Woman’s best friend????

Art it Up.  This is a weekly meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read.  The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. this week I’ve been reading Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig and The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne.  I’ve taken my inspiration from Atlanta Burns and tried a sketch of Whitey!

The Topic for Tough Travel at Fantasy Review Barn this week was Law Enforcement.  Check out this week’s books!

Check on over to Tabitha’s place – her artwork is always quite gorgeous!!


Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig

Posted On 26 January 2015

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Just finished reading Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig and woah, wow and oh my giddy aunt all rolled into one!

Atlanta Burns is a young girl.  At the start of the story she’s just returning to school after a break of some months.  The reason why she’s been away from school will soon be made apparent to you the reader.  In the meantime all I can say is that she’s gathered something of a reputation and people are a strange mix of in awe, scared and confrontational towards her.  Getting a reputation has it’s drawbacks but Atlanta isn’t too worried – she’s all up for going stirring up a can of whoopass!

This is a difficult book to review because I don’t want to give away too much about the plot.  In fact I don’t really want to talk about the story other than to let you know that Atlanta is going to become the hero of the underdog!  And a most unexpected hero at that with a smart mouth and a heart of gold that she hides beneath a prickly exterior.

I liked Atlanta.  She’s a mixed up girl but that’s no wonder considering her past.  She gets involved in all sorts of adult badness that she shouldn’t even be aware of and on the outside she appears tough.  Yet, she does get afraid, she doesn’t want to be in scary situations and more often than not she just wants her mum!  She is vulnerable and yet she’s also determined.  I don’t think you could fail to like her really. She’s all about championing the misfits and probably in recognition of this they naturally navigate towards her.

And, oh my word, there’s a lot of rescuing to be done here and no shortage of heartache frankly.  If you’ve read Wendig’s Blackbird series you’ll be no stranger to the gritty realism that he portrays so well and this book is no exception.  Within this story you’re going to get mixed up with all sorts from the lower echelons of society to the society darlings and you’re going to bear witness to extreme poverty and some rather seedy living.

This is without doubt a brutal read and you can believe me when I say that.  Through this story you’re going to be reading about bullying, homophobia, violence, suicide, rape, torture, a bunch of fascist podunk hicks, dog fighting and dog baiting!  Some of the people involved are down right nasty and don’t flinch at all sorts of repugnant behaviour – and if that’s going to be a turn off for you then I’m giving you fair warning right now!  I’m not trying to deter you from reading this book because frankly I was hooked to the page and at the end of the day this may be a downright dark and gritty look at areas that are not always pleasant to be reminded of but it was also a book with hope threaded throughout.  Atlanta is a misfit, she’s more an anti-hero than anything else but it’s sort of reassuring that she wants to do the right thing.

In terms of criticisms I think the only thing I would mention is that this can be bleak (see above!)  There are very few really nice people to latch onto and you certainly won’t be having any deep belly laughs while you read this.  Like I said though, I found it totally compelling, shocking and then uplifting in a strange sort of way and absolutely unputdownable.

I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this with the above provisos.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig

Just finished reading Cormorant by Chuck Wendig, the third book in the series about a psychic called Miriam, the first two books being Blackbird and Mockingbird.  Seriously I love this series.  It’s brutal.  And, it’s grim.  Miriam is no sweet and fluffy little girl and there’s a whole seedy world out there which reading her story is going to suck you right into.  (Stop reading now if you’re worried about potential spoilers).

In the last book Miriam tried to control her abilities but this ended up in an explosive situation.  In this instalment she’s still trying to come to grips with it, more to the point trying to come to terms with how to live with it.  She’s been experimenting with the gift, trying to change the visions she sees, but fate finds ways to intervene.  Death won’t be cheated.  A life for a life.

So at the start of the story Miriam is barely scraping together a living and the situation is going to become worse as her flatmates have decided to throw her out of her accommodation, apparently she’s too difficult to contend with!  The sugar coating is that one of her flatmates has found her a bonus.  A job where she can use her special talents for a rather lucrative reward.   Apparently there is a guy down in the Keys whose curious to find out about the way in which he will die, so curious that he wants to pay Miriam $5,000 to give him such an insight.  And so Miriam heads out to Florida.  It feels like a trap.  And, that’s because it is a trap.  And things are now going to go from wish you didn’t get up in the morning to absolutely wished you stayed in bed for the rest of the week!

Basically, Miriam is going to end up again following a serial killer, or at least, not so much following the killer as he’s following her. The serial killer seems to be watching her and anticipating her every move.  He’s using his victims to send her messages, it’s a creepy plot line.  You have Miriam, who when she makes contact with someone can see the way in which they die, and when she has this vision there’s a message there for her in the future.  It twists with your brain for sure.  The story is interspersed with scenes that jump backwards and forwards which seems to be oddly fitting given Miriam’s special abilities.  We also, again, have the strange connection to the birds.  Plus the trespasser, as Miriam has come to think of him who seems to be a spooky message carrying ghost.  Miriam is stronger than she realises though, she just needs to come to terms with her own new found talents and find out the boundaries.

The storytelling is excellent.  It’s gripping.  It’s compelling.  It’s like a train wreck that you can’t tear your eyes away from.  The language is, well, let’s just be honest here, the language is a little bit coarse!  But, this is Miriam and she’s a force of nature to say the least.  If you’re easily offended then it’s probably best to steer clear but if you’ve read the other books you’re no doubt very familiar with Miriam already.  She’s offensive but even so you can’t help liking her especially as she seems to have these moments where the real Miriam comes to the surface and you can see the person she could or would have been if her life hadn’t become so messed up.

The pace is constant as Miriam ricochets from one situation after another, barrelling out of control for a good part as she tries to come to grips with what exactly is going on as the people around her become the murderer’s next target.  Miriam seems to have drawn the attention of not only some badass drug dealing gangster types and a stalking serial killer but also the FBI seem to be on her trail.  I suppose you can only go for so long leaving death and destruction in your wake before you finally gain a following of sorts.

Did I mention that I loved this book?  It pulled me right in and I couldn’t put it down until I reached the conclusion.  It’s not like Miriam is perfect.  She rushes into a situation even when its obvious that she shouldn’t.  There were occasions where it was clear what would happen and you could see things would turn out badly and yet Miriam still walked into those scenes!  Boldly going where no woman has been before I might add!  She has such a devil may care attitude about her own safety it’s like she almost thinks shes become invincible or something or perhaps it’s just that she really doesn’t care any more.  You can’t help feeling exasperated with her at certain points and yet even with that frustration the story still grabs you and shakes hard.  Even as the story races towards it’s grand finale you can’t help racing along with it.  I think my biggest regret is that I didn’t take a little more time to savour the story and certainly my biggest problem will now be finding the patience to wait for the next instalment.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, in exchange for a honest review.  The above is my own opinion.  I think this series is excellent: dark, twisted fantasy.  I definitely recommend.

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Just finished reading Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig which was frankly outstanding and I quite literally couldn’t put it down.  Now, I wasn’t really planning on reading this series and I have in fact not read the first book Blackbirds.  Basically, I ordered this from the library – not realising I was picking up the second in this series.  I did of course realise my mistake when I went to pick it up but I thought I’d just give it a few pages and see how things went.  I confess that I’d read a few negative reviews for Blackbirds that made me hesitate to pick it up and starting off with Mockingbird I could relate a little to those comments I’d read but within a few chapters I was under the spell.

Mockingbird brings to us Miriam.  Miriam, following a trauma in her early adult life, has been gifted with the strange ability to see how and when a person will die.  Unfortunately, she has no control over this strange psychic ability and it therefore occurs whenever she has physical contact with another person, so shaking hands or exchanging items or any other of the many ways in which we have regular contact with others.  It’s not a particularly endearing ability this – looking at people in their final throes of death – whether it be through disease, accident or any of the other many ways to die such as murder or suicide.  At the start of this book Miriam is trying to live a regular existence with Louis, who she apparently met in book No.1.  She has a job at a 9 to 5 and even a home of sorts.  But, she’s getting itchy feet – or more to the point itchy hands.  She’s been controlling her ability and it’s starting to build a tension inside that’s about to erupt.  Everything is about to get turned on it’s head in a very dramatic fashion.

Basically put we have a horror story with a difference and there’s certainly a pretty horrid story involved here with rather grisly murders.  I’m not going to deny that this book is harsh.  Bad language and then some.  Murders galore.  It’s not a pretty thing.  Miriam has led a hard life so far and this hasn’t given her any airs and graces.  She’s a bit foul mouthed, she’d as soon insult people as make friends and yet in this story you can definitely see she’s not as tough as she acts.  She does have a hard exterior but it’s starting to crack, just a little.  But even with all her cussing and such like she can be pretty funny.

I really liked the story line in this and the eventual reveal.  I enjoyed all the little appearances with talking blackbirds and visitations from dead people. I also liked the way the story was interspersed with interludes that were like small snippets from Miriam’s past.  It seems that we’ve started to explore this ability of Miriam’s a little and we’ve also had an introduction into other elements.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t have any criticisms.  At the beginning I struggled a bit to get on with Miriam and I think I know why that is.  She does have a bit of a masculine voice although this improved after the first few chapters.  Just sometimes it felt like the way she reacted or spoke was more masculine.  Not really articulating that very well so will swiftly move on….

I will definitely read future books in this series – I think it has the potential to be really good and I could hardly put this down.  I’m not sure that I’ll go back and read Blackbirds – from some of the reviews it seems that Miriam may have been a bit more subdued in this edition – and I think I might prefer this version of Miriam.  Looking forward to the next instalment.

And, on a separate note – these book covers are really something else.  Just really take a good look at Mockingbirds – it has so many extra little things that at first glance you don’t notice.


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