Sunday, 31 July 2011

Mel's Random July + WINNER!

Another month bites the dust! July is over and I had such a mixed month - loved a week away in the sun in Cyprus, but some illness in the family meant the relaxation disappeared and the stress returned pretty quickly. Still, I did manage to read 8 books in a week - I'm still making my way through the reviews of the books but expect August to be littered with holiday reading reviews. In the meantime, the water around Paphos was so clear and the food was yummy - do you want to see some holiday snaps? Tough - I want to share! :-)

The Clear Waters of the Med - can you spot the sail ship in the distance?
The sun shone all week!
So how did this impact the reading situation?

Books
Teachers Pet - Richie Tankersley Cusick (BV's YA of the 80s and 90s)
Secrets of the Demon - Diana Rowland (FCC's Speculative Fiction Challenge)
The Quarry - Johan Theorin (BCC's Mystery and Suspense Challenge)
Changes (Dresden Files 12) - Jim Butcher (FCC's Speculative Fiction Challenge)
Forgotten - Cat Patrick

Sparks - Laura Bickle
Vampire Academy: Blood Promise - Richelle Mead

EBooks
Hard Spell - Justin Gustainis (BCC's Mystery and Suspense Challe
nge)
Lost Voices - Sarah Porter
War of the Worlds - HG Wells (Personal Classics Challenge)
Rebirth - Sophie Littlefield
Scared Evil (Krewe of Hunters 3) - Heather Graham
Firelight - Sophie Jordan

Guest Reviews
Sarah reviewed the third Kitty Norville book - Kitty Takes a Holiday - Carrie Vaughn  



Events
I visited the British Library's Out Of This World exhibition - open all summer if you fancy a visit! 

Other Posts
In Book Temple, I discovered the joy of swapping with Read It- Swap It
Same Book/Different Cover looked at The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforfde
In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays.

I also had a blog post at Melissa's My World about my top 10 UF books in the last 2 years as a part of her blogoversary celebration! Also check out her 3 Giveaway as part of the celebration. :)

Winner!
I also held a competition for my spare copy of VA Blood Promises and the winner is...drumroll please....


Congratulations Karen - book is on it's way to you! :-)

So with all that in mind my reading challenges status looks like this:
BCC's Mystery & Suspense Challenge - 10 Read, 2 Left to read
FTC Speculative Fiction Challenge - 15 Read - officially I've completed this! Yay! However, I'll continue to post reviews and see how I can do in the second half of the year.
BV's YA of 80s and 90s Challenge - 12 Read, Again I've officially finished this but I'll continue to add to the reviews as I picked up so many old YA books - I need to read some of them!  
Personal Classic Challenge -  4 Read

Highlight of the Month: My holiday! I loved kicking back and managing to get through a book a day on average - it's been ages since I was able to focus on reading like that.
Honourable Mentions: Changes by Jim Butcher was my favourite read of the month, but special mention to Sparks by Laura Bickle, Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield and Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis which are highly recommended as well!

So what was your month like? :)

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!
This might be my last Mailbox for a while as I'm planning on not purchasing anything throughout August in order to reduce the TBR slightly - by not adding to it this month. Who knows if it will work or not...
Deceived By The Others - Jess Haines
Publisher: Zebra
They're here, and they're real. . .werewolves, vampires, mages, and other creatures of the night. For New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest, taking care of Others business started out as a way to stay solvent. But now business is getting very, very complicated. . .
Shiarra's relationship with sexy werewolf Chaz may be somewhat unconventional. Still, after a few bumps, Shia is finally ready to get serious. That means meeting family—or in this case, bringing Chaz's entire werewolf pack along for a rollicking full-moon weekend in the Catskills.
Soon after they arrive, threatening notes appear, warning Chaz to go home. Then their cabin is ransacked. Shia starts digging to find out whether it's the work of upstart teenaged werewolves or something more sinister. Yet as rumors about her vampire connections arouse the pack's hostility, Shia has to contend with other dangers. Not just from an adversary about to make his fatal intentions known, but from a threat that's even closer than she knows. . .

I won this from the fabulous Kristin at My Bookish Ways during her Favourite Things month - and it's signed by the equally fabulous Jess Haines herself! I read the first in the series, Hunted By The Others while on holiday (review to come this week) so I can't wait to get to the third one in the series...only trouble is Taken By The Others is the second one...

Taken By The Others - Jess Haines
Publisher: Zebra

Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest's most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she's dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both want Shia - for very different reasons. Max is determined to destroy Shia for killing his progeny, while Royce's interest is a lot more personal. That's not sitting well with Shia's werewolf boyfriend, Chaz. As the feud between Max and Royce gets ever more deadly, a powerful vampire-hunting faction is urging Shia to join their side. Shia has always believed vamps were the bad guys, but she's discovering unexpected shades of grey that are about to redefine her friends, her loyalties - and even her desires.

Okay, as I had the third book, I had to buy the second, didn't I?

Bryant and May Off The Rails - Christopher Fowler
Publisher: UK - Bantam
Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit are on the trail of an enigma: a young man called Mr Fox. But his identity is false, his links to society are invisible and his home yields no clues. All they know is that somehow he escaped from a locked room and murdered one of their best and brightest.

I won this in a facebook competition from Transworld publisher. I've read a couple in the Bryant and May series already and enjoy the quirky mysteries so this should be fun.

Kitty's Big Trouble - Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: UK - Gollancz
Kitty Norville is back and in more trouble than ever.  Her recent run-in with werewolves traumatized by the horrors of war has made her start wondering how long the US government might have been covertly using werewolves in combat. Have any famous names in our own history might have actually been supernatural?  She's got suspicions about William Tecumseh Sherman.  Then an interview with the right vampire puts her on the trail of Wyatt Earp, vampire hunter. But her investigations lead her to a clue about enigmatic vampire Roman and the mysterious Long Game played by vampires through the millennia.  That, plus a call for help from a powerful vampire ally in San Francisco, suddenly puts Kitty and her friends on the supernatural chessboard, pieces in dangerously active play.  And Kitty Norville is never content to be a pawn...

I love Kitty Norville and this is the ninth in the series. I pre-ordered it ages and it finally came through! Now I just have to figure out when I can start reading it...

Shift - Jeri Smith-Ready
Publisher: UK - Simon Pulse
Aura's life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can't deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she's not sure that she wants to. Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift. As Aura's search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

I read Shade last year and loved it so I'm really looking forward to seeing Aura's up to next!

So what did you pick up this week? :)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

On My Wishlist #49

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 to start some new series that look cool. 
 
Blood Bound (Unbound 1) - Rachel Vincent
Publisher: MIRA (August 2011 in US, September 2011 in UK)

As a bloodtracker, Liv is extremely powerful. And in a world where power is a commodity that can get you killed, Liv's learnt to survive by her own rules. Rule number one? Trust no one.
But when a friend's daughter goes missing, Liv is bound by a potent magical oath. She can't rest until the child is safe. And that means trusting her dangerous ex, Cam. A sinister prophecy tells that she and Cam will be the death of each other, yet Liv's tired of being a slave to destiny. She's ready to play the forces controlling her world at their own game
.
No matter the cost

I loved Rachel's werecat/Shifter series and she's now an automatic must buy author. However, even without the Rachel Vincent name I think I would want to read this as it sounds so good!
(PS - I had to use the UK cover as I much prefer it to the US one!)
 
A Touch of Frost - Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kensington (August 2011)
Gwen Frost is an outsider at Mythos Academy, a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword. Gwen is an outsider both to the students of the Academy and the rest of the world. But when her gift of psychometry - the ability to know an object's history just by touching it reveals dark undercurrents and danger afoot, she has no choice but to get involved.

I have to confess that I've not read any of Estep's Elemental Assassins series yet (but I will!), however, this  new YA series looks great - kind of like Hogwarts crossed with Camelot!

Timecaster - Joe Kimball
Publisher: Ace Books
Chicago, 2064: Talon Avalon is a timecaster-one of a select few peace officers who can operate a TEV, the Tachyon Emission Visualizer, which records events (most specifically, crimes) that have already happened. With crime at an all-time low, Talon has little to do except give lectures to school kids and obsess on his wife's profession as a licensed sex partner. Until one of her clients asks Talon to investigate a possible murder. When Talon uses the TEV to view the crime, the identity of the killer is unmistakable-it's him, Talon Avalon.

As regular followers may know, I do love a bit of time travel and while this might seem similar to minority report, I love the idea of being able to see the future. I definitely think is worth checking out!

So what are you wishing for this week? :-)
 

Friday, 29 July 2011

Firelight Review

Firelight
-       Sophie Jordan
Kindle Book
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form. Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Jacinda is conflicted. She’s struggles against the pressure her people put on her as a rare fire breathing Draki. At the same time she struggles against her family who want to keep her safe and leave her inner Draki behind. As Jacinda struggles to find the balance that is right for her, she is drawn to Will, the hunter who nearly cost her, her life. Sophie Jordan’s twist on Dragons, the Draki are pretty cool and I loved how they need moisture to survive.
There is a very sweet love story here which I adored. Sometimes the romance in YA feels a little forced or I don’t understand the attraction between the leads, but Will and Jacinda feels natural together. I loved the difficulty in their relationship – very Romeo and Juliet. Will’s families are hunters – although why they hunt Draki or what the benefits for them are is not explored in much depth. This gave some depth to the usual first love story.
The writing was expressive and I did feel conflicted as Jacinda’s Mum and sister adapt to the mortal world better than Jacinda. It did feel at times like she was being selfish, but at the same time her family were asking a lot of her! There is plenty of teenage angst and some fun secondary characters – I loved Jacinda’s friends and the nosy neighbour! A word of warning, this ends on something of a cliff hanger which will lead you to want to pick up the sequel, Vanish as soon as it is released!
Recommended for fans of Twilight and House of Night. 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Throwback Thursday #17 - Blood Oath

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?
 
Blood Oath - Christopher Farnsworth
Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it’s not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America’s best kept secret:
Nathaniel Cade. The President’s vampire.
And Cade is the world’s only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out . . .

I actually won this in a giveaway last year and it looks like a great combination of my favourite genres - vampires and thriller! My main reason for not reading it yet - it's a large paperback which is awkward to carry in my bag on the train. Do I need to sing my usual chorus - I will read it sometime! :)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Early Review: Sacred Evil

Sacred Evil (Krewe of Hunters 3)
-       Heather Graham
Publisher: MIRA – released 26th July 2011 in US
E-Copy courtesy of netgalley and MIRA
The details of the crime scene are no coincidence. The body – a promising starlet – has been battered, bloodied and then discarded between two of Manhattan’s oldest graveyards. One look and Detective Jude Crosby recognizes the tableau: a re-creation of Jack the Ripper’s gruesome work. But he also sees something beyond the actions of a mere copycat. Something more dangerous…and unexplainable. As the city seethes with suspicion, Jude calls on Whitney Tremont, a member of the country’s preeminent paranormal investigating team, to put the speculation to rest. Yet when Whitney and Jude delve deeper, what they discover is more shocking than either could have predicted, and twice as sinister…

This is the third in the Krewe of Hunters series and perhaps the strongest story so far. The focus this time is on Whitney, the film expert from New Orleans and her partnership with New York Detective Jude. Someone is recreating Jack the Ripper’s victims in New York over 120 year after the original murders...or is Jack himself back?
Jack the Ripper is always a fascinating subject – an infamous murderous spree that stopped suddenly with no culprit ever caught. The move from the traditional Ripper stomping ground of Whitechapel to downtown Manhattan was smooth and fit with the history of New York. New York is always a city that adds character to stories and enjoyed the hints of the past and present of the city that never sleeps.
Once again I enjoyed the relationships here most. The focus is obviously on Whitney and Jude, but I liked the camaraderie of the Krewe – more prevalent here than in the second story, Heart of Evil. In addition we are introduce to some of New York’s finest also working on the taskforce, which made the story feel grounded and closer to a real crime investigation, than we’ve seen for a while. It also enabled Jude and Whitney’s relationship to develop and liked that they didn’t jump straight into bed together. The relationships are definitely the meat of the story with the fascinating crimes the perfectly balanced wine complement and the ghost elements...a yummy desert!
An enjoyable and easy read that doesn’t waste time and drives the story forward – great for a summer read with a blend of crime, romance and ghostly happenings.
Recommended for fans of Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. 7.5 out of 10

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Guest Review: Kitty Takes A Holiday (Kitty Norville 3)

Kitty Takes A Holiday (Kitty Norville 3)
- Carrie Vaughn

Publisher: Gollancz

Kitty Norville's established herself as a DJ, with her midnight talk show Kitty's Midnight Hour, been forced into revealing herself to the nation as a werewolf and testified to the Senate about the supernatural denizens of the USA, but now it's time to lay low in a remote Colorado cabin and work on her memoirs. Her plans get derailed when sexy werewolf hunter Cormac Bennett shows up with her lawyer, Ben O'Farrell, who's been bitten and is about to turn into a werewolf himself. But Kitty's hideaway is neither as peaceful nor as secret as she hopes, for barbed-wire crosses start showing up all over the place, and, worse, gruesome animal sacrifices are left at her door. Someone wants them gone, and it's up to Kitty and Cormac to find out who's stalking them - before someone gets really hurt . . .

It's great having Mel as a good friend - not only do I get to write book reviews part time, I also get to raid her extensive library whenever my TBR pile gets too small!  It's because of her that I'm reading the Kitty series by Carrie Vaughn, and thoroughly recommend you do too.

Kitty is a werewolf and a DJ with her own paranormal-based show in which she gets to explore the supernatural world in which she lives, help other supernaturals with their issues, and sometimes even convert the normal person into a believer.  She has also, over the course of the three books I've read so far, got herself into a heap of trouble!

Kitty Takes a Holiday (I love the titles of these books, so simplistic, like kiddy books, but with definitely adult content!) concerns the premise that Kitty has finally had enough of being attacked, insulted and questioned and has retreated to a cabin in the wilds to lick her wounds and write a novel.  However, as with all Kitty books, solitude and quiet never hang around for long...

This story has some fascinating developments for Kitty, and a very intriguing love triangle (it's not very often I truly can't decide who I am rooting for!).  The reaction of ordinary people to Kitty never ceases to amaze or anger me too, although it also makes me question how I would respond if the creatures from my favourite books came knocking at my door.  At times the pace of the book slows a little too much for my comfort, and there are moments I could cheerfully shake some of the characters for their stupidity or stubbornness, but overall this is an engaging, thoroughly readable, intriguing book that definitely has me determined to steal book 4 from Mel's groaning shelves! 

For those who love Karen Macinerney's Urban Werewolf books, 8 out of 10.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Early Review: Rebirth

Rebirth (Aftertime 2)
-       Sophie Littlefield
Kindle Book
E-Copy courtesy of netgalley and MIRA
The end of the world was just the beginning. Civilization has fallen, leaving California an unforgiving, decimated place. But Cass Dollar beat terrible odds to get her missing daughter back—she and Ruthie will be happy. Yet with the first winter, Cass is reminded that happiness is fleeting in Aftertime. Ruthie retreats into silence. Flesh—eating Beaters still dominate the landscape. And Smoke, Cass's lover and strength, departs on a quest for vengeance, one that may end him even if he returns. The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too. Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. And soon Cass finds herself thrust into the dark heart of an organization promising humanity's rebirth—at all costs. Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.

This is the second book in  Sophie’s Aftertime trilogy set in a world where terrorism and war has lead to the end of civilization and a zombie virus arose to turn people into body eaters (called beaters). I adored the first book, Aftertime (Read my review here), so was really looking forward to seeing what happened next to Cass, her daughter Ruthie and Smoke. Rebirth starts a few months after the end of Aftertime with Cass scraping a living, but happy with her man, Smoke and her daughter. Then news arrives that the Rebuilders have attacked the school where Smoke and Cass first met – and either killed or taken the women and children there...including Dors daughter.
Cass is still the emotionally scarred woman we met before; with her every action informed by her experiences both good and bad. This time we see her running away, rather than running towards someone as in Aftertime. While I don’t necessarily agree with all her actions, I can understand them and I felt so much for her. Despite her strength, in many ways Cass ease fragile and easily bruised. Trusting others and loving is new to her and easily broken – all elements which help make Cass such a unique heroine.
The other element in Rebirth is the continual conflict – between Cass’s love interests Smoke and Dors; between rebirth and rebuilding. I loved the continual comparison between natural growth of nature verses the rebuilders forced growth – very symbolic of Cass’s journey. For me this was a much more emotional book than Aftertime interspersed with moments of pure adrenaline and rushing excitement as Cass heads towards challenging the rebuilders. The excitement and action is sudden and intense – leaving you breathless.
Nothing is black and white in this world and anything can be lost. It’s interesting that the beaters are not the big bad as such, but it’s the human element where the greater risks come from. I can’t wait to read the last Horizon – the last in the trilogy to see what happens next! Can't wait!
Recommended for fans of Mira Grant and Kate Griffin. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Holiday Winners!!!

Hello guys, I'm back! Had a fabulous week in the sun, reading my way through my kindle books plus a couple of paper books - you know, just in case the kindle didn't work! :-) And not to make you jealous or anything but Cyprus is a beautiful island - have a look!

The Water was so clear!

Anyway, thank you all for keeping up with me while I wasn't around - I loved the number of comments I had waiting for me when I logged on - you guys are the best!

So I had a giveaway running while I was away and I have a couple of winners to announce. Thanks to everyone who entered, but alas there can be only, well two winners this time. Congratulations to

Jennifer from Romancing The Book - winner of the UF Pack - Magic Slays + Hunted by The Others

and

Jade - winner of the YA Pack - Forgotten + Firelight

Well done both - your books are on the way!

Sorry for everyone else - I have a couple more giveaways coming up in August including my one year anniversary so expect something special for that next month!

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!
Now, I know you'd think that having been on holiday for a week I wouldn't have any new books to add to the TBR pile, but if I told you I had Thursday off from work and a new book token burning a hole in my purse then I know you can forgive me for a little visit to the book store the day after I was back in the country! :-)

Goddess of the Sea - P.C. Cast
Publisher: UK - Piatkus
Home alone on the night of her twenty-fifth birthday, US Air Force sergeant Christine Canady yearns for something to cure her loneliness. After drinking too much champagne, she recites a divine invocation to revive her humdrum life. But how is she to know the spell actually works? When her plane crashes into the ocean, CC's life changes forever. She awakens, bewildered, to find herself in a legendary time and place ruled by magic - and in the body of the mythical mermaid Undine. But danger lurks in the water, ready to swallow CC whole. Taking pity on her, the goddess Gaea turns CC into a damsel so that she might seek shelter on land. When a dashing knight comes to CC's rescue, instead of falling for this dream-come-true, she aches for the sea and the darkly sexy merman who's stolen her heart...

I have a few of the Goddess Summoning series waiting to be read on my TBR pile as I know they will be a nice comfortable read when I feel like them!

Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King
Publisher: UK -
Is it possible to fully know anyone? Even those we love the most? What tips someone over the edge to commit a crime?
For a Nebraska farmer, the turning point comes when his wife threatens to sell off the family homestead.
A cozy mystery writer plots a savage revenge after a brutal encounter with a stranger.
Dave Streeter gets the chance to cure himself from illness - if he agrees to impose misery on an old rival.
And Darcy Anderson discovers a box containing her husband's dark and terrifying secrets - he's not the man who keeps his nails short and collects coins. And now he's heading home . . .

Stephen King is another author I really admire and while I haven't read all his books I do enjoy his short stories.

0.4 - Mike Lancaster
Publisher: Egmont
It's a brave new world. 'My name is Kyle Straker. And I don't exist anymore.' So begins the story of Kyle Straker, recorded on to old audio tapes. You might think these tapes are a hoax. But perhaps they contain the history of a past world...If what the tapes say are true, it means that everything we think we know is a lie. And if everything we know is a lie does that mean that we are, too?

I spotted this in the clearance box for 99p and it sounds fabulous - how could I resist? :)

Numbers - Rachel Ward
Publisher: UK - Chicken House
Since her mother's death, fifteen-year-old Jem has kept a secret. When her eyes meet someone else's, a number pops into her head the date on which they will die. Knowing that nothing lasts forver, Jem avoids relationships, but when she meets a boy called Spider, and they plan a day out together, her life takes a new twist and turn. Waiting for the London Eye, she sees everyone in the queue has the same number - something terrible is going to happen.

Another clearance box bargain plus it's one I've wanted for ages!

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Publisher: UK - Schloastic
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

I know, I know - I must be so far behind everyone else with this series but now I can see what all the fuss is about!

So what have you received this week? :)

 

Saturday, 23 July 2011

On My Wishlist #48


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! What that's up in the sky..? Is it a bird? Is a plane? Is it superman? No, it's a dirigible! It's Steampunk time! :-)
The Girl In The Steel Corset -  Kady Cross
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the thing inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch. Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her.
I love the sound of this - like an Urban Fantasy in Victorian times. :-)
Cold Magic - Kate Elliott
Publisher: Orbit
It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy. Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world. Cat and her cousin Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?

I love the tag line on this book - Dragons Dream, Mages Scheme, Innocents Die. It makes me really curious about the story. I've never read any Kate Elliott books but apparently they are worth trying.

The Iron Thorn - Caitline Kittridge
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day. Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

This is another book I'm tempted to try based on the reviews I've read as well as the fact I loved Black and White which Caitlin wrote with Jackie Kessler.

So what are you wishing for this week? :)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Blood Promises (VA 4) Review + GIVEAWAY!

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy 4)
-       Richelle Mead
Publisher: UK – Penguin
** Warning – this review may contain spoilers for the first three Vampire Academy books**
How far will Rose go to keep a promise? The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir's Academy was the deadliest ever in the school's history, claiming the lives of many. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them - including Dimitri. He'd rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa - the one she has sworn to protect no matter what-and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

First I have to say that I love the Vampire Academy series so far (and if you don’t believe me check out my reviews of Vampire Academy, Frostbite and Shadow Kissed). I love the style of writing which lets you leap into Rose’s world and her view point. I love how Richelle Mead has captured the thoughts and feelings of an 18 year old learning her place in the world. I love the unique version on the vampire myth with dhampirs, Moroi and Strigoi. I also love how each book has built on what has happened before while at the same time created a complete story in its own right.
So having said on that, I didn’t love Blood Promise as much as the first three books. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a great read and all the elements that I loved from the first three books are there. However, with Rose away from St Vladimirs, Lissa and the rest of her support group meant that some of the additional characters which coloured her world and her interactions were missing. Seeing them through Lissa’s eyes didn’t have the kind of chemistry that I liked from the other books. This was especially noticeable in the first half of the book (although I do like Sydney even if I felt like force feeding her at times!)
But what is yummy with Blood Promise is the second half of the book which I can’t say too much about without spoilers! It deals with the heart of the relationship between Rose and Dimitri and what it means to lose the one you love. This once again proved how strong and compelling Richelle can make the second half of any book. If you’ve read this far in the Vampire Academy you’ll happily pick this up desperate for another dose of Rose, Lissa and the rest. And if you haven’t started the series yet...what are you waiting for? Pick up Vampire Academy now!
Recommended for fans of Maria V Snyder and Charlaine Harris. 7.5 out of 10
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Okay, through one thing and another I’ve ended up with two copies of Blood Promise, so being the generous person I am, I’m giving away my spare unread copy. Unfortunately I’m a little broke at the moment so this is only open to UK & EU addresses. Giveaway ends on Friday 29th July 2011. To enter, fill in the below form & Good Luck!

<GIVEAWAY ENDED>

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Throwback Thursday #16 - Edge of the World

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?
The Edge of the World - Kevin J Anderson
After generations of friction, the leaders of two lands meet in the holy city of Ishalem to bring an end to the bloodshed and to divide the world between them. Sadly, this new spirit of fellowship is short-lived. A single tragic accident destroys, in minutes, the peace that took years to build. The world is once more cast into the fires of war - and this time the flames may burn until nothing remains. From the highest lord to the lowest servant, no man or woman will be unchanged by the conflict. But while war rages across both continents, a great quest will defy storms and sea serpents to venture beyond the horizon, where no maps exist - to search for a land out of legend. It is a perilous undertaking, but there will always be the impetuous, the brave and the mad who are willing to leave their homes to explore the unknown. Even unto the edge of the world ...
I picked this up last year wanting some high seas fantasy. It looks like a lot of fun and I love a bit of politics. I haven't really been reading much fantasy for a while, but I want change that and expand some of my recent reading. Maybe I'll start with this! :)
What do you have, that you haven't read yet? :)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sparks Review

Sparks (Anya Kalinczyk 1)
-        Laura Bickle
Publisher: Pocket Books
Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion. After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.
I read and loved the first Anya Kalinczyk story, Embers, earlier in the year (review here) and have been waiting to start reading this sequel ever since. Finally, having decided that July is my joyful reading month – I’m only reading books I want to read and not review copies or other books so this was one of the first books I picked up. And I’m so happy it was!
I love Anya and her fire elemental, Sparky! They are great characters – strong willed, independent and caring. The past still haunts her and here she actually confronts the ghosts of her childhood. Anya continues to be one of those characters that thinks before she acts – a refreshing change in the UF genre! She is still a little aloof from others, but has opened up more since Embers and is moving closer to others particularly with Brian, Katie and even her boss Marsh. There are some great new characters introduced (love Charon!) and while the bad guy’s motivations are not explored in detailed the methods they use is very creepy.
The writing is smooth and comforting – like a bar of milk chocolate and effortlessly transports you to Detroit. The descriptions of the fires and ghosts are particularly realistic and effective. There is a great balance between characters and plot and the pages just flew past. I read this within 24 hours and wish I could have spread it out longer – but I was too greedy. I loved spending time with Anya and Sparky and can’t wait to read more of their adventures – I hope there will be more! This is a great series for those who like intelligent UF with plenty of fun from salamander familiars – just be careful going into a baby store with Sparky! J
Recommended for fans of Illona Andrews and Karen Chance. 8.5 out of 10.