Sunday Book Haul (1)

On Sundays I will be posting the books I bought/borrowed/was given this week!

I got some great books this week, here is what I got:

From Publishers for review (ARCS):

 

Read any of these books? What did you think?

What did you guys get this week?

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Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (Arc review)

Title: Blackbirds (Miriam Black book 1)

Author: Chuck Wendig

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult, Fantasy.

Expected publication: April 24th 2012 by Angry Robot    

My rating: 4/5

*The publisher provided me with this book for review, via Netgalley.*

Blurb: Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.  But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.  No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

 

Blackbirds has a fair amount of hype circulating around it.  There is a lot of expectation here.  The cover alone promises the reader multiple things and for the most part Blackbirds delivers.  I was intrigued by this book long before I requested it for review but I was scared that it would just not do it for me but in the end I really, really liked it.

The best thing about this book for me is that it dares to be different.  This book takes the Urban Fantasy genre and turns it on its head.  If you took every urban fantasy book you have ever read mix it with some Sin City and add a splash of Tarantino, Blackbirds is what you would create.  It is smart and engaging yet manages to be philosophical at the same time.  Behind all the violence and swearing Blackbirds actually asks some pretty big questions about death and fate, about good and evil.

The characters in this are full of life (which is funny considering this book is essentially about death) and at the centre of it all you have Miriam.  Miriam is a fighter, a survivor.  I think as a reader you don’t exactly like Miriam.  She is the type of person you wouldn’t associate with, a person you would look down your nose at.  She is white trash, an alcoholic and a criminal.  She is unlikable.  But it doesn’t matter because in some way you admire her.  She is strong and sassy.  She can hold her own and there is something to appreciate in that.  Yet, behind all the sarcasm, and nonchalant attitude you can see a glimpse of who she really is underneath all the layers of hurt and grief and you know that inside she is not a bad person.

Then there is Louis.  He looks like a criminal he is a scarred hulk of a man.  But really he is soft, caring and kind and he just might be the one to show Miriam that life doesn’t have to be as dark and dreary as she makes it.  He is instantly likable, he is someone you can root for and to be honest I wish there was a little more of him in this book.

The other characters are great but are mostly dislikeable (apart from Frankie who, despite everything, turns out to be impossible to dislike) they are villains of the most disturbing kind.

I have heard a lot of fuss about how this book would have been better if it was written by a woman.  I could not disagree more strongly.  Some have said ‘don’t read this book unless you are a guy’ well, I am a girl and I really liked it.  I have heard that this book is just to ‘man.’ Well, so what? There is nothing wrong with a male voice in fiction, and just because the story is about a girl it doesn’t mean that it has to be less gory or about love.

But I should warn you that this book is not for the faint hearted.  It is grim and grimy (something I imagine you will hear a lot in reference to this book).  It is violent and gory.  There is sex (not the swoon worthy, erotic kind) and swearing.  There is also a decent amount of characters (mostly male) that you want to drop kick.   Be warned if that is not something you can handle then this book, unfortunately, is not for you.

But if you can handle that and you feel like you like could use a little darkness in your life then I strongly recommend this book.

Goodreads / AmazonUK / B&N / Authors website / Authors twitter

 

 

Fatal Embrace by Aris Whittier

Title: Fatal Embrace

Author: Aris Whittier

Genre: Romance, crime, western romance, mystery, suspence.

Average Goodreads rating: 3.65/5

My rating: 3/5

(ebook, 280 pages, published 2nd October 2005 by Five Star Trade)

Blurb (From Goodreads): High-spirited horse trainer Jessica Stanson stumbles into the perfect job on one of the most elite ranches in Montana. Or at least it would be if her boss, ex-detective Michael Carven, stopped acting like he didn’t want her there. Jessica has to prove herself to him on the ranch, and also try to penetrate his armor to get to the man inside. Michael Carven is a man who has left a difficult past behind him, and now works at his dream job raising horses under the Montana sky. But he knows that the past has a way of coming back to him, and soon enough, it does. A wave of violence hits the nearby small town of Riverside, nestled deep in the mountains, as a cunning serial killer preys on the population.
Against his will, Michael finds himself both drawn into the case and coming to care for his independent new trainer. And if having a killer on the loose wasn’t enough, his two worlds collide when Jessica becomes the only material witness in the case. Before it is over, Michael and Jessica will put everything they know and hold dear on the line to catch a vicious, cunning killer – and to protect each other as well.

My thoughts

This book had all the right ingredients but none of the fizz.  There was drama, romance, sex, angst and crime but it never quite hit the mark for me.  The characters, although well put together, changed their minds about things all the time.  Their personalities also seemed to change a lot too.  One minute he was hot then cold.  One second she was tender and caring then sarcastic and snappy.  There is nothing wrong with that in general but it seemed like the changes were occurring in the same sentence, it was hard to keep up.
I liked that the romance was a slow burner, it took it’s time and built up throughout the book.  My main problem with it was that I didn’t care that much for the characters; sure I thought it would be nice for them to be together but I was never truly invested in them.  I didn’t get that agonising feeling in my gut where you want characters to be together so much it almost hurts.   Also, everything was a little fast in the beginning.  The set up appeared to be in the middle of the book and not the start which I found a little bit bizarre, but once it had settled in it was much better.
There were times when this book seemed to step right out of reality and read a lot more like an over done Fan Fiction but those moments were few and far between.  Also, if you are going to write erotica then write erotica.  This felt half-hearted and cautious as thought the author wasn’t quite sure if they were comfortable writing about sex.  It was distracting, a good book doesn’t need to have explicit sex included but if the author has decided to add it then it needs to be done well.
What this novel does get right is the crime.  About half way through I was pretty sure I know who the killer was but was surprised to find that I was well off base.  It was a well done twist that really raised the level of the book for me.  I didn’t see it coming and I often do so I give the Author credit for that.
If you are a crime-romance fan this is a short and pleasant read that you will probably enjoy.  It could have been a lot better but it was still a nice way to waste away a rainy bank holiday afternoon.

Goodreads / Amazon / Author’s blog