Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Mel's Random July 2012

July is over and if there is one thing you can't escape if you're living or working in London at the moment - the Olympics are here! The build up over the last seven years has been impressive and even those who were a little bah, humbug when we first won the games seem to have been won over. I was actually lucky enough to get tickets to the rowing in Windsor which I will be heading too tomorrow!
Before that though we had over two months of the Olympic torch touring the UK  - and it went past the end of my road! Of course I couldn't resist any excuse for a party and took the day off and invited everyone I know to celebrate with me. I was amazed at how many people turned out and what good spirits everyone was in! Plus it was the start of the good weather and the sun was shining...

Unfortunately I had the horrible choice of whether to watch the torch through my camera while trying to snap a picture, or see it with my eyes. I saw it with my eyes, but I managed to snap a quick just before it passed -
The guys in grey are security, but the torch is just behind...
So what impact did this have on my reading?

Books
The Dead (The Enemy #2) - Charlie Higson (British Books Challenge)
Deceived By The Others (H&W Investigations #3) - Jess Haines (TBR Pile Reading Challenge)
Join Me - Danny Wallace (British Books Challenge & TBR Pile Reading Challenge)
The Fear (The Enemy #3) - Charlie Higson (British Books Challenge)
The Queen's Secret - Victoria Lamb (British Books Challenge)
Evil Thirst (Last Vampire #5) - Christopher Pike
Creatures of Forever (Last Vampire #6) - Christopher Pike

EBooks
The Wake of the Bloody Angel - Alex Bledsoe
1.4 - Mike Lancaster (British Books Challenge)
The Unspoken (Krewe of Hunters #7) - Heather Graham
Blade Song - JC Daniels
Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen (TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Audio-Books
Real Murders - Charlaine Harris
The Ancient Future - Traci Harding

Sarah's Reviews
Shards of Honour - Lois McMaster Bujold
Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) - Patricia Briggs

Regular Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked at Graceling by Kristin Cashore 

I also decided to go on a book buying ban - partly to save money and partly because the physical books are about to overwhelm the flat! My Book confession explains more...

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

So updating the challenges -
British Books Challenge - 22 Read

2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 28 Read



Best of the Bunch: I was a bit of a British book roll this month and the best by far was The Fear by Charlie Higson


Honourable Mentions: The Dead, Blade Song and 1.4 were all fantastic reads as well!


Monday, 30 July 2012

Guest Review: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)
- Patricia Briggs

Publisher: UK - Orbit

Mercy Thompson's life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself--she's a shape-shifter.

As I type this, London is bathed in brilliant sunshine and soaring temperatures. Whilst this is lovely if you do not have to work, for us commuters it quickly becomes hell in a metal tube… In order to combat feelings of light-headedness/nausea/claustrophobia I recommend a really good book – such as Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series! I started Book 1 – Moon Called – on the way to work the other morning, and finished it on the journey in the very next day.

Mercedes (Mercy) Thompson is an American skinwalker, a stubborn, fiercely independent woman, and a car mechanic. Yep, a car mechanic called Mercedes! Not the most subtle of jokes, but Briggs doesn’t labour the point. As a skinwalker, Mercy can change into a coyote at will, and unlike her werewolf neighbours her life is not dictated by pack politics and wolfy tempers. However, that doesn’t mean that pack issues and posturing dominant males don’t regularly intrude.

Mercy is dragged into the affairs of the local wolf pack when a young were comes to her for help, a simple situation that somehow leads to bloodshed, silver bullets, witchy clear-up, furniture abuse, fae daggers, vampires and posturing alpha males.

Moon Called is a really, really enjoyable UF read. It’s fast-paced, but not at the expense of character development, with a well-developed world, but still with the capacity to expand as the series progresses. The weres may be ‘typical’ in their behavior – aggressive, possessive, hot-tempered and loyal – but they are still massively entertaining characters and have done nothing to change my preference for a werewolf over a vampire boyfriend!

One for fans of Kelley Armstrong (yes, I do rate the series that highly!) 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My Book Haul/ Showcase Sunday

I've decided to join Books, Biscuits and Tea's Showcase Sunday to share my lovely book hauls each week. Have a look back at Vicki's link up to see what everyone is up too!
I'm still doing well on my non-purchasing of books but this doesn't mean no books came into the flat this week!

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas #2) - Meljean Brook
Publisher: UK - Berkley
As the mercenary captain of Lady Corsair, Yasmeen has learned to keep her heart as cold as steel, her only loyalty bound to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control.
Treasure hunter Archimedes Fox isn't interested in Lady Corsair—he wants her coldhearted captain and the valuable da Vinci sketch she stole from him. To reclaim it, Archimedes is determined to seduce the stubborn woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies, but she's no easy conquest.
When da Vinci's sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, Yasmeen and Archimedes journey to Horde-occupied Morocco—and straight into their enemy's hands. But as they fight to save themselves and a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart.

I won this from the wonderful Meljean Brook herself who was having a giveaway on her blog a couple of week ago. Not only is it signed but she also sent some lovely swag as well...

Even White Trash Zombies Get The Blues - Diana Rowland
Publisher: Daw Books
Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she's beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that's right--the zombie mafia.
Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel's going to need all of her brainpower--and maybe a brain smoothie as well--in order to get through it without falling apart.

I won the half year blog hop over at Books with Bite so Savannah bought me this book of my choice. It arrived this week and I'm so happy!

The King's Spy - Andrew Swanston
Publisher: Bantam
Summer, 1643. England is at war with itself. King Charles I has fled London, his negotiations with Parliament in tatters. The country is consumed by bloodshed. For Thomas Hill, a man of letters quietly running a bookshop in the rural town of Romsey, knowledge of the war is limited to the rumours that reach the local inn. When a stranger knocks on his door one night and informs him that the king's cryptographer has died, everything changes. Aware of Thomas's background as a mathematician and his expertise incodes and ciphers, the king has summoned him to his court in Oxford. On arrival, Thomas soon discovers that nothing at court is straightforward. There is evidence of a traitor in their midst. Brutal murder follows brutal murder. And when a vital message encrypted with a notoriously unbreakable code is intercepted, he must decipher it to reveal the king's betrayer and prevent the violent death that failure will surely bring.

I got this as part of the Transworld Historical Reading Challenge. It's an arc copy and is a book I plan on starting very soon! :-)

So have you picked up anything this week?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

On My Wishlist #96

This is a meme that started on Book Chick City before moving to Cosy Books and is now hosted by the wonderful Sarah at Workaday Reads. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I can keep track!
Now I'm officially on a book buying ban I am expecting my wishlist to start growing at a massive pace...in the meantime I can't resist a bit of time travel...

The Company of the Dead - David Kowalski
Publisher: Titan
Can one man save the Titanic?March 1912. A mysterious man appears aboard the Titanic on its doomed voyage. His mission? To save the ship.The result? A world where the United States never entered World War I, thus launching the secret history of the 20th Century.
April 2012. Joseph Kennedy - grand-nephew of John F. Kennedy - lives in an America occupied in the East by Greater Germany and on the West Coast by Imperial Japan. He is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order -- even though it may mean his own death.

This is a very big book - but I've read some good reviews and I love the idea that the Titanic survival would have such a major impact on world events...

The History Keepers: The Storm Begins - Damian Dibbens
Publisher: DoubleDay Childrens
When Jake is kidnapped by strangers on a stormy London night he discovers his loving parents have been leading a double life and are now missing, lost somewhere in history. He is plunged into a world of secret societies, dangerous double agents, and a terrifying countdown to oblivion. Transported by a Spanish galleon back to 19th century France, he finds himself in the headquarters of The History Keepers - a remarkable league of time-travelling special agents. The History Keepers preserve the true course of history against those who would change it for their own gain, such as the diabolical Prince Zeldt. Driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to reunite his family, Jake makes the most thrilling - and dangerous - decision of his life.

I picked this up in Waterstones a while ago because the cover and the title intrigued me. I didn't buy it at the time and now I regret it!

Time Travelers Never Die - Jack McDevitt
Publisher: Ace Books
When physicist Michael Shelborne mysteriously vanishes, his son Shel discovers that he had constructed a time travel device. Fearing his father may be stranded in time—or worse—Shel enlists the aid of Dave Dryden, a linguist, to accompany him on the rescue mission. Their journey through history takes them from the enlightenment of Renaissance Italy through the American Wild West to the civil-rights upheavals of the 20th century. Along the way, they encounter a diverse cast of historical greats, sometimes in unexpected situations. Yet the elder Shelborne remains elusive.
And then Shel violates his agreement with Dave not to visit the future. There he makes a devastating discovery that sends him fleeing back through the ages, and changes his life forever.

Who wouldn't want to visit the Wild West?

If you could visit one era of history, what would it be?
Personally Ancient Egypt with the Pharoahs would be my favourite!



Friday, 27 July 2012

Bright Young Things Review

Bright Young Things
-       Anna Godbersen

Publisher: Harper
The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star....
Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart.

Set in the summer of 1929 in the last hedonistic months of the 1920’s Bright Young Things is a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day: sharp, tangy with a hint of sweetness and refreshing after too many overly sweet drinks. Following the career, loves and family dramas of three eighteen year olds in New York, the most glamorous of cities, Bright Young Things is deliciously easy to read and a real treat. I’m just sorry it took me so long to pick it up!

Letty, the small town girl who wants to be a star is terribly naive and innocent but you can’t help feeling for her. Cordelia is more street smart, and lands on her feet when she finds her long-last father, a bootlegger who immediately welcomes her into his life. And finally, Astrid, a high society girl who has never had any roots or security, but she helps Cordelia in her new life. The story of each girl is fairly independent, but intertwines through their experiences. Each of them discover that despite the facade, New York life is not always the party it appears and there is dark underbelly which each of them touches in one way.

I haven’t read a lot of books set in the roaring twenties America, but I do remember studying that time period in history at school – especially the lead up to that day in October when the Wall Street Crash occurred. For me this meant that the whole summer and the events feel like a last hurrah before reality returns in the autumn. My one disappointment is what a short space of time this book follows – only a week or two and yet so much happens, it feels like it should have taken place over a couple of months at least! This is fun and fabulous. I will definitely be looking out for the sequel, Beautiful Days – when I’m allowed to buy books again! J

A perfect summer’s day reading. Recommended for fans of Mary Hooper and Melissa De La Cruz. 8 out of 10

Thursday, 26 July 2012

LAZY DAYS OF SUMMER GIVEAWAY!

The Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Colorimetry.

The summer seems to have started at last here in the UK - and just in times for the Olympics! This last week has been gloriously sunny and I'm actually really excited about the Olympics starting in my home town - fingers crossed that everything will run according to plan! :-)

So what can you win here at Mel's Random Reviews on the Lazy Days of Summer hop?

Prize: Book of your choice (up to £10 or $15) and 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 1st August
- 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>>

Why try your luck at some of the other stops on the hop!

Throwback Thursday #58 - Bloodring

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?
 
Bloodring - Faith Hunter
 A near-future world caught in the throes of an ambiguous apocalypse - where a woman with everything to hide finds her true destiny revealed. As humanity struggles with religious strife and seraphs and demons fight a never-ending battle, a new species has arisen. "Neomages" are human in appearance, but able to twist left-over creation energy to their will. A threat to both humans and seraphs, they are confined in luxurious Enclaves. Thorn St. Croix is no ordinary neomage. Nearly driven insane by her powers, she is smuggled out of an Enclave and now lives among humans, channeling her gift of stone-magery into jewelry making. But when Thaddeus Bartholomew, a dangerously attractive policeman, tells her that her ex-husband has been kidnapped, Thorn risks revealing her identity to find him. And for Thorn, the punishment for revelation is death...
 
I was reminded that I had this book when Melissa chose it last month as the winner of What Shall I Read this month! I love Faith Hunters Jane Yellowrock UF series and this is set in a very different world, but one that sounds so very cool! 
 
What about you? What do you think about Angels? :-)
 
 
 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Early Review: Blade Song

Blade Song
J.C Daniels

Publisher: Inscribe Digital - Will be Published on 1st August 2012

E-arc Courtesy of netgalley & Inscribe Digital

Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake. So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money. Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead. If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee...

This is one of the most promising starts to a new Urban Fantasy series I’ve read in long time. Kit is a damaged but still fighting character. She grew up suffering abuse from the hands of her ‘noble’ warrior kin who despised her being half human. She left as soon as she could and set herself up as an investigator in Florida. When the local Cat Clan hires her to find the missing nephew of their Alpha, Kit finds her unable to resist because of his youth – and finds herself with a new shadow/bodyguard until the job is done. Kit is tough and resilient but she is also not quite a strong physically as a lot other supernatural creatures so she doesn’t always win. But she has a magic blade and never takes the easy way out. She uses her brain and determination to power through. She doesn’t always make the right decision – in fact she does get it wrong, but she gets wrong for the right reason. In short she is one tough cookie who will continue to stand up and fight even when everything appears lost.

There is a lot happening in the story which moves at a cracking pace. Kit’s bodyguard is a mystery – a complete jackass to start with but he soon grows on you. While I still don’t understand him, by the end he is more firmly our jackass rather than anyone else – I may even have developed a sweet spot for him! The world is full of shifters, vampires and witches all learning to live side by side with humans in an uneasy truce. While this might seem familiar with a number of other UF worlds, somehow JC Daniels has infused Florida with enough differences and variations to make it her own. The witch houses are fascinating as are some of the characters introduced there – Es and Kori especially. The pace is brutally fast and you need to focus on every line, but makes the world so immersive and real. This is a series which will continue to grow and expand – definitely one that will push most UF fans buttons and I’m already looking forward to the next instalment!.

Recommended for fans of Ilona Andrews and Karen Chance. 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Same Book/Different Cover - Graceling

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?

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a fun YA fantasy read that I enjoyed a couple of years ago, but the different types of covers are fun as well!


UK Cover
US Cover


French Cover
Indodesian Cover
German Cover



UK Cover: This is the one I own. I like that the girl is in dark and seems to hold that huge sword so easily. It's nice but not outstanding...

US Cover: My first thought was that this was quite dull. The decorated blade is nice and then I spotted the eye on the blade. Hmm...it grows on me but wouldn't jump off the shelves for me

French Cover: I don't want to mess with her! She looks fierce and like she knows how to handle that blade. I love teh green but the cover just screams YA for some reason... 

German Cover: I love the curved blade and the blue eyes. What looks like flames at first turn out to be glowing flowers. Very intriguing.

Indodesian Cover: I don't like the colours of the sea and sky in this one. While I love the longbow, her skin tight clothing really puts me off. Not a big fan.

My verdict? The German cover is my favourite! Which is yours? :)


Monday, 23 July 2012

Early Review: The Unspoken



The Unspoken (Krewe of Hunters #7)
Heather Graham

Publisher: MIRA (Published 31st July 2012)

E-Arc Courtesy of netgalley and MIRA


AN AIRLESS TOMB. AN UNSPOKEN CURSE 1898: Bound for Chicago, the freighter Jerry McGuen goes down in Lake Michigan, taking with it every man aboard. But what other fate could befall a vessel carrying the ill-gotten sarcophagus of an Egyptian sorcerer? Because a curse unspoken is no less deadly. Now: A veteran diver and "ghost ship" expert is exploring the legendary wreck for a documentary. He dies inexplicably inside the freighter's main saloon. Then another diver is killed and panicked rumors rise like bubbles from the lake: ancient demons have awakened below! The expedition's beleaguered financier calls paranormal investigator Katya Sokolov to Chicago to save the film -and perhaps some innocent lives. Along with media forensics guru Will Chan, Kat plumbs the depths of an evil that may date back to the time of the Pharaohs. But some secrets are best drowned in the seas of the past...

Having been following the adventures of both Krewe of Hunters so far, I have to confess I was getting a little bored. However, this story completely re-invigorated my interest in the characters and story. Set in Chicago where the wreck of a ship containing valuable Egyptian antiquities has been found and people start to die in mysterious circumstances. Is it a mummies curse or something more human…?

The main characters this time around are ME Katya from the Texas Krewe and Will Chan from the original Krewe – and the only one from that group who remained unattached when the stories switched to the new group. This always felt odd to me and I’m glad to see him get his own story – and even more I loved how Kat and Will butted heads in the beginning. It’s always nice when there is that friction between characters and these two felt more natural as they work together and the attraction grows. Kat is a stubborn but strong woman (almost essential in stories these days!) and she remained feminine, using her charm and politeness to get a lot of what she wants out people. Will comes across as quite brash at first, but it just seems like he has high standards.

However, what really makes this story stand out was the mystery of the ship-wreck and the mummy. There is a reason that Egyptology remains a strong fascination today and the slow burn on the mystery – were these deaths natural or were they murder is intriguing. There are more suspects and dodgy motive spread around the city which made it very entertaining to read. The idea of a mummy running round Chicago killing people is intriguing while the flashbacks to the downing of the ship adds another layer to the mystery. As ever with Heather Graham stories, the plot is fast and involving – but don’t try to think too hard about it as the links between different elements might not stand up to it. A diverting and enjoyable read with a sweet couple and a killer mummy!

Recommended for fans of Nora Roberts and Julie Krantz. 7.5 out of 10


Sunday, 22 July 2012

My Book Haul/Showcase Sunday

I've decided to join Books, Biscuits and Tea's Showcase Sunday to share my lovely book hauls each week. Have a look back at Vicki's link up to see what everyone is up too!
I know I'm on a book buying ban at the moment but I have some fantastic friends! As such I ended up with a couple of books this week despite all promises not too.

Insurgent - Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Childrens Books
 War looms in sixteen-year-old Tris’s dark dystopian world as disputes between the factions grow. Tris must now fight against all odds to discover the truth that can save her and the people she loves. Sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge – and the choices she makes will have devastating and unexpected consequences.

Having recently finished Divergent, my cinema Buddy and regular guest reviewer Sarah has lent me Insurgent so I can continue to follow Tris's adventures.

The Long Earth - Terry Prachett & Stephen Baxter
Publisher: Harper 
1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man's Land gone?
2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there's no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget - a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a...potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a 'stepper'. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that's an understatement if ever there was one...
...because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths...this is the Long Earth. It's not our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It's an infinite chain, offering 'steppers' an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger - and sometimes more dangerous - the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

One of my dearest friends mistakenly managed to buy himself two copies of this book so I inherited his spare copy! This was a delicious surprise and a book I wanted anyway. I love my friends!

Grave Memory (Alex Craft #3) - Kalayna Price
Publisher: UK - Berkley
As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie. But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all...

This was a pre-order from ages, so it doesn't count as part of my book buying ban!

So what have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

On My Wishlist #95

This is a meme that started on Book Chick City before moving to Cosy Books and is now hosted by the wonderful Sarah at Workaday Reads. 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 looking at some interesting fantasy books...

Defiance - C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Belzar & Bray (Published August 2012)
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

This sounds like a mixture of fantasy and dystopia - both genres I like a lot!

Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Tor (September 2012)
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task. But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it. Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?

There just aren't enough griffins in stories these days! This is an interesting mix of fantasy in the far east - and I love the cover!

House of Shadows - Rachel Neumeier
Publisher: Orbit
Orphaned, two sisters are left to find their own fortunes.
Sweet and proper, Karah's future seems secure at a glamorous Flower House. She could be pampered for the rest of her life... if she agrees to play their game.
Nemienne, neither sweet nor proper, has fewer choices. Left with no alternative, she accepts a mysterious mage's offer of an apprenticeship. Agreeing means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage?
With the arrival of a foreign bard into the quiet city, dangerous secrets are unearthed, and both sisters find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset their newly found lives, but also to destroy their kingdom.

I like the sound of two sisters fighting for their kingdom.

What are you wishing for this week?
  

Friday, 20 July 2012

Creatures of Forever (Last Vampire #6) Review

Creatures of Forever (The Last Vampire #6)
- Christopher Pike

Publisher: Hodder’s Children’s Books

Alisa has fought every battle, against evil, against hate, and even against death itself. Now she nears the end of her incredibly long life and another unexpected force emerges to destroy her, or perhaps save her. But this force is unlike anything she has experienced before.

This is the final book in the original Last Vampire series and having saved the world from old Vampires, young Vampires, her daughter and various other threats, Alisa could be forgiven for thinking she earned some respite. However dark forces are stalking her and Seymour and their origin lies in her past…where she will have to confront true evil in order to save her soul.

One of the things I always liked about this series is that Alisa is a five-thousand year old vampire and she feels like one. She has a past which moulded her and made her into the person she is today. This time rather than simply confront and dealing with her past she has the opportunity to relive it. While the story starts with Seymour and Paula nearby, it’s not long before Alisa leaves them both behind as she truly confronts the past and her actions.

Again there is a mix of the philosophical with action, but some of the elements I didn’t like in the end of Evil Thirst came back. I guess the mix of vampires with science and deeper questions didn’t sit well me. However, this time the ending really turned it around for me and made me sit back. It was a wonderful game changer than wrapped up the whole series beautifully and would be a great end to a wonderful character who has earned her rest. Which just makes me really curious about how The Last Vampire: The Eternal Dawn will work!

Recommended for fans of LJ Smith and CC Hunter. 6 out of 10

Evil Thirst (Last Vampire #5) Review

Evil Thirst (The Last Vampire #5)
- Christopher Pike

Publisher: Hodder’s Children’s Books

Alisa's daughter, Kalika, has transformed into a blood-thirsty monster with powers far beyond Alisa's. It is Alisa's task to track her down and destroy her, yet Alisa still has trouble believing her daughter is totally evil. She still hopes to save Kalika, even if it means risking her own life--and perhaps the lives of everyone in the world.

Alisa, the last vampire is back and determined to stop her blood drinking daughter before she can harm her friend Paula’s son, who may be the reincarnation of the Soul that was Krishna. For the first time Seymour is with Alisa for her adventures rather than being on the end of the phone and this friendship is core to the store, giving Alisa someone to fall back on and talk to. Alisa is once again powerful and smart, but so is her daughter, Kalika.

This is a short book – less than 200 pages but a lot is packed in. There is more than the usual philosophical ponderings with Alisa’s memories of her time in Egypt coming to the fore. That’s always an element I like with Christopher Pike’s books – while there are some great actions, the heroes are always deep thinkers, wandering about their place in the universe and where they fit in. There is some truly exciting scenes when Alisa is trying to stop her daughter that will satisfy most adrenaline junkies, but I was a little disappointed with the ending. Without giving much away it felt a little quick and less emotional than is should have. Still up to that point it was enjoyable.

Recommended for fans of RL Stine and LJ Smith. 6 out of 10.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Throwback Thursday #57 - 666 Charing Cross Road

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?
 
666 Charing Cross Road - Paul Magrs
In a Manhattan gallery, a strange, undead woman who’s been lost for centuries, is found in a basement and becomes the centrepiece of Shelley’s new museum show. Nicknamed Bessie, the Scottish Bride, she is an overnight celebrity as Christmas approaches.
From the dusty vaults beneath the famed bookshops in Charing Cross Road, Shelley’s bibliophile aunt Liza receives crumbling volumes by post, while her friend Jack prefers brand-new books and his brand-new lover. When a small leather-bound book of spells arrives, Liza finds it repellent. But its arcane magic brings Bessie to life, and enthrals Shelley’s posh boyfriend Daniel – literally. It contains the quintessence of evil in the form of a dark bloodstain marking several pages: vampire blood.
As Daniel’s power grows, everyone’s lives are infected. Soon the vicious vampire infestation rife in NYC threatens to spread to London – and only the Scottish Bride and her new friends can stop it...
 
I won this a while ago but it involves magic and books - how have I not read it yet...? Even better it's set in both New York and London - two of my favourite cities! Which city would win in the ultimate smack down...? :)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Audiobook: The Ancient Future

The Ancient Future: The Dark Age

Written by Traci Harding

Read by Edwina Wren

Late one evening, en route to visit a relative, an accident leaves Tory - the attractive, twenty-something daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in Britain. Tory resolves to spend the night at the stone circle and seek help in the morning.... But across the vortex of time and space, she is taken back to the Dark Age. There she meets Prince Maelgwn of Gwynedd and his band of warriors. Initially her 'strange' appearance frightens them and they believe she is the notorious witch fabled to frequent the site. But she overcomes their fear and soon the tales of her adventures, brave deeds, and beauty spread across the land.

I have to confess I was very surprised to come across an Audible version of this book as I’ve had trouble getting hold of any of Traci Harding books outside Australasia. I read this book originally about five years while travelling and loved the mixture of adventure, romance, time travel and philosophy that the story covered, so I thought I would give the audible version a spin as well. The story starts out as deceptively simple and easy to follow but gets more complex and layered as it progresses and introduces more characters, more ideas and more magic. Tory is an Australian visiting her aunt in Britain when her car breaks down. She decides to spend the night in a circle of fairy stones (as you do!) and ends up transported back to the 6th century, where magic is still common place. She ends up teaming up with Prince Maelgwn and using her knowledge of Tae Kwon Do to capture the hearts and minds of the 6th century lords.

Tory is a great heroine even if she is pretty much perfect at everything. She can speak ancient Welsh (lucky considering where she finds herself!), is an expert at Tae Kwon Do and mediation techniques, can play the saxophone and is generous person who welcomes everyone and want equality for all. However, you just can’t help liking her – hoping to be like her. Her developing relationship with Maelgwn is very sweet and will satisfy most romantics. Maelgwn himself is extremely likeable with a streak of jealousy that stops him from being completely perfect – but makes him human. There are a number of characters that stand out with Brockwell particularly being memorable as he has one of the most character developments over the course of the story. Katrin seems more than adequate foil for him.

There are a couple of elements that gets a little annoying while listening though. The strange mix of modern phrases mingles with ‘ancient welsh’ speak sounds really odd. “Thou art breaking my heart” for example, just sounds wrong when you listen to it. Although I must confess it never bothered me when I was reading it. It frustrated me as it meant I was pulled out of the story. However, overall the narration is passionate and does a good job at conveying the tone and element of the plot – once you get used to the Australian accent. J

For me this is really one of those stories that you get swept up in. I started it thinking, it’s alright, but by the end I really wanted to start on the next book in the trilogy (which sadly isn’t available in the UK on audio). It has something for everyone and even manages to get you thinking about how to think about some of the greater mysteries of life – what’s the meaning of life, etc? But most of the time, it’s just a lot of fun. Hell, I just want to be Tory!

Recommended for fans of PC Cast and Rachel Aaron.  8 out of 10


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Book Confession - Buying Ban?

So I’ve decided to put myself on another book buying... I do this two or three times a year when I feel the TBR pile has got really out of control. Seeing as I have now started to pile books up on the floor, as any empty space on shelves or flat surfaces are history, I figure this is as good a time as any to stop – at least for a little while. I still have some pre-orders that will hopefully be arriving in the next few weeks, plus I will continue to lurk on netgalley to spot books I fancy, so there will still be some books entering the flat, but hopefully it will slow down to a trickle.
My TBR Pile - two rows of books deep and sorely in need of reading!

Previous book buying bans have not been particularly successful for me – I can’t resist a bargain and somehow manage to visit amazon/bookdepository/fishpondworld on a daily basis. Plus every week I have to visit my local Waterstones, Works and WHSmith just in case something happens to them. To be honest, it’s a surprise that I haven’t bought even more books! Usually these bans only last a week or two, but I am hopeful that this will be longer. It would be nice if I could make it to my birthday in September without break – but I’m going to be realistic! Every week I go without a purchase will hopefully make a dent in the massive of books I need to read. I am very ruthless with books - if I don’t like it I tend to give it away or swap it. I am starting to think about a special giveaway in August to celebrate my two years of blogging so I may add some gently read books to the pile for that.

Alternatively instead of buying books, I may go mad for entering competitions over the summer – or hosting them! J

Have you ever put yourself on a book buying ban? How successful was it? Any hints or encouragement on how I can keep it up? I need help! (In more than one way…!)