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Review: Stake-Out by Lily Luchesi

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Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

3 stars

 

Synopsis:

Detective Danny Mancini is on a case, following a murder suspect. When he catches him, he finds out that the perp isn’t even human: he’s a 200 year old rogue vampire!

The department doesn’t believe him, and puts him on early retirement, despite his many years of service to the Chicago Police Department, which sends him into a downward spiral.

Two years later, Danny gets an invitation from the beautiful, young and very attractive Detective Angelica Cross to join a secret branch of the FBI to help her track down Vincent, the wayward vamp.

But renegade werewolves, meddling immortal witches and Danny’s strange visions of a life lived a century ago with Angelica make things more difficult than it should be.


 

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This book is of my go-to comfort genre, vampire fiction with a hint of mystery. I’m a huge Anita Blake fan so this series immediately appealed to me.

The story line itself is good, featuring my favourite concept of a regular human discovering that there’s more to this world than they’d ever expected.

Danny finds himself enlisted by a paranormal investigation branch of the FBI and teamed up with a mysterious and unsubtly gorgeous woman, following his early forced retirement from the police department. Their bond grows both professionally and romantically (obviously) and then BOOM! events get in the way and they have to engage in some serious violence to come out the other side.

As it’s first book in the Paranormal Detectives series, I may be being a little harsh only awarding it 3 stars (there may be guilt later that I have to assuage with vanilla clotted cream fudge) but I have high hopes for the rest fthe series and don’t want to peak too soon with the stars.

Luchesi’s writing style definitely grew in confidence as the book went on but the beginning was a little blunt, I’m a big fan of subtlety in books and this definitely lacked that. The characters  essentially fall into the ‘wow, you’re hot. I’m in love with you now’ mindset from their first meeting and it isn’t really much more sophisticated than that – I’m all about the seduction in these books!

One thing that I did find weird was the numerous and forced references to pop culture series like Lord of the Rings and Supernatural (specifically Season 10, the episode where Dean is possessed by a Demon) – there were too many of them and definitely date the book, in a few years time no-one will know the Crowley/Mark Sheppard link.

As the book went on, the characters started moving in the right direction towards complexity and all the feely-brainy stuff I like. The action was brilliant and the story really gripped me, now I just look forward to seeing the author’s voice coming into its own and catching up with the brilliance of her ideas.

By which I mean I have the sequel and will probably be reading that until I fall asleep tonight!

**Thank you to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

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One Full Year of Blogging

Given my overwhelming hatred of squooshing two words together to form a new word, I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘Blogiversary’ – so happy Blog-Anniversary to Most Sublime!

 
anniversary

The actual date was yesterday but the WordPress notification slipped under my radar until late last night but I did want to do something special to celebrate so for the rest of this month, I will be writing a series of ‘things that I learnt in my first year’ posts to mark the occasion.

I’ve got so much more to learn to get where I want to be but I’m so proud of that I’ve learnt already and the friends I’ve made along the way, I now contribute to two other websites and have better defined plans for my future in the book industry but there’ll be more about that in the next 3 weeks….

Most importantly of all, thank you for reading my reviews and witterings over the past year. You’ve made it worthwhile and are the reason I want to carry on learning, to be able to offer you even better content to read when you should be doing something constructive instead.

At the very end of this month I’ll have a surprise reveal for you too, so stay tuned!

 

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Review: Escape (Lake of Sins Book #1) by L.S. O’Dea

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4 stars

 

Synopsis:

 

Backbreaking work from dusk to dawn is just a typical day for sixteen year old Trinity, but that is about to change.

Harvest is over which means that it’s time for the less than perfect teens to be removed from camp. Trinity is okay with that. It’s just another stage of a Producer’s life, but she fears her new home will be like her old one unless she can figure out a way to make friends.

She’s different than the other Producers and even though she’s hidden her fangs and claws her entire life, the others still sense her strangeness.

She concocts a plan to sneak into the forest and discover where the teenagers are taken every year. Once she figures that out she can return home. The other kids will be dying to learn the secret which means that they will have to talk to her and once they get to know her, they’ll like her.

Escaping into the forest is simple; she’s done it before, but never at night. That is different. So is the feeling that she is being followed.

When she stumbles across a new creature, a large fish-like river man, that is only the beginning of her adventures in the forest.

She is hunted, captured, and befriended but she still needs to discover the fate of her kind and return home before the week is up or her mother will be punished for her escape.


Goodreads

Amazon


As you might rememer, I’ve already read and reviewed one book by this author ‘Rise of the River-Man’ which was a spin off to this story.

This book was considerably more YA-ey than the last which appealed to me a little bit less, but all said – it ticks all the boxes of things that I would want from a YA novel.

A young heroine who doesn’t fit in, develops her sense of self awareness while learning to kick ass and forming relationships of the non-romantic variety with the people she meets. I think this is particularly important in books where the main character is a young woman, it’s ok to be helped by the menfolk but being constantly validated and rescued by a love interest makes my face sad.

The relationships in this book were particularly interesting and quite complex. A young man in a wheelchair who lies about his isolation so his mum doesn’t worry about him, an older Tracker who hasn’t been able to have children of her own so adopts waifs and strays she finds in the forest to nurture, an amicable marriage between a gay man and a woman who is having a forbidden relationship with another man. These are things that should be accessible to young adults to read – there are lots of great perspectives in this book that I really enjoyed.

O’Dea’s particular gift in this book is her view on the class system. This is something I’ve always been interested in but I find a lot of dystopian novels make it a little too exaggerated or dry to really pique my interest but this book really did open my eyes – a lower class so low, that they’ve been bred into compliance (not a lack of intelligence, just a lack of curiosity) and kept as livestock that care for themselves.

It’s a horrifying concept that’s actually got under my skin and will stick with me….

I would recommend this book in general for any fans of dystopian YA novels, but particularly as a good read for the child 10+ in your life as a good way of broaching the topic of segregation and the class system.

**Thank you to the author for providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

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Ode to the Bastard of a Week

Well, what an absolute shitter this week has been. The word ‘omnishambolic’ springs to mind and not just because it’s a damn fine word that should be used at every available opportunity. The word ‘clusterfuck’ could also be applied.

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I don’t plan on dwelling on the crap though, on Sunday I met my mum’s new puppy. His name is Mr Stockley (which is a silly name for a dog) and as he resembles a fluffy potato, I am taking affirmative action and renaming him Spud.

 

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Contrary to what this picture might suggest, the dog’s eyes do point in the same direction

Spud is an 8 week old  Jack Russell x Chihuahua, a Jack Uaua if you will. In this picture, he’s supporting a Pets At Home’s finest rabbit harness.

I’ve caught up with all my reviews for the week, I’m currently between books, my Chinese takeaway has arrived at my door and I have half a season of Masterchef to catch up on so this week may have been an absolute bastard but it’s over now and when push comes to shove…. I’ve had worse weeks and these crispy wontons are lovely.

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Tribute to the Unnamed Babies

Today I had the worst news. My close friend has lost his baby, 2 months before she was due to join us in the world.

Suddenly the miles between us feel greater than ever and I know there isn’t a damn thing I could do to help right now anyway because their hell has only just begun.

 

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This isn’t the first time I’ve had this news from someone close to me, my mum lost twins halfway through her pregnancy back in 2003. She didn’t even know she was pregnant until is was too late and it didn’t detract from the agony we felt a single bit.
In my mind, those beautiful babies survived and are now halfway through their highschool years. I help them with their homework, teach them how to deal with spots, bullies and relationships. I listen to them complain about their teachers and about each other, I’m a bad influence and give them too much crap to eat and let them stay up later. I’m all of these things but only in my own head in those grey moments between work and home, wakefulness and sleep. The rest of the time I only have an older brother and a half brother in his early twenties.

I would only have been a sister to those twins, not a mother so I can’t feel that extra layer of pain that a parent must feel. Especially the parent who carries them and nourishes them for those first precious nine months.

 

hand, child, baby

I can’t feel it, but I imagine it. Every time I think about my future and having a family of my own, I imagine the pain of losing it before it’s even begun, if it ever does. Miscarriages are far more common than most of us realise because we don’t talk about it, babies are lost at any stage of pregnancy and somehow it seems like the rest of the world thinks it doesn’t count if the child wasn’t born: it counts. Even if you didn’t know they were there before hand, the infinite possibilities of their lives being snuffed out is a loss to us all and should never be forgotten.

It sticks with you, 12 years on and I spend all of February thinking about them. Now my Aprils will be spent thinking about a little girl we never got the chance to meet, I feel that before this life is over I will have many more months dedicated to little souls.

black-and-white, hands, love

So here’s my tribute to all those babies – the ones without names, the ones that had names but never got to learn how to scrawl them in crayon, the ones who heard their names on their parents’ lips before they left us forever. I think of you all often and keep you with me, for the rest of my days.

 

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Review: Sacrifical Lamb Cake by Katrina Monroe

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4 stars

 

 

Synopsis:

Oh. My. God.


Rain Johnson escaped the insanity of her radical environmentalist family, only to end up waitressing for a
living. Her scale of success—with her at the bottom—only goes as high as that college degree she never got, until she gets one hell of an epiphany from a Trinity Corporation public-relations guy who calls himself Jude. He tells her she’s the Lamb of God, and it’s time for that whole Second Coming thing. But when her first minor miracle gets her arrested andan ecoterrorist using the name Messiah starts blowing up pesticide plants, Rain and Judas are in for way more apocalypse than either of them expected.

Jude scrambles to save his personal plan for salvation, but Lucy, the devil herself, has her own well-laid plans. It doesn’t matter that Rain’s a conflict-avoiding lesbian and Jude is history’s worst traitor. They’re all that stands between humanity and an end of the world that wasn’t supposed to happen.


*Many thanks to the author for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC

Cover art: Red Adept Publishing, LLC (if you’re reading this, publisher- please administer a high five to the person in charge of designing this cover)

Amazon

Goodreads


This book came to my attention via Twitter and the cover sealed the deal, the title was perfect and the artwork appealed to me immediately. A cartoon angel sheep standing before the pits of hell – what’s not to love?

The premise of this book was highly original and very, very funny – Judas Isacriot is given the chance to redeem himself but not really given much to work with, as Rain the new Messiah couldn’t be more poorly suited to the role. Together, they have to avert the accidental apocalypse and save humanity – simple.

I liked the way in which this story brought the Bible into the twentyfirst century, acting out old stories in a modern setting with the weird and wonderful characters that we don’t even look at twice today – namely Rain, the underachieving, former-hippy lesbian.
The ‘deal with it’ approach to having a lesbian main character was also beautifully refreshing!

This book doesn’t criticise religion but is the product of an irreverent sense of humour, so if you don’t like Christianity being taken lightly then this isn’t the book for you but I definitely wouldn’t consider anything in it to be offensive.

In fact, this book is the first I’ve ever read that’s actually made me think about religion and reconsider my opinion. Specifically, the church that I grew up with was anti-Judas, painting him as one of the worst human beings that ever lived- whereas this book says that he was a man who made a mistake. This is something I’ve been pondering ever since.

This book was a little bit of a slow starter, but I was determined to stick with it and am glad that I did because the ending was phenomenal. It picked up the pace about halfway through and took a steady lope to the grand finale.

The characters weren’t particularly relatable but they were very entertaining, my favourite being Rain’s mother: the militant hippy with an axe to grind. She was definitely the funniest character, though this was unintentional on her part!

If you’re looking for a humourous and sarcastic read (if not, why not?!), this is the book for you – at 200 pages long, you have no excuse to pass it by!

 

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Review: Clutch of the Demon by A.P. Jensen- Audiobook

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4 stars

 

 

Synopsis:

Cara is a demon hunter. When she interrupts a chain of events orchestrated by a master demon, he punishes Cara by infecting her younger sister with a fatal disease.

Time is running out. Desperate for a cure, Cara hears a whisper of a mystical being trapped beneath stone that may be able to help her for a price…

 


I have read a couple of AP Jensen’s books before, both in the Unmemorables series (both of which are excellent) and so when she offered me a complimentary copy of the audiobook for this book in exchange for an honest review, I couldn’t possibly say no.

AP Jensen specialises in strong, kickass female characters and Cara is no different. She’s a demon hunter who enlists the help of a trapped Ancient to save her sister, she willingly trades her life for her sister’s and finds that the Ancient has no plans on killing her.

This story is a grown up fairy tale but with violence and top notch sexytimes. Cara’s open heart and mind allows her to free the Ancient from his prison and turn into a giant, delectable warrior with a vast sexual appetite (isn’t that what we all want?). This would be where a mushy fairy tale ends but Jensen tells us what happens next – there are more obstacles standing between the happy couple and eternity in a giant castle, with room service and a king size bed. Obviously they overcome these obstacles, cos love n stuff, but it’s a very compelling listen!

Cara is an excellent character, perfectly balancing her strength with her weaknesses. I really liked her attitude to the things around her and found her very likable.
Aodhan (pronounced ‘Aiden’) is a grumpy yet lovable dragon/warrior/sexpot who has been trapped in a cavern in Ireland for centuries to give demons a chance to take over the world. He’s a little bit too unconvincing in his beastliness for me, but adorable all the same. 

This book was filled with strong women, which is something I can always enjoy. Cara is strong both physically and emotionally, she sacrifices herself time after time for the wellbeing of her family and the world at large. She has cut herself off from other people to save them from becoming targets to the demons that hunt her and is prepared to spend the rest of her life alone if it means that everyone else will be safe.

The story was told primarily from the perspective of Cara and the narrator, Beth Stewart, embodied her beautifully – she allowed the right amount of vulnerability to show through Cara’s persona without belittling her strength. She was also able to cover a range of accents convincingly and voice male characters with skill, I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to listen to more of her work.

This books had a fair amount of sex, romance and paranormal violence – which are high on my list of criteria for a good book! If you like these things, this is the book for you.
If you like paranormal action books with strong female character in charge, I would recommend you have a look at some more of AP Jensen’s work and get as hooked as I have!