Friday, 31 August 2012

Mel's Random August

August is over at last! Was it me or was it a really long month? Maybe because so much happened for me I felt like it was at a six week month! Still it was the month one of close friends got married. Not only was she lucky with the weather - we had gorgeous sunshine, but she also hired an old fashioned ice cream for dessert! This meant there was unlimited 99s available as well as all the lollies including Feasts, Fabs and Mini Milks! One of the best wedding desserts I've ever seen...
For those of you who aren't aware of what a 99 is - it's a soft ice cream in a cone with a chocolate flake in it - and it's delicious!
The ice cream van outside the reception!
My contribution to the wedding - the Sylvanian Family Bride & Groom!

So what impact did this have on my reading?

Throne of Glass - Sarah J Maas
The King's Spy - Andrew Swanston (British Book Challenge)
Timeless (Parasole Protectorate #5) - Gail Carriger
Side Jobs - Jim Butcher
Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson (British Book Challenge)
Falling Fast - Sophie McKenzie (British Book Challenge)
Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1) - Stacia Kane (The TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
The Labyrinth of Osiris - Paul Sussman

Blood and Silver (Deacon Chalk #2) - James R Tuck
The Uninvited - Heather Graham
Blackwood - Gwenda Bond
In A Fix - Linda Grimes

The Assassin and the Underworld + The Assassin and the Empire - Sarah J Maas

Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett

Sarah's Reviews
None this month as she's been on holiday!

Author Interviews
James R Tuck - Author of the Deacon Chalk UF Series

Bloggoversary Update!
August was also the month when my little blog turned 2 years old! To celebrate I'm running a number of different posts usually with a giveaway attached. The first post - Happy Bloggoversary to Me asked you to ask me some questions. I'm going to be going through these in the next couple of weeks and will answering every question so look out for that.
I also did a post explaining Why I Love Urban Fantasy - and offering you a chance to win one of my favouriute UF books...
Look out for more such randomness in the next couple of week finishing on my birthday on 22nd September!

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

So updating the challenges -
British Books Challenge - 25 Read

2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 29 Read

Best of the Bunch: This month my favourite read was Blood and Silver - just a lot of fun

Honourable Mentions: Throne of Glass, In A Fix and Unholy Ghosts are all great starts to what will be hopefully be strong series!

 What was your month like?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Throwback Thursday #62 - Shakespeare's Landlord

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
Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
Lily Bard is a loner. Other than the day-to-day workings of her cleaning and errand-running service, she pays little attention to the town around her. But when her landlord is murdered, Lily is singled out as the prime suspect, and proving her innocence will depend on finding the real killer in quiet, secretive Shakespeare...
I have been reading Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series for years. I like her Harper Connolly series as well so I jumped at the chance to pick up the first book in her Lily Bard series last year. But haven't read it looks like a cosy mystery style book.
Has anyone else read any other Charlaine Harris books...?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Early Review: In A Fix

In A Fix
-       Linda Grimes

Publisher: Tor Books (Published on 3rd September 2012)

E-Arc read courtesy of Tor Books and Netgalley.
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable... that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems

Ciel is a human chameleon who uses her rare ability to be able to assume other peoples auras to take on tasks and elements they don’t want to so. Her latest client wants her to get a wedding proposal out of her boyfriend, but when her client’s fiancée-to-be is kidnapped and their beach hut is bombed, Ciel finds herself confronting modern Vikings and trying to prove to her extended family that she can take care of herself...even if she’s not so sure!

Ciel is one mouthy girl and her banter with her brother’s friend (and her long time crush) Mark and her step-cousin Billy is great fun. It really does read like family who know everything about each other – and few cases of mistaken identity make for some fun situations and a couple of laugh out loud situations. It also helped my speed through the book in little more than a day and enjoy every word. After many dark and deep Urban Fantasy reads this felt like the smell of chocolate at a weight watchers meeting – exactly what has been missing for so long – pure, unashamedly fun!  

I was never entirely convinced by the Vikings agenda – they want men to be ‘real’ men again. I have to admit at times I wasn’t sure why Ciel kept insisting on going with Billy and Mark as she inevitably seemed to end captured or injured in some way. But I think she is just stubborn and unable to keep out of trouble. Her chameleon abilities are fascinating and have so much potential – yet Ciel herself still seems a little naive and young. Her character has a lot of potential for growth and I would particularly like to see her make friends with Jessica and have a female friend to talk too in the future. But overall, I really can’t wait for the next in this series to come out!

Recommended for fans of Carrie Vaughn and Rachel Vincent. 8 out of 10

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Labyrinth of Osiris Review

The Labyrinth of Osiris
-       Paul Sussman

Publisher: Bantam

Review Copy Courtesy of Bantam and Transworld Historical Reading Challenge
Since they last met, life has moved on for Yusuf Khalifa of the Luxor Police and Jerusalem detective Arieh Ben-Roe. About to become a father for the first time, Ben-Roi finds himself investigating a gruesome murder in Jerusalem's Armenian Cathedral. The victim, a journalist named Rivka Kleinberg, had been researching an article into the Israeli sex-trafficking industry. When a link emerges between Kleinberg and an English engineer who disappeared from Luxor in 1931, Ben-Roi turns for help to his old friend and sparring partner Khalifa. Khalifa's life too has changed, although in his case not for the better. Preoccupied with personal tragedy and immersed in an investigation of his own - a series of mysterious well-poisonings in Egypt's Eastern desert - he agrees for old time's sake to do some digging for his Israeli colleague. In the process, Ben-Roi might just be giving Khalifa his lust for life back. Inexorably the two investigations entwine, drawing Ben-Roi and Khalifa into a sinister web of violence, abuse, corporate malpractice and anti-capitalist terrorism. And at the heart of the web, lies the Labyrinth - a three-thousand year-old ancient Egyptian mystery that has already taken Rivka Kleinberg's life - and hers will not be the last...

Despite receiving this as part of the Transworld Historical Reading Challenge, this book is set firmly in modern times beginning with a murder in the Armenian Cathedral in Jerusalem and stretching back to the death of an Egyptoglist in the 1930 in Luxor. This an intrigue crime thriller set in one of the most complicated areas of the modern world – Jerusalem and Luxor with two detectives from very different cultures and backgrounds working at different elements of the mystery.

The characters are well written and different enough to stand out from the raft of modern detectives. Ariah Ben-Roi is the detective in Jerusalem who struggles against politics in his precinct and city while investigating the murder. He is also expecting his first child and is trying to find the balance between work and his new family responsibilities. To be honest, I found this element much more interesting as Ben-Roi works with a new partner and has a good side-line in banter that made his parts of the story comfortable and amusing. The Egyptian detective, Yusuf Khalifa has suffered a family tragedy in the recent past and this is palpable in his actions and decisions throughout the story, but does feel a little heavy. However the two ends of the investigation dovetail nicely and build up a lot of tension and questions – many of which aren’t answered until the end. I really liked the way a lot of the discoveries are made through good-old fashioned police work – investigating connections, exploring paperwork and using the brain.

Paul Sussman has a great eye of detail and obviously loves this region of the world – I feel like I could navigate both Luxor and Jerusalem just using this story as a map and guidebook! However, on occasion knowing that the exact address of every place feels like too much detail and not overly relevant to the story. While a little slow at the beginning, the pace picks up considerably towards the end with an exciting and emotional few pages. This is an intelligent thriller with a unique setting and a well woven plot – and one I would recommend for those wanting to try something a little different!

Recommended for fans of Mark Billingham and James Rollins. 7 out of 10.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Why I love Urban Fantasy...+ GIVEAWAY

As part of my two-year blogging anniversary I want to highlight some of genres I love reading the most. I like a lot of different genres which I have to mix up regularly to stop myself (and hopefully you!) getting bored, but a brief look at my quick links shows one genre that crops up most frequently...Urban Fantasy. Any regular reader of my blog knows I love the genre. While there are many different definitions, I like to stick to simplicity. For me Urban Fantasy is magic and supernatural in a modern setting – whether that setting is on the city, in the country or in the suburbs doesn’t matter to me. My definition of modern can also include the near future or slightly alternate worlds – so it can be quite a big genre!

The first Urban Fantasy book I read that is now considered traditional Urban Fantasy was Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, the first in the Otherworld series. It had been recommended to me by Amazon based on the fact that I loved Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. It introduced me to werewolves and a strong heroine who was struggling to come to terms with who she was and what had happened to her.  Since then I’ve numerous other UF and one element I love in all in the extraordinary in a normal world. Whether the supernaturals are out and proud as they are in Sookie Stackhouse and Mercy Thompson books, or still in hiding such as the Otherworld and Corrine Solomon I love the conflict between the normal and the paranormal. I love the strong heroines and heroes who do the right thing no matter what it costs them and I love the morally ambiguous characters who live in shades of grey. I also adore that in most cases Urban Fantasy is written as an ongoing series and pretty much every UF series has gotten stronger the more books you read. If there is a spark or any potential you see in the first book, then carry on with the series because the chances are the best books are still to come!  
This isn’t a literature paper on Urban Fantasy so I’m going to list some of my favourite UF tropes and some I’m not so keen on...
I love UF because...
  • There are kick-ass strong women who can hold their own in a fight and they have a brain!
  • There are some truly hot men who let women be themselves
  • Vampire! Werewolves! Shifters! Mental Powers! Magic powers are real...
  • Not all ‘bad’ people are evil, and not all ‘good’ people do the right thing
  • Characters change and evolve over series – and often so does the world
  • The world is recognisable with mobile phones, internet and fast cars
  • The heroes  & heroines never give up!
  • Snarky humour is so much fun!
  • The surrounding characters are just as real and fun as the main characters
 I’m bored of UF with...
  • Women who are surrounded by men all the time and never meet or interact with other women (Come on! That’s just not normal!)
  • All the men fall for one woman
  • The mysterious stranger who may or may not be trusted ends up being trustworthy...
  • The heroine/hero manages to defeat the big bad despite having been shot/burned/seriously injured two pages earlier
What do you love about Urban Fantasy? Do you disagree with me in either list?
In order to celebrate I’m offering one person their choice of Urban Fantasy book from my list of favourite series starring strong women:

Just fill in the form below before 8th September 2012! Open Internationally...
And don’t forget to check out my first Bloggoversarygiveaway here – open until 30th August

Sunday, 26 August 2012

My Book Haul/Showcase Sundays

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!
Blood and Feathers - Lou Morgan
Publisher: Solaris
Alice isn't having the best of days. She was late for work, she missed her bus, and now she's getting rained on. What she doesn't know is that her day's about to get worse: the epic, grand-scale kind of worse that comes from the arrival of two angels who claim everything about her life is a lie.
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act - or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever.
That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by Mallory - a disgraced angel with a drinking problem and a whole load of secrets - Alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell.
What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding - and can she trust either side?
Caught between the power plays of the angels and Lucifer himself, it isn't just hell's demons that Alice will have to defeat...
This is a win from Graeme's Fantasy Book Reviews. I haven't had the most success with angel books in the past, but this looks like it will be a different kettle of angel!
Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves - Matthew Reilly
Publisher: Orion Books
At an abandoned military base in the Arctic, a battle to save the world has begun...
THE SECRET BASE Known only as Dragon Island, the long-forgotten relic of the Cold War houses a weapon of terrible destructive force. And it has just been re-activated.
A RENEGADE ARMY When Dragon Island is seized by terrorists, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
ONE SMALL TEAM The only unit close enough to avert disaster is an equipment-testing team led by a Marine captain named Schofield, call sign SCARECROW. They are not equipped to attack a fortified island held by a small army but will go in anyway - because someone has to.

This is a suprise present from my Gran of all people - she lent the first couple of books with Schofield many moons ago and I loved the complete mindlessness of the action scenes. It's a popcorn movie blockbuster of a series...and I am looking forward to this latest installment with my mind firmly switched off! :-)

What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

On My Wishlist #99

This is a meme that started on Book Chick City before moving to Cosy Books and is now hosted by the wonderful Sarah at Workaday Reads. 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 catching up on my series...
Steel's Edge (The Edge #4) - Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace
The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…
Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.
Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive...
I am far behind with this series - I've only read book one and this is book four. But as a huge fan of Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series and the gorgeous cover I know I need to catch up!
Touch of the Demon (Kara Gillian #5) - Diana Rowland
Publisher: Daw (December 2012)
Kara Gillian is in Seriously Deep Trouble.
She's used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now she's the one who's been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of the demonic Lord Msatl, but quickly discovers that she's far more than a mere hostage. He has his own plans to use Kara and keep her from Rhyzkahl-the demonic lord she is sworn to serve. However, waiting for rescue has never been Kara's style, and she has no intention of being a pawn in someone else's game.
Yet intrigue and treachery run rampant amongst all lords, and Kara is hard pressed to keep her wits about her. Her abilities as a homicide detective are put the the test as she seeks the truth about FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff, Rhyzkahl, and herself. But, the answers she finds only raise more questions. She soon discovers that she has her own history in the demon realm-one that goes back farther than she could have ever imagined. But that history may yet spell her doom as she’s faced with a peril beyond mortal comprehension.
She’s going to need all the strength and tenacity she’s developed as a cop and a summoner, or the hell she endures may well last forever...
I love this series and book 4 ended on such an evil cliffhanger! I can't wait to get my hands on this!
Frost Burned (Mercedes Thompson #7) - Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Orbit (March 2013)
Shapeshifter Mercy Thompson's life is calming down, at least enough that she can focus on mundane matters like Black Friday sales. But on her return, Mercy is unable to contact her mate, Alpha Adam Hauptman, or the other members of their pack. All she knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam's disappearance may be related - and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from the most unlikely of allies: the vampire seethe...
Another series I adore and while this book might not be out untile next year, I can't wait to get my hands on it!
So what series are you waiting for the next story from...?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Early Review: Blackwood

-       Gwenda Bond

Publisher: Strange Chemistry – To be Published 4th September 2012

Ecopy courtesy of netgalley and Strange Chemistry
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back. Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

As one of the first books to be published by Angry Robots new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry, Blackwood has an intrigue premise and a lot of promise. Luckily it manages to deliver on that promise and sets a high standard for Strange Chemistry’s future releases.

Miranda lives on Roanoke Island, site of one the first settlements colonised from England, but after a few years the whole settlement – all 114 people disappeared without a trace. Then, in present day another 114 all disappear at the same time...what does this mean to Miranda and her cursed family? And how does the boy who branded her a snake when they young fit in – especially as he hasn’t been back to the island in the last four years?

The set up and introduction of the characters is well done – pulling you in and playing on your brain? What happened to the original settlers? Why is it repeating now? How does Miranda’s family fit in? I love historical mysteries and the disappearance of the Roanoke settlement is a real puzzler. The repeat disappearance is enough to send shivers up your spine with the whole community frightened. Miranda seems to be caught right in the middle when her father is first thought to be one of the missing. Phillips return to the island and his relationship with his parents is a great contrast to Miranda’s situations and adds some heart to the proceedings. I loved his mother and father and how they want to both help and protect – and occasionally making the wrong decision, but for the right reasons.

The writing is like marshmallows – easy to swallow and addictive – you just want to read one more page. However, for me the answers to the questions, and the resolution were not as strong as the set up. The true reasons and even motivations of the missing just don’t seem to ring true for some reason – it all seems a bit too simple with little shades of grey that I expected given the strong characterisation of Miranda and Phillips. However, Blackwood is a fun read with a fantstic set-up and characters you can’t help rooting for – sit back, relax and explore Roanoke Islands mysteries...

Recommended for fans of Jeri Smith-Ready and Tamora Pierce. 7.5 out of 10

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Throwback Thursdays #61 - Enclave

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?
Enclave - Ann Aguirre
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Having been a fan of Ann Aguirre's UF series with Corine Solomon, I really wanted to try her YA, but that old trouble of not having started it yet! With the sequel due to be released in the next month or two I need to catch up! Plus it's a post-apocalypse setting which I always enjoy!
What have I been missing out on? :)


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Early Review: The Uninvited

The Uninvited (Krewe of Hunters #8)
-       Heather Graham

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA  (Published 28th August 2012)

Ecopy courtesy of netgalley and Harlequin
1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord 'Butcher' Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarelton, who spurned his king and his love leaving her to die in her father's arms. Now: After the day's final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford's desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet. Resident ghosts may be the stock-in-trade of stately Philadelphia homes, but Allison, a noted historian, is indignant at the prospect of 'ghost hunters' investigating this apparent murder. Agent Tyler Montague knows his haunting and his history. But while Allison is skeptical of the newcomer, a second mysterious murder occurs. Has 'Butcher' Bedford resurfaced? Or is there another malevolent force at work in Landon Mansion? Wary, yet deeply attracted, Allison has to trust in Tyler and work with him to discover just what uninvited guest, dead or alive, has taken over the house. Or their lives could become history...
This is the eighth book in the Krewe of Hunters series and the fourth one to focus on Texas Krewe. I always find myself returning to these books when I want an enjoyable light read with a touch of romance. This time around it’s Tyler, the Texas Ranger and gentleman cowboy who takes the lead into a murder investigation in Philidelphia at a historical old home that legend has it, was were a patriot was killed during the Revolution. Immediately he meets tour guide and historian, Allison who does not believe in ghosts and refuses to accept that the truth of the murder might lie in the distant past.
It was refreshing after so many novels to run into a character who doesn’t immediately accept that ghosts are real. I liked how normal Allison’s reactions are and the way she slowly comes to accept what is happening. Tyler is a true gentleman and doesn’t push at all and the slow unfurling of romance between the two of them is one of the strongest realistic portrayals of a relationship I’ve seen. The events within the house are intriguing as well. I don’t know much about the Revolution so the historical elements with the legend of the house are interesting and add a lot of colour to the story.
It’s a shame that what lets the story down in the end is the resolution of the murder. I was enjoying the whole book right up until the final chapter when the murderer and motive was revealed. I don’t want to give too much away but neither really rang true – the reason for the murder is weak and seems a little ridiculous. Still apart from a little niggle at the ending, I did enjoy the books as a perfect summer read – light, fun and absorbing.

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

Monday, 20 August 2012

Unholy Ghosts Review

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1)
-       Stacia Kane

Publisher: Harper Voyager
The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

I admit that I avoided this series for a long time as I knew Chess, the main character was a drug addict and that meant that I didn’t want to connect with her. I was wrong! While she may be an addict, she is one because she wants to be and it is far from the defining element to her character. As well as drugs, Chess is a debunker for the Church, making her money by disproving ghost sightings and banishing the odd real one she comes across. The Church is not religious in a way that we understand – they don’t preach God or gospel – but they do protect humanity from the ghosts of the dead.
This is a fascinating world that Stacia Kane has created – like Bladerunner crossed with Poltegeist with so many interesting characters – even if none of them are ‘good’. Terrible, the drug lord’s enforcer is good at violence, but is still smart, brave – and developing a soft spot for Chess. Chess’s fellow Church workers pretend to be good on the surface but beneath them seem to be just as broken and messed up as everyone else.
Chess isn’t a kick-ass heroine – she get kidnapped and slapped around a lot. She forgets innocents and sometimes all she wants to do is loose herself in the pipes. But despite all this, there is something appealing and honest about Chess. She doesn’t try to be anyone she isn’t – she doesn’t lie to herself at all and that is refreshing. There is enough action and creepy ghosts to keep most Urban Fantasy fans happy and despite no overt romance, there are some great foundations for possible relationships in the future. This series has bags of potential and I have to admit I’m not sorry I didn’t start this sooner! Another series for me to catch up on!

Recommended for fans of Jeaniene Frost and Ilona Andrews. 9 out of 10. 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

My Book Haul/Showcase Sundays

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!
Another good week for me with only a lone pre-order from months ago adding to my reading pile!

Kitty Steals The Show (Kitty Norville #10) - Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Gollancz
Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world—and Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are right in the middle of it. Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a power struggle among vampires that has been going on for centuries—than she ever has before. In her search for answers, Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles. The conference has also attracted some old enemies, who’ve set their sights on her and her friends.
All the world’s a stage, and Kitty’s just stepped into the spotlight.

Kitty is always one of my pre-order series as I love her normal attitude to being a werewolf and the supernatural. She's learnt a lot in the course of her adventures and now she's visiting my home town! I can't wait to see what she gets up too! :-)

Geist - Philippa Ballantine
Publisher: Ace
Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists...
Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.
But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows. And if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in Hell is she returning to?

I won this from Melissa at My World in Words and Pages as part of her blogging celebrations and it arrived this week! I've been reading Melissa's rave review of Philippa's books for a while and now I get to experience it!

What have you picked up this week?

PS - Don't forget to enter by blogging anniversary giveaway!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

On My Wishlist #98

This is a meme that started on Book Chick City before moving to Cosy Books and is now hosted by the wonderful Sarah at Workaday Reads. There are so many books out there that I want to read that this is the only way I can keep track!
With my book buying ban still intact, this is the best way for me to now drool over those books i can't buy...yet!

In A Fix - Linda Grimes
Publisher: Tor Books (September 2012)
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable... that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.
Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.
Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems...

I love my Urban Fantasy and this feels like it's a lot of fun as well as having a kick-ass heroine with an unusual power. Me want!

Dark Currents - Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc (October 2012)
 The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.
To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly. But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her antemonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.

I'm a big fan of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series so when I heard she was  writing Urban Fantasy I knew I must read it! Luckily it's not out until October so I should be able to pick up a copy then once the ban has been lifted!

Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant #3) - Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Gollancz
It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world. At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah—that’s going to go well.

I love this series - it's fun, quirky and set in London! This is book three and it's out now but I'm not allowed to buy it yet...still I will once September rolls round...

That's what I'm wishing for this week - what have you got on your shortlist? :-)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Falling Fast Review

Falling Fast
-       Sophie McKenzie

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Childrens

When River auditions for a part in an interschool performance of Romeo and Juliet, she finds herself smitten by Flynn, the boy playing Romeo. But Flynn comes from a damaged family—is he even capable of giving River what she wants? The path of true love never did run smooth . . .
This is a story about first love and young love. River longs to fall in love – that all consuming  can’t live without them love. And when her all girls school agrees to work with alocal boys school for a production of Romeo and Juliet, River meets Flynn. Flynn is intense, interesting and completely different from anyone River has ever met before. But River solely realises that love isn’t as simple as she thought it was...

This is the first Sophie McKenzie book I ever read and it was well written – River, her friends and family all felt real. River’s emotions at seventeen are spot on and her struggle to find something that was missing from her life familiar. Sophie McKenzie managed to perfectly capture the mindset of the ordinary teenage girl growing up. The emotions of falling in love for the first time are well described. However, there is a big reason why I didn’t like this book as much as I could have: Flynn. The boy River falls for is from the wrong side of the tracks as it were and he is angry. He is moody and critical of others – jumping to conclusions quickly and doesn’t really listen to River. In fact, I really thought he was too tough and too angry to be the hero. I struggled to see a heart of gold underneath the short temper and obsession with money. In fact his principals are non-existent and his respect for River and others minimal. I really didn’t like him!

In short this is a well written, interesting story about first love and possibly first mistakes. It’s quick and easy to read with real heart – but I just wanted to tell River to open her eyes a little more!

Recommended for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Alderson 6.5 out of 10