Highfire by Eoin Colfer

Posted On 27 January 2020

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Highfire2I have slightly mixed feelings about Highfire.  On the one hand, I really enjoyed certain aspects of the story and would no doubt read more if the author intended to revisit. But, at the same time I did struggle a little to get into this and I’m not entirely sure why, other than my reading seemed to ebb a little last week so maybe I was just not in the right frame of mind.

This is fantasy of a very different kind.  To an extent, without Vern (who was actually more akin to a Wyvern than a dragon) and his mysterious friend, the fantasy aspect of the story is very low key.  This is a story that plays out in the bayous of Louisiana and I have to say upfront that I loved the setting.

Deep in the bayou lives a dragon, the last of his kind maybe.  He’s all about keeping a low profile and keeping the howling mobs at bay.  In the modern era your likeness and a full on video can be recorded so easily that Vern has taken to hiding out, he’s a bit depressed, he lacks companionship, he has something of an alcohol problem and I suppose he lacks purpose.  Until Squib enters his life.

Basically this is a story that focuses very much on the characters.  Everett Moreau, aka Squib, is a teenage boy who is one step away from crossing the line.  He’s not had the easiest childhood and although at heart he’s basically a good lad he’s struggling to help his mother with a debt that she didn’t run up whilst at the same time trying to keep the attention of the local law from focusing too hard on either himself or his mother.  Everett is quite easy to like, especially his enthusiasm for Vern the dragon.

Vern has lived a long life.  He doesn’t like humans, mainly due to the fact that they turned on his kind many centuries ago and killed them off, leaving Vern alone and bitter.  I suppose you could say that Squib really shakes Vern’s life up, a lot and I did enjoy their interactions, especially the slow way that Vern comes round to this new human in his life.

Regence Hooke is the local law and a bigger lowlife you are unlikely to ever meet.  Being privy to his internal thoughts is positively hideous.  He’s a murderer and a nasty piece of work.  Your basic psychopath really, and he has the big hots for Squib’s mum and would very much like to take Squib out of the picture entirely so that he can move his agenda forward.  He really is quite despicable.

The story revolves around these three characters, starting fairly low key until their lives become inextricably entangled and go down the route of no return – things then reach an explosive climax.

I think what held me back from a little with Highfire is that it has a fairly young feel – yet, it’s undoubtedly an adult read.  There is violence, people getting their faces ripped off and their guts spilled but in spite of the adult content, for me, this felt almost like Pete and his dragon.  I haven’t got a problem with that in some respects but I think I was expecting a darker tone somehow.  Vern is definitely an impressive beast and you wouldn’t want to get on his wrong side, but at the same time the comic feel to the story prevents him from having any real menace and I confess it took me a while to form any real attachments to the characters.

Okay, I was aware that this was going to be full of humour when I picked this up so the comic elements weren’t really a surprise but not all the humour quite hit the spot for me personally.

I don’t really mean to come across as overly negative.  On finishing this book I would say that I enjoyed it.  The ending was satisfying and refreshingly creative and I immediately felt that if more books were planned with Vern as the central character then I would be keen to pick them up, but, I’m not totally in love with the characters just yet, they still have a little more work for me to be totally on board.

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

Rating 3.5 of 5 stars

 

Weekly Wrap Up – 26th January 2020

Posted On 26 January 2020

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Hey everyone. Hope you’ve all had a lovely week.  Another week flies by and the first month of 2020 is almost over.  I can’t believe how quickly time is rushing by at the moment.  I’ve had a bit of a slow week with reading – although I have been reading three books.  I’ve completed one of those and hopefully the other two will soon follow.  I’ve been exercising for half an hour each day though and trying some new healthy recipes and I’ve just been really enjoying that.

Here’s my week in books:

  1. Highfire by Eoin Colfer

What I’m reading next week:

  1. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell
  2. The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson
  3. Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Upcoming Reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
  5. King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  6. Highfire by Eoin Colfer

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Friday Face Off : Year of the Rat

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat – this could be a chinese style cover, something with a rat or rats, or any interpretation that comes to mind.

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

I thought of lots of books for this week’s theme but being Vintage sci fi month I’ve gone for a slightly different take on the theme and a book I read as part of the event a few years ago.  The Stainless Steel Rat (Stainless Steel Rat (Publication Order) #1) by Harry Harrison.  I chose this for the name but as it happens one of the covers has a rat. Here are this week’s covers:

My three favourites:

and I think my favourite has to be:

SSR7

Which is your favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know 😀

Next week – First Contact – “Ack, Ack, Ack, we come in peace”

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.

31st January – First Contact – “Ack, Ack, Ack, we come in peace”

7th February – Lion- “Is that a lion with horns and a pitchfork?”

14th February – romantic – “thus with a kiss I die”

21st February – meringue – the puffy dress? – Lots of covers with ‘big’ dresses

28th February – Leap Year – One Ring to rule them all – A cover with a ring

6th March – Skeleton – them bones, them bones, them dry bones…

13th March – Exotic – ‘That which yields, is not always weak”, a place, a person, a flower – anything that represents something from distant lands.

20th March – Brown – a cover or covers that are brown

27th March – Freebie – choose one of your favourite covers

3rd April Fools – a trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

The Woods by Vanessa Savage

Posted On 23 January 2020

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TheWoodsWell, this was a twisted little number that worked very well for me. A mystery at its core it’s all about the tangled webs we weave particularly when families become overly involved in each other’s lives.  A psychological thriller that makes for compulsive reading, made even more gripping by the unreliable narrator who keeps taking you round in ever decreasing circles as you go through the mill suspecting everyone of wrongdoing.

The story starts with an introduction to Tess.  Tess lives in the city and is a teacher at secondary level.  She’s not totally happy with her life choices, or enjoying her job, in fact she’s been in a spot of bother with one particular student before we even make her acquaintance.  Then she receives a phone call and her life spirals from slightly dull and a little bit miserable to fear, apprehension and overnight hallucinations.  Tess hasn’t been home for a good number of years but her step mom is dying and her father has called her to ask her to come back.  She doesn’t relish the idea and in fact as soon as she starts thinking of home she begins to experience nightmares and apparitions.

Tess had a sister, Bella.  Bella was the beautiful sister, enigmatic, full of personality – at least in Tess’s eyes – whilst she was the ugly duckling living in the shadows.  In spite of that the two of them shared a close sisterly relationship although their closeness was starting to fracture as Bella began to enjoy a little more danger.  Boys, alcohol, late nights and other escapades that shy Tess didn’t want to become involved with.  Then, one evening Tess and Bella went for a late night excursion into the local woods and only one sister survived.

I really liked the way this begins.  Everything feels fairly balanced in the opening pages yet as soon as Tess receives her phone call her life almost immediately takes a nosedive. She finds herself in deep trouble at work and there’s little choice for her other than to return home for her step mother’s last days.  But, more than that, she starts to see her sister, not just in dreams either, but on a fairly regular basis and Bella is trying to tell her something.

Tess seems to go from bad to worse quite quickly.  She’s not sleeping properly, she’s having terrible dreams when she does sleep and she even seems to be sleep walking. Her nerves are a bunch of frayed ends and to make matters worse she’s not the only one to return home.

When Bella was still alive the local ‘haunted house’, sat deep in the woods, was bought by a good looking couple who had two incredibly handsome teenage boys who immediately became the heartthrobs of this sleepy little village.  Trouble followed on fleet feet.  Jealousies, crushes, secrets and lies, in fact as the past is gradually laid bare it’s difficult to believe just how complex all the relationships involved really were.

The focus is on three families primarily and their interactions and past indiscretions are gradually revealed. At the same time, it seems that there was a killer on the loose all those years ago. A number of girls went missing, their bodies eventually found and speculation ran amok – that being said, Bella’s death was deemed a tragic accident.  I really do have to hand it to the author for stunning me with the depth of intrigue and deceit.  She manages to put everyone into the frame in fact I had a great time jumping around from suspect to suspect like a headless chicken as red herrings flew thick and fast.

The really winning element for me though was Tess and the way she spirals almost out of control.  She’s more jumpy than frog soup in fact I think her suspicions jumped about almost, if not more, than my own.  And she’s her own worst enemy really.  She snaps at people, makes accusations and just takes silly risks that eventually make her a person of interest to the police – especially after  – well, I can’t really say other than ‘the plot thickens’.  Like a theatregoer at a Christmas production of Cinderella, I just wanted to scream at her – for goodness sake, have a good night’s sleep and get things into perspective.

On top of this all the revelations gradually show the characters in a different light so that you can never truly trust what you’ve already heard about them.  Was Bella the beautiful and good sister or was she the village troublemaker.  The family who move in, are they really as good as they seem?  Even Bella’s father and step mom – they all have things that paint them in darker tones.

I enjoyed the setting too.  Mostly we find ourselves in the woods with all the rustling trees, snapping branches and, of course, the long since abandoned house in the woods that everyone seems to be drawn to like flies to honey – or vinegar.

In terms of criticisms. Nothing much really.  I think that this could have been tightened a little.  I found myself, only momentarily, experiencing a brief feeling of repetitiveness – but, like I said, this was only a glancing thought.

Overall this is a very good, gripping in fact, psychological thriller. It had plenty of tension and the mystery was intriguing to read about, the history of the protagonist and her friends and family was revealed layer by layer until the core of the story was laid bare – then the author pulled the curtains on her big reveal.  To an extent, in the cold light of day, it seemed obvious, in fact I’d guessed the culprit along the way – that is, of course I had, I suspected everyone along the way, sometimes more than once so obviously I was going to hit on the answer even if it wasn’t my final thought and I’d moved onto someone else.  Basically, this novel is deceptive right to the end.

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

My rating 4*

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas, and here’s why:

House ofearthandblood#1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas launches her brand-new CRESCENT CITY series with House of Earth and Blood: the story of half-Fae and half-human Bryce Quinlan as she seeks revenge in a contemporary fantasy world of magic, danger, and searing romance.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

Expected publication : March 2020

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