Monday, 30 April 2012

Mel's Random April

April is over - and in the UK at least the old idea of April showers has been proved that it's based on fact! Loads of rain showers and the old thunder storm...however, despite the weather I've had a pretty good month. A couple of my old uni friends got married and that meant I had a lovely weekend in Shropshire celebrating! The venue was beautiful and luckily the rain held off on the day (even if it was a little cold!). However, I was a little creeped out by the monkeys in Georgian clothes painted around the place...
Monkey lady...what do you think?
So how did this impact the reading situation?

Books
Royal Streets (Sentintels of New Orleans 1) - Suzanne Johnson
The Intern - Dillion Khan (British Book Challenge)
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas 1) - Meljean Brook
The Betrayal (House of the Magician 3) - Mary Hooper (British Book Challenge & TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
Hellforged (Deadtown 2) - Nancy Holzner (TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
War Horse - Michael Morpurgo (Bristish Book Challenge)
Fair Game (Alpha & Omega 3) - Patricia Briggs
Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy 2) - Jennifer Estep

E-Books
Ripper - Amy Carol Reeves
The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden) - Julie Kagawa
The Prophet (Graveyard Queen 3) - Amanda Stevens

Sarah's Reviews
Forgiven (Demon Trappers 3) - Jana Oliver
Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy 1) - Jennifer Estep

Author Interview
Suzanne Johnson stopped by to discuss her debut novel - Royal Street

Regular Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked at Unclean Spirits by MLN Hanover

In Book Confessions I discussed the ordering of books on my shelves and how I organise them...
In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays.

So updating the challenges -

British Books Challenge - 12 Read
2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 17 Read, 13 Books to go

Best of the Bunch: It's been a really good month for reading but I think The Iron Duke was my favourite as it was an exciting read that has pretty much anything you want in!



Honorable Mentions: Royal Street, The Immortal Rules, Hellforged and Fair Game are well worth a read as well!

Cover Reveal - Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn

Today I have a very special reveal - the cover of Closed Hearts, the second book by Susan Kaye Quinn in the Mindjack Trilogy! Now I loved Open Minds - the first book in the trilogy (Read my review here!) so I'm super excited to see that Closed Hearts will be out soon - and even more so that I really love the cover!

Closed Hearts (Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy)
When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.
Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.

 Release Date:May 23rd, 2012
 Cover designer, D. Robert Pease of walkingstickbooks.com

Click Here to sign up for the Virtual Launch Party on May 23rd! There will be prizes, reviews, bonus content, did I mention prizes? Come join the fun! Or have a look at Susan's Blog for more information - http://www.susankayequinn.com 

So what do you think of the cover? Love to know what you all think!


Sunday, 29 April 2012

My Book Haul

This week has been a very quiet week for me in terms of books bought - in that I actually managed to go a whole week without buying any books! Yay me! However, I did manage to get one book in the post...

Falling Fast - Sophie McKenzie
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
When River auditions for a part in an interschool performance of Romeo and Juliet, she finds herself smitten by Flynn, the boy playing Romeo. But Flynn comes from a damaged family—is he even capable of giving River what she wants? The path of true love never did run smooth...
This is real life, not a rehearsal...

This is actually a giveaway from Wondrous Reads which I was very excited about as I've heard a lot of positive buzz around Sophie McKenzie - plus it will count towards the British Book Reading Challenge!

And that's it for me this week! Did you get anything good this week?



Saturday, 28 April 2012

On My Wishlist #84

This is a meme from Cosy Books. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I can keep track! I feel like some urban fantasy this week...

The Summoning - Carol Wolf
Publisher: Night Shade Books
The World Snake is coming, devourer of Thrace and Atlantis... and the only one standing in its way is Amber, a sixteen-year-old runaway, recently arrived in Los Angeles. Amber is more than just a girl with a stolen ID and an attitude; she is a daughter of the wolf-kind, a shapeshifter able to change forms at will. One night, as Amber prowls the Hollywood Hills in wolf form, she stumbles onto an occult ceremony, interrupting the ritual. As a result, Amber finds herself the unwilling mistress of a handsome demonic servant, Richard. Appearing as a fair youth of eighteen years, Richard is a demon accidentally summoned, then captured, by Dr. John Dee, court magician to Queen Elizabeth I. Richard has been trying for four centuries to free himself from a succession of masters and mistresses, but finds himself bound to Amber, the only one who can protect him from his greatest fear, the herald of the World Snake, the Eater of Souls. But all hell is about to break loose, and Amber and Richard are going to need some allies to stop the Eater of Souls and avert the World Snake, and the battle has only begun.

This looks like a interesting Urban Fantasy covering a lot of different  elements that all intrigue me!

River Road (Sentinels of New Orleans) - Suzanne Johnson
Publisher: Tor Books (November 2012)
The post-Katrina treaties between the wizard gatekeepers and all the preternatural critters are complete, and DJ and partner Alex Warin find themselves drowning in water creatures as a feud erupts between two clans of Cajun merpeople fighting over the right to hunt in Plaquemines Parish. Wizards are dying all over town, and DJ has to figure out whether it's the feuding mermen or the naughty nymph who's behind it--or some critter altogether different. After all, there are weregators in the area, and DJ's undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

Okay, this isn't out for a few months but after enjoying Royal Street, I really want to catch up with DJ and Alex and what's happening in New Orleans...

Kindling The Moon - Jean Bennett
Publisher: Pocket Star
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.
But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.


I've read a couple of great reviews of this series and now I want to read it! :)

Is there anything you really want to get your hands on this week...?




Friday, 27 April 2012

Kiss of Frost Review

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy 2)
-         Jennifer Estep

Publisher: Kensington

I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...

This is the second book following Gwen Frost, a Gypsy with the power to know the history of any object or person she touches. The school she goes to is Mythos Academy – filled with the descendants of many specialist warriors – Vikings, Romans, Amazons, Valkeries, Spartans…all training to fight the Reapers of Chaos who want to release the evil god Loki in the world.

This time around Gwen and her friends head to the mountains for some skiing fun with Mythos’s annual winter fayre. I have to admit as soon as I read that my first thought was – didn’t St Vladamir’s go away for a skiing weekend in the second Vampire Academy book as well…? And that meant I spent some time comparing the two books – from Gwen’s feeling like a third-wheel with her best friend and her new boyfriend, to feeling spurned by the guy she likes and meeting an intriguing new guy in the mountains. However, there were enough differences between characters to make it feel like a different book – even if the general story felt similar. The world is unique and the mix of different cultures and mythology at Mythos in a different setting that is slowly being explored.

I like Gwen’s curiosity and geekiness – not many main characters are comic book fans, that’s usually reserved for the best friend! She is less introverted this time round than she was in A Touch of Frost and is starting to make friends with other students. However, she is still a little naïve and it was painfully obvious who was after her. Still it was a nice easy read and I did enjoy spending time with the characters. The fight scenes are exciting and I liked the twists at the end with Gwen becoming more determined and stronger for all she’s been through. Plus Logan is a great romantic lead who is easy to fall for. An solid entry in the series with great potential for the next book!

Recommended for fans of Vampire Academy and House of Night. 7 out of 10

Thursday, 26 April 2012

WINNERS!

I've had more than a couple of giveaways running this month (mostly due to my bad organising skills!), so I have a couple of winners to annouce!

Winner of the Hoppy Easter Book Blog Hop is
Rebecca from Everything To Do with Books 

Winner of Shower of Books Blog Hop is

Congratulations to both of you! :-)

I'm cutting down on the blog hops next month (great for page views but I want to focus on content for a while), but I might have a couple of quick competitions for the eagle eyed among you!

Throwback Thursday #49 - One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing

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?
 
One of Our Thursdays Is Missing - Jasper Fforde
It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld.
Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?
All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.
The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.
 
I adored Jasper Fforde's writing. Just love the inventiveness and Britishness of it. Any reader will just adore the word play and cleverness of this series where Thursday spends time jumping into books and interacting with the characters. I've had this book nearly a year now (the hardback version - one of the few authors I collect the hardback versions!) - and I need to read it soon! The next book in the series is released soon! :)
 
And don't forget next week will be my second - What Shall I Read? Throwback Thursday poll and giveaway!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Guest Review: Touch of Frost

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy 1)
- Jennifer Estep

Publisher: Kensington

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy—a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.
But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died...



One of the best things about having Mel as a friend is the fact that I have a never-ending supply of books to borrow! We met up the other evening and I was presented with a lovely big pile of books, on the proviso that I reviewed each one. Well, who could argue with a bargain like that?! [Um, I believe your first reaction was "What?! All of them?!!" - Mel]

The first book I read (primarily because it was already on my Amazon wishlist!) was the first in Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series – Touch of Frost. Think Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, but with mythical warriors instead of wizards. I really enjoyed the refreshing change of direction for a YA school-based fantasy – Amazons, Spartans and Valkyries create a whole new dynamic. Of course, there is still the normal teenage-angst, and our heroine Gwen Frost has to deal with it in spades, being the orphaned, outcast, new-girl, and a Gypsy to boot.

Yes, whilst the other students do battle with spear and sabre, Gwen appears ‘limited’ to being able to see people’s emotions and actions through contact with either themselves, or items they have touched. Yet even that ability seems to be on the blink when uber-popular, spoilt rich kid Jasmine is murdered in the library, apparently whilst trying to prevent the theft of a powerful magical artifact, and Gwen can get no readings from the body. Determined not to let this stop her, Gwen sets out to investigate the murder, setting off a whirlwind chain of events that seem to get more dangerous at every turn.

I like Gwen as a character – she’s damaged by the loss of her parents, totally insecure in her role at Mythos, yet wonderfully respectful of her gift, a self-confessed geek, and her love for her grandma literally pours from the pages. She can be a little too judgmentally at times though, and the depth of feeling she develops for a Spartan, Logan, in a very short space of time did surprise me a bit! Gwen is also really sceptical about the ‘reality’ of the myths and legends that Mythos insist are reality – scepticism that I have to admit, I share. Estep tries her hardest to convince, but as of the end of the first book, I wasn’t totally on board.

A good read, with some very promising elements, I’ll definitely be asking Mel for the second in the series, and hoping that Estep can convince me more of the reality of the myths and legends of old. 

One for fans of Rachel Hawkins and Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series, 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Same Book/Different Cover - Unclean Spirits

This is an occasional feature where I compare different covers of the same book...while usually I compare foreign edition, this particular book has be re-published so many times if I included all the copies we could be here all night! So what's the book this month? Well, thanks to Mellanie from Between Dreams and Reality for giving me the inspiration, this month I'm looking at Unclean Spirits by M.L.N. Hanover...


UK Cover
US Cover

French Cover
US Cover -  This is the original cover, but I find it very dull. I like the windswept look and the tough girl pose, but it's just so brown!

UK Cover - This is very blue! I like the sideways view and the mountain scene of Denver at the bottom, but not sure about the amount of space the title and author takes up...

French Cover - I just adore this cover. The over the shoulder glance, the wicked looking knife with some ghostly flames. Even the bracelets are gorgeous!

So my favourite is the French cover - very cool. But what about you guys? Which do you prefer and why? :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Early Review: The Prophet

The Prophet (The Graveyard Queen 3)

-          Amanda Stevens

Publisher: MIRA – Published on 24th April 2012

E-Arc Courtesy of netgalley and MIRA
My name is Amelia Gray.I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

Returning to Charleston after the revelations about her heritage and past in the mountains, Amelia has been avoiding Devlin and his ghosts, but she can’t stay away for long and soon she has to face not only his haunting past, but also search for a murderer who doesn’t want to be discovered...

In this book, Amelia starts to make decisions and be proactive rather than waiting for things to happen to her. She really seems to take control of herself more and rather than hiding away in her hallowed places, she starts to use her abilities and explores what it lets her do, rather than hiding all the time. I liked this new Amelia with more of a back bone. But this doesn’t mean she doesn’t still hide her powers, remaining introspective and lonely. Even Devlin can’t completely break through her armour.

The setting continues to be lush and beautifully described – at times I feel like I can just walk into the book and be in the graveyard with Amelia. I adore the beautiful prose and invocative descriptions which create a gorgeously gothic and timeless atmosphere. This is a traditional ghost story wonderfully told and will have you checking over your shoulder at twilight for any ghosts following you home. This series just builds with each story creating such a layered and complex world that lingers long after you stop reading. A chilling ghost story wonderfully told. I’m very excited that Amanda Stevens has sold another three books in this series – although I worry what Amelia and Devlin will have to go through next!

Recommended for fans of Susan Hill and Neil Gaimen. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 22 April 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!

The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han
Publisher: UK - RazorBill
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I recieved this for review from RazorBill - looks like it could be a interesting contemporary YA read...I read it this week and really enjoyed it - expect a review soon!

Plague Town - Dana Fredsti
Publisher: Titan
Ashley was just trying to get through a tough day when the world turned upside down.
A terrifying virus appears, quickly becoming a pandemic that leaves its victims, not dead, but far worse. Attacked by zombies, Ashley discovers that she is a 'Wild-Card' -- immune to the virus -- and she is recruited to fight back and try to control the outbreak.

So maybe I don't need any more UF books on my TBR pile, but I'd had a bad day and needed a pick me up. Between the visit to Forbidden Planet and a lovely chat to a wonderful woman in the shop who kept recommending UF books I already owned, my mood improved massively. And this book was the cherry on top. Anything described as Buffy meets the Walking Dead is something I want to read! :-)

It Takes A Witch - Heather Blake
Publisher: Signet
Darcy Merriweather has just discovered she hails from a long line of Wishcrafters-witches with the power to cast spells by making a wish. She's come to Enchanted Village to learn her trade but finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation...

This just looks like a lot of fun - do I need another reason? :)

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs - Molly Harper
Publisher: Pocket Star Books
Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children's librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that's sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she's mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.
Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She's forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn't enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What's a nice undead girl to do?
 
After a fun review by Melissa at Books & Things, I decided I wanted to check this book out and luckily it was available on read it-swap it! Yay! :-)

So have you bought or recieved any books that have cheered you up this week? :)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

On My Wishlist #83

This is a meme from Cosy Books. 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've been looking at some intriguing YA books...
 
What's Left Of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles 1) -  Kat Zhang
Publisher: Harper (September 2012)
Eva and Addie live in a world where everyone is born with two souls, but where only the dominant one is allowed to survive childhood. Fifteen years old, and closer even than twins, the girls are keeping Eva, the ‘second soul’, a secret. They know that it’s forbidden to be hybrid, but how could they ever be apart?
When a dramatic event reveals what really happens to hybrids if they are discovered, Eva and Addie face a dangerous fight for survival, neither wanting to be the one left behind…

This just sounds so intriguing and different. Similar to The Host (which I much preferred to Twilight!) but raises a lot of questions about what it means to be human. Looking forward to it's release in September!

For Darkness Shows The Stars - Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzar and Bray (June 2012)
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.
But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

I have to admit the cover was the first thing that attracted me to this but reading the summary I really like the sound of it! 

Sweet Venom - Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegen 
Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.
Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.
Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.
These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

This sounds like a different take on the Greek mythology which really appeals to me! Although I have to say I don't like the girls names much! :)

So what YA books are on your wishlist?

Friday, 20 April 2012

Early Review: The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden 1)

-       Julie Kagawa

Publisher: HarlequinTeen (Published 24th April 2012)
In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity. Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls.

Having never read any of the Iron Fey series, this was my first introduction to Julie Kagawa’s writing and I have to admit I was swept up in the story straight away. A lot happens in a short space of time – all of it exacting, moving and heart-breaking. People die abruptly. Betrayal is an everyday occurrence. The vampire cities treat humans as cattle – food and protection in exchange for blood and this balance of vampires and humans is unsettling but easily recognisable.  

The writing is taunt and descriptive. The journey through the ruins of America feels very much like a scene from The Walking Dead or Mad Max (the first one) – where the ruins of our world is merely the haunting set for something lethal and remorseless. Characters are unique and memorable. Especially Allie and her mentor Kanin. Kanin remains a mysterious figure, but with plenty of hints about his past and his need for redemption.

Allie is one determined survivor. Whether she is a street rat fringer or a newly turned vampire, she knows how to survive. However, where this book shows its true is colours is not in how she survives but why she does. This is a story of a young girl wanting survive and finding reasons for that survival. She is stubborn and headstrong, but strangely vulnerable and willing to protect those weaker than herself. She is fiercely loyal. Allie is a memorable character and it’s easy to see her story is no-where near done yet!

There is a hint of romance, but it plays a backseat to an exploration of humanity and an exciting road trip through the wilderness. For a cinematic story of survival and adventure you can’t really get much better than this!

Recommended for fans of Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth. 9 out of 10.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

SHOWER OF BOOKS GIVEAWAY HOP!

The Shower of Books Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & One A Day YA - thank you both!

So another hop - purely because I love you all! That and for some reason I got the days mixed up...still all good news for you with another opportunity to win some books!

 
So what can you win here at Mel's Random Reviews?

Prize: Book of your choice from The Book Despository (up to £10 or $10) as such this is open internationally!


Rules: (without which there will be chaos!)
- Fill in the form below
- That's it! No complicated extra entries, no bribes, no favourites :-)
- Closes at Midnight 25th April 2012
- 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 CLOSED>>

Throwback Thursday #48 - Sister

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?

Sister - Rosamund Lupton
When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.
Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life—and all its secrets.
Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficulty with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

To be honest I can't remember when I picked up this book - I think it was a Richard and Judy selection last year (for those outside the UK it's the British equivalent of Oprah's Book Club). But I do know it's been picking up dust on my shelves for a long time now as I wait until I feel like reading a thriller...I suspect that feeling might creep up on me soon...

Does anyone else out there need to be in a mood for certain types of books?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Fair Game Review

Fair Game (Alpha and Omega 3)
-       Patricia Briggs
Publisher: UK – Orbit
They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind. Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can't afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father's dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.
Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack's help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer's sights...
Reading a Patricia Briggs books is a little like going to your favourite restaurant and ordering your favourite pizza. You know what you’re going to get but at the same time it’s different on each occasion - the ambiance, the pizza sauce, where you sit in the restaurant, who you’re with can change the experience so much! Patricia Briggs writes Urban Fantasy with such deft confidence and assuredly, you never have to worry about anything but enjoying the ride!
This book follows Anna and Charles as they assist the FBI in a decade long serial killer case in Boston, while Charles struggles to deal with the demons that his role as his father’s enforcers brings and how that impacts his relationship with his wife. I just adore the relationship between Anna and Charles – they are true equals and partners in the truth. While their relationship is under strain, it is not love or trust that is in doubt. Overall, the relationship feels warm and very sweet – I would love to find a Charles of my very own!
The investigation of the serial killer is intriguing and does introduce a number of new characters to the world. I especially liked Leslie, the FBI agent on the case and would love to see her gain a story of her own at some point. While there are some intense fight scenes most of the action here are personality clashes and wolf dominance battles (mostly growling and eye contact) which helps develop the wolf world. I pretty much devoured the whole book and struggled to put it down enjoying the whole thing. Then at the end something happens which is a major game changer for this world which will have serious consequences for Anna and Charles as well as the Mercy Thompson series...things won’t be the same again!
Recommended for fans of Rachel Vincent and Carrie Vaughn. 9 out of 10

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

War Horse Review


War Horse
-       Michael Morpurgo

Publisher: Egmont Press
Joey is a warhorse, but he wasn't always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed. Albert's father sells Joey to the army where the beautiful, red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off of battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns and slogging through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?

When so many teen and children’s books are now aiming towards high word and page count, it’s refreshing to pick up a book that is less than 200 pages. Even more surprising is just how moving and emotional War Horse considering it’s slim size. I’ve previously seen the War Horse stage show and film so I had a good idea of what to expect but I still ended up in tears on several occasions during the couple of hours or so it took to read this book.

Joey starts on the farm, growing up with Albert before ending up sold to the cavalry at the start of the first world war and follows his trials and tribulations throughout the war. Joey is a remarkably strong horse who does whatever he is told to – through charging barbed wire on the front to pulling the massive machine guns through mud. He is never asked what he wants or given much thanks – much like many of the human soldiers on both sides during the war. I don’t want to give too much away, but Michael Morpurgo manages to create vivid characters – both human and horse with minimal words, allowing their actions to speak for their themselves.

By the end of the novel, I felt like a complete emotional wreck and was utterly grateful to all the animals we have working for us, not just a hundred years ago, but those we continue to use today. They deserve so much.

Recommended for fans of Dick King-Smith and John Boyne. 10 out of 10.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Hellforged Review


Hellforged (Deadtown 2)
-       Nancy Holzner

Publisher: Ace Fantasy
A demon is stalking Vicky's dreams-just as several of Deadtown's zombies are viciously attacked and become really dead. And when Vicky realizes she is the only connection between the victims, she suspects that the demon is somehow working through her dreams to become Deadtown's living nightmare

Occasionally you come across a book that reminds you of all you love about your favourite genre. And for me the Deadtown books just bring the joy and fun of Urban Fantasy back. Vicky is in trouble again when zombies in Deadtown are being killed and the police are told not to investigate. Added to which the demon who killed her father is back and haunting her dreams.

I love Vicky as a character – she is independent but not cold, sure of who she is and can kick serious demon butt! As a shapeshifter she has the power to change into any animal she wants and I love that it’s not just the predators she changes into – she uses all sorts of different animals to protect those she loves. This time round Vicky spends a lot of time with her aunt, who has more secrets and it was interesting to see Vicky as the student to her aunt’s Yoda as it brought a different perspective to her character.

Vicky’s friends and love interests are varied and help make this world fully fleshed out. I actually liked her on-off boyfriend, Kane a lot more this time around but missed the connection she had with fully human detective Daniel. There is plenty of action with Vicky fighting demons – both real and her own. Not everything is wrapped up neatly and there are some very intriguing hints of what else is going on in the world. For a completely fun, fast-paced and joyous Urban Fantasy, this is one series that is very hard to beat.

Recommended for fans of Rachel Vincent and Kelley Armstrong. 9 out of 10.

Sunday, 15 April 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!
Bit of a mixed bag this week - two pre-orders I'd forgotten about turned up as well as three giveaway wins!

War Horse - Michael Morpurgo
Publisher: Scholastic
Joey is a warhorse, but he wasn't always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed. Albert's father sells Joey to the army where the beautiful, red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off of battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns and slogging through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?

I won this over at Bookhi and was especially excited as I adored the stageshow and enjoyed the film earlier this year. I picked it up almost as soon as it arrived and finished it the same day. Expect the review this week!

After The Golden Age - Carrie Vaughn
Publisher:  Tor
Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.
Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope.

I won this from Book Lovers Inc - I've loved Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville's series so I'm so really excited to see what twist she does on the superhero genre!

Twins of Evil - Shaun Hutson
Publisher: Hammer
In nineteenth-century middle-Europe, orphaned teenage twins Maria and Frieda go to live with their uncle Gustav Weil, who heads the Brotherhood, a vigilante group trying to stamp out vampirism. But their methods are random and misplaced and the only result is a terrorised populace. The real threat lies with Count Karnstein, and although the twins seem outwardly to be identical, Frieda finds herself much more drawn than her sister to the Count's castle dominating the skyline.

This one came from the girls at Book Chick City. I won it as part of their Hammer Horror Revisited event. I grew up watching the Hammer films with my Dad so I'm really curious what the book verson of one of those films is like!

Devil's Punch (Corine Solomon 4) - Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Roc
Corine Solomon can touch any object and learn its history. But right now, she's trying to rebuild her pawnshop and her life despite her being marked as a witch. When demons from her past kidnap her best friend, Corine puts everything on hold to save her...

The Corine Solomon series is a favouite of mine so I had this on pre-order ages ago and was very excited when it turned up this week - as I had forgotten it was coming!

The Calling (Darkness Rising 2) - Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Atom
Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.
Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set...

Kelley Armstrong is an automatic must buy for me so this was another pre-order I had forgotten about - but made for a nice suprise!

Hunting Lila - Sarah Alderson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
17-year-old Lila has two secrets she's prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she's been in love with her brother's best friend, Alex, since forever. After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust - her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they've found them. In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone - there are others out there just like her - people with special powers -and her mother's killer is one of them...

Finally a swap this week - I've been really curious about this book as it looks really interesting...

So what did you get this week?