Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mel's Random November

I can't believe November is over already! This means that 2011 is nearly gone and 2012 is just around the corner. And this month has been pretty hectic - I spend a week in Ireland for my work's annual conference. I'd never been before  but it was just beautiful - cold but clear skies. The place we were staying was Malihide, on the coast just outside Dublin - look how pretty it is!
Malihide Harbour
 Anyway, this week away really bit into my reading time and I feel like I didn't do as well with reading this month as I usually do - but lets check it out shall we? How did it hit the reading situation?

Joint Reviews
Sarah and I did our first official joint review together - Forgive My Fins - Tara Lynn Childs

Audio Books
Cards On The Table - Agatha Christie

Author Interviews
I had the lovely Susan Kaye Quinn stopping by as well to answer a few brief questions!

Guest Posts
My friend, Emma stopped by to discuss her re-reading of Little Women

Other Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked at Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews this month.
I also asked if you preferred New books or Old Books to be reviewed in one of my Book Confessions.
In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays.

The winner of my Open Minds ebook is.... Karina from Nocturna Book Reviewsl

So with all that in mind my reading challenges status looks like this:
BCC's Mystery & Suspense Challenge - 13 Read, I've finished this challange as well!
FTC Speculative Fiction Challenge - 20 Read -  I've completed this!
BV's YA of 80s and 90s Challenge - 14 Read - also completed.
Personal Classic Challenge -  6 Read

Highlight of the month: Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn - and her answers to my Q&A - she was great to talk too. :-)

Honorable Mentions: Tempest's Legacy and Twice Bitten were both great additions to  great Urban Fantasy series.

Phew - what a busy month! So what was your month like?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Long Weekend Review

The Long Weekend
-       Savita Kalhan
Publisher: UK – Andersen Press
Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive?
The cover of The Long Weekend was what first attracted me to this book – it looked creepy, atmospheric and scary. Having finished, I can say it is definitely all those things – but there is no supernatural in this book. This is a story that could really happen – and that is what makes it truly terrifying. There are no ghosts, vampires, zombies or werewolves. No magic. No monsters – apart from us humans.
Sam is only 12 years old and the book is told from his point of view. As such the writing feels at times childish and simplistic, which is a great juxtaposition to events that unfold as the story continues. Sam is instantly likeable, being the new kid at school recently befriended by the popular Lloyd. He starts the novel very much as the follower, naive and impressionable, but as the story processes he matures, learns to stand up for himself and for Lloyd. It isn’t always easy – for Sam or for us to read, but the whole time you are rooting for him and willing him on. In fact I spent most of the book gripping the pages, desperate for Sam and Lloyd to be okay. The lack of supernatural works very much in the books favour, making you truly terrified of events while with supernatural threats part of you always knows it’s not real.
While there is nothing explicit in the story, the implied actions and reading behind the lines would not make this book suitable for young teens – definitely one for the older crowd. And one story I would recommend that everyone reads – its not long only 180 page or so, but it will stay with you long after the final page has closed.
Recommended for fans of Rachel Ward and Patrick Ness. 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Early Review: Bride of the Night

Bride of the Night
-       Heather Graham
Publisher: Harlequin – Published on 29th November 2011
E-Arc with thanks to netgalley and Harlequin
She's the vampire that could destroy a nation. At least, that's what Pinkerton detective Finn Dunne thinks of Tara Fox. Capturing her aboard a ship sneaking its way northward, he's convinced she's been sent to take out President Lincoln. While she's certainly the most attractive assassin he's ever faced, that won't keep him from his duty. Tara has always been caught between worlds. As a vampire born and raised in Key West, she has many friends among the humans. Many friends that are now fighting and dying in the raging Civil War. When her strange dreams began, she thought of them as abstract visions. But she now knows that she must travel to Washington, D.C., and protect the president at all costs. Finn still won't trust her, despite what he's seen. And if Tara has to go through him—or bring reinforcements—to save Lincoln, she will do whatever it takes, even if it costs her her heart.

This is another book in Heather Graham’s American Civil War with Vampires series (I’m sure it’s got a better name for the series but quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered to look it up!). Usually I’m a fan of Heather Graham, enjoying a few hours of escapism with some light romance. However, this book really annoyed me.
First, I’m a Brit so some of the nuances of the American Civil War pass me by. However, we live in the twenty-first century and no-one believes in slavery any more.  Yet I felt like I was whacked around the head with the ‘Slavery is bad’ message continually – from both the Yankee and Confederate sides. Both sides seemed to agree that slavery was wrong so why was it mentioned every five pages by a different character who all agreed on the same point...? It’s not relevant to today’s world and it didn’t feel relevant to that period either with no-one arguing against it. Second, the story didn’t really make sense. Tracking down a potential vampire assassin on the high seas is a fantastic idea with so much potential. But if I was the assassin, all I had to do was stay quiet until the ship reached Washington instead of making everyone aware that there was a vampire onboard! These meant that during a lot of the set pieces – like the attack on the island seemed pretty pointless.
That all said, there were elements I enjoyed. I really liked our heroine, Tara – she’s strong, feisty and fiercely loyal. I adored her determination and care for her friends and other humans. It was my need to see what happened to her that kept me reading. Finn, was a typical hero – all alpha male and unsure if he can trust Tara or not. He was masculine and strong but not outstanding. Tara was the shining light in this story for me though. Some of the action sequences were great – the creepiness of exploring a ship which may be full of vampires was very well done and the attack at the church was very atmospheric. In the end I liked the heroine, I liked the action scenes and I liked the initial idea. It just didn’t feel thought through enough. Shame, as otherwise I would have loved it. Oh, and I hate the cover.
Recommended for fans of Nora Roberts and Christine Feehan. 5 out of 10

Sunday, 27 November 2011

My Book Haul/ In My Mailbox

The Story Siren hosts a weekly meme where bloggers can share what goodies they've purchased/received this week. If you get a chance head over to The Story Siren and check out what everyone is up to!
My book buying ban is going well - I'm very proud that I've gone three weeks without purchasing any books. Yay me! My bank manager is very happy - although I suspect that Amazon is wondering about the reduction in their orders!

However, I have still been getting books in the mail - just the one this week, but a book I've been after for so long - I actually mentioned it on Thursday Throwback - guess lady fate was smiling down on me! I was so surprised to find it on ReaditSwapit - and excited when my request for a swap was accepted!

The Dragon Queens - Traci Harding
Publisher: Voyager
Ashlee Devere, 19th century clairvoyant, adventurer and historian, is called upon to authenticate a Sumerian text that predates the Old Testament. Tamar, daughter of the renowned 21st century linguist Mia Montrose, reading Ashlee-s diaries for the first time, undergoes an astounding transformation - psychically and physically. Kali, a powerful goddess, and one of the keepers of the lost key to the gateway between our world and the next, is coming ... From the pyramids of Egypt to the legendary Halls of Amenti, from future myth to ancient science, from the sacred to the profane - the race to unlock the secrets of the Grail bloodline challenges the very nature of the gods...

I've been after this book for so long...and now I have it, I can finally read the whole trilogy! Expect a Traci Harding week sometime soon! :-)

A few weeks I entered the Harder, Faster, Stronger, Better Blog competition held by the awesome Gini Koch and I won! It arrived this week - a selection of yummy swag including the most awesome tote bag and pen. My fridge is now decorated with mini book covers magnets! I love it all. :-)
What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

On My Wishlist #65

This is a meme from Book Chick City. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I can keep track! This week I'm lusting after some good YA books...
Drink, Slay, Love - Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K Elderry
Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.
Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees. The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?
Quite a few of my blogger friends have read and raved about this book and I have to admit it sounds great - unicorns, vampires, teen relationships - what's not to love? :)
Once Every Never - Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Penguin
Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker… but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins. Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time—literally—maybe even get a date. This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every… never.
I came across this on Good Reads (Yes, I'm just about figuring out how to use Goodreads right!) and think it sounds so intriguing...
Banished - Sophie Littlefield
Publisher: Delacorte Books
There isn't much worth living for in Gypsum, Missouri, or "Trashtown," as the rich kids call the run down neighborhood where sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives. As far as Hailey knows, she's never going to belong. Not with the kids at school or with her cruel, sickly grandmother, who keeps their household afloat by dealing drugs out of the basement.
But Hailey can't help the feeling that she has some kind of gift, or curse, that makes the other kids shy away from her. Hailey is drawn to those in pain, those who need to be healed. And when her dog Rascal is hit by a car, Hailey's gift is revealed. Not only can she heal, she can bring the suffering back to life. And Hailey will soon find out, this power to heal is just the beginning . . .

I adore Sophie's Aftertime books so I'm starting to look at her back catalogue and this sounds so interesting - just the idea of a Gran dealing in drugs is original enough - let alone the healing!

What are you wishing for this week? :)

Friday, 25 November 2011

Dearly Departed Review

Dearly, Departed
-        -   Lia Habel

Publisher: Del Ray

E-Arc with thanks to netgalley and Del Ray Books
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

Dearly, Departed is set in a particularly unique world that combines a lot of different genres – post-apocalypse, steampunk, YA, romance, and of course zombies. Set in the future where the world’s population now hugs the equator for warmth, one tribe has embraced the ‘golden’ age of Victorian London as their culture, recreating the manners and morals of that age, but with the luxury of computers and electronics, This makes it seem like a bizarre mix of old fashion and modern. While it threw me at first, I soon came to enjoy this unique mix.

Nora, our heroine has been grieving for her father for a year, when she is accosted by some strangely rotting people in her home and is propelled into Bram’s arms – who knows more about her than she would like. I liked Nora’s continued care with the zombies she comes across – she doesn’t let her guard down straight away and Bram’s method of winning her trust is very sweet. I didn’t think I would fall for a zombie boy – but with Bram I believed I could! However, Nora still seems like a very passive heroine – she doesn’t actually do much throughout the story – apart from scream and be stubborn. I much preferred reading about Pamela, Nora’s best friend who is caught between her education and society expectations and being herself and her family. She is much more relate-able – and come the finale, Pamela was much more gun-ho – grabbing her bow and arrows and risking herself to help others. More Pamela please!

The mix of good and bad zombies is great as well – especially with the good zombies knowing their time is still limited. Overall characters are much stronger than plot and it was the characters that kept me reading. I wanted to know more about Bram, Chas, Pamela. Some of the characters actions and motivations didn’t really make sense (What was Wolfe’s master plan? It didn’t make sense!), but it didn’t matter much, as the characters were what you wanted to read about! Even small characters that don’t get much time feel like fully rounded individuals – Dr Samedi and Bailey Chase were so colourful with just a c few scenes. And no steampunk flavoured novel is complete without an airship!

Great characters, interesting world, fun action made this a fun read. I will be looking out for the sequel, Dearly Beloved.

Recommended for fans of Beth Revis and Julie Kagawa.  7.5 out of 10

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Throwback Thursday #32 - Gene of Isis

This is a great feature that Melissa at My 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?

Gene of Isis - Traci Harding
 Mia Montrose is a 21st-century Australian woman with a Doctorate in Ancient Languages who has just scored the most promising job of her career. When Mia experiences mysterious happenings and forces beyond her control, she begins to understand that history does not always stay in the past. Ashlee Granville is a 19th-century clairvoyant, forced to suppress her talents as she enters the marriage market of English upper-class society. But Ashlee is not a girl who likes to bow to the inevitable - she has plans of her own. Lillet du Lac is a 13th-century woman, priestess of an ancient order now protected by the Cathar faith, who are making their last stand against the Roman Catholic Franks at the giant hill fort of Monts├ęgur. As the castle falls, Lillet escapes with something more valuable than any of their lives … Despite the time, distance and cultures that separate them, these women have several things in common. They belong to an ancient bloodline of Grail kings, protected by a Sion knight named Albray, and they are each compelled to visit an ancient mountain in the Sinai. This mountain contains the keys which may unlock a gateway to a dimension of light and the Gene of Isis.
When I spent a few months travelling in Australia a few years ago I fell in love with an author called Traci Harding and her Ancient Future trilogy. So when I got home I picked up as many of her books as I could find including this one Gene of Isis. Only trouble is that I can't seem to find Dragon Queens the second book of this trilogy anywhere (or at least not for a reasonable price!). I know when I start to read this book I will want the second and third books ready to start as soon as possible when I finish I'm stuck looking wistfully at this book for the time being...any ideas? :)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Audiobook: Cards On The Table

Cards On The Table
Written by Agatha Christie
Performed by a full BBC Cast
It was the match-up of the century: four sleuths--Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard; Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, famed writer of detective stories; Col. Race of His Majesty's Secret Service; and the incomparable Hercule Poirot - invited to play bridge with four specially invited guests, each of whom had gotten away with murder! But before the first rubber was completed, the host was dead.
I went through a stage in my early teens when I read through all the Hercule Poirot books I could get my hands on. I never liked Miss Marple for some reason, but I couldn’t get enough of ‘ze little grey cells’. So when I came across a BBC audio drama based on one Poirot’s cases I thought I would give it a spin.
This is only a short play – only 1 hour 45 minutes in total, but the mystery is intriguing. The host of a dinner party is murdered in the same room as four people he claimed had gotten away with murder. This is one of the original who-dunnits with no mystery really over how it was done. There is no crime scene investigation – all the investigation was done through talking and thinking – with Poirot making the connections between what people said and what that means. However, what is surprising is how little Poirot actually does in this story. It might be the way the story has been adapted for radio but here he has one of suspects visit him and count stockings (really!) but apart from that he all he does is talk about bridge. I don’t play bridge – and have no idea what the rules or method is – and it isn’t explained. Perhaps Christie thought that everyone knew how to play and it doesn’t need explaining – but times changes and all the discussion around the match is lost on me. Unfortunately there is a lot of discussion – and I found my attention drifting at times.
The voice acting is top notch – with each character brought to life and given some very different characters by some of the best of British voice artists. Overall, though I think the set up and idea is better than the execution here.
Recommended for fans of Agatha Christie and Jules Verne. 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Little (occasionally annoying, sometimes infuriating) Women‏

Last week I chuckled when my friend Emma wrote a mini-rant on facebook about one of the great classic books of female literature - Little Women by Louise May Alcott so I asked her to expand on her thoughts here...and for those of you who don't know anything about the story it's still a very amusing mini-rant!

Little Women
- Louise May Alcott

Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters--Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth-- and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.

The classic American novel Little Women has one of fiction's most famous opening lines*:

" "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, " grumbled Jo, lying on the rug"

and off we go into the world of the March sisters - refined Meg, tomboyish Jo, saintly Beth and vain Amy. I first met these girls when I was aged about 10, thanks to my aunt's childhood copy of the novel sitting temptingly on the shelf at my Grandparents' house, and I remember enjoying the time I spent in their company. Last week, many years older, I picked up the book again. I'd recently visited Boston and New England, where Louise May Alcott had lived and had set her story, and was seized by an urge to read it again. On Saturday I finished it, sighed, logged onto facebook and wrote:

"I've just finished rereading Little Women, which I remember loving as a child. Is it wrong that I now find all the female characters insufferably goody goody?"

Mel saw my mini-rant and kindly offered me this opportunity to try to try and better explain my problems with the book. Before reading any further a warning: there are going to be PLOT SPOILERS ahead, so beware if you've not read it. There may also be some shouting if things go badly. Turn away now if you, like little Beth, are of a delicate disposition.

So what changed? How did the fun story in my memory of the growing pains of four friendly, lively sisters turn into a highly moralistic and sanctimonious tale of doing your duty, learning how to be a proper housewife and giving up all your childhood dreams? I've had a long think about this and come to the conclusion that the problem isn't with the novel, it's with me. I grew up and, unlike the March girls, got feminist. As a child of about the same age as Amy I could enjoy their young adventures with their conveniently rich and handsome neighbour Laurie, think it sweet when Jo finally finds the man of her dreams, and probably didn't pay much attention to the lessons on being a good little wife from their saintly mother. As an adult I'm disappointed and annoyed that Jo has apparently sacrificed her promising writing career for an old man with a comedy german accent. A man moreover who seems to randomly turn up again after not being heard of for three years. I don't understand why she can't do both, but in this world if you're a women you should know your place (in the home, looking after your husband) and be content.

I shouldn't be completely negative. The young protaganists do feel like real people (well, maybe not saintly Beth, but she's the typical child innocent who turns up all the time in Victorian fiction to teach us all a lesson in suffering), and you do get a strong impression of what it's like to live in their world. Thinking back over it, I did enjoy the story, I just wish the Pilgrims Progress preachiness could be unwrapped from the coming of age tale.

Does this mean you can't go back and revisit old childhood friends? Definitely not! Last time I was over here it was to sing the praises of Diana Wynne Jones whose books I've never stopped enjoying. However, tread carefully and don't be too upset if you find that you're now more mature than the dated playfellows you've left behind. I'm going to try this experiment again and see if another classic American children's novel Anne of Green Gables has fared better. Maybe I'll come back and tell you how I got on if, as I'm sure a proper Miss March would say, Mel permits me the indulgence.

*really, it does. I checked with google

Monday, 21 November 2011

2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge

So in 2011 I challenged myself to complete 4 reading challenges and even though the year is not yet over, I'm already thinking about 2012 challenges. I came across this challenge over at Donna & Jess's Book Passion for Life blog - and it sounded like it was made for me! My TBR pile is huge (and if you don't believe me, check out my To Be Read Shelf page up top) and doesn't seem to be getting any smaller! Hopefully this challenge will enable me to make my way through some of those books that have been sat on my shelf for far too long.

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, agiveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this monthFor each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you'll get +1 entry in the giveaway.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;) 
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL. 
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!   <
1-10 - A Firm Handshake 
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

Evie from Bookish@SeoEvie
Bonnie from Hands and Home -  @HandsHomeBlog
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading - @caitlingss
Christa from Hooked On Books - @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction  @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision  @mermaidvisions

January Donna (Theme: Let It Snow + Book Cover Challenge)
February Nicole (Theme: Un-requited Love/Love Gone Wrong + Advice Column Challenge)
MarchRie (Theme: Green or Pinched + Green Cover Challenge)
April -  Bonnie (Theme: Easter + Mini Challenge)
MayChrista (Theme: MayDay - Disaster Books! + Cover Disaster Challenge)
JuneJenna ( Theme: Camping + Sentence Challenge)
JulyRie (Theme: International Day + Cover Comparison Challenge)
AugustAngel (Theme: Summer Memories + Send Your Fav Character On Vacation Challenge)
September Nicole (Theme: Life Changing Books + Mini Challenge)
OctoberCaitlin (Theme: Thanksgiving Theme + Share-A-Book Challenge)
November Vicky (Theme: Spooky Halloween + Book Puzzle Challenge)
December Evie (Theme: Xmas Bliss + Book Bachelor Challenge)

Here's what I'm planning on reading during the challenge:

I'm planning on going for the A Sweet Kiss level (21-30 books) - hopefully I'll read much more than that but I figure it's easier to move up a level than to struggle to finish! I'm not sure exactly which books to read but if you do check out my TBR Shelf it will consist of as many of them as possible! Any suggestions where to start? :-)


Sunday, 20 November 2011

My Book Haul/ In My Mailbox

The Story Siren hosts a weekly meme where bloggers can share what goodies they've purchased/received this week. If you get a chance head over to The Story Siren and check out what everyone is up to!
Week two of the book buying ban is over - and still going strong! Yay me! Still my winning streak is going strong so I did get one win-book in the mail as well as a couple of arcs...

The Long Weekend - Savita Kalhan
Publisher: UK - Andersen Press
Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive?

I won this at Daisy Chain Book Reviews and it looks like a proper spooky read. Also as it's not a particularly long book I think I might try to sneak it into my reading schedule in the next few days.

The next two books I recieved ARCs from Templar publishing and both look like interesting additions to 2012 launches!

India Knight - Kirsty Murray
Publisher: Templar
MADRAS, 1910: two girls are caught up in a scandal that will change their lives forever. Singing and dancing across a hundred stages in a troupe of child performers, they travel by steam train into the heart of India. But as one disaster follows another, money runs short and tempers fray. What must the girls do to protect themselves, and how many lives will be ruined if they try to break free?

Don't Call Me Ishmael - Michael Gerard Bauer
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Hounded by the school bully and struck dumb in the presence of girls, the year doesn't get off to a good start for Ishmael when he is asked to take misfit James Scobie under his wing. However, life takes some unexpected turns as Ishmael and his friends embark on the most embarrassingly awful... and the best year of their lives.

What have you picked up this week? :)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

On My Wishlist #64

This is a meme from Book Chick City. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I can keep track! This week I'm looking at what's on the other side...

First Grave of the Right - Darynda Jones
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This seems like a a fun read and I do like the idea of persuading people into the light!

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

The cover of this is just so spooky. This sounds so creepy - I wish it had been out hor Halloween but alas it's not published until December!

Acension - Sable Grace
Publisher: Avon Books
The gates of hell have opened, and one woman will stand in the crossfire as the Dark Breed—vampyre, demons, shape shifters—and mankind fight their last battle for survival.
Kyana is half Vampyre, half Lychen . . . and the last of her kind. Determined, dangerous, and damned, she has no love for the mortals who have imprisoned and misused her. But when the Order of Ancients entrusts her with a mission—to find the key that will send the Dark Breed back into Hell for eternity—Kyana has no choice but to accept.
She is furious to learn her assignment comes with an escort . . . Ryker, a demigod and fierce warrior who long ago found a way under her skin and stayed there. In a shaky alliance, they discover an ancient cult with dangerous motive and a god who seeks to destroy all others. And as Kyana begins to feel the heat that threatens to bind her to Ryker, she knows she has to resist. For it could only mean the undoing of them both...

This is UF how I like it! Sounds like a good read and with hell open anything can happen!

So what are you wishing for? :)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Joint Review: Forgive My Fins

Today I have an experiment for you. My regular cinema buddy and guest reviewer Sarah and I have decided to try to do a joint review – it’s our first attempt so bear with us! The book we’ve decided to review if Forgive My Fins…

Forgive My Fins
- Tara Lyn Childs

Publisher: UK - Templar

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush. Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life. When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Mel: Forgive My Fins is about a teenaged mermaid, Lily who has spent the last three years living on land in order to learn more about her mother who was human. She does all the usual teenaged things – gossip with her best, have a crush on a boy, rivalry with her annoying neighbor and of course has a bath where she can transform her legs into a tail. In that respect it reminded a little of the Splash film from the 80s with Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks…

Sarah: Me too!  Now, I read quite a lot of YA books, and Forgive My Fins doesn't really step off the beaten track in terms of storyline, but I don't know about you Mel, but I really liked Lily.  Her ocean-themed insults are brilliant, and she's a wonderfully feisty character who makes a LOT of mistakes.  So many in fact, that she makes my teenage years seem relatively smooth (I can predict Mel is squawking a 'what? like hell' at the computer screen right now!).  And, is it really wrong of me to fancy the boy-lead, Quince (even if he does have a ridiculous name....)?

Mel: I have to agree that her nautical insults are fantastic -and very easy to pick up -  I nearly called someone a blowfish today! Lily's mistakes are numerous and I thought she was very naive a lot of time - especially with regards to her crush, Brody. I was shocked at one point when Lily reminded me that she was nearly eighteen as I thought she was acting more like a fifteen year old - but this can be explained by her upbringing as a mermaid! But Quince was definitely good crush material! He was so manly, understandable and swoonsome! :-)

Sarah: Ok, so now I'm a little concerned at us both swooning over a fictitious eighteen year old...  I also loved Tera Child's underwater world - lovely descriptions with a hefty dose of inventiveness.  My criticisms though?  Quince, and especially best friend Shannen, accept the 'Lily is a mermaid' revelation WAY too easily - come on, it's meant to be set in our world, if someone told me they were a mermaid I'd be smiling and nodding whilst reaching for the straightjacket.  Saying 'oh yeah, you do use a lot of nautical words' really isn't a convincing explanation for immediate acceptance!

Mel: But some of us do try and leave the straightjacket at home for our crazy friends whenever possible! ;-) I agree everyone seemed to accept the mermaid bt easily - and with little proof (no showing off her tail to prove it). But the writing was so easy and the banter between characters such fun that I never really questioned it much - until now! The underwater scenes are great - although I was wondering how they kept things on tables - especially food at mealtimes. But the city and rituals are inventive. Overall, I really 'swam' through the pages of the book (sorry - you have to give me at least one pun!) and had a lot of fun.

Sarah: Definitely - it's a wonderfully pacy book that's very easy to read and keeps you interested right to the very end.  All in all, nothing ground breaking, but definitely worth a read.  One for fans of Lili St Crow and Kelley Armstrong's YA series, 7.5 out of 10 from me.

Mel: I'd recommend for fans of Tamora Pierce and Lauren Kate. 7 out of 10.