[694]: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones

More of the same but a fantastic filler for fans of the series, regardless.


Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
by Darynda Jones

The eleventh sequel to the Charley Davidson series finds our favorite grim reaper living with a newfound reality. That she is a powerful god whose immense power is greater than any god that ever existed makes her question the sanity of anyone who says so. And while she’s contemplating the impossibility of her prowess, I found that at times, I was in a state of disbelief myself as well. Because she doesn’t have full control of her powers yet, she’s hesitant to flex her muscles for fear that she’ll bring forth Armageddon unto mankind.  I mean, she did show some but I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of the scope of her powers. Other than being indestructible, she’s apparently a god-eater. Which means she could potentially retain the powers of the gods she’ll consume (or maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here). Let’s hope we’ll find out in the next few books.

So little Beep is still ensconced under the protection of Charley’s army – both holy and unholy alike. I’m not gonna lie, I wish for more interactions between mom, dad and Beep. I want to read more than just a second-hand account of her growth and development. I mean, if this baby is as powerful as prophesied, I kinda want to see how she grows up. I’m itching to ask Ms. Jones when we can expect the inevitable spin-off. It is, however, so much fun to see Reyes bully Osh since finding out the uncomfortable truth about his future and how it relates to Beep.

 As much as this installment was a load of fun, the overall plot of the series didn’t really move. Aside from the cruel ending that is the precursor to the next book, the entire novel consisted of mini story arcs moving towards an intro to the 12th.  There was a brief but sad story of a toddler who died under a toppled drawers; Ubie being distracted by whatever was bothering him; a creepy stalker stalking Amber, and the emergence of a new character and his role in the life of Reyes’ abductors. (Whom by the way, finally got a somewhat satisfying comeuppance once and for all).

In truth, I was annoyed in some parts of the novel. I hate the unnecessary keeping of secrets as a device to stretch a story arc. It’s like, come on, people. We’ve all been here before. Secrets never end well for everybody involved! Thankfully, they didn’t let it fester for as long as they can. But heck, annoying just the same. Charley also grated on my nerve a little. Sometimes, her off-the-cuff humor was off-putting and not at all funny. I mean it was funny, but it was annoying because I feel like there should be a time for serious business.

Despite all my misgivings, there’s very little that could dissuade me from reading the next installments in this series (and I hope there’ll be lots). I’m a fan and will always be a fan so long as Charley remains the neurotic grim reaper that I’ve come to love, and Reyes remains the smoldering Son of Satan who singes the page whenever he makes an appearance.

On the Night Table [44]: Reading Update


The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine | The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman | I See You by Clare Mackintosh


Hello.

How was your weekend? We’re about four days away from the dreaded inauguration, you guys. How are you planning on spending the day? Besides the fact that I have to work, I’m going to do my darnedest to steer clear of the social media and any tv broadcast about it. But if you guys have any suggestions on what I can do that will be more productive, let me know. I’m open to anything.

Anyway, I’ve got more January books on my night table this week. I’ve been doing so well with my review copies but I’ve also been requesting a lot of books from Net Galley lately. I’ve been bad. So so bad. Also, I just noticed that Net Galley is giving us a chance to improve our review stats so I took advantage of that this weekend by submitting the reviews for the ones that I didn’t. I’m so glad. My reviewing percentage is pretty sad, to be honest, so I’m thankful for the opportunity. It also gives me a chance to see which books I have on my Kindle that I need to read. Gah. The number is staggering.

R   E   A   D   THIS   W  E   E  K

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan was a solid read. Gritty, gory and not at all the kind of werewolf stories I’ve read in the past. Wait For It by M. O’Keefe was a good read, but I found the characters to be different from when I first met them in the preceding books. Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia was a fantastic read as well. I’ve already reviewed The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer and Born A Crime previously so you know how I felt about them. Little Heaven was on the blog last week.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you’ve been up to lately. 🙂 Have a great week, dear readers. I know it’s not going to be the greatest, but I hope you’ll make the best of it, anyway.

 

 

[693]: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Bella Swan has left the building.


The Chemist
by Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer has had years to come up with a book that will make her relevant again. The Host, a futuristic utopian novel, gave us a glimpse of what it would be like if she distanced herself from YA and into the alleys of Adult Science Fiction. That book was a winner. I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care if you’re a seasoned reader of Sci-Fi and you’re scoffing at me right now because of my statement. The Host was phenomenal. I was chomping at the bit and waiting patiently for her next novel. So with nary a fanfare, The Chemist stole into our shelves quietly. And in my case, at the airport bookstore on my way to San Diego.

Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where I got excited for a whole lot of nothing. Because with all its promise of “a gripping page-turner,” this was an absolute snoozer. As much as I’m a big fan of protagonists on the run from big, bad government, Alex didn’t incite any thrills as one that goes by her days looking over shoulders.

Ms. Meyer also failed to show me all the hows and the whys Alex found herself the subject of ire by the very people she worked for. If she was as good a chemical torturer that she made herself to be, why then would her bosses want to get rid of her? How did she become a liability? And then, out of nowhere, they wanted her back in the fold. I smell a setup.

Her reinstatement had her tailing a man who was going to unleash a deadly virus to the American public. But soon she’ll find out that it was only a cover up for something much bigger. Predictably enough, a romance developed between her and her victim (yawn). One of the things that frustrated me while reading this book was I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why in the hell would this man fall in love with her when she caused him immeasurable pain?! It was one of the most fucked up Stockholm Syndrome romance if there ever was one. It was at this time when I realized, man or woman, I don’t like reading about doormat characters. Bella Swan drew flak for her passiveness in Twilight. And while I commend Ms. Meyer for the role reversal of sorts in this book, I really couldn’t stand how weepy and eviscerated the male character was (name’s not coming to me at the moment). A classic case of an inexplicable instant-love.

Not to worry, though. All is not lost. You’ll fall in love with the German Shepards trained as lethal but loveable guard dogs. You’ll probably wonder if Alex sells her poison-laced jewelry at the home shopping network. You’ll probably even find Alex’s no non-sense attitude charming, provided that you don’t find her cold and calculating while she’s inflicting pain on her victims. But she’s smart, and she’s not all, kill, kill, kill. Underneath her hard exterior lay a conscience – which is inconvenient for an assassin like her. If you ever thought that Twilight was too passionate or too romantic, you’ll more than likely consider The Chemist the exact opposite.

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter: Review And Giveaway

Horrors,  both man-made and supernatural, sure to give you nightmares for days.


Little Heaven
by Nick Cutter

It was easily discernible right from the start that I will be out of my element. Nick Cutter has a way with words that only masters of horrors can craft. I supposed if I were a Stephen King reader, I would find the same kind of writing chops that makes him the “king” of this genre. Nick’s brand of writing, however, is a new thing for me. It was disarming and in turns, astounding. The violence and the gore were even more viscerally shocking – especially for a newbie such as I.

Little Heaven is not an easy read – which I supposed, is a good indication of a horror novel. And because it tells the story in two timelines, the book was of considerable heft. But Little Heaven pulled me in right away; ripe with an ominous atmosphere and messed up characters that you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley, it’s a whole another experience altogether. Right off the bat, you’re introduced to monsters of different breeds: the supernatural kind and the human kind. In 1965, three guns-for-hire mercenaries fought to death then somehow found themselves forming a truce of sorts after the dust settled. I love reading unlikely alliances between characters that can barely trust each other’s own shadows. It makes for an even more suspenseful read and admittedly, a favorite trope of mine.

This is where the story takes off. It was during their tenure as a threesome trouble that they were hired to investigate a suspected kidnapping of a client’s nephew. They’ll discover a cult whose membership consisted of the exploited and the enslaved but fanatics all the same. It was in here that they’d find the horrors of Little Heaven. Practically everyone in this commune is the stuff of nightmares – children and adults alike. Coupled that with a monster that lurks in the woods and in the commune itself, these band of mercenaries would find Little Heaven was actually Little Hell on Earth.

Then the timeline moves into the future (1980) where the three would once again find themselves in Black Mountain Wilderness after Shug found her daughter missing from her bed in the middle of the night. Older, beaten by time, and much changed from what they once were, the three knew that there remains an outstanding debt to be paid. This time, the horrors were more or less the kind of things that haunt them in their waking and sleeping hours.

I don’t have much to say about Nick Cutter’s writing other than it’s brilliant. If horror is your thing, Mr. Cutter gives Stephen King a run for his money. His characters were haunted by their miserable and troubled pasts which he’d seamlessly interwoven into his narrative. He was able to reach the emphatic reader. He showed me that even though these characters are bad to the bone, there are some good about them that I will still love. And most of the time, I found myself doing that very thing. I rooted for these characters because I know there is a much more evil monster lurking within the pages of the book.

Little Heaven will scare you and at times, will make your stomach churn. Nick Cutter is a brand new author to me, but I have a feeling I’ll be looking for his books more now that I’ve discovered him. If you’re a fan of supernatural horrors, this book is a must read. An old school horror-fest, indeed!


Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the review copy of Little Heaven and for sponsoring this giveaway. Join in the fun and enter for a chance to win!

G    I   V   E   A   W   A   Y  

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Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 195


The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild | Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge | The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber | Against A Brightening Sky by Jaime Lee Moyer | The Novice by Taran Matharu | Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn | The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace | The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken | Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven | Disillusioned by J.S. Cooper | Under the Skin by Michel Faber | Ruby by Cynthia Bond | Possession by A.S. Byatt


Hello.

I just realized that I included a copy of Another Day in the Death of America in this haul when I’ve already mentioned it on my last Life Lately update. Lol. I swear books are everywhere in my house that I can’t tell what’s up from down anymore. Anyway, aside from Another Day, the rest are books that I ordered during Book Outlet’s Boxing Day Sale. So you can’t say that I’ve broken one of my resolutions already. Technically, these books were bought in 2016 but the package came just last week.

Back to the reality for most of us, I suppose.  Kids are going back tomorrow so they’re not happy about that. Hubby was working day shifts the entire week so we had a date night which doesn’t happen often because of his schedule at work. That was really nice.

This month, I decided to only read books that have been sent to me for review. I really want to read the books that I’ve been buying and I want to get ahead. I don’t have too many, anyway so that’s a good thing.

My bullet journaling is not going well, to be honest. If you guys ever plan on starting one for your blog and reading activities, make sure you know which format to use beforehand. I’ve had many a restart but I’ve finally settled on one. Keeping it simple, primarily existing of lists. Ultimately, I only really want to keep track of my inbox and outbox anyway, so it’s good for now. Perhaps I’ll show you flip through one of these days.

On Tuesday, Little Heaven by Nick Cutter will be featured on the blog. I’m a part of the tour and Simon & Schuster Canada is sponsoring a giveaway for the book. I’ve been reading it the whole weekend, and let me just tell you that it’s freaking creepy. This is my first Nick Cutter book but I do own Troop which I’ll probably dust off my shelf after I finish reading my for review pile.

I think this is all for now, dear readers. My bed is calling me.

Happy reading!

[692]: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

A personal and political account of what it’s like to grow up in South Africa.


Born A Crime
by Trevor Noah

It is sometimes weird to see him at the desk where Jon Stewart used to slay conservative politicians and pundits alike. In all honesty, I’ve never really acclimated to seeing him there. I’m a big fan of Jon Stewart. He is the one who got me interested in American politics after all. Satire or not, The Daily Show was even more educational than any other cable news on air.

When I learned that Stewart was quitting and was being replaced by this unknown comedian, I was saddened. Because I knew things will never be the same. I’m not gonna lie, I have not watched a single episode of the show ever since he left. Aside from snippets shown on their Facebook page, I’ve never actually sat through a full episode. So when the opportunity to read and review this book came my way, I had to grab the chance. Because I wanted to know a little about this man. I wanted to know how a South African comedian charmed his way into the annals of a sometimes entertaining, more often frustrating American political satire arena.

During the presidential election campaign, he’s become more prominent because he assumed Jon Stewart’s role with great gusto. He was funny and candid; harsh and honest. But as I observed him during the few moments that I’ve seen his shtick, there’s still a bit of him that’s a little uncomfortable. Like, he couldn’t fully play the role of a man commenting on the absurdities of the American politics and life. Like he doesn’t belong.

 I’ve never seen his comedic act before hosting The Daily Show, but it is more or less in this book where he recounts the tales of growing up during and after apartheid. And the stories are funny, sometimes bleak, and in turns, alarming. He tells us that because he was born out of wedlock and a “half-white”, “half-black”, he didn’t really find acceptance.

The only way he could spend time with his Swiss-national father was away from the scrutiny of the public. And because he’s light-skinned, they sometimes resorted to pretending his mother was his nanny. His world was inside the gates of their home because his grandmother feared he would get abducted. He spent most of his time alone but he claimed he was never lonely. He read a lot of books and was perfectly comfortable being in the company of himself. Language, he learned early on, was the key to hiding the fact that he didn’t belong in either white or black community. Because if he could speak a variety of languages, kids could respect him.

If you spoke to me in Zulu, I replied to you in Zulu. If you spoke to me in Tswana, I replied to you in Tswana. Maybe I didn’t look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.”

His mother was, by all accounts, the constant figure in his life that made him the man that he is. A woman who never lost faith in her God no matter the odds. The woman who took her kids to three churches on Sundays, whom at one point, threw Trevor off the bus, then jumped with his brother in her arms, to get away from an inevitable rape, and worst, death. She was a woman with conviction who knew what she wanted even if it meant a lifetime of ridicule and persecution because she’d “born a crime”, a half-white child whose Swiss-German father could never really own him. And amidst poverty, hardship, and violence, raised Trevor and his brother with the same dreams and hopes as any loving mother would do.

“For my mother. My first fan. Thank you for making me a man,”

he writes in his dedication. It is true that without his mother and her defiant spirit, he’d never be where he is right now. One of the biggest South African exports, a boy who grew up in small towns and one who was always looking for a place to belong.

On the Night Table [43]: January Books


The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine | Little Heaven by Nick Cutter | The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman | Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia


I just realized that I really don’t have too many books for reviews on my pile anymore. So this month, I’m going to try to not get distracted so I can finally get rid of the books for which I have to write a review. Admittedly, I’ve already fallen behind because I see a couple that came out yesterday (Everything You Want Me to Be & The Cursed Queen). This is so frustrating to me as this mishap could’ve easily been avoided had I know how to keep a better handle on what’s due.

Anyway, I’m also supposed to be a part of the blog tour for Little Heaven this month but I’ve yet to see a confirmation of my participation date. I’m in the middle of Everything You Want Me to Be that I’m thoroughly enjoying. I’m a little close to halfway so I’m at the point where the meat of the plot is slowly unraveling. I aim to finish reading this book tomorrow so I can put up a review. I might just pull an all-nighter for this.

 In my quest to at least appear like I got my shit together, I started a journal for my blog. I did this last year as well but I didn’t continue. This year, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep it going for the entire year. It’s not the most creative but I’m at least trying to get organized. Lol.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Books I’m Dying To Read in 2017

Hello, 2017!

These are the books I’m eagerly anticipating this year.

  

Release Dates: January 3rd, January 9th, January 10th, 2017

  

Release Dates: January 17th, January 24th, February 7th, 2017

Release Date: March 7th, 2017

  

Release Date: April 4th, 2017

  

Release Dates: May 2nd, May 13th, May 23rd, 2017

  

Release Dates: May 30th, June 6th, 2017

  

Release Dates: July 11th, August 1st, August 22nd, 2017

 This list may look incomplete at first glance considering it stopped at August. But really, it’s not. I haven’t seen anything worth past August 22nd but if you know of a new release I might enjoy coming this year, let me know in the comments.

As I’m going through this list, I noticed a few were from Simon & Schuster and its imprints. I am very conflicted. Given whom they fronted $250K for a book deal and the kind of hate this vile creature purports, I don’t quite feel good about contributing in the livelihood of that thing. Because like it or not, and even if you decide not to buy his book, any money that goes in the pocket of Simon & Schuster indirectly funds the prosperity of that misguided idiot. So I don’t know…

I’m looking forward to reading these books, nonetheless.

2017: The Year of Reading Religiously

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was when I hoarded all the books. I’ve gotten a steady supply from publishers, bought all the books I wanted to buy, re-discovered Book Outlet with great fervour, and in the hopes of reading some pretty stale-dated books in my TBR, picked up duplicate copies of said books in audio form. I must say that I’ve considerably curbed my requests from Net Galley – so that’s progress. But the buying of physical copies still is an incurable addiction.

I don’t think I can remember a time when I bought so much books than I have in 2016. And that’s not good news if you consider the number of books I read this year. So I’m making a concerted effort to read more in the coming year. I will not be inundated by a certain number, though. I will keep my goal of 150 (which I’ve done for the last 4 years) but I will try my best not to fall into a rut.

Goals, Reminders, and Things To Do

  • If I’m not hooked by the 3rd chapter, I’ll move on.
  • I will try to keep a better handle on the books I receive for review (i.e. be aware of the publishing dates)
  • Be more honest with the publishers, publicists, and authors. If the book doesn’t interest me, I MUST graciously decline.
  • Stay the fuck away from bookstores. SERIOUSLY.
  • Un-haul some books by selling them. I would donate them, but I could use the cash.
  • I’m going to armed myself. If I have to go to the bookstore, I’ll read the reviews on Goodreads before I buy. This is like going to shop for clothes and never trying on any of the stuff before I buy it: a disastrous and a nasty habit of mine.
  • Read more prized literature. I know, I know. This is not that is something most people with whom they aspire, but I really think I’ve grown as a reader this year. And that’s not only because I’ve gotten tired of the usual books but 2016 is the year that I’ve become more engaged in/aware of socially relevant issues. I think it’s time.
  • BookTube is an evil vice I must quit. Ugh.
  • Read more non-fiction books.
  • I need to cross-post reviews more regularly. I’ve been pretty good with posting reviews on Goodreads, but I’m severely lacking in posting on Amazon and Chapters.

These are just some of the things I want to work on for 2017. I’ve done my share of imparting my New Year goals and aspirations, but considering how 2016 made a basket case out of me, I’m using that as the flint to set my 2017 on fire.

Top Reads of 2016

The One that Pulled Me into the Abyss.

My Review

A Little Life is perhaps, the darkest book I’ve read in a long time. It features a character who wouldn’t know happiness even if it was staring at him in the face. Because even if he was surrounded by the people who genuinely loved him, he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop so accepting that love was tremulous task. This was a hard read, but I truly feel that I was a better person after the crying jag.

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The One that Gave Me Perspective.

My Review

There is nothing easy about this novel ( though, easier than A Little Life, admittedly). This is about the racial climate in contemporary America, and Jodi Picoult did her best, albeit reluctantly, to tackle this issue most of Americans wish should remain buried in their painful past. This book gave me pause as I ruminated on how difficult it is to be successful, to be educated, and still be disrespected and discriminated because of the colour of your skin.

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The One that Pulled Me Out of the Abyss.

My Review

After the trauma of watching a demagogue be elected as the president of the United States, I was not in a good place. I was angry and shocked. And since books have always been the panacea I tend to reach for when I’m feeling down, The Hating Game pulled me out of that dark place. I just knew that rereading it would be the perfect thing that would help me forget the misery of the day.

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The One that Made Me Like Science Fiction.

My Review

Science Fiction, much like Fantasy, is a genre that I could never quite figure out. But this page-turner made me believe that I could truly love Sci-fi in its simplest form. Simple, because this book isn’t inundated by jargon and long sterile narratives that tend to steer me away from the genre. I’ve always believed that discoveries have the tendency to bring out the best and worst in humans. Mr. Neuvel certainly didn’t shy away from showing all the immoral things we’ll subject ourselves to in the name of Science. With a combination of dry humour and ingenious story-telling, Sleeping Giants was the perfect example of Sci-fi for the masses.

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The One that Whisked Me Away to Another Place and Time.

My Review

This book always makes me want to ramble on about how beautiful it is. The writing, the scenery, the characters…everything about it perfectly captures the small town charm, the grandeur of the old world Hollywood setting, and the stories of the people that tie these worlds together.  Beautiful Ruins was cozy, warm and funny it all its subtleties. It’s a book full of passionate people, visceral settings, and rich in history spanning decades. The perfect beach read…couch read…bed read.

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 The One that Made Me Feel Inadequate.

I have re-read this twice already. Each re-read more powerful than the last. Still, the impact is greater for someone like me to comprehend. It could be because I’m not African American, nor do I live in the States. But the power of Mr. Coates’ words – his desperation, his hopes, his warnings – leap off the pages with intense clarity. And yet, I get it. I get the hopelessness. That feeling that in some ways, his body, his son’s body were never their own. As easily as freedom may come to some, to African Americans, freedom is a fleeting fancy. Despite the progress that America has had over the years with the racial injustices of times gone by, African Americans are still shackled by the colour of their skin.  And to deny the existence of such discrimination is naive and dangerous.