Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mel's Random February

February may be a short month but I still feel exhausted. Part of that might because work is very busy, part of that is my Gran not being well and quite a lot of that is because I have been Kitten-sitting for my friend. She went off to New York for a week and I got her two six-month old kittens to look after! It's been a while since I had young cats around and I forgot how much energy they can have. The good thing is they seem very fond of books and once they have raced all over the  flat, they collapse! Have a look!

So how has this impacted the reading situation..?

Grave Dance (Alex Craft #2) - Kalayna Price
Cursed (Alex Verus #2) - Benedict Jacka (British Book Challenge)
Grave Memory (Alex Craft #3) - Kalayna Price
Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves - Matthew Reilly
Dark Alchemy - Edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois
Soul Beach - Kate Harrison (British Book Challenge)
The Indigo Spell - Richelle Mead

Pantomime - Laura Lam (British Book Challenge)
Devil May Care - Patricia Eimer
Hysteria - Megan Miranda
Shades of War (Sevy #2) - Sarah-Jane Lehoux

Silver Shark - Ilona Andrews

Other Posts:
Same Book/Different Cover: Guards! Guards! - Terry Prachett

Cover Reveals: Zenn Scarlett - Christian Schoon
Cover Reveal: A Curse Embraced - Cecy Robson

Masquerade Blog Tour: More Than This

So updating the challenges -
British Books Challenge - 5 Read

Best of the Bunch: Grave Dance and Grave Memories  - a great UF series with two great romantic leads, fantastic friends and a unique world. I've already ordered the next book, Grave Visions!

Honorable Mentions: I had a good month and enjoyed The Indigo Spell, Soul Beach, Pantomime and Shades of War - it was good month!

So what was your month like?

Throwback Thursday #76 - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

This is a great feature that Melissa at My words and pictures has been doing for a while which looks at those wonderful books that are ALREADY on my shelves that we haven't got round to reading yet...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Randsom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive...

This looks very different. I have the hardback copy so it is full of these creepy pictures...I really should get round to reading it!

What creepy books have you not read yet...?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Cover Reveal: A Curse Revealed

I'm very excited today to be part of of the cover reveal for A Curse Revealed by the wonderful Cecy Robson, a sequel to Sealed With A Curse which I absolutely loved. A Cursed Embraced is released on 2nd July, but check out the cover. 

 Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…
After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome. 
To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is an author with Penguin's SIGNET ECLIPSE. She attributes her passion for story-telling back to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Her dad unwittingly encouraged Cecy's creativity by kissing her goodnight wearing vampire fangs. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing her Urban Fantasy Romance Series, Weird Girls, in May 2009. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella and SEALED WITH A CURSE are now available. The second novel in The Weird Girls Series, A CURSED EMBRACE, releases July 2, 2013.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) Review

The Indigo Spell (Bloodline #3)
Richelle Mead

Publisher: Penguin

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

What I loved about the Vampire Academy series was the action and the way Richelle Mead would pull the rug out from under you at least once a book. What I love about the Bloodlines series are the characters and relationships. Syndey has changed and grown so much since we first met her in Broken Promises. She was brought up to protect humans from vampires and other nasties by the Alchemists and to think all supernatural creatures are evil and unnatural. However, through her time helping to protect Moroi Princess Jill, she has become to think that not all them are evil, particularly a certain former playboy, called Adrian...

Sydney is great character – smart, brave and ready to do anything for her family and friends. I like her loads and her indecision over Adrian is completely understandable given her upbringing and Alchemist background. The dancing around each other throughout this book is a little frustrating at time but worth it in the end. They really do bring out the best in each other. The relationships are what kept me reading – not just Sydney and Adrian but Sydney’s friendship with Jill and Eddie and even the fractured relationship with her Dad and sister. That’s not to say there’s no action.  

At time it feels like a lot is happening here – with a renegade witch draining youth and magic from those with abilities, the deepening of the Alchemist conspiracy plus keeping Jill safe. The layers of stories build on each other but are separate with only Adrian and Sydney connect all the stories. There is some really cool magical action with Sydney finally embracing her natural aptitude. It is very different from the Moroi elemental magic but just as interesting.

Richelle’s writing is so readable and the world so detailed that it feels like coming home. This is one of my favourite YA series and I am so intrigued to find out what happens with the Alchemists and if Jill truly is safe. It will be a long wait for the next book!

Recommended for fans of Jennifer Estep and Kelley Armstrong. 8.5 out of 10

Monday, 25 February 2013

Masquerade Blog Tour: More Than This

Today I am very excited to welcome a wonderfully generous person and a great author, Sarah-Jane Lehoux to Mel's Random Reviews to celebrate the release of the third book following the adventure of mercenary, Sevy. I liked book one, Thief (My review here) and I REALLY liked book two, Shades of War. 

I'm lucky enough to be the first stop on this book tour with a wonderful guest post from Sarah-Jane on strong female characters - something that intrigues me as pretty much every book I enjoy has a strong female character - and I do have a pet peeve against stereotyping of women in fiction so I found this fascinating - enjoy!

More than This - Sarah-Jane Lehoux

Anyone who has read anything of mine or who follows me on Twitter knows that I like strong female characters, and I like to bitch about the tropes that plague female characters from certain popular book series.

Yes, I am a feminist. No, I am not a man-hater.

I’m just a woman who looks at the way women are portrayed in current literature, and I think, “We can do better.” We can take a cold, hard look at gender roles in our society and we can re-define them.

What does this mean? It means that women are more than the sum of their parts. They are more than damsels in distress. They are more than femme fatales. They are most definitely more than Mary Sues whose lives revolve around good looking (but abusive) guys.

Women are can be ugly and still be worthwhile. We can be whole without needing a man to complete us. We can be strong without having to fight, but when we do fight, we can kick some serious ass. All that is required is a mind of one’s own. A strong woman knows who she is, or who she wants to be. She knows what she wants out of life, and she goes for it. She doesn’t wait for it to be handed to her.

Sevy, the protagonist for the eponymous series, is what I consider a strong female character. “But wait,” you might exclaim. “Wasn’t Sevy’s goal in Thief (the first of the series) to get her man? Aren’t you being hypocritical?”

Yes and no. Sevy did indeed go to some very dark places to try to win the heart of her beloved, but there is more to her than “I love him,” just as there is more to Harry Potter than “I must defeat Voldemort,” and more to Lestat than “I’m a vampire.” A well rounded, three dimensional character is complex, has faults, makes mistakes, learns, and grows as an individual. And over the course of the Sevy Series, it becomes clear that her journey is so much more than just loving a man. It’s about loving herself.

So let’s take a critical look at how women are portrayed in our favourite books. Are they being allowed to be actual people instead of simply pretty props? There are little girls out there who need role models, who need to read that they are more than just the side-kick or the seductress. There are little boys out there who need to learn that women are not just sexual objects.

Books have power, and through them, we have the ability to influence the future of humanity. Yeah, that sounds highfalutin, but I’m an author. Words are my weapons and the way I will (hopefully) leave my mark on the world.

What’s yours?

Masquerade - Sarah-Jane Lehoux
Publisher: Mundania Press
Released 26th February 2013
Never trust a liar, especially when they’re telling the truth
Starting over isn’t easy, especially when the world isn’t ready for you to change. Sevy, thief turned assassin turned mercenary, isn’t having any fun adjusting to a normal, law-abiding life. Luckily for her, an old partner in crime arrives with an irresistible proposition: a getaway to a tropical island, an adventure of a lifetime, and an amazing friendship ready to blossom into an even more amazing romance.Things are looking up for Sevy. That is, until a pack of maniacal fairies with a taste for human flesh arrive on the scene. 
Now she must unravel a web of magical intrigue hidden behind the outwardly idyllic atmosphere of the islands of Belakarta. Nothing is as it seems, and no one can be trusted. Trapped under the spell of a handsome and mysterious stranger, Sevy must fight fairies and tricksters to regain her freedom.
Or spend an eternity as a sorcerer’s plaything... 

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Earlier this month I took part in the My Antihero Valentine Blog hop and I was amazed at how many people seem to love their antiheroes! Thanks to everyone you entered. Alas there can only be one winner and this time it is....drumroll for... 

Melissa from Books and Things!

Congrats sweetie! Email has been sent!

Everyone else keep a close eye on this blog as I have a couple of interesting giveaway coming up in the next two weeks!

My Book Haul/ Showcase Sunday

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

This week was very good week for reading. I managed to finish The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (love the characters!), Soul Beach by Kate Harrison (I love the different take on YA) and fell in love with The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (best book I've read in ages!). I also managed to squeeze in the third book in the Alex Verus series, Taken by Benedict Jacka

So this week I received a competition win, three review books and two pre-orders came through, so while I read 4 books I received 6 books. That's not balanced...oh, well! :-)


Darkness Haunts - Susan Illene
Kindle Book
Melena Sanders faced her fair share of danger with insurgents and terrorists when she served in the U.S. Army, but now she is about to go up against a new threat. Her best friend, Aniya, has disappeared while on a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska—a supernatural haven. Most humans have no idea darker races lurk amongst them. Mel knows better. If she wants to get her friend back, she’s going to have to go in alone—but not unarmed.
Melena has a few special skills the Army didn’t provide, but the odds are still against her. She’s got to come up with a plan fast that doesn’t involve her, or her friend, dying. But danger likes to play it rough. A war for power is about to rise in Fairbanks and if she wants to get Aniya back, she’s going to have to step right into the middle of it.

I won this from Karina at Nocturnal Book Reviews - I do like my UF so I'm looking to start this when I get a chance! 


The Disgrace of Kitty Grey - Mary Hooper
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Kitty is living a happy, carefree life as a dairymaid in the countryside. The grand family she is employed by looks after her well, and she loves her trade, caring for the gentle cows and working in the cool, calm dairy. And then, of course, there is Will, the river man who she thinks is very fond of her, and indeed she is of him. Surely he will ask her to marry him soon?Then one day disaster strikes: Will disappears. Kitty is first worried and then furious. She fears that Will has only been leading her on all this time, and has now gone to London to make his fortune, forgetting about her completely. So when Kitty is asked to go to London to pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice, the latest novel by the very fashionable Jane Austen, Kitty leaps at the chance to track down Will. But Kitty has no idea how vast London is, and how careful she must be. It is barely a moment before eagle-eyed pickpockets have spotted the country-born-and-bred Kitty and relieved her of her money and belongings. Dauntingly fast, she has lost her only means of returning home and must face the terrifying prospect of stealing in order to survive - and of being named a thief . . .

I love Mary Hooper's books so when the opportunity to review her latest book came up, I couldn't resist!

His Dark Lady - Victoria Lamb
Publisher: Bantam Press
London, 1583. When young, aspiring playwright William Shakespeare encounters Lucy Morgan, one of Queen Elizabeth I's ladies-in-waiting, the two fall passionately in love. He declares Lucy the inspiration for his work, but what secret is Will hiding from his muse? Meanwhile, Lucy has her own secret - and one that could destroy her world if exposed.

I read The Queen's Secret last year by Victoria Lamb and really enjoyed it so when the chance came to take part in the launch of the sequel, I jumped. I have a post of Victoria herself to come this week as well as three copies of the book to give away so stop back later this week!

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden 2) - Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally. Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike

This was released on Netgalley this week as I really enjoyed The Immortal Rules, I didn't wait ot request it! :-)


Blood and Magick (Deacon Chalk #3) - James R Tuck
Publisher: Kensington
Taking out hellish creatures—not a problem. Armed with blessed silver hollow-points and the ability to manipulate magick, he’s ready for anything—except betrayal he never saw coming…
Deacon Chalk knows the biggest danger in fighting monsters is becoming one. Just another day at the office for your friendly neighborhood occult bounty hunter. If keeping three helpless were-dog children safe means battling a malevolent trio of witches by any means necessary, so be it. If that means partnering with a ruthless government agent to stay one step ahead of the allies and friends he must now suspect, he’s not going to cry about it. The only way Deacon can save humans and shape-shifters alike is to embrace a power beyond his imagining, putting his team at stake—and his soul on the line.

The Deacon Chalk series is a joy to read - adrenalin  pumping, breath taking fun. I pre-ordered this ages ago and was happy to see it arrive!

Etiquette and Espionage - Gail Carriger
Publisher: Atom
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. 
But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

I loved Gail Carrigers unique and witty writing style so I preordered this but it has taken AGES to arrive. Happy it's here now though! :-)

What have you picked up this week?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Soul Beach Review

Soul Beach
Kate Harrison
 Publisher: Orion’s Children
 When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? 
After her sister is murdered, Alice Forester feels alone, isolated and slight lost. Her older sister was the centre of attention, with loads of friends and had recently starred in a reality talent show that made her loved by millions. When Alice get the electronic invite from her dead sister to visit Soul Beach, an online community she finds that perhaps not everyone who is dead has gone for good. Becoming more and more wrapped up in that world, Alice finds it more real to her than reality. But, can anyone ever leave the beach…?   
This was a very different book from the one I had been expecting and I found I enjoyed it much more because of that unexpectedness. Alice was sympathic, bright and a genuine character. Frequently I find YA heroines too perfect, but Alice has issues which makes her more relatable (and it isn’t the usually issue of liking two guys at once!). Her parents are also struggling to cope and have reacted in very different ways making Alice feel even more alone. However, I loved her friends who keep trying even when she pushes them away or ignores them. The secondary characters are all eminently readable and the central mystery of who killed Alice’s sister is danced around but not resolved. I have a few ideas though what happened! 
Soul beach itself is a unique creation – one that reminds me very much of Charlie Brookers Black Mirror series here in the UK. There seems to be an underlying current of mistrust of how much time we spend online and how real it can feel. When the online world is where you’d rather be spending your time and all you think about, does that make it real…? Even bigger issues like food disorders and bullying are addressed, but for all that it’s not a weighty book. It has a serious issue but there is a lot of fun in exploring the world. 
The writing is superb – easy to fall into. I read this whole book in a day, barely putting it down to go to work! The description are excellent and I really want to know what happens next. While it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger, there are enough unresolved issues that I’d like to visit Soul Beach again soon. I will have to look out for the sequel, Soul Fire! 
Recommended for fans of Megan Miranda and Jeri Smith-Ready. 8 out of 10

Friday, 22 February 2013

Dark Alchemy Review

Dark Alchemy
Edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Throughout the ages, the wizard has claimed a spot in human culture-from the shadowy spiritual leaders of early man to precocious characters in blockbuster films. Gone are the cartoon images of wizened gray-haired men in pointy caps creating magic with a wave of their wands. Today's wizards are more subtle in their powers, more discerning in their ways, and-in the hands of modern fantasists-more likely than ever to capture readers' imaginations. 
In Neil Gaiman's "The Witch's Headstone," a piece taken from his much-anticipated novel in progress, an eight-year-old boy learns the power of kindness from a long-dead sorceress. Only one woman possesses two kinds of magic-enough to unite two kingdoms-in Garth Nix's "Holly and Iron." Patricia A. McKillip's "Naming Day" gives a sorcery student a lesson in breaking the rules. And a famished dove spins a tale worthy of a meal, but perhaps not the truth, in "A Fowl Tale" by Eoin Colfer.

This is anthology with a lot of top fantasy writers contributing stories and like many anthologies, it’s only as strong as its weakest story. For some reason the theme of wizards and magic didn’t grab me – I only started reading the book when I finished a book sooner than expected and needed something to read on the way home. Unfortunately that lack of need to read all the stories meant it took me a few weeks to finish this and there was some spark missing to make this a top notch anthology.

Only a few of the stories stick in my mind – The Ruby Incomparable by Kage Baker which follows the life of a girl who learns magic but fails to connect to her mother. The emotional heart of that story was about more than the magic and the lovely ending lingers in my mind. I also really enjoyed Tad Williams’ The Stranger’s Hands which tells the story of two vagabonds who bring with them some unusual gifts when they arrive in a new area. This was an easy read, which surprised me as I struggled with the one Tad Williams book I’ve read before and makes me wonder if I should give him another chance. The Neil Gaiman story was warm and focuses on friendships – but was one of the chapters in The Graveyard Book which I read previously.

The other stories aren’t bad – but they just aren’t particularly memorable and cover a number of different wizards stories – some set in the modern time and some in fantasy worlds but in each occasion the use magic changes the world: sometimes for one person and sometimes the whole world. This was an entertaining enough read but not a book to move to the top of the TBR pile.

Recommended for fans of David Eddings and Terry Brooks. 6.5 out of 10

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Throwback Thursday #75 - Shine

This is a great feature that Melissa at My words and pictures has been doing for a while which looks at those wonderful books that are ALREADY on my shelves that we haven't got round to reading yet...

Shine (Shade #3) - Jeri Ready-Smith 
Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.
As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart...

This is the third in the Shade series - and I really enjoyed Shade and Shift when I read them earlier. However, I pre-ordered this hoping to read it straight away and never got round to it! Is it a good end to the trilogy...? One day I WILL find out...

Are there any trilogies you haven't finished reading yet...?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves Review

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 was one wild ride! Switch off your brain; leave all reasonable objections behind and just suit up for an adventure to save the world! Scarecrow is the code name for a US Marine who manages to survive impossible odds, think quickly in tight spots and running into some truly evil people with world domination plans. I could tell more about the story – an army of terrorists invade one the Soviet Unions old military research bases and is about the release a gas cloud which when ignite will burn half the Northern Hemisphere. Luckily Scarecrow, a couple of marines and civilian testing team are in the area – but to be honest, the plot is mere details in a full on blockbuster summer action movie that just happens to be a book.

This is the fourth book following Scarecrow’s adventures but for once it doesn’t matter if you’ve never even heard of the previous books – this is a completely stand alone story and while some events from the past are mentioned, it doesn’t overwhelm or confuse new readers. There is some science mentioned that seems a little exaggerated but rather than let it interfere with the speed and sheer joy, it’s best to just accept it as fact go along with it. There are some thrilling set-pieces and one very disturbing torture scene that will have you on the edge of your seat and the adrenalin flowing.

I found this such a refreshing book to read after some emotional and dark fantasy. It really blew the cobwebs away and was pure fun. If you like Arnold Schwarzenegger mivies then you should like this. J

Recommended for fans of Dan Brown and James Rollins. 8 out of 10

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Same Book/Different Cover: Guards! Guards!

This is an occasional feature where I compare different covers of the same book...
Getting back into this feature I wanted to highlight one of my favourite books ever - it's smart, funny and has dragons in it..Guards! Guards! by the ever wonderful Terry Prachett. It's the eighth Discworld book but the first to star Captain Sam Vimes of the City Watch, one of my favourite characters ever. But what do the different covers look like...?

UK Cover 1
UK Cover 2

US Cover 1
US Cover 2

Italian Cover
Estonian Cover

UK Cover 1: Josh Kirby covers are so famous in the UK (and hopefully elsewhere!) it seems wrong to compare this with anything else!

UK Cover 2: This is very dark and depending on your point of view either sophisticated or boring. With the raft of dark covers with a single item on them recently - from Twilight to 50 Shades, this just feels like jumping on a bandwagon which considering the content couldn't be more wrong.

US Cover 1: Lots of characters on the front, a dragon breathing flames, swords, crossbow - loads of colour. I like it!

US Cover 2: I find this a little dull. TO me it looks like the dragon is smoking a cigarette!

Italian Cover: This cover almost looks like an engraving, but I have to admit I'm not a fan of the doesn't look right for some reason. Hmm...

Estonian Cover: This is a lot of fun. It reminds me of Horrible Histories with the cartoon style cover and the slightly bewildered guards. However, it also makes it look a lot younger than Terry Prachett actually is - or is that because I only discovered them in my 20s...?

My verdict? UK Cover 1 - cos it's unique and colourful!

Which cover is your favourite...?

Monday, 18 February 2013

Grave Memory (Alex Craft #3) Review

Grave Memory (Alex Craft #3)
Kalayna Price

Publisher: UK – Berkley

As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie. But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all...

It is now confirmed: Alex Craft is one of my favourite UF series. It has great characters, pacy plot, interesting magic, duplicitous fae and real heart. Alex continues to discover some of her hidden heritage while learning more about Death’s world and dealing with a serial killer who kills via just a normal week for Alex then!

Alex is a great heroine – she’s tough and independent without being cold or distant at all. Her family past is difficult but she’s created a new family of friends for herself with her business partner and fellow Grave Witch Rhiannon, her roommates and even her strained relationships with Falin, the Winter Queen’s Bloody Hand and Death, the Soul Collector. The range of characters and relationships are what has kept drawing me back to this series. I want to see how the relationships develop and feel included in their banter. It’s even one of the few love triangles that doesn’t bug me – I like both love interests but not sure she belongs with either!

This story is fast-paced with some great scenes that stick in the mind long after. There is some movement of the big arc as well which is interesting and rewarding for those following the series. Oh, and that ending... I’ve already pre-ordered Grave Visions, the fourth book in this series – it’ll feel like a long wait till the summer though!

Recommended for fans of Ilona Andrews and Jim Butcher. 9 out of 10

Sunday, 17 February 2013

My Book Haul /Showcase Sundays

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

This week I managed to race through Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly (completely nonsensical but so much fun!) and then strolled through some of Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales - haven't finished yet but hope to in the next week or two. I also enjoyed a unique apocalypse with Black Feathers by James D'Lancy and a visit to Amsterdam in Through Dark Eyes by Chris Priestley. So that's three books down!

I went a little request crazy on Netgalley this week and got two new books to add to my must read list! Plus one special offer on kindle I couldn't resist! So all balanced this week!

For Review

Weird Detectives - Edited by Paula Guran
Publisher: Prime Books
Paranormal investigators. Occult detectives. Ghost hunters. Monster fighters. Humans who unravel uncanny crimes and solve psychic puzzles; sleuths with supernatural powers of their own who provide services far beyond those normal gumshoes, shamuses, and Sherlocks can. When vampires, werewolves, and things that go "bump" in the night are part of your world, criminals can be as inhuman as the crimes they commit, and magic can seep into the mundane - those who solve the mysteries, bring justice, or even save the world itself, might utter spells, wield wands as well as firearms, or simply use their powers of deduction. Some of the best tales of the last decade from top authors of the 21st century's most popular genres take you down mean streets and into strange crime scenes in this fantastic compilation.

There are a fantastic selection of authors in this anthology including my favourites Carrie Vaughn, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Faith Hunter, Johnathan Maberry and others so how could I resist...?

The Boleyn King - Laura Andersen
Publisher: Ballantine Books
What if Anne did not miscarry her son in January 1536, but instead gave birth to a healthy royal boy? 
Henry IX, known as William, is a 17-year-old king struggling at the restraints of the regency and anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics plotting at home, Will trusts only three people: his older sister, Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by Anne Boleyn. Against an undercurrent of secret documents, conflicting intelligence operations, and private murder, William fights a foreign war and domestic rebellion with equal resolve. But when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession menaces a new generation of Tudors. Battlefields and council chambers, trials and executions, the blindness of first love and the betrayal of true friendship...How far will William go to get what he wants? Who will pay the price for a king's revenge? And what twists of fate will set Elizabeth on the path to her destiny as England's queen?

I like my historical Tudor books and the idea that Anne Boleyn actually gave Henry a son is a fascinating angle that I haven't read yet!


Boneshaker - Cherie Priest
Publisher: Tor
Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? 

The kindle version of this was reduced to £0.74 this week - I couldn't resist the chance to get my hands on a zombie crossed with steampunk novel!

So what have you picked up this week...? :)