Sunday, 20 October 2013

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Charming (Pax Arcana #1) Review

Charming (Pax Arcana #1)
Elliott James

Publisher: Orbit

E-Arc Courtesy of Netgalley & Orbit

John Charming isn't your average Prince... 
He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.
That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right?

The first in a new Urban Fantasy series is usually a delicate balancing act of introducing new characters, world building especially how their world varies from ours and plot and while the story might lack a little, the characters and the world-building are great foundations for a series. It just feels like a little bit more mixing is needed but for the first in a series, this is a good effort and I will definitely be continuing with this series!

Charming has some interesting characters with a mix of powers and abilities although some characters are better developed than others; I liked Sig and her Valkyrie powers – she doesn’t just fall for John’s charms, but struggles with her current relationship and fitting John into her group. In many other books Sig would have been the main character but John Charming takes the lead. John has been on the run for a long time and has a very mixed heritage which makes him unique. When he runs into Sig and starts meeting the rest of her team, you really feel this is the first time he has interacted with anyone on a more than superficial level for a long time.

The world of magic and supernatural creatures is hidden from ours through old fae magic called the Pax Arcana and there are plenty of asides that give you the impression of a wider world still to be explored. So the weak link is really the plot. The search for the new vampire who may pose a drastic threat to humanity in the future is simply lacking any momentum. There is very little time spent building the vampire as a credible threat now or any personality for her which would add tension to the hunt. As such when the big finale arrived it was underwhelming and lacked any emotional resonance.

There is potential for an intriguing world and an expanded universe with so many possibilities so I will give the series a chance and see if the next book allows all the elements to work together.

Recommended for fans of Benedict Jacka and MLN Hanover. 7 out of 10

Sunday, 22 September 2013

My Book Haul / Showcase Sunday

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!

This week was my first week back at work so I was back on the commuter train and back reading. I finished Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer - an interesting historical mystery, Charming by Elliott James a new male lead Urban Fantasy series and finally Sleeping with the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson - a fun comic paranormal romance.

A fairly quiet week after all the goodies from Canada so only couple of books arrived!


The Shining Girls - Lauren Beurkes
Publisher: HarperCollins
Kirby is lucky she survived the attack. She is sure there were other victims were less fortunate, but the evidence she finds is … impossible.
Harper stalks his shining girls through the years – and cuts the spark out of them. But what if the one that got away came
back for him?

I read a couple of good reviews of this book so when I spotted cheap in Asda I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try!

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown Publishing
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

I'm feeling in the mood for some thrillers at the moment so this one is a top seller that a friend told me to try - so I have!

So what have you picked up this week...?

Friday, 20 September 2013

Gluten For Punishment (A Bakers Treat Mystery #1) Review

Gluten for Punishment (A Baker’s Treat Mystery #1)
Nancy J Parra
Publisher: Berkley Crime
With her mother’s death, Toni Ryder returns home to OilTop, Kansas bringing her gluten-free bakery business with her. But Toni has never felt at home in her hometown and cooking wheat-free in the middle of wheat country isn’t making her any less a fish out of water. When Toni becomes a suspect in OilTop’s first homicide investigation in twenty years, she must count on her crazy family and follow the clues to solve the mystery and clear her name 
I picked this up while in Canada purely because one of my cousins over there is Gluten-intolerant and been bemoaning the lack of cakes she can eat now. JWhat I discovered was a fun, sweet mystery with a good bite to it and some great characters. Toni opens a Gluten Free bakery right in the middle of Wheat country, but despite some minor protest at her grand opening, she is surprised when her main opponent is found dead just outside her bakery. With the police focusing on her as the only suspect, she and her Grandmother decide they need to solve the case themselves…
There are some interesting characters – both secondary and minor which helps keep interest in the story. Toni’s grandmother, Ruth is an eccentric old lady, riding a scooter and determined to grow old gracefully. She is the driving force behind Toni’s investigation. But she also adds plenty of colour and joy to the scene every time she shows up. I also loved the description of the various gluten-free goodies Toni bakes which made me feel hungry during most of the book! Toni’s best friend is an intriguing character as she is struggling with her business, a new boyfriend and a child who is autistic and I liked their friendship immensely. 
The investigation itself is fairly simple with just a couple of conversations to other locals rather than any big evidence or sleuthing skills. However, consider the police are not particularly good at their job and don’t even bothering to find out who was also on Main Street the morning of the murder, this seems to do the job nicely. It’s not a complicated mystery but the story is well told with enough amusement from the characters to make an entertaining read!
Recommended for fans of Sofie Kelly and Connie Archer. 7 out of 10

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Throwback Thursday #97 - The Good Fairies of New York

This is a great feature that Melissa at My 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.

The Good Fairies of New York - Martin Millar
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
When a pair of fugitive Scottish thistle fairies end up transplanted to Manhattan by mistake, both the Big Apple and the Little People have a lot of adjusting to do. Heather and Morag just want to start the first radical fairy punk rock band, but first they’ll have make a match between two highly unlikely sweethearts, start a street brawl between rival gangs of Italian, Chinese, and African fairies, help the ghost of a dead rocker track down his lost guitar, reclaim a rare triple-bloomed Welsh poppy from a bag lady with delusions of grandeur, disrupt a local community performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and somehow manage to stay sober enough to save all of New York from an invasion of evil Cornish fairies.
If they can stop feuding with each other, that is

This was a present from Sarah, my occasional guest reviewer when she visited New York some time ago and looks like such a fun read, but like many it's not been read yet. Perhaps I should arrange a visit to New York for encourage me to read it! :-)

What Shall I read This September Results!

Decisions, decisions...I can never make my mind up so once a month I offer up a choice to you wonderful and wise blog readers and hand you the keys to my next book choice. The results have been counted, checked and rechecked and the winner for September is...

That's right you couldn't make your minds up any more than I can!

The full results were...

Hunters Moon: 25%
Sleeping With Fishes: 25%
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs: 25%
A Quick Bite: 25%

So I'm taking the responsibility onto myself this month and will read which ever I feel like - although because of my holiday I'm a little behind this month so the review may not go up until October!

And who won their choice of book from my TBR pile? The winner is...Barbara E!

Congratulations! An email has been sent to you asking for choice!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Kingmaker's Daughter (Cousin's War #4)

The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Cousin’s War #4)
Phillippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child brought up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Her will is tested when she is left widowed and fatherless, with her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Fortune’s wheel turns again when Richard rescues Anne from her sister’s house, with danger still following Anne, even as she eventually ascends to the throne as queen. Having lost those closest to her, she must protect herself and her precious only child, Prince Edward, from a court full of royal rivals

Having recently watched the BBC adaptation of the Cousin War books, it really encouraged me to pick up this book. Focusing on Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’s youngest daughter, Anne, we follow Anne through her life as she grows up close to the crown and is dragged into her father’s manipulations and plots to control those on the throne. She grew up in the House of York but her first marriage is to the heir of the House of Lancaster which means she is front and centre of some of the most intriguing political and actual battles of the ‘Cousin’s War’.

Anne is young and naive at first but she learns from those around her especially the different way the women around behave from her mother’s self-preservation to Margret of Anjou determination to fight for her son’s throne and even her sisters fear of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. This was a period of time when women were used for their family connections and bloodlines, yet managed to carve out their own roles behind the scenes. The events Anne lives through are tense and exciting which make for a fun read especially her possible involvement with the princes in the tower. Anne maybe overlooked in history in favour of the men in her life – her father, the kingmaker, her first husband, Edward, Prince of Wales and her second husband the infamous Richard III but she makes a lively and engaging narrator with her very different view point on events from Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen and Margaret Beaufort, the Red Queen.

That period of history was largely unknown to me previously with most history lessons focusing on the Tudors, but I’ve loved learning more about the era immediately prior to the infamous Henry VIII. There are some great mysteries from this era with whispers of witchcraft, and sibling rivalry over the throne pushed to extremes. I really enjoyed this story which felt fresh and enticing as a summer’s breeze on a warm day.

Recommended for fans of Alison Weir and Anne O’Brien. 8 out of 10