Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mel's Random October

Happy Halloween All! 
Derek the Bat says "Trick or Treat!"
Whether you celebrate it or not, treat yourself to a little sweet snack tonight and make sure all the lights are on so you can read as late as you want! 
It's been a busy month for me - my mum is still very ill so that has taken a lot of my time and looks to do so for the foreseeable future. I'm actually surprised and pleased that I've been keeping my blogging up - mostly as it is a wonderful distraction - as is reading! So apologies for any late/no replies to emails and lack of comments on blogs - hope you understand!

So what impact did this have on my reading?

Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires #5) - Chloe Neill (TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
Breathe - Sarah Crossan

Fated (Alex Verus #1) - Benedict Jacka (British Book Challenge)
Blink Once - Cylin Busby
Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1) - Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris (TBR Reading Pile Challenge)

Insurgent - Veronica Roth
Black Dust Mambo - Adrian Phoenix
The Hallowed Ones - Laura Bickle
The Woman In Black - Susan Hill (British Book Challenge)


Hot Mama - Jennifer Estep (TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
The Assassin's Curse - Cassandra Rose Clarke
Thief - Sarah-Jane Lehoux
The Curious Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (British Book Challenge)

Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels #4.5) - Ilona Andrews

Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City (Iron Seas #1.5) - Meljean Brook
In The Tall Grass - Stephen King & Joe Hill


Giant Thief - David Tallerman

Sarah's Reviews
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) - Ilona Andrews

Regular Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked at Uglies by Scott Westerfeld this month

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

So updating the challenges - 
British Books Challenge - 30 Read 
2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 34 Read

Best of the Bunch: Black Dust Mambo was so much fun! I just couldn't put it down!

Honourable Mentions: The Hallowed Ones, Phoenix Rising and The Woman in Black were all great reads that I think everyone should try!

Novella Review: In The Tall Grass

In The Tall Grass
-       Stephen King & Joe Hill

Kindle Book
In the Tall Grass begins with a sister and brother who pull off to the side of the road after hearing a young boy crying for help from beyond the tall grass. Within minutes they are disoriented, in deeper than seems possible, and they’ve lost one another. The boy’s cries are more and more desperate. What follows is a terrifying, entertaining, and masterfully told tale...

This is a short story I bought especially for Halloween this year and it does do a pretty good job of taking something pretty ordinary and turning it into something creepy. A brother and pregnant sister are taking a road trip when they hear a child lost in the field filled with tall grass. Naturally they stop to help him – and his mother. However, the grass isn’t what it seems and more maybe happening here than they first though.

The first half of this story is truly creepy with the slowly dawning realisation that this field isn’t what you first though. That realisation is beautifully drawn out – with frustration and irriation playing as much of a role as horror. However the second part of the story drops the slow creepiness for more explicit horror which is quite uncomfortable to read and topples the story into a more visual, disturbing element. Like one of those horror films you have to watch from between you fingers – you just can’t stop watching.

This is a perfect little horror story to read now the evenings are closing in and the trees start to weep leaves – but I would make sure your lawn is cut before hand or you may not venture out into the grass for a while afterwards...

Recommended for fans of Shaun Hutson and James Herbert.7 out of 10

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Woman In Black Review

The Woman in Black
- Susan Hill

Publisher: Vintage

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her... From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh...

Arthur Kipps heads to a distant township on the edge of the marsh to see to the paperwork of the recently deceased Mrs Alice Drablow. The people he meets on the way behave oddly when they discover what he is there for and there is a certain atmosphere at the house which makes him uncomfortable – especially when he starts to discover the history of the place...

For some reason I had imagined that The Woman in Black is an older story than it is. It was first published in the early 1980s but with a long running stage show in London’s West End and the recent Daniel Radcliffe film it has a certain timeless quality to it. The book is much closer to the stage show than the recent film with the creeping horror built through atmosphere and description and is much stronger for it. There is no blood, little violence but the eeriness is palpable and the growing fear as you realise with Mr Kipps what is waiting for him at Eel Marsh House.

Again I am impressed at how much story and description can be squeezed into so few pages (authors take note – some stories don’t need a thousand pages!). The description is creepy and gothic, painting a bleak house on the edge of civilisation, only accessible at certain times and feels very much like the edge of the world as we know it. The true horror slowly builds up and while you might be tempted to say that the start is slow, it is merely laying the foundation for what follows. Like most ghost stories some of the horror stays after the events making you think continually on what happened – and what didn’t.

This is very much a traditional ghost story – like the sort you used to tell around the campfire at Halloween and a welcome change from many modern horror stories. This is a personal tale – no world ending fears, but as a result plays on your mind for longer. The pictures Susan Hill has painted will flicker into your mind at random times – like squelching through puddles on the way to work will give you a sudden flash to the path to Eel Marsh House through the tidelands – or it did me at least! Creepy and timeless – I think all horror fans should read this tale!

Recommended for fans of Dean Koontz and Wilkie Collins. 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Curious Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Review

The Curious Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
-       Robert Louis Stevenson

Kindle Book
Dr. Jekyll has been experimenting with identity. He has developed a drug which separates the two sides of his nature, allowing him to abandon himself to his most corrupt inclinations as the monstrous Mr. Hyde. But gradually the journey back to goodness becomes more and more difficult, and the risk that Mr. Hyde will break free from Dr. Jekyll’s control puts all of London in grave peril

As regular readers of my blog will be aware I’m not much for the classics – I’ve never read Jane Eyre and despite some constant encouragement of a certain BookGirl of Mur-y-Castell I have never even picked up Pride and Prejudice. But a quick glance at my stats as my most popular posts happen to be the few classics I have read – the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol. So I thought I would try to mix up my reading with some of the science fiction and adventure classics occasionally. So for Halloween I decided to read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde...

Once again I am struck by how the story you think you know is NOT the story that was first written. Told through the point of view of My Utterson, Jekyll’s long time friend and lawyer we first meet Mr Hyde via some gossip. He is described as small and young but with some sort of peculiar loathing that he seems to inspire to make everyone feel. Mr Utterson is worried about how this vile creature seems to have attached itself to his good friend Dr Jekyll. It is some time before we meet Dr Jekyll who is described as an amiable, elderly gentleman who does many good deeds for the community. I have to confess the idea of My Hyde as a slight, young man surprised me – I always had that picture in my head of a big, hunched monster which is how he is usually seen in films and TV shows!

The story actually takes places over a couple of years and is very much influenced by Victorian manners and society at that time for doctors and lawyers. Mr Utterson is very worried about his friends reputation and if he is being blackmailed or not. There is a great insight into how men of a certain age and level of society behave towards each other – indeed the only women in the whole plot are a maid (who cries and faints) and a selfish, corrupt housekeeper – each of whom only have once scene each. An insight into women at that time or more an insight into Robert Louis Stevenson’s attitudes towards women? I’ll leave that to the English Literature graduates to discuss, but this is very much a man’s story about man’s urges.

Dr Jekyll himself admits he is still himself as Mr Hyde but without conscience – free to indulge his base instincts. Unless I missed it (always possible!), these base instincts are not revealed explicitly and apart from a short temper and tendency towards violence, it is left to your own imagination to think what these base instincts are. I found that particularly interesting as each person would probably be thinking of their own deepest and reviled thoughts at that point. This makes you part of the story and more involved in MR Hyde's activities. 

This is a classic for a reason as the reader is drawn into the story – and even knowing the ‘twist’ can read it on many levels. I imagine the surprise ending would have been as revolutionary in its day as The Sixth Sense was when it first came out! It’s not a long book and perhaps a little wordy for modern sensibilities but this is a fascinating insight into the ‘true’ story behind the myth we all know. It's not a long story - but there is a reason it has stayed with us for the last hundred years!

Recommended for fans of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 28 October 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!
This is my last week  I'm allowing myself to buy books until after Christmas - hopefully this will allow me to break into the TBR pile and put some money into the pressie fund!

What's Left Of Me - Kat Zhang
Publisher: HarperCollins
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

This was a swap from and looks amazing. I loved The Host by Stephanie Meyer (Preferred it to the Twilight series!) and it has a feel of that about I'm looking forward to see what it brings to the table!

Bitter Seeds - Ian Tregillis 
Publisher: Orbit
It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between.
Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.
When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

I just love the sound of this - like X-Men crossed with Hellboy and think it sounds like a lot of fun!

Taken (Alex Verus #3) - Benedict Jacka
Publisher: Orbit
Welcome to Fountain Reach. Ancient seat of the Aubuchon dynasty. Majestic setting of the White Stone tournament. Alex Verus' (not necessarily reliable) reputation attracts all sorts. Most are plain bonkers. Yet there's one invitation he just can't refuse. At Fountain Reach, Alex is perfectly placed among the noted and notorious to figure out why apprentices have been vanishing. But the tournament is a minefield of ancient grudges and new threats and Alex can't afford to miss a trick as his elusive adversary stays one step ahead in this most dangerous of games.

Having read book one in this series, Fated a couple of weeks ago, I'm hopeful that the promise in the series is fulfilled!

Royal Street - Suzanne Johnson
Publisher: Headline
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond. 
Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover. To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

I have to confess I already read this on my kindle but I loved the story and I couldn't resist when I saw the book in the shop - I just had to have it on my bookshelf!

Blood Lite II: Overbite - Edited Kevin J Anderson
Publisher: Pocket Books
Putting the fun back into dark fiction, this new collection of humorous and highly entertaining horror-filled tales features sidesplitting stories by such "New York Times"-bestselling authors as Heather Graham, L.A. Banks, and Kelley Armstrong.

I do like the occasional short story! What other reason do I need? :-)

What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

On My Wishlist #105

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 Halloween this week, there are a couple of horror books that might get me in the mood...
Red Rain - R.L. Stine
Publisher: Touchstone
Travel writer Lea Sutter finds herself on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, the wrong place at the wrong time. A merciless, unanticipated hurricane cuts a path of destruction and Lea barely escapes with her life. In the storm’s aftermath, she discovers orphaned twin boys and impulsively decides to adopt them. The boys, Samuel and Daniel, seem amiable and immensely grateful; Lea’s family back on Long Island—husband Mark and their two children, Ira and Elena—aren’t quite so pleased. But even they can’t anticipate the twins’ true nature—or predict that, within a few weeks’ time, Mark will wind up implicated in two brutal murders, with the police narrowing in.
I used to read a lot of Point Horror books growing up and when I heard that one of the stalwarts of Point Horror, RL Stine was releasing an adult novel, I knew I wanted to see what he has instore for adults...
Horns - Joe Hill
Publisher: Gollancz
Merrin Williams is dead, slaughtered under inexplicable circumstances, leaving her beloved boyfriend Ignatius Perrish as the only suspect. On the first anniversary of Merrin's murder, Ig spends the night drunk and doing awful things. When he wakes the next morning he has a thunderous hangover . . . and horns growing from his temples. Ig possesses a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look--a macabre gift he intends to use to find the monster who killed his lover. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. Now it's time for revenge . . .

Two reasons I want to read this book - Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and I'm curious what that kind of pedigree would breed, plus Daniel Radcliffe's new film is Horns and I always want to read the book of the film!
Ghost Road Blues - Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: Pinnacle
Evil Doesn't Die The cozy little town of Pine Deep buried the horrors of its past a long time ago. Thirty years have gone by since the darkness descended and the Black Harvest began, a time when a serial killer sheared a bloody swath through the quiet Pennsylvania village. The evil that once coursed through Pine Deep has been replaced by cheerful tourists getting ready to enjoy the country's largest Halloween celebration in what is now called "The Spookiest Town in America." 
It Just Grows Stronger
But then--a month before Halloween--it begins. Unspeakably desecrated bodies. Inexplicable insanity. And an ancient evil walking the streets, drawing in those who would fall to their own demons and seeking to shred the very soul of this rapidly fracturing community. Yes, the residents of Pine Deep have drawn together and faced a killer before. But this time, evil has many faces--and the lust and will to rule the earth...

I love Jonathan's YA books and this is one of his adult books that looks creepy and will have you worried about what your neighbour is getting up too...

So what's scaring you this weekend? :-) 

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Hallowed Ones Review

The Hallowed Ones
- Laura Bickle

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community?

Wow. My heart was beating so hard while reading parts of The Hallowed Ones that I think my neighbours thoughts I had taken up bongo drums! Katie has been brought up as one of the Plain people, the Amish who live off the land and keep technology to a minimum. She is weeks away from her Rumspringa, a chance to explore the outside world and decide whether she wants to choose the Amish lifestyle for herself. However, before Katie and her best friend Elijah can leave something starts to happen to the outside first news is patchy, but soon it becomes clear there is something wrong, some evil outside their community...

Katie is curious about the outside world and is looking forward to seeing what else is out there in the world even though she assumes she will be returning to the Amish lifestyle eventually. Her main fault is that she thinks before she obeys the orders from her parents, the Bishop or other adults – an admirable trait to me! She follows her heart even if it’s not always the safest route and while not street-smart, she is intelligent and curious. I don’t know much about the Amish lifestyle (there aren't any in England as far as I know!), but her world feels real and natural. I assume there has been a lot research to make this world come to life so easily! I don’t to spoil anything but the events outside the Amish community, which start to encroach on them, are creepy and disturbing. The discovery of the empty town or the horse with one show still in the stirrups, are images that will stay with me for a long time.

As with her adult novels, Laura Bickle has a fantastic command over the atmosphere in her novels managing to build tension and keep you on edge. I was so tense at some points that when someone sat beside me on the train I jumped a mile! There is also tension created as Katie’s relationships with those around her changes – there are some twist and turns which just makes the world feel so realistic. I also enjoyed the spiritual element and how that impacts the characters interpretations of the situation. It’s rare that the apocalypse happens in YA literature with some philosophical musings.

Overall, this is an atmospheric and tense story which explores coming of age during the end of the known world in a completely different way to any story I’ve read before. Heartily recommended.

Recommended for fans of Veronica Roth and Jennifer Barnes. 9 out of 10

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Throwback Thursday #68 - Tyger Tyger

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?
Tyger Tyger - Kersten Hamilton
Teagan Wylltson’s best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures—goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty—are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn’t worried. Her life isn’t in danger. In fact, it’s perfect. She’s on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She’s focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems. Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn’s a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he’s crazy or he’s been haunting Abby’s dreams, because he’s talking about goblins, too... and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby’s right. The goblins are coming.

I bought this after reading a few rave reviews from some of my best blogging mates last year, but not read it yet. I like the idea of a book with goblins - there aren't a lot of books with goblins and I like the idea of exploring something a little different than the usual vamps and shifters. I also have the sequel on my bookcase as well...

So what creatures do you wish there were more books about? :-)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Black Dust Mambo Review

Black Dust Mambo (Hoodoo #1)
-       Adrian Phoenix

Publisher: Pocket Books
Kallie Riviere, a fiery Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a talent for trouble, finds herself smack-dab in the middle of one of those times her mentor warned her about when she visits New Orleans to attend the Hecatean Alliance's annual carnival: her hard-bodied conjurer hookup ends up dead in her blood-drenched bed. And he was killed by something that Kallie would never dream of touching -- the darkest of dark juju, soul-eating juju -- a black dust hex that may have been meant to kill her. Now Kallie has to use every bit of hoodoo knowledge and bayou-bred mojo she possesses to clear her own name and find the killer -- even as that dark sorcerer hunts Kallie and her friends. But Kallie's search for the truth soon leads her in a direction she never anticipated -- back home to Bayou Cypres Noir, and to Gabrielle LaRue, Kallie's aunt, protector, and hoodoo mentor . . . who is looking more and more like she just might be the one who wants Kallie dead...

I think I need to bow to your better wisdom! This was the winner of my What Shall I Read Poll for October and once again you picked a cracker and a book I have been undeservedly been overlooking on my shelves. You obviously have better taste than I do!

Set in New Orleans during a magical carnival (for those with actual magic naturally!), this books leaps out of the blocks from the first page and throws a fantastic variety of interesting characters, absorbing mysteries, fascinating magic systems and intriguing culture clashes at you. Somehow it never feels overwhelming – helped by some amusing banter between characters – but rarely lets you catch your breath as you are whisked away on a fun adventure ride.

Kallie has just returned from the bathroom after her excesses of the night have caught up with her when she finds the man she brought home dead in her bed. Kallie is one feisty lady – more than happy to punch people and with some interesting voodoo powers. One element I loved was the mix of characters both male and female. I get a little frustrated with strong women in my UF who never met another woman (unless it’s the token bad girl/rival for her man). There are enough men and women – all with different characters and personality traits that creates plenty of conflict and interesting relationship dynamics – I loved them all. I loved Belladonna, Kallie’s best friend who always has her back, I love McKenna, the spirited Irish nomad, I loved Felicity Fields the Miss Money-Penny assistant to the head of the Hecatean Alliance. They are all strong women but with different personalities and aspects. Throw in a few hunky men including one handsome biker Vessel and there is loads of fun to be having.

The plot follows a few different characters across the investigation which does lead to some great cliff-hangers and tense moments. The writing is so smooth – it feels like a warming hot rich hot chocolate that warms you up on a cold autumn night – tasty and more-ish. I honest can’t wait to read the next book in this series! I urge all UF fans to read this book as soon as you can!

Recommended for fans of Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brooks. 10 out of 10

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & The Diary of a Bookworm - thank you both!

So the nights are drawing in, daylight is running scared and there are strange noises outside - I'm sure that screech is just a fox or a racoon...isn't it...?

I love being scared and the supernatural is a regular visitor to my don't worry if your keyboard starts to bleed, I'm sure it's nothing...afterall you're safe at home or work and nothing can creep up behind there...nothing can breathe down your neck or crawl up your shoulder...can it? :)

Enough creepiness - I've had my fun trick so now it's time your treat - what can you win here at Mel's Random Reviews?

Prize: Book of your choice from The Book Despository (up to £10 or $10) as such this is open internationally!

Rules: (without which there will be chaos!)

- Fill in the form below
- That's it! No complicated extra entries, no bribes, no favourites :-)
- Closes at Midnight 31st October 2012
- 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! :)

Good luck...and don't forget to check the back of the cupboard and under the bed before you go to bed...just in case...mwhahaha...

Oh, and check out my giveaway for 3 copies of Thief and Shades of War by Sarah-Jane Lehoux as well!

Check out some of the other blogs taking part in the hop there are over 400 so good luck!

Novella Review: Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City

Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City (Iron Seas #1.5)
-       Meljean Brook

Kindle Book
Eight months after The Iron Duke, can their marriage survive a new danger?
After Mina is called in to investigate the murder of an aristocratic bounder, her husband Rhys—known to the world as the Iron Duke—must overcome his fear for his new bride before his need to protect her tears them apart. But when she invites him to join her at the murder scene, a search for a mysterious killing machine puts her in more danger than ever before…a danger that leads straight back to Rhys.

This is a great little epilogue to The Iron Duke as we catch up with Mina and Rhys eight months into their marriage. They are both struggling to come to terms with their new situation. Rhys especially is trying to find the balance between wanting to protect his new police inspector wife and knowing that by doing so he would lose her entirely. He really seems to have grown since we first met him in The Iron Duke. Mina as well is particularly patient with Rhys and understanding of his fears. I also loved the way they brought Anne the Tinker into their family and how all three of them are still figuring out the family dynamic as its new to all of them.

The story itself is based on the murder of prominent bounder and involves some politics about automating factories verses the loose of jobs. It’s a grey area and while the murder is solved, the situation does raise some interesting grey areas which may be explored in future stories... I did enjoy some of the automation and gadgets that are explored – the two-seater balloons seem wonderful (I would love one myself!).

This is a wonderful little coda into a book I particularly adored and a little insight into how a happily ever after really works. Some excitement, some smexy action and I am now hungry to read Heart of Steel!

Recommended for fans of Pip Ballantine and Devon Monk. 8 out of 10.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Thief Review + GIVEAWAY!

Thief (Sevy #1)
- Sarah-Jane Lehoux

Publisher: Mundania Press

In the crumbling city of Eloria, there is one indisputable fact: everyone has a price. Protestations of morality and better judgment have little meaning when confronted with the chance to obtain the unobtainable. The only question remaining is just how much a person is willing to sacrifice in order to win their heart’s desire. Sevy has always been a quick study in the wicked ways of Eloria. She has no qualms about taking what she wants, and when the love of her life is mysteriously murdered, Sevy will stop at nothing to get him back. Elvish black magic, necromancy and demonic pacts are of little consequence if it means she can once again have her beloved at her side. But is she willing to murder her only friend to get the job done?

I love strong women in my novels – and fantasy does seem to be a little behind the times with strong female characters (I’m grateful to say that has been changing rapidly in the last few years!), but with Sevy we have one tough woman. She is tough, quick to anger, resourceful and doesn’t trust easily. When we first meet her she is a young thief in Eloria, struggling to eat and survive. It’s easy to feel for her, but as the years past she become hard and doesn’t always make the right decisions. Sevy seems to get harder and more brittle as time passes. It got to the point where I’m not sure I liked her much by the end – and really didn’t know how she would react in some situations - but I sure respected her and still cared for her. Sevy would rather fight than think and is quick to action while Jarro and Revik are the more thoughtful characters – but can hold their own in a fight. Jarro is the gang leader who takes her in and trains her. He is the traditional Robin Hood style leader – a thief with a heart of gold and a nice counter-point to Sevy. He’s charming but with a bit of blind spot when it comes to women.

My favourite character by far is the dark elf Revik – he is Jarro’s second is command and teaches Sevy how to fight. Revik is smart and loyal – and he really does want the best for everyone. However, don’t worry there is no love triangle here! However, the rumours and fears about dark elves are intriguing – especially when contrasted with the actual culture of the elves. I loved learning about their society and set up – it seems so unique and different! I hope to find out more in the next book.

At first this feels like different stories with the same characters as the plot moves forward several years between sections. It’s not until the final part that many strands come together and the full scale of what has been happening. That’s when things get really tense and you don’t know how it will end. With the world now set up, I’m looking forward to the next book Shades of War to explore what happens to Sevy next!

Recommended for fans of Karen Miller and Rachel Aaron. 8 out of 10  


Today I have a special giveaway for you all!! I have 3 copies of Thief and Shades of War by Sarah-Jane Lehoux to give-away courtesy of Sara-Jane herself and my good friend Melissa from My World in words and pages! It's PDF copy as such it's open internationally. All you have to do is fill in the form below. Open until 29th October - Good Luck!

Sunday, 21 October 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!
I've been lucky this week with a few gifts from friends - and a little treat for myself!

City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #3) - Stacia Kane
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate. Mangled human corpses have started to show up on the streets of Downside, and Chess’s bosses at the Church of Real Truth have ordered her to team up with the ultra-powerful Black Squad agency to crack the grisly case.
Chess is under a binding spell that threatens death if she talks about the investigation, but the city’s most notorious crime boss—and Chess’s drug dealer—gets wind of her new assignment and insists on being kept informed. If that isn’t bad enough, a sinister street vendor appears to have information Chess needs. Only he’s not telling what he knows, or what it all has to do with the vast underground City of Eternity.
Now Chess will have to navigate killer wraiths, First Elders, and a lot of seriously nasty magic—all while coping with some not-so-small issues of her own. And the only man Chess can trust to help her through it all has every reason to want her dead.

I've had a bit of a tough time recently and have been feeling very down. One of my lovely friends sent me this book to cheer me up! It's the third book in a series I started earlier this year - and having loved the first book I want to get through book two and onto this as soon as possible! Thanks Karen!

Dark Angels (Black Sun's Daughter #2) - M.L.N Hanover
Publisher: Orbit
When Jayné Heller's uncle Eric died, she inherited a fortune beyond all her expectations — and a dangerous mission in a world she never knew existed. Reining in demons and supernatural foes is a formidable task, but thankfully Jayné has vast resources and loyal allies to rely on. She'll need both to tackle a bodyswitching serial killer who's taken up residence in New Orleans, a city rich in voodoo lore and dark magic. Working alongside Karen Black, a highly confident and enigmatic ex-FBI agent, Jayné races to track down the demon's next intended host. But the closer she gets, the more convinced she becomes that nothing in this beautiful, wounded city is exactly as it seems. When shocking secrets come to light, and jealousy and betrayal turn trusted friends into adversaries, Jayné will soon come face-to-face with an enemy that knows her all too well, and won't rest until it has destroyed everything she loves most...

Earlier in the year I read and loved Unclean Spirits the first book in this series. As a slightly-belated birthday present a couple of friends got me the rest of the series! So as well as Dark Angels I also got the next two books! (In order to avoid spoilers I'm not putting the summaries up of the next two!)

Vicious Circle (Black Sun's Daughters #3) - M.L.N Hanover
Publisher: Orbit

Killing Rites (Black Sun's Daughter #4) - M.L.N Hanover
Publisher: Orbit

The Iron Wyrm Affair - Lilith Saintcrow
Publisher: Orbit
Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. 
In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs. 
The game is afoot...

I treated myself to this after a pretty miserable week. Amazing how despite huge piles of books to read, a little book buying does cheer me up! :-)

What have you picked up this week?

Oh, and stop by again tomorrow as I have a fabulous giveaway - and three winners can win two books each!