Saturday, 31 March 2012

Mel's Random March

What a busy month! I can't remember a month that has seemed to busy for a long time - even excluding all the work (those toys don't play themselves!) I was still racing around the whole month. Two of my closest friends got engaged, I did a sponsored 14 mile march for a local hopsital - a great cause that is close to my heart as it's where my mum has been treated for the last nine months and I did a cupcake crawl! Yep, me and the girls went from tea-shop to cup cake shop tasting as many as we could in London. Actually I was a little disappointed that I couldn't eat more cakes! But have a look...yummy!

So how has this impacted the reading sitch?

The Water Room - Christopher Fowler (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge & British Book Challenge)
This Is Not Forgiveness - Cecila Rees (British Book Challenge)
By Royal Command - Mary Hooper (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge & British Book Challenge)
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
The Small Hand - Susan Hill (British Book Challenge)
Eye of the Tempest - Nicole Peeler(2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
In Books Confessions I discuss the idea of falling behind with favourite series...
I also had Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Trilogy as My Book Boyfriend
In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays.

So updating the challenges -

British Books Challenge - 9 Read, 3 Books to go
2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 15 Read, 15 Books to go

Best of the Bunch: The Hunger Games trilogy was brillant!! I especially liked Catching Fire but the whole trilogy is worth the hype. I quite enjoyed the film as well! 

Honorable Mentions: Grave Mercy and Eye of the Tempest were both good reads and ones I would highly recommend!

What was your month like? :)

Friday, 30 March 2012

Early Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin 1)
-          Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin – Published on 3rd April 2012
E-Arc courtesy of netgalley and Houghton Mifflin
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
Ismae is the daughter of the pre-Christian  god of death, Mortain. This means she has been trained in the art of death and knows how to shoot, choke, poison and many other methods of disposing of those who bear Mortain’s mark. When Brittany’s independence is threatened by the French, she is sent into the young Duchess’s court in order to protect and preserve her country. Unfortunately she is unsure who she can trust...and who she trusts might mean the difference between life and death...
This novel set in medieval France and treads a fine line between supernatural and realism. As the daughter of a God, Ismae and her sisters are trained to use certain gifts and as the novel continues Ismae realises that her training might not be as extensive as she first thought as she discovers new abilities. Some of these gifts are the result of intense training but some may in fact have their roots in magic. However, this is never overt and just adds a nice flavour of spice to the story. In the same way there is a romance, but both Ismae and her suitor firmly place the Duchy’s needs ahead of their own throughout – which I liked as it adds pathos and emotion to their actions. The romance is sweet and feels natural  extension of both characters personality.
There are plenty of secondary characters which make the world feel populated and realistic. The writing was elegant and the story exciting and tense. While there are some deaths, most of the action in the story is political. Personally, I love the politics of court life, but it may not be to everyone’s taste – you are forwarned! I loved the mystery of trying to figure out who Ismae could trust and how they could get out of the difficult situation the country had found itself in. It was a tense situation and by no means were all the threads tied up by the end. The mystery of Sybella remains and luckily the second book in the trilogy, Dark Triumph looks like it will tell her story – and I can’t wait!
Recommended for fans of Maria V Snyder and Jennifer Fallon. 8 out of 10.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Throwback Thursday #46 - Blood Rights

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?

Blood Rights - Kristen Painter
Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarrĂ©—a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.
Now Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign
I bought this based on the intriguing blurb and beautiful cover last year. In fact I went one further and bought all three books in this trilogy, but just started reading it yet. Blood Rights has even been on my 'must read soon' pile, but other UF books seem to filter to the top first.
Has anyone read this series? Is it worth picking up soon?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Kingdom Review

The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen 2)
-          Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
E-Arc Courtesy of netgalley and MIRA
Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town…. My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.
Amelia is still haunted after her troubled relationship wit Devlin, the Charleston detective we met in The Restorer. Trying to move on, she takes a new restoration project in a dying town in the mountains only to discover that something lurks in this town, something which is attracted to her and her abilities to see the dead...
This is a beautifully haunting gothic ghost story. The writing has a lyrical element that reminds me of Anne Rice at her best, making it difficult to forget or stop reading. The descriptions are beautiful and vividly paint the atmosphere of this dying town. It is always difficult to tell ghost stories well but there is no doubt that with this series Amanda Stevens has succeeded by making a lonely central character that is relatable. Amelia’s history is explored throughout the story and some of the questions raised in The Restorer are answered, yet it feels like this could be read without needing to pick up the previous books. There are more subtle layers that benefit from having read the first book though.  
This is a very evocative story that deals with the questions of nature verses nurture, the darkness of human nature and what ghosts truly are. I loved the poetic elements and the long standing mystery surrounding the town. I honestly wished I could read this book slower so I could enjoy it for longer, but like an ice cream sundae I had to finish it before it melted! Beautiful book.
Recommended for fans of Anne Rice and Deborah Harkness. 9 out of 10

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Same Book/Different Cover: The Gunslinger

This is an occasional feature where I compare different covers of the same book...while usually I compare foreign edition, this particular book has be re-published so many times if I included all the copies we could be here all night! So what's the book - The Gunslinger by Stephen King. A classic book which lays the foundation for a truly epic series...
US Edition 2
US Edition 1988

US Edition 2

UK Edition 1
UK Edition 2

New UK Edition
US 1988 Edition: This is almost graphic novel like, with the wind moving his hair and the hands on the belt. The crow is behind him while the tower is only semi-there - is it all a dream?
US Edition 1: The focus is very much on the gunslinger - he's in a typical pose with hat down and gun in hand. The tower looms in the background but he isn't looking at it, focusing instead on the crow on the rock. What is it about the crow that holds his attention...?
US Edition 2: I like the focus on the crow with the cowboy blurred in the background. Crows can be harbingers of death, in groups they are called murders yet they are one of the most intelligent bird. Intriguing...
UK Edition 1: This is not my favourite. While the tower does seem to glow, the focus of the cover is too much on the King name for me to really appreciate the cover art on it's own.
UK Edition 2: This is the cover I own. It's brightly covered and I like the storm clouds but I find it slightly dull.
New UK Edition: I LOVE this cover. This new cover actually inspired this while post once I spotted it in the shops. I love the orange cover with the cowboy and the tower illuminated against the sun. Is the sun setting? Or rising?  Is the cowboy moving towards the tower? Or away from it? I need to get copied of all these new covers!

My verdict? The New UK Edition!

Which do you prefer? Have you read the Dark Tower series?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Early Review: The Unseen

The Unseen (Krewe of Hunters 5)
-          Heather Graham

Publisher: Harlequin - Published on 27th March 2012

E-Arc Read courtesy of netgalley and Harlequin publishing.

1800s. San Antonio, Texas: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo itself, a woman renowned for her beauty was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found. One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace. Her blood was everywhere…but her body was never recovered. Now: In the last month, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies. All young women, all long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now. Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city’s most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead. Among Logan’s new team is Kelsey O’Brien, a U.S. marshal known for her razor-sharp intuition and a toughness that belies her delicate exterior. Kelsey has been waiting all her life to work with someone who can understand her ability to “see” the past unfolding in the present. Now she has her chance. Together, Kelsey and Logan follow their instincts to the Alamo and to the newly reopened Longhorn, which once tempted heroes with drink, cards and women. If the spirits of those long-dead Texans are really appearing to the victims before their deaths, only Kelsey and Logan have the skills to find out why. And if something more earthly is menacing the city’s oldest, darkest corners, only they can stop it – before more innocent women join the company of San Antonio’s restless ghosts...

With Jackson Crow’s original Krewe of Hunters all paired up and proving a huge success investigating haunted crimes, a second team is being set and is introduced here. I can’t tell much about most of the characters in the second team which the exception of Logan and Kelsey as they don’t really take a major part in the story. This is squarely Logan and Kelsey’s story with a cameo from Jackson to bring them together. Kelsey is a US Marshall who can see ghosts, is good at her job but retains her emotional connection to people. Logan is part native American and 100% Texas ranger who can hear and see the dead.  However, while they made a nice couple I never really connected to either in any meaningful way. They were both too nice and neither had any characteristics that made them particularly memorable.

Where this story succeeded more for me was in the mystery. With piles of female bones turning up across San Antonio and only a tenuous link to the Almo to connect them, I was more than curious to see how it was solved. The Almo is one of the most famous historical sites for the US, but I’m afraid my knowledge before this book didn’t really cover more than Davy Crockett hats and general slaughter. However, this story focuses more on the modern day than on the past, with the historical giving an interesting piquant flavour to the mystery. The ghost element is barely needed in the story but was nonetheless enjoyable and added a different layer to the story. There are plenty of suspects and I enjoyed trying to figure out who it was – although I got there long before our heroes. Overall an enjoyable mystery with a rather bland romance.    

Recommended for fans of Nora Roberts and Amanda Stevens.  7 out of 10

Sunday, 25 March 2012

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! Just a small mailbox this week...

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega 3) - Patricia Briggs
Publisher: UK - Orbit
They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind. Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can't afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father's dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.
Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack's help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer's sights...

Patricia Briggs is one of my automatic must buys and I always enjoy the partnership between Anna and Charles. I'm hoping I can read this sooner rather than later!

The Iron Duke (The Iron Seas 1) - Meljean Brook
Publisher: UK - Berkley (Published 14th April 2012)
After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.
But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

How cool does this book look? I recieved this from Berkley UK to review and even though I have the US version I just love the cover for the UK and I'm reminded of what a brilliantly sounding book it is. I'm hoping to start reading this week!

And that's it! Said it was a small mailbox this week. Did you get anything I need to drool over? :)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

On My Wishlist #80

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 back to my favourite undead heros, vampires...
The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequinn Teen (April 2012)
In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive. Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.
Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.

I confess I haven't read any of the Iron Fey series yet, but vampires are much more cup of tea than Fae and this sounds really cool. Plus how creepy is this cover?

Of Truth and Beast - Barb and JC Hendee
Publisher: Roc
Now, young Journeyor Wynn Hygeorht finds herself cast into the wilds on a dangerous quest for knowledge that may instead lead to her doom...

I love this series where vampires, or the Noble Dead are thrown into a traditional fantasy setting with elves, fae and vast journeys for legendary objects. This is the third book in the series and I want it! :-)
Destined For An Early Grave (Night Huntress 4)- Jeaniene Frost
Publisher: HarperCollins
Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they've fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it's time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She's having visions of a vampire named Gregor who's more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn't know about. Gregor believes Cat is his and he won't stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor's hold over her. She'll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she's ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.
Okay, so I haven't read Night Huntress books 2-3 yet (but they will be read soon!) but there's nothing like knowing that the next book in the series is waiting for you read.
So what do you think of my choices? Anything you have your eye on? :)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Early Review: Slide

-          Jill Hathaway
Publisher: Harper Collins
E-Arc courtesy of netgalley and HarperCollins
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.
Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.
Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.
Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.
I’m not ashamed to admit I read Slide in two sittings – actually I would have read it in one but I was the train when I started and I had to get off, but as soon as I got home I started reading again. The story flows like a chocolate fountain sweet, delicious and with a speed where you don’t want it to end. Vee has been diagnosed with narcolepsy, but every time she ‘falls asleep’ she actually finds herself sliding into someone else and experiencing their life for a short time. Then Vee slides into someone standing over a girl with a knife in their hands...
I really liked Vee – she doesn’t have a supportive home life with her mother dead and her father less than comfortable with his daughters. But she has an integrity to her and honesty. While other teens including her younger sister are worrying about popularity and being cool, Vee is happy to curl up on Friday nights with a horror movie with her best friend. I loved it when Vee started using her gift rather than avoiding it to find the killer. She really stood up and it felt like she was coming into her own.  Her power was unusual enough that it didn’t feel like it’s been done before.
There is a great mix of relationships and mystery. Vee’s relationship with the people in her life is a highlight for me from her sister to the new boy at school Zane each showed a different side to Vee which made her feel like a real person and added depth. Overall this was a fun read, fresh and full of verve.
Recommended for fans of Jeri Smith-Ready and Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy. 8 out of 10

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Throwback Thursday #45 - Hard Bitten

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?

Hard Bitten - Chloe Neil
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.
Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem too ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...

I do like the Chicagoland Vamp series but for some reason it takes me ages to read the next book. Not only do I have Hard Bitten on my TBR pile but I also have Drink Deep waiting to be read as well...hopefully I will get round to reading both soon! :)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Eye of the Tempest Review

Eye of the Tempest (Jane True 4)
-          Nicole Peeler
Publisher: UK – Orbit
Nothing says "home" like being attacked by humans with very large guns, as Jane and Anyan discover when they arrive in Rockabill. These are professionals, brought into kill, and they bring Anyan down before either Jane or the barghest can react. Seeing Anyan fall awakens a terrible power within Jane, and she nearly destroys herself taking out their attackers. Jane wakes, weeks later, to discover that she's not the only thing that's been stirring. Something underneath Rockabill is coming to life: something ancient, something powerful, and something that just might destroy the world. Jane and her friends must act, striking out on a quest that only Jane can finish. For whatever lurks beneath the Old Sow must be stopped...and Jane's just the halfling for the job.

I am a big fan of Jane True – I love the humour of these books as well as the different supernatural world Nicole Peeler has created. This world is secret from ours but fits and feels accessible while at the same time having a unique mythology and rules. Eye of the Tempest picks up where Tempest’s Legacy finishes with Jane and Anyan returning to Rockabill. This is the first book set entirely in Rockabill, but somehow manages to miss most of Jane’s day to day life with the focus very much on the supernatural mystery. Something powerful has been hidden in Rockabill and if the bad guys find it before Jane and Anyan, it could spell the end of Rockabill.
For me this was a book of two halves. The first half felt very dominated by Jane’s libido. While always vocal before, this time I couldn’t help feeling it ‘took over’ with Jane always thinking about sex – while not actually getting any! This detracted a little from the plot – especially as there was a lot going on and I wanted to focus on the threat and story rather than continually talking about peoples ‘packages’ or other word play. It was fun at first but I quickly tired of it.
The second half of the book totally raises the bar and changes everything. And I mean, everything – history, future, powers, positions in the supernatural world – it all changes. From the finding of the third lock to the last page I was just swept up in the action and the plot. Jane has changed so much since the first book as she learns to use her magic and how to fight for herself. With the introduction of Blondie and Jane’s two paramour’s taking a back seat in this story, it really does feel the start of a new series – a very different series than before. Previous Jane books have had more a mystery or detective feel to the plot, but that feels like it’s over with future stories set to be more epic and world changing. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Recommended for fans of Carrie Vaughn and Jeaniene Frost. 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Book Confession: Playing Catch Up

Recently I’ve been wondering if I’m a bad fan...I’ve been falling into a bad habit with some of my favourite authors and series recently. I buy the books but I don’t read them. Not because I don’t want too, but for some reason my favourite series take ages to make their way to the top of the TBR pile. I probably read one or two books in ongoing series a month – but I have fallen so far behind with so many series! I’m not even talking about the numerous un-started series that I’ve been collecting – but series that I’ve already read at least one book and have started collecting the rest of the books. But the series just sits there even though I know I will enjoy the books, if I ever get round to reading them! To give you some examples...
Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong – I have both Waking the Witch and Spellbound in the flat unread
Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill – Hard Bitten and Drink Deep
Deadtown series by Nancy Holzner – Hellforged and Bloodstone
Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter – Mercy Blade and Raven Crossed
Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep – Kiss of Frost and Dark Frost (although as Dark Frost is an e-Arc I can forgive myself this one)
The Edge series by Ilona Andrews – Bayou Moon and Fates Edge
Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost – One Foot In The Grave and At Grave’s End
I know there are others but these are the ones that I can remember off the top of my head. And there are plenty of other series where I am only one book behind! All great series by authors I really enjoy – and I’m behind!! I feel like a bad fan of all these series. Am I the only one? Does anyone else have a series they love but are a few books behind on? Or am I alone with this habit? J

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Small Hand Review

The Small Hand
-          Susan Hill
Publisher: Profile Books
Returning home from a visit to a client late one summer's evening, antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow takes a wrong turning and stumbles across the derelict old White House. Compelled by curiosity, he approaches the door, and, standing before the entrance feels the unmistakable sensation of a small hand creeping into his own, 'as if a child had taken hold of it'. Intrigued by the encounter, he determines to learn more, and discovers that the owner's grandson had drowned tragically many years before. At first unperturbed by the odd experience, Snow begins to be plagued by haunting dreams, panic attacks, and more frequent visits from the small hand which become increasingly threatening and sinister ...
Last week something horrible happened to me. I left the house without a book! I managed to make it to the office between the metro paper and my MP3 player but I wasn’t going to suffer again on the way home. Instead I went to a local charity store at lunch and picked up this book for £1 to keep me busy on my hour commute homewards – a horror story to fit with my mood!
This is only a short book, less than 200 pages and no word is wasted. As the central character, Adam Snow is a little bland. While it is told in first person from his point of view, I never really felt like I knew Adam or what motivated him. He is a blank canvas so I was never overly bothered by his frightening experiences, although I did like his job as a rare book dealer. The strongest element was the ambience as Susan Hill manages to create an atmospheric and timeless ghost story with an intriguing central mystery. As with most good ghost stories there is an ageless element to the story which makes the odd mention of emails jar slightly.  The description of the run down gardens and White house are invocative and draw vivid images in the mind. I loved the writing style and was instantly drawn into the story.
The mysteries around the small hand are appealing, but for some reason the idea of a small invisible hand holding yours doesn’t scare me much. In fact for a ghost story it was less scary and more absorbing with the tale itself the main reason to continue reading. I am looking forward to reading more Susan Hill – hopefully with a scarier ghost!
Recommended for fans of Amanda Stevens and Michelle Paver. 7 out of 10.  

Sunday, 18 March 2012

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!

The Intern - Dillon Khan
Publisher: Puffin
Jay Merchant has landed an internship for the best job in music television. He has access-all-areas to the biggest VIP parties and the hottest celebrities all over the world. The velvet rope has been lifted and now he's got to capture it on camera. But behind the scenes, Jay is thrown into a life of early starts, late nights, blood, sweat and tears. He has six months to turn his intern dream into a real job - but at what price? It's time to face the music...

I recieved this from Puffin for review - it sounds like a fun glimpse into the music world!

Becoming Nancy - Terry Ronald
Publisher: Corgi
For David Starr, being cast as Nancy in the upcoming school production of Oliver! is quite a shock. But David is up to the challenge. Living in a three-bedroom semi in 1970s' working-class East Dulwich, surrounded by his somewhat colourful relatives, he is bright, smart-mouthed, fanatical about pop music and ready to shine. Rehearsals begin, and he strikes up a friendship with the handsome yet enigmatic Maxie Boswell, captain of the school football team. As their alliance deepens it appears they might become more than just good friends, but that can't be right, can it? Discovering a confidant in empathetic teacher, Hamish McClarnon, and spurred on by his no-nonsense best friend, Frances Bassey, David takes on the school bully, the National Front, and anyone else who threatens to stand in the way of true love.

I won this from Transworlds Facebook page. It looks like a funny and fun reflection on life in the seventies!

White Corridor (Bryant and May 5) - Christopher Fowler
Publisher: Bantam
It’s an “impossible” crime—a member of the Peculiar Crimes Unit killed inside a locked autopsy room populated only by the dead and to which only four PCU members had a key. And to make matters worse, the Unit has been shut down for a forced “vacation” and Bryant and May are stuck in a van miles away in the Dartmoor countryside during a freak snowstorm on their way to a convention of psychics.
Now, with Sergeant Janice Longbright in charge at headquarters, Bryant and May must crack the case by cell phone while trying to stop a second murder without freezing to death. For among the line of snowed-in vehicles, a killer is on the prowl, a beautiful woman is on the run from a man who seeks either redemption or another victim, and an innocent child is caught in the middle.

Bryant and May are a intriguing mystery pairing that I've enjoyed before - and hope to again!

Legend - Marie Lu
Publisher: UK - Razor Bill
The United States is gone, along with its flooded coasts. North America's two warring nations, the western Republic and the eastern Colonies, have reached a breaking point. In the midst of this broken continent and dark new world are two teenagers who will go down in history....
The truth they'll uncover will become legend

I had a day off this week and spent it doing my favourite things - book shopping and reading! I saw this on clearance at the Croydon WHSmith for £2 and snapped it up! They had plenty of books on offer and I allowed myself to pick a few that had been on my wishlist for a while including...

Second Grave On The Left - Darynda Jones
Publisher: Piatkus
When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out of the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously? Cookie explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. But Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message.
Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?

Okay, so this is another series I haven't started readling yet - but Jules from The Great, The Good and The Bad just adores this series and I trust that I will too! Plus another bargain for just £2!

So what have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

On My Wishlist #79

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! I have a bad feeling this week that the end may be nigh...

Monument 14 - Emmy Laybourne
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (June 2012)
Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. A huge store isn’t the worst place to be stranded. There’s food and water, bedding and books. But what if it’s not safe to leave? 
Six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids are trapped together in a chain superstore. Together they build a refuge for themselves inside, while outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapon spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

I think we all wonder occasionally where the best place to hole up during a disaster is - and a superstore can't be too bad! I like the sound of this - how will teenager survive the apocalypse, if in fact they do...?

Unravelling - Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: HarperCollins (June 2012)
Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.
And killed.
Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…
Meanwhile, Janelle's father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.
That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process...

Ever since I saw the first season of 24, I can't resist a ticking clock. I don't think I've seen it done this quite openly before, but I still want to know what will happen at the end of the countdown!

White Horse - Alex Adams
Publisher: UK - Simon & Schuster (April 2012)
Thirty-year-old Zoe wants to go back to college. That's why she cleans cages and floors at GeneTech. If she can keep her head down, do her job and avoid naming the mice, she'll be fine. Her life is calm, dull even. Until the end of the world is nigh. She's listening when a preacher with a big mouth and a cable TV show declares the deadly virus White Horse will mark the end of life as we know it. She's watching the day the President announces that humans are no longer a viable species. She starts running the moment she realizes everyone who matters to her is gone. When her lover Nick, fearing he's contracted the virus, leaves to find his family in Greece, Zoe discovers shortly thereafter that she's pregnant. And so begins her trek across the desolate world to ensure a possibility of life for her baby and to unite her nascent family. In her post-apocalyptic quest to guard and protect her unborn child she encounters characters who epitomise not only the extremes of good and evil, but also an inner strength and discovery of what it means to be human in a world where all that is left is a fight for survival.

I love the sound of a pregnant woman want to find her husband - emotional overload!

So if the world is coming to an end, what book will you want to read? :)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Mockingjay Review

Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3)

-       Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic

Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But she's still not safe. A Revolution is unfolding, and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans - everyone except Katniss. And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle. Katniss must become their Mockingjay - the symbol of rebellion - no matter what the personal cost.

If The Hunger Games was the collection and kindling of the bonfire and Catching Fire was the spark and initial burn, Mockingjay is the roaring flames out of control following no previously established pattern. It was shockingly intense, very political and the final few pages had me sobbing on train. In fact a kindly older gentleman even asked me if I was alright!
Without giving away too many spoilers from the first two books, the Hunger Games are over, now the real games start for Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Prim and the rest. The districts are in revolt against the Capitol and once again Katniss finds herself involved in the fight not just for her life this time, but for all her friends and family. Katniss is still the damaged, defensive girl we met in The Hunger Games and while she has a wider number of people to care for she still cuts herself off and avoids confronting her feelings. She can appear cold and harsh. In fact I think if the story wasn’t told in first person from her point of view, Katniss would be a difficult person to like. Luckily the first person narrative allows us to see how much she does hurt and that it can paralyse her at times. My heart broke for her so many times – even while wanting to yell at her to try harder.

Propaganda has played a strong role in all three books and one more poignant here as both rebels and Capital fight for airtime to encourage/discourage people and battle for peoples hearts. This lesson has quite a deep refection on politics today when spin and emotional stories can influence people more than facts - or am I reading too much into what is a fast paced and exciting narrative?

While Mockingjay does very away from the structure laid out in the first two books, it needed to be different to as the story has grown and frankly it would have been boring for a third time. Some of the little moments of joy and simple pleasures are missing from this story which makes it a much more challenging read, but to be honest I can’t think of another way this trilogy could end. It was one hell of a ride and I truly hope the movie does the books justice.

Oh, and anyone like me who hasn’t read these books previously – give them a try. Not all hype is overkill. J

Recommended for fans of Carrie Ryan and Isobelle Carmody. 9 out of 10.