Currently Reading

Currently reading: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams [Review]

Written by: David Walliams.
Published by: HarperCollins.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 1st October 2008
Rating: 4/5.

Official synopsis: "The sparkling debut children’s novel from David Walliams, number one bestseller and fastest growing children’s author in the country, with sparkling new cover look to tie in with later books. Dennis was different. Why was he different, you ask? Well, a small clue might be in the title of this book… Charming, surprising and hilarious – The Boy in the Dress is everything you would expect from the co-creator of Little Britain. David Walliams’s beautiful first novel will touch the hearts (and funny bones) of children and adults alike."

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I have been meaning to read a David Walliams book for a very long time. There is always a lot of hype around them and they always top the bestsellers lists when they are released. They are loved by adults and children alike and my blogging friend, Jenny over at Wondrous Reads, has reviewed several of them and loved them so I knew that if Jenny loved them I would! It was just a case of getting the books and getting around to it! Well, thanks to Amazon and their Black Friday lightning sale, a boxset of five David Walliams books was on sale at a price I could not refuse so I brought them on an impulse. That day, I got, The Boy in the Dress, obviously, Mr. Stink, Billionaire Boy, Gangsta Granny and Ratburger. As soon as they came I was so excited. The covers are great and well designed and really appeal to the eye.

When I finally did start reading I could see just why his books have been so successful. It almost had this Roald Dahl-esque quality about it. It drew you in and really made you feel like a part of the story. The book itself is very funny in places but also, I feel, very important. There is an underlying message in the book about acceptance. Something I think that is very important and should be present but in some circles of life isn't, even today. This book I feel could help that. Children are very impressionable and if we teach them the right things, the right morals, the right messages then change will happen. I'm not saying that The Boy in the Dress is going to do all that, but it is a good place to start. 

Dennis lives in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street. But he is anything but ordinary. He breaks the gender stereotypes and whilst he loves football, he also loves fashion and could spend hours just staring at the glossy pages of Vogue. Looking at all the pretty dresses, the materials, the cut, the style. And then he befriends Lisa. Everyone at school loves Lisa. And she shows Dennis a dress that she has made and convinces him to wear it to some hilarious consequences. The book is laugh out loud funny. I think I actually howled at one point I was laughing so much. It is well written, considering it is aimed at children, it doesn't feel condescending, yet there are also references that an adult reader would get that I younger reader wouldn't, which I liked. I loved the little nod to Little Britain, which I thought was very clever. 

The characters are varied. From Darvesh and his mum, to Mr. Hawtrey, the devilish headteacher. Everyone feels fully formed and all play their part extremely well.

After reading The Boy in the Dress I am so glad I finally took the plunge. There are more books besides the one that came in the boxset, written by David, so I do have a fair bit of catching up to do, but if they are as good as this one I cannot wait to get started. I have already seen the tv movie adaptations of Mr. Stink and Gangsta Granny when they were on the last two Christmases and I cannot wait to see how they do The Boy in the Dress when it is on this Boxing Day. 



Saturday, 6 December 2014

Bookish Christmas Q and A

The lovely Jess over at Jess Hearts Books (honestly, check her blog out, it is so good!) made a great post last Friday full of bookish Christmassy questions and it looks and sounds like a lot of fun and she said people are welcome to do their own so I am taking her up on that offer as I want something to really kick start my Christmas spirit and what better way to do that than to talk about some amazing books! Lets get cracking!

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1.) Advent Calendar: what's the next big book release you're counting down to?
Something I am really looking forward to in 2015 is The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings. It is the sequel to The Murder Complex, which just so happens to be one of my favourite books published this year! Her writing is so fresh and vivid and her characters are adorable, and I cannot wait to see what is going to happen next in Meadow and Zephyr's lives!




2.) Snow Day: which best friends from a book could keep you entertained all day long?
I love the dynamics of the relationship and Celaena and Dorien in Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass books (no spoilers for Heir of Fire please! I haven't read that one yet!!!) They're both just so much fun and when they are around each other it's a mixture of flirting and friendship and also sometimes contempt. I love them.



3.) The Nativity: which book/series would you most like to see adapted into a movie, TV show, play etc?

I would love to see Darren Shan's Zom-B series be made into a tv show. I think it would work better that way. It's so graphic and so well described, that I think some of the events would make it an eighteen movie and at least if it was on telly it could go out post-watershed and it could still be a real success... I would also loved to the the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series be made into movies. It's a great series that I feel is grossly underrated. I know the rights were sold a while back, then bought back and sold again for them to be made into tv movies, but nothing has been announced or mentioned for quite a while and as a long term fan who really wants to see the books explode even more than they have already it is quite frustrating!


4.) Carol Singing: which musical book character/s would you like to turn up on your doorstep caroling this Christmas? 
Katniss Everdeen. Thankfully, we kind of do have Katniss singing thanks to JLaw's incredible performance! I love that they did The Hanging Tree in Mockingjay Part 1 and that they did it justice. It is such a beautiful song that Katniss could just sing that to me and I would still be in the Christmassy mood! I also think she would do a mean rendition of Jingle Bells!



5.) The Perfect Gift: which book from your wish list would you most like to find under your tree on Christmas morning?
I am such a bad person when it comes to knowing what I would like for Christmas. I am something of an impulse buyer so I do buy a lot of the books I want as and when they come out so there aren't normally many left that I haven't already got and any there are are ones that aren't out yet! One that I haven't yet purchased though but would love for Christmas is Harry Potter: The Creature Vault. It just looks like such a beautiful book and I have heard nothing but good things about it! 


6.) Do You Want To Build a Snowman? What do you think are the key ingredients for a life like character?
Something I need to feel about a character when reading about them is their humanity. They have to feel grounded, 3D, fleshed out, they need to feel as if they are a real person, not just someone made up for the purposes of a story. I like when things are hinted at outside of the story, things that happened before the start of the story, or something that is bubbling under the surface that could lead to something after the end of the story.

7.) Tree, Tinsel, Fairy Lights: most decorative book cover of 2014?
A book cover I absolutely adore is the cover for Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant. It's all red and white which are Christmassy (what with Father Christmas wearing red and white being the colour of snow...) although from reading the synopsis I doubt it is anything Christmassy at all!


8.) Christmas Kisses: which book crush from this year would you most like to kiss underneath the mistletoe?
Oh god, there are so many! So, so many! Tobias/Four from the Divergent series. Dorien from Throne of Glass. Ash from the Black City trilogy. I could go on and on.

9.) Snow Ball Fight: a book that you thought would be a lot of fun but left you feeling cold.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is easily the biggest reading disappointment for me this year. There was a massive campaign around it to launch it and everyone kept saying how amazing it was and I could not wait to find out for myself. But as soon as I started reading it was pretty clear that I just wasn't going to feel the connection to it in the same way that everyone else did. That said I did like the writing and it is a great idea, I just didn't really get the hype.


10.) Christmas Traditions: a book that you read over and over again.


This one is so easy for me! So easy! Hogfather by Terry Pratchett! No word of a lie, I read it every year and have done since I first read it back in 2006 or 2007. I can't remember which, it was whatever year the adaptation was on Sky One way back when. It was the first Terry Pratchett book I ever read and I completely and utterly fell in love. The way he writes, the words, the characters, the story itself. It's so Christmassy and yet it couldn't be further from Christmas at the same time. The pure notion of Death himself, riding around in a sleigh as the jolly fat man, in this case the Hogfather, delivering presents for Hogswatch (the Discworld equivalent of Christmas) is so funny. The book itself is so full of insight and wit and Death is so sarcastic I cannot help but laugh and love it even more every time I read it! I can't wait to read it again this Christmas.


11.) The Night Before Christmas: a book that kept you up reading late into the night.
This actually happened to me last night! I had been reading a couple of pages a night due to having to be up early for work, so last night, knowing I wasn't working today, I decided to stay up until I had finished the book. That said book is The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. I will be giving it a full review, but I will say that I love this book so much. It's entertaining and I know it is aimed at younger kids (the back of the book says 9+) but I found it to be a fun read! It has a great moralistic message that I feel is important. Acceptance. I am very much looking forward to seeing the adaptation that the BBC have done! It is on on Boxing Day. I enjoyed Mr. Stink in 2012 and last years Gangsta Granny so no doubt this is going to be just as good!

12.) Rudolph: which book shone the brightest for you this year? 
A book that really stood out to me this year, and is one I am supposed to be getting around to writing a review for soon, is This Book Is Gay by James Dawson. It isn't exactly a YA book, it isn't fiction. But it is so funny and beautiful and honest and just so so good and I love it and James for writing it!



Friday, 28 November 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 [Review]

Hi guys! So it has been a little while since I've actually posted a review or anything like that apart from the Doctor Who feature a few weeks ago which was a lot of fun! I've been busy with work and also combatting some pretty nasty pain that I am hopefully now, with the help of my doctor, in the process of conquering! I have also, as I mentioned in my previous post, been trying to get out myself out of a colossal reading slump that I didn't think would ever end, but thankfully it has! So I am back and hoping to post a lot more regularly!

A week or so ago now, on the actual release day, I went to see Mockingjay Part 1 and boy oh boy was it amazing. So amazing in fact that I decided to write a review. I never really review films, but I am thinking of reviewing adaptations every now and again. Comparing them to the books, what I thought and whether I liked it or not. There are a lot coming up soon (Roald Dahl's Esio Trot has been made into a tv movie and will be on over Christmas, the same for David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress) so it is just something I wanted to try...

Anyway, yes... MOCKINGJAY!! Please be warned that there may be spoilers ahead. If you haven't read the books or seen the movie then read at your own peril! You have been warned!!


Oh man! I knew this movie would play with me. I knew that it would leave me a complete and utter mess, just like the book itself did. I personally feel like the book is HUGELY underrated. Yes, it wasn't as action-packed as the first two, but something that does annoy me is that people seemed to be expecting another games. I don't think some people, especially people who haven't read the books, realise that after what happened at the end of Catching Fire there was no going back and things were going to be completely and utterly different. Katniss was now at war. Both with herself and her choices, and alongside the rebels against President Snow. The book, for me anyway, is an emotionally charged story of war that highlights the consequences you can face both with your decision making and your actions. Having re-read the book prior to going to see the movie this was only re-iterated to me and I really noticed it this time around more so than ever before I think.

The first half of the book was more about the build up to what it so come in the second half, so naturally Part 1 was always going to be more story driven, more narrative driven, more emotionally driven, as things were being laid out in plain sight ready for the final showdown to come in Part 2. Personally I do not think Part 1 was lacking in the action department. I mean the scenes in District 8 literally had me on the edge of the seat and I bit down all my nails right to the quick. I was rapt and could not even for a millisecond drag my eyes from the screen. Then there was the blowing up of the hydro dam in District 5. STUNNING scenes! Stunning, beautifully executed and well placed as well.

I feel like the pacing of the film was done really well. The action sequences were nicely placed so that just when it might of started to feel slow, BAMN, action, BAMN, explosions and death and loss of electricity. BAMN BAMN BAMN!

And the MUSIC!!!! Can we talk about the score for this film! Lorde (pun intended) have mercy! James Newton Howard has done another stellar job with the score. They just keep getting better and better! I like that he keeps the same sounds but builds on them. Makes them more and more menacing, more and more haunting, every film and this time it is simply stunning. I have purchased all of the movie scores for the series so far and as soon as this one popped up on iTunes I just had to have it! Not least of all because of The Hanging Tree... Oh god! The Hanging Tree! What were once just words on the page, read like any normal sentence, not with a melody in mind or anything like that, have been transformed into what is now a stunning and haunting and infections song that makes you want to weep buckets and yet listen to it over and over again on repeat... Something that I haven't been doing... I swear... Okay... Just A LOT! It's been on repeat on my iPod so much the last week it is insane! But it is so good! JLaw says she cannot sing - well JLaw lies!


And it isn't just The Hanging Tree music that is incredible. It's the whole thing. I love the music that played along with the air raid scenes in District 13. The music when Katniss goes back to District 12 on her own and the bit where she finds the bodies... It's just so, so perfect and I cannot wait to see how they build upon it for Part 2!

The scene with The Hanging Tree has to be my favourite part I think, or at least one of them. It was so well done, so well filmed and the mockingjay just perched on the rock was such a nice touch. I love how it kept going and transformed from just Katniss, to Katniss and the people in the districts. It was so powerful, so beautiful, I may of had a tear or two.

And the ending. Oh wow! The ending. Controversial opinion alert... I with they had finished it the first time the screen blacked out. I think it would of worked better as a cliff hanger and would of had people in uproar demanding to see or read what happens next. I just think it would of been ten times more epic. But at the same time I do like they way it actually did end. Coins speech does feel like a definitive closing point and did make sense.

And the acting! Oh my the acting has ramped up a bit hasn't it? JLaw as per the usual was incredible but in this one... Man! If she doesn't get an Oscar for this one I will be furious. This is without a doubt her most Oscar-worthy performance yet. She shows just how damaged Katniss is, both by the games and by the weight that is being placed on her shoulders as she becomes the Mockingjay. I thought that Josh was immense in this one and even though he doesn't have that much screen time, his performance is so memorable and moving and dark and just so good. I loved Effie even more in this movie despite my reservations that she was being put in the film when she wasn't in the book. I like that she replaced Fulvia who I wasn't that much of a fan of in the book, and did it really well. The "they're either going to want to kiss you, kill you or be you line" had me shivering! So good!

The sight of Johanna and Peeta as well at the end, seeing what the Capitol had reduced them to was almost too much! It made me feel so sad and sorry for them! And the strangling scene! OMG IT WAS EVERYTHING I EVER DREAMED OF! It was incredible and had me squirming in my seat! Literally, hearing the whole cinema scream in shock especially when the screen blacked out was INCREDIBLE! So good, so well done!

I have to say that Francis Lawrence is doing an INCREDIBLE job! I love that he is so adamant that the films need to stay as close to the books as possible. It's so reassuring as a fan to have him at the helm and I can only say that I am so glad that Lionsgate chose him to close out the series! He just has this knack of getting it and the last 2 have been so beautifully filmed and pieced together. It's very reassuring!

So overall I think it's safe to say I enjoyed Mockingjay Part 1! Ha! Who am I kidding, I freaking loved it! I think that it's the best of the films so far and reject that the lack of action makes it boring. Boring it most definitely is not. All the action has been saved for the finale to offer up a slice that is going to literally slay us all! Mark my words. Part 2 is going to wreck us even more than Part 1! I'm not going to lie I was close to tears watching the movie and knowing what is to come only makes me nervous for next November. But as well as being nervous I simply cannot wait! Bring it in Lionsgate! Bring it on!

Rating: 5/5.


The Never Ending Reading Slump of Doom

Hey guys! 

Wow it's been a little while since I posted on here properly! I was honoured to have been asked to take part in the Doctor Who 12 Doctors, 12 Stories blog tour to celebrate the release of a new set of the 12 stories written by some of the biggest names in childrens books today! It really made me realise that I missed blogging and reviewing so so much!

My break wasn't intentional but as you can probably guess from the title of this post I have been suffering the worst reading slump I have ever experienced. I've never known anything like it. It started about a month ago when I finished reading Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (which I intend to review soon) and just hasn't got any better at all! It doesn't matter what I have tried reading. It doesn't mater what genre it is, who it's been written by, what the cover looks like - nothing could shift the slump and I am not going to lie it has been getting me down! As someone who has never gone more than a few days without reading something at least it has been totally disheartening. I hate not reading - it makes me feel weird, like I'm being unfaithful or something! Ha!

I don't know why it has happened but it has so I'm just dealing with it. It may be a result of working a heck of a lot. I don't know. It could be that I have been dealing with chronic pain in my shin bone for the last six months which is draining me beyond belief (thankfully this is now, I hope, in the process of being sorted... fingers crossed!) I just do not know! This year has been my most disappointing reading year for quite some time. Not because I haven't enjoyed what I've read. Quite the opposite! Some of the books I have read have been so incredible I have fallen in love with new worlds, new characters and new authors! I discovered the wonder that is Sarah J. Maas and her epic Throne of Glass this year so it hasn't been all that bad! I mean in numbers. I've read fewer books this year due to slumps like this one but this has to be the worst!

All I know is that it is looking like it has passed. This week I have been off work and despite starting new medication for my leg and being quite busy besides sorting various different things out, I have managed to read three quarters of a book and that is something a few weeks ago I can only of dreamed of! I intend to keep it going and of course get back to the blog properly! 

Christmas is my favourite time of year to blog! There are so many exciting things going on! So many amazing books released and ready to review! Lots of books as presents! End of year lists! Anticipated books for next year. So, so many things to look forward to and I cannot wait to get stuck in!

In the meantime I am also now on instagram a lot and I mean A LOT! I post pictures on there of books I get in the post, books I buy, books I am reading, books I want, books I dream about... All sorts! So check it out and follow me on there! I'm under @empireofbooks so I'm not too hard to find! :)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Doctor Who: 12 Doctors 12 Stories Blog Tour - NOTHING O'CLOCK

It has been a MASSIVE 12 months for fans of all things Doctor Who, what with the 50th Anniversary special last year and Peter Capaldi's inaugural season as the titular character himself, and now it's getting even bigger! With the release of a new collection of short stories, which were published last year individually as ebooks leading up the the anniversary and in a bind up, but now with a new and exclusive story written by Holly Black to celebrate the twelfth (official) Doctor.

To celebrate the release of the 12 Doctors, 12 Stories box set, Puffin arranged this blog tour which has taken us right the way from the first Doctor and will take us through to the final stop on the tour tomorrow.

I am honoured to have been asked to be a part of this, as a fan of Doctor Who (although I still have to watch half of the most recent series - so little time!!) and the fact that it is a story based on my favourite Doctor, Matt Smith's incarnation, makes it all the more exciting!

First off a little quick fire round of questions the bloggers are being asked to answer...

1) Do you have a favourite Doctor?
Yes, I do! I think I just answered that a second ago. It was a real coincidence that I was asked to review the story based on Matt Smith's incarnation of the Doctor and I could not of been happier with that suggestion! I just loved how funny he was and mental he seemed, even more so than previous incarnations. 

2) Describe the Doctor in one word.
Mind-boggling.

3) If you had a TARDIS where would you go?
Speaking from a purely personal point of view I would go back to life as a teenager. Life was so much simpler back then. Oh how hindsight is a wonderful thing. Plus my grandparents were still alive and I miss them like mad so it would be nice to be able to go back and see them, if only for a little while.

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Nothing O'Clock by Neil Gaiman.

"Thousands of years ago, Time Lords built a Prison for the Kin. They made it utterly impregnable and unreachable. As long as Time Lords existed, the Kin would be trapped forever and the universe would be safe. They had planned for everything . . . everything, that is, other than the Time War and the fall of Gallifrey. Now the Kin are free again and there’s only one Time Lord left in the universe who can stop them!"

I have a bit of a funny relationship with Neil Gaiman. I cannot decide if I am madly in love with him and his work or if I don't like it at all. I sway from mindset to mindset every time I read a piece of his work. But luckily I loved Nothing O'Clock from start to finish! 

I have already said Matt Smith is my favourite Doctor, and the only problem I had was Amy Pond. I am not a massive fan of her as a companion.

The baddies in this little short story are the Kin and to start with they sounded like your plain old baddie, omnipresent and dare I say it, generic, but as the story develops and you get to see more of them they actually scare you. I was actually scared. They sound disgusting and what they are doing is insane! They are literally buying the world, piece by piece.

I have to say that I think this would of made an amazing episode and given that Gaiman has written for the show previously I cannot believe this idea has not been pitched. It is so clever and so well thought out that even in such a short space of time (50 pages or so) it feels like you know all you need to know and nothing has been missed out!

A must read and a short story that has now made me want to read them all! 

The new slip case edition is out now, and it feautures new and exclusive artwork. The above image is the cover for Nothing O'Clock and isn't it amazing? Each one is the Doctor's outfit! So cool! I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this set at some point!



Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Zom-B Family by Darren Shan [Review]

NOTE: ZOM-B FAMILY IS THE NINTH BOOK IN THE ZOM-B SERIES BY DARREN SHAN. IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. IF YOU DO NOT WANT THIS SERIES SPOILING, OR IF YOU HAVE YET TO REACH BOOK NINE, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP READING NOW... I DO NOT WANT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SPOILING THE STORY FOR YOU, ESPECIALLY ONCE YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! THANK YOU.

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Written by: Darren Shan.
Published by: Simon and Schuster.
Format: Hardback.
Published: 27th September 2014.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "The ninth terrifying installment from master of horror, Darren Shan. CAN ANYONE HURT YOU AS MUCH AS A LOVED ONE? WHEN DOES THE FIGHT BECOME TOO MUCH TO BEAR? HOW MUCH PAIN CAN ONE PERSON ENDURE? B Smith is discovering the true meaning of family ..."

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I literally do not know where to begin with this one. I truly don't. I even tweeted as much and Darren even quoted that on his Facebook page! I'm not even kidding. I am stumped. I don't really know how to tackle this one! It goes without saying that I cannot simply review this book without talking about things that have happened previously in the series. As it states at the beginning of this post, Zom-B Family is the ninth book in the twelve book saga, so we are now three quarters of the way through and so much has happened that it'll be hard to even begin to express my thoughts...

The book opens with the fallout of the treacherous act at the end of Clans, book eight. Rage has betrayed B and the Angels and has joined Dan Dan and his cronies. But even they are wary of him. He is a zombie after all, one scratch is all it would take to bring down the entire complex that has made itself at home in what used to be Battersea Power Station. B is screwed and she knows it. She is briefly reunited with her father, but even the end of the world cannot change his ways and he is as deep as he can get with the Ku Klux clan who see the zombie apocalypse as a way to clense the world racially and bring about their new world of purity, as they see it. B is disgusted and choses not to side with them, and rightfully so, but this puts her at the mercy of Dan Dan and he finally gets his hands on her, after taunting and threatening to destroy her over the past few books.

Now if you've read a Darren Shan book before, you know it gets a little gory every now and again... Well Family has gone above and beyond the level of gore previously seen in any of Shan's work. It's gory and in sections downright sickening. I could actually feel a lump in my throat as my gorge rose reading some of the scenes. I don't want to go into too much detail for fear of reawaking that feeling I had whilst reading, but Dan Dan finally gets to torture B  as he has been planning. But with B being a zombie, she does't feel pain or suffer like a human. To get a reaction, Dan Dan has to do things that a living, breathing human would never be able to withstand even for a short time. It is horrific and described in such detail that I had images burnt into my brain and I just could not get them to go away for a while. Even now nearly a week after finishing the book I am still struggling... I don't have to re-read the passages. I can remember...

But it isn't long before trouble really begins and B is forced to fight, her body riddled with holes, her guts held in only by some bandages and her ears cut off, to save her friend Vinyl. I really liked how this shows that those in power aren't changing at all. They have no regard for the lives of anyone but themselves. 

I also loved seeing Dan Dan finally, FINALLY, getting his comeuppance. I think he's one of the most disgusting, revolting and yet enticing characters Shan has ever made but seeing him go wasn't a sad moment at all. I like it when the bad guys bite the dust and whilst I felt the way Dan Dan demised was a little rushed and unexpected (I REALLY WANTED IT TO BE B!!!) it felt right and satisfying!

And then the clown returns. Mr. Dowling. Although he is perhaps the scariest character I think Shan has ever created, after he first turned up in Underground and City I actually had nightmares, I have really missed him over the last few book. He's always been sort of an omnipresence in the series. Mentioned here and there, spoken about at length by Dr Oystein but only appearing rarely, so getting to see him again was great. I feel he's going to be a lot more prominent from this point on until the end of the series. 

This book is honestly the darkest I think I've ever seen Shan and you know what? I loved it. It is a great addition to the series and the ending sets up the next book, Zom-B Bride, very well. I cannot wait to see what is going to happen next. I want to see where those babies are taking B and I really want to know what the connection is between them. It's creepy and it's something that has been hinted at all the way through the series, and with just three books left, I sense that things are about to start wrapping up and we are finally going to start getting some answers. I hope so! I cannot wait!