Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Mel's Random February + WINNER!

The second month of the year is over - and didn't it go fast? Okay, so it was only 29 days, but even so I feel like it's flown by. I've been very busy this month training for a sponsored walk I'm doing in about ten days, which basically means I've been doing some beautiful walks around London and the surrounding countryside through all sorts of weather. Honestly, at the start of February I was walking through frozen lavendar fields covered in snow and weekend just gone it was brilliant sunshine! Still the views have been fantastic...

  

So how has this impacted the reading situation?

Books
Grave Witch - Kalayna Price
At The House of The Magician - Mary Hooper (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge & British Book Challenge)
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge & British Book Challenge)
Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth - Chris Priestley  (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge & British Book Challenge) 
The Last Four Things (Left Hand of God 2) - Paul Hoffman
Unclean Spirits (The Black Sun's Daughter) - M.L.N. Hanover

E-Books
How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge)

Pure - Julianna Baggott
Partials - Dan Wells
Raven Calls - C.E. Murphy

Sarah's Reviews
Horns - Joe Hill
Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Regular Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In Books Confessions I discuss the idea of re-reading old favourites...
I also visited my first ever Author signing - my event report.
In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays


Winner!
This month I also had a giveaway for Rivers of London and the winner is....

Kulsuma

Congratulations! Book has been ordered and is on it's way. For those of you who didn't win, I'm having another giveaway for another London based book - your choice of Minority Council by Kate Griffin or Fated by Benedict Jacka - just go here

So with all that in mind my reading challenges status looks like this:

British Books Challenge - 5 Read, 7 Books to go

2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 8 Read, 22 Books to go

Highlight of the Month: Rivers of London was a fantastic read - I loved it!
Honorable Mentions: Grave Witch and Pure were both great reads as well - and one I would highly recommend!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Event: Forbidden Plant Author Signing + GIVEAWAY!!


My Signed Copy of Minority Council!

I was sent an email from the nice people at Orbit UK publishers a few weeks ago letting me know about a double signing at Forbidden Planet, Shrewsbury Avenue – Kate Griffin, author of the Matthew Swift series and debut author, Benedict Jacka. I’d never been to an author signing before. Heck, I’ve never (to my knowledge) met an author before, but as I absolutely adore Kate Griffin’s writing (It’s so lyrical and lush) I dragged Sarah, my guest reviewer up there Thursday just gone.

We got there early but were able to restrain ourselves from buying any additional books. Standing in the relatively short queue, I couldn’t believe how nervous I was. I had no idea what I was going to say to either them. By the time I got to the front, I could barely stammer out my name to Kate as I handed her a copy of her latest book – The Minority Council. Luckily she was so friendly and much more relaxed than me as she asked me how to spell Melissa and we had a short discussion about variations on spellings. Even so I wished I’d been brave enough to ask her numerous questions about her writing process or what the future has in store in for Matthew Swift!  

My signed copy of Fated!

Luckily I was a little more relaxed when I moved onto Benedict and a little less star struck and we had a short chat about London and how no-one can ever know all of London well, but we stick to our comfo
rtable areas. I admitted that I’d never really spent much time in Camden where Fated, his book is set, but he said he’s not spent much time south of the river either.
All in all, it was other rather quickly as we moved on to make way for other people - and had a lovely dinner at one of our favourite restaurants in Covent Garden! So that was my first ever author event. I have to admit I felt like a real fan-girl and so nervous, despite knowing that they are just people! Does anyone have any tips on how to behave when meeting their favourite authors? I'm hoping I'll be more relaxed when I go to another one. Or perhaps you have any stories where you’ve totally embarrassed yourself in front of your favourite writer?

To celebrate I’m going to give away to one person their choice of either The Minority Council by Kate Griffin or Fated by Benedict Jacka. Just fill in the form below. Open Internationally and ends on Midnight GMT on 9th March 2012. And to help you decide which you would prefer here are the synopsis:
The Minority Council (Matthew Swift 4) - Kate Griffin
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Matthew Swift, sorcerer, Midnight Mayor, is in charge. Or so he'd like to think. And London, being London, is having its issues. Drug use is rampant. Teenage vandalism is driving away business. Violent crimes are on the rise. Once upon a time, Matthew Swift wouldn't have given a toss. Now it's his mess to clean up. Especially when the new drug on the market is fairy dust and the production process involves turning humans into walking drug labs. And when the teenage vandals are being hunted by a mystical creature. And when the petty criminals of London start dying by magical means.
It becomes clear that not only is this Swift's mess to clean up, but someone is trying to tell him how to do his job. Now he has to sort out who's behind the crime wave and who's interfering in his business. Swift has a lot of old enemies and few friends. If he's going to save London from a rising tide of blood -- he's going to have to learn his lessons and fast.

Fated (Alex Verus 1) - Benedict Jacka
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success. But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...

Both sound good, huh? If you want to get your hands on a copy, just fill in the form below!

<<<GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED>>>

Monday, 27 February 2012

Early Review: Raven Calls

Raven Calls (Walker Papers 7)
- CE Murphy

Publisher: Luna

E-Arc courtesy of netgalley and Luna Books
**Warning - may contain apoilers for earlier book**

Suddenly, being bitten by a werewolf is the least of Joanne Walker’s problems. Her personal life in turmoil, her job as a cop over, she’s been called to Ireland by the magic within her. And though Joanne’s skills have grown by leaps and bounds, Ireland’s magic is old and very powerful…
In fact, this is a case of unfinished business. Because the woman Joanne has come to Ireland to rescue is the woman who sacrificed everything for Joanne—the woman who died a year ago. Now, through a slip in time, she’s in thrall to a dark power and Joanne must battle darkness, time and the gods themselves to save her.

Raven Calls starts pretty much the minute after Spirit Dances ends. (Read my review here). At the end of the last book, Joanne Walker was rushing off to Ireland after a vision of a warrior woman who had managed to bind the werewolves – which was handy as Joanne had recently been bitten by a werewolf as well. Joining her on this adventure is Gary, her 74 year old best friend and side-kick, but this time she has left behind the rest of her support in Seattle. There is no Billy, Melinda – Morrison and Coyote only appear in brief cameos. This means there are plenty of new characters most of them female, that are introduced as Joanne and Gary prepare to battle the Master who has been tormenting her since she came into her shaman power a year ago.

Joanne rarely seems to think before acting – as a result a lot of this book is fast-paced followed by periods of explanations of why she did what she did. This also means you can never be sure what will happen next as Joanne rarely seems to think beyond the next issue let alone a big picture. However, she is snarky which is fun and much more emotionally available than she was at the beginning of this series – and there is plenty here that develops her and particularly her relationship to her mother. It also shows how much she’s grown since the start of the series. However, there are a lot of references to events in previous books and even short stories in the series which can be overwhelming if you haven’t read them all – or if it’s been a while. I found it best to just let the references flow over me to focus on the current story. A lot happens within a short space of time and it can be quite breathless trying to figure out what is happening!

It was good to see Joanne and Gary outside of Seattle though and able to explore her Irish heritage. Her Irish family play a small role in the story through her cousin who joins them for a while and the exploration of Irish myths and legends did make the world seem colourful than limiting it to native American myths. Having read most of the previous books I enjoyed catching up with Jo again – but be warned it ends on another tangent that will start the next book rolling! A fast paced and action packed adventure – suited to those who get bored easily but still like intricate adventures.  

Recommended for fans of Karen Chance and Jennifer Estep. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 26 February 2012

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!

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy 3) - Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kensington
Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects — and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me? It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can’t use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me — and I’m in for the fight of my life.

I don't usually put netgalley books on my IMM, but I just had to show off that Dark Frost is up there and I got approved! Yay! :-)

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives Edited by Justin Gustainis
Kindle Book
Got Vampires? Ghosts? Monsters? We Can help!Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives, is your one-stop-shop for Urban Fantasy’s finest anthology of the supernatural. 14 sleuths are gathered together for the first time in all-original tales of unusual cases which require services that go far beyond mere deduction! Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives brings together popular characters from many Urban Fantasy paranormal investigative series, for your enjoyment. Meet the Detectives: Danny Hendrickson - from Laura Anne Gilman's Cosa Nostradamus series. Kate Connor - from Julie Kenner’s Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series. John Taylor - from Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. Jill Kismet - from Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet series. Jessi Hardin - from Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series. Quincey Morris - from Justin Gustainis’ Morris/Chastain Investigations series. Marla Mason - from T. A. Pratt's Marla Mason series. Tony Foster - from Tanya Huff’s Smoke and Shadows series. Dawn Madison - from Chris Marie Green’s Vampire Babylon series. Pete Caldecott - from Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London series. Tony Giodone - from C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp’s Tales of the Sazi series. Jezebel - from Jackie Kessler’s Hell on Earth series. Piers Knight - from C. J. Henderson’s Brooklyn Knight series. Cassiel - from Rachel Caine’s Outcast Season series. Demons may lurk, werewolves may prowl, vampires may ride the wind. These are things that go bump in the night, but we are the ones who bump back!

I picked this up for £1.91 on kindle as there are a lot of my favourite authors involved and I do like the odd short story.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe - Jenny Colgan
Publisher: Sphere
Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that – Issy can create stunning, mouth-wateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe’s bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she’s made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own café. It should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. As her friends point out, she has trouble remembering where she left her house keys, let alone trying to run her own business. But Issy is determined. Armed with recipes posted to her from Grampa, and with her local bank manager fighting her corner, Issy attempts to prove everyone wrong. Following your dreams is never easy and this is no exception. Can Issy do it?

This looks like a fun, light read - and I have to admit the main character who bakes gorgeous cupcakes reminds me a lot of one of my best friends, who does the most fantastic cakes!

Evernight - Claudia Gray
Kindle Book
Bianca wants to escape.
She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in. Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him. But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

This was a free download on Amazon UK this week and looks like a good YA romance series.

Witchblood - Emma Mills
When Jess steals a glance at a gorgeous guy in a Manchester nightclub, little does she realise how he is going to change her life…or should that be death? Yet, the vampire clan could never have predicted what they were taking on. With Luke pronounced ‘off-limits’ and the blood of a vampire simmering in Jess’s body, can she forget the love of her life and move on? If not, she will risk exposing the entire Northern vampire clan to untold dangers, in order to live her life the way she wants.
Can Jess be sure that Luke is all he appears to be? Will she succumb to the attraction she desperately tries not to feel for Daniel? And why does she still crave a packet of crisps more than a tasty teenage boy’s blood?

I won this from the Cait Files - I love the idea of some paranormal set in the UK in a different part of the country than just London.

I also picked up two other books this week - The Minority Council by Kate Griffin and Fated by Benedict Jacka but I want to tell the story behind these purchases during the week so look out on Tuesday!

What have you picked up this week? :)


Saturday, 25 February 2012

On My Wishlist #76

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 feeling a little spooky...
 
The Wolf Gift - Anne Rice
Publisher: Knopf Publishing

 The time is the present.
The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.
A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.
As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.
 
Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles were one of my first brushes with the world of vampires and I'm so curious to see her take on the werewolf!
 
Frankenstien 5: Dead Town - Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam
The war against humanity is raging. As the small town of Rainbow Falls, Montana, comes under siege, scattered survivors come together to weather the onslaught of the creatures set loose upon the world. As they ready for battle against overwhelming odds, they will learn the full scope of Victor Frankenstein’s nihilistic plan to remake the future—and the terrifying reach of his shadowy, powerful supporters.
Now the good will make their last, best stand. In a climax that will shatter every expectation, their destinies and the fate of humanity hang in the balance.

I've been enjoyed Dean Koontz take on Frankstein and this is the latets book (and last?) in the series!

Patient Zero - Johnathan Maberry
Publisher: Gollancz  
When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills.  And that's both a good, and a bad thing.  It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance...
 
I loved Rot and Ruin, Johnathan Maberry's YA zombie novel, so I want to see what he does with and adult book!
 
What are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Early Review: Partials

Partials
-       Dan Wells

Publisher: HarperTeen - Released 28th February

Ecopy courtesy of netgalley & HarperTeen

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.
Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them--connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Kira is sixteen, a medic and one of the last humans to be born before a devastating war with the Partials, who release a virus that wiped out most of humanity. Those remaining group together on Long Island and try to have as many babies as possible, but none of the babies born survive the virus. With just short months to go before she is forced to become pregnant, Kira becomes determined to find a cure...unfortunately; she is convinced that the cure lies in the study of humanities enemies, the Partials...

Kira is an unusually mixed character – at times she acts completely adult, working hard as a medic and research, highly intelligent, but then she suddenly change and act extremely young and naive. This made it difficult for me to connect with her completely, although I did like her determination and stubbornness. Plans never seemed to work the way she expected them too – and it kept surprising her. She also seemed to have a marvellous ability to talk anyone into doing anything in a really short space of time!

A lot of the story is spent racing back and forth as Kira and her friends focus on the task at hand. It felt like levels in a computer game with the stakes raised each time a mission is completed. This led to a certain amount of tension and excitement that was very enjoyable to read. I really did enjoy the writing style which was easy to follow and I raced through the story. I liked the idea of a deserted New York and humanity under threat. The moral implications of enforced pregnancy is touched on but never really explored in detail and leads to the big question of freedom verses survival.

An intriguing set up with some true moral grey areas, and plenty of action but some of the execution doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. And I have to admit I guessed the end early one. Still it was a very enjoyable read!

Recommended for fans of Holly Black and Mike Lancaster. 7 out of 10

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Throwback Thursday #43 - The Crying Tree

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?
 
The Crying Tree - Naseem Rakha
Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death. Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death will not stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.
Years later, Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long—Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret to hide. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come to terms with the past.
 
Argh! A friend lent me this book before Christmas after her book group had read it and loved it. Usually I read borrowed books as soon as possible so I can give them back (and it annoys me when people borrow my books for too long!). However, this books looks really heavy going and I haven't felt like picking up a book that emotional just yet...I am hoping to get it read before Easter though!
 
What about you guys? Do you have any borrowed books you haven't read yet? (And library ones don't count!)
 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Unclean Spirits Review

Unclean Spirits (The Black Sun’s Daughter 1)
-          M.L.N. Hanover
Publisher: UK –Orbit
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn't quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it's all hers -- and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College. Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric's heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means -- magical or mundane -- so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.
Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions -- Aubrey, Eric's devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities -- Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she'll have to learn the new rules fast -- or break them completely.

Unclean Spirits is the first in a new (to the UK) Urban Fantasy series which has a different take on the supernatural world. All vampires, werewolves and other creatures are caused by ‘riders’, demon spirits from another dimension who possess people. This was a nice twist on the typical UF set up. Jayné, our young heroine is a naive and slightly lost young woman who suddenly finds out that she has inherited her Uncle Eric estate – several million pounds, a number of properties around the world and a fight against evil.
Jayné is an easy character to like – she is young and struggles at first to accept these supernatural happenings and certainly in the first half of the book she tags along with others, leaving them to make the decisions. However, she soon starts to come into her own, taking charge and organising others. She isn’t afraid to question both others and herself and struggles with the blinkered upbringing.  She lacks the snark that so many lead characters have and this makes for a refreshing and less defensive character. In addition, Jayné is surrounded by a large cast of colourful characters who spend a lot of time explaining the nature of the threat and helping her. I enjoyed the way they interact together as a proto-family, although Jayné still feels like she has yet to find herself – but as she is only in her early twenties that’s understandable!
There is a lot of potential with this series – a likeable heroine who isn’t afraid to make the first move, a solid cast of support characters, an intriguing mythology, exciting fight scenes and hints of ongoing mysteries. There are a lot of unanswered questions, not least of which is why this series is called The Black Sun’s Daughter! Jayné’s fighting skills, what the riders really want and who Jayne’s uncle really was, are hopefully areas that will be explained more in future books – all of which I am looking to picking up soon!  
Recommended for fans of Jennifer Estep and Kelley Armstrong. 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Book Confession: Re-Reading the Book

Any true reader knows that books are our friends. They distract us from our everyday life and transport to fantastical worlds where the perfect guy is a gallops ride away, great mystical powers rely on one person fighting the odds and vampires stalk the night. Reading is a joy and sometimes there’s nothing better than diving into a world so different from our own to pass a few hours. Even better when that book is part of a series where we can get to know the characters over several adventures, or if it’s an old favourite that you’ve read numerous times. Re-reading favourite books can be a balm – a comfort to catch up with old friends. Recharge the reading batteries. 


However. I haven’t re-read a single book since I started this book blog 18 months ago. It’s not that I haven’t wanted too, but my TBR pile has grown so much that I keep wanting to get that under some sort of control before picking up a book I’ve read many times before. So all those books I used to read once a year or so, with their spines cracked and corners slightly ruffled are sitting feeling neglected. Not one single re-read have I done in the last 18 months and I miss it. These are old friends like The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice, Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, Watership Down by Richard Adams, the Obernewtyn series by Isobelle Carmody, Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders. These are all books I kept because I enjoy the story, love the world and they moved me in some way. I miss them. Like old friends who’s new address and phone number I’ve misplaced.

So I am thinking I will try to re-read some of these books throughout the year – and I will even review them on here. The reviews may be slightly different than normal purely because I have read these books many times and would automatically be giving them 10 out of 10 – but necessarily because they are the best books in the world but because I love so much.

I have to ask other book bloggers out there if they re-read books often? Do you review them, if you do? What’s your opinion on re-reading? I know many bloggers are fast readers (I used to think I was fast until I discovered people who could read 6 books a week easily!) – does that help squeeze in re-reads? Or have you never read a book twice? I want to know what people think! J

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Last Four Things

The Last Four Things (The Left Hand of God 2)
-          Paul Hoffman
Publisher: UK - Penguin
Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. These are the Last Four Things. Now there are Five. Meet Thomas Cale. Returning to the Sanctuary of the Redeemers, Thomas Cale is told by the Lord Militant that the destruction of mankind is necessary; the only way to undo God's greatest mistake. Cale seemingly accepts his role in the ending of the world: fate has painted him as the Left Hand of God, the Angel of Death. Absolute power is within his grasp, the terrifying zeal and military might of the Redeemers a weapon for him to handle as simply as he once used a knife. But perhaps not even the grim power that the Redeemers hold over Cale is enough - the boy who turns from love to poisonous hatred in a heartbeat, the boy who switches between kindness and sheer violence in the blink of an eye. The annihilation that the Redeemers seek may well be in Cale's hands - but his soul is far stranger than they could ever know.
It’s been a while since I read any fantasy books so when this dropped through my door, I figured it was the gods of reading telling it was time I returned to it. The Last Four Things is actually the second book in a series (trilogy?) and luckily I had read the first book, The Left Hand of God some time ago, but I have to confess I didn’t remember much of it. Luckily there is a quick recap in the beginning to get you up to speed.
The whole novel follows Thomas Cale, and to a less extent his friends Vague Henri and Kleist as they alternatively fight for and against the extreme religious order, the Redeemers, that brought them up to be its soldiers. Much of this story follows Cale as his slowly takes control of the Redeemer army and starts winning their wars (yes, wars – they are fighting on many fronts). In this way, Cale reminds me much of Ender from Ender’s Game – a young genius with a talent for warfare given free reign over battle. However, Cale is also broken hearted and as such seeks to isolate himself as much as possible. Unfortunately, this means I never really connected with him – or any character really. Most seemed very emotionless and even the friendship between Cale and Vague Henri never rang true for me – I never really felt why Henri was with Cale.
However, despite this there are some great battle scenes with some detailed descriptive passages. And this is dirty warfare where mistakes are made on both sides. In fact one element I did enjoy about the whole story was the impact of chance seemed to have – it felt chaotic rather than orchestrated and that meant it felt realistic – after all no one person has complete control over everything in reality. The style of writing as well was unique, feeling more like a story told by the campfire with personality and asides injected which made it stand out from other fantasy.
While I enjoyed the style of writing and the action scenes, I did miss out on any emotional resonance. However, I would be curious to see where the story goes next!
Recommended for fans of Robert Jordan and Tad Williams. 7 out of 10     

Sunday, 19 February 2012

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 had a very good week - and once again managed not to spend any money - my bank manager will wonder if I'm feeling ok! :)

Unclean Spirits - M.L.N. Hanover
Publisher: UK - Orbit
Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn't quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it's all hers -- and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.
Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric's heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means -- magical or mundane -- so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.
Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions -- Aubrey, Eric's devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities -- Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she'll have to learn the new rules fast -- or break them completely...

I got a bit of a random email last week from Orbit UK, telling me that although I hadn't the newsletter subscription giveaway, they were going to send me a copy of the book anyway! Either way, I'm happy I've got a copy of Unclean Spirits as I've want to read it for a while and in fact have already finished it - expect a review during the week!

The Watcher - Charles Maclean
Publisher: UK - Penguin
Friday rush-hour. Martin Gregory, laden with packages, just manages to catch the 4.48 train. Tomorrow is his wife's birthday - he has a surprise in store - and he plans to devote the weekend to her and their beloved dogs. But Saturday morning, Martin rises early and does something so horrific, so inexplicable and so out of character his only option is to run . . .And from this shocking incident the journey begins. With the help of a therapist he can't trust, and friends who no longer trust him, Martin's quest for meaning takes him down shifting realities and twisted corridors of time into the deepest recesses of the human mind. It is a world of menace and obsession from which neither he - nor the reader - can escape, for Martin Gregory is either lost in a dark maze of madness and horror, or frighteningly sane.

This came through in the post from Penguin last Saturday but I didn't get a chance to add it to last weeks IMM. I haven't read any true horror for a while so this will be a little different for me!

Home Improvement: Undead Edition - Edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P.Kelner
Publisher: Ace
There's nothing like home renovation for finding skeletons in the closet or otherwordly portals in the attic. Now, for any homeowner who's ever wondered, "What's that creaking sound?" or fans of "how to" television who'd like a little unreality mixed in with their reality shows, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner return with an all-new collection of the paranormal perils of Do-It-Yourself.

This was a swap and I like the occasional anthology - it makes a nice break from some heavy reading!

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
Publisher: UK - Quirk
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.


This looks particularly spooky - and I'm overjoyed to have won a hardback copy from Kay at Dead Book Darling and Quirk!

Hell Train - Christopher Fowler
Publisher: Solaris
Four passengers meet on a train journey through Eastern Europe during the First World War, and face a mystery that must be solved if they are to survive. As the ‘Arkangel’ races through the war-torn countryside, they must find out:
What is in the casket that everyone is so afraid of?
What is the tragic secret of the veiled Red Countess who travels with them?
Why is their fellow passenger the army brigadier so feared by his own men?
And what exactly is the devilish secret of the Arkangel itself?

The cover of this is just soo spooky. I won this from the wonderful Suzanne Johnson - blogger at Preternatura and debut author come April. She has a great blog and I can't wait until Royal Streets comes out!

The Accidental Vampire - Lynsay Sands
Publisher:UK - Gollancz
Ever since an accident turned her into a knockout vamp, Elvi Black's been catching her z's in a coffin, staying out of the sun, and giving up garlic. She knows there's more to being undead than what she saw in Dracula, but she can't very well ask her mortal friends about proper biting etiquette. But when her neighbors placed a personal ad for her in the local paper, she never imagined she'd meet Victor Argeneau, a vampire who could have his pick of any woman; dead or alive.
Rich, powerful, and dropdead gorgeous, Victor's the perfect man for a novice neck-biter like Elvi. He's willing to teach her everything he knows, but he'll have to do it fast. Someone's out to put a stake through her new vamp life, and only Victor can keep her safe - and satisfied; for all eternity.

I won this from the lovely ladies, Jess and Donna at Book Passion For Life - it looks like quite a yummy romance!

Quite a good week for me! What did you pick it up this week?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

On My Wishlist #75

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 there are some books I've had my eye on for a while - hopefully I can pick them up soon! :)
Can you guess what the theme is week? :)

Grave Memory (Alex Craft 3) - Kalayna Price
Publisher: UK - Berkley (July 2012)
As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, lately things have become a lot more personal. But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a string of suicides occur in Nekros City. The shades have no memory of the days leading up to their brutal endings, so despite the very apparent suicides, this is murder. And searching for the answers might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all...

Having loved the ALex Craft book, Grave Witch and about to start on the second, I want the third book lined up and ready to read! Alas it's not out until July...

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin 1) - Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Anderson (June 2012)
 Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I have to admit the cover attracted me to this - at first it seems like a period romance but then you notice the cross-bow (and who doesn't look cool with a cross-bow?). The story sounds like a cool assassin, politics and god blessed mix which I personal think sounds great!

Graveminder - Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."
Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk. Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.

This sounds like a really creepy story - plus the author has one of the best names in world! :-)

What are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth Review

Tales of Terror From The Tunnel’s Mouth
-          Chris Priestley
Publisher: UK – Bloomsbury
Robert Harper is going back to school, and it is the first railway journey he has ever made alone. And it is not a very usual sort of railway journey. The train stops at the mouth of a tunnel and in order to help while away the time a strange woman dressed in white tells Robert stories. But these are not the kind of stories normally told to a child. soon Robert is both entranced and terrified by the strange woman and the macabre stories.
Once again Chris Priestley has managed to create an enthralling collection of tales that feels both fresh and inherited from the Victorian era. Every story feels like a ghost tale you used to tell at sleepovers to scare your friends with each one attempting to top the last. At the same time each story feels unique and original, painting some truly macabre images in your mind. At least one will have you wondering about some of the everyday elements in your life and giving them a second glance...the crack in my ceiling has suddenly turned menacing rather than another DIY chore...
The thread pulling these stories together this time is a boys train journey and the mysterious woman in white who entertains him while they are held up at the entrance to the tunnel. Once again the teller of tales feels just as intimidating as the tales themselves which I enjoy as it makes me not only anxious to see what the next story is about but wanting to know what the point of the stories is.
There is a strong moral core to these stories with the wicked, impatient or lazy punished – adults and children alike this time. Firmly set in the Victorain era, the morals can still be relevant today – tell the truth, respect the dead, don’t steal, be good to your parents.  Having read two other tales of terror I also enjoyed the subtle nod to the other books in the epilogue and suggested that perhaps there is a link between them all.
In all this was a fun read for the dark evenings and cold weather, which make an excellent background to these spooky stories. Extra marks for some beautifully spooky covers in this reprinted selection!
Recommended for fans of Christopher Pike and LJ Smith. 7.5 out of 10