Countdown to 2023 – Day 20 ‘Eggnog’ (11 days remaining)


Today is day 20 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Eggnog’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

EGGNOG (A book that was out of your comfort zone )

So, eggnog – it’s a traditional Christmas drink that, much like Marmite, is not to everyone’s taste.  I tend to read only a little sci fi as this is slightly out of my comfort zone and I’ve gone for a book that I had reservations about going in but absolutely loved.  Stringers by Chris Panatier – I also highly recommend the Phlebotomist by the same author.


Tomorrow: Santa’s Snack – a book that was a ‘light read’ between heavier books


Stringers by Chris Panatier

My Five Word TL:DR Review : A Blast of a Book


Having read and loved The Phlebotomist by this author I was absolutely jumping for joy when I was granted a review copy of Stringers.  Three things must ye know of Stringers.

Firstly, it’s completely unlike Panatier’s debut novel – they stand at the furthest opposing points that I can think of to be honest and this being sci fi I did feel a little nervous about requesting a copy.

Secondly, and this could just be the mood I was in when I picked this up, but, this made me laugh out loud on so many occasions that it was practically addictive.  It was like that moment when you open a huge bag of crisps, sweets, popcorn (or whatever it is that takes your fancy) and before you know it you’ve eaten the entire (family size I might add) bag and you’re puzzled about where they’ve all gone.  Basically, this made me feel good, even down to the fact that I persisted with the ‘harder sci-fi’ elements and actually felt like I was on board, and when something makes you feel good you don’t want to stop. Hence I read this almost in a day.

Thirdly, I can safely say this was one of my most anticipated reads this year and we all know how damaging over hype can be to any book.  Seriously, my expectations were up there amongst the stars but I’m happy to report that on this occasion the anticipation and hype were rewarded with a fantastic read and then some.

The plot.  I can see where the comparisons to Hitchhiker’s Guide come from here.  You have your two witless humans, abducted by a space bounty hunter, you have a really amusing (although obviously humour is very subjective so whereas I found this pretty darn amusing others may not) cosmic space opera with a really unique concept. Now, I can’t tell you too much about the plot other than to say that one of the abductees has a wealth of information stored in his brain, something that certain other ‘aliens’ would pay handsomely for.  As you may imagine, our two humans are about to go on the ride of a lifetime, dangerous, life threatening and very strange.  I seriously don’t want to give away anything else because I had a lot of fun finding out in what direction this story was going in without any prior knowledge.

The characters.  We have Ben and his pal Patton.  Ben is a mind of useless information – well, probably not useless if you want to know in depth details about the sex life of insects or the inner workings of a wristwatch, but otherwise, yeah, not terribly helpful during your bog standard day.  He doesn’t know how he knows what he knows, he just knows it.  And, unfortunately it’s like a constant assault of information flooding his brain day in day out.  He’s desperate to find out what it’s all about.  Patton is a good friend and joins in for the ride not suspecting what he’s letting himself in for.  Naecia is another of the abductees, an alien, also with a wealth of strange information within her own brain.  Aptat is the bounty hunter.  He has a sharp tongue, is totally calculating and, I don’t know if I should confess to this, but I really enjoyed reading the chapters where he was involved.  Last but by no means least, we have Pickles.  I’ll leave you to discover that one for yourselves.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I did have a slight slowing down period when I was getting on board with the science fiction elements – but, I’m happy to say that this was only temporary and even more happy to have actually felt like I understood all the explanations.  Also, I’m not going to lie, there is a certain ‘ick’ factor to some of the chapters that maybe could have been shortened a little for me.  But, overall nothing that actually made me want to give up or that spoiled the read.

In a nutshell, Stringers is a witty, madcap, cosmic adventure that was thrilling to read and made me laugh, cringe and (almost) cry and that kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning.  I’m absolutely fascinated to see what this author will spring on us next.

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

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Friday Face Off : Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green


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’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.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green

Hopefully another easy theme this week. Looking forward to seeing some lovely green covers.  This week I’ve chosen a book that is on my reading list this month: Stringers by Chris Panatier.  Only two covers but they both meet the brief:


15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Stringers by Chris Panatier

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 : Stringers by Chris Panatier.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting Chris Panatier’s next book since reading and loving The Phlebotomist.  I’m so excited for this, here’s why:


Ben isn’t exactly a genius, but he has an immense breadth of knowledge. Whether it’s natural science (specifically the intricacies of bug sex), or vintage timepieces, he can spout facts and information with the best of experts. He just can’t explain why he knows any of it. Another thing he knows is the location of the Chime. What it is or why it’s important, he can’t say.

But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble, as a trash-talking, flesh construct bounty hunter is on his tail and looking to sell him to the highest bidder. And being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice won’t be enough to get him out of it.

Expected publication : April 2022

The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Posted On 28 September 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 26 responses

PhlebMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Absolutely Bloody Brilliant, pun intended.

The Phlebotomist is a book that really took me by storm.  To be fair I read a glowing review for this over on Books Bones and Buffy but even so, and even though I requested a review copy, I felt a little hesitant about picking this up.  I think it’s all to do with my reading mood, the way it fluctuates without warning and the current pandemic situation which I cannot deny has greatly affected my emotions and ability to settle down.  Then along comes the Phlebotomist to laugh in the face of all of that and just provide a really damned good bit of respite from the everyday mundane.

Seriously, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one (yes, I read a review but it was very secretive and gave little away – apart from the fact that this is good).  And, to be honest, I’m going to give very little away too, in fact I’m not really going to go overboard on the plot but will look at world and characters instead.

The Phlebotomist is set in a fairly near future (2060s??).  Our worst fears have been recognised and war and nuclear blasts have changed the way we live.  There are grey zones that still suffer from the fallout and people who desperately need blood to help them recover.  Patriot is an organisation that harvests blood – your country needs you!  And, depending on your blood type, your life can be one of relative luxury or incredibly tough with barely enough food to survive.  Areas are divided by blood types with the most affluent areas being inhabited by those with the most sought after blood types.

Enter the scene Willa Wallace.  I love this woman  Willia is the Phlebotomist.  She’s old enough to remember the world pre nuclear blast and she still likes ‘old school’ methods when it comes to a lot of things.  She is responsible for her grandson, her own daughter having passed away, and she works for Patriot as a Reaper – sounds grim eh? (Ha, another pun).  Willa collects blood, but she doesn’t just go through the motions, she’s smart, she likes to read (high five Willa) and she has common sense.  Unwittingly, Willy stumbles into ‘something’ and that’s when things start to go pear shaped.  I won’t elaborate further other than to say this went in a direction I never saw coming and I loved it.

The other characters. Well, we have an ex marine called Lock (short for the Locksmith) who is basically a hacker.  Lock uses old technology to stay under the radar, she has a number of hideouts and her main priority is the group of ragtag children that she’s taken under her wing and cares for.  Everard is a bit of a tough character, he’s not above committing crimes, he might have a tweak of conscience about it but he’s prepared to make hard choices when it comes to keeping the children safe.  The other character is Kathy, I can’t say too much about her because of spoilers but she’s great and I have to say these three females just about made my day.

Long story short I really enjoyed this.  I couldn’t wait to pick it up, it was entertaining, fast paced, high octane, bloody, and violent, in places and emotional.  What a ride.

The writing is really good.  Panatier strikes a perfect blend between those tense moments where you’re holding your breath and then the relief that swiftly follows.  He provides clear information about the world and the way of life.  He provides his cast with very ‘real’ motivations and he manages to provoke heartfelt emotion.  On top of this there is much drama and over the top heist style scenes that give you a real rush – not to mention woohoo moments.

Okay, I enjoyed this.  Maybe you can tell.  It just give me a real boost.

In terms of criticisms.  The only thing I can think of is that some of the tech info felt a little bit less like a conversation and more like a convenient way to quickly deliver all the knowledge in one swift chunk.  It’s not something that bothered me though.

High speed chases through the air, corporate conniving, conspiracy theories, do we really know how the other half lives?  It’s all here. I would read more of this world without hesitation in fact I strongly hope that more is forthcoming and I can only hope this gets optioned for adaptation, it would be great on the big screen.

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

Rating : 5 stars