really is, secrets are revealed and suspicions are abound. Adriel may seem to be almost a vampire, but there are a few discrepancies that cause distrust amongst the others. Unlike the other vampires, he only went through 'The Resurrectio" after meeting Hanz, Franz and Percy. His eyes are green and there's the possibility he has his own unique powers, not ones known to be possessed by vampires. 

There is also the unease he feels towards Cassius, who sees him more as a means to an end than a person. The only problem is that Adriel doesn't know what the end Cassius has in store is. However, for now he is content to be around Percy, with whom he seems to share an odd bond. Percy can't or won't explain it and, as the bond strengthens, Adriel becomes increasingly irritated with the mountains of questions that keep pilling up, without a single answer to lessen them.

Percy does give him one clue though. Adriel was adopted. This he always knew, but what he wasn't aware of, until his parents passed, was the secrets they kept. Part of his inheritance was a single piece of paper with the word 'Vinculum' scrawled across it. According to Percy, vinculum is Latin for 'The Bonded'.

After being pulled into the world of 'things that go bump in the night' and finding there's a battle between them, Adriel has to cope with becoming a fully fledged vampire with a twist (one he doesn't know about) and learning to fight in a war against creatures he could never have even imagined existed. Both sides want him, but he's not sure which one (if either) wants him alive. The question is, where does his allegiance lie? And what is 'The Bonded'?

The plot is quite slow-moving. Even with the impending war and the build-up to the finale, there is little sense of urgency overall. There are certain points where tension is created, but it soon dissipates and isn't held.

I would've also liked a little more background on the other characters and more development too. I had an odd relationship with the characters in this book. Some become more interesting with time, (no spoilers) and some becoming less so, almost to the point of becoming boring. This was how I felt about Percy's character. She just wasn't very captivating. Even Adriel's story isn't gone into in detail and his character remains constant and practically unchanged. But this is only the beginning, after all. 

In the end, this book just wasn't for me. Like practically every other woman, I went thought the vampire/werewolf phase, but am well past it now. There are some exceptions, so perhaps a more concise description would be I am past vampire or werewolf romances. This isn't exactly a romance, but vampire/werewolf books are basically a hit or miss for me. I always give books the benefit of the doubt, so I won't judge a book for being a vampire/werewolf story, but that doesn't mean I'll necessarily enjoy it. I go into all stories neutral and let the books form my own opinions and feelings towards them. This book is good, just not 'my cup of tea'.

A book for fans of young adult or supernatural stories, especially those involving vampires or werewolves (how many times have I written those words now?). Book 1 sets up the story for the rest of the series well. If you're interested, why not give it a try?

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How To Find Your Mother a Man In 50 Dates or More

First Paragraph:

"If I could give one piece of advice to every teenager in the world, it would be this: when you move away from home, move far, far away, ad never look back. My biggest mistake? I didn't move far enough. In fact, I only moved three houses down the road. The perfect distance for my mother to interfere in my life, even more than she did when I lived under her own roof."

            Amazon /

Kismetology by Jaimie Admans stars Mackenzie (better known to her friends as Mac). After dating her boyfriend Dan for a year, they decide to move in together. Unbeknownst to them, Mac's mother chose a house and payed a deposit before they knew it. The main catch? It's three doors down from her own. 

Three months later and tensions are beginning to reach boiling point. Every night they perform the same dance. Mac's mother comes over, puts on a soap and complains about everything. Most of the time her attention is focused on belittling their choices in decor or putting Dan down, while her Yorkshire Terrier (Baby) runs around, chewing up their expensive cushions and peeing in all the house plants. 

The time had come for a change, and Mac decides the best way to occupy her mother is by getting her a new man. She has been divorced for 10 years and Mac's reasoning is that she must be lonely. If she can get her the company of a man, he might keep her preoccupied long enough for them to enjoy some time "mum-free". But, how do you find the perfect man for a woman who takes three months to choose curtains? Or sews very detailed animal costumes for her dog, sometimes resulting in a near arrest after taking Baby to the park dressed as a crocodile?

The more Mac thinks about it, the more she becomes involved. After all, she can't just bring her mum any Tom, Dick or Harry. So what does she do? She decides to screen dates, a sort of date interview if you will. She finds men, goes on a "date" with them to see whether they're suitable and, if so, passes them along to her mother.

But Mac has no idea where to start. How does a 29 year old woman go about meeting men twice her age? So she starts with people she or people they know. Her first potential match? Jenn (a colleague from work) suggests her father, Jeff, who has been divorced for 6 years. Mac thinks he's charming and kind- the perfect man for her mother. So, she sets them up. At first her mother is a little skeptical of being set up on a blind date, but soon gets into it.

All seems to go well, until her mother comes back asking for someone else. A few tries later and Mac finds things getting awkward. Asking friends may not be the best strategy, so she starts trawling the personal ads. Of course, everyone knows you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince and Mac meets a lot of them. The things she does for her mother. But, she has to find the cream of the crop or her mother won't be interested, or worse, may even doubt her skills and call the whole thing off. Mac screens man after man after questionable species, coming up with a few good catches, that her mother turns her nose up at.

But something magical has happened. Through the process, Mac discovers she actually likes being a matchmaker and maybe she could make a career out of it. Why not? There must be a market for it? She doesn't particularly enjoy her current job, so maybe this could be a new beginning for more than one of them?

The main plot is enjoyable, but the subplot is a less so. Mac and Dan are going through a bit of a rough patch in their relationship and they can both be a little unpleasant to each other at times. But the thing is, all relationships have lows, but if the majority of the interactions between two people are lows, it won't last much longer. To me, there were't enough good moments between them to make their story pleasant. Everything in moderation after all. You can't have just bad or just good, but need a little of both. Otherwise, there's a danger of the characters being boring or irritating.  Mac and Dan just never seem to do anything together. Almost all of the interactions we see between them involve other people. And the conclusion to their story is predictable.

But, like I said, the main plot is entertaining. Some of the characters are hilarious and the dates ofter go from bad to worse. Between her eccentric mother and the unbelievable men she meets for her, there are bound to be a few laughs.

Overall, this is a feel-good book. An easy read, that modern times would call a good "beach read". Personally, I never really liked the term, so I'll call it the perfect lazy afternoon read. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April 1st!

As it is a day traditionally associated with pranks, I thought I would do my own small version of one. So, this is what I have for you- a semi-review, which includes the entire "book" for your reading pleasure. 

The plot is so extremely fine-tuned, you'll wonder why you've never read this story before. Not one to be missed.

In a nutshell, this "book" is brilliantly terrifying, not to mention terrifyingly brilliant. The epitome of simplicity, that shows a book doesn't have to be long or complex to capture the reader or their imagination.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.