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The Devil's Graveyard
The Devil's Graveyard
by n/a Anonymous
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tarantino doesn't do talent shows, but if he did..., 22 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Devil's Graveyard (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The likelihood is that you have come to this page because, like me, you have already read The Book With No Name and The Eye of the Moon and were left wanting more. In that case, this is more... more Sanchez, more Elvis, more Mystic Lady and more of the Bourbon Kid... this time out of Santa Mondega, into the desert known as the Devil's Playground - with a singing competition, a deal with the Devil and added zombies...

For those of you who have stumbled across this book, it is the third by Anonymous and this Anonymous writes a book like Tarantino and Rodriguez hitting in their most grindhouse mood. It is a foul mouthed, drug and booze filled kill fest with a wicked dose of black hearted humour and all the morality of a gutter whore. If that sounds all too dangerous then do yourself a favour and look away... Still here... good, then get ready for a rollercoaster of a literary experience and read the books that want to be an 18 certificate movie with a cult following and a bad rep.


The Fall
The Fall
by Guillermo del Toro
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The saga speeds onwards, 16 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Fall (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Fall is the sequel to the del Toro & Hogan book The Strain and the biggest problem I had with the first book was it was almost like a screenplay treatment fleshed out. The writing was good but one could hear the pitch to the film executives... No surprise then when del Toro revealed the first concept was a treatment for a TV series that turned into a book series when it wasn't picked up.

That said, it was a wonderful apocalyptic epic that did some interesting things genre wise - although some of it was a tad too referential.

In this volume the series falls into its own natural rhythm, to me losing most of the referential edges and finding its own place in the vampire genre. The characters we met in the first book are back but, now established, characterisation takes a backseat and the vast vista of the disaster actually comes into view.

What seemed like an invasion of New York by a rogue master vampire, spreading his contagion exponentially through the populous, is revealed as a world wide attack. The plane in New York was just the first and similar viral payloads are landing in every major airport. The reason the Master has gone to New York specifically is revealed during this novel. This is full on, end of the world material and is expertly drawn before us.

I said it was losing most of its referential edges. Some, for instance the introduction of the stinger rather than fangs, which is so reminiscent of the reaper vampires in the del Toro directed Blade II, remain. He also introduces us to a run-down, retired Mexican Wrestler in this volume. Clearly a reference to Santo, I really enjoyed his appearance in the book.

The question now is, can del Toro and Hogan carry this pace into a third volume?


Infinite Days
Infinite Days
by Rebecca Maizel
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars nearly interesting, 8 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Infinite Days (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having looked at the uncorrected bound proof of this book, I sincerely hope that the blurb changes for the published release. You see it is quite misleading, talking as it does of a vampire searching to become human once more.

The book is unusual in that, rather than look at a vampire who wants to become human, from the first page we are with a vampire who has become human. The first sight of Lenah that we receive is of her awakening as a human for the first time in some 500+ years.

This is, however, the story of rebirth into humanity of a vampire who was particularly vicious in her time and Maizel manages to balance the dichotomy of the vicious vampire and the pleasant girl we meet by suggesting that the more good and pure the mortal, the more vicious the vampire they make.

This works well as a concept but also makes you wonder why such a vampire would want to become human. Maizel's answer is that the life of a vampire is a life of misery, pain and torment. All well and good but she hardly seemed wracked with guilt over the countless mortals she had murdered as a vampire. Something didn't quite gel but, looking past that and accepting the premise - as flawed as it may be - we have quite a good take on something that, in many a book or film, is the vampire's goal but the aftermath is not often explored.

Typically, almost clichéd one might say, Lenah is placed in a school to relearn her humanity and the crux of the story is that it is a school set human/vampire romance - with the breath of fresh air that the vampire is now an ex-vampire. Peril exists in the fact that the coven of vampires she created is going to want her back - or dead, but this is kept for the climax of the book and for the main it is assimilation into humanity and her love story that is the aim of the book.

In truth the cliché of that would have been off-putting except for the fact that Maizel does something unexpected and turns the model on its head and makes it a tragedy.

The writing itself is solid enough. The style is easy to read, though too fifteen year old girl rather than 500+ vampire, perhaps. Overall this was average with some interesting ideas poking through the surface.


The Radleys
The Radleys
by Matt Haig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.19

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Blood is the answer, you are asking the wrong question., 7 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Radleys (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The back of book blurb begins "But, as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret..."

...and the secret is - they are vampires. Let's be honest, it wasn't much of a secret but nevertheless... The Radleys take us into a world drawn around us where creatures of the night stalk through English villages, leafy suburbs and inner cities and yet it is a remarkably familiar world. The authorities know of vampires but have never publically acknowledged them. They do have special squads, however, the English police have the `Unnamed Predator Unit'.

These are not quite your normal vampires however. Some are born - father Peter Radley is from a line of vampires - and some are made - like wife Helen. They are not immortal but they are long lived and heal quickly. The sun is a problem (though they won't burst into flames), they can fly, are strong and some can `Blood Mind' or mesmerise and control humans. That is, they can do all this if they are on blood. Peter and Helen are abstainers, for the sake of their kids, and their kids do not know what they are. Daughter Clara has bad eyes, whilst son Rowan suffers terrible insomnia and skin rashes with the slightest exposure to the sun. Clara wanting to turn vegan (she already turned vegetarian) offers problems as the abstaining vampire must, at least, take in meat product - though never seasoned with garlic. Her decision is based on the fact that she loves animals but they all seem to run from her and so she wants to somehow make amends for the ills inflicted upon the animal kingdom by humanity. She is unaware that animals simply dislike vampires - birds never sing in the Radleys' garden.

Haig has a crisp style that is very readable and made this a joy from cover to cover, he took the basic vampire idea and did something different with it, building a believable world around us. I loved the peppering of quotes from the abstainer's handbook through the novel (where the title of this review comes from). The core of the book, however, is one of families and the secrets, lies and self-inflicted ignorance that underpins and, often, undermines relationships. Recommended.


Diary of a Wimpy Vampire
Diary of a Wimpy Vampire
by Tim Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3.0 out of 5 stars not Adrian, but Nigel's okay, 6 July 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Aimed at a younger market this is almost like the vampire equivalent of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ but without the edge. The pubescent and societal wonders that Adrian Mole brought to the world (God, was it really 1982) are hidden within the vampiric archetype - or perhaps it is just that the years have caught up with me?

That is not to say that it isn't worthwhile. Nigel may be a wimpy vampire whose powers have failed to emerge, no strength, vampiric beauty, speed or self-sufficient hunting skills, but he is a proper undead vampire who drinks blood. Less a sideward look at the world around us and more a squint at some of the vampire genre's recent, more popularist, trends. In possibly the funniest moment in the book he contemplates the cons of stalking one's mortal love and watching her sleep.

For the market it is aimed at it will prove a hit, the book is a breeze to read with its diary format and plenty of Dahl-a-like illustrations. If it has a failing it is in the fact that it fails to extend to a wider (age range of) audience in the way it might of.


Sweex Vidi MP481 8GB MP4 Player - Silver
Sweex Vidi MP481 8GB MP4 Player - Silver

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear, what could the matter be... except almost everything, 22 Jun. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you get an MP4 player for the price that this is being sold for then you expect it to be a little rough and ready but this was somewhat abysmal.

Firstly, if you want it as anything other than an MP3 player then forget it. The only supported video file is amv. Whilst there is a convertor with the bundled disc I didn't try it... somehow the words unsupported freeware, with a retail product, sends shivers down my spine. Perhaps if the screen had been larger I might have risked it but the screen is so small you really wouldn't want to watch anything on it... Or read books

Yes, it purports to have an ebook reader though, to be honest, what format it accepts is a mystery as the minimal instructions (most of which are in eformat) were silent on the matter.

So, best to just use it as an MP3 player. The earphones are functional and the playback not bad for what it costs... remember to soft switch off and not use the on/off switch or you'll loose all your positions such as the song that is playing, as well as equalizer and volume settings.

Sweex, I guess, believe that playlists are obviously for mugs and so I dragged and dropped (which, to be fair, is a functionality I prefer) a few album folders into a music folder (I created) and hit shuffle... we stuck on the same folder. Okay... its cheap, I pulled all the MP3s into the one music folder and added a load more tracks and hit shuffle... shuffle it did, but round, at most, two albums (a false shuffle that selects a file at random and then plays the four files round it randomly, then moves to the next four files in order, it seems). I forced it to another song, hit shuffle again (on the absolutely not instinctive controls) it played that song and then went back to its own little version of shuffle based on the files it had been playing.

Then it died... it took me getting inside - because the screen was unreadable in the sunlight - to realise the battery had died - no advance warnings on this puppy. This is a usb charge, so in it was plugged. A few hours later the battery was... still dead... nowhere does it explain that you have to force it out of (the automatically launching) file transfer mode to charge the battery - I could see a new user getting rather confused especially as, at another time, it did show the battery charging symbol in this mode.

There is no key lock and the backlit screen remains on, thus eating battery... need I go on? Well I should say that after fully charging the battery I used the player for two 30 minute journeys and on a 20 minute journey and the next day (despite being 'soft off' over night) the battery was dead...

All in all, despite ok playback, it is a shoddy product.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2010 12:13 PM BST


Changeling: Blood Wolf
Changeling: Blood Wolf
by Steve Feasey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An improvement on dark moon, 6 May 2010
This review is from: Changeling: Blood Wolf (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was disappointed with the sloppy editing in the predecessor book, Changeling: Dark Moon, but I am pleased to say that Macmillan were tighter with this book and there aren't the glaring technical errors.

As a book this is fine teen fodder - and of course that is who it is aimed at. For an adult it is perhaps still a little too simplistic but Feasey has started adding in peril both to his main characters safety and morality that one hopes he will take to perhaps a darker and unexpected place in upcoming series. It doesn't quite happen here, even cliffhanger moments feel like they may well be resolved all too easily, but it is perhaps moving towards the nuances I mentioned in my review of the previous volume.

An improvement on dark moon and I can see the series may build itself into something very worthwhile eventually.


Evernight (Evernight, Book 1)
Evernight (Evernight, Book 1)
by Claudia Gray
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a little bit anime, a little bit romance but well written, 9 April 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Contains spoilers

Evernight is a young adult book, and one can fairly much say with its female protagonist - Bianca - and the strong romance theme that it is aimed at a female audience. I am male and a bit of an old fart and so it is all in the books credit that I can say that I rather enjoyed this - up to a point.

At first, however, I did not. After a prologue that let us know we are dealing with vampires we meet Bianca. Her parents are teachers and they have taken jobs at the private Evernight Academy. Bianca, who has always lived in the same small town, is really not looking forward to being at the school. Not only will It cater for a different social strata of people but its imposing gothic architecture, towers, stained glass and gargoyles...

And this is where the book nearly lost me, for I couldn't reconcile the academy description (almost Hogwartian, one might say) with the USA... that is until it clicked that what was being described was virtually anime. It was something akin to that which we see in the series Vampire Knight. Whether Gray meant this or not I don't know but as soon as the realisation dawned I was able to relax and enjoy the book and it was enjoyable, I was drawn in and, for the first half of the book (past the prologue), vampires are not mentioned.

There is a creeping suspicion at the back of the mind, however, and we then get the reveal. Most of the students are vampires... and here's the clever bit, the main reason they are there (after all, the oldest pupil is some 1300 years old) is to learn about the modern world, to fit in. Evernight was always a place to learn and to be themselves, and human students have been let in (we are told) to help with that grounding in the today. This gives a reason for these ancient creatures to be in a school that actually works.

So what about Bianca (please turn away if this might be a spoiler too far...

...still with me, good).

Bianca is a rarity, a child born of two vampires, she is approaching the time when her vampire nature will assert itself. To fully become vampire she must kill and then die. Of course, first love (with a human) and raging teenage hormones do not help.

The lore is well handled. So long as they maintain a diet of (at least animal) blood vampires can go out in daylight. They can cross running water but it takes a mighty effort, fire and beheading will kill but a stake through the heart paralyses them but remove it and they are up and about again.

So, I said I liked it to a point. That point was the ending. As well as it getting a little too Romeo and Juliet for my taste, the very end confrontation seemed rushed and not well explained - especially after the excellent build up through the book to every other aspect of the story. Of course I can't explain why without spoiling the story altogether.

However, beyond this (and I can live with it, it was just a shame) this was well composed prose that did not treat the target audience like idiots and thus opened it up to a more mature audience.


Never Bite a Boy on the First Date
Never Bite a Boy on the First Date
by Tamara Summers
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it's ok, 6 April 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Contains spoilers

I feel a little torn over this, after all it is young adult orientated fiction and thus should I expect too much from it? After a little thought... frankly, yes, and that's where things fall down.

You see this is a book that has not too bad prose, a bit of a murder mystery and vampires but it does nothing really new for the vampire genre. The main character, Kira, is sixteen years old and only recently turned into a vampire so still has to go to high school - by order of her new vampire parents. You see the vampires in this masquerade as family units.

As such we know that sunlight is a minor issue (sunblock and a bit of a migraine are orders of the day). Strangely Summers went for the no reflection rule but at least stuck to the idea that clothes, makeup, hair dye etc would reflect offering an illusion of appearance on a casual glance. The invitation rule is in place but once more we get nice vampires, vampires without bite (well one has bite, but he or she is rogue).

We are introduced to a vampire hunter (who you can spot from a mile off) but nothing too interesting is done with him. The vampire parents are imposing (and the father can turn into a bat) but thinly drawn. One almost felt they were created with an eye on a subsequent TV programme, imposing but ultimately facile background characters. Kira herself came across as a younger (for you felt the age oozing out of the prose) version of Betsy Taylor from the Mary Janice Davidson series, but not as edgy or funny.

All in all this was a pleasant enough read but it didn't set my world alight, nor did it add anything particularly new or improved to the genre. Fine as it is, but average in the grand scheme of things.


Blue Bloods: Number 1 in series
Blue Bloods: Number 1 in series
by Melissa de la Cruz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a book of two halves, 16 Mar. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
May contain spoilers

It was rather nice that the Amazon Vine programme coincided with my own passion for reading and reviewing vampire related material and, though this was clearly aimed at a teen market, it did a lot right - eventually.

This creates a level of lore that is rather interesting as the Blue Bloods are not just vampires, they are fallen angels. Their immortality comes through recycling themselves, dying and being reborn (from their blood) by choice and growing to age until their blood releases their memories of their previous cycles. They have laws governing how much they can feed from a human, they can choose to live beyond the cycle and they cannot die by any conventional means.

This is all well and good and explains why the first half of the book was so frustrating. Forgetting the fact that the idea of an Upper Class prep school was one that came across as alien to me and the fact that the book is written to the target audience (teen) and could have benefited from a much more adult orientation to the language. The main reason it was frustrating was because it felt like de la Cruz was trying to hide the nature of these creatures, revealing almost nothing, hidden from the reader as it was from the main character. However the prose flipped perspectives to those who knew the truth and still it was purposefully hidden from the reader. This might have worked had it not been for the cover and the blurb... hardly the author's fault but it was still frustrating.

I said that they could not die by conventional means (or indeed by any of the normal vampire slaying techniques) and yet they are being murdered. Because of this the young generation (who are the ones being targeted) are informed early of their heritage. The idea of the hunters hunted was nice, of a creature or creatures bigger and badder than the bogeyman - the identity of which I won't spoil. It made me sit up and take notice, it brought a sense of urgency into the prose and it made me overlook some slight character issues.

These issues were mainly born out of the reactions and attitudes of a certain character who turns out to be a Red Blood (the name for humans) retainer to the Blue Bloods and yet the reactions that had earlier been described to us didn't fit that role at all. Also, one wondered at teen vampires who suddenly gain the memories of countless past lives but not the wisdom of the ages, leaving characters perhaps as bratty and spoilt as they had been in their human-esque life before the blood took hold.

Nevertheless the book had me intrigued from the moment the unusual lore and the murder mystery was fully revealed and I will certainly look to the other books in the series.


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