December 31st, 2019

Books: Pile

Non-Book Bingo Books 46 - 50

Dead Level, Death Sentence, Heads or Tails, Dead Lock, Beyond the Point by Damien Boyd

Dead Level  Death Sentence  Heads or Tails  Dead Lock  Beyond the Point

Collapse )

I actually read these five books before I read the last few I posted reviews for. However, as it takes longer to get all the bits together for multiple books, I posted the single ones first. Ironically, I probably have less to say about these books, as I will take them as a whole, than I have in some of the other reviews.

I continue to really enjoy this series. Nick is a great character, very human, the type of chap I'm sure I would get on with. He has his faults, as we all do, which makes him all the more real. The writing continues to be good; we learn more about Nick in each book and the cases are all excellent and keep one guessing. Once again Nick's life is in danger and this time I really did wonder how he was going to get out of it (I knew he had to as I had more books in the series *g*). Nick really is the kind of copper you would want helping you.

We also learn quite a lot more about Nick's girl-friend Jane, other detective - in fact we learn a great deal more about her. And we learn more about the regular characters and all of them are definitely real people and not just names on the page. Again, they have their good points and their less than good points. I do think characterisation is one of Boyd's real strengths; he isn't afraid to make them real and rounded and imperfect.

The one for me slight negative thing about these later books is that Boyd, like so many authors, has started to make the books longer and flesh things out and give us more personal stuff - mainly about Jane, it has to be said. For me, whilst it's quite nice to learn a bit more about Jane, her background and how it impacts on her life today, I don't need it; I actually don't think it really adds anything to the books. In fact for me, it has slowed the books down somewhat. They are still fast-paced, but not as much as they were. What made Boyd stand out is gradually seeping away - in my opinion anyway. I suspect I'm in the minority as I'm guessing the reason he did start giving us more personal stuff is down to reviews, etc. asking for it. For me, I'd wish he'd go back to how he wrote in the first few books and cut out a lot of what I regard as superfluous stuff.

That said, I'm not going to stop reading the series - quite the opposite. I have already pre-ordered the next book. And it is still a series I would recommend highly. In fact if you do like longer books, with more personal stuff then you'll definitely prefer the later books to the earlier ones.
Books: Magical

Non-Book Bingo Book 51

Undeading Bells (Fred Book 6) by Drew Hayes

Undeading Bells

After surviving countless perils and dangers, including an examination by the Blood Council, Fred is preparing to take on his most important adventure to date: marrying Krystal. That is, if he can get everything handled in time. Visiting Boarback, hiring new staff, clearing out his schedule for a honeymoon; there’s no shortage of tasks to check off before the big day arrives.

But not everyone views the occasion in such a happy light. With new dangers looming, old debts raised, and grudges rekindled, it’ll take everything Fred has to finally make it down the aisle.

Fred is a vampire accountant and a good chap - in fact he's a very good chap, it's just that he gets mixed up in all kinds of non-good things - both relating to his parahuman and his human friends.

This is the sixth book in the 'Fred the Vampire Accountant' series and it's still going strong and a series that has not become stale or boring. The characters continue to develop in a very believable, realistic way - even those who are dead (and there are several of them in one dead form or another) continue to develop.

The Fred books contain a lot of parahumans living side by side with humans in America, in the here and now. As well as vampires, there are were-people (not just wolves), zombies, mages, dragons, necromancers, fey - to name but a few. Also those we still don't know quite what they are - or what their powers and the limit of their power are.

The Fred books are all enjoyable, fun to read, very well written, quirky, contain great characters, are well balanced in terms of good things and bad things and you know the good won't always prevail. They are feel good books. The irony of the books is that when he was alive Fred was a very boring, very quiet chap who never sought trouble - he still doesn't seek it; it finds him. In many ways he is still the Fred that was human, he just has vampire powers - oh and he is still a great accountant. Yes, he has kept and indeed increased his accountancy business.

Drew Hayes is, in my opinion, an extremely good writer - this is only one of his series, I've read at least one other and J has read more (in fact it was from J I leant about Fred).

If you like the paranormal that is fun and has good characters and well balanced between the nasty and the nice, then I really would recommend these books. I love them - the fact I broke off my Christmas reading to read this book when it came out a couple of weeks ago is evidence of that.
Christmas: Tree & snow (Blue)

Non-Book Bingo Book 52

The Christmas Egg: A Seasonal Mystery by Mary Kelly

The Christmas Egg

London. 22nd December. Chief Inspector Brett Nightingale and Sergeant Beddoes have been called to a gloomy flat off Islington High Street. An elderly woman lies dead on the bed, and her trunk has been looted. The woman is Princess Olga Karukhin - an emigrant of Civil War Russia - and her trunk is missing its glittering treasure...

Out in the dizzying neon and festive chaos of the capital a colourful cast of suspects abound: the downtrodden grandson, a plutocratic jeweller, Bolsheviks with unfinished business? Beddoes and Nightingale have their work cut out in this tightly-paced, quirky and highly enjoyable jewel of the mystery genre.

There's an adage that says: 'if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all'. It is something I do try to adhere to. Thus, I will say the cover of this book is lovely. I think that probably sums up my thoughts about this book.

I can honestly say that is the only good things I can say about it. I really did not enjoy the book. I couldn't get into it (even though I did finish it); I thought the case was poor and not gripping in anyway; the characters were just names, they never came to life at all; the writer overwrote description-wise in parts, going on endlessly about something that didn't need describing. It wasn't your usual type of Christmas mystery as to be honest I suspect it was only set at Christmas to be able to sell it as a Christmas story (although I did know before I bought it that it wasn't the usual kind of Christmas mystery. I cannot remember the last time I was so disappointed in a book.

I love the British Library Crime Classics and was really looking forward to this one, especially as the last few Christmas BLCC books have been superb. However, disappointed really doesn't sum up my feelings about the book. I shall not be seeking out any other books by Mary Kelly and apart from the lovely cover, there is nothing at all about the book that warrants a recommendation.
Christmas: Tree & snow (Blue)

Christmas Pretties Day 31

I end my Christmas pretty posting with a picture that is in a way similar to how I began the month of Christmas pretties.

It's another blue based picture, involving snow and trees with the main tree having a Christmas feel and look, even though it isn't decorated as such.

Blue scene

I have really enjoyed sharing these pretties this month and from the comments I have received it seems as if you have enjoyed them too. Thank you very much for commenting and I'm really glad my pretties gave you pleasure.
Christmas: Tree (Blue)

Non-Book Bingo Book 53

A Christmas Railway Mystery (Railway Detective) by Edward Marston

A Christmas Railway Mystery

December 1860. The morning shift at Swindon Locomotive Works is about to begin and an army of men is pouring out of the nearby terraced houses built by the GWR. Frank Rodman should have been among them, but he is destined for the grave sooner than he might have expected, or he will be, once his missing head is found.But Christmas is fast approaching, and the last thing Inspector Colbeck needs is a complex case, mired in contradictions. As he wrestles with one crime, he is alarmed to hear of another - the abduction of Superintendent Tallis. Colbeck and Leeming find themselves in a hectic race to solve a brutal murder before rushing off to Kent in a bid to save the superintendent's life.

This book is the fifteenth book in the 'Railway Detective' series and yet it is the first of the series I have read - which is just about unheard of for me; I don't start mid-series. I'm not even sure how I came across it (I've ruled out the person I thought may have recommended it to me). I can only guess it came up on Amazon as a recommended read when I bought another Christmas book and I failed to realise it was part of a series.

That said, I don't feel I missed out on the important aspects of the detectives and the main back stories by coming in at book fifteen. The author balanced the 'too much vs. too little' information extremely well and I felt I learnt enough as the book went on about what had happened in previous books.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The characters were all excellent, very well-rounded, some were complex, others really were 'what you see is what you get' and I cared about all of them; in particular I liked the detectives (a good thing in a series). I found it well written and well paced. The main case was intriguing and interesting with a good number of believable red herrings and the plot had a lot of twists and turns - but not so many that you end up getting lost. The sub-case was also very good and compelling and that certainly had me wondering right up to the end if the Superintendent would be found alive or not.

The Christmas aspect was different from many other books insofar as it dwelt more with whether Colbeck and Leeming would manage to get it all wrapped up before Christmas, thus allowing them to go home to their wives and children and also we saw Mrs. Colbeck and her home life and how she was wondering if her husband would get home.

Between buying the book and starting to read it I somehow managed to forget/overlook that it was set in 1860 and when I found out I was a little surprised as whilst reading it I thought it might have been a little later in the Victorian age, maybe even slipping into the Edwardian period as there were a few things I didn't think were 'right' for the 1860s. That said, I wasn't alive in the 1860s *g* and it isn't a period I've studied in any depth nor a period I've read many book from - either written at the time or set in the time. There was nothing jarring, nothing that I really felt was 'not in period', it was just a feeling. I suspect it was because it wasn't written in quite the more formal language, perhaps of the mid 1800s. But that was a minor thing and I can honestly say didn't detract at all from my enjoyment.

I shall almost certainly be reading more of this series. I say 'almost certainly' because the one thing that does make me hesitate is that this book is book 15 and I really don't know if I want to dive into another long series of books. That, however, is the only thing that is making me hesitate as otherwise it is definitely my kind of crime series both in terms of crime and the detectives.

Has anyone here read any of these books?

Apologies for the number of book reviews I have posted today. As I had read these books in 2019, I did want to get the reviews posted as well. I shall, however, wait until next year before I post a round-up. Thank you for putting up with the multiple posts.