Sunday, 31 October 2010

In My Mailbox [6]

IMM is a weekly post hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This is the first IMM I've done for a couple weeks as I was on my book buying ban and had nothing to share. This week I do, though it's still a very short post.

Boy's Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman
Angel by L. A. Weatherly [finished copy which I got signed when I met her. She's lovely!] - review

Yep, that's it lol but very good week anyways as they're both fantastic books. I'm horse riding again which means money is being spent on lessons rather than books, so it's turned from a month long ban to a continual restriction. Which I can live with, but most likely means my IMM posts will be sporadic for the next while.

What did you get this week?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

When Vampire Book Club announced they were going to be hosting a Vampire Academy reread challenge through October and November in the run up to Last Sacrifice's release, I of course instantly signed up. This is one of my all time favourite YA series. I rarely reread books (aside from favourite snippets) but VA is an exception to that and I've reread most of the series several times in full. Notes:  This is very long and gushing, apologies for that! Thanks to the two lovely Nicole's, it's not as long and gushing as it was. Be grateful ;) Review is followed by some reread thoughts.

Vampire Academy [book 1 in the Vampire Academy series] by Richelle Mead - Goodreads // Richelle's site

Rose is a 17 year-old dhampir, a Guardian in training, intent on protecting her best friend, Lissa Dragomir, who is a royal Moroi princess. They've spent two years on the run from the Academy they attended, but now they've been found and brought back. Rose goes back in to training, with a new hot mentor, and Lissa is once more surrounded by the elite royals and the political games they play. Both struggle to find their place in the school again and things are only made worse as someone begins targeting Lissa. Rose is determined to protect her from everything, but there are some things even a trained bodyguard can't stop.

I was hooked on this book this book from beginning to end. I was worried before I started it the first time that it would, despite the description, end up being your typical YA vampire romance book. It is definitely not that!! For starters, it has a kickass female protagonist who doesn't spend all her time thinking about a guy. She's sassy, smart, resourceful and determined. Okay, and a little cocky and bratty at times. But she's 17. She can be forgiven for acting her age! She's also got a serious, deeper, more mature side which gets shown fairly early on. She's got her flaws, but they make her more approachable and easier to relate to rather than being irritating. There is obvious potential for a lot of growth in her as well, particularly emotionally speaking.

One of my favourite aspects of the book is the friendship between Lissa and Rose. It's clear from the start that they're pretty inseparable, and that Lissa leans on Rose a lot. Lissa is smart and strong in some ways, but she's also fragile. She's far more openly vulnerable than Rose ever is. Lissa lost her family in a car accident a couple of years before where the series starts, making Rose the only family she's really got left. However I think the reverse is true as well, that Rose needs Lissa just as much. Rose's mom is never around, she doesn't know her father, and the only true friend she has, the only person she trusts, is Lissa. It's no wonder she takes her duty seriously, even if protecting Lissa means breaking the rules and going against what she's been taught.

I love the blend of reality with the paranormal. Like how everyone can relate to the general high school experiences and drama, such as romance, gossip and strained friendships. But then there is the fact that half the school population require blood as part of their diet to survive, and the other half are training to kill things. Richelle has blended these perfectly to create something very believable and real, with a great cast of well developed characters to back it up. I think it's really well paced and although not always the fastest plot, it's still really interesting. Either the world building (which is complex, but more straight forward than you may think at first glance) or the interactions between Rose and the various people around her. There's never a dull moment and several laugh out loud ones along with the hold-your-breath tension. There are some great twists along the way as well. First time I read this I had no idea what was going to happen until it happened. Every reread I've loved almost as much as that first time, despite knowing the outcome. It still makes my heart race.

There is a romantic plot, well two actually. Both with forbidden aspects, Rose's far more than Lissa's, but both thoroughly enjoyable. Rose and Lissa share a deep bond, literally, and Rose can feel what Lissa does, can be 'in her head' and see what she sees. This means we get a close look at Lissa's life, romantic and otherwise, as well as Rose's. Something I enjoy, even when Lissa annoys me.

Richelle has also done a fantastic job with the chemistry and slow building relationship between Rose and her 24 year old, very hot, Russian mentor, Dimitri. I love Dimitri. He's calm, strong, got a bit of the tough love attitude, understanding, serious and the perfect balance to Rose's short temper. And while Dimitri does play a big part to the story, their relationship isn't the main focus, it is a sub plot. And not all their interaction is about them getting together, in fact most of it is simply them training and getting to know each other. Which I think is why I adore them together so much. There is nothing sudden or rushed about their relationship. I'm very cautious about any relationship in a book that is between a student/teacher or a similar role, and it can often be an automatic turn off for me, for very personal reasons. However, Richelle has built it carefully, and it is a conflict both Rose and Dimitri recognize and acknowledge, so it doesn't leave me with an sick feeling. I adore them together.

Overall I can't help loving and adoring just about every little thing about this book. It's dark and gritty; got great characters; great world building that is complex and yet easy to understand; it's a great story with some fantastic twists; it pulls no punches and generally is just all around awesome. Even rereading it I can barely put it down. I feel every up and down with Rose and love every second of it. It's certainly a YA book that can appeal as much to adults as teens. The ending wraps the major points of this book up, but there is still so much to explore in the rest of the series. Books 2-5 certainly live up to that as the series only gets better, and book 6 promises more of the same. Excellent start to something which is definitely not your typical vampire YA novel, despite the somewhat cheesy series title. A series which is one of the very best YA series around and an absolute must read. Rating: 10/10

Few new reread comments on it

First read thoughts
Chapter 1: Wow. Okay, Rose is sassy and this is not going to be a typical vampire book. I'm going to love this...
About halfway through: Oh my gosh I'm so in love! Dimitri is awesome! So is Rose! And Christian is kinda crazy but I kinda like him too. Mia = mega bitch. I need book 2, is it out yet? *hunts online and orders. It will arrive the next day* *dances*
End: This is such an awesome book. I'm going to love this series!!

Chapter 1: hehe gotta love Rose's sass. Soooo good to be back in this world.
About halfway through: Wow, Rose really was a major brat through some of this. Still love her through it though. Dimitri *swoon-y sigh* Kind, sweet, tough, awesome Dimitri. Oh how I love him. Them first falling in love is soo good to read again. *cackles at Christian's insanity* I adore this guy so much. Mia really was a total bitch, hard to feel even a tiny bit of sympathy for her despite knowing later details.
End: love, love love. How many more days til Last Sacrifice? Why can I not reread the rest of the series yet? *double sigh*

Rereading this now was kind of strange, good strange, but still strange. Before I've always just done it for fun, because I love the series and getting lost in that world again is relaxing and easy, and sometimes I just do not want to start something new, but I want something I can still get a real thrill from, which I can with this series. This time I was actually paying attention to details, thoughts on what was going on, what the characters were like, how things go on to change, and comparing to my first impressions (which by the way, were never written down, I just remember them very well). I'm a little surprised by my reaction to Rose.

The first time I read this book I had no problem with Rose at all. She was sassy, smart, determined and flawed. Now, I'm seeing more flaws then I did before. Don't get me wrong, I still love her completely, but I'm noticing how over confident and cocky she is. I noticed the comments before, but I never paid them that much attention. Now I am. It may just be because it seems so different to Spirit Bound Rose (the Rose who's been to hell and back) or maybe I'm just looking at it differently, trying to see what others who haven't liked book one saw.

Either way, I noticed it. I think I almost like her more for it oddly, thought not when it was actually happening, because I think it lends more to my theory that a lot of the reason Rose is so over-confident and bratty at times is because as a kid it got her noticed and she's playing it up to feel part of a group. She's jealous of Lissa and Christian's connection from the start because she knows it might take Lissa away from her a certain amount, and Lissa is all she has so it's something she's understandably unhappy about. Don't get me wrong, I think Rose is comfortable in the dhampir/Moroi society, but I also think she has a deep desire to be noticed and needed to really feel she's worth while. Or maybe I just obsess too much on this series.

I'll stop the gushing there for now and save some for my reread of books 2-5! If you made it this far, thank you! Would love any comments on this post (and any other for that matter!)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade is the debut book from Andrea Cremer and the first in the Witches War trilogy.

"Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything - including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?"

Despite my favourite YA urban fantasy series being a vampire one, I am actually a wolfgirl at heart. I am always excited to get my hands on new wolf centric books and this one sounded like a fantastic one. Lots of early reviews for it thought it was as well, so of course it was top of my must have list when it was released last week. I was totally prepared to really enjoy it and from the premise it sounded like something I'd love, and something that could be a new favourite. I wish I could say that happened, I really do, but it didn't.

This book starts out well, we're introduced to Calla in wolf form, taking on a grizzly bear and protecting the human hiker, Shay, in the process. She's clearly a fighter and in no need of someone to protect her, like say an over protective and possessive male alpha wolf (Ren, who I'll get to soon). Shortly after that incident Shay arrives at the Mountain School. It's an exclusive boarding school for the rich, and a day school for the wolves and Keepers. The humans know to stay clear of the wolves, and the wolves don't tend to interact with the Keepers either, who are their bosses in training as it were. But when Shay arrives, things are different. He's important to the Keepers for some reason and has no natural instinct to keep him from the wolves. Not to mention his infatuation with Calla. With him arrival things change drastically.

Calla is the young alpha female of the Nightshade pack. Ren, young alpha male of the Bane pack, is her mate. They're the same age, they share the same birthday, and they've been promised to each other for their whole lives. Mates aren't decided by love, they're decided by the Keepers who rule over them. Along with everything else, like when they can have kids and how many. By the Keeper's rules, Calla isn't allowed to be involved with anyone, Ren included, before her wedding night. Ren on the other hand, has no such rules to play by and is a known player. Ren, Calla and their packs may have grown up together, but they're not friends. They are two separate packs who will have to combine to one once Calla and Ren are married. Ren is an alpha male and, player or not, Calla is his. No one will touch her but him. Shay was something none of the two young packs saw coming. He's different and new but while most of them simply accept what the Keepers say, Calla can't help wanting to get closer and find out more, and with that discover more than she ever realised about her past.

A great start, a great premise, great themes, and yet somewhere it just went wrong for me. I think my biggest problem is that I can't truly buy Calla as the warrior she's supposed to be. It's stated a few times that that's what she is, that she sees herself that way and wants to be that way. And she does do a good job leading her pack. But when it comes to Shay, she's very weak. And she's worse with Ren. The first time Ren is introduced they face off in the hallway at school. Nothing wrong there. It's stated that she's fine being his mate, but she wants to be respected by him and rule with him, not have him rule her. I applaud that attitude, but Ren is a pushy alpha male. His advances are mostly forceful, and I would expect, based on what she's said already and what we'd seen, I would expect her to get up in his face, push back, put him in his place. Instead she does none of that and instead melts, not managing even a verbal half comeback. I found that really disappointing. Having feelings for him shouldn't just make her a puddle like that. She's an alpha female supposedly, so why can't she fight back? Yes Ren is experienced and she's not, so I get that she's out of her depth, but she should be able to fake it and throw attitude, which she seemingly had plenty of in the first couple chapters, back at him.

The problem is, aside from when she's ruling her pack (and then, mostly without Ren around), she just doesn't come across as the tough warrior she's meant to be. She's too soft, too passive letting the guys make the decision when she is supposed to be wanting things differently. She easily gives in to Shay and his gentle asking of her to do things which if the Keepers found out could mean her death. It's never a real battle, just a token argument. The way she bounced between Ren and Shay annoyed the heck out of me as well. I get that she's got feelings for both and is confused, but again, she was just so passive with both of them never standing up for herself.

This book is long at 450+ pages. It's got a lot of history and research to it, and while it's interesting, it's also complex and time consuming. It isn't dull actually. You would think with as much as Calla discovers without action and fights that it would drag and just be kind of boring. I didn't actually find that. I liked the depth to the world and the thought thats gone in to creating it. But it does mean it's not a quick or light read. Its got some really good twists to it, but others were a bit too predictable. The romance is obviously a pretty big part of the story as well as it's the catalyst for everything. There are moments where I enjoyed it, but most of it is a little too sappy for me. Like I made clear already, Calla doesn't fight enough in it. So even when Ren is being pushy, it's all kind of soft because Calla's not pushing back. But for everything outside the romantic plots, I really liked the story. I love the ideas, with the wolves who may rule their packs, but are ruled in turn by Keepers (witches), and how Calla is meant to start challenging that.

Those romantic plots though are my other big problem with this book. I don't see the point to the love triangle, well sure I see what it's meant to do, but I don't think it's needed. Shay is a nice guy, but I don't really feel the passion between him and Calla. I love Ren completely and utterly, I don't always like him, but I love him and I think there is a lot more to him than at first glance. What I don't like though, is that Shay is the catalyst for Calla beginning to realise she is a slave to the Keepers. Why does it have to be a love interest? Why couldn't she simply wake up enough to realise what's going on? Or overhear a conversation she shouldn't or something? I don't like love triangles very often and this one just doesn't work for me at all. And I'm not saying that simply as I fear I'm on the losing side of this one.

Overall I do still like this book. It's got a lot of potential and a lot of promise. There are just a few places where it just didn't work or live up to expectation for me. The ending was dramatic and yes it's a cliff hanger, but I wasn't left desperate for more. I was left wishing some of the earlier stuff had been cut so what was going on at the end could have been explored more before the stop point. Still, it's a decent read but it'll be book 2 that could make this series for me. I am still hopeful because there is so much promise. It just didn't come off here.

Rating: 6/10

Which Nightshade cover do you prefer, the UK or US one? I am curious, go vote ;)

Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk

I was lucky enough to win a ARC of Magic at the Gate from Devon on her blog a few weeks back. It's the fifth book in her Allie Beckstrom series and releases next week, November 2nd, in the US.

Warning!! Massive SPOILERS for previous books, Magic on the Storm (book 4) in particular. Do Not read this if you're not up to date with the series or you'll spoil it for yourself. No spoilers for this book though.

Allie Beckstrom has walked in to Death to save her lover Zayvion Jones, who currently lies in a coma. Alongside her is her dead father, who may or may not still have a part of himself inside her head. Death is a dangerous place for Allie to be. Her chances of making it out alive, with Zayvion's soul, and in one piece, is almost zero. But Allie is a fighter, and stubborn as well, so if it can be done, she'll do it. With the gate having been opened though, there is no guarantee things won't be just as bad, or worse, back on the other side.

Magic at the Gate picks up exactly where Magic on the Storm left off, thankfully. It was a heck of a cliff hanger and left so much to be explored and explained. I liked that it just slipped straight back in, a quick reminder of what had just happened, then on with the story without missing a beat. Devon's depiction of death is just as clever and thought out as the living world. It's got it's own rules and magic twists. Not to mention some scary critters that just help give it that darker, creepier edge that it should have.

This is an excellent continuation of the series. It's got all the same greatness about it as the previous ones: great twists, engaging plot, fantastic characters who continue to grow and change, and great extension to the already impressive world building. Allie may have had magic at her fingertips (literally) her whole life, but she's still got a lot to learn. Just when you think there can't be any more big secrets to come from the Authority, there are. And not only are they big, they're Huge, completely eclipsing those that have come before. Magic at the Gate is no exception. There are some major issues finally revealed, giving just a glimpse of what is really going on for the first time. Not that, that makes anything more predictable or straight forward. In fact it makes it almost less so I think. But it is nice to have a few answers at last.

One of my favourite aspects of this series is the Hounds, and how Allie is now trying to take care of them as well. I was glad to see a bit more of them in the second half of the book, and I'm really hoping they'll get to play a bigger role still in the next book (Magic on the Hunt due out April 2011). I particularly love Davy. There is just something about him I really enjoy. His dogged determination to take care of Allie despite all her insistence that she doesn't need a keeper maybe.

My favourite character of the series though is Shame. Well, him and Terric. They're just so fantastic together. The way they play off each other, their issues with each other. I want to hug them both and smack them both and make them see sense. I love them both, but they're both so damaged as well. Their relationship so complicated. And they both have fantastic personalities. I would adore to see them have their own book, or even novella. Every time Shame or Terric was around I was just glued to them. Don't get me wrong, I love the rest of the book, Allie, Zay and everyone else as well, but Shame and Terric tend to steal the show a bit for me. Which I'm very happy for them to do. They've got some huge new obstacles facing them in this book and I really enjoyed watching them deal with them and how they both changed a bit as a result. For me, there wasn't nearly enough of them. I always want more of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It's got so many twists it was hard to put down because I needed to know what happened next. The ending was great, with no killer cliff hanger (which I have to say I'm kind of glad of, the previous one was bad enough!) but still with a lot left open. I think the book is a great bridge from the previous one, to the next. It's got that kind of feel to it. Plenty happens here, lots of important things and like I said, a few much needed answers. But towards the end it's also got the feel of a set up for the next big conflict/issue. I think this is probably my favourite of the series so far, but I'm very excited to see what comes next as I think it could be even better.

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Covers, Covers + Polls

Been floating around various sites this week and found a bunch of new covers just gone up that I thought I'd share. Also, I'm curious and am adding a couple polls to see which style covers are preferred.

First up, the UK cover for Nightshade VS the US cover.

UK cover
US cover
When I first looked at the UK one I was very unsure about it. It's not as crisp or stunning as the US one, and I prefer the type on the US one, but otherwise I think I actually prefer it. Why? Because 'Calla' is wearing far less makeup in the image, and in the book she refuses to wear it at all. So for me, I think the slightly simpler look fits better having read the book. What do you guys think? UK edition is set for release 28th December.

The Rogue by Trudi Canavan [book 2 in the Traitor Spy trilogy] out 5th May 2011 (UK)
I really like this cover. Continues to fit with book one, and the trilogy that came before it, The Black Magician. I like the red, I like that it's not a face on shot. Good cover! Not sure if this is final yet, as it is still a long time until release, but I'm hoping it won't change much.

New UK covers for The Otherworld books 3 and 4 by Kelley Armstrong. Fan's of Kelley's Otherworld series probably know this already, but for those who don't, the series has been out for 10 years now so there is/has been a total cover revamp. In the US, Canada, and the UK. But it would seem the UK is doing it slowly, over 2 years rather than all in one go. Books 1 (Bitten), 2 (Stolen) and 10 (Frostbitten) all have their shiny new paperback covers already (also, they're trade size now rather than mass market). Next up are Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, which will release February 4th 2011.

I love these new covers they're coming up with. They're clean, fresh and for the most part fit as well. But then, I still love the old ones as well. So which do you prefer? New UK covers or the old ones? (old and new covers for 1, 2 and 10 below as well)

 Old // New

Would love to hear all thoughts/opinions on these various covers. :)

First Line of Last Sacrifice!!

I was scrolling through overnight tweets this morning, as I always do first and saw this:

VAfrostbite: New Blog Post: The Very First Line From Last Sacrifice!: If I'm correct, then this is actually our 100th post. :-)...

*cue happy squeeing*

The post contains this image, which was scanned and posted by @blakeygirl (who kindly agreed to my reposting it).

That is a small ad in the Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine.

"I don't like cages."
That's the first line of Richelle Mead's sixth and final Vampire Academy book, Last Sacrifice (Razorbill). We Can't wait! While the book was unavailable for review at the press time, check out on Dec. 6 (the day before Last Sacrifice hits stores) for our review as well as a giveaway. Five readers will win signed copies of the book, and one lucky winner will get a complete series set!

"I don't like cages." Heh, yeah, some how Rose, that doesn't surprise me. Or, I'm assuming it's Rose saying that lol. Can not wait to read the whole book!!

Out December 7th 2010

A Winner!

The giveaway I was hosting for a copy of HP Mallory's To Kill a Warlock is now over. Entries were tallied and the winner picked via is...


Congrats! I've emailed Nathan already and he's got 48 hours to claim his prize.

Thank you all who entered and helped spread the word. I'm now 3 followers away from 100, 3!! Very exciting, and I've got a giveaway lined up for when I hit that magic 100 mark. You can still claim bonus extra entries for it, just click the giveaway tab at the top of the page to look for details.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Mini Reviews

I've got three new mini reviews for you today, for two reasons. The first is because I didn't read the book in full so don't think it's fair to give a full review, but do want to comment on it. The second two are because they're for books not released until 2011 and I'm waiting until much closer to their release dates to post full reviews. But I thought I'd give you a taste of them and my thoughts now. All these three are YA titles.

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

"When the Prom Queen becomes your fairy godmother…
Sixteen year old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.
… be careful what you wish for.
Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of her dream crush and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a high stakes battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself.
What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?"

I received a copy of this for review thanks to Lynsey at UK Book Tours.

I really wanted to like this book. Just occasionally I really love a totally girly book and this sounded like a good one. But after 60 or 70 pages I found myself having to force myself to read it to a certain extent. I skimmed the rest of the way through the book because I did want to know what happened. Its entirely possible that in a different mood I could really enjoy this book, but at the time, I didn't. I liked the writing, the characters, the plot. It wasn't a superficial book, it went deeper than I expected. Normally that would be something that would keep my interest and I'd enjoy. I think if anyone is just a little more in to books like this than I am, then it would be a great read, I really do. So while I didn't read the book in full and get the full experience, I'd still recommend it. Like I said, another day and I may have loved it myself.

Afterlife by Claudia Gray [Evernight #4]

E-ARC received thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen. Thank you! Release date: March 8th 2011

This fourth and final Evernight book (about Bianca anyway, Balthazar is getting his own book) was everything that it should have been. Dark, emotional, revealing and brilliant. It had to deal with a lot of issues left from the previous books, and after the shocking end to Hourglass [book #3] I did have to wonder how satisfying an ending there could be for the series knowing what we did about the characters, and how they felt about certain things. I shouldn't have worried. It was a fantastic book and I loved it beginning to end. If you liked the previous ones, this should be a hit as well. Rating: 9/10

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

 "In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees. . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what it is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place--and out of place, at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make--between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?"

E-ARC received thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen. Thank you! Release date: January 4th 2011

Hmm, where to start....WOW. Awesome, amazing, fantastic, brilliant, wonderful, incredible, spectacular...

Saying I loved this book would be a massive understatement. It is without doubt one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I loved it from chapter one and could barely put it down. It dragged me in, held on tight and ripped me apart through a very emotional end. It's suburb. Fantastic, well rounded characters, a setting that's almost as alive as them, a story that's got depth, creativity and the mythology to make it real. You know how just sometimes you can start a book and within a few short paragraphs or pages you just know you're on to a winner? Something special that's going to leave an impression and be a lasting favourite? Yeah, that was this book for me. The twists to this story were expertly done and left me breathless. This was a debut novel? Seriously? *shakes head in disbelief* It was beautifully written, very funny in just the right places, and the characters...simply fantastic. There is one certain boy who I completely fell in love with. He is basically my perfect guy. Why isn't he real?! Adored it from beginning to end. If there is one book you must buy at the start of the new year, this should be it. Rating: 10/10

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB over at Should be Reading.

The Rules:
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share 2 SPOILER FREE 'teaser' lines from that page
4. List the author/title etc

My teaser this week is taken from an old favourite which I'm currently rereading:

Title: Vampire Academy [Vampire Academy #1]
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy

"I'm not going to-"
He took a step forward. Too close.
I attacked him, leaping out in an offensive maneuver I hadn't used in two years, not since Lissa and I had run away.
~ page 10

Monday, 18 October 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, What are you Reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

So last week I listed a very long list of 5 books that I wanted to read, not actually thinking I could manage it, but I couldn't choose what would be next, so it seemed like the thing to do. What I actually read last week was:

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

And yesterday I read the first 100 pages of Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk, which wasn't on the list. I failed epically on getting anywhere with that list for two reasons: 1. I was very sick from Monday - Friday. 2. My sis and her boyfriend leant me season 6 of House so I spent 2 1/2 days sick in bed just watching that.

So this weeks plan is mostly a copy of last weeks:

Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk (I don't have the pretty cover, but I do have a signed ARC proof so it's all good!)
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by HP Mallory

I'm hoping to finish MatG today and maybe even start on one of the others afterwards. Again, I've no intention of actually managing to finish all these this week, but they're all the next book on my list (except Nightshade which hasn't arrived yet but hopefully will tomorrow!), so any of them could be read.

So, what are you reading?

Winner! has spoken and the winner for the signed copy of Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is...



Thanks to all who entered and spread the word! Pagecrawler has been emailed and has 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be picked.

My giveaway for a copy of To Kill a Warlock by HP Mallory is open for a few more days. Go check it out and enter!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

IMM & Links

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kirsti at The Story Siren.

This is a very short IMM this week as I am still on that book buying ban, so I've only got one thing to mention. And it's not a book either, but it is book related.

That is a necklace titled 'Rose's Heart' made by Psynde and is from her Vampire Academy range on Etsy. Isn't it beautiful?! I love her work, and I've got several other of her VA pieces, all of which I love, but I think this is probably my favourite necklace from her. I just love it so I had to share! I seriously recommend checking out Psynde's store to see the other pieces she offers, both from her VA range and the other ranges she has, as they're all awesome!

But mentioning that alone is a very short post, so I'm also adding a bunch of links to interesting things :)

First up, my giveaway for a signed copy of Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Raised by Wolves (UK only) closes tonight at midnight (UK time)! Get your entry in if you haven't yet, just a few hours left!

My international giveaway for a copy of To Kill a Warlock by HP Mallory is open until Friday 22nd, so if you've not yet entered, do so! Also, HP is holding a very awesome contest of her own, check out my post about it here for details.

Diana Rowland, author of the very awesome Kara Gillian series has the first 2 chapters of book #3 Secrets of the Demon live on her site now here. It's a fab start and I'm very excited for this book!

The lovely Jessica over at A Great Read is currently holding her 100 Followers giveaway offering some fab prizes! Go check it out! (US/Canada only) Ends Oct 31st.

I am just 5 followers away from a 100 followers giveaway myself (exciting!! Thank you to all those who already follow!!), and if you want some bonus entries for when I do hold it, just check out this post here.

And finally...nope, that's it, got no more links for you right now. Do want to say a small apology for the blog absence this week, I got very ill after riding on Monday and have spent most of the week in bed barely able to get up. So everything took a back seat. Am picking up now but I'm a little unsure of how much blogging I will manage this week as I have basically spent the past week with both wrists in braces as well, which makes typing a little awkward and uncomfortable.

Anyway, hope you've all had a good week reading and picked up more new titles than I have!!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Want to be in a Book?

Author HP Mallory, who I interviewed here (giveaway still open!) is running an awesome contest on her blog right now!

She's currently working on the second book in her Jolie Wilkins series, Toil and Trouble, and she's giving the chance for someone to become a character in it. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on her post here (along with completing any of the extra entries she offers). The contest closes October 30th and the winner will be selected on the 31st.

Why should you enter? Well, here's what HP states in the post about what the winner can expect:

Enter to be written as a character in my book, Toil and Trouble. I'll create your character using your name, description and personality (I'll have to send over a questionnaire, etc. to find out all about you!)

I already know which character you'll be and without giving away too much, this character is:

* integral to the storyline
* mentioned in Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
* will play a part in all future books in the Jolie Wilkins series

The winner will get:

* A written part in Toil and Trouble and future Jolie Wilkins books
* The ability to read Toil and Trouble before it's released to the public
* Added to the Acknowledgments page of Toil and Trouble
* Interviewed on my blog
* A signed (with dedication) paperback copy of Toil and Trouble
* A signed paperback copy of Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble and To Kill A Warlock
Not bad huh? Pretty awesome in fact. So if you've ever wanted to become a character, a serious character, in a book, now is your chance!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo is the sequel to Hush, Hush, some spoilers for it ahead. I received an ARC copy of Crescendo for review thanks to Lynsey at UK Book Tours.

"Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away, and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Milliar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.
The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line had something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch, or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?"

I finished Crescendo a few days ago, but I'm still not entirely sure what I think of it. I loved Hush, Hush. I didn't think it was spectacular (characters a little flat, Patch too much of a bad-boy, Nora too willing to ignore it), but I loved it anyway, so of course I was looking forward to the sequel. I was particularly interested in the story of Nora's fathers death, and how it connected to the Nephilim. But I found myself quickly loosing enthusiasm while reading it. I found it predictable, and far too alike Hush, Hush in many respects. It wasn't hard to figure out where the danger was really coming from, or what had really happened to Nora's father.

I didn't love Nora in Hush, Hush, didn't even like her that much. She was too flat and far too willing to do whatever Patch wanted when she shouldn't have been near him. And she never told Vee, her obnoxious, insensitive 'best friend' to stop being such. And my opinion hasn't really changed. I kept waiting for some growth from her, but what there was minimal and didn't really seem to last, she kept going back to how she was before it seemed to me.

Patch. Stalker, bad-boy, seriously dangerous. He was in Hush, Hush, and despite knowing he was really too bad to be good, I kinda loved him. Possibly for the contrast he was to Nora, where she was a bit of a straight laced goody-two-shoes, he was the opposite. I wish I could say that carried over to this book, but it didn't. I kinda hated him a few times throughout this book, and (obnoxious about it or not) completely agreed with Vee when she said he was bad news and that Nora was better off without him.

There were a few times I would have liked to slap both Patch and Nora for their behaviour and stupidity. At least twice Patch was getting really mad at Nora for 'not letting him explain' and her just getting crazy. And I was thinking 'what the heck?!?' because a) he wasn't trying to explain, not once. And b) Nora had every reason to be furious at him for his behaviour and yet he expected her to accept it without explanation. Made no sense whatsoever. And neither did several of Nora's outbursts which came from nowhere (even if there was reason) and would die just as fast. Not to mention that I never really felt they 'fit' as a couple in this one. Not a healthy relationship in book one, but a steamy one that somehow worked anyway. But just didn't for me. All their interaction was brief and it felt like there were chunks missing. Nothing was fleshed out the way it really needed to be to truly work.

The story itself, like I said, felt very alike Hush, Hush, in many ways, just a few minor details switched. I spent a fair bit of time reading it and thinking 'didn't I read this already?' I finished Hush, Hush in a day easily. It flowed at a fast pace and was an easy read. Crescendo I more or less finished in a day as well, but it took far more effort on my part. The first half really dragged for me. It picked up a bit past the halfway point, and the final 100 pages raced past. And I did actually enjoy the final 100 pages. I knew what was coming, how it would play out, but I'd finally gotten sucked in enough that it didn't matter, just like Hush, Hush. I was surprised just once reading this book, and that was the very final twist on the last page. That one I never saw coming and may be my biggest reason for wanting to read Tempest, book 3, when it's released rather than waiting for a cheap paperback copy.

So can I really have liked a book when it was so predictable and same-y? Can I really have not when I did still finish it in a day and enjoy (more or less) the final 100 pages (which is a quarter of the book)? I really don't know. It wasn't what I wanted from this second book. I wanted character development and a new story, and I didn't find that. There wasn't (bar the final one) any surprise because it was far to easy to see them coming chapters off, or simply because I could see the same patterns from Hush, Hush appearing. So overall, yes I was disappointed with this (and I realise I appear to be well in the minority here, please don't hate me for it). There was the odd moment I liked, and like I said the final 100 pages weren't bad, even if they were predictable (and I was rolling my eyes a bit through one particular 'tense' section). But Nora, gah, the girl drove me nuts!! And Patch felt flatter than he did in Hush, Hush, relying only on that mysterious/bad boy vibe to get him through and it didn't work for me. So...yeah, not a great read, and a disappointing sequel in my opinion, with some good moments.

Rating: 4/10

Monday, 11 October 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey, giving the chance to share what you've been reading over the past week and plan on reading over the coming one.

Managed to get a fair bit of reading done in the past week, despite starting riding again. I've just had what was my 3rd riding lesson in 6 days and...well, so say I'm barely awake right now would be putting it simply. I am going to crash when I'm done with this post. this past week:
To Kill a Warlock by HP Mallory [review - author interview + giveaway]
Gone by Lisa McMann [review]
Matched by Ally Condie [soo awesome!! review]
Afterlife by Claudia Gray [review won't be posted until closer to release, but it was great!]
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick [review coming later--in theory]

Huh, you know, when it's all listed cleanly like that it makes me stop and go 'wow'. That was a lot to fit in given my exhaustion and muscle pain levels. Cool! [mindless babble...yeah, sleep required big time...]

On to this week and first up is Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. Another Net Galley eARC. I actually started this one last night, read chapter one and loved it, so very excited to get in to it later when I'm more awake.

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy.

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by HP Mallory.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

And I want to finish my reread of Vampire Academy which started and stalled for shiny new ARC's.

Okay, so that's an incredibly wishful thinking plan for this week, I'll be curious to see how far I've actually got next week!

Hope you all have a good week reading :)

Matched by Ally Condie

I won an ARC copy of Matched from Jenny at Wondrous Reads. Thank you! Matched is released November 30th in the US, Dec 2nd in the UK.

"In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one...until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion."

First off, I've been wanting this book badly ever since I first heard about it. It sounded great, has an awesome cover, and early reviews kept popping up saying 'it's awesome!' So I was naturally delighted when I opened my emails to discover that I had won an ARC copy. For one reason and another it took almost 2 weeks before I could start it, despite wanting to dive right in to it, but oh heck. SO worth the wait! Matched is completely fantastic. Of course, now I have a longer wait for the sequel *facepalm* I couldn't put this book down. It's fantastically done, beautifully written with an almost poetic quality.

Cassia is, as the Society inspires, naive and 'perfect'. It's a stark world she lives in, a perfect one, Society decides everything for the best of everyone and they're never wrong. There are 100 songs, 100 poems and so on, never new ones being created. Society says what you do and when, and Cassia has always trusted them, always followed the rules. But at heart, she's a rebel. It barely shows at first, just a hint here and there, but grows as events unfold and things change. And I completely love her character. I felt sorry for her, the way she, and everyone in fact, appears to be puppets rather than human beings with thoughts and feelings. But Cassia's personality grew massively throughout the book and I just loved it.

Ky. Oh Ky! I have a new top level fictional love. He and Cassia have known each other for years, but no one really knows him. He's quite the mystery, not quite like the others. He's smart, and awesome and, well, like I said, I love him.

I love Xander, Cassia's best friend and 'Match' as well, and Cassia's family too. All the characters are really well drawn. I love how they're all far deeper and more complex than first appears. As the story unfolds, there are layers continually being peeled back, revealing more and more as they go. It's true of the world Cassia lives in as well as the characters actually. More and more gradually being revealed and it's spectacularly done. It creates a tension, a mystery, that I couldn't drag myself away from. I had to know what happened next.

Obviously the romance is a pretty strong theme throughout the book, but it's far from the only one. It's also the story of a girl waking up, realising who she is, what the world around her is like, how to survive. It's as much about everything around Cassia as Cassia herself. Perfect blend of internal battle and external one.

The place itself, the world Cassia lives in, scares the hell out of me. Seriously. 100 songs/poems/books/whatever picked years ago and nothing else is allowed to be made/created? Your job/spouse/exercise/food is all dictated by what 'suits you best'. And no one questions it because Society is always right. Everyone is supposed to be equal, everyone is meant to follow the rules, because then everything stays perfect. The Society even decide when you die (it's your 80th birthday in case you're wondering). Scary as hell, maybe because you can see it as real. Censorship taken to the extreme. A dictatorship of evil hidden under the guise of being 'perfect'. It's easy to see the people as puppets, to see their lives as limited and wonder how they don't all go crazy. But it's what they're used to, it's been that way for a couple generations, so no one questions. *shudders*

The ending is spectacular. Gripping, intense, beautiful, heart wrenching and brilliant. It was one of those times where you get to the final page and turn it over expecting more because a) you HAVE to know what happens next and b) Why the Hell was it left there?! So like I said at the start, I'm now desperate for the sequel (no title/date yet, sadly), it's one of the top books on my 'Must Haves' list for sure. This was one of the best dystopian books I've read, if not the best [wonders how much flack she's gonna take for saying that]. Yes really. Easily one of my favourite reads of 2010. If this book isn't on your To-Buy list, put it there, right now. My ARC copy doesn't have the pretty cover, so of course I'm getting one, and I'll be buying at least one more copy for a friend for Christmas. Love, love, love.

Rating: 10/10 [as if it would be anything else!]

Sunday, 10 October 2010

In My Mailbox [5]

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kirsti at The Story Siren. It's a chance to share what books we've bought/received in the previous week.

I didn't post a IMM last week as I had nothing to report. Why? Because I am on a self imposed book buying ban. Which as it turned out, timed perfectly or I wouldn't be able to afford my riding lessons which I'm just about to start again. Yay! Except, it's also going to mean less books once again, generally speaking. Oh well. Anyway, the ban means the titles I've received this week are all review titles from various sources, plus one book that I won.

Okay, for review, from Lynsey at UK Book Tours I received:
The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
ARC copy of Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

From NetGalley and HarperTeen I've got:
Afterlife by Claudia Gray [I already finished this one and 'fab!' is all I'm saying about it right now.]
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

And finally for review titles, direct from the author:
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H. P. Mallory.

I also won a signed ARC copy of Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk!
That post-it was on the cover when I took it out the envelope, but I put it inside for safe keeping ;)

So really was a 'In My Mailbox' week, virtually and in reality (...if you ignore the fact of my being in the UK means it's not a mailbox and it comes straight through the front door to land on the doormat...). A great week as well! So excited to get in to all of these titles, I'm seriously at a loss as to which to decide on next!! A massive Thank You to all those who are responsible for supplying me with these titles.

What's in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Gone by Lisa McMann

Gone is the final book in the Dream Catcher trilogy, following Wake and Fade. Some spoilers for both of those books ahead, Fade in particular!!

After the events of Fade, turning in three of her teachers as rapists after a daunting undercover operation, and everyone knowing all the details after the court case, Janie just wants to be left alone. She needs a break. And Cabel isn't helping things with his nightmares, his fears of coping with Janie as she deteriorates thanks to her dream catcher abilities. And yet, he'd do anything for her. She knows she's lucky to have him, but her future is dark and she wonders if it's really something she can put him through.

But Janie isn't getting a break. There is a man in a coma and it turns out he's her father. A man she's never known. He's dying, and suddenly Janie is forced to face her mothers past, the relationship that resulted in Janie's existence. She thought she knew what she was doing. But his secrets could change everything.

I loved Wake and Fade. They sucked me in within moments and I couldn't put them down, I just wanted more, so of course I was really looking forward to starting Gone. Overall, it didn't really disappoint. But I didn't love it as much as Fade. Fade was incredibly intense, dark and just fantastic. Gone isn't so intense. I still couldn't really put it down, I was still hooked, but it didn't, for me at least, have the same kind of intensity of Fade. It wasn't that Janie was having an easy time, far from it, but it was more personal turmoil. This book was about Janie, where she's from, her future and the decisions she has to make.

My heart ached for Janie as she tried to deal with things and I was very proud of her at times as well. I love Cabe, always have, but he plays a little less of a role here. Not a bad thing, it's how the story had to work, but I did miss him. Captain...gotta be one of my favourite side characters full stop. I love the way she cares, the way she pushes, and generally how she's just totally awesome.

Despite not being the intense, dramatic, heart-pounding ride Fade was, I still loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. Like the two books before it, it moves along quickly. I confess that to a certain extent I was a little disappointed with certain aspects of this book. The mystery that surrounded Wake and Fade wasn't here. I could easily guess what was going on and I wondered on more than one occasion why Janie hadn't. I've read several reviews since finishing Gone from people who weren't happy with it, who felt the characterization was off, and to a certain extent I can understand that. But for me, I could see why Janie and Cabe were acting the way they were. It worked for me. I wasn't always happy with them, unlike the previous two books, but I could see where they were coming from and I like that it's not been plain sailing for them.

And yet, despite Gone's flaws, I was satisfied with the ending. I felt it wrapped the issues from the trilogy well and ended with the right attitude with Janie and Cabe. I still wanted more though. I just love this series, the way it's written, grabs out and doesn't let go. I love Janie and her struggles, her strength and of course I adore Cabe. He's so much stronger than he realises and I just love him. I'd love for there to be more from these characters, and I'd especially love for there to be a full book from Cabe's perspective, but it was a good ending for them here. Another great read, even if I didn't find myself adoring it as I did Fade. I'd highly recommend this trilogy.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 8 October 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books

This is my first time taking part in Book Blogger Hop! Click the link above to head to the site for details about joining in :)

This weeks question: 

What's your favorite beverage while reading or blogging, if any? Is it tea, coffee, water, a glass of wine, or something else?

Tea is my usual vice. I realise as I'm English this is totally cliched, but yes, I'm a bit of a tea addict. I'm very often drinking tea while blogging, less so when reading.

Interview with HP Mallory and Giveaway!!

Giveaway now closed. Winner will be announed shortly.

I read HP's 'To Kill a Warlock' just a couple of days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it [review] and now I'm delighted to be able to bring you an interview I've done with her. There's also a chance to win a free ebook copy of To Kill a Warlock below!

Cem: What made you decide to write in the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre rather than any other?
HP: I’ve always loved anything to do with the paranormal and so my interest was already there. I read quite a bit of urban fantasy and paranormal romance series, such as the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Anita Blake series so it was probably a natural progression that I would want to write in the same genres. Also, the freedom to create in paranormal fiction is really limitless so my imagination knows no bounds. 

Cem: Why did you choose to go down the self published route, and is it a decision you're glad you made?
HP: I’m very glad I made this decision as it has allowed me to control my own writing career. It really happened more as a last option than anything else. I started with the big New York agent and when that didn’t go anywhere, I asked myself if I wanted to continue just sitting on my books and the answer was a resounding no! So, I decided to just put them out there and thought I’d be lucky if I sold 20. Well, I’ve sold nearly 3000 now and I’ve never looked back. I made this decision just a few months ago and it’s been the best decision I’ve made in a long time. There is nothing like receiving emails from my fans letting me know how much they enjoyed my books. I couldn’t be happier.

Cem: What's your writing process? Do you plan out everything in advance or wing it?
HP: I plan everything out in as much as I know what will happen in each book. I outline it in terms of brainstorming ideas I have and then figuring out where those ideas will take form. Then before I write each chapter, I think about the chapter for a week or so, deciding what should happen and in what order.

Cem: What's a typical writing day for you like?
HP: I wake up at 5 am and write or edit for 1.5 hours. Then I go to work, pick up my son and play with him and his dad (lol) until 8 pm, when he goes to bed. Then I edit chapters from 8-10 pm each night. I write each new chapter on a weekend day. Not a lot of time but I make it work.

Cem: I loved Sam, Dulcie's best friend in To Kill a Warlock, because she's always there for her, willing to help however she can. But as any good friend should, she also teases Dulcie, giving her a hard time over certain things. Which of your characters, from any of your work, is your favourite and why?
HP: Well, I love Jolie from Fire Burn because I really relate to her. I love Dulcie, too, especially because she’s so strong but I don’t quite relate to her as well as I do Jolie. As far as the men go, hmmm. I definitely love Rand from Fire Burn but Sinjin is also winning my affection. And from Warlock, I can’t really decide between Knight and Quill.

Cem: What other books do you currently have in the works and when can we expect to be able to read them? 
HP: I’m just finishing up the next book in the Jolie series, Toil and Trouble. It will be released Jan 1. I’m also working on a graphic novel of Warlock (think comic book) which will be released in episodes of about 3-4 chapters each. That won’t be for a while though because my artist and I are still storyboarding.

Cem: Finally, if you could have any supernatural power or be any supernatural being, what would you pick?
HP: I would love to have the ability to read minds, but only when I wanted to. Would be pretty awesome! Of all supernatural beings, vampires probably intrigue me the most.


Reading minds hmm? Oh how much easier life could be at times with that!
Big thanks to HP for taking the time to answer my questions! She's also offering the chance for one of you to win a e-copy of To Kill a Warlock! A very good, funny read that I highly recommend!

The small print:
- Open internationally
- You MUST fill in the form below to enter.
- The only thing required for entry is to leave your name (or alias) and an email address for contacting if you win.
- Giveaway closes 22nd October, midnight UK time. Winner will be chosen via contacted, announced on the blog, and have 48 hours to reply.

Extra entries available (keeping this very simple):
+1 for commenting on this post
+1 for tweeting the giveaway (please link to me, @cem_214 so I can easily track them)
+2 for being a blog follower

Also don't forget that my UK giveaway for a signed copy of Jennifer Lynn Barnes Raised by Wolves is still open here. And you can gain bonus early entries for my up coming 100 followers giveaway here.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

To Kill a Warlock by H. P. Mallory

"The murder of a dark arts warlock. A shape-shifting, ravenous creature on the loose. A devilishly handsome stranger sent to investigate. Sometimes working law enforcement for the Netherworld is a real bitch.
Dulcie O'Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She's a Regulator - law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world.
When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she's either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.
Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie. Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie's got her hands full.
As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals."

I first heard about this title via a Teaser Tuesday post on another blog a couple weeks back (sorry but I forget which one!!) and the teaser made me laugh so I checked the book out. As a pretty cheap read on the Kindle, I decided to give it a shot and I wasn't disappointed. It took just a couple of paragraphs to make me laugh as when Dulcie is introduced, she' a little bit of a sticky situation. A very funny one.

Dulcie is a fairy, working in law enforcement, her best friend is a witch, she's self conscious, dedicated, smart, a struggling writer and has a crush on her very hot boss. She's working a particularly hard case, with some interesting twists. One of the biggest being Knight Vander, who is working undercover. Only Dulcie is allowed to know why he's there, who he is (well, to a certain extent) and other select details about the case. I found Knight as entertaining as Dulcie, especially towards the end when, erm, something happened that made things that much more interesting. Not that they weren't before, because they were. But I think my favourite character was actually Sam, Dulcie's best friend. She'd not seen too much, but she's everything a best friend should be. Smarter, totally trust worthy, and willing to tease and push Dulcie when it's needed. Also, Sam is a witch and with some of the situations Dulcie finds herself in, this makes for a very useful job and an entertaining one as well.

I don't often read lighter, humorous fantasy. I'm a much bigger fan of dark urban fantasy. It just tends to suit me better, dark, dangerous, constantly facing difficult decisions and life threatening...threats. I can find works like this where its got a lighter feel to it, where humor is one of the biggest focuses (in all aspects of the story), tedious, dull and irritating. I can't often find myself really getting in to them. But in this case, I did. I actually struggled to put it down (well, okay, not when WEG was on, but no book will deter me from WEG coverage right now, so it did take me several days to finish it).

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I really didn't figure out what was going on until the reveal. I guessed a couple things, but even those I only got partially right, a chapter or two before it happened. All the characters seem to have far more to them than you first assume. They're well rounded and believable. One of my favourite aspects of Dulcie is not actually her strength, but her self consciousness. It's not really a spoiler to say this so I'll explain a little more. Dulcie doesn't like having pointed ears. She thinks it's a big personal flaw and stops her being pretty despite being petite and slim. I think it's something that makes her very 'normal' for lack of a better word. Because I am certain every single person has something about themselves they wish they could change, something they worry about. And Dulcie has that, which helps make her that much easier to relate to, to care about. There were times when I did really wonder about Dulcie's sanity, I have to admit, but even when I was, I wasn't annoyed with her, I was laughing. And not really at her either, because I could see why she was thinking/doing what she was.

A fast paced read, a fun world to be a part of with some great world building. It's funny without being crazy or that feeling of the author trying too hard. The romantic aspect of the story wasn't actually given the page time I thought it would be, with other factors often over riding it. But it was fun and entertaining as well as having a unhurried feel to it, which I really liked. I actually only realised after I'd started the book (because apparently I didn't bother really looking in to it before buying it, I should stop doing that) that the author is self-published. So I admit I was more impressed at that point, because it really is a very well put together book with great characters and I was left wanting to know what happens next for Dulcie. It is well wrapped up, no major hanging plot lines and a satisfying conclusion, but plenty of room to explore more things in the next book. Which I'm really looking forward to and hope will be out sooner rather than later!! And I'm also really looking forward to trying her other book currently out, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, of which HP was kind enough to provide me with a copy of for review. I'm hoping to start it next week at some point, so look out for a review of that one as well. Currently HP's works are only available in ebook format, but don't let that put you off because really, you should read this!! Check out Smashwords for them, where they can be downloaded in various formats (or of course use Amazon directly for Kindle versions like me).

Rating: 8/10

Special Note: check back in a few days when I'll have an interview with H.P. and a chance to win a copy of one of her books!!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine which highlights the future releases we're eagerly anticipating.

In defense of all my ranting in the previous post about the UK cover of Last Sacrifice, I'm very tempting to post that as my WOW this week. But I'm saving it for November, when it gets to that point where all I can say is 'I NEED Last Sacrifice NOW!!!' So instead, here is one of my top picks from 2011:

Title: The Iron Witch
Author: Karen Mahoney
Release date: 1st Feb 2011 (US) 3rd Feb 2011 (UK)
"FREAK. That’s what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna’s own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.
When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect."

I've read and loved both Kaz's short stories in the YA anthologies 'The Eternal Kiss' and 'Kiss Me Deadly' about a teen vampire named Moth, so I'm very excited for her first full novel, despite me not always being the biggest fan of faeries. It sounds fantastic, I really liked her writing in those two shorts and it has a stunning cover. What's not to be excited about?!

What's your WoW this week?

For more info:
Karen Mahoney's website
Goodreads page
Karen Mahoney on Twitter