Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

A fantasy set in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Universe

Slayer

by Kiersten White

Narrator: Madeleine Maby

Genre: YA Fantasy

Setting: Buffy Universe

Source: Audiobook, Library

Publishing Date: 2019

404 pages (12 hours)

Synopsis: Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

My Thoughts

Before I started the book I hadn’t realized the book was actually in the Buffy universe. That was something I really enjoyed. I liked the glimpses we got of Buffy and I liked that this book is mostly from the Watchers point of view. The book starts after the TV series ends, I think. (I haven’t watched any Buffy for a long time.) Might need to re-watch some of it since I really did enjoy it.

I thought this book had lots of promise. A watcher becomes a slayer! That sounds so great. I also liked the idea of hearing from the watcher side of things.

Too much angst

This book was a little too angsty for me. That’s why I don’t enjoy YA books very much anymore. I must confess I’m tired of all the teenage angst most of them have. I don’t mind reading about young protagonists, but I want some of the second-guessing themselves, constantly changing their mind and worrying about how they look all the time as well as the forbidden lovers trope kept to a minimum. This had a little too much of all that for me especially at the end. (However, this is more my problem than the book’s problem! But it is why I don’t read many young adult books.)

Characters don’t listen

I was also irritated when Nina wouldn’t listen to people. Sometimes you need to go your own way or follow your instincts, but if Nina had listened more and thought about things she wouldn’t have made some of the choices she did. Artemis, her twin sister, also irritated me by not listening to people—especially not listening to Nina whom she was supposed to love so much and whom Artemis had spent her life protecting. That was really irritating.

Bottom line

I listened to the audiobook and I thought the narrator did a good job. However, I probably won’t continue reading this series. It’s just not the series for me.

My Rating: B-
Narrator Rating: B+

Review: Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage

Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage

Series: None

Genre: Nonfiction, Dogs

Source: Audiobook, purchased

Narrator: Nicole Vilencia

Publishing Date: 2012

304 pages

Synopsis: People all over the world have been riveted by the story of Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who was a part of the Navy SEAL team that led the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. A dog’s natural intelligence, physical abilities, and pure loyalty contribute more to our military efforts than ever before. You don’t have to be a dog lover to be fascinated by the idea that a dog-the cousin of that furry guy begging for scraps under your table-could be one of the heroes who helped execute the most vital and high-tech military mission of the new millennium.

Now Maria Goodavage, editor and featured writer for one of the world’s most widely read dog blogs, tells heartwarming stories of modern soldier dogs and the amazing bonds that develop between them and their handlers. Beyond tales of training, operations, retirement, and adoption into the families of fallen soldiers, Goodavage talks to leading dog-cognition experts about why dogs like nothing more than to be on a mission with a handler they trust, no matter how deadly the IEDs they are sniffing, nor how far they must parachute or rappel from aircraft into enemy territory.

“Military working dogs live for love and praise from their handlers,” says Ron Aiello, president of the United States War Dogs Association and a former marine scout dog handler. “The work is all a big game, and then they get that pet, that praise. They would do anything for their handler.” This is an unprecedented window into the world of these adventurous, loving warriors. 

My thoughts

Such a good book about these hero dogs and their handlers. I’ve always been fascinated by them since I read books about dogs used in Vietnam by the military when I was a young adult. And it always broke my heart that the dogs used in Vietnam weren’t brought back home to the U.S. Most were euthanized. Today most dogs come back to the U.S. after their tours of duty overseas. I am disappointed, however, that the government still considers dogs as equipment. That affects so many things when it comes to the dogs. For example, dogs can’t officially receive any commendations for their work.

Deployments

I like the author talks about these dogs in a matter-of-fact way giving scientific information about dogs and specifically military dogs. However, she also talks about the things which make these dogs so special to their handlers and their units. Dogs deployed with units help the morale of the unit. Many dogs seem to know when a person needs extra attention and they spread their affection around.

Handlers and their dogs form a very special bond especially when they deploy together. In fact, many handlers prefer to be deployed even though it’s dangerous, because they get to spend more time with their dogs. Many dogs sleep with their handlers which isn’t allowed when dog and handler are in the States. The dog has to stay in a kennel and dogs might be assigned a different handler when they come back to the States. This is hard for both the dog and handler.

Well-researched book

The author obviously did lots of research for this book–telling about the history of military dogs, for example. She visited many military facilities to find out about the dogs, their training and their stories. She met many handlers, kennel managers, dog and handler instructors and many others during her time working on the book. She creates a fascinating picture of these dogs.

I won’t lie–Ms. Goodavage tells us some heartbreaking stories about both dogs, handlers, other soldiers, but she also tells stories about the heroism of these dogs, their handlers and other soldiers. And she tells about the dogs who retire and are adopted by civilians or often by their handler.

Should the military use dogs?

Some people may feel dogs shouldn’t be used for such dangerous work as IED detection, but dogs save many lives including sometimes lives of the people living where they’re deployed. The author also talks about the training the dogs get and that these are high energy dogs who love to work. They’re proud of their work and their reward which is almost always a Kong toy. When they do their job their greatest joy is to play with their Kong and receive the praise of their handler.

A good narrator

I listened to the audio version of the book and liked the narrator–Nicole Vilencia–a lot. She sounds like she could have written the book herself–that she knew all this information and was telling me about it. I recommend this book if you’re interested in dogs especially working, military dogs.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

  • 52 books in 52 weeks hosted by the mommymannegren.com blog — Military Related: Fiction or Nonfiction
  • The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog
  • They Call It Puppy Love Challenge hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm (February challenge)

Review: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Series: None

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Setting: England

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2009

449 pages

Synopsis: Thirty-nine year old Rachel is having a really bad year. After losing her job and breaking up with her boyfriend, Rachel has inherited her late aunt’s house, her beloved border collie, and a crowded rescue kennel, despite the fact that she knows almost nothing about dogs. Still, considering her limited options, she gamely takes up the challenge of running the kennel. And as Rachel starts finding new homes for the abandoned strays, it turns out that it might not just be the dogs that need rescuing.

Opening sentences:

When February started, Rachel Fielding had a middling-to-glamorous career doing PR for Internet companies, a boyfriend who regularly bought her flowers and dressed better than she did, a cleaner, and a skin-age three years younger than her actual age, which was thirty-nine.

By the second week, however, she had, in one simple maneuver, managed to lose the love of her life, her Chiswick flat and her job.

My thoughts

This is an author whom Barb @ Booker T’s Farm recommended. I grabbed this book when it was on sale and I’m so glad I did. I love it–the rescue dogs, the setting in England and interesting, fun characters (including dogs). I wanted to meet these people and dogs and have them for friends!  The book has Rachel’s POV, but also several other people’s POVs. I enjoyed learning more about these characters and how they interact with Rachel’s world and the dogs’ worlds.

They Call It Puppy Love Challenge

I’m participating in “They Call It Puppy Love” Challenge during February. The challenge is hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm. I was so happy to sign up for this challenge since I’m enjoying reading books about dogs. I’ve saved some books for this challenge so you’ll see me reading lots of dog books this month!

Rachel

Rachel lost her boyfriend, apartment and job all at the same time and is distraught–especially about her ex-boyfriend of ten years. At about the same time she learns she’s the executor of her Aunt Dot’s estate and that she has inherited her aunt’s house, land, border collie and rescue kennel. That’s overwhelming for Rachel along with everything else. She’s never had a dog and knows nothing about dogs let alone a rescue kennel. Rachel’s from London and she’s not a “dog person!” However, Rachel tries to fulfill her obligations. She loved her aunt, but discovers she really didn’t know a lot about her after she moves into the house.

Rachel also finds out the kennel needs to take in some money and can’t survive with just rescue dogs. The vet–George–who is quite gruff and plainspoken tells her the kennels are also meant to have paying customers who board their dogs. Rachel slowly learns more about dogs and about rescue dogs. And about walking dogs and cleaning kennels and feeding dogs. Slowly some of the rescue dogs are given permanent homes. Rachel begins making friends including Natalie who is a marketing pro. Together Natalie and Rachel begin working on plans for the rescue dogs and to make the kennels profitable. I really like that we get  stories of other people in this book, too.

Gem

Gem is a wonderful dog. When I was younger I always wanted a collie especially after I read the Albert Payson Terhune books about his collies. (I read lots of dog books when I was a teenager!) I found a copy of Lad: A Dog–the first book in the series at a used bookstore a few months ago and plan to read it again one of these days. Anyway, Gem was Aunt Dot’s dog and is missing Dot, but he’s a typical intelligent herding dog who helps during dog walks by herding the rescue dogs who don’t know about walking on a leash. He also provides solace to Rachel when Rachel takes him for solitary walks and indulges in her once a day crying. He is just what Rachel needs even if she doesn’t know it.

Romance

There are relationships at various stages of romance in this book. I like that the romances don’t take over the story. I like romances that are part of the daily life people live. I love that Rachel starts out a mess and grows and changes during this book.

Rescue dogs

We meet so many wonderful rescue dogs in this book. We learn about the heartbreak these dogs suffer if they’re abandoned by their owners. It’s especially bad when the dog is just abandoned on a street or out in the country. They sometimes doesn’t survive that. We get to know the quirks and characters of the rescue dogs and meet some of the people who adopt them.

Bottom line

A really good book especially if you like dogs!

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Awards

Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNa’s) Award (2010)

Reading Challenges

  • The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog
  • They Call It Puppy Love Challenge hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm (February challenge)

Reading Challenges–2019

I’ve signed up for a number of reading challenges this year:

I have written sign-up posts for all the reading challenges except 52 Books in 52 Weeks, Des Moines Public Library Reading Challenge and Goodreads Reading Challenge. They didn’t require sign-up posts.

52 Books in 52 Weeks (hosted by Liz @ Mommy Mannegren)

This reading challenge has 52 categories and participants choose books to read that fit each category. It should be lots of fun since there are some great categories!

Des Moines Public Library Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by my local library and I’m very excited to participate! There are 12 topics and the idea is to read a book which fits the topic each month. They can be read in any order.

Goodreads Reading Challenge

I have challenged myself to read 95 books this year.

………………………

I’m working on pages for each challenge for my blog. I will keep track of each book I read that matches one of my challenges and when I review a book I will add a link to the review on my blog.

Review Writing Challenge 2019

Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader

I was very happy when I found this challenge since I like challenges and I want to increase the number of reviews I write and post on my blog.

Last year I wrote and posted 43 reviews on my blog. I have about 15 more almost ready to upload and will do that the first part of 2019. This year I want to get more reviews written and posted so I’m going to challenge myself.

My Goals

  • Write reviews first on Goodreads after I’ve finished the book
  • Write and publish at least 70 reviews on my blog
  • Keep track of the reviews I’ve written on my Goodreads challenge page on my blog

For more information about the challenge check out the sign-up post on Shari’s blog.

Are you signing up for challenges this year?