Sunday, 31 October 2010

Zombie Cupcakes!

Happy Halloween!
I have to admit I don’t really do much to celebrate Halloween- other than just making sure I have plenty of sweets in for the trick or treaters! It’s not that I’m miserable but it was never a big holiday when I was growing up – my family and most of the UK celebrated Guy Fawkes Night on 5th November more (I’ll do a post on that on Friday as it’s actually a strange celebration when you try to explain it to people who aren’t British!).
Anyway, as the blogosphere is alight with vampires, zombies, witches and werewolves today, I thought I’d do something a little different – zombie cupcakes! Well, actually just pictures of zombie cupcakes. J I found this fantastic little book last weekend that shows you how to turn yummy cupcakes into yummy, ghoulish cupcakes by adding a grave, an eyeball, brains or blood to them – not real ones I hasten to add, but decoration. I couldn’t resist and bought the book straight away. I’m not much of a baker but I have a friend who can make the beautiful cakes so I’ve sent the book to her hoping she can make use of it. But before I did I took a few sneaky snaps of some of the lovely (!) looking cakes – have a look at some of my favourites –
Eyeballs escaping!

Raven's attacked my cake!



Breaking out of the grave...

Graveyard cupcakes


So what’s your favourite Halloween recipe? Is there something special you make for this time of year?

Saturday, 30 October 2010

On My Wishlist #11

This is a meme from Book Chick City. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I keep track! This week for a final Halloween theme, it's all about the grave and beyond...

 Resurrection Chronicles: Afterlife - Merrie DeStafano
Publisher: US - Eos
Chaz Domingue works as a professional Babysitter in New Orleans. His job is to integrate and protect the recently deceased into their new and improved lives—a position he reluctantly accepted after his father was murdered. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality. Unfortunately, this places Chaz at the lethal center of a maelstrom.
Now the only hope for Chaz and his family—and the ultimate fate of the human race—is secretly locked away in the mind of Angelique, the beautiful, mysterious Newbie who’s been entrusted to Chaz’s care…

This looks like a different take on resurrection and right up my alley!

The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
Publisher: UK - Vintage
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose.

I've seen the stage show of The Woman in Black a couple of times and found it genuine chilling. Book Chick City reviewed this last week and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind since - I want to read it to see if it's as creepy as the show!

Grave Secret (Harper Connolly 4) - Charlaine Harris
Publisher: UK - Gollancz
When she was 15, Harper Connelly was struck by a bolt of lightning, which left her with a spiderweb of red over her body, headaches, and episodes of weakness. Sometimes her right hand shakes. And she can find dead people. It's taken a while, but at last Harper's pretty happy with her life: she's making a living for herself and Tolliver, using her unique talent to help people with. Then Tolliver's dad arrives on the scene, seeking forgiveness for the sins of their youth, and the police get a tip-off that after all these years, Cameron's been spotted in a mall. With all this going on Harper realises life is getting a little complicated, but she doesn't expect those complications to include Tolliver getting shot, or watching a cop die taking a bullet for her. Harper can find dead people, but now it's clear someone wants her dead . . .

I love the Harper Connolly series - it's such a unique talent that she has and I feel like it's been a long time since I read about her and finally it looks like there might be some answers regarding what happened to her and Tolliver's sister...

So what's on your wishlist this week?


Friday, 29 October 2010

Book Blogger Hop #6

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books  and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! 

This weeks question: "What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"
 
The one thing I've always wanted are floor to ceiling bookshelves where I can display all my books at once - no double stacking any or leaving some in a box in storage. All my books on display at once in those beautiful white bookshelves that take up all of one room's wall - built in of course! It's the type of book display you see in the background of most Richard Curtis films - behind Hugh Grant and his love interest. I want some! (shelves - not Hugh Grant!). Sadly my new flat, while lovely just doesn't have the storage space for bookshelves of that quality... :-(
 
So what would you love to have? 
 

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The TBR Pile #3

Having come to the end of my move (more or less) and I am nowable to see my books again, I now have the difficult decision of what book to read next! I've narrowed it down to four choices - 2 hardcopies and 2 kindle books:
My physical books are two fantasy book (I feel like a change from UF for the time being) -

The Magician Apprentice by Trudi Caravan, a prequel to her Black Magician trilogy which I enjoyed a couple of year ago. This is also one book borrowed from a friend so I have to start it soon!

Lord of Silence - Mark Chadbourn - this book I've had on my shelves for a while (I can't even remember where I got it from!). I keep meaning to pick it up, but then something else catches my eye (I'm a bit like a magpie drawn to shiny new books!)

The Kindle Books are Fallen - Lauren  Kate and Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead both of which have good reviews and come highly recommended.

So what should I read first?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Review

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
- Washington Irving

Kindle Book

The Legend of Sleep Hollow is a story written by Washington Irving, originally published in 1820. Set in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York in a secluded part of town called Sleep Hollow. Ichabod Crane, a schoolmaster, competes for the hand if eighteen year old Katrina Van Tassel, only to find himself hunted by the Headless Horseman.

Sleepy Hollow is a very different book to what I was expecting. I adore the Tim Burton film as it’s creepy, atmospheric and has great character moments. And while I did enjoy reading the original story, I found very little resemblance to the film - with the exception of a few characters names. In the story we follow Icabod Crane, a schoolmaster with very little in the way of possessions, as he attempts to woe the daughter of a wealthy land owner, until that is, his fateful encounter with the headless horseman.

What struck me most about the story were the descriptions of the countryside, the birds in the trees and the food on the table. I could picture the place vividly and this certainly gave the story atmosphere, although not the dark Gothic atmosphere I was expecting. However, there is a surprisingly comic aspect to the story I enjoyed. Most of the focus is on Icabod and his life including his fascination with the supernatural. While there is little background to the horseman, his motivations and history aren’t really touched upon – indeed it’s not even relevant to the story. This is really the story of Icabod and other characters are less people and more plot points that move the story on. I can see why this story has stuck in people’s minds – there is something about it that stick with you long after finishing. Perhaps it is the ending which is a cliff-hanger with no-one sure exactly what did happen. Overall, I found the story a pleasant read – atmospheric and memorable – I’d certainly recommend for you to read if you want to explore some classics.

Recommended for fans Willkie Collins and the Bronte Sisters. 8 out of 10

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

How to become a fictional character!

Have you ever wanted to just jump into the book you're reading and interact with your favourite characters? I know I would have loved to been part of the pride with Faythe Saunders or even to have gone into the Wardrobe with the Pevensies and found Narnia too.

Well, HP Mallory is giving you the chance on her blog to become a character in her next novel Toil and Trouble. The character will not only share your name but be based on your personality! So, if you want a chance to enter the bookworld better motor over to HP's blog here and enter - competition closes on 30th October 2010.

Good luck!

Monday, 25 October 2010

To Kill A Warlock Review

To Kill A Warlock (Dulcie O’Neill 1)
-      HP Mallory
Kindle Book
The murder of a dark arts warlock. A shape-shifting, ravenous creature on the loose. A devilishly handsome stranger sent to investigate. Sometimes working law enforcement for the Netherworld is a real bitch. Dulcie O'Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She's a Regulator-a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world. When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she's either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.
Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie. Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie's got her hands full. As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals.
I didn’t realise when I purchased this book that HP Mallory is an independent author – she doesn’t have an agent or book deal. She’s self-published and I admire that with the new book formats it does make it easier for those trying to get their books out there. However, there are some benefits to the traditional system including editors - having someone who isn‘t as close to the story to review it can give it a needed polish. I enjoyed To Kill A Warlock – it’s funny, interesting and sexy. However there are some elements that jar occasionally – at once point Dulcie suspects her partner of controlling the demon that killed people and a minute later she’s making out with him. These sudden changes occur a few times throughout the story and they jarred me out of the story as I struggled to follow the complete reversal in opinion.
There are plenty of good points – I liked the mix of men Dulcie has interested in her and that she doesn’t give allow any of them to run her life. She is definitely her own woman. Her changing relationship with her colleague, Trey is a nice touch as well and I liked the glimpse of her world. There is plenty of potential here and I would like to spend more time with Dulcie.
Recommended for fans of Devon Monk. 6.5 out of 10

Sunday, 24 October 2010

My Book Haul/In My Mail Box

This is a weekly meme started by Story Siren where bloggers can share what goodies they've picked up this week - If you get a chance head over to The Story Siren and check out what everyone is up to!

This week I picked up something from my wishlist and a couple of books that I found on sale in a local bookstore - and who can resist a bargain!This will be my last purchase for a while as Christmas is coming up so all my spare money should go on presents and decorations for my new flat!

Grave Witch (Alex Craft 1) - Kalayna Price
Publisher: US Roc
As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead - she's even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she's seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she's raising a 'shade' involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her - and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn't want her to know what the dead have to say, and she'll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why.
This book has been on my wishlist for all of a week - but when I saw it on the shelf I couldn't resist!
Glass House (Morganville Vampires 1) - Rachel Caine
Publisher: UK - Allison & Busby
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life, but they come out fighting when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood...
I tried Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series and for some reason the first book didn't click with me. But I've heard some good things about both series so thought I'd give her books another go - besides it was on sale!
Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires 2) - Rachel Caine
Publisher: UK - Allison & Busby
Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls' Dance, hell is really going to break loose.
And while the first book was on sale, so was the second. Typically series do improve so I'm giving the Morganville Vampires a couple of books to lure me in!

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy 1) - Richelle Mead
Kindle
St Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school - hidden away, it's a place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St Vladimir's where the girls must survive a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night time rituals. But most of all, staying alive.
I love Richelle's Succubus and Dark Swan series so thought I'd try her YA series - a vampire school series. Plus it's another book for my kindle - and the novelty hasn't worn off yet! :)
What have you received this week?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

On My Wishlist #10

This is a meme from Book Chick City. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I can keep track! As Halloween is only a week away and is supposed to be the night when the veils between world is at it's lowest, this weeks theme is parallel worlds...

Bayou Moon (Edge 2) - Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace Books (September 2010)
Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.
But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.
When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels books are some of the best Urban Fantasy books on the market and a definite example of a series that improves with each book. I read On The Edge, the first of her Edge series a few months ago and while it's different from the Kate Daniels series, it was a solid start to a new series - more paranormal romance than urban fantasy and I'm curious if she can do the same with the world of The Edge as she has done with Kate Daniels world.

Darkness Divine - PC Cast, Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne & Rhyannon Bryd
Publisher - Mira (September 2010)

This title features four wicked tales of paranormal romance and supernatural seduction by bestselling authors, including "House of Night" creator P.C. Cast. "Divine Beginnings" by P.C. Cast - Healer Aine must choose between treating an enigmatic enemy or letting him die. "The Amazon's Curse" by Gena Showalter - Vampire warrior Zane longs to embrace the passion he shares with fierce Amazon Nola. "Voodoo" by Maggie Shayne - In New Orleans, Tessa is haunted by a sinfully sexy man. Yet what does he want from her? "Edge of Craving" by Rhyannon Byrd - Rhys is tormented by his desire for Alia. But can the last scion of a dragon clan capture her heart?

I admit I want this book for the PC Cast story as it's set in her Partholon world. But the good thing about this is the opportunity to try three new authors that I've not read before.

The City and The City - China Mieville
Publisher: Pan (January 2010)

The body of a murdered woman is discovered in the remarkable, crumbling European city of Besźel. Such a crime is par for the course for Inspector Tyador Borlú, who is the premier talent of the Extreme Crime Squad – until his investigations uncover evidence that bizarre and terrifying forces are at work – and soon both he and those around him will be in considerable peril. He must undertake an odyssey, a journey across borders both physical and psychical, to the city which is both a complement and rival to his own, that of Ul Qoma.

This is one of my book fails - I've heard so many good things about China Mieville (both his writing and that he is a nice guy) that I feel I should try to give him a go soon!

So that's what's on my wishlist - what are you wishing for? :)


Friday, 22 October 2010

Book Blogger Hop #5

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books  and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! 

This weeks question: "Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"
 
My favourite place to read ... hmm ... I'd love to say my favourite place to read was on a beach in the sunshine, with a cocktail in my hand and man feeding me grapes...but that's just a dream - for the time being! Most of my reading is actually done on short bursts on the two train journeys I have to make each day on my way to the office. It's not ideally though, as I have to change, there are loud school kids and people pushing past all the time so it's rare that I really get swept up in the story. Although I can tell if it's a good book if I miss my stop as I'm caught up! :) My favourite place to read is actually in my reading chair by the window (so I can spy on the neighbours and enjoy the sun during the day). It's near a bright light for evening reading and has a table to put my drink and feet on!
 
So what's your favourite place to read?
 
 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Shade Review

Shade
      -  Jeri Smith-Ready
Publisher: UK – Simon and Schuster
Like everyone born after the Shift, sixteen year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. She’s always found this mysterious ability pretty annoying, wishing only that she could reverse it and have some peace. But when her boyfriend, Logan, dies unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections to the dead...Devastated by Logan’s sudden death, Aura realises that her ability to see ghosts might actually be a blessing. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all? But just when Aura is coming to terms with having a ghost for a boyfriend, she starts developing feeling for her new friend Zachary, who is understanding, supportive and, most of all, alive. Each boy holds a secret of the Shift – and it’s time for Aura to choose between loving the living or embracing the dead...
My copy of Shade is a prize from the Book Smugglers a couple of weeks ago. I picked it up mostly because it was light (in weight!) and looked easy enough to read while waiting for new furniture to be delivered to my new flat – the idea being that I could put it down to assemble flat-pack as and when needed. I was wrong. This book has a fascinating premise that I found myself thinking about whenever I left off reading. What would happen if people born after a certain time could see and hear ghosts? The world would be divided into two – pre-shifters and post-shifters. At first the post-shifters would be in the minority but over time that would change. The setting for Shade is when the first post-shifters are just reaching sixteen, not quite in a position to change anything, but the pre-shifters have had to accept it and adapt as best as they think. The world includes black-box material which is like ghost kryptonite – they can’t go anywhere near it. Those post-shifters have to translate for those unable to hear ghosts. The deceased now have a say in their funereal and are able to sue for wrongful death. Jeri Smith-Ready paints a detailed world where everything is changing after the Shift and I couldn’t stop thinking about what-ifs? What if you were one of the first to see ghosts? What if you were one of the last? How would you react if your dead son returns but you couldn’t see or speak to him? These questions kept me thinking long after I stopped reading.
Regarding the characters, I loved Aura and how conflicted she is. As a teenager she is torn between her dead boyfriend, who she’s known all her life and her new living friend, who seems to understand her instinctively. Her conflict and some of the mysteries of her life are intriguing but at the same time she is a regular teenager who worries about how she looks, her reputation and what to do with her life after school. I could really emphasise with Aura and thought Zach was a great character as well. I wasn’t as keen on Logan as he seemed a little selfish at first but this changed as the story progressed and by the end I was hoping for a happy ending. And there is. Sort of. I hope there is a sequel or that this is the first of a series as there are so many questions left unanswered (the mystery surrounding Aura’s mothers, megaliths and Zach’s Dad). At the same time I feel there was a satisfying emotional conclusion – even if the last page has a slight cliff hanger! I’m looking forward to another book in the same world with some great characters.
Recommended for fans of LJ Smith & Stephanie Meyer. 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Alpha Review

Alpha (Faythe Saunders 6)
– Rachel Vincent
Publisher: US - Mira books (October 2010)
Power, revenge, and justice - prepare yourself for the final battle! In the final chapter of "The Shifters Series", Faythe and her Pride must fight a tyrannical werecat intent on taking over the territorial council, and the south-central Pride in particular. It's down to Faythe to take on the role of Alpha before she feels completely ready for the job. Forced to rise to the occasion, Faythe must balance experience, advice, and the urge for vengeance. She must also finally choose between Marc and Jace...No decisions will be is easy, and not everyone will survive this epic fight to the death.
I’ve been following Faythe and her struggles for independence to be treated equally in a male dominated werecat society since Stray and in this, the final Shifters book, the battle becomes all out war. Faythe and her pride put everything on the line to defeat the tyrannical Cal Malone.
It’s amazing how far Faythe has come since the first book in the series – from spoilt whinging girl to strong leader who puts her people first. She still has man troubles though, and is torn between her long-time lover Marc and Jace, her younger brother’s best friend. This is the only part of the story that I had some frustration with – I just wanted her to decide! She makes so many choices about other parts of her life but leaves both men hanging for the whole book. But I’m happy with her choice in the end!
As this book is the final in the series, it is full steam ahead nearly from the get go. There is plenty of action from small personal battles through to a big battle. Faythe uses her head and even manages to keep her temper in check when needed! I’m sorry this is the last book though. While most of the major plot points are wrapped up, there are still some bits I’m keen to see. The first meeting of the new council after the war, what happens with Malone’s pride and how Faythe handles peace time with her man. It still seems like there’s plenty left to explore in this world. While I respect Rachel Vincent’s  decision to finish the series and not force the series to go on pass it’s premise, I’ll miss Faythe, Marc and rest of the pride.
Recommended for fans of Kelley Armstrong – but start with the first book in the series, Stray! 9 out of 10

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

What's Your Favourite Fairy Story?

The Gingerbread Man from Shrek
I've been thinking about Fairy Stories a lot recently and why they stick with us. Obviously I've just finished Grimms tales, but even today so many children are read fairy stories at bed time. Some of my first memories are my parents reading me The Gingerbread Man or Chicken Licken complete with voices and expressive features. As a result these stories remain very personal to me and hold a piece of my heart - just the phrase, "You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" takes me back to being three years old and snuggled up safe and sound.

But these stories stay with us our whole life. Everyone knows the plots, the twist and the endings - even the beginning is familiar...once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away... Usually the hero gets the girl, the girl escapes from her poor family to marry a prince and everyone lives happily ever after. Sometimes there's a moral with the story, but a surprising number don't. Take the Gingerbread Man for example (my favourite!). Once baked, he decides he doesn't want to be eaten so he jumps up and runs away. He passes the farmer's wife, the farmer, the children down the road, the cow, the horse - none of them can catch him (cos he's the Gingerbread Man!). It's not until he hits a river on his cross-country run and decides to trust a fox to get him across the water, that the Gingerbread Man ends up being gobbled up. And that's my favourite fairy story. There doesn't really seem to be a moral - apart from don't trust foxes! So why do these stories have such enduring appeal?

So what's your favourite fairy story and why?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Brother Grimm Fairy Stories Review

Brothers Grimm Fairy Stories
Kindle Version
I admit I only downloaded this from the kindle store as it was free and I was experimenting when I first got my new kindle. However, having thought about fairy stories a lot recently (see my themed wish list), I thought I read some of the original stories to see how they diver from the more famous versions that Disney publicises. It’s a bit of a surprise to find out how many of these stories there actually are – most of which aren’t famous – The Goose Girl, Brother and Sister and others. There is a theme of poor becoming kings and queens, stepmothers jealous of their stepdaughters and being nice and polite to strangers in the land saves you from the horrible curses they place on haughty and stuck up people. I was fascinated to see how different some of the famous stories are from their origins – Cinderella for example went to the palace for three nights running and her dress wasn’t supplied by a fairy godmother but rather a robin in a tree. Her ugly sisters tried to trick the prince into marry them by cutting off their toes to fit in the slipper – only the blood gave them away. While not graphic, evil people tend to have their comeuppance and end up dead or never heard from again.
I enjoyed reading the Brothers Grimm version of these stories, especially seeing the differences between the plots ‘we all know’ and the version that everyone knew 500 years ago. The differences and changes show that these stories aren’t set in stone but flexible and continual evolving.
Recommended for those young at heart and as an antidote to the Disney happy ever afters. 8 out of 10.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

My Book Haul/In My Mail Box

I’ve had the week off from work as I’m in the midst of moving at the moment – this means a lot of waiting around for deliveries to around. Telling me that delivery will be between 7am – 7pm is not helpful – especially in a flat with no furniture, so no seats anywhere, no Internet and no TV. So I’ve had a few ‘lapses’ this week regarding purchasing new books – some are a comfort purchases and others have been on order for a while but have only just arrived.
To Kill A Warlock (Dulcie O’Neill 1) – HP Mallory, Kindle version
The murder of a dark arts warlock. A shape-shifting, ravenous creature on the loose. A devilishly handsome stranger sent to investigate. Sometimes working law enforcement for the Netherworld is a real bitch. Dulcie O'Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She's a Regulator-a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world. When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she's either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.
Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie. Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie's got her hands full. As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals.
This was another kindle purchase. The author and the series are new to me – I hadn’t heard of either before but the description and cover intrigued me. A lottery, impulse purchase!
Alpha (Faythe Saunders 6) – Rachel Vincent, Mira books (October 2010)
Power, revenge, and justice - prepare yourself for the final battle! In the final chapter of "The Shifters Series", Faythe and her Pride must fight a tyrannical werecat intent on taking over the territorial council, and the south-central Pride in particular. It's down to Faythe to take on the role of Alpha before she feels completely ready for the job. Forced to rise to the occasion, Faythe must balance experience, advice, and the urge for vengeance. She must also finally choose between Marc and Jace...No decisions will be is easy, and not everyone will survive this epic fight to the death.
I’ve been following the Shifter series since Stray first came out and love it. I pre-ordered this a few months ago and was overjoyed when it finally arrived. It’s already leaped to the top of my reading pile so expect a review soon!
The Gods of Amyrantha (Tide Lords 2) – Jennifer Fallon, Tor (April 2010)
This has been on my wishlist for a while as I adore Jennifer Fallon’s writing so when I was in Forbidden Planet on Friday I couldn’t resist a little purchase! :)
So what have you got this week?  

Saturday, 16 October 2010

On My Wishlist #9

This is a meme from Book Chick City. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I keep track! This week, as it's nearly Halloween, the theme is witches...

Grave Witch (Alex Craft 1) - Kalayna Price
Publisher: US Roc (December 2010)
As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead - she's even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she's seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she's raising a 'shade' involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her - and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn't want her to know what the dead have to say, and she'll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why.

There's been some great early hype about Grave Witch online and together with a gorgeous cover and an interesting blurb I'm eagerly looking forward to it's release!

Counterfeit Magic - Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: US -Subterranean Press (November 2010)
The first rule of a supernatural fight club? Don't kill your opponent.
When the fighters come with lethal spells, werewolf strength and half-demon powers, that can be a lot tougher than it sounds. It's hard to attract talent if they know they might not leave the ring alive. So when fighters at a California club start dying -- it's bad for business.
Witch detectives Paige Winterbourne and Savannah Levine take the case. Going undercover in the power-heavy arena of the fight club is a welcome change of pace for Paige, relegated to the role of The Wife as her husband struggles to find his place in his family's Cabal--the corporate Mafia of the supernatural world.
As Paige is drawn deeper into new and dangerous corners of her world, she quickly discovers the greatest threat isn't the killer in her sights. It's something much, much closer to home. And this is one fight she can't afford to lose.

I'm a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series and the chance to see Paige Winterbourne in action again, not in short stories or on the periphery of another narrator's story is exciting. Paige is my favourite narrator (much underrated!) and I've missed her so a novella from her point of view would be Christmas come early for me!

Dead Witch Walking (Rachel Morgan 1) - Kim Harrison
Publisher: UK - Voyager (October 2006)
Rachel Morgan is a white witch and runner working for Inderland Security, in an alternate world where a bioengineered virus wiped out a great deal of the world's human population -- exposing the existence of the supernatural communities that had long lived alongside humanity. For the last five years Rachel has been tracking down law-breaking Inderlanders in modern-day Cincinnati, but now she wants to leave and start her own agency. Her only problem is that no one quits the I.S. Marked for death, Rachel will have to fend off fairy assassins and homicidal weres armed with an assortment of nasty curses. She's a dead witch walking unless she can appease her former employers by exposing the city's most prominent citizen as a drug lord. But making an enemy of the ambiguous Trent Kalamack is just as deadly as leaving the I.S.
This is a personal bookfail. I've never read any Kim Harrison books and as there are so many of them now, this could be a whole series to catch up on.

So that's what's on my wishlist this week- what's on yours? :)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Book Blogger Hop #4

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books  and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! 

This weeks question: "When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

Hmm, good question! I really hate to give up a book because I have a fear that I'll remember the start of the book in a few years time and would want to know how it ends! Also I'm stubborn and I hate a book to defeat me. Most of the books I read are ones I've bought myself so in order to feel like I've got my money's worth. However, recently I have found a couple of books that I just can't finish (I won't name names!). I can finish bad books if I find the writing easy enough in the hope that the book will have a surprise ending. However, I can't force myself to finish a book where the writing and I just don't gel. If I can't slip into the reading, then I can't finish the book.

So do you finish all books you start?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A New World/Kindle Review

A New World
-          Patrick Ness
Kindle Version
This review is split in two – a review of the story itself and a second review of reading with a kindle.
In this dramatic prequel to the award-winning Chaos Walking Trilogy, author Patrick Ness gives us the story of Viola's journey to the New World.
A New World is a short prequel story to the Chaos Walking trilogy (excellent books - so much more than a children’s story – so many shades of grey – please check them out starting with The Knife of Never-Letting Go).  It covers the events leading up to Viola’s crash landing and entry into Todd’s world. While it doesn’t add much that isn’t mentioned during the course of the trilogy, it does add more to Viola’s motivations throughout the novels especially regarding her determination to never give up hope. I’m not sure how much it would mean to anyone who hasn’t re ad the trilogy – at best it’s a great teaser trailer for books and if you’ve already read the trilogy then you really need no encouragement to pick this up – especially as it’s free either on the Amazon kindle site or on Patrick Ness’s website. It’s not a long story but I enjoyed a brief revisit to that world and it had me thinking about re-reading the trilogy, even though I only finished it a few months ago.
This was the first thing I read on the kindle (other than the user guide!) and i have to say I’m really impressed. At first I was a little worried that the kindle is so light I would be throwing it around, but after a while I got used to the lack of weight and loved the fact I could hold it in one hand – especially useful for reading while eating! All the hype surrounding the non-glare is true – it looks and feels like paper rather than an i-phone or DS and there is no backlight which means you can’t read it in the dark, just like paper. I showed it to a few people and they all immediately tried to scroll through the pages using the screen – until I pointed out that it’s not a touch screen. (It’s amazing how quickly everyone has got used to touch screens like the i-phone so quickly!) The kindle was easy to set up and it wasn’t long before I was able to download books – the hard thing is remembering that these books cost money just like paper books! My favourite thing about reading with the kindle is how once you settle in, you forget you’re even reading and are transported to the world you’re reading about.  
So now I’m all digital, am I going to forget about the old-fashioned paper books? Short answer is no. I still have nearly 80 books on my TBR-pile to get through and I still have all my favourites in hardcopy. What the kindle will do is help me save space – especially as my new flat hasn’t got that library room (one day!). I think with the series I’m already reading I’ll continue to purchase hardcopies so I can have the full series in one format. But all new series and one-offs I will try to get in digital format – especially as most of them seem to be cheaper at the moment (or at the least the books I’m interested in!).
Recommend A New World for fans of the Chaos Walking trilogy and people who want a taste of one of the best children’s trilogies since Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials. 7 out of 10
Recommend a kindle so all those who enjoy reading but are fed up of carrying bricks around with you. 10 out of 10

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Death's Mistress Review

Death’s Mistress (Dorina Basarab 2)
-          Karen Chance
Publisher: UK – Penguin
Dorina Basarab is a dhampir - half-human, half-vampire - and the only way she can stay sane is by unleashing her sometimes uncontrollable rage on demons and vampires that deserve killing. After the fortunate demise of her insane uncle Dracula, Dory is back home in Brooklyn, hoping that life will calm down for a while. But then two visitors arrive: her friend Claire, asking for Dory's help in finding a magical Fey relic, and the gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare, desperate to find his former mistress, a vampire named Christine. Dory and Louis-Cesare soon discover their problems may be connected: the same master vampire Christine is bound to is also rumored to be in possession of the relic. But they soon realize there's more at stake when Christine's master turns up dead. Someone is killing vampire Senate members, and if Dory and Louis-Cesare can't stop the murderer, they may be next . . .
The second Dory book, a spin-off series set in the same universe as Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer series, continues to take the half vampire, half human off-spring of Vampire Senator, Mircea into the depths of vampire and fay politics. Dory rarely stops in this fast paced adventure as she rushes around trying to locate the missing fay rune, Louis-Cesare and how to save those closest to her. But it’s not just action – there’s plenty of character development with Dory’s relationships to the men in her life deepening. She learns more about her father and why he keeps his distance as well as drawing closer to Louis-Cesare.
I really enjoyed this book. As with the first Dory book, Midnight’s Daughter (reviewed here), there is a more linear plot than with the Cassie Palmer books which are more like chapters of a longer story. This means that there is a satisfying beginning, middle and end to the book which makes a nice change from many series which have so many ongoing plot points you start to think the author has no idea how to end it. There is action, there is romance, there is a mystery regarding who stole the rune that keeps you guessing pretty much until the last page. The pace just picks you up and carries along and it is a fun. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Dory and Louis-Cesare.
Recommended for fans of Cassie Palmer and Devon Monk. 9 out of 10.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Review

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
-          Stephanie Meyer
Publisher: UK –Atom
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is the riveting story of Bree Tanner, a vampire first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the world she inhabits. The novella chronicles the journey of members of the newborn vampire army from their preparations to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullen family to its unforgettable conclusion.
I have to admit to having read all four Twilight books and finding mildly diverting. The first one, Twilight especially reminded me of the Vampire Diaries that I read as a teen and I merely thought it was an update of the same type of story – although with a wimpier female lead and less charismatic vampire. As you might be able to tell I’m not a massive Twilight fan which is why I didn’t rush out to buy this book but borrowed it from a friend.
This short novella is based on a character that is seen briefly in Eclipse, the third Twilight book – a character that I didn‘t really remember when the fuss over a ‘new’ twilight book was in full force, such was her impact on me originally. In Eclipse, Bree is only a short scene at the end, more for an explanation over what had happened off-screen, than a character in her own right. SO I was pleasantly surprised to find Bree a more engaging lead than I was expecting – I especially liked her development throughout from a near mindless blood lust vamp to a person willing to risk her own life to go after someone she cares about. Some of the other vampires are very intriguing – Fred especially has an interesting power and I like the way he learned to use it, while Diego seemed to be the most ‘human’ and Bree’s interaction with both is the driving force behind her character ‘coming of age’ by the end of the novel.
However, I’m not sure if you haven’t already read Eclipse if this novella will make sense – I’m reading from an aspect of knowing why the vampires are after their enemies but if you didn’t I suspect the story raises more questions than it answers. Bree certainly find out the whole truth by the end.
Taken on its own, Bree Tanner is diverting enough vampire story with some interesting thoughts on a newborn’s life and the continuing impact a maker has such newborns. I’m not sure if it adds much to the Twilight story but it was pleasantly diverting few hours. I’m glad I didn’t pay for the book but was able to read it as borrowed book – not sure it’s worth the hardback price.
A must for Twilight fans I suppose and interesting for those who hate Bella & Edward – just to see what else Stephanie Meyer is capable of writing. 6 out of 10.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Books Remembered #4: Scott O'Dell's The Island of Blue Dolphins

This is a feature where I reminisce about books or even series that I read over and over again. Or even a book read once that changed the way I looked at life. It can be a book from childhood or a modern series I just can’t get enough off. It’s not a review of the book(s) but merely remembering the impact it had on me and how it’s shaped my reading habits and likes –what made that book(s) memorable. Feel free to join in with your own books remembered.

I never owned a copy of The Island of Blue Dolphins but Scott O’Dell, but it was probably the book I checked out of my local library the most. The basic premise is based on a true story of a whole tribe who were relocated off their island in the late 19th century/early 20th century. As they are sailing off the dead chief’s daughter sees that her younger brother has been left behind on the island and the ship wouldn’t turn round her him, so she jumps of the ship and swims to shore to look after him. She is only in her early teens at this time. However, shortly after this her brother dies and she is left alone. The Ship never returns for her.

However through various adventures as she learns to live on island. This was the original independent tough heroine for me. She learns how to fish, forage and fend for herself on an island deserted of human contact for years. At one point she builds a raft and attempts to leave island but as the island is based in the pacific she just ends back at the island.

Throughout the whole book the heroine doesn’t spend much time crying or bemoaning her lot; she gets on with it. She knows that the only thing or person that will change her circumstances is herself and she makes those changes. Most of books I read now have a kick-ass heroine who saves the day and this is where my fascination for this type of character comes from. While short, the books covers years as she grows into a young woman. Her only company are the local wild dogs – who are more foe than friend. For some reason this story as always stayed with me. The idea of this girl growing up alone spoke to me – I guess we all feel alone growing up but she truly was. More than that, she survived and even thrived under those circumstances.

I understand it’s the 50 year anniversary this year since The Island of Blue Dolphins was original released...I think I’ll get my hands on a copy – just to keep her company one more time.


If you liked this feature, check out previous entries:
Books Remembered #1: Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles
Books Remembered #2: The Magic Faraway Tree
Books Remembered #3: Christopher Pike's Sati

Saturday, 9 October 2010

On My Wish List #8


This is a meme from Book Chick City. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I keep track! I seem to be doing themed wishists so this week it's Urban Fantasy Books...


One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress 2) - Jeaniene Frost
Publisher : UK - Gollancz (May 2010 in UK)
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind. Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps together, side by side, to the reckless passion that consumed them. But having a price on her head - wanted: dead or half-alive - means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever . . . and Bones won't let her get away again.

Having finished Halfway to the Grave, the first in the Night Huntress series (review here), I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series. I hope Bones doesn't give up to easily!

Mind Games - Carolyn Crane
Publisher: US - Spectra (March 2010)

Mind Games heroine Justine Jones isn't your typical kick-ass type - she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear. She's lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists - vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation. Justine isn't interested in Packard's troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals. Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

This is the first of a planned trilogy. The story appeals to me - I like my heroines who are vulnerable plus the cover is quite cool!

Vicious Circle - Linda Robertson
Publisher:
Pocket Books (June 2009)



Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full -- even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered...and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends -- werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6'2" leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.

I haven't really heard a lot about this book or the rest of the Persephone Alcmedi series but I picked it up in Waterstones and like the back cover. I read the first couple of pages and enjoyed the writing but for some reason I didn't buy it. I couldn't get it out of my head and when I went back it was gone with no other copies in store! So on my wishlist it goes... 

And that's what's on my wishlist this week - what's on yours?

Friday, 8 October 2010

Book Blogger Hop #3

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books  and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! 

This weeks question: What's your favorite beverage while reading or blogging, if any? Is it tea, coffee, water, a glass of wine, or something else?
 
I don't really do much drinking while reading as the majority of my reading is done on the train on the way to the office. Occasionally I'll pick up a coffee on the way - especially if it's Christmas time and I get hold of an eggnog latte from Starbucks! If I'm at home I generally have a glass of water on the go. Not the most interesting answer! What do you drink while reading? :)