Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mel's Random May

May has been hard working month - at least for me! All the short weeks in April with Easter bank holidays means it was hard to get back into 5 day weeks again. It didn't help that the sun seems to have disappeared fom the UK. However, one of my friends stayed with me recently and left this lovely to do list on my whiteboard which really cheered me up and I wanted to share. Try and make sure you all pick up at least one item on the list this month! :)

So, how was my reading month?

Books
Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde (FCC's Speculative Fiction Challenge)
Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later - Francine Pascal
Remember Me 3: The Return - Christopher Pike (BV's YA of the 80s and 90s)
The Tenth Chamber - Glenn Cooper (BCC's Mystery and Suspense Challenge)
Killing Rocks - DD Barant
Angel Burn - LA Weatherly
Dead In The Family - Charlaine Harris
Second Foundation - Isaac Asimov (FCC's Speculative Fiction Challenge + Personal Challege)
Rot and Ruin - Jonathan Maberry
The Neon Court - Kate Griffin (FCC's Speculative Fiction Challenge)
The Sentinel Mage - Emily Gee
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror - Chris Priestley
Bite Marks - Jennifer Rardin

Audiobooks
Tempest Rising - Nicole Peeler

EBooks
Wow - I can't believe I didn't read any ebooks this month! I was on a serious mission to shorten my physical TBR pile so left my kindle at home for most of May. This will no doubt be balanced out by July when I plan I plan to take only the kindle on holiday with me. As for shortening my TBR pile - it might have worked if I hadn't gone on a couple of splurging spending sprees (try saying that five times fast!)... :)

Other Posts
Books Remembered look back at Sweet Valley High

I introduced a new occasional feature - Same Book/Different Cover and started with Kelley Armstrong's first Otherworld book - Bitten.
In addition I had two Giveaways - Sarah's Birthday celebrations & Splash Into Summer Blog Hop - which ends today - last chance to enter here!

In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays.

So with all that in mind my reading challenges status looks like this:
BCC's Mystery & Suspense Challenge - 7 Read, 5 Left to read
FTC Speculative Fiction Challenge - 11 Read, 1 Left to read
BV's YA of 80s and 90s Challenge - 10 Read, 2 Left to read
Personal Classic Challenge -  3 Read

This month I also took part in the The Unread Reader's All Male Review Challange to read books with Male Protangists or authors. I think I did quite well with 5 books under that heading this month!

Highlight of the Month: Has to be Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry - adventure, coming of age and mystery - simply brilliant.

Honourable Mentions: The Neon Court by Kate Griffin - I love Matthew Swift and it's set in my home town! Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde was great as well.

So what was your month like?

Monday, 30 May 2011

Bite Marks Review

Bite Marks (Jaz Parks 6)
-       Jennifer Rardin
Publisher: Orbit
Jaz is possessed. After biting the neck of a domyter during a forced visit to his territory, she now has unwelcome voices in her head. While fighting for supremacy in her own mind, she finds herself confronted with a near-impossible task: perform perfectly on her next mission or face the unemployment line. This goal wouldn't be unreasonable, except that her newest target, the leader of a security software firm, plans on transporting a boatload of gnome larvae into NASA's deep space communication complex. Why gnomes? Let's just say that their god is a little peeved with humanity and plans on the usual: total annihilation. Joining Jaz and Vayl are their old buddies Cole, Bergman, Cassandra and Jack the malamute, each of whom has his or her own agenda. Between Cassandra's curse, Jaz's literally mental personal demons, and a host of angry gnomes, this mission is definitely going to be more complicated than any that have come before.
I have to confess it’s been a while since I read the first five Jaz Parks books. I think Orbit in the UK stopped publishing them here or something and the only one’s I could find were over priced and over sized US versions (although to be honest it was the price more than the size than annoyed me!). Late last year I found this in a closing down sale of one of my favourite bookstores so I had to pick it up. J 
Bite Marks starts a mere week after the end of the last book with a new mission for Jaz, her vampire partner Vayl and the rest of their jet-setting team. This time the mission is in Australia and they need to stop some fanatical gnomes from infecting a human with their larvae in order for them to hatch in the NASA communications office and disturbing all NASA space flights. One of the joys of the Jaz Parks series is the whacky James Bond-esque villainy plans. Yes, it might sound absurd, but in a world where your best friend is a 500 year old seer (called Cassandra naturally), your spirit guide is looking for a train set and vampire partner can freeze the air with a thought it all works. The action is non-stop, the banter between everyone – friend or foe – is quick and sharp and the story races along as fast as a Londoner commuter who’s spotted the only empty seat on the 5pm train.
My one issue with the book is that everything happens too quickly – there is little time to catch your breathe between mission and personal affairs – and unless I missed it, this whole adventure plays out over the one (very busy) night. However, this is still adrenalin rushing fun complete with complex characters who may not be normal, but definitely make a dysfunctional family.   
Recommended for fans for James Bond and Karen Chance. 7 out of 10

Sunday, 29 May 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 restrained this week and have only bought two books but I won one and recieved one for review...

Now You See Me - S.J. Bolton
Publisher: UK - Bantam
Despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, Detective Constable Lacey Flint has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now…
As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey’s car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey’s quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?...

I was very excited to get in the mail from Transworld as I don't actually get many books to review and this looks great. I love the mystery of Jack the Ripper - still not solved after all these years and SJ Bolton has a great writing style that I really enjoy. Will be starting this very soon!

Corsets and Clockwork - Trisha Telep
Publisher: UK - Robinson Publisher
 Dark fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre! This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.

I won this from Graeme at Graeme's Fantasy Book Reviews . There are so many cool writers in this anthology, I can't wait to start trying some steampunk romance!

The Turning (Blood Ties 1) - Jennifer Armintrout
Publisher: UK - MIRA
I am no coward. I want to make that perfectly clear. But after my life turned into a horror movie, I take fear a lot more seriously now. I finally became Dr. Carrie Ames just eight months ago. Then I was attacked in the hospital morgue by a vampire. Now I m a vampire, and it turns out I have a blood tie to the monster who sired me. And of course he s one of the most evil vampires on earth. With my sire hell-bent on turning me into a soulless killer and his sworn enemy set to exterminate me, things couldn't get much worse except I m attracted to them both. Drinking blood, living as an immortal demon and being a pawn between two warring vampire factions isn't exactly how I d imagined my future. But as my father used to say, the only way to conquer fear is to face it. So that s what I ll do. Fangs bared.

I quite enjoyed Armintrout's American Vampire so when I spotted this I want to give a whirl.

Bitten In Two - Jennifer Rardin
Publisher: US - Orbit
Jaz Parks here. I. Am. Pissed. Just as Vayl and I arrive in Morocco to secure an ancient artifact, he wakes up calling me by another woman's name. And it's not even a good one. But since any form of argument transforms him into an unholy terror, I'm forced to play along until the gang and I can figure out what kind of power has so vastly altered his perceptions. So it's time for me to do what any well-trained assassin in my position might do. I attack. What follows is a hair-raising, breath-taking bullet train ride to the finish as the crew battles on multiple fronts. I now know what I have to do - I must return to hell one last time.

With the final Jaz Parks out soon I thought it was time I caught up with the series! :-)

So what have you picked up this week? :)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

On My Wishlist #40


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 This week I'm leaping back and forth through time...
 
The Kings of Eternity - Eric Brown
Publisher: Solaris
1999. On the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him?
1935. Writers Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings-on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there – no less than a strange creature from another world – will change their lives forever.

I found this when flicking through one of my magazines and I liked the cover plus I like the look of this with both time periods being in the past...

The Annubis Gates - Tim Powers
Publisher: Gollancz
Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a London filled with deformed clowns, organised beggar societies, insane homunculi and magic. When he is kidnapped by gypsies and consequently misses his return trip to 1983, the mild-mannered Doyle is forced to become a street-smart con man, escape artist, and swordsman in order to survive in the dark and treacherous London underworld. He defies bullets, black magic, murderous beggars, freezing waters, imprisonment in mutant-infested dungeons, poisoning, and even a plunge back to 1684. Coleridge himself and poet Lord Byron make appearances in the novel, which also features a poor tinkerer who creates genetic monsters and a werewolf that inhabits others' bodies when his latest becomes too hairy.

This is supposedly a real classic story and I love the hint of Steampunk with Egypt and Victorian era colliding...

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - Yasuta Tsutsui
Publisher: Alma Books
The Girl Who Leapt through Time is the story of fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Kazuko, who accidentally discovers that she can leap back and forth in time. In her quest to uncover the identity of the mysterious figure that she believes to be responsible for her paranormal abilities, she'll constantly have to push the boundaries of space and time, and challenge the notions of dream and reality.

Another gorgeous cover and an intriguing idea - what would you do if you could travel in time when you were 15?

What are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror Review

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror
-          Chris Priestley
Publisher: UK – Bloomsbury
Uncle Montague lives alone in a big house and his regular visits from his nephew give him the opportunity to relive some of the most frightening stories he knows. But as the stories unfold, a newer and more surprising narrative emerges, one that is perhaps the most frightening of all. Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, it transpires, are not so much works of imagination as dreadful lurking memories. Memories of an earlier time in which Uncle Montague lived a very different life to his present solitary existence.
Do you remember staying up late at night during sleepovers, turning the lights off and telling a ghost story by the light of a torch only? Slowly recounting the background, complete with little details, building up the tension and then – bam, a twist, a change of direction, the rug pulled out from under you...remember those stories? Well, that is what Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror is like. Short ghost stories told in the guise of a nephew spending time with an uncle, recounting scary stories on a dark day in front of the fire.
As with any short story collection, some stories work better than others – some do genuine surprise, while others follow a pattern. However, the element that intrigued me most was the frame around the short story format – Uncle Montague himself. The description of the house, the dark candle light, the mysterious manservant all created a creepy atmosphere.  It was his story, rather than the stories that he told that kept me reading to the end. Why is he telling these stories to his young nephew? What other secrets lurk in the house?
Overall, these stories are best suited for pre-teens, and might come across as quite simple for older readers. However, it was the simplicity of the tales that appealed to me. All the stories feel quite old fashioned and traditional even though most of them are written specifically for this book – albeit traditional enough to feel like you might have heard them before. And there is a general theme that bad children (whether selfish or stupid or those who just don’t do as their told) get what they deserve.
Recommended for fans of Point Horror and The Outer Limits. 7 out of 10.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Sentinel Mage Review

The Sentinel Mage
-       Emily Gee
Publisher: Solaris
In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mage's blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head - and assassins at his heels. Innis is a gifted shapeshifter. Now she must do the forbidden: become a man. She must stand at Prince Harkeld's side as his armsman, protecting and deceiving him. But the deserts of Masse are more dangerous than the assassins hunting the prince. The curse has woken deadly creatures, and the magic Prince Harkeld loathes may be the only thing standing between him and death.
I’d been looking for a change of pace, reading-wise and fancied some more traditional fantasy – The Sentinel Mage has that in spades! There is a quest to halt the darkness spreading over the land, a prince with a hidden destiny, an evil king bent on expanding his empire, a journey across difficult terrain, mages with power over fire and the ability to shapeshift. I was quickly swept up in the journey and enjoying the swords and sorcery feel of the story. Innis’s ability to shift into a man was a different twist – although it felt slightly downplayed at times. I enjoyed some of the political games played at the castle with Harkeld’s sister and was definitely left wanting more in that arena.
The writing is smooth and easy, allowing for quick page turning. There is plenty of action and some nice sympathic characters, even if not all the secondary characters are fleshed out. Overall I would say this adds nothing new to the fantasy genre, but it is an enjoyable escape and I was charmed by the time spent with the characters and story. I’m looking forward to the second part of this trilogy when it is released next year.
Recommended for fans of Jennifer Fallon and Karen Miller. 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

SPLASH INTO SUMMER GIVEAWAY


The Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Page Turners.

I'm really excited about this hop - here in the UK the summer has started early with some great weather already behind us in April and May so my hopes are high for a good Summer...and hopefully this time I'll remember to put the sun lotion on... :-)

So what can you win here at Mel's Random Reviews on the Splash into Summer hop?

Prize: Book of your choice from The Book Despository (up to £10 or $15) as such this is open internationally!
Rules: (without which there will be chaos!)
- Fill in the form below
- That's it! No extras, no complicated hoop jumping (unless you're a hula champion showing off!)
- Closes at Midnight 31st May
- If you win, you'll have 72 hours to reply my email, otherwise I'll pick another winner
- You don't have to be a follower, but I won't object if you are! :)

<GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED>
Once you've filled in the form, hop on to the next blog - and have more book giveaway fun! There are over 200 blogs taking part so plenty of chances to win! Good Luck! :)


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Audiobook: Tempest Rising Review

Tempest Rising (Jane True 1)
Written by Nicole Peeler
Read by Kate Reinders
Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn't quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human. Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures that are terrifying, beautiful and deadly - all of which perfectly describe her new 'friend' Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire. It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never - ever - rub the genie's lamp.
Tempest Rising is written in the first person and as such Kate Reinders does a fantastic job of becoming Jane and helps create a unique voice for the character. All the other characters are always seen through Jane’s eyes so Kate manages to complete inhabit Jane and portray a woman hemmed in by circumstances and discovering a world around her. Between the great writing and the performance Jane comes across as a funny, relatable and original girl – with a very healthy libido! J
Apart from being slightly surprised at first by the American accent (I’m British so when I read books no-one has an accent!), this is a great audiobook. I’d read the book previously and really enjoyed learning about Jane’s world so listening to the CD was no trouble. It was unabridged (my favourite!) so I was able to spend just under ten hours in Jane’s company and urge her on in her relationship with Ryu, laughed as she discovered what a genie really keeps in his pants and jumped when she did.  A great book, brilliantly performed that left me wanting more.
Recommended for fans of Charlaine Harris and Jaye Wells. 9 out of 10

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Neon Court Review

The Neon Court (Matthew Swift 3)
-       Kate Griffin
Publisher: UK – Orbit
When the city was founded, he was the mad native spirit that waited in the dark, on the edge of the torchlight. When the streets were cobbled over, he became the footsteps heard on stone that you cannot see. When the Victorians introduced street lighting, he was the shadow who always shied away from the light, and when the gas went out, there he was. The shadow at the end of the alley, the footsteps half-heard in the night. A daimyo of the Neon Court is dead. So are two warriors of the Tribe. And a freshly-prophesied 'chosen one' is missing. Each side blames the other and Matthew Swift is right in the middle of it, trying to keep the peace. Because when magicians go to war, everyone loses. But Swift has even bigger problems. A dead woman is trying to kill him and the city itself is under attack from a force of unimaginable power. As if trying to stay one step ahead of an assassin and juggling magical politics weren't challenging enough, Swift must also find a way to defeat a primal threat from humanity's darkest nightmares. Or there may not be a London left to fight over ...
I love London. I live on the outskirts and have spent many a happy hour wandering the streets, footpaths and cobbles of the city. If there was one series of books that best describes the magic of London, it would be the Matthew Swift series. Once again Kate Griffin has captured the uniqueness of a city so old and new, both dirty and clean, ordinary and extra-ordinary. The system of magic is based on urban magic, electricity and concrete, rush hour and terms and conditions can carry their own spell. The writing is so detailed and layered and just sucks you in – once you get used to the style. 300 pages that feel like a lungful of air to a drowning man – vital, life saving and far too short.
The previous two Matthew Swift books had him swept up in events beyond his control, but this time Matthew takes charge as his character has grown and developed. His apprentice Penny has helped ground him and gives him someone else to care about. At the same time his new responsibilities both to Penny and the city are taken seriously and as ever Matthew and the blue electric angels don’t want to die. They fight for the city, for Penny, for themselves and weep over those they can’t save.  
This may not be the place to start if you haven’t read any Kate Griffin before, as many elements of the story do refer to previous events and existing relationships. But that just means you have three fantastic books to read ahead of you! Start with A Madness of Angels and then The Midnight Mayor. I can not recommend this series enough.
Recommended for fans of Felix Castor and China Mieville. 10 out of 10.

WINNER!


So I had a fantastic response to Sarah's Birthday Giveaway - so many of you suggested so many great books, I think my Wishlist is now sorted for the next 6 months! :-)

But, alas there can be only one winner and to find out who, I'm going to hand over to the birthday girl herself.

Hello all!  Firstly, I'd just like to say thanks for all the birthday wishes, and to Mel for her awesome surprise!  I had a totally fantastic birthday and was thoroughly spoilt (well, it's not every day you hit the big 3-0, is it?).
The suggestions received for this competition were numerous, diverse, and have expanded my wishlist exponentially!!!!  In the end I made my decision by selecting a book I didn't think I would have picked up on my own, and one that was a little out of my 'comfort zone' (I have not been a big fan of time travel books thus far).  I also appreciated the winner's comment that they loved the book so much they tried to re-read it every year - we all have books like that, and they're never bad ones!!
So a massive thank you to all that participated, and a big congrats to......  Karla Volkopf for her suggestion of 'The Sterkarm Handshake'.  I look forward to receiving my book from Mel, and soon after you'll see my review on here.  Happy reading until then everyone!

Congratulations Karla - I will be sending you an email asking for what book you want as your 'birthday' present!

For everyone else, please check back on Wednesday when I'm taking part in the Splash Into Summer hop and the opportunity to win another book of your choice! :-)

Sunday, 22 May 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!
One of the local book stores had a 3 for 2 offer on with 3 of my wishlist books included, plus the supermarket also had a good offer for the top sellers so how could I resist?
 
The Passage - Justin Cronin
Publisher: UK - Orion
Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world. She is.
Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He's wrong.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is.
 
  I've been waiting for this to come out in paperback for ages - although it is a mega-doorstop book so I will have to have plenty of posts ready and waiting for you all, before I get started on it...you won't see me for some time once I start on it! :)
 
Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll
Publisher: UK - Bantam Books 
Jeweller Garet James isn't the same as everyone else.
She just doesn't know it yet.
With her fair share of problems – money (lack of), an elderly father, a struggling business – Garet should be just like any other young, feisty, single New Yorker. If only it was that simple...
It begins with the old silver box that had been soldered shut. All Garet has to do is open it. A favour for the frail owner of the antiques shop. Who wouldn’t help?
Only it’s then that things start to change. Garet doesn't notice at first, the shifts barely perceptible. But the city in which she grew up is beginning to reveal a long-hidden side – darker, and altogether more dangerous: parallel world of chaos, smoke and blood.
And now it’s out of the box...and it has no intention of going back in.
 
I have to be honest, this wasn't on my wishlist, but when I was in the supermarket at the weekend, I picked it up and started reading the first page - I was hooked! :-)
 
Married With Zombies - Jesse Petersen
Publisher: UK - Simon & Schuster
Meet Sarah and David. Sarah and David are like any other couple. They met, they fell in love, but now they're on the verge of divorce. On a routine trip to the marriage counsellor, they notice a few odd things -- the lack of cars on the road, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counsellor, Dr Kelly, is ripping out her previous client's throat. Meet the zombies.Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But just because there are zombies, it doesn't mean your other problems go away. And if the zombies don't eat their brains, they might just kill each other.
 
As some of you might have noticed I've fallen for zombies recently - most of my highly rated books all seem to be Zombie related (Feed, Rot & Ruin, Aftertime), so this looks like a lot of fun on the genre!

Goddess of Light - PC Cast
Publisher: UK - Piatkus
Tired of dating egomaniacs, interior designer Pamela Gray has nearly given up on men. She wants to be treated like a goddess - preferably by a god. As she whispers her wish, she unwittingly invokes the goddess Artemis, who has some tricks up her celestial sleeve...Twins Artemis and Apollo have been sent to the Kingdom of Las Vegas to test their mantle. Their first assignment: make Pamela's wish come true. So Artemis volunteers her golden brother. After all, who better than the handsome God of Light to bring love to this lonely woman? It might be a first but here in Sin City, where life is a gamble, both god and mortal are about to bet on a high-stakes game of love.

I'm slowly picking up the full P.C. Cast Goddess Summoning series, but this one really sounds like fun - I love Las Vegas and the greek gods were always my favourite pantheon!

The Desert Spear - Peter V. Brett
Publisher: UK - Harper Voyager
The Deliverer has returned, but who is he?
Arlen Bales, formerly of the small hamlet of Tibbet’s Brook, learnt harsh lessons about life as he grew up in a world where hungry demons stalk the night and humanity is trapped by its own fear. He chose a different path; chose to fight inherited apathy and the corelings, and eventually he became the Painted Man, a reluctant saviour.
But the figure emerging from the desert, calling himself the Deliverer, is not Arlen. He is a friend and betrayer, and though he carries the spear from the Deliverer’s tomb, he also heads a vast army intent on a holy war against the demon plague… and anyone else who stands in his way.

I absolutely adored The Painted Man and have been waiting for this with the impression of patience every since! So excited about this! :-)

So what have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

On My Wishlist #39


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!
 
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
Publisher: UK - Voyager
Set in a fabulous world scarred by battle and catastrophe over 8000 years of recorded history, it tells of the deeds of men and women locked in the deadliest of conflicts and the terrible legacy they will leave their children. In the game of thrones, you win or you die. And in the bitter-cold, unliving lands beyond the Wall, a terrible winter gathers and the others -- the undead, the neverborn, wildlings to whom the threat of the sword is nothing -- make ready to descend on the realms of men.
 
I haven't seen the mini-series yet but for years I've been eyeing this book across the book store and as yet it hasn't seduced me...but I think I will cave soon!
 
Daughter of the Blood - Anne Bishop
Publisher: Roc
The Dark Kingdom is preparing itself for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy the arrival of a new Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But this new ruler is young, and very susceptible to influence and corruption; whoever controls her controls the Darkness. And now, three sworn enemies begin a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal...and the destiny of an entire world is at stake.... 
 
Another series I've been been eyeing up but not taken the chance with yet...I've heard a lot of good things though and this does sound like the sort of fantasy I really enjoy.
 
The Black Prism - Brent Weeks
Publisher: UK - Orbit 
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: five years to achieve five impossible goals. But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.
 
I loved Brent Weeks Night Angel Trilogy so I'm looking forward to this book - the first of a new trilogy.
 
So what are you wishing for this week? :)
 
 

Friday, 20 May 2011

Rot and Ruin Review

Rot and Ruin
-       Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Nearly fourteen years ago a freak virus swept across the world turning those infected from the living into the undead. Benny Imura has grown-up never knowing anything different; his last memories of his parents tainted by the image of them becoming zombies. Now Benny is fifteen, and his brother Tom wants him to join the "family business" and train as a zombie killer. The last thing Benny wants is to work with Tom --- but at least the job should be an easy ride. Then the brothers head into the Rot and Ruin, an area full of wandering zombies, and Benny realises that being a bounty hunter isn't just about whacking zombies. As he's confronted with the truths about the world around him, Benny finds his beliefs challenged and makes the most terrifying discovery of all, that sometimes the worst monsters you can imagine, are human...
One word review: Wow. What? You want more? You want to know that the characters are fully rounded, layered and realistic? That the world 15 years after the zombie apocalypse happened is scarily real and complex? You want to know that the action is tense with many breath taking events and heart stopping moments? You want to know that this a roller coaster ride that you can’t put down until the end? Well, it is all that. This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and I loved every second of it.
Benny and his brother Tom have one of the most realistic sibling relationship I’ve ever read with Benny particularly hung up on his impression of his brother as a coward and weak. Jonathan Maberry’s portrayal of Benny, aged 15 and learning for the first time the difference between childhood and adult responsibilities feels real and not dissimilar to what we all go through. The fact that Benny’s world is set after the fall and his town is surrounded by zombies doesn’t matter as much as Benny learns what being an adult really means: Sometimes people are worse than monsters.
There is a great balance between adventure and life lessons with all the characters fleshed out (no pun intended). The world feels real. There were times while reading that my heart was in my throat and I was literally on the edge of my seat. I strongly urge everyone to read this book – even if zombies aren’t your cup of tea as while zombies are scary nothing is as chilling as what people can do. The writing is deceptively simple and from the first page you can become lost in this world. Go read it now! :)
Recommended for fans of Mira Grant and Michael Grant. 10 out of 10.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Throwback Thursday #9: Hunted By The Others

This is a great feature that Melissa at My World...in words and pictures has been doing for a while and I wanted to jump on board! There are plenty of books out there I desperately want...

But what about all those wonderful books that are ALREADY on my shelves?

This highlights a book I already have but just haven't got round to reading yet!

Hunted By The Others - Jess Haines
 
Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires. As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil whether she likes it or not...
 
I love the sound of this series, it's right up my Urban Fantasy Street - vampires, weres, detectives all yummy ingredients. I just need to start reading it...
 
 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Second Foundation Review

Second Foundation   
-            Isaac Asimov
Publisher: UK – Collins
When the First Foundation was conquered by a force Seldon had not foreseen - the overwhelming power of a single individual, a mutant called the Mule - the second Foundation was forced to reveal its existence and, infinitely worse, a portion of its power. One man understood the shifting patterns of the inhabited cosmos. This was Hari Seldon, the last great scientist of the First Empire. The mathematics of psychohistory enabled Seldon to predict the collapse of the Empire and the onset of an era of chaos and war. To restore civilization in the shortest possible time, Seldon set up two Foundations. The First was established on Terminus in the full daylight of publicity. But the Second, "at the other end of the galaxy", took shape behind a veil of total silence. Because the Second Foundation guards the laws of psychohistory, which are valid only so long as they remain secret. So far the second Foundation's location, its most closely guarded secret of all, has been kept hidden. The Mule and the remnants of the First Foundation will do anything to discover it. This is the story of the Second Foundation.
When I reviewed Foundation, I said that the book was full of ideas but had little character or plot development. How far we’ve come! Second Foundation is the search for a mystery, a shadowy second foundation set up in case anything was to happen to the first. This search is split into with the story picking up on The Mule’s continuing search, thwarted at the end of the Foundation and Empire but still ongoing. In his search he sends ships across the stars looking for the only people who could conceivably stop his conquest of the galaxy. The second part, my favourite, was set some years after the Mule’s death when the original Foundation struggles to return the original Seldon Plan – this element introduces an intelligent but precocious teenager, Arcadia who thinks she can outwit the Second Foundation. For the first time while reading this series I came to care about at character rather than just admiring the ideas. Arcadia is sharp, over confident but retains an innocence and naiveté that is appealing. Her adventures and revelations were exciting and surprising and I actually cared about what happened to her.
The writing style seemed different to be as well, moving from drier fact based telling to more event orientated complete with twists and turns. There were a number of revelations about the nature and location of the Second Foundation, some of which I was able to guess and some I wasn’t. There is a deep psychological game played between the characters and again with the readers as to the location and nature of the Second Foundation and even if the Seldon plan was still valid or not. This makes it almost into a mystery as well for the reader.
Having finished the original Foundation trilogy I can see why these books are classics and still relevant today nearly 60 years after they were first written. There are so many ideas and society analysis that if you think too much it could give you a headache! At the same time it’s an interesting adventure looking at how predictable or not people are as a group. These books are the very definition of intelligent science fiction and worth a read if you fancy some deep thoughts and intriguing cultural development.
 Recommended for fans of Orson Scott Card and Larry Niven. 8 out 10

Part of FTC's Speculative Fiction Challange Book 10/12
 
Part of My Personal Classics Challenge Book 3