Thursday, 31 May 2012

Mel's Random May 2012

Is it just me or did a lot happen in May...? I know I was ill for nearly a week but even so I felt like a lot happened and I still haven't caught up. The weather in the UK went from rainy (I had to buy a new raincoat it was so bad!) to glorious sunshine and it finally felt like summer had arrived! My work load slowed down and my brother and his girlfriend moved a lot closer so I'm seeing more of them. However, one of my highlights of the month has to be the work trip to Legoland Windsor! I'd never been before and although I would have liked to spend more time in the park (rather than in meetings) I did manage to squeeze an hour in and visited Lego London! The hours it must take for people to put these together, and the detail in the buildings is great!

Lego St Pauls Cathedral
Lego Houses of Parliament
Lego London Eye

So how did this impact the reading situation?

Blood Rights (House of Comarre 1) - Kristin Painter (TBR Pile Reading Challenge)
The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han
It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han
We'll Always Have Summer - Jenny Han
Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant 2) - Ben Aaronovitch (British Book Challenge & TBR Pile Reading Challenge)
Apocalypse Cow - Michael Logan (British Book Challenge)
Dead Scared - S.J. Bolton (British Books Challenge)
The Power of Six - Pittacus Lore
Magic Lost, Trouble Found - Lisa Shearin (TBR Pile Reading Challenge)
Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse 11) - Charlaine Harris

Dark Gift - James Swain
Ninja verses Pirate Featuring Zombies - James Marshall
Throne of Glass Novellas: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord & The Assassin and the Desert
Evil Dark (Occult Crime Unit 2) - Justin Gustainis
Dark Frost (Mythos Academy 3) - Jennifer Estep
World Soul - Liz Williams

Storm Front (Dresden Files 1) - Jim Butcher

Sarah's Reviews
Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville 6) - Carrie Vaughn
Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Regular Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked at The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

In addition there were the usual wishlist posts, in my mailbox and Throwback Thursdays.

So updating the challenges -
British Books Challenge - 15 Read

2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 20 Read, 10 Books to go

Best of the Bunch: Hmm, tough one this month but I will have to say Dead Scared by SJ Bolton - it scared me silly for days! Highly recommended! 

Honourable Mentions: Apocalypse Cow, Dark Frost and Moon Over Soho also scored hits with me! The Throne of Glass novellas prequels have made me really excited for the launch of the book soon - very excited!

Overall though I felt like May was a month were I was too focused on review books - I hardly read any books that I had bought myself. So I'm making a decision that June will be joyful June reading month. I'm only going to read books I really want to read, focus on books my by favourite authors or ones that I really want to try. So how about joining me and making June more joyful...? :-)

Throwback Thursday #52 - Grimspace

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?

Grimspace - Ann Aguirre
By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…
As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.
Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.
Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime...

This book has so many fans and I really, really meant to read it before now! I adore Ann Aguirre's Urban Fantasy series about Corine Solomon and I really want to see what she brings to the science fiction arena...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Early Review: Worldsoul

- Liz Williams

Publisher: Prime Books

E-Arc Courtesy of netgalley and Prime Books

What if being a librarian was the most dangerous job in the world?
Worldsoul, a great city that forms a nexus point between Earth and the many dimensions known as the Liminality, is a place where old stories gather, where forgotten legends come to fade and die—or to flourish and rise again. Until recently, Worldsoul has been governed by the Skein, but they have gone missing and no one knows why. The city is also being attacked with lethal flower-bombs from unknown enemy. Mercy Fane and her fellow Librarians are doing their best to maintain the Library, but... things... keep breaking out of ancient texts and legends and escaping into the city. Mercy must pursue one such dangerous creature. She turns to Shadow, an alchemist, for aid, but Shadow—inadvertently possessed by an ifrit—has a perilous quest of her own to undertake...

I have to admit it has been a while since I read any traditional fantasy and fancied diving back into that type of world. However, this isn’t the traditional type of fantasy… Nothing is explicitly explained about the world and how it works – you have to figure it out as you go. And it is an extremely fascinating world. Set somewhere beyond time and imagination, the Liminality is a city where words have power – and stories and history even more so. Librarians have to enter certain areas of the library heavily armed in case anything crosses over from history, imagination or myth. Previously ruled over by the mysterious but benevolent Skein and now left alone, the people of Worldsoul have to struggle to keep their world together. And into this situation is thrown a young librarian with an unusual heritage as she struggles to keep the library together even while Dukes of Hell, Gods of Nightmares, Alchemists and the Magician Court all circle around her…

Mercy is a typical strong female heroine – good with sword and using her brains with a troubled and slightly mysterious past. I liked her but I never felt I got to know her well. I never felt an emotional connection to her – or any of the other characters for that matter. Shadow, the alchemist was the only character that really intrigued me and I wanted to know more about. Otherwise there are a lot of characters and it was difficult to remember who all the side characters were at times.

There is a lot happening in this story and the threads are at times slow to weave together – at times it feels like you are working as hard as the characters to know what is going on, but without the benefit of familiarity with the world. However, when you reach certain point there is a strong feeling of satisfaction – like climbing a mountain and being rewarded with the clear view for miles. The finale is exhausting and exhilarating with plenty of action and some truly compelling story telling.

Overall, the lack of emotional connection to the characters and the difficult to understanding this unique world, held me back from truly appreciating the story on more than a technical area. But I was never tempted to put the book down. Worth investing the time but not for those without concentration skills!

Recommended for fans of N.K. Jemisin and Tad Williams. 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dead Reckoning Review

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse 11)
-          Charlaine Harris

Publisher: UK – Gollancz
With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot-which is much more complicated than she knows...

I know I’m about a year behind publication on the Sookie books but that’s mostly because I like to wait for the paperback to come out. Like many others I haven’t been overly impressed with recent books (All Together Dead was a series highlight for me that hasn’t been matched since) – there’s only so much enjoyment I get out of hearing the miniature of Sookie’s life – her money worries, her cleaning habits and sunbathing schedule. That said (or written!) there is still enough captivating about the characters that make me want to know what the latest happenings in Bon Temps are.
With that all in mind, I was pleasantly surprised with Dead Reckoning. Maybe I was just in the mood to read about Sookie shaving her legs or getting her haircut, but I was mildly entertained for the duration of the book. Sookie does seem to have changed since we first met her (only two years ago in her time, but over ten years for us!). She is more realistic about what the supernatural world is like, the violence and yes, the blood – but she does have a habit of bursting into tears a lot. I also wasn’t keen on Sookie randomly getting naked – I didn’t really see the point of that!
This isn’t a book that I would recommend people new to the series to start at – most of the plot lines are hold overs from previous books and only a few are resolved here.  There is a lot happening here – perhaps too much as individual stories can get lost, are tied up quickly or left unresolved. I guess I miss it when the Sookie books have definite beginning, middles and ends, but as the series has progressed the number of characters and plot elements have grown to unwieldy amounts.  On this occasion I felt the vampire, fae and home life stories meshed better with each one having something to say about who Sookie is now.
Overall, it was a pleasant enough read – I do love Eric and Pam so any book where they feature more is a plus for me…although I wasn’t so keen on the reappearance of Bill, or Alcide for that matter. I felt like both these characters have run out of steam a little. However, Sookie literally does need to fight men off sticks it seems…I wonder if I can find out her secret…
Recommended for fans of Patricia Briggs and Carrie Vaughn. 7 out of 10

Monday, 28 May 2012

Magic Lost, Trouble Found Review

Magic Lost, Trouble Found (Raine Benarnes 1)
-         - Lisa Shearin
Publisher: Ace Books

My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker. The people who hire me are usually happy when I find things. But some things are better left unfound…
Raine is a sorceress of moderate powers, from an extended family of smugglers and thieves. With a mix of street smarts and magic spells, she can usually take care of herself. But when her friend Quentin, a not-quite-reformed thief, steals an amulet from the home of a powerful necromancer, Raine finds herself wrapped up in more trouble than she cares for. She likes attention as much as the next girl, but having an army of militant goblins hunting her down is not her idea of a good time. The amulet they’re after holds limitless power, derived from an ancient, soul-stealing stone. And when Raine takes possession of the item, it takes possession of her. Now her moderate powers are increasing beyond anything she could imagine—but is the resumé enhancement worth her soul?

At first glance this looks very much like a traditional fantasy – there are goblins, pirates, mages all in a city that is nothing like anything in the world today – oh, and the heroine is an elf. So far, so traditional. However, the story, the actions and heroine herself read much more Urban Fantasy. Raine is feisty and sarcastic – with a strong moral streak even if that means mending the law occasionally. She has some magical ability which is useful in getting out of jams and a wide variety of friends, family and admirers who are occasionally helpful and hindrance in her task. She is an easier character to root.

This does make it sound like its tailored made fantasy for me – but I admit I had a couple of issues with the story. There are a lot of characters – most with odd names – some friendly and some not - which make it a very crowded book. At times I felt like I was jumping into the middle of an on-going series as there was a lot of unspoken backstory between characters (I checked and this is the first in the series!). This was both good as it seemed like the characters had fully developed histories – but was overwhelming and difficult to keep track of all the relationships. There was also a lot of data dumping as you are brought up to speed on a brand new world, with politics, a magic system, history and city layout in a very short space of time. This meant that I wasn’t quite able to enjoy the story as I was trying to catch up to the plot.

After all that though, there is a decent plot with some disturbing bad guys, an intriguing magic system and some exciting action scenes. There are some intriguing questions left unanswered and I wouldn’t mind finding out the answers! I think this might be a series that is worth further investigation and I will look out for the next in the series, but on its own it’s a little like a mint choc chip ice cream without any choc chips – still tasty but could be better!

Recommended for fans of Maria V Snyder and Faith Hunter. 7 out of 10

Sunday, 27 May 2012

My Book Haul/Showcase Sunday

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

The Alchemist of Souls - Anne Lyle
Publisher: Angry Robot
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?
Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally--and Mal his soul

I got a copy of this from Angry Robot for review - it seems like steampunk-esque but set earlier and it's got some very positive reviews so far. I'm looking forward to getting some more fantasy under my belt - it's been a while since I read a good one! :-)

The Pack - Jason Starr
Publisher: Berkley
When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss's betrayal.
Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life-and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys' night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality.
As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their "pack," they were talking about much more than male bonding. And as he falls prey to his basest instincts, Simon must accept that werewolves exist if he is to turn the tides of his fortune...

I have to confess I'm loving the new penguin inprint - Berkley. Every book I've read so far has been my cup of tea! And this book I won from Sarah at Feeling Fictional and am already looking forward to picking it up!

Kindling The Moon - Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Pocket Books
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge. But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time...

I also had some amazon vouchers sent through recently so I decided to pick up a couple of books I wanted and so many of my blogging friends have raved about this series recently, I decided to give it a go! :-)

Daybreak - Ellen Connor
Publisher: Berkley Sensation

It's been twelve years since the Change, and Penelope Sheehan is one of the few still practicing magic for the good of humanity in this dark, dangerous world. But she needs the help of a shapeshifter named Tru, whom she knew when he was a troubled boy. But Tru is a creature of instinct and impulse, living only to satisfy his senses- ignoring the scarred heart nobody has ever reached. Fighting alongside the last holdouts of humanity, they will unleash a passion that tempts them to risk everything for love. But if they succeed, Tru and Pen hold the power to brighten the Dark Age for all time.

Another purchase from my Amazon vouchers - I now have all three books in this Dark Age trilogy...I haven't read any of them but I have them all!

Nightshifted - Cassie Alexander
Publisher: St Martins Press
Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine--from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond...
Edie's just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she's haunted by the man's dying words--"Save Anna"--and before she knows it, she's on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. "Grey's Anatomy" was never like this...

I pre-ordered this as I adored the sound of it. Really happy when it arrived this week!

Stormwalker - Allyson James
Publisher: Berkley
Half-Navajo Janet Begay possesses extraordinary power which is tied to the storms that waft across the desert. The only person who can control her when she's caught in the storm's evocative power is Mick, a dark-haired, blue-eyed biker Janet can't seem to touch with her powers. He can wield fire and not get burned, and Janet's never sure where he goes when they're not together.
Together they investigate mysterious disappearances, which Janet fears are tied to her mother's people, the mythical gods from below the earth. They are helped along the way by Coyote and Crow, but these shapeshifting gods have their own agendas.

I've had my eye on this for a while and was lucky enough to get a swap for it on readit-swapit!

What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 26 May 2012

On My Wishlist #88

This is a meme from Cosy Books. 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 have a selection of Young Adult books I'd like to get my hands on!

Slated - Teri Terry
Publisher: Orchard Books
Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated.
The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

The idea that your mind could be wiped really haunts me - afterall what are you but teh sum of your memories? Or is your personality related to your body..? I'd love to read to this to see what Teri Terry has done with this idea!

1.4 - Mike Lancaster
Publisher: Egmont
In the far future, people no longer know what to believe...Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax?
Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father — David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world's crops — made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it's not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

I loved 0.4 when I read it last year so I'm very excited about this sequel - although it sounds like it is a very different story.

Changeling - Phillippa Gregory
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

I do enjoy Philippa Gregory's adult historical novels so I'm really curious about her first Young Adult novel. I love the cover and any story that has werewolves, alchemists, witches and Italy is one I would love to read!    


So what would you like to read this week? :-)

Friday, 25 May 2012

Early Review: Dark Frost

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy 3)
-       Jennifer Estep

Publisher: Kensington Teen - Published on 29th May 2012

E-Arc courtesy of netgalley and Kensington Teen
I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.
Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me? It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can’t use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me—and I’m in for the fight of my life.

Dark Frost starts with a bang and never lets up. I thought that it would have a similar slow start to the last couple of books, but within the first few pages I was proved completely wrong as the Reapers attack Gwen and her friends while completing a school assignment at the local museum. From this start the stakes are raised as not everyone survives and you know that this is a deadly serious game. The pace is fast and thrilling with the whole adventure over a few days only.

Gwen is as curious and nosey as ever, but with addition of brooding over Logan and her role as Nike’s champion makes her a little distracted. As a result she and Daphne drift a little apart – and I completely agree with Daphne that it isn’t always all about Gwen. However, it’s not done maliciously and Gwen is still a teenager even if she has a lot of additional responsibilities! The magic system and mythology Jennifer Estep has created is unique and I really want to know more about Ninjas and Samurais who get mentioned occasionally with the Amazons, Romans, Vikings, Celts and Valkeries but not explored in detail yet.

This is a fast paced, exciting novel with much to recommend it – Gwen’s powers continue to grow and disturb even her with what she can now do. Added to which a big game changer occurs which will spell more trouble for Gwen and her friends – and makes me really anxious for the next book in the series! Fast, fun and thrilling!

Recommended for fans of Vampire Academy and Jeri Smith-Ready. 9 out of 10

Thursday, 24 May 2012


The Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Page Turners.

I really hope Summer starts soon here in the UK - so far it's been pretty miserable and I think I'm having a bit of a Vitamin D defficiency!! Still there is one way to start the summer with fun - a book giveaway!

So what can you win here at Mel's Random Reviews on the Splash into Summer hop?

Prize: Book of your choice (up to £10 or $15)  and this is open internationally!

Rules: (without which there will be chaos!)
- Fill in the form below
- That's it! No extras, no complicated hoop jumping (unless you're a hula champion showing off!)
- Closes at Midnight 31st May
- If you win, you'll have 72 hours to reply my email, otherwise I'll pick another winner
- You don't have to be a follower, but I won't object if you are! :)


Why not try your luck at one of the other stops on the blog hop as well?

Throwback Thursday #51 - The Desert Spear

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?

The Desert Spear - Peter V Brett
The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that arise as the sun sets, preying upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind ancient and half-forgotten symbols of power. These wards alone can keep the demons at bay, but legends tell of a Deliverer: a general—some would say prophet—who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. Those times, if they ever existed, are long past. The demons are back, and the return of the Deliverer is just another myth . . . or is it?
Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim. Sworn to follow the path of the first Deliverer, he has come north to bring the scattered city-states of the green lands together in a war against demonkind—whether they like it or not.
    But the northerners claim their own Deliverer. His name was Arlen, but all know him now as the Warded Man: a dark, forbidding figure whose skin is tattooed with wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. The Warded Man denies that he is the Deliverer, but his actions speak louder than words, for he teaches men and women to face their fears and stand fast against the creatures that have tormented them for centuries.
Once the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends, brothers in arms. Now they are fierce adversaries. Caught between them are Renna, a young woman pushed to the edge of human endurance; Leesha, a proud and beautiful healer whose skill in warding surpasses that of the Warded Man himself; and Rojer, a traveling fiddler whose uncanny music can soothe the demons—or stir them into such frenzy that they attack one another.
    Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are blissfully unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

I absolutely adored The Painted Man, the first book in this series and couldn't wait for this book to come out...and I haven't read it yet! In fact I haven't read any proper fantasy for a while...I really need to return to one of my favourite genres...

Have you not read a book in one of your genre classics for a while..?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Guest Review: Graceling

- Kristin Cashore

Publisher: Gollancz

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?
The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...

This book started with one of those moments where you go 'hang on, this sounds familiar' and by the end of the first chapter you have remembered the whole story. A quick check through my books read record and yep, there it was, read June 2009. It is testament to Cashore's literary skills that despite knowing what was coming I still enjoyed the ride.

Graceling is set in a Mediaeval world full of castles, swords and Kings, where some children are born 'graced' with the ability to do amazing things. Characterised by different coloured eyes, these gracelings are beholden to their King for as long as he deems them useful, and are universally feared for their uniqueness.

Our heroine Katsa is feared even more than the others - her grace is killing. Used as her King's enforcer, Katsa is a killing machine, wielded as an unsubtle instrument in the quest for royal fealty. She is a thug with a conscience though, and after meeting Po, the graced Prince of another realm, whose grandfather was kidnapped under mysterious and apparently nonsensical reasons, she sets out on an unsanctioned quest to uncover some truths.

Katsa is an engagingly flawed character, by turns both delightfully childlike and emotionlessly thug like. Her romance is sweet and sincere, and the action satisfyingly meaty. Her grace does, however, make the perilous moments less edgy, as you are always confident in her abilities.

Overall, a very enjoyable read, whether on the first, or second, read! One for fans of Trudi Canavan, 8 out of 10

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Same Book/Different Cover - The Spellman Files

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 this month?
It's a series that I love to read - always a fun ride - The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz! It's such an amusing series about a family of private detectives who spend more time trying to keep secrets from each other than working on their clients cases. Here are some of the covers I've spotted around...

US Hardcover
French Cover

German Cover

Indonesian Cover
UK Cover

US Cover: This is fun with the whole family peeking through the newspaper but I'm not sure I like that they are hidden from us...
French Cover: I really like this cover - the traditional view of Private Investigators in the trenchcoat and glasses with the San Francisco Skyline below - it intrigues me
German Cover: Very bright colours - far too green for my liking - this cover almost looks radioactive!
Indonesian Cover: This reminds me of graphic novel styles - cool and I just adore her eyes!
UK Cover: This is the cover I own and I have to confess when I first picked it up in the shop I thought it was a chick-lit book. But it is colourful and captures the tone of the book!

My favourite? Hmm...I think the french one, but on the whole  these covers are all pretty good (apart form the German one!)

What do you think? Which is your favourite cover?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Evil Dark Review

Evil Dark (Occult Crime Unit Investigations 2)
- Justin Gustainis

Publisher: Angry Robot

Review Copy Received Courtesy of Angry Robot

My name's Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
A series of seemingly motiveless murders of supernatural creatures points to a vigilante targeting the supe community. Markowski wouldn't normally have much of a problem with that, but his daughter may be next on the killer's list...

Markowski and his partner Karl are back and this time they are investigating some nasty demon possession and an increase in attacks on supernaturals in the town of Scranton. This very much reads like a detective story or a police procedural with the crimes taking precedent over any personal life the two main characters would have. In fact I was reminded of the film Seven for a lot of the read as it had a similar mood and seriousness to the plot. This series is the very definition of Urban Fantasy meets film noir with a dollop of dry humour on the side.

The world is fascinating with all the supernatural creatures widely known and treated with as much prejudice and acceptance of any minority (that is to say, not as much as they deserve). The stakes (no pun intended) are raised with someone desperate to stir things up between the human and supernatural communities. I really like the sensible, no-nonsense head on Markowski’s shoulders and the brains he and Karl use while investigating. There is a lot of intelligence and common sense which is used to solve crimes. I loved the mix of characters around them – from their hard but fair boss, to the dirty joke telling female cop Lacey. I just found myself utterly absorbed by them all and really curious about whom was behind the mysteries. The action is pretty intense and exciting with some fantastic visual images painted.

The writing is a similar throw back to the Sam Spade style which made this seem like a classic story –despite the cell phones and internet use. I don’t think you need to have read the previous book Hard Spell although some elements of that case are mentioned on occasion. If you haven’t read any Urban Fantasy with a male protagonist, this is a good starting point. Especially if you like plenty of wise-cracks and a good story.

Recommended for fans of Ben Aaronovitch and Kevin Hearne. 8.5 out of 10

Sunday, 20 May 2012

My Book Haul/Showcase Sunday

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

Double Cross (The Disillusionists Trilogy 2) - Carolyn Crane
Publisher: Spectra
Justine Jones lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she was lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard, who gifts her with extraordinary mental powers - dooming her to fight Midcity's shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves. But now serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity's new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will. As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men - one on a journey of redemption, the other descending into a pit of moral depravity.

I won this from Literary Escapism a few weeks ago and it just arrived - along with some few cool trading cards from the lovely Carolyn Crane!! I confess this is still a series that I haven't started yet - but with both Mind Games and now Double Cross on my reading shelf I have double the reason to start!

Dark Time (Mortal Path 1) - Dakota Banks
Sacrifice (Mortal Path 2) - Dakota Banks
Deliverance (Mortal Path3) - Dakota Banks
I won one of the Mortal Path Swag Bags!!  I was so excited to win and it arrived so quickly - it was all three books released so far, bookmarks, magnets, pens, calculator and a very high quality of tote bag. Thank you so much Dakota!

Robopocalypse - Daniel H Wilson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.
When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united.

This just sounds like a lot of fun - I keep thinking of I, Robot meets The Terminator - and they were both great films!

On The Prowl - Patrica Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance & Sunny
Publisher: Berkley
  Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago pack- and inspires a power in Anna that she's never felt before.
Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift, too, and it's about to be let loose.
Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
In a New York auction house, a Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery redheaded mage named Claire. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.
Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of Mixed Blood- part Monere, part human, and destined to be alone. Then she meets a man who could be her salvation- or her downfall

I got this on a swap because I really wanted to read Alpha and Omega - I love the series but have never read the story that started it all!

What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

On My Wishlist #87

This is a meme from Cosy Books. 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've found myself wishing for some very funny British men...and their books, of course!

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

I love Danny Wallace's non-fiction books - they have me in stitches so I have really high hopes for this, his first fiction outing...

Half Sick of Shadows - David Logan
Publisher: Doubleday

On the eve of Granny Hazel's burial in the back garden, a stranger in his time machine - a machine that bears an uncanny resemblance to a Morris Minor - visits five year-old Edward with a strange request. And Edward agrees to be his friend.
But Edward is not alone in the world. His twin sister Sophia is about to bring future tragedy upon herself through an all-too-literal misunderstanding of a promise she's made to their father. So while Sophia stays at home, seemingly condemned to spend the rest of her days in The Manse - a world untouched by modern trappings - Edward is sent to boarding school. There he encounters the kind and the not-so-kind, and meets the strangest child. His name is Alf, and Alf is a boy whose very existence would seem to hint at universes of unlimited possibilities...and who might one day help Edward liberate Sophia.

I loved the other winner of Terry Pratchett's Anywhere But Here, Any when But Now Prize - Apocalypse Cow so I am really curious about this, the second winner. Added to which the book has time travel, a personal favourite, how can I resist?

Dodger - Terry Prachett
Publisher: HarperCollins
A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage, in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's ...Dodger

*sigh* Terry Pratchett...need I say more...?

So what are you wishing for this week?

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Power of Six Review

The Power of Six
- Pittacus Lore

Publisher: Penguin Books

We are the last defence.
I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us.
Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.
And I'm ready to fight.

It’s been a long time since I read I Am Number Four (read my review here) and I have to confess to being generally underwhelmed with the experience – not bad particularly but I was expecting a lot more from it. So it was with a little reluctance I started reading The Power of Six hoping that a couple of positive reviews I’ve read recently were true. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. There is a dual narrative with this novel, one with John Smith (Number Four), his best friend Sam and Number Six on the run from the Mogadorians and the police in America which picks up pretty much from when I Am Number Four finishes. This storyline was action packed with plenty of excitement and car chases with John and Six using their Legacies extensively. The second storyline introduces Marina or Number Seven and her quiet life in a Nun run orphanage in Spain. Her Ceplan has turned her back on Lorien and left Marina struggling to cope with the emergence of her Legacies on her own. Mariana’s story certainly starts off much slower, but I was so intrigued by the way of life and Marina’s isolation that I was always wanting to read more of her story.

Marian is a lonely and isolated girl, with few friends. I loved the developing friendship between Marina and Ellie and well as her conversations with Hector and she seemed genuinely to want to do the right thing. In comparison I couldn’t help but dislike John. He behaved in a completely selfish manner throughout – flirting with Six despite knowing Sam liked her and having a girlfriend himself. He left Six to fight alone and when others were in danger he selfishly just wanted his chest back rather than helping. I really thought he was immature and needed a good slap! However, there is a greater exploration of Legacies and their chests as well as the Mogadorians with a glimpse of perhaps their true nemesis…

Overall, this is a highly readable book – it may not be the best written but it moves at a cracking pace, with action never more than a few pages away. I turned the pages compulsively – like eating a bag of chips before your Mum’s home cooked dinner. You know the chips won’t be as nice as dinner but you just can’t help yourself.

Recommended for fans of Will Hill and James Patterson. 7 out of 10