Sunday, 22 September 2013

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 my first week back at work so I was back on the commuter train and back reading. I finished Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer - an interesting historical mystery, Charming by Elliott James a new male lead Urban Fantasy series and finally Sleeping with the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson - a fun comic paranormal romance.

A fairly quiet week after all the goodies from Canada so only couple of books arrived!


The Shining Girls - Lauren Beurkes
Publisher: HarperCollins
Kirby is lucky she survived the attack. She is sure there were other victims were less fortunate, but the evidence she finds is … impossible.
Harper stalks his shining girls through the years – and cuts the spark out of them. But what if the one that got away came
back for him?

I read a couple of good reviews of this book so when I spotted cheap in Asda I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try!

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown Publishing
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

I'm feeling in the mood for some thrillers at the moment so this one is a top seller that a friend told me to try - so I have!

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

Friday, 20 September 2013

Gluten For Punishment (A Bakers Treat Mystery #1) Review

Gluten for Punishment (A Baker’s Treat Mystery #1)
Nancy J Parra
Publisher: Berkley Crime
With her mother’s death, Toni Ryder returns home to OilTop, Kansas bringing her gluten-free bakery business with her. But Toni has never felt at home in her hometown and cooking wheat-free in the middle of wheat country isn’t making her any less a fish out of water. When Toni becomes a suspect in OilTop’s first homicide investigation in twenty years, she must count on her crazy family and follow the clues to solve the mystery and clear her name 
I picked this up while in Canada purely because one of my cousins over there is Gluten-intolerant and been bemoaning the lack of cakes she can eat now. JWhat I discovered was a fun, sweet mystery with a good bite to it and some great characters. Toni opens a Gluten Free bakery right in the middle of Wheat country, but despite some minor protest at her grand opening, she is surprised when her main opponent is found dead just outside her bakery. With the police focusing on her as the only suspect, she and her Grandmother decide they need to solve the case themselves…
There are some interesting characters – both secondary and minor which helps keep interest in the story. Toni’s grandmother, Ruth is an eccentric old lady, riding a scooter and determined to grow old gracefully. She is the driving force behind Toni’s investigation. But she also adds plenty of colour and joy to the scene every time she shows up. I also loved the description of the various gluten-free goodies Toni bakes which made me feel hungry during most of the book! Toni’s best friend is an intriguing character as she is struggling with her business, a new boyfriend and a child who is autistic and I liked their friendship immensely. 
The investigation itself is fairly simple with just a couple of conversations to other locals rather than any big evidence or sleuthing skills. However, consider the police are not particularly good at their job and don’t even bothering to find out who was also on Main Street the morning of the murder, this seems to do the job nicely. It’s not a complicated mystery but the story is well told with enough amusement from the characters to make an entertaining read!
Recommended for fans of Sofie Kelly and Connie Archer. 7 out of 10

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Throwback Thursday #97 - The Good Fairies of New York

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.

The Good Fairies of New York - Martin Millar
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
When a pair of fugitive Scottish thistle fairies end up transplanted to Manhattan by mistake, both the Big Apple and the Little People have a lot of adjusting to do. Heather and Morag just want to start the first radical fairy punk rock band, but first they’ll have make a match between two highly unlikely sweethearts, start a street brawl between rival gangs of Italian, Chinese, and African fairies, help the ghost of a dead rocker track down his lost guitar, reclaim a rare triple-bloomed Welsh poppy from a bag lady with delusions of grandeur, disrupt a local community performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and somehow manage to stay sober enough to save all of New York from an invasion of evil Cornish fairies.
If they can stop feuding with each other, that is

This was a present from Sarah, my occasional guest reviewer when she visited New York some time ago and looks like such a fun read, but like many it's not been read yet. Perhaps I should arrange a visit to New York for encourage me to read it! :-)

What Shall I read This September Results!

Decisions, decisions...I can never make my mind up so once a month I offer up a choice to you wonderful and wise blog readers and hand you the keys to my next book choice. The results have been counted, checked and rechecked and the winner for September is...

That's right you couldn't make your minds up any more than I can!

The full results were...

Hunters Moon: 25%
Sleeping With Fishes: 25%
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs: 25%
A Quick Bite: 25%

So I'm taking the responsibility onto myself this month and will read which ever I feel like - although because of my holiday I'm a little behind this month so the review may not go up until October!

And who won their choice of book from my TBR pile? The winner is...Barbara E!

Congratulations! An email has been sent to you asking for choice!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Kingmaker's Daughter (Cousin's War #4)

The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Cousin’s War #4)
Phillippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child brought up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Her will is tested when she is left widowed and fatherless, with her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Fortune’s wheel turns again when Richard rescues Anne from her sister’s house, with danger still following Anne, even as she eventually ascends to the throne as queen. Having lost those closest to her, she must protect herself and her precious only child, Prince Edward, from a court full of royal rivals

Having recently watched the BBC adaptation of the Cousin War books, it really encouraged me to pick up this book. Focusing on Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’s youngest daughter, Anne, we follow Anne through her life as she grows up close to the crown and is dragged into her father’s manipulations and plots to control those on the throne. She grew up in the House of York but her first marriage is to the heir of the House of Lancaster which means she is front and centre of some of the most intriguing political and actual battles of the ‘Cousin’s War’.

Anne is young and naive at first but she learns from those around her especially the different way the women around behave from her mother’s self-preservation to Margret of Anjou determination to fight for her son’s throne and even her sisters fear of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. This was a period of time when women were used for their family connections and bloodlines, yet managed to carve out their own roles behind the scenes. The events Anne lives through are tense and exciting which make for a fun read especially her possible involvement with the princes in the tower. Anne maybe overlooked in history in favour of the men in her life – her father, the kingmaker, her first husband, Edward, Prince of Wales and her second husband the infamous Richard III but she makes a lively and engaging narrator with her very different view point on events from Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen and Margaret Beaufort, the Red Queen.

That period of history was largely unknown to me previously with most history lessons focusing on the Tudors, but I’ve loved learning more about the era immediately prior to the infamous Henry VIII. There are some great mysteries from this era with whispers of witchcraft, and sibling rivalry over the throne pushed to extremes. I really enjoyed this story which felt fresh and enticing as a summer’s breeze on a warm day.

Recommended for fans of Alison Weir and Anne O’Brien. 8 out of 10  

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Early Review: Delia's Shadow

Delia’s Shadow
Jaime Lee Moyer

Publisher: Tor Books - To Be Released on 17th September 2013

E-Arc Courtesy of Netgalley & Tor Books

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side. Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest. It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again. And who is now aware of Delia’s existence...

Delia returns home to San Francisco when a particularly persistent ghost demands her attention and she become involved in the police investigation into a series of particularly brutal killings. Slowly she and her friend Sadie, become aware that the ghost named Shadow may hold the key to finding and stopping this murderer before he comes too close.

This story has a wonderful mix of society of San Francisco in that era, a blossoming romance between two particularly guarded and emotionally distraught characters and an involving murder mystery. The writing is very easy to follow with some wonderful descriptions of the fair in San Francisco at the time which allow you to smell the grounds and be awe-struck by the stands.

The crimes themselves are horrific. While the impact of the gruesome murder scenes are described on the character, the details of the actual scenes are absent which allows all our information about the crimes come to us filtered through a characters reaction – something which helps to connect to both Delia and Gabe, the lead police detective on the case. I really liked the different characters surrounding to two leads with Gabe’s partner, Jack a good foil to the seriousness of Gabe while Sadie the flighty but strong best friend, ailing foster mother Ether and mothering Annie help make Delia grounded and more than just a conduit to the spirits.

Great characterisations and an involving murder mystery are layered with Delia and Gabe’s growing relationship which is built on respect and personality. It’s hard to know what I enjoyed the most but the whole package built a thoroughly entertaining read that I will want to re-read before long!

Recommended for fans of Elizabeth Peters and Elizabeth May. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 15 September 2013

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!

I'm back!! I had a fabulous time in Canada - Toronto is such a fun city! 
Unfortunately in the two weeks I was far too busy having fun to do much reading... I finished The Kingmaker's Daughter by Phillippa Gregory and then rushed straight into The White Princess also by Philippa Gregory - love the historical detail in both books! Finally I finished Gluten For Punishment by Nancy J. Parra - an enjoyable cosy mystery...not exactly the holiday reading list I set out before I went away but to be honest I'm not fussed! :-)


While I was away a few competition wins came through in the post...

Talking To The Dead - Harry Bingham
Publisher: Orion
It's DC Fiona Griffiths' first murder case - and she's in at the deep end. A woman and her six-year-old daughter killed with chilling brutality in a dingy flat. The only clue: the platinum bank card of a long-dead tycoon, found amidst the squalor. 
DC Griffiths has already proved herself dedicated to the job, but there's another side to her she is less keen to reveal. Something to do with a mysterious two-year gap in her CV, her strange inability to cry - and a disconcerting familiarity with corpses.
Fiona is desperate to put the past behind her but as more gruesome killings follow, the case leads her inexorably back into those dark places in her own mind where another dead girl is waiting to be found.

This was a win from the wonderful Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea as part of her crime month. It looks very creepy...

River Road (Sentinels of New Orleans #2) - Suzanne Johnson
Publisher: Headline
 Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator. 
Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

I won this over at the Shadow Realm and I was looking forward to the second book in this series!

A Novel Way To Die - Ali Brandon
Publisher: Berkley Crime
As the owner of Pettistone’s Fine Books, Darla is settling nicely into her new life, even reaching an uneasy truce with Hamlet. Unfortunately, when she needs to hire a new clerk, the finicky feline decides to lend a paw to the hiring process. He chases away applicants who don’t meet his approval, finally settling on an unlikely candidate: Robert, a book-loving Goth kid who has a secret only Hamlet knows. And Hamlet can’t seem to stay out of trouble. One of the bookstore’s regular customers, a man who is renovating a local brownstone, claims he’s seen Hamlet prowling the neighborhood. When the man’s business partner is found dead, Darla discovers that Hamlet may have been the only witness to what could be murder. With the crafty cat’s help, she wonders if they just might be able to pounce on a killer...

This was from the lovely Qwillery as part of the ParaCozyMystery month.


While in Toronto I did manage to find my way into a couple of bookstores and pick up a few presents for myself...
Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines
Red Rain - R.L. Stine
Tempest Reborn (Jane True #6) - Nicole Peeler
Dead Iron - Devon Monk
The Blood Gospel - James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrel
The Wild Ways - Tanya Huff
Omens - Kelley Armstrong

This post would be far too long if I put the synopsis of each book up!

So what did you pick up this week...?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

What Shall I Read This September...? + GIVEAWAY

It's the first Thursday of the month so you know what that means - I need help to choose a book to read this month! Last month you guys picked Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and it was full of dragony goodness!

So what is this all about? I realised the other day that I've been doing these Throwback Thursday posts inspired by Melissa at My words and pictures for nearly year now - I have posted about over 100 books I own but I have hardly read any yet. So on the first Thursday of each month I will post a poll highlighting all the Throwback Thursday books I've highlighted in the last month plus one of the older Throwbacks and ask you to pick which book I should read. The most popular book after 5 days or so, will be picked up by me and actually read and (hopefully!) reviewed by the end of the month. However, in thanks I will also offer anyone who enters a copy of any book from my TBR Shelf. This way older books get a lot of love from both of us!

So to summarise -
- Pick a book you want me to read from my Throwback Thursday's posts and be in with a chance to win a book for yourself from my TBR pile for your own - check my TBR Shelf at the top for some other books that I need to get round to reading!
- I'll ship it out to from the Book Depository or fishpond so it will be open internationally.
- Leave a comment for an extra entry telling my why I should read your choice!
- Open to followers only (Sorry, but I want to reward those who stop by regularly! Also I'm not advertising or publicising this giveaway so it's just for those who read my blog regularly!)
- Poll closes midnight on Thursday 12th August - I will try to announce the winning book and lucky follower, by next Thursday.

This month was I hanking for some paranormal romance! You can go to the original posts to see what I said about them if you click on them.

Hunter's Moon - CT Adams & Cathy Clamp

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs - Molly Harper

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A Night On The Orient Express Review

A Night On The Orient Express
Veronica Henry 
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
 The Orient Express. Luxury. Mystery. Romance. For one group of passengers settling in to their seats and taking their first sips of champagne, the journey from London to Venice is more than the trip of a lifetime. A mysterious errand; a promise made to a dying friend; an unexpected proposal; a secret reaching back a lifetime...As the train sweeps on, revelations, confessions and assignations unfold against the most romantic and infamous setting in the world.
My overwhelming thought when I finished this book was that I need to go on the Orient Express. An overnight journey from London to Venice via Paris in all the luxury and decadence that this famous train journey continues to offer sounds wonderfully sumptuous and plush. If nothing else this book is a wonderful travel brochure for the journey with the surroundings, the history and food on offer. I really hope Veronica Henry gets a percentage of future holidays booked after people read this!
The story itself actually follows several characters on the same train journey – a modern family with two late teens rebellious children with big secrets, a strict father and nervous new step-mother, an art dealer who is heading to Venice to pick up a birthday present from her grandmother, but struggling to decide between an unsuitable romance and a new job offer, an aging photographer and his muse making their annual trip to Venice, but he has a surprise in store for this year and finally a young couple on a blind date but each with a  broken heart. While they are all on the same train, their stories don’t overlap much, if at all so at times it feels like a collection of short stories. Especially as there are flashbacks to the Grandmothers past and how she ended up on a similar journey years ago.
However, I will confess this story had me in tears before the first 50 pages were over due to a character’s early demise – and it is an emotional story. I had initially picked it up thinking it was a light read – a little chick-lit but the setting of the Orient Express and Venice is just rich background for big emotional upheavals in many characters life’s at different points. By the end they have all made big choices and while we are left unaware of how these choices will affect each person, there is some satisfaction in knowing things do change.   
While the beginning and middle was stronger for me, this is a wonderful holiday read with a pleasing balance between romance, family relations and the impact the past can have on the future. Like a champagne breakfast, this should be savoured and enjoyed until the last crumb.
Recommended for fans of Erica James and Kate Mosse. 8 out of 10

Monday, 2 September 2013

Early Review: The Woken Gods

The Woken Gods
Gwenda Bond

Publisher: Strange Chemistry – published 3rd September

E-Arc courtesy of Netgalley and Strange Chemistry

The more things change…
Ten years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke all around the world.
The more things stay the same…
This morning, seventeen-year-old Kyra Locke was late for school.
But that’s not out of the ordinary in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun that governs mankind’s relations with the gods. What is unusual is Kyra’s encounter with two trickster gods on her way home, one offering a threat, and the other a warning.
Kyra escapes with the aid of young operatives from the Society, who inform her that her scholarly father has disappeared from its headquarters at the Library of Congress and taken a dangerous Egyptian relic with him. The Society needs the item back, and they aren’t interested in Kyra’s protests that she knows nothing about it. Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the help of everyone from a paranoid ex-boyfriend to scary Sumerian gods to operatives whose allegiance is first and always to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to clear her father’s name and recover the missing relic before 
the impending summer solstice.

What’s at stake? Just the end of the world as Kyra knows it.

All the Gods people have ever worshipped throughout time are real and a few years ago they woke up. The world changed. Washington DC has become the centre for communication between the Gods as represented by the Trickster Gods and the Society, group who use relics to protect humans from the Gods power. Krya grew up in the midst of the awakening, but when the Tricksters start to take an interest in her, she realises that there are more secrets in her family that she ever knew...

The idea that all the Gods are real and that they have only been sleeping is such a strong premise for a world similar to ours but different in that one vital area and provides a wide range of possibilities for story-telling. Adding to the mix Krya is one damaged girl but strong and determined. She has problems over and above the usual teen romance and authority issues so when her Dad goes missing and the gods are involved, she ignores his request that she leave town and decides to find him. Her friends refuse to let her deal with it alone. I loved the relationships Krya has with her friends – both old and new. They ground her and prevent her becoming too isolated. Each have their own family issues but still stick by her side.

As well as a variety of Gods from global pantheons, there is a mysterious Society who are able to keep the Gods in line with threats. However, we all know secret societies are not always to be trusted... The mix of mythology, teen issues and action is well balanced with plenty of action and some intriguing twists – I have to admit the end really ups the stakes taking it from a personal tragedy to all out war. The books suffers a little from teens knowing better than adults every time (a lot of YA have that fault though!), but the teens are such stronger characters that it doesn’t matter too much. There is plenty to enjoy and I can’t wait to see what the next book in this series will throw up. Especially as the end is a real game changer! A fresh take on ancient mythology and a fun read!

Recommended for fans of Tom Pollock and Kim Curran. 8 out of 10

Sunday, 1 September 2013

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!

Now in theory I shouldn't have anything to share this week but last Monday was a bank holiday which meant an extra day off work...and for me an extra to visit the shops! While supposedly stocking up on toiletries I just had to visit The Works and picked up three new books!


The Shambling Guide To New York - Mur Lafferty
Publisher: Orbit
A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city - for the undead!
Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can't take off her resume --- human. Not to be put off by anything -- especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker -- Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble -- with Zoe right in the middle.

This looks like a lot of fun and I couldn't resist when I heard it was available in The Works!

Necessary Evil (The Milkwed Triptych #3) - Ian Tregillis
Publisher: Orbit
The history of the Twentieth Century has been shaped by a secret conflict between technology and magic. When a twisted Nazi scientist devised a way to imbue ordinary humans with supernatural abilities - to walk through walls, throw fire and see the future - his work became the prized possession of first the Third Reich, then the Soviet Army. Only Britain's warlocks, and the dark magics they yield, have successfully countered the threat posed by these superhuman armies. 
But for decades, this conflict has been manipulated by Gretel, the mad seer. And now her long plan has come to fruition. And with it, a danger vastly greater than anything the world has known. Now British Intelligence officer Raybould Marsh must make a last-ditch effort to change the course of history - if his nation, and those he loves, are to survive.

This is the third in a trilogy I haven't started yet but it looks so interesting I thought I'd get all three books before I started reading - plus low price at The Works!

Graveminder - Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville. While growing up, Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual at every funeral: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words, ""Sleep well, and stay where I put you.""
Now Maylene is gone and Bek must return to the hometown--and the man--she abandoned a decade ago, only to discover that Maylene's death was not natural . . . and there was good reason for her odd traditions. In Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected--and beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. From this dark place the deceased will return if their graves are not properly minded. And only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

This has been in my radar for a while especially as the author as the coolest first name there is! ;-)

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