Friday, 30 November 2012

Mel's Random November

So this month  was another hard month for me personally - and its not getting any easier. Massive apologies again for lack of comments - I still visit but just don't have the time to comment much any more. We don't celebrate thanksgiving here in the UK but in the spirit this month I just want to say a massive thanks to all my friends - both in person and online. You guys keep me going when it would be easier to curl up in the corner. 

One thing I did enjoy this week was a walk around Crystal Palace park with a friend. The park is a little oasis in South London with all sorts of surprises...including dinosaurs by a lake and Sphinxes overlooking the city...

Mysterious Sphinx, innit?
Who you looking at?

So how does this impact the reading situation?

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (British Books Challenge)
The Song of the Quarkbeast - Jasper Fforde (British Books Challenge)
Snuff - Terry Prachett (British Book Challenge)
Hunting Lila - Sarah Alderson (British Book Challenge & TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
The Declaration - Gemma Malley (British Book Challenge)
Devils Punch (Corine Solomon #4) - Ann Aguirre
The Girl You Left Behind - Jojo Myles (British Book Challenge)

The Dead of Winter - Lee Collins
Jinx (Bigtime Superheroes #3) - Jennifer Estep (TBR Reading Pile Challenge)
Mr Real - Carolyn Crane
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin (TBR Reading Pile Challenge)

Audio Reviews
Is It Just Me? - Miranda Hart

The Viscount and The Witch - Michael J Sullivan

Sarah's Reviews
The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson
Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson #3) - Patricia Briggs

Regular Posts
Same Book/Different Cover looked at The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher this month while Book Confessions looked at how to juggle what books to read.

In addition there were the usual Throwback Thursdays and I introduced Waiting on Wednesdays, I also started my book buying ban and tracked how I did with that!

So updating the challenges -
British Books Challenge - 36 Read
2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge - 38 Read

Best of the Bunch: A Game of Thrones was my favourite read this month! 

Honourable Mentions: The Girl You Left Behind, A Monster Calls and Is It Just Me? A real mixture of favourite reads this month!

So what was your month like? :-)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Throwback Thursday #72 - Grave Dance

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! Why don't you join in as well? There are plenty of books out there I desperately want...

But what about all those wonderful books that are ALREADY on my shelves?

Grave Dance (Alex Craft #2) - Kalayna Price
Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.
After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.
The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own...

I read Alex Craft's first adventure Grave Witch back in February and rushed out to get the next two books in the series, which have done nothing but gather dust in the last ten months. There was a cool magic system, a hot Death and Alex was an intriguing character - why do other books get in the way of a series...? I hope to read this soon! What have you got on your shelves desperate to be read after months...?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Girl You Left Behind Review

The Girl You Left Behind
Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Penguin

In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time. Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened...

I started reading this as a complete change from my usual paranormal, fantasy and YA reads – I wanted something to clear my head out and to stop seeing vampires in every dark corner. What I found was a fantastic insight into an overlooked era of history, a beautiful romance, and a morally grey court-case over stolen art which has become one of my favourite reads of the year.

My favourite part of the book is definitely the time spent in 1916.  Sophie and her sister are struggling to keep their family hotel and bar running behind the German lines in occupied France. Most books I’ve read set in that time period tend to focus on the atrocities taking place on the front, but seeing how life was like behind enemy lines for everyday French people is fascinating with the townsfolk treading a fine line under occupation and struggling to feed themselves something that is usually associated with the second world war. Sophie is strong woman of her time – having returned to her home town when her husband went off to war to help her sister and younger brother. She has to walk a fine line when the local Kommandant takes an interest in her. Sophie’s story is told in the first person which really lets you get under the skin of the character and the times and when the story jumps forward a hundred years after following Sophie for over 150 pages it does take some getting used to the third person narrative again.

The contemporary part of the novel is less dramatic and more soap-opera with Liv still struggling to get over the loss of her husband after four years, but the guy she meets in a bar happens to work as a specialist art-retrieval and his latest commission is a picture of Sophie sitting in Liv’s flat. However, Paul’s attempts to bring Liv out of her self imposed exiled are very sweet and I liked the way Liv seems to come life over the course of the book. The contrast between Liv coming to life and Sophie clinging onto life was a pleasing juxtaposition to the story. Towards the end the story moves between the two much quicker as Sophie’s completion has a direct impact on Livs.

I was completely enthralled from the beginning and just adored the historical story. Perhaps it was just the change in pace from my usual reads but the writing was engaging and the characters felt like friends by the end. A thoroughly entertaining read with a great mix of romance, mystery and history.

Recommended for fans of Sebastian Faulkes and Audrey Niffenegger 9 out of 10

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Book Confessions - Book Juggling!

What shall I read next...?
Image courtesy of Corbis Images
I was 70 pages into a new book when the worst happened. The book was involving and a nice change from my usual reads, but it was over 500 pages long and it would take at least a couple of days to finish – but I needed to get my questions to the author of another book by the end of the week. The trouble was I hadn’t read the authors book yet. So I put down the book I had already started and picked up the new book which had only just arrived. Luckily the new book was a fun and exciting read as well, but it got me thinking about the books I read and the order in which I read them...

I can’t read two books at the same time. I get really involved in my books - or I do if they’re well written! I think about them on the walk to and from the train station (remember I do most of my reading on the train), I think about them when cooking and I can’t wait to get back to them. However, if I’m reading more than one book at the same time I end up with a bizarre mash-up in my head where goblins meet Henry VIII and vampire hunters end up chasing zombies in outer space (actually that could be quite a cool premise!).  So I read one book at a time in order to focus on that story.

I am also an obsessive list writer and one of my favourite lists to write is what books I’m going to read next. I always have a plan for what book I will pick up after my current is finished. Okay, so I frequently don’t follow that list – sometimes I’m just not in the mood for what I have planned so I will pick something else up more at least at random. However, with a pile of Netgalley books and a couple of review books which have to read soon I often feel like I don’t get a chance to read some of my favourite authors. They sit on my HUGE TBR pile for months before I get the chance to slip them into my reading list...I guess I really shouldn’t complain as I can usually find something positive in every book I read!

Have you ever had to stop reading one book in order to get a review book read and reviewed by a certain date? Or are you a complete mood reader? How do you decide which book to reads next? 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Devil's Punch Review

Devil’s Punch (Corrine Solomon #4)
Ann Aguirre

Publisher: Roc

As a handler, Corine Solomon can touch any object and learn its history. Her power is a gift, but one that’s thrown her life off track. The magical inheritance she received from her mother is dangerously powerful, and Corine has managed to mark herself as a black witch by dealing with demons to solve her problems. Back home, Corine is trying to rebuild her pawnshop and her life with her ex Chance, despite the target on her back. But when the demons she provoked kidnap her best friend in retaliation, Corine puts everything on hold to save her. It's undoubtedly a trap, but Corine would do anything to save those she loves, even if it means sacrificing herself...

Corine and Chance are rebuilding their relationship from the foundations up, when Shannon is kidnapped by demons. So Corine, Chance and her dog, Butch go to her rescue. The real issue? She’s being held in the Demon City in another world...there could be trouble, but that’s nothing new to Corrine!

This is a difficult book to review as there are some elements of the story that worked wonderfully. The new feel to the relationship between Chance and Corine is beautifully done – he really is trying to get to know the ‘new’ her and not rush anything. Corrine is struggling to get to understand Chance better now he is finally opening up to her. I loved the way they reconnect and develop together throughout this story. It works better that Kel and Jesse, the other past love interests aren’t here this time around. However, that was one of the drawbacks as well – after three books setting up a colourful cast of characters so few of them make an appearance. Even Shannon and Butch are not given any major roles – they just happen to be with Corine. There was a distinct lack of purpose for vast pages as Crrine and Chance wander aimlessly around the demon city. Even the reasons for the kidnapping seem rather lacklustre. The Demon Queen storyline was interesting but never really felt like it had anywhere to go.

While generally considered to be an Urban Fantasy series, this particular instalment had more of a traditional fantasy feel about it with a long and dangerous journey and a vibrate city full of strange and exotic creatures. I guess I had different expectations for this story and was surprised at how different this was from the previous books. However, this is an Ann Aguirre book so the writing is wonderfully piquant and never-less than entertaining. I still love Corine as a heroine and just want to give her a hug at times – especially after the end of the story. I’ve already pre-ordered the next book!

Recommended for fans of Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison. 7 out of 10 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Book Buying Ban Week #3

Third week of my buying ban - and still going strong (assuming that purchases for other people for Christmas doesn't count!). However, once again a few books arrived...I think the books in my flat  have reached critical mass where other books are gravitationally attracted them. One day they will implode under their own mass and suck all words and pages within five miles down into themselves...

Anyway, a little rambling aside, the books I've acquired this week look fantastic! Have a look!

Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) - Jim Butcher
Publisher: Orbit
  After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard. He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill. 
Guess which Mab wants first?
Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday. Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul

I got in a swap from the wonderful Lynsey at Narratively Speaking as received it unasked for. I adore the Dresden files and was very excited to get a brand new hardback copy of Cold Days!

Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Tor UK
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task. But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected. Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it. 
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?

I won this a while but forgot all about it - however, it arrived unexpected on Friday and I can't remember where I won it - but thank you whoever it was!

Autumn Series - David Moody
Publisher: Gollancz
In less than twenty-four hours a vicious and virulent disease destroys virtually all of the population. Billions are killed. Thousands die every second. There are no symptoms and no warnings. Within moments of infection each victim suffers a violent and agonizing death. Only a handful of survivors remain. By the end of the first day those survivors wish they were dead. Then the disease strikes again, and all hell breaks loose... 

This was a win from Book Chick City as part of their Halloween celebration - I am a big fan of zombie stories so I'm looking forward to this series!

Maybe next week will be a true ban on any books coming in...maybe...

What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Guest Review: Prey (Shifters #4)

Sarah, my guest reviewer is stopping by with another review for us today!

Prey (Shifters #4)
- Rachel Vincent

Publisher: MIRA

Sometimes playing cat and mouse is no game...Play? "Right." My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father's authority is in question and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven't laid eyes on Marc's gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother "and" an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don't exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again. Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

Hello all.  Ah, we are rapidly approaching the most AMAZING time of year, one I literally use the other 11 months of the year to plan for.  I am therefore reading a lot of Christmas-based fiction / non-fiction at the mo, just to ramp up my excitement levels to the cusp of a mental meltdown.  However, I am still finding time for plenty of fantasy reading, starting with Rachel Vincent’s Prey, the fourth in the UF Faythe Sanders series. 

Faythe, to those of you who haven’t met her yet, is a sassy, mouthy, fiercely loyal werecat, with a penchant for allowing situations to run away with her without stopping to think of the consequences.  This character trait in particular leads her to some dark and dangerous places, especially as in Prey her entire Pride is separated, threatened and undermined.  She continues to mature and grow into her role though, a process that Rachel Vincent is carefully crafting as the series progresses.  Her interactions with a willful, hormonal and stressed teenager in particular offer amusing reading when compared to the Faythe from book 1.

Prey does take a long while to really get going though, and does suffer somewhat from its own version of ‘middle part of a trilogy syndrome’.  It is obviously setting the scene for the rest of the series, and will no doubt become a vitally important read in that respect, but to me this does mean that the pace does become rather pedestrian at times.  There is also an awful lot of discussion on food and coffee consumption, which I did find grating after a while.

All in all Prey is a must-read if you’re following the series, but not a great standalone novel.  One for fans of Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs, 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Declaration Review

The Declaration (The Declaration #1)
Gemma Malley

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Copy sent courtesy of Bloomsbury & does not impact my review

Anna Covey is a ‘Surplus’. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna’s life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy?

Dystopian fiction for teens is the genre du jour at the moment and as such The Declaration has a lot of competition. However, the main premise here feels much scarier than a Capital imposing games on districts children’s or regulating the air you breathe. Scientists discover a drug which allows people to live forever and never having to worry about disease or old age. Unfortunately that means the planets resources are taxed to the extreme so everyone decides not to have children so as not to waste any resources on the young. Any children born are deemed Surplus with some countries deciding to put them down while others like the UK bring them up in Surplus camps training to be staff for the Legals, telling them to hate their parents for their selfish choice. The whole society hates young people and is scared by them – now if that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, I don’t know what will.

Anna is a surplus on course to become a Valuable Asset when a new Surplus Peter comes to Grange Hall and starts to challenge all her assumptions. Anna is not a natural rebel – she believes in the rules and follows them, but still dreams of the Outside and seeing the sky and desert. However, as she starts to question what she has always been told and begins to think for herself you start to warm to her. Even if she never takes control of her own destiny completely, I wanted her to succeed and rooted for her.

It was great to have dystopian set in the UK and a scarily recognisable UK. The writing was smooth and easy to get lost in. I loved the different points of view and the insights into the adults in the story which make it seem horribly realistic how people came to support The Declaration. The first half of the book is set up, but it’s in the second half that it really comes to life with tense events and excitement. I flew through the pages in a day or so and I’m happy I have the rest of the trilogy to read soon! This was a unique dystopian which I found exciting and fun to read – one of the better dystopian’s I’ve read this year.

Recommended for fans of Veronica Roth and Sarah Alderson. 8 out of 10

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Throwback Thursday #71 - Flesh and Blood

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?

Flesh and Blood (House of Comarre #2) - Kristen Painter
With the Ring of Sorrows still missing, and the covenant between othernaturals and mortals broken, Chrysabelle's life outside the realm of vampire nobility is about to take another downhill slide. She's vowed to help the outcast Malkolm find a way to lift his curse, but that means returning to the home city of the vampire who's trying to kill her. The breaking of the covenant has also activated an ancient organisation designed to protect mankind — the Kubai Mata.
And when Kubai Mata Thomas Creek comes to Paradise City, Chrysabelle finds herself torn between the need to save Malkolm and the desire to stay on the path of light. Finally fulfilling her vow to Malkolm proves devastating for Chrysabelle. If she survives, what's left of her life will never be the same...

I read book one of the House of Comarre, Bad Blood back in May and haven't got round to the rest of the series yet...I just adore the covers of this series - they are so pretty and stand out!

Have you got any books with beautiful covers you want to read?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Viscount and The Witch: Novella Review

The Viscount and The Witch (The Riyria Chronicles Short)
Michael J. Sullivan

Kindle Book

Eleven years before they were framed for the murder of a king, before even assuming the title of Riyria, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater were practically strangers. Unlikely associates, this cynical thief and idealist swordsman, were just learning how to work together as a team. 

This is a short story set long before the start of the books shortly after Royce and Hadrian have met and are still getting to know each other. I’ve not read the books – although certain bloggers I trust have raved about them so I thought this novella would be a nice introduction to the world to see if I wanted to start the series proper. The short answer is, yes I do!

Royce and Hadrian are fun characters – very different but are learning to trust each other. Each is intelligent and good at what they do. When a bedraggled old woman stops them on the path and asks for their help to evict a drunk from her barn Royce agrees to help, much to Hadrian disgust. After all it’s nothing to do with them. The writing is quick-witted and fun; you can glimpse how much Michael Sullivan likes writing about these characters. While this  a very short story it is a perfect appetiser and I want to know more!  

Recommended for fans of David Eddings and Robin Hobb. 8 out of 10

Waiting On Wednesday - Falling Kingdoms

I'm trying out a couple of different types of posts and playing around with my content a little to try and freshen it up a little - so let me know what you like!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Falling Kingdoms - Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: UK - Puffin Books
Released: 3rd January 2013 (E-Book out 11th December 2012)
In a land where magic has been forgotten and peace has reigned for centuries, unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms battle for power . . .
A princess must journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long-thought extinct.
A rebel becomes the leader of a bloody revolution.
A Sorceress discovers the truth about the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
A firstborn son soon realises that matters of the heart can be more lethal than the sword.
It's the eve of war. Each must choose a side . . .

I'm on a big fantasy kick at the moment especially just finishing A Game of Thrones and this has completely caught my eye for what to look out for next. I must admit I love the cover as well - the cloaked figure with a knife and the idea that there are more than one side to root for! Oh, yeah, I'm looking forward to this! :-)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Game of Thrones Review

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice #1)
- George R.R. Martin

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.
Summers span decades.Winter can last a lifetime.And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.It will stretch from the south where heat breeds plot,lusts and intrigues to the vast frozen north,where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. The Game of Thrones. You win,or you die.

This book has had A LOT of hype over the years – even more so in the last couple of years with the HBO TV Series wowing viewers and existing fans. However, I have to admit the sheer size of it (over 900 pages!) is intimidating and meant it sat on my TBR pile for a long time. Then at the start of the month you guys evilly choose it for me to read this month. I thought it would take me ages – but actually I found myself so absorbed with events in the Seven Kingdoms that it only took six days in the end. And I can now say that the hype is true this once!

Fantasy books are often described as epic but this one truly is – with each chapter focusing on a character of importance to the realm and major events. In fact each chapter can be read as a short story in itself, but building up to a much wider picture. This story really is a tapestry woven out of characters and events vastly different from each other. I loved how events in one part of kingdom would affect what happened elsewhere – even if they didn’t know about it yet. As always some characters are more interesting than others – the dwarf Tyrion Lannister is fascinating and Jon Snow is a true hero in the making. There are slight hints of magic and otherworldly events, but a large proportion of the story is based on political events leading to forays and battles as the Stark family unwittingly get involved in the ‘Game of Thrones’.

I have seen the first season of the TV show and only now I’ve read the book do I truly appreciate how faithfully the series is. Pretty much every scene in the book is in the show – the only major change is the age of some of the main characters – adding a few years to them in order to make the violence and sex involving them more palatable for TV I guess.

The book is truly absorbing and involving – I wanted to move on to the second book straight away when I finished (always a good sign!). However, I will have to wait a while as I have several review books to read by the end of the year – but I plan to regular visits back to this world in 2013. One of the most adult of fantasy books that is rightly deserving of much praise. Highly recommended

Recommended for fans of Robin Hobb and Jacqueline Carey. 10 out of 10

Monday, 19 November 2012

Mr Real Review

Mr Real (Code of Shadows #1)
 Carolyn Crane

Kindle Book

E-copy Courtesy of Carolyn Crane and Netgalley

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago. Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow. But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?

This is a fun, sexy read that manages to combine magic and technology to create a fantastic premise. Alix has always been considered a bit of a crazy girl – the wild child of her straight-laced family, but when she inherits a house – including a mysterious computer code - from a forgotten aunt, things get really wild, Suddenly Alix can have anything she wants – and she decides she wants sexy, super-spy Sir Kendall from a drinks advert...unfortunately the actor who plays Sir Kendall in real life has something to say about that!

Despite the complicated set up, the story really is about relationships and the three characters all pop off the page. I love Alix’s craziness and her attempts to take responsility and grow up. Fighter and former ad star, Paul is more than just a hot male (although he is that too!). He is struggling with a tough childhood, guilt and meeting Alix again throws up all sorts of emotions. Even Sir Kendall, the spy come to life, is a complete character, determined to save the world but not sure what to make off his ‘twin’ Paul and Alix. He’s more than just an obstacle between Alix and Paul. I love all three of them and the chapters alternate between each point of view so you can really get under their skin. The tension between Alix and Paul is palpable and I liked the way they reconnected after so long.

I read this quickly, keen to know what would happen next. It made me laugh and was such an entertaining read that I can’t wait for another visit to the Code of Shadows... I’m hoping the heroine will be Alix’s friend Karen as she was a great character that really deserves more exploration. Great characters, interesting set up, smouldering relationships and one of the most relaxing and pleasurable romance reads for some time!

Recommended for fans of Ann Aguirre and Rachel Vincent. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Book Buying Ban Week 2 + Showcase Sunday

Week two of my buying ban and I have continued to walk past book shops, not glanced at the book shelves in the supermarkets and successfully managed to not click add to basket on Amazon and other sites! I think that is called will-power so yay me! :-)

However, that doesn't mean that no books arrived in my flat this week - some fantastic looking review books showed up! So despite the ban, here is my 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 Farm - Emily McKay
Publisher: UK - Penguin
Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…
And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.
Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…
Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

The Farm isn't published until February but this looks fantastic! The Arc copy I have looks fantastic and the idea that one of the characters is called Mel means I really want to read this!

The Declaration - Gemma Malley
The Resistance - Gemma Malley
The Legacy - Gemma Malley
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Anna Covey is a ‘Surplus’. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna’s life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy?
A tense and utterly compelling story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people seize the chance to break free.

The lovely people at Bloomsbury sent me through this whole trilogy in celebration of the release of the final book in the trilogy, The Legacy. I've already read The Declaration and I have to admit I really enjoyed it - I can't wait to finish the series!

Bryant and May and The Memory of Blood - Christopher Fowler
Publisher: Bantam
For the crew of the New Strand Theatre, the play The Two Murderersseems less performance than prophecy when a cast party ends in the shocking death of the theater owner’s son. The crime scene is most unusual, even for Bryant and May. In a locked bedroom without any trace of fingerprints or blood, the only sign of disturbance is a gruesome life-size puppet of Mr. Punch laying on the floor. Everyone at the party is a suspect, including the corrupt producer, the rakish male lead, the dour set designer, and the assistant stage manager, who is the wild daughter of a prominent government official. It’s this last fact that threatens the Peculiar Crimes Unit’s investigation, as the government’s Home Office, wary of the team’s eccentric methods, seeks to throw them off the case. But the nimble minds of Bryant and May are not so easily deterred. Delving into the history of the London theater and the disturbing origins of Punch and Judy, the detectives race to find the maniacal killer before he reaches his even deadlier final act.  

This was a win from Goodreads & Transworld publishers. I love this series anyway so I was very happy to get a copy!

So that's my week...What did you pick up?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The BLI Holiday Reading Challenge

Through some miracle I'm managed to complete the required reading on the challenges I signed up for in 2012 - I'm still reading British Books and trying to shorten the TBR pile though! However, I spotted this challenge over at the wonder Book Lovers Inc and thought it sounded like the perfect mini-challenge to finish the year! So what the details...?

The BLI Holiday Reading Challenge

Challenge Rules:
1. The BLI Holiday Reading Challenge will start on November 14 and will end on December 31.
2. You can read as many holiday themed books for the challenge as you wish, pick your level:
Santa’s Helper: read 1-3 holiday themed books [This is my aim as I already have a lot of review books due before the end of the year!]
Serial Mistletoe-er: read 4-6 holiday themed books
Candy Cane-aholic: read 7 or more holiday themed books 
3. The books you read for this challenge must all be holiday related books. The holiday doesn’t matter, it can be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. and the story can have any connection to the holiday (for example set around Christmastime, or having Santa or an elf as a character, the cover being festive, featuring snowflakes, etc.).
4. The format, length or genre of the books do not matter, they can be ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks, and short stories and novellas do count as well. It’s okay for the book to overlap with other challenges. The only thing is that they can’t be children’s books, but YA novels are good. Re-reads are also fine.
5. Start the challenge by signing up! Leave a link back to your challenge post in the linky below where you state your challenge level (and if you already know which books you’ll be reading a list as well).
If you don’t have a blog, no problem, you can still sign up with your name and e-mail address.
(There will be posts later where you can leave your links to your reviews and of course there will be a challenge wrap up post at the end).
6. And of course there will be prizes! There will be separate giveaways where you can win some holiday themed novels (the rules for those will be set out on the separate posts) and there will be the Grand Prize Giveaway: at the end of the challenge we will draw 3, yes THREE winners from all the review links. Meaning the more books you read, review and link up, the more chances you have at winning. :-)
1st winner: shopping spree of $15 USD 
2nd winner: shopping spree of $10 USD 
3rd winner: shopping spree of $10 USD 
of any holiday themed books at the Book Depository or the online ebook retailer of winner’s choice if they accept payment through Paypal.
And now that the rules are set, let’s start the challenge!

So look out for some festive themed reads over the next 6 weeks! I have a couple on my TBR pile already that I've been saving for this time of year! Why don't you join in...? :-)