Friday, 31 May 2013

Mel's Random May + WINNER

This was another mixed month for me. You may have noticed I wasn't around for most of the month. Both good and bad reasons for this - first I was on holiday with my guest reviewer, Sarah. Lots of reading, eating and laziness by the pool, which we had pretty much to ourselves!
 
Poolside Reading Every Day!

However, when we got back I found out my Gran died and this week we had the funeral. Lots of family over from around the work, but far too soon after losing my Mum. It's been a real blow and one of the reasons that I have thrown myself into reading rather than catching up on writing my reviews in the last couple of weeks.

So what reviews have I managed to publish this month?

Books
Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris
The Lady of Rivers - Phillippa Gregory (British Book Challenge)
Poison - Sarah Pinborough (British Book Challenge)
The Long Earth - Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter (British Book Challenge)

EBooks

Brush With Death - Karen MacInerney
The Disgrace of Kitty Grey - Mary Hooper (British Book Challenge)
Always There - Carol Ann Albright Eastman
Zenn Scarlett - Christian Schoon
The Boleyn King - Laura Andersen
Immortal Eclipse - Sherry Soule
Forbidden Fruit - Ann Aguirre

Sarah's Review
Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs

Other Posts
What I Did On World Book Night
Holiday TBR Pile

Winner!
It was also Sarah's birthday this month and the now annual help-me-get-her-a-book-for-her-birthday giveaway!

I'm happy to say Sarah has chosen a winner...drumroll please....


Helene

I'm keeping the actual book secret from Sarah for now but the words that persuaded her to try this particular book were...


Thrice Dead Foretells Divine Opening

A quick note from Sarah...

Congratulations to the winner of my birthday book competition, I look forward to reading your recommendation!  There was some stiff competition for the prize, and I procrastinated on no fewer than four of the 5-word entries – you lot certainly know how to tempt a reader!   However, Helene’s entry reminded me so much of the sort of cryptic description Mel would come up with, and that was what swung it in the end.  Mel won’t even tell me what the book is called, I am to wait (im)patiently for it at home for it.  I’ll let you know what I thought of it in due course.  Thanks again to everyone for entering.

So does anyone want to guess what book these words refer to? :)


So updating the challenges -
British Books Challenge - 19 Read


Best of the Bunch: Always There just hit me emotionally - highly recommended!


Honorable Mentions: The Boleyn King and The Lady of Rivers really got my historical groove on this month, while Poison was a fun and sexy retelling of Snow White!



So what was your month like? :)


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Throwback Thursdays #86 - A Clash of Kings


This is a great feature that Melissa at My World...in words and pictures has been doing for a while which looks at those wonderful books that are ALREADY on my shelves that we haven't got round to reading yet..

A Clash of Kings (Song of Ice and Fire #2) - George R.R. Martin
Publisher: Harper Voyager
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders--Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon--who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Last year I loved A Game of Thrones and I've been wanting to read the rest of the saga - at least that which has been written so far, but just haven't found the time to pick this up. Big books should be enthralling but they do require a lot of time - and for a commuter certain arm strength!

So what big books have you been putting off reading...?

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Long Earth Review

The Long Earth
Stephen Baxter & Terry Pratchett

Publisher: DoubleDay

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. 
But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind...or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural 'steppers', who don't need his invention and now the great migration has begun...

When a series of alternative Earths with all the same natural resources but no humans are discovered, it’s a new era for humanity as trailblazers and opportunists head out into the Long Earth, and discover what awaits out there. The Long Earth is packed full of huge ideas of parallel worlds and witty observations of humanity as you would expect from two giants of British literature like Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett and this pulls you in like an explorer yourself to see what universe they have created.  

Joshua is a natural stepper – meaning he can move between different Earths without the technology or sickness that most people suffer. As such he is recruited by the TransEarth corporation on an adventure to the end of the Long Earth, to see if there is an end and what is really awaiting humanity if they carry on stepping out from home. Joshua is a basically good man but with a need for peace and has spent much of the time since Step-Day, when the multiple world’s first opened up, on his own in worlds were humans have not made an impact and accepting the differences. His travel companion Lobsang is either a Tibetian reincarnated in AI form or very intelligent AI and seems to represent humanities need to catalogue and note the differences in each world. The developing friendship between this two characters is great fun and the different worlds are fascinating.

While Joshua is the central character, some chapters take little diversions from different points in time (and different worlds) to explore what is happening in the wider tide of humanity. Despite all this going on, the overall plot of the books is quite slow and unfolds like a flower, when you suddenly realise quite how many petals the bud has. Despite the exploration theme, there just isn’t much urgency to their trip and feels more like a pleasure cruise at times. In total this is a glorious exploration into ‘what-if’ territory with ideas and hidden humour pull you along rather than the characters actions.


Recommended for fans of Arthur C Clarke and Tom Holt. 8 out of 10

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Guest Review: Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)

While we were away on holiday last week my guest reviewer Sarah went through just as many books as me so I've asked her what she thought of one of my favourites...

Silver Bourne (Mercry Thompson #5)
Patricia Briggs

Publisher: Orbit

Being a mechanic is hard work. Mercy Thompson, for instance, just spent the last couple of months trying to evade the murderous queen of the local vampire seethe. And now the leader of the werewolf pack, who's maybe-more-than-just-a-friend, has asked for her help. A book of fae secrets has come to light and they're all about to find out how implacable - and dangerous - the fae can be. 
OK, so maybe her troubles have nothing to do with the job. But she sure could use a holiday...



Ah dear, back from a lovely week away with Mel in Portugal, to her sad loss, and a crazy week trying to deal with a week’s missed work, and an imploding iphone.  Finally there though, so I can now get down to reviewing one of the books I read whilst I was away. 
Now, from my previous reviews of Patricia Briggs’ series, you’ll know how much I love the very real, very likeable, coyote-shape-shifting heroine Mercy Thompson, so I won’t bore you by rehashing just how much I LOVE her!  Instead I’ll limit myself to the story itself.  There has yet to be even a vaguely weak story in this series, and Silver Borne is no exception. 
Arc plots are furthered - including the continuing repercussions from Mercy’s rape (which are so emotionally resonant they make your stomach squirm), the so-magic-its-almost-sentient fae walking stick, and Mercy’s relationship with Adam and the pack - but do not mistake this for a filler book, there is plenty of novel to get your teeth into.  The main sequences place Mercy at odds with homicidal, power-hungry fae, but when the sub-plot concerns Samuel, you know there will be no place for skim-reading.  Samuel’s story takes a turn that is so out of left-field I was bowled over – without giving the game away, Briggs yet again tackles an emotionally sensitive issue with power, passion and precision.
Whilst book 4 has been my favourite in the series thus far, that opinion does not decry in the least from Silver Borne, which was a captivating, pacey read with real depth, showcasing once again Briggs’ ridiculous talent as a fantasy author.  One for fans of Kelley Armstrong and Carrie Vaughn, 9 out of 10.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Poison Review

Poison
Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: Gollancz

A beautiful, sexy, contemporary retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, illustrated by Les Edwards. 
POISON is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.

One of the first stories we ever hear are fairy tales with charming princes rescuing the sweet naive Princess from evil stepmothers and magic enchantments so these classic tales get lodged in our collective consciences. And it was with both anticipation and trepidation that I approached this adult version of the children’s story of Snow White – the ‘true story’ as it was always meant to be.

Despite the small page count – just 200 pages, this is definitely an adult version with sex and swearing, but is still simply told, managing to capture the feel of classic fairy tales. Interestingly, despite being the story of Snow White, the tale is told mostly from the point of view of other characters – the wicked Stepmother, one of the dwarves and the handsome Prince and gives a very different interpretation of their roles and motivations from the simplified version. I particularly liked getting to know Lilith, the stepmother who managed to become three-dimensional character with her own issues and her descent into wickedness was an intriguing addition to the story. The prince also has a very different role from his usual handsome rescuer position. Yet, despite these twists many of the expected notes are included in the story from seven dwarves, the huntsman, the old crone with the apple and the magic mirror, but none happens exactly as you had expected.

Overall, Poison has a charisma and instinctive appeal that will stay with you long after you finish reading with the story of Snow White in your own mind subtly different from before. I loved the wider world Sarah Pinborough hints at behind Snow White’s story with hints and glimpses of other fairy stories. This gentle teasing has whetting appetite for Charm and Beauty, two more sexed up fairy tales from Sarah coming soon.

Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman and Malinda Lo. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 26 May 2013

My Book Haul / Showcase Sundays

This is Books, Biscuits and Tea's Showcase Sunday where I share my lovely book hauls each week. Have a look back at Vicki's link up to see what everyone is up too!

Right now I am so far behind with my book review - I have 8 I need to write! I really should be scribbling them down all weekend rather than going out to play, but I figure I blog for fun not for additional work so I will write the reviews when I feel like it. Still I might try and get a few reviews ready for this week...

So what has my reading been like this week...? Not too bad as reading has always made me feel better. At the start of the week I finished a book I started on holiday - A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness...how can I hate the main characters but love all the secondary ones...? I then moved onto Poison by Sarah Pinborough which was a wonderful fairy tale reinvention, before devouring Forbidden Fruit by Ann Aguirre (love seeing Shannon and Jesse's relationship first hand). Finally I also enjoyed The Long Earth by Terry Prachett and Stephen Baxter - some huge ideas.

I had a couple of wonderful packages arrive in the post this week which had me happy as anything.

Won
I was lucky enough to win April's British Book Challenge prize over at Feeling Fictional and I won this wonderful pack from Random House - eight books that I can't wait to start reading! Thanks so much Sarah!

Hot Blooded (Jessica McClain #2)
Publisher: Orbit
Jessica McClain has just discovered she's the biggest threat the supernatural world has seen in over eight-hundred years, but there's only one thing on her mind - finding her mate. Rourke's been kidnapped by a wicked goddess and his only chance of survival lies in her hands.
Finding Rourke and defeating the goddess proves to be difficult enough, but when the Underworld comes calling and Jessica discovers she's accused of crimes she hasn't committed, the entire game changes. The price they are demanding for her freedom is too steep. There is no way she can ever pay it back


I read Hot Blooded earlier this year and LOVED it so I was so excited to get a signed copy from the wonderful Amanda Carlson

Review

I also went on a little Netgalley request spree this week...

Forbidden Fruit (Corine Solomon #3.5) - Ann Aguirre
I see dead people. Okay, that’s a lie. I hear dead people—on an antique radio…
So far, that talent hasn’t brought Shannon Cheney fame or fortune. Since the world remains unaware that magick is real, being Gifted largely sucks. Her boss is an asshole, she makes minimum wage, and she’s got a serious case of forbidden lust for a sexy cop named Jesse Saldana. He’s part Mexican heat, all Texas charm, and enough of a dirty cowboy to curl her toes. Too bad he’s set on resisting her wiles.
To make matters worse, there’s this weird amnesia thing happening. She might think she’s going crazy, except Jesse’s got it too, and memory loss isn’t contagious like the flu. When Shannon pokes around, trying to put the missing pieces together, demonic retaliation is swift and potentially deadly. Jesse’s too much of a white knight to let her face danger alone, and she’s hoping he can’t resist the white-hot chemistry blazing between them.

I've already read this and I loved meeting Shannon away from Corine!

The Wrong Girl - C.J. Archer
It's customary for Gothic romance novels to include a mysterious girl locked in the attic. Hannah Smith just wishes she wasn't that girl. As a narcoleptic and the companion to an earl's daughter with a strange affliction of her own, Hannah knows she's lucky to have a roof over her head and food in her belly when so many orphans starve on the streets. Yet freedom is something Hannah longs for. She did not, however, want her freedom to arrive in the form of kidnapping. Taken by handsome Jack Langley to a place known as Freak House, she finds herself under the same roof as a mad scientist, his niece, a mute servant and Jack, a fire starter with a mysterious past. They assure Hannah she is not a prisoner and that they want to help her. The problem is, they think she's the earl's daughter. What will they do when they discover they took the wrong girl?
Lawless and The Devil In Euston Square - William Sutton
Publisher: Angry Robot
London 1859-62. A time of great exhibitions, foreign conquests and underground trains. But the era of Victorian marvels is also the time of the Great Stink. With cholera and depravity never far from the headlines, it’s not only the sewers that smell bad. Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, seemingly determined to bring London to its knees through a series of devilish acts of terrorism.
But cast into a lethal, intoxicating world of music hall hoofers, industrial sabotage and royal scandal, will Lawless survive long enough to capture this underworld nemesis, before he unleashes his final vengeance on a society he wants wiped from the face of the Earth?

Angry Robot does some really fantastic books and this tickled my historical mystery bone.

A Study In Silk - Emma Jane Holloway
Publisher: Del Ray
Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.
 In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?  
But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.

This just looks like a lot of fun!

So it was a bit of a bumper week even if I didn't actually buy any books! What goodies did you pick up this week? :-)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Novella Review: Forbidden Fruit (Corine Solomon #3.5)

Forbidden Fruit (Corine Solomon #3.5, Shannon Cheney)
Ann Aguirre
Kindle Book

Review Copy Courtesy of Netgalley
 I see dead people. Okay, that’s a lie. I hear dead people—on an antique radio…
So far, that talent hasn’t brought Shannon Cheney fame or fortune. Since the world remains unaware that magick is real, being Gifted largely sucks. Her boss is an asshole, she makes minimum wage, and she’s got a serious case of forbidden lust for a sexy cop named Jesse Saldana. He’s part Mexican heat, all Texas charm, and enough of a dirty cowboy to curl her toes. Too bad he’s set on resisting her wiles.
To make matters worse, there’s this weird amnesia thing happening. She might think she’s going crazy, except Jesse’s got it too, and memory loss isn’t contagious like the flu. When Shannon pokes around, trying to put the missing pieces together, demonic retaliation is swift and potentially deadly. Jesse’s too much of a white knight to let her face danger alone, and she’s hoping he can’t resist the white-hot chemistry blazing between them

Although this book is sat between Shady Lady and Devil’s Punch in the Corine Solomon series, Corine is not in sight as the story focuses on Shannon and Jesse after they lose their memories and their developing relationship. Shannon is no Corine. She is younger and more bolshie but despite her tough upbringing, she is less damaged in a way than Corine and much more hopefully over what she can build. She has never been hurt the same way as Corine and this really makes a difference in her chase of the cop-in-white-armor Jesse. I really loved the way both she and Jesse were able to start building a real relationship of equals – especially as I wasn’t sure of their new relationship when I read about it in Devil’s Punch.


In addition to their relationship, both Jesse and Shannon are dealing with their bizarre amnesia. Neither of them are aware that Corine accidentally managed to wipe their memories of anything related to her so their recent past has a number of small holes which Shannon particularly would like resolved. As such she finds herself wrapped up with Demons who seem to be very interested in her for some reason. This adds a nice fission of danger and the unexpected to the story with Shannon’s gift to summon the dead not always the best to protect herself.
The only bad thing in this story is that it feels like it ends a little suddenly with little resolution - the resolution really comes in Devil’s Punch. So although I loved getting to know Shannon better and really enjoyed her burgeoning relationship with Jesse, the lack of a resolution with regards to the demons and the amnesia made me feel the story wasn’t quite finished! I would definitely be interested in dropping in on Shannon and Jesse again soon though! 
Recommended for fans of Kelly Meding and Nicole Peeler. 7.5 out of 10

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Throwback Thursdays #85 - Plague Town


This is a great feature that Melissa at My World...in words and pictures has been doing for a while which looks at those wonderful books that are ALREADY on my shelves that we haven't got round to reading yet..

Plague Town - Dana Fredsti
Publisher: Titan Books
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. 

UF with zombies that looks fast paced with a kick-ass heroine..? Of course I want to read it! I just need to find the time...somehow...

What kick-ass heroines are you missing out on...?


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

What Shall I Read This May? + WINNER

Sorry the results are a little later than usual this month due to my holiday and then the news my Gran had passed away. 

So earlier this month I asked you guys to pick my next read and the results have been counted and verified, The Winner is...


 The Long Earth!

The full results are:

The Long Earth - 40%

Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe - 25%

The Light of Other Days - 25%

Sixty-One Nails - 10%

With little time left this month I have to get reading!

And who won their choice of book from my TBR pile? The winner is...Barbara! Congratulations! An email has been sent to you asking for choice!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Immortal Eclipse Review


Immortal Eclipse
Sherry Soule
Publisher: Disenchanted Publishing
I received this as an ARC for review from the author in exchange for an honest opinion.
 A devoted fashionata and practical New Yorker, Skylar Blackwell doesn’t believe in the supernatural—until she inherits Summerwind Mansion. . . . 
When her uncle is brutally murdered, and the cops seem uninterested in following up the case, Skylar journeys to California to seek answers. Her search for clues is soon overshadowed by haunting nightmares of a young woman also murdered in the house. Now the inhabitants of Summerwind are mysteriously dying, leaving no evidence as to how or why, and Skylar finds herself in a deadly race against time to expose the killer—before they strike again. The problem is . . . whoever it is may not be human.
After losing her job, Skylar decides to move the California for a while to wrap her recently deceased uncle’s estate, but discovers that all is not right at his mansion. Something seems to be stalking Skylar and the staff are less than welcoming. When unexplained things start happen Skylar quickly has to decide if there is a logical reason for everything or is it something else entire…?


Skylar is a definite fashionista – she loves looking good and shoes especially. At the same time she is firmly rooted in practical world and has little time for superstition and supernatural. I liked her even if I thought she was a little slow to grasp what was happening at times. Her friendship with Emma and blossoming relationship for the estate manager, Dorian help explore different aspects of her personality. Dorian is a little hot/cold which is a little frustrating – I couldn’t help thinking if he was a little more open they would have saved themselves a lot of trouble! There were a lot of secondary characters though that were little more than ciphers – a hostile butler and disapproving housekeeper, the friendly stable-lad, all of which could have been developed more. However, Skylar is likeable enough and Dorian fits the damaged alpha male role well.
The house and grounds are creepy and well described – I loved the idea of a gothic mansion with ghosts and history haunting it. In fact I feel the story could work very well as a film – there were some great scenes which I could picture perfectly particularly near the end. The start of the story was a little slow but sets the scene and builds towards a fast-paced finale. I really liked the ideas and plot which took some usual stereotypes and twisted them into a fresh twist on the genre. Nice characters, good story, there is some great potential here and I think Sherry could be one author to keep an eye on! 
Recommended for fans of Heather Graham and Nora Roberts. 7 out of 10

Sunday, 19 May 2013

My Book Haul / Showcase Sundays

This is Books, Biscuits and Tea's Showcase Sunday where I share my lovely book hauls each week. Have a look back at Vicki's link up to see what everyone is up too!

So Sarah and I were away all week in Portugal and spent most of it reading. It was a lazy week and very nice - unfortunately I returned yesterday to more bad news so all the good has pretty much been wiped out already. Still I did managed to read some good books while we were away including another fantastic installment in the Dresden Files - Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, a fun anthology - Those Who Fight Monsters edited by Justin Gustainis, a quick visit to The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I also finally started the City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and caught the penultimate visit to Bon Temps with Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. So that's five books read this week...

You'd think being on holiday all week I wouldn't have any new books to share - and you'd be wrong! When I got back yesterday there was a pile of parcels waiting for me with some books I had ordered on line and a giveaway win!

Review

Poison - Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Gollancz
POISON is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.

I was chosen bu Gollancz Geeks to review Poison for them so I will be picking it up this week!

Won

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond
Publisher: Canongate
Have you ever tried to spend a day without looking at a clock or checking your watch? It's almost impossible. Time rules our lives, but how much do we understand about it? And is it possible to retrain our brains and improve our relationship with it? Drawing on the latest research from the fields of psychology, neuroscience and biology, and using original research on the way memory shapes our understanding of time, the acclaimed writer and broadcaster Claudia Hammond delves into the mysteries of time perception.
Along the way, Claudia introduces us to an extraordinary array of characters willing to go to great lengths in the interests of research, such as the French speleologist Michel, who spends two months in an ice cave in complete darkness. We meet one group of volunteers who steer themselves towards the edge of a stairwell, blindfolded, and another who are strapped into a harness and dropped off the edge of tower block. 
Time Warped shows us how to manage our time more efficiently, speed time up and slow it down at will, plan for the future with more accuracy and, ultimately, use the warping of time to our own advantage.

I won this over at Curosity Killed The Bookworm. Non-fiction is not my usual read but this sounds like it could be quite different and interesting! Thanks Ellie!

Bought

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12) - Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Gollancz
Sookie has a murder investigation on her hands. 
A young girl has died at a vampire party - and it looks as though her lover, Eric, might be responsible. Eric swears he didn't do it, the police don't believe him, and even Sookie isn't so sure. Nor is she inclined to take his word for it, not having caught him enjoying the victim's blood minutes before she was killed.
But something strange is going on. Why had Sookie been asked to come to the fateful party a few minutes early - just to catch Eric in the act? And why had the victim spiked her own blood before approaching Eric? Was it simply because she wanted to be irresistable, or was it something more sinister?
Sookie will have to find out ... but it's the worst moment to investigate, as her Fae family are having troubles of their own and Sookie is, inevitably, drawn in. And there is one last complication. The cluviel dor her grandmother left her. It will grant her one wish, which could fulfil Sookie's heart's desire. The only problem is, she still doesn't know what - or who - her heart truly desires ...

With the final book out in hardback I'm just catching up on the latest paperback adventures with the end in sight now!

I've Got Your Number - Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Bantam
A couple of glasses of bubbly with the girls at a charity do and Poppy's life has gone into meltdown. Not only has she lost her engagement ring, but in the panic that followed, she's lost her phone too. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number with the hotel staff. It was meant to be!
Except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn't agree. He wants his phone back, and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, phone messages and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents, can things get any more tangled?

I love a little chick-lit on occasion and Sophie Kinsella usually has a couple of good giggles!

Charlotte Street - Danny Wallace
Publisher: Ebury
Jason Priestley (not that one) has just seen her. They shared an incredible, brief, fleeting moment of deep possibility, somewhere halfway down Charlotte Street. 
And then, just like that, she was gone - accidentally leaving him holding her old-fashioned, disposable camera, chock full of undeveloped photos...
And now Jason - ex-teacher, ex-boyfriend, part-time writer and reluctant hero - faces a dilemma. Should he try and track The Girl down? What if she's The One? But that would mean using the only clues he has, which lie untouched in this tatty disposable...
It's funny how things can develop...

Danny Wallace's non-fiction usually has me in stitches so I couldn't resist buying his first novel!

Loki's Wolves - K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr
Publisher: Atom
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.The gods died a long time ago.
Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.
However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.

Kelley Armstromg is writing a new series with Melissa Marr so I had to have it!


Friday, 17 May 2013

The Lady of the Rivers Review

The Lady of the Rivers (Cousin’s War #3)
Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and recognizes her own power in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the “wheel of fortune” before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream. Married to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, Jacquetta is introduced by him to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the Duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the Duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

This is the third book by Philippa Gregory set during the Plaganets periods and the start of the War of the Roses, but the first book chronologically speaking as it focuses on the life of Jacquette of Luxembourg, who becomes the mother of the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Jacquette is a new figure in history – there hasn’t been much study of her life despite the extraordinary events she lived through and was a part of. As such this really feels fresh and original – it’s not a character I’ve ever met before in historical fiction and that is something truly original these days!

Jacquette is a strong woman at a time when women who tried to control their own destines were brought low quickly. The example of Joan of Arc, who Jacquette meets when she is young is imprinted on her and since then she struggles to balance her own wants and needs against duty and way the world works. It was such a complicated time when the true King of England is not strong enough rule or even know his own mind leaving the court a mass of intrigue and politics and the dukes and royal kinsmen vie for position and power. Friendships and loyalties change frequently and it is fascinating seeing Jacquette wade in these waters while protecting her own family and battling her conscience.

Another element that I really enjoyed was the relationship between Jacquette and Richard Woodville, her second husband. They married for love at a time when love was not required in marriage – unusual in itself. Even more wonderfully they remained in love and had a very large family to prove it! Most historical fiction set at this period has more politics than romance in marriage and I loved seeing the way their relationship grew, changed and evolved over the years.

With The Lady of The Rivers Philippa Gregory is back to her strengths brining to life an extraordinary woman at a fascinating time.  I wasn’t keen on The Red Queen, mostly as I disliked the main character, but now I have fallen for Historical novels again – and am I glad I have The Kingmaker’s Daughters, the fourth book in the Cousin’s War already on my TBR pile!

Recommended for fans of Victoria Lamb and Mary Hooper. 8 out of 10