Book: Patricia Briggs’ ‘Blood Bound’ – “Of course, eating him would work, too”

Blood Bound’ is the 2nd book in the Mercy Thompson series.

Mercy is still a mechanic, still a coyote and gradually getting more involved in both the local werewolf pack and with the local vampire seethe.

It seems slightly odd that in book two of a series with a walker/shapeshifter main character and strong werewolf links is primarily interested in vampires. Specifically how the local vampires feel a demonically-possess vampire.

Stefan is an interesting vampire character, he was different to any other portrayal of a vampire that I’ve read – although I’m very open to  recommendations of similar portrayals!

blood bound

There werewolves don’t shine in this book, they are interesting but they aren’t the main focus – apart from the mention that Ben isn’t the rapist that Mercy thought he was in the first book there isn’t that much werewolf character development.

Some people would argue with this statement, but I honestly feel that Mercy making excuses for the two werewolves who want to get into her pants isn’t character development.

A fair few times there were lines that tracked as follows: “It wasn’t his fault, werewolf instincts are very strong.”

It feels that a lot of a book is making excuses for unequal relationships and repressing women – the entire species of werewolves have never heard of female liberation and it is clearly stated that females take their status in the pack from their (male) mate’s status.

If there first two-thirds of the book had contained more action I wouldn’t have been able to dwell on this, but there wasn’t much happening for most of the book so I got to considering how I kept half expecting Mercy to be clubbed over the head and dragged back to a cave by one of the two male leads. This makes me root for Mercy less than I would usually – she is a funny narrator and she is intelligent but she get involved in stupid situations and gets in avoidable trouble by being headstrong.

My biggest issue with the book is I couldn’t shake one phrase “he ate me” – the scene linked to this was unnecessarily disturbing and it really bugged me.

Overall I don’t like this book as much as the first one, I don’t think I want to keep it.

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Jeaniene Frost’s ‘The Beautiful Ashes’ – “Beauty fades, but Evil Bitch is forever”

‘The Beautiful Ashes’ was recommended to me ages ago but the paperback was just under £12 – which I wasn’t going to pay for a book that I wasn’t sure about. Then I found it on Kindle for 99 pence, which combined with my flu seemed a good combo.

The back blurb doesn’t mention the large part of the plotline is demons VS angels – this isn’t something I seek out as they deteriorate into shades of grey where everyone is as petty as everyone else – inevitably over a girl, and nothing matches up to the ‘Dogma’ take on demons and angels.

I have read some of Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bone’s series, which always seemed a slightly more raunchy version of what I’ve heard about Spike-era ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, so I was expecting similar bad boy antics however I also expected a strong female lead.

the beautiful ashes

Ivy isn’t terribly strong, she is looking for her missing sister and has no support network – gosh this seems to be a familiar theme for female leads these days. She is kidnapped by a strong, attractive, mysterious stranger and lusts after him even though he has kidnapped her. I suppose I should be grateful that he isn’t dressed as a pirate really.

There is nothing wrong with the book, it wanders along nicely, the descriptions are done well, the plot progresses sensibly and doesn’t randomly jump into what feels like a completely different book but nor does it throw up any surprises, the characters are entirely paint by number, the whole thing feels like you’ve read it before.

In fact if you’ve read any urban fantasy ever you probably have read it before, that doesn’t make it bad, it was just what I needed when bedridden with the flu; a nice safe, predictable read. I think everyone should have a couple of dependable books like this that are perfect for when you are feeling crappy, sort of want to be rescued yourself and don’t want the stress of an emancipated female lead who can sort her own s*** out.

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Book: Becca Mills’ ‘Noland’ – “None of that meant a thing to the beast. Either blood would be shed over the matter, or it would not.”

I picked this book up because I read about the author’s recent experience with a malicious use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and because this book was free – book 2 costs money but I was open minded about paying for it if I liked the first one.

Beth has panic attacks and no real support system. She lives alone in the small town she grew up in and barely sees her brother or his kids due to his wife’s rabid dislike of her.

Beth takes photos on a non-digital camera and develops them herself, one day she sees a monster foot in one of the photos – but she swears it wasn’t there when she took the photo. Then weird stuff starts to happen and she finds herself dealing with powerful forces who think she has skills they can use.

nolander The start of the book was rather good, Beth was ok, the plotline was interesting, the characters were developing – even if Williams was clearly a pyscho,  and then the book got odd.

I think it probably got odd around the time statutory rape was mentioned and that the quasi-demonic creatures could, I’m paraphrasing, “make you want it even if you don’t”.

This seems a bit rapey for what had been reading like a Young Adult book, but I tried to ignore that feeling. I continued through the  MASSIVE plot jump and getting lost in the jungle bit and the random octopus bits – seriously I don’t know why we need to know the octopus’ gender.

By now I’m over 60% through the book and increasingly aware that this wasn’t the plotline that I started with or one that was strong enough for me to suspect my disbelief – increasingly I was getting a  bored and creeped out.

The odd phrasing of talking about characters who are searching for Beth but Beth is commenting on their actions as if she is there with them and using the word “me” was jarring.

But I got through that speedbump and was on the home stretch only to find that the end of the book seemed random too, it was as if the book wanted to be a slaves and masters romance but felt urban fantasy might be a more modern genre.

‘Nolander’ isn’t a bad book, but it feels like two books accidentally got spliced together and just had to roll with it. I was personally more interested in the original story than the one I fell into, so I won’t be continuing with Beth’s adventures.

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Book: Caitlin Kittredge’s Nocturne City series – “So what, we get in a big ring and poke each other with sticks while alien lizard men look on”

I am apparently getting somewhat fussy as I get older, ever since my pickle last year I’ve tended to prefer book and films with some humour – it doesn’t have to be outright comedy and it can be black humour, but I want at least a wry smile to be a possibility.

This has meant that certain book and entire series have found themselves read in a whole new light. for example Caitlin Kittredge’s Nocturne City series which is urban fantasy with a strong cop flavour.

daemons mark

As with most urban fantasy it is set in a relatively conventional version of the world – although Nocturne City has added werewolves, witches and mysterious deaths. Luna WIlder is a werewolf without a pack, an Insoli , and is a hard nosed bitch with no people-skills, no common sense and whose progress in any case seems to be down to pure luck.

There are five books in the series and the first three, ‘Night Life’, ‘Pure Blood’ and ‘Second Skin’ are ok if unoriginal. The aspect that really vexed me was Luna’s utter refusal to compromise in any way for a chance at happiness with a man who has assisted her when it would have been far easier for him to have run in the opposite direction at the earliest opportunity.

pure blood

In my opinion it is wonderful having a partner to face the world with and sometimes compromises have to be made – short term pain for long term gain.

What was vexing in the first three books becomes outright annoyance at Luna’s stupidity in the last two books – ‘Witch Craft’ and ‘Daemon’s Mark’. Luna just gets stupid and shoddy on a professional and personal level.

This doesn’t make for a fun read and I got rather bored of it all, which is how all five books went to the charity shop and rotted in a dark corner for ever and ever and ever.

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Knee: Now with added spikes

My latest random internet-inspired attempt to take an edge of my leg pain was a spiked acupressure mat.

The logic is the spikes as like needle free acupuncture, so modern medicine would say that it prompts blood flow to the spiked areas.

Alternatively in traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is thought to help the meridian lines channel the flow of a life force is known as Qi.

spike yoga mat

Alternatively again my yoga teacher talks a lot about prana, aka energy or life force, which also carried along meridian lines.

So basically three major things that you could decide to believe in all think that the spiky mat should help my leg, it seems worth a go!

The instructions that were on the internet page, but that didn’t actually come with the mat, said to lie down on it for 20 to 40 minutes a couple of times a week (or more) to alleviate muscle pain. It says that the spikes should hurt, but in a good “joyful” way.

I’m a little unsure about joyful painful spikes, but as the NHS are being less than helpful the spikes seem worth a go I suppose!

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When the NHS re-enact Abu Ghraib to avoid fixing my knee

I was rather excited to see the hospital specialist physiotherapist, I also had rather high hopes – these were dashed by the time I was escorted through a sticky looking door marked “men’s changing”.

Being led into a dimly lit low-roofed room that seemed to be a smaller version of an indoor sports hall on a severe austerity budget didn’t boost my hopes. It then became apparent that this was an assessment session for me and six other people of various genders.

There were no privacy screens or any attempt to pretend the ‘patients’ had any dignity as the NHS ‘specialists’ ordered various garments to be removed and actions performed.

Fortunately I was wearing clothing that let my knee be examined without the need to shed clothing – I did feel sorry for the woman who was told to run on the spot in just her underwear and the rotund boxer-clad chap told to stand on one leg with his eyes closed for 5 minutes whilst the NHS staff sniggered.

egyptian pyramids

(Photo from Wiki)

I had a nagging feeling that the whole thing was either candid camera or sadistic NHS staff having decided that the abuse in Abu Ghraib sounded a bit of a laugh

The woman that I saw made me recant the entire history of my knee pain and made it clear that she hadn’t bothered looked at my notes or my scan. She was also a master of stating the obvious, she agrees that my knee cap is high – this is an IS and can’t be changed. She also said that my muscle strength is ok, although the inside quad on left leg is slightly weaker.

She commented that the outside of my left leg was tight and this is pulling the knee cap out of alignment and that the swelling under the knee (which is presumably the fat pad) is pushing out the front of the knee cap at an angle – the top of the kneecap is the further point out.

The only  new thing was she declared that I need to build up my core strength as this would help stablise the leg – although this was a throw away comment.

So for 45 minutes I was poked and prodded, with no treatment or advice given. This wasn’t what I expected and I also wasn’t expecting there to be a three week wait for the next possible appointment slot. However I’ve taken the slot and am hoping that the next session will bear less resemblance to the abuses committed by a few bored and stupid member of global Superpower and might actually be a bit more useful.

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Book: Chris Marie Green’s ‘Night Rising’ – Intangible shagging and mommy issues

As it has been just over 20 years since Kurt Cobain died and, in certain circles, conspiracy theories are still rife it was accidentally topical that I picked up a book where dead celebrities are perhaps not as dead as the masses think.

Dawn Madison is a film stuntwoman and doesn’t put up with cr*p from anyone – which makes her a fairly paint by numbers female lead except for her lack of any sense of humour and her seemingly endless sexual desire (which we see as early as page 16 and she repeatedly has sort-of-sex with what seems to be a ghost). Those two character traits rather put me off Dawn, which is a shame as ‘Night Rising’ is the first in a series of six books, plus a few novellas, all of which have her as the lead.
night rising

Anyway, Dawn has come to Hollywood to find her father Frank who has gone missing. She and her father haven’t been close since her famous movie star mother died but family ties are thicker than blood so she sticks around to look for him. The plot thickens when it transpires that Frank vanished whilst investigating how a long-dead child star was caught on film – *hint* he is a vampire like all sorts of other underdeveloped characters in the book.

Frank’s new PI buddies are a mixed bunch, there is a the mystery boss who remains unseen, a little man who happens to be psych, plus a techie woman who was bonking Frank. They are ok and are also paint by numbers but slightly off.

To be honest the whole book seems slightly off, I like the premise but it didn’t work for me. A cult of celebrities turning into vampires then faking their deaths so they can reinvent themselves in a few years’ time is interesting should be a fun main focus for the book, but instead of the book concentrates on Dawn’s rampant mummy issues.

Salt is rubbed in the gaping wound of a plot with the addition of random pop culture references and jarringly out of place sex bits. I was happy to finish the book and am mildly interested if Dawn’s mother is a blood sucking death-faking celebrity whore, but not enough to read any more of this drivel!

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Knee: Wrong diagnosis but then I took an arrow in the knee

My knee utterly broke in July, it was swollen, sore, stiff, acutely painful and apparently covered by the vague term Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) aka “runner’s knee”. The GP had no idea what the problem was, the physiotherapist said it was a tracking problem of the patella femoral joint and I pretty quickly stopped caring as long as it got fixed.

It took months to get physio on the NHS and then even longer to get a MRI  scan (Magnetic resonance imaging) which led to a written report that I didn’t understand. I was patient with the medical professionals, so very very patient despite the pain and the building irritation.

Until a week ago, when a doctor’s receptionist told me that they hadn’t made the referral that had been promised three days earlier and that they wouldn’t give me a phonecall to confirm when it had been made.

knee

(Photo from bthcc.co.uk)

At this point I got cross and said that I’d been nice up to this point but I’d cheerfully put in a formal complaint over this. Oddly enough I got a referral that afternoon, although apparently the initial unit they wanted to refer me to had closed down a week before – cutbacks apparently.

I ‘only’ had to wait a week to see the Orthopaedic specialist at the local NHS hospital. Although on the day of the appointment I had to wait over 90 minutes for what transpired to be under 5 minutes of face time with the specialist – this included him making a reference to what I guess is some football player.

The five minutes was useful in a rushed sort of way, the specialist confirmed that it wasn’t fundamentally tracking issue, it isn’t ligaments or cartilage. He thinks it is the infrapatellar fat pad (aka hoffa’s fat pad) and that I need to go back to physio now that we know the cause.

Which is certainly better than saying let’s try keyhole surgery! But still vexing as now I’m (hopefully) back on a waiting list!

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Patella femoral joint pain – “She likes big words although we’ll never comprehend”

What started as patella femoral joint issues (aka runner’s knee) is increasingly confusing. I would like to give special thanks to some muppet who works in my local hospital’s radiography department who ensured that I spent several fun-packed hours typing my MRI scan results into Google one word at a time in a desperate attempt to understand them.

I ended up with a lot of scribbled notes about various terms from various places on the internet – plus some guessing from my co-workers/ husband/ cat/ random strangers.

freezing from the same day that hell froze over

(Photo from the BBC – this is from the big freeze earlier this year when Hell did freeze over)

As I went to all this effort I thought I should record these definitions somewhere as I’ll probably need them again before my stupid knee makes any progress – although given the speed and efficiency of the NHS I think hell will freeze over before my knee stops hurting.

Structural Words:

Patella – knee cap

Patella alta, aka the high riding patella – the knee cap position on the leg is rather high

Trichlear groove (aka trochlea) – the groove where the patella (knee cap) makes contact with the femur (thighbone). The sides of the knee cap should be almost parallel to the groove and the knee cap should slide inside the groove.

Lateral ridge – in the case of the trichlear groove this is the outside of the groove.

Femoral – to do with the femur (thigh bone)

Infrapatellar fat pad (aka hoffa’s fat pad) – a fatty pad filled with nerves that sits below the knee cap and behind the patella tendon.

Vastus Medialis Obliquos (VMO) – a muscle group which are very useful to help stablise the patella (including its tracking) and are potential weak if you have knee pain!

Bursa – small sac filled with synovial fluid. When working correctly these reduce friction between bones and stuff in joints.

Menisci, cruciate and collateral ligaments – ligaments!

Articular cartilage – slippy white substance that helps the bones glide smoothly. Very important stuff.

Pain themed words:

Patellofemoral pain syndrome – a blanket term meaning anterior knee pain

Anterior – in humans this means “the front”

Retropatellar articular cartilage fissure –you have damage to the cartilage on the back of your knee cap.

Chondropathy – your cartilage is screwed.

Patellofemoraldysfunction – Term so vague as to be useless, aka the chap in radiology is an unhelpful individual or totally stumped and doesn’t want to admit it.

Patellofemoral arthritis – when the articular cartilage wears down and inflames. This is usually along the trochlear groove and on the underside of the patella. Owch owch owch.

One day I want to be able to NEED a list of cute fluffy words to describe my knee with.

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Film: ‘Hideaway’ – Evil hair transplant writes script

It is always unnerving to see someone fail to play a convincing demon-possessed teen serial killer and not two decades later be a bit too convincing as an embarrassing annoying dad.

This however does seem to have been the career path of Jeremy Sisto, who sucked in ‘Hideaway’ and currently hams it up in ‘Suburgatory’.

I did watch most of season 1 of ‘Suburgatory’ but found season 2 has reduced the main character to a poor stereotype of everything she had professed to hate.

hideaway film poster

It transpires that ‘Hideaway’ has been hiding at the back of a shelf, however I have to take full responsibility to putting it in the DVD player.

The film could kindly be described as a poor attempt at a generic horror film with mild supernatural elements that aren’t really explained and really bad special effects. It was based on a book by Dean Koontz and was he apparently disliked the film so much that he tried to get his name removed from it.

I can see why, the film makes a dog’s dinner of an uninspired but straightforward premise – that demonic possession can occur after killing your mum and sister then yourself, only to be brought back after over 30 minutes by your father who then lets you run around killing people and stashing the bodies in an abandoned amusement park.

dean koonz - with hair and without

(Photo from themanwhonevermissed.blogspot)

In fact it makes ‘Phantoms’ seem like a masterpiece of both writing and film making – the acting is better too.

I can’t even spoil this film by posting the ending as the film ending is such a mess that I had to look up the book’s ending to explain the red and blue flashing light show. It wasn’t worth the effort and that might explain why  I haven’t read a Dean Koontz book since he had his hair transplant – although he does look more like a serial killer since he got hair again so perhaps he is using real-life experiences and perhaps the books suck less now.

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