Making It – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Diaries by Jamie Scallion

Making It (Rock ‘n’ Roll Diaries, #1)Making It by Jamie Scallion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the kind of book I wanted to read when I was a ‘young adult’. In the 80s we had ‘Sweet Valley High’ and Judy Blume tomes (not that I am criticising Ms Blume – I was a big fan and my copy of ‘Forever’ always fell open on ‘certain pages’) but nothing about Rock n Roll … nothing about boys in tight trousers playing guitars.
The band in the book are diverse, like most rock bands are. They are a mish-mash of YA character types who come together to create a sound that rocks the scene. Much in the same way as I have seen many bands do before.
I read this with a wry grin on my face as I photographed and loved Officer Kicks for many years. Although I didn’t see the boys I know in the characters in the books there are moments I’m sure were reaped from real life!
This novel is essential for any boy or girl who wants to venture into the world of rock and I loved it.
Good work Jamie – when’s the next one out?

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Book Review – Conversations With Spirits – E.O. Higgins

Conversations with SpiritsConversations with Spirits by E.O. Higgins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m unsure whether I was reading the same book as other reviewers because I was severely disappointed by this debut novel from Goodreads author E.O. Higgins. As you can probably see from my reading list I like books that follow the same themes. I also know Broadstairs quite well so was excited to read a book based predominantly there. Please believe me when I say I really wanted to like this book – I follow E.O. Higgins on Goodreads and he seems like a lovely chap.
Unfortunately Conversations With Spirits failed on so many levels for me. So little of any significance happened that half way through the book I would have given up if it wasn’t against my own (stupid) rules of not giving up on a book if I’ve gotten half way through. There were long descriptive passages which lacked finesse or interest – they didn’t add anything to the narrative. I didn’t engage with most of the characters – they were two -dimensional and lacked depth. Finally the denouement was quite clunky and reminiscent of an Agatha Christie, but without enough twists and turns to be interesting.
I’m so sorry for disliking this book because I really, really wanted to.

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Surviving The Evacuation, Book 1: LondonSurviving The Evacuation, Book 1: London by Frank Tayell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I love a good zombie story – and one stuck in my neck of the woods I thought would be right up my alley. Unfortunately the narrator was entirely unsympathetic which would have worked if we had him interacting more with other characters. However I found myself caring less and less about him and ended up scan-reading a lot of the remainder of the book. There was nothing original here and although there was a potential great storyline regarding government corruption it was never explored deeply enough.
Maybe the sequels will examine this further but I can’t be bothered to read them when there are much better writers in the genre out there.
Also the Kindle edition has a few spelling and punctuation errors which were a bit annoying.

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The Ripper Code – Thomas Toughill

The Ripper CodeThe Ripper Code by Thomas Toughill

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I do love to read another theory on who Jack The Ripper was; as this theory involved Oscar Wilde I was doubly intrigued.
The book opens with the ubiquitous rehashing of the murders and their context. This is well written and although I’ve read this in numerous shapes and forms, it was quite readable.
Then the theory kicks in and this is where it all went wrong for me. It suddenly felt like I was reading an episode of Ancient Aliens – where the author KNEW that what he was writing was quite far-fetched and tenuous however he needed to assert the theory with ‘it is probable that’ or ‘it could be suggested that’ (or similar phrases – these aren’t direct quotes from the book).
The well structured and well measured prose of the first section of the book gives way to almost inane ramblings, desperate to prove their hypothesis.
It’s a real pity as it’s an interesting idea but there seems to be little firm evidence to support it.
I’d recommend this to people who’d like to read another book about the murderer but don’t expect to be adding Frank Miles to the list of suspects following this book.

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A review of my review

I can understand people disliking my opinion.  I’m very opinionated and sometimes this rubs people up the wrong way.  I accept that.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including me.  However, what I hate (and if anyone has read any other posts on this blog you will know this) are people who are irrational and ill-informed in their comments.

Recently I reviewed a book called The Key To Erebus.  Like all of my reviews it was written on Goodreads first then posted here on my blog.  For the first time someone chose to comment on my review on Goodreads:

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 02.22.52I totally took it on board that I got the name of the lead character wrong – but that did also make my point that she was so dull that I couldn’t even remember it a few hours after finishing the book!

So here’s my response:

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 02.24.43Yes, I got annoyed, hence the questions. I really didn’t understand her use of the word ‘bias’.  Firstly I didn’t understand why the issue of bias was even raised with regard to a review.  A review is your personal opinion, right?  Or am I getting this wrong?  Should I really be encouraging people to waste a few hours on this Buffy/ Twilight knock-off?

So she responded (natch):

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 02.25.09Where did I review Buffy and Twilight???????? ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 02.25.21Yeah – she got my back up!

Has anyone else come across people who dislike their reviews enough to make you want to argue the toss with them?

The Key to Erebus – Emma V. Leech and Rosin O’Connor

The Key to Erebus (Les Corbeaux: The French Vampire Legend)The Key to Erebus by Emma V. Leech

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A few years ago a girl came onto the scene called Buffy. Buffy killed vampires. She had a best friend who was a witch. Her friend who was a witch dated a werewolf. Buffy may have killed vampires but she also went out with two. She had a sister who was a ‘key’. Her other friend, Xander, went out with a demon.

If you have read The Key To Erebus all of this will sound VERY familiar.

There is nothing new, ground-breaking or at all exciting about this novel. It is vampire romance schtick by numbers. The emasculation of male vampires in popular culture recently has gone from the unique (Angel and Spike) to the ridiculous (Edward Cullen and Corvus) and this novel suffers greatly for it.

Although it is not original, the storyline to this novel has some promise. A young woman returns to France and discovers the world isn’t quite as she thought it was. So far so good. When she faces the ‘supes’ for the first time you really feel that there is some potential. But the love story that unfolds between Lehanne and her vampire lover is simply annoying. It’s going well, it’s going well … ahhhh … she throws a strop again. It’s going well, it’s going well … ahhh … strop time. Now, you’d expect the leader of a family, ancient vampire etc. etc. to just tell her to sod right off and find someone else to annoy but NO. When did male vampires become SO pathetic?

And don’t even start me on the almost self-referential nod to Twilight. It was as if the authors decided that if they mentioned it no-one could accuse them of running behind on the coat-tails of this flawed but successful series of books.

Oh I know I’m sounding cruel and unkind, and to be fair I probably am. Afterall I didn’t abandon the book, in fact I carried on reading right to the end (but couldn’t bring myself to read the ‘exclusive sneak preview of the second book’) so I must have enjoyed something about it.

So what did I like? I thought Ines was an interesting character but it was too convenient that she kept ‘popping off’ and ‘disappearing’ when things were getting tough as it allowed the romance to blossom.
Rodney is adorable and I think I would only read the second book to find out more about him.
I loved the fact that the book was set in France also.

So there you go, that’s it for me, no more vampire romances unless an author agrees to allow the male vampire to keep his balls in tact.

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The Sisters Brothers – Peter deWitt

The Sisters BrothersThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books where my choice to read it was the cover – strange that I didn’t buy the ‘hard copy’ and instead bought it on Kindle.

I wanted to read this last year, read the blurb, put it back. Picked it up again, read the blurb, read the first paragraph, put it back again.

Then, it was on Amazon at a special price for the Kindle so I thought I’d finally read it. I started on the way to work one morning and nearly missed my stop. The same happened as I read it on the way home. I had finished it in a space of less than 24 hours (the joys of spending 3 hours a day commuting).

So what is so engaging about this book? The writing just grips you – pulls you in. Eli, the narrator and one half of the Sisters brothers is a simple yet violent character. He and his brother, Charlie, work for the Commodore during the gold rush era. By ‘work’ I mean ‘kill’. They are sent to San Francisco to hunt down Warm and shoot him dead – the book mostly follows their journey to San Francisco on this quest.

To be honest, nothing much happens in the book; drinking, whoring, shooting, killing. But there isn’t that much action. You don’t need it. The stories, the characters, the reactions to situations are what keeps you gripped.

I found it hard to put this book down.

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