Monday, 31 January 2011

Mel's Random January

My local park in January
So, the first month of 2011 is over and how many New Resolutions have you stuck with? Still going to the gym and eating healthily? Or did the temptation of a take-away in front of the TV prove too much? :)
I know I still find myself writing 2010 on the date occasionally...

It's been a bit an experimental month here, with the trialing of audiobook reviews, the introduction of my first ever guest review by Sarah, and my own guest review with Jackie from Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Tales (You can read my confession about book envy there if you missed it!).

So how has January hit the the reading situation?

Reviews -

Books
Vampire Academy: Frostbite - Richelle Mead
Haint Misbehavin - Maureen Hardegree
The Spirit Thief - Rachel Aaron (Speculative Fiction Challenge)
Nightmare Hall: The Scream Team - Diane Hoh (YA of 80s and 90s Challenge)
The Five Greatest Warriors - Matthew Reilly (Mystery and Suspense Challenge)
Foundation - Isaac Asimov (Personal Classics Challenge & Speculative Fiction Challenge)
The Magician's Assistant - Trudi Canavan (Speculative Fiction Challenge)
Deepwater Black - Ken Catran (YA of 80s and 90s Challenge)

EBooks
Darkness Under The Sun - Dean Koontz
Angelic - Kelley Armstrong
Embers - Laura Bickle
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages - Tom Holt

Audiobook -
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams
I'm a little undecided about audiobooks reviews still - I find the reviews a little hard to write as the reader's voice and the abridgement of most books impacts the story and the writing so much. I'll continue with another review next month but I'm not sure how long I'll continue with it.

Guest review
Sarah reviewed Betrayal: Strange Angels - Lili St Crow

So taking all that into account, my 2011 challenges status currently stands:
BCC's Mystery & Suspense Challenge - 1 Read , 11 Left to read
FTC Speculative Fiction Challenge - 3 Read, 9 Left to read
BV's YA of 80s and 90s Challenge - 2 Read , 10 Left to read
Personal Classic Challenge -  1 Read

Highlight of the month - Embers by Laura Bickle
Honourable Mentions: Vampire Academy Frostbite - Richelle Mead and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages by Tim Holt

Phew - looking at it like this, it seems like a busy month! What did you like most? Any ideas for next month?

Expect similar randomness in February plus I'm re-introducing my Books Remembered feature and introducing a new feature called Book Confessions. I also have a cool giveaway planned and possibly a bonus giveaway if I can get up to 100 followers. :)

What have you got up to this month?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

My Book Haul/In My Mailbox

The Story Siren hosts a weekly meme where bloggers can share what goodies they've purchased/received this week. If you get a chance head over to The Story Siren and check out what everyone is up to!

I've been very good this week and have only purchased two books this week (but one was from a charity store) - but have taken advantage of Amazon's free books as well as some e-Arcs from netgalley.

Nightmare Hall: The Roommate - Diane Hoh
Publisher: UK - Point Horror (October 1994)
Four roommates share a suite in a dorm. Four girls who are very different, but not what they seem. Each of them hides a secret, and soon one of them may die.

This book I bought for £1 in a charity store and it should count towards my YA of the 80s and 90s challenge.

Dark Oracle - Alayna Williams
Publisher: UK - Pocket Books (May 2010)
As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved, including the serial killer who left her scarred from head to toe. Since that savage attack, Tara has been a recluse. But now an ancient secret society known as Delphi’s Daughters has asked for her help in locating missing scientist Lowell Magnusson. And Tara, armed with her Tarot deck, her .38, and a stack of misgivings, agrees to try.
Tara immediately senses there is far more at stake than one man’s life. At his government lab in the New Mexico desert, Magnusson had developed groundbreaking technology with terrifying potential. Working alongside the brusque but charismatic agent Harry Li, Tara discovers that Magnusson’s daughter, Cassie, has knowledge that makes her a target too. The more Tara sees into the future, the more there is to fear. She knows she has to protect Cassie. But there may be no way to protect herself—from the enemies circling around her, or from the long-buried powers stirring to life within. . . .

After reading Embers this week, I found out that Lauar Bickles also writes under the name Alayna Williams so I've picked this up on my kindle and can't wait to start it! :)

The Fallen Blade - Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Publisher: UK - Orbit (February 2011)

Venice, 1407. The city is at the height of its powers. In theory, Duke Marco commands, but Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They seem all powerful, yet live in fear of assassins better than their own.
On the night their world changes, Marco’s young cousin prays in the family chapel for deliverance from a forced marriage. It is her misfortune to be alone when Mamluk pirates break in to abduct her – an act that will ultimately trigger war.
Elsewhere Atilo, the Duke’s chief assassin, cuts a man’s throat. Hearing a noise, he turns back to find a boy drinking from the victim’s wound. The speed with which the angel-faced boy dodges his dagger and scales a wall stuns Atilo. He knows then he must hunt him. Not to kill him, but because he’s finally found what he thought was impossible – someone fit to be his apprentice.

I've got an e-Arc of this from netgalley and I'm very much looking to the mixture of Venice, assassins and something other than natural. Expect a review shortly! :)

Uprising - Scott G Mariani
Kindle Book

For millennia, the vampires walked the earth undetected, feasting on humans in keeping with ancient tradition.In the Information Age, vampires realised they must be more careful to avoid detection. In the late 20th century they created the global Vampire Federation to police vampire activity, with special agents like Alex Bishop authorised to hunt down her own kind who break the laws. The old traditions are history.But not all vampires bow down to Federation rule. When rebel vampire Gabriel Stone declares war against them, Alex and her team are plunged into danger.Police inspector Joel Solomon, haunted by a secret terror of vampires, discovers a series of corpses left behind by Stone's bloodthirsty gang. As he and Alex are drawn together in an unlikely alliance between human and vampire, the race begins to destroy the evil Stone before his uprising tears their world apart.

 Now I have to confess I already own this book in paperback but haven't read it yet. When I saw the kindle version was free on Amazon I thought it would be a good opportunity to get an e-copy so I can read it easily!

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
Kindle Book
The Moonstone, a priceless Indian diamond which had been brought to England as spoils of war, is given to Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night, the stone is stolen. Suspicion then falls on a hunchbacked housemaid, on Rachel's cousin Franklin Blake, on a troupe of mysterious Indian jugglers, and on Rachel herself. The phlegmatic Sergeant Cuff is called in, and with the help of Betteredge, the Robinson Crusoe-reading loquacious steward, the mystery of the missing stone is ingeniously solved.
This is one of those classics I've never read but would like too. Again taking advantage of Kindle's free books I downloaded a version to read at some point.

So what have you picked up this week? :)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

On My Wishlist #23

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!

There's a bit of a ghostly theme this week as I fancy some spooky reading...

Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor (September 2011)
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. . . 
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly at hame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay. When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

This may not be released for a while, but the cover is gorgeous and the storyline seems creepy. It's been popping up around the blogosphere and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

The Thirteenth Chime - Emma Michaels
Publisher: Bokheim Publising (August 2010)

No one knew of its existence until it was removed from the attic upstairs. In a beautiful house that overlooks the sea, an antique clock has the power to change the course of their lives. The power the clock resonates will not only force Destiny and ex-boyfriend David on a journey into the depths of one man's mind long dead, but into the mind of a man filled with hatred and bent on revenge.

With the only clues to the nature of the clock having disappeared into the sea, Destiny and David must retrace the steps the man had taken into the darkness, before they fall prey to the trap he had set in motion over half a century ago. Hatred never dies.


How beautiful is this cover? The story seems intriguing to me and I want to give it a try before the sequel is out later on this year! :)

The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse
Publisher: UK - Orion (October 2010)
The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson's case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. Unable to cope with his grief, Freddie has spent much of the time since in a sanatorium. In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees - another region that has seen too much bloodshed over the years. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Shaken, he stumbles into the woods, emerging by a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful local woman, also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories of remembrance and loss. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries. By turns thrilling, poignant and haunting, this is a story of two lives touched by war and transformed by courage.

This seems like a lovely story. I loved Kate Mosse's Sepulchre and found it very haunting so hopefully with a much smaller page count this book will be similar.

So what are you wishing for this week? :)

Friday, 28 January 2011

Book Blogger Hop #13

 

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! I love taking part in the hop as I get to know more about other bloggers out there and to find a few new ones!

  

This week's question is -

 

What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?  Why are you anticipating that book?

 

There are so many book out this year I'm looking forward to - many of which I've already preordered including Kelley Armstrong's Waking The Witch (in paperback), River Marked by Patricia Briggs, Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance (Been a long time since Cassie Palmers last outing!) but the one I'm most looking forward to is probably One of Our Thursday's Is Missing by Jasper Fforde. He writes such humorous, innovative and different books that there's no-one like him on the market. It's out in February so not long now! :)

 

 

So what are you looking forward too?

Deepwater Black Review

Deepwater Black
-       Ken Catran
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
First Published in New Zealand 1992, published in Great Britain in 1995
There’s an enemy within! Yonna needs Robbie to fight it. But Robbie’s from Earth – he doesn’t belong on a spaceship, thousands of years in the future. Or does he? What precious cargo does Deepwater carry in her hidden chambers? Who set her on an unknown course? And what has happened to Earth? Robbie and Yonna must find the enemy set on destroying the spaceship. Then they’ll know the truth about their mission. And the horrifying secret about themselves.
I first read this book about 15 years and loved it so much I’ve never been able to throw the book away despite multiple clear outs of my book shelves. I haven’t read for a long time now but picked up as part of the YA of the 80s and 90 challenge I’m participating in.
Wow. I still love this book! Even after 15 years the book feels exciting and full of adventure. It starts with Robbie sitting in school when a girl with blond and red hair appears with a laser gun and says she needs him on Deepwater. And no-one else can see her. From there we follow Robbie as he struggles to distinguish between realities on a spaceship fighting trites, jel and other colour space monsters. In addition to staying alive, Robbie and Yoona also have to discover what Deepwater’s mission is and why the spaceship only has six teenagers on board. This central mystery is a fantastically adult twist when solved and one of the reasons I love this book so much. It captured my imagination and I’ve never really forgotten it – but rereading the book reminded me of how well written the story is. There’s no padding – only 185 pages of fun, scares and friendship. Highly recommended!
Recommended for fans of Beth Revis and Michael Grant. 9 out of 10.

The Book Vixen's YA of the 80s and 90s Reading Challenge Book 2/12
YA of the 80s and 90s Reading Challenge

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Sausages: Early Review

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages
-       Tom Holt
Publisher: UK - Orbit Books – Released 2nd February 2011
I recieved an e-Arc via netgalley & Hachette Books
Polly is a real estate solicitor. She is also losing her mind. Someone keeps drinking her coffee. And talking to her clients. And doing her job. And when she goes to the dry cleaner's to pick up her dress for the party, it's not there. Not the dress - the dry cleaner's.
And then there are the chickens who think they are people. Something strange is definitely going on - and it's going to take more than a magical ring to sort it out.
All those little annoyances when working in an office – coffee disappearing, people swearing they’d spoken to you earlier when you know they haven’t - have a perfectly logical explanation which Tom Holt explores in his latest novel. Polly, a real estate solicitor and her musician brother get caught up in events that don’t seem to make any sense but are somehow fascinating, amusing and relatable. Regular people are put into odd positions and then there are the chickens who think they are people...or are they people who think they are chickens...? Somehow Tom Holt manages to put the ordinary in extra-ordinary and keeps the plot humming along with amusing scenes and a central mystery that I just had to know what was happening.
The last Tom Holt book I read (May Contain Traces of Magic) didn’t click with me but right from the first page of Life, I wanted to know what happened next and how all the various strands would come together. This is Tom Holt very much on top of his game telling a very British story. I’m never sure how well this type of humour translates but by the end I was sorry to have finished as I had been entertained by a coherent and fascinating story. If you like a little humour in your trans-dimensional mysteries then this is the book for you.
Recommended for fans of Terry Prachett and Robert Rankin. 8.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Magician Assisstant Review

The Magician’s Apprentice
-       Trudi Canavan
Publisher: UK - Orbit
In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer - much to the frustration of her mother, who would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn. When treating a patient at the residence of the local magician, Lord Dakon, Tessia is forced to fight off the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage - and instinctively uses magic. She now finds herself facing an entirely different future as Lord Dakon's apprentice. But along with the excitement and privilege, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. Events are brewing that will lead nations into war, rival magicians into conflict, and spark an act of sorcery so brutal that its effects will be felt for centuries ...
I read Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy a couple of years ago and found it an enjoyable read so one of my friends lent this to read. (No matter how big my TBR piles, borrowed books always go to the top of the pile – seems only polite!) But this prequel was more miss than hit for me. It’s a big book (approx 700 pages – and I was wishing it was on kindle after the first day reading it on the train!) but rather than being full of events, politics and magic I found it dragged slightly.
Trudi Canavan is writing is good – the worlds flow and the story is easy to slip into. However, considering the plot follows the outbreak of a magical war between two very different culturals there seemed to be too little action. Most of the story is taken up with people debating what to do next and considering the outcomes of all actions. I like my characters to think about their decisions but this seemed to happen all the time. The war was fought via committee rather than magic – and even the battles seemed to have little danger to them.
A lot of time is spent setting up the feudal system and even comparing it to the way the city worked but as soon as the neighbouring country begins to invade, this set up was forgotten as were a few characters including a servant who seemed to have more to offer! My favourite sections of the book dealt not with the invasion but with Stara, daughter of one of the invading magicians and her adjustment to the new society she finds herself in. Her frustration and anger at her father’s treatment of her as well as her friendship with her slave and brother was more intriguing and interesting to me than Tessia and Lord Dakon.
It’s not a bad story but I just felt it could have been told in less pages and have felt more exciting for it. There are some interesting ideas here and I think some will find the book a different look at the fantasy genre, but it’s not for me.
Recommended for fans of Jennifer Fallon and Karen Miller. 6 out of 10.

Part of FTC's Speculative Fiction Challange Book 3/12

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Embers Review

Embers (Anya Kalinczyk 1)
-       Laura Bickle
Kindle Book
In a city on the brink of social and economic collapse, arson investigator Anya Kalinczyk is struggling to hold her life together. By day she's caught up in the investigation of several deadly and unusual arson attacks; by night she's helping a misfit group of ghost hunters in their battle against Detroit's spiritual pests. Both are taking their toll on her, leaving her feeling increasingly isolated and lonely. When it becomes clear that the arson attacks are the work of a Lantern, a medium like Anya, she is locked into a deadly battle, not just for her own life, but the lives of the entire city.
Embers is a very different type of Urban Fantasy novel and I found it very refreshing. Our heroine, Anya is a lantern – able to see and speak to ghosts and occasionally she swallows them -  but only if they are inferring with the living. She’s had a tough childhood and finds it difficult to trust others. However, she isn’t snarky or cold. What makes Anya different, in my opinion is that she thinks things through. She’s not a physical heroine, willing to kickbox everyone out the way but rather she uses her unique abilities and tries to solve things with research and greater knowledge.  She feels more real than many ‘save the world’ heroines. Her fire elemental Sparky is a cute companion – I’d quite like one! And the rest of DAGR group help Anya to ground her and focus on the living.
One of the joys of this novel is the creepy atmosphere Laura Bickle creates especially during the exorcisms. The demon one sent a shiver down my spine and the description of the fire scenes seem well researched but not lecturing. Anya is a fantastic character and I like the way that not only does she change and evolve over the course of the story but so do others around her – especially the arsonist she’s chasing.
This book has some beautiful description in it – everything from the cookies baked to the church helps place it so much more in the real world. I actually wanted to visited Detroit when I’d finished as I felt I knew the city so well by the end. I already have the sequel, Sparks in my TBR pile so I’m sure I will be visiting again soon!
Recommended for fans of intelligent Urban Fantasy, Diana Rowland and Ilona Andrews. 9 out of 10.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Book Envy: My First Guest Blog!

I'm so excited! Today I'm guesting over with the lovely, generous Jackie at Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories where I confess my book envy when it comes to Paranormal Romance books - please go check it out! :)
 
Housewife Blues and Chihauhua Stories
 
 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

My Book Haul/In My Mailbox

The Story Siren hosts a weekly meme where bloggers can share what goodies they've purchased/received this week. If you get a chance head over to The Story Siren and check out what everyone is up to!
This week the final few books I ordered after Christmas arrived - and much squealing now they're hear as I can get a move on with my Vampire Academy reading - no interruptions! BTW - I haven't included a description on purpose as I've been avoiding finding out too much about the series before I read them. The best parts of Frostbite was elements I wasn't expecting! :-)

Vampire Academy: Blood Promise - Richelle Mead
Publisher: UK - Puffin


Vampire Academy: Spirit Bound - Richelle Mead
Publisher: UK - Puffin

I can't wait to finish reading this series now! The final book I'm also expecting through shortly...

Inside Out - Maria V Snyder
Publisher: UK - MIRA
Keep your head down. Don't get noticed. Or else. I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous - the only neck at risk is my own. Until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution...
Regular readers will know how much I love Maria V Snyder's writing so I'm really excited about trying her YA series - this first has just been released in the UK.
So what did you pick up this week? :)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

On My Wishlist #22

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!

I'm back to vampires this week - there are always a lot of vampire books out there I want to read! :)

Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel
Publisher: UK - Macmillian
For 500 years Lenah Beaudonte has been a vampire. 500 years of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers – and longs to feel the sun on her skin, grass under her bare feet, and share the breath of a human kiss. She wants to be mortal again. But is she really capable of being human, after her long years of darkness? Waking up as a sixteen-year-old girl brings Lenah many things – the life she has missed, taste, touch, love. But a vampire soul is not easily shed. And her coven – the four vampires she led in decadence and thrilling destruction – want their queen back . . .

I've seen this book around and was intrigued by the premise - then The Slowest Bookworm wrote a wonderful review and I knew I had to have it!

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire 1) - Clay & Susan Giffith
Publisher: Pyr
In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine in the chaos that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics where the vampires could not tolerate the constant heat. They brought technology and a feverish drive to re-establish their shattered society of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. Eager for adventure before she settles into a life of duty, her world is turned upside down when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious figure who fights vampires from deep within their territory.

Another book which I've seen some positive reviews for (although I can't remember of the top of my head where!). The idea of the supernaturals out there taking over is creepy and probably more realistic than skulking in corners brooding...although I love a broody vamp or two!

Wicked Game - Jeri Smith-Ready
Publisher: US - Pocket Books (May 2008)
Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, 60s psychedelia, 80s Goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers how the DJs maintain their cred: they're vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.
Ciara's first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WMMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station--and the link it provides to their original Life Times--the vampires would "fade," becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover becomes a matter of life and un-death.
To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara re-brands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll." In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs' vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around--next to Ciara's complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the "gimmick" enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren't so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher--and the perils graver--than any con game Ciara's ever played....


Not sure where I first came across this, but it looks like a lot of fun. Plus Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade was a fabulous book so I'm looking forward to trialling her adult series!


So that's what I'm wishing for this week - what are you desperate to get your hands on? :)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Foundation Review

Foundation
- Isaac Asimov

Publisher: UK - Collins (1994 reprint)

Foundation marks the first of a series of tales set so far in the future that Earth is all but forgotten by humans who live throughout the galaxy. Yet all is not well with the Galactic Empire. Its vast size is crippling to it. In particular, the administrative planet, honeycombed and tunneled with offices and staff, is vulnerable to attack or breakdown. The only person willing to confront this imminent catastrophe is Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian and mathematician. Seldon can scientifically predict the future, and it doesn't look pretty: a new Dark Age is scheduled to send humanity into barbarism in 500 years. He concocts a scheme to save the knowledge of the race in an Encyclopedia Galactica. But this project will take generations to complete, and who will take up the torch after him?


I have to admit I would probably not have picked this book up if my friend Kris hadn’t challenged me to me read it. While I like science fiction films and TV Series, I never really get into sci-fi books much (Strange considering my astrophysics degree!). SO I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It’s basically a collection of short stories relating turning points of the Foundation, from initial set to various crisis at various points – all predicted in advanced by Hari Sheldon.
The concept of being able to predict the behaviour of large groups of humans over vast periods of time is quite creepy and believable. Individually we each have a variety of choices but collectively we’re predictable. This idea is key to story and one I wanted to explore more – the book stops just 200 years into Seldon’s 1000 year plan. The stories tended to focus on a handful of key individuals who put Seldon’s plans into action and re-enforced the predictability of the masses. This kind of paradox was very clever – there’s a reason why Isaac Asimov is consider a founder of modern science fiction. Despite being written over fifty years ago, the book didn’t feel dated at all – it doesn’t include much hard science despite the space and planetary setting. The story follows human behaviour and insight into us as a species.
I enjoyed this enormously but I don’t think it will be for everyone. There are no characters to develop or major set peices. The action is told through politics which I personally enjoy reading.
Recommended for fans of Stephen Baxter & Iain M Banks. 8 out of 10
Part of FTC's Speculative Fiction Challange Book 1/12

 
Part of My Personal Classics Challenge Book 1


 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Guest Review: Strange Angels: Betrayals

At the start of year I promised you all more reviews. The trouble is I'm only human and can only read for a few hours of the day...the rest of time gets taken up with non-book related activities such as work, family and friends. I'm currently averaging about 3 reviews a week but there are some doorstopper novels in my TBR pile and reading them would slow down the number of reviews I can post. So in order to help me provide more reviews I've dragged in a helper! My friend Sarah. I've known her for years (she knows where all the skeletons are buried...mostly because half of them are hers!). We have similar reading tastes and I hope she'll help me out with the occasional review. Please make her feel welcome for her first ever review...

Betrayals (Strange Angels 2)
-  Lili St. Crow

Publisher: UK -

Dru Anderson's not afraid of the dark. But she should be. Poor Dru. Her parents are long gone. Her best friend Graves has been bitten by a werewolf. And she just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn't entirely human. Now Dru's strange and handsome savior, Christophe, has her hidden away at a secret Schola for djamphir and wulfen teens. Trouble is, she's the only girl in the place. The really bad news? Dru's killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. With all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide...

Hello there, blog-newbie here!  As Mel’s mentioned, I’m Sarah (aka Cinema Bud) and like Mel, I love reading and will give pretty much any genre a go.  My favourite is Fantasy, though, especially Epic and YA Fantasy, and my first ever review will be for a book that epitomizes the latter – Betrayals by Lili St. Crow.  This is the second of the Strange Angels series and is a thoroughly entertaining read.

It stars Dru, an American teen with non-classic American looks, and a non-usual-teen problem – she’s a svetocha, basically a highly prized uber-nosferatu killer.   Yes, this book follows some standard YA principles – troubled lead with family issues, love interest(s) (in this case an intriguing triangle with a loup-garou and a djamphir) and an obvious evil that must be fought.  However, it’s set in an interesting supernatural world (for example, werewolves and loup-garou are different things) and - for me the most enjoyable thing - real things actually happen to people!  When you’re injured you’re actually hurt and don’t function as well as when you’re not, when you go running through a forest chased by evil you get wet, cold, tired and afraid, and when you’re having a moment with the guy you fancy, guaranteed you’ve got a wedgie and are worrying about the state of your hair.

It’s a pacey book, easily readable in a day, keeping your attention without asking too much from the old grey matter.  It won’t break new ground, but neither will you be regretting you bought it. 

Recommended for people who want P.C. Cast’s House of Night series with less annoying teenage perfection, or a YA version of Kelley Armstrong’s amazing novels.  7 out of 10.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Five Greatest Warriors Review

The Five Greatest Warriors
- Matthew Reilly

Publisher: UK - Orion

With the end of the world fast approaching, Jack West Jnr must rebuild the final pieces of the fabled, ancient 'Machine' - the only thing that can prevent global catastrophe. But he is out of clues, out of leads . . . until he is presented with an ancient text about five unnamed warriors, great historical figures who were all in some way connected to the mysterious Machine. And so Jack and his loyal team set out to discover their identities - and their secrets. Soon Jack is on the trail of a legendary list of greats: from Moses to Genghis Khan and Napoleon, and finally to one most unlikely warrior, the unknown 'Fifth', who, it is said, will be there 'at the end of all things...'

I like a bit of action and adventure occasionally and in the past I’ve enjoyed Matthew Reilly’s books. They tend to read like a summer blockbuster – loads of action, close scraps and testosterone filled men (who have a soft side for children and animals). His latest, The Five Greatest Warriors is the third in his Captain Jack West Jnr series – an Australian hero who needs to uncover a variety of ancient mysteries in order to save the world. This book covers exotic locations from around the globe from Loch Ness in Scotland, to the tip of Japan and the mysteries of Easter Island. There is a continual countdown and each ancient puzzle has to be solved in order to move on to the next. There is plenty of suspense and high octane thrills.

It is a lot of fun – if you turn your brain off. Stopping and think too deeply about any of the events in the story it does ruin it. Some of these mazes and quests are at the extreme edge of believability – suspension of disbelief only takes you so far. This is definitely one of those books where the plot overtakes the characters. There are no shades of grey – you’re either a good guy or a bad guy. Some people may find that difficult especially if they like their character development but I found it quite refreshing.

If you want a wild ride, that doesn’t need much brain power this is a perfect book. Light, fun and full of adventure.

Recommended for fans of Dan Brown and Lee Child. 6 out of 10

Book Chick City's Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge Book 1/12

Monday, 17 January 2011

Audiobook: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Review

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Unabridged)
Written by Douglas Adams
Read by Douglas Adams
What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common? Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unravelling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge).
I have this book on cassette tape – that’s how long I’ve had a copy! It was one of the first audio books I bough and I still listen to the story regularly as I love the story so much. Douglas Adams is one of the best known British comic writers, best known for The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, but to my mind his Dirk Gently books are superior. The main reason I prefer them? There’s a more coherent plot to them. Dirk Gently is a fantastic comic creation, a lazy genius who thinks outside the box, has more curiosity than a cat (and more lives!) and somehow manages to solve the most bizarre cases on very little fact.
What I love about this audio reading is that it’s by Douglas Adams himself, so as author and reader he stresses the words he meant to be important. He may not do voices particularly well but he conveys the spirit of the character through their speech and ponderings. This feels like a very intimate book on tape as a result – being read to by the author himself.  Added to the fact that this story has some great insights into life, the universe and everything and has some particularly funny lines (the horse’s thoughts are hilarious). As a book this is a great little read to while away an afternoon. As an audio book it gives over 6 hours of amusing lines and a murder mystery to solve.
Recommended for fans of Terry Prachett and Monty Python. 9 out of 10.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

In My Mailbox/ My Book Haul

The Story Siren hosts a weekly meme where bloggers can share what goodies they've purchased/received this week. If you get a chance head over to The Story Siren and check out what everyone is up to!
This week brought a couple of packaging from Amazon delivering me the books from my wishlist I ordered after Christmas - most of which I can't get in the shops over here, so I'm looking forward to trying them out!

Masques - Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace Books (September 2010)
When the peaceful kingdom of Reth is overrun by Geofrrey ae'Magi, the evil master of illusion, Aralorn, weaponsmistress of the shapechanging race, and her companion, Wolf, attempt to overthrow him.

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.

Secret of the Demon (Kara Gillian 3) - Diane Rowland
Publisher: US - Daw Books (January 2011)
Homicide detective Kara Gillian has a special talent: she can sense the "arcane" in our world, and there's quite a bit of it, even in Beaulac, Louisiana. She's also a summoner of demons, and works on a task force that deals with supernatural crimes. Her partners are attractive and smart FBI agents, but they're not summoners, and they're not telling Kara why they are on this special force with her.
To make things worse, Kara has pledged herself to one of the most powerful of demons-a Demon Lord-who helped save her partner's life, but now expects things in return. Meanwhile, she's trying to solve a string of murders that are somehow tied together by money, sex, rock music and...mud. But how can she concentrate on the case when she's not even sure who-or what-her partners are?


I really enjoyed the first two book about Kara esepcially the detective element of them, so I've had this on preorder for a while! So happy when it arrived this week! :) 
So what have you recieved this week? :)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

On My Wishlist #21

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! So this week there is only a loose link between the books I desperately wish the bank manager would allow me to buy - they're all the next book in a series I'm reading that I want!

The Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress 3) - Rachel Aaron
Publisher: UK - Orbit
With the pressure on after his success in Gaol, Eli Monpress, professional thief and degenerate, decides it's time to lie low for a bit. Taking up residence in a tiny seaside village, Eli and his companions seize the chance for some fun and relaxation. Nico, however, is finding it a bit hard. Plagued by a demon's voice in her head and feeling powerless, she only sees herself as a burden. Everyone's holiday comes to an untimely close, though, when Pele arrives to beg Eli's help for finding her missing father. But there are larger plans afoot than even Eli can see, and the real danger, and the solution, may lie with one of his own and her forgotten past. If only Nico could remember whose side she's on.

I've just finished The Spirit Thief and loved it. The second book of the series, The Spirit Rebellion is sitting on my TBR just calling out to me to pick it up, so when I give in I'd love to have this, the third in a five part series ready for me! The Spirit Thief was such good fun.

Mercy Blade (Jane Yellowrock 3) - Faith Hunter
Publisher: US - ROC
Things are heating up in the Big Easy. Weres have announced their existence tot he world, and revived the bitter tensions that run between them and their old enemies: vampires. As a trusted employee of Leo Pellissier, Blood Master of the City, Jane finds herself caught in the cross fire.
When Jane is attacked by a pack of marauding were-wolves, she is thankful for the help of a mysterious stranger named Girrard. He explains that he used to be Leo’s “Mercy Blade,” a sacred position charged with killing vampires who have gone insane. What Jane doesn’t know is why this powerful assassin left New Orleans − or, more troubling, why he’s now returned. It’s definitely not to make Jane’s life easier...

I really enjoyed the first two Jane Yellowrock books so Mercy Blade is one I'm hoping pick up as soon as possible - it was only released a week ago. As a shifter Jane is different from most of the other UF heroines out there and that makes me want to follow her story!

The Dragon Queens (Mystique Trilogy 2) - Traci Harding
Publisher: Australia - Voyager
For millenia, the Gene of Isis has been passed from mother to daughter...
Ashlee Devere, 19th century clairvoyant, adventurer and historian is called upon by the Sangreal Knighthood to authenticate a Sumerian text taken from an archaeological dig. This text predates the Old Testament ... and the Genesis story it tells is radically different from any other.
Tamar, daughter of the renowned 21st century linguist, Mia Montrose, is going through a crisis. While reading Ashlee's diaries for the first time Tamar is contacted by a powerful goddess - and endures an astoundingly rapid transformation of her psychic abilities and physical appearance.
Kali is one of the keepers of the lost key to the gateway between our world and the next and is coming to clear a pathway to Tamar's destiny ...
From the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the Halls of Amenti, from myth to science, from the dawn of time to the near future, there are those who will do anything to protect the secrets of the gods.

I love Traci Harding's Ancient Future series so I really want to read this trilogy as well. I have the first book and the third but this one keeps aluding me...why is such a good author not published in the UK?

So what are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Follow Friday #1



The wonderful Parajunkee holds a fabulous Friday Follow on Fridays (Surprisingly!) with a question for book bloggers to answers and spread the book love. Check it out here and see what everyone else is up to!

This weeks question...

 

What makes up your non-human family??


I have a cat called Ziggy, but she's so old now she doesn't do much but sleep and occasionally eat! But I wouldn't be without her even if she does have the tendency to drool now. :-)



Ziggy in her usual position!