Monday, 31 May 2010

In Reading Mode

Having CFS/ME means there are times where reading is really tough for me. But there are times where I'm doing just a little better and I get in to this groove where I can read and read. Well, not all day every day, but lots and lots and it's all I want to do. I'm in one of those right now, and it means I'm reading without reviewing. Apologies.

Right now I owe revies for the second Demon Princess book from Michelle Rowen 'Reign check' (which I really enjoyed), the first in Jenna Black's new Faeriewalker series 'Glimmerglass' (which I adoreded) and Devon Monk's first Allie Beckstorm book 'Magic to the Bone' (which I also loved). And I'm starting on J. R. Ward's Dark Lover tonight.

I will try and get the reviews for the first three up tomorrow, but apologies if I don't, because I really want to make the most of feeling good enough to read so much right now :)

Friday, 28 May 2010

Soulless by Gail Carriger

"Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced! Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?"

This is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series from Gail Carriger. It's part urban fantasy, historical fantasy, part steampunk and I love it. It's written in third person, and takes a little getting used to as the characters are most commonly referred to by their titles, rather than first names. It's fun and adds to the tone of the book, but it is slightly strange for the first chapter or so. Set in London, England during Victorian times, vampires and werewolves are known members of society. Then there is Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural. She's soulless and as such, when she touches a supernatural, they become more or less human for the time she is in contact with them. All abilities connected to the supernatural, disappear, like say, a vampires fangs. Which amuses me a lot, though I'm not too sure why. Anyway, Alexia is a bit of a loud mouth with a serious intellect for science, standing out from the majority of London's upper class with her darker skin and attitude. It more often than not gets her in a little trouble, but she is also very strict with her manners, as any proper Victorian lady should be.

When Miss Tarabotti finds herself in the middle of a BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) case involving disappearing werewolves and vampires, she can't help trying to find out more. Must to the frustrations of Alpha wolf and high ranking BUR agent, Lord Maccon. He does his best to keep Alexia out of trouble and safe whilst attempting to get to the bottom of the problem.

I loved this book from start to finish. It's funny, snappy, with great characters and a solid plot. While manners and decorum play a part in the book, they don't give it a stuffy air. It's wickedly fun and there are some surprising twists along the way. Alexia is a great main character with her spark and wit, along with some deep built insecurities which make her very real. Lord Maccon is just plain delicious. And leading vampire is Lord Akeldama, a flashy rove vampire (unattached to a 'hive') who is a great friend of Alexia's. He is very entertaining with his nicknames and the delight he takes from being the one to know as much as possible about what's going on where, and with who.

It's an easy book to get sucked in to, with the action starting on page one and never really letting up. I had a hard time putting this book down. I love the ending in that it fairly neatly wraps this book up, but gives great hints to whats to come in the next book. I'm not normally much of a fan of anything set in the past, but this, despite it's setting, is still urban fantasy and great urban fantasy at that. It's very different and it makes for a great change of pace to the usual books in the UF range. If you like the genre, then this book should be a must read for you. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book, Changeless and I'm already looking forward to Blameless, book 3, in September as well!

Rating: 9/10

New Cover Art

The 9th Moganville Vampire book, Ghost Town, by Rachel Caine isn't out until the beginning of November, but the cover art for the UK version just went up on AmazonUK:
At one point the first four books were available with glow in the dark covers, I have those and they're cool, but this is my favourite cover to date easily. Very pretty!!

UK cover for the 8th House of Night book, Awakened, (P.C. and Kristin Cast) is live there too. Not a book I'm looking forward to, just one that I noticed on the Ghost Town page, figured I'd share it too.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

[Note: apologies for lack of reviews this week, threw my back out last Sunday spent 2 days in agony/doped up to my eyeballs on painkillers, a third day in pain throwing up cause of said painkillers, and basically been recovering since. Still not great, but I can read again now which is a bonus. Also, apologies for this review not being very well written, but I wanted something up sooner rather than later.]

"Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.
Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.
When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.
This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…"

Magic Bleeds is the 4th book in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It's a series that has just gone from strength to strength. The third book, Magic Strikes, was immense and is one of my favourite books ever. I've been dying for this book since finishing Strikes over a year ago. This book had a lot to live up to, and it wasn't a let down in any way!

Kate has never had it easy, but after the events at the end of The Midnight Games (in Strikes), things are far more dangerous for her. There is an enemy out there who knows her parentage now, it's only a matter of time before she faces the fight she's been preparing for her whole life, the one that will likely kill her. It's a bleaker Kate we're faced with here. One trying to keep her heart protected, determined to protect those she loves, and yet facing huge odds. She can't walk away from her friends, or from her job at the Order. Her latest case starts with her investigating a bar room brawl that finished with a dead man pinned to a telegraph pole with a deadly, fast spreading disease of some kind. Powerful magic is behind the attack and Kate knows that the person behind them must be stopped before they destroy Atlanta. Easier said than done.

Like magic Strikes, the plot flowed smoothly and quickly, and its another book that is very, very hard to put down. However, while the main plot gets plenty of page time, it does take a back seat occasionally to the romantic subplot. Tension has been building steadily between Curran and Kate since book one, and something had to give, one way or the other. This book is where it happens. I won't give away details of the outcome, except to say nothing in Kate's world is simple and just because there is some resolution of some kind, does not mean trouble goes away! Overall, there is less humor than the previous books, but with the way things have turned, that is to be expected and the book is no worse for it. Also, it has the what is, in my opinion, the funniest moment of the series to date. Which given certain things from previous book, is saying something. This particular moment had me in tears I was laughing so hard and I had to stop reading for a couple of minutes to get myself under control. I am giggling about it again now just thinking of it.

The tension, of all kinds, rides thick through the book and you can really feel Kate's angst as she battles to figure things out, make the right choices, and fight for her life. One of the things I love most about this series is how real, complex and well rounded the characters are, secondary characters included. Most of them have their own little stories going on as well, and we get glimpses of them from Kate's POV at times. They all add to the story rather then being random things dropped in to attempt to add depth, these really work. It constantly has me wanting more on various characters, wanting to know more about their lives, as well as Kate's. The use of various myth and legend is once again used to great effect in this book as Kate's foe. And as always, it manages to stay interesting as it twists and turns while Kate figures out the facts, and what is pure myth.

There were some fantastic scenes in this book showing off the way Kate's changed through the course of this series, how she's grown and how she intends to face her future, as well as showing where she's come from, how she's never forgotten that. But Kate's past isn't the only one that gets an airing in this book. There is some tantalizing back story on Curran (finally!) as well, again adding further depth to his character.

The whole book was near impossible to put down, but the ending was very, very intense as things hit boiling point. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll leave it at that for talking of the ending. There were some interesting twists I really wouldn't have guessed, leaving some tough stuff to be dealt with in the next book. And while there are some resolutions to earlier plot threads, there are other issues just starting, waiting to be explored in the next books. I can't quite decide if I like this more than Strikes or not, simply because they are both immense books, but they are quite different. It's certainly no worse, and if you liked the previous Kate books, you're sure to love this one equally. I'd hate to choose between the two, but it's certainly an awesome edition to the series. My one complaint? Same as for Strikes, and Magic Burns before it: Too short. And that's even though this one is 40 pages longer than Strikes. This is a series not to be missed. Easily some of the very, very best urban fantasy out there with some of the deepest, most realistic characters I've read. If you haven't tried the Kate Daniels series yet, do so right now! And if you dropped it because the first book isn't great (I like it, but it's not all that) then pick up book 2 and keep going! Because the rest of the series more than makes up for it!!

Rating: 10/10

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur

SPOILER WARNING!! Big spoilers for the previous book, Bound to Shadows, ahead. If you're not up to date with the series, skip this one :)

"Some nights never end.
Some desires never die. . . .
She ventures where no one else dares—into realms of peril and pleasure. But will this next journey be her last?
Shape-shifting werewolf and vampire Riley Jenson is through with death–causing it, solving it, surviving it. Her soul mate, Kye Murphy, is dead–and at Riley’s own hands. Not even the seductive embrace of her vampire lover, Quinn, can fully ease her mind, for she has begun questioning everything that makes her Riley–including her job at the Directorate.
Now, the ritualistically slain bodies of ex-cons have started turning up. Reluctantly, Riley takes the case, but something even worse is waiting in the wings. For a vicious enemy from her past is determined to strip Riley of everything that gives her life any meaning: her lover, her brother–and even her own identity. Can Riley survive this ultimate assault? All she knows is, she must fight one last time to find answers, before everything goes dark forever…"

This is the 9th and final Riley Jenson book from Keri Arthur. Riley has grown a lot though this series. She's learnt to do what she must in order to survive, but she's never been comfortable with what that might mean for her. She doesn't much like what she's become. But she can't just walk away from the Directorate. After the events of the previous book, Bound To Shadows, she's become more unsure of herself than ever.
This series took a while to grow on me. I didn't particularly like the first 3 books, and gave up on it for a couple years. But I did eventually pick it back up and I'm very glad I did. I've come to love Riley as she's grown and changed, and I can't help loving her reluctance to become the killer the Directorate wants her to be. The ending of Bound To Shadows was harsh and left me hanging. It left a lot to tie up in this final book and my hopes for it were high. Happily, it wasn't a let down in any way.
The story picks up a little while after the end of Bound To Shadows with Riley just returning to work. It doesn't take long for things to take a turn for the worse, but I so did not see what happened coming. It was a very different idea to anything I'd have predicted, and I think it works very well. Riley's past is haunting her, but not exactly the past she expected to. With the turn of events, it led to some interesting problems. The plot flowed smoothly and quickly, and I felt the up and down ride with Riley pretty cleanly. I don't want to go in to details and spoil anything, but I will say that I truly loved the ending. It had me tearing up and it was just perfect. And can I say that I just adore Rhoan and Liander? They are awesome. And I finally love Quinn too. It took 9 books, but hey, I got there in the end. I'm sad to say goodbye to Riley and the rest now, but at least the series ended on a high. This is my favourite Riley book for sure, I had a lot of trouble putting the book down. Threads that had been left from several books ago were picked up and tied off nicely, as well as some newer ones. Things were left neat enough for the end of a series, but not so neat you can't imagine more happening with the characters in the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite being sad that Riley's series is over. I'm really looking forward to Keri's spin off series featuring Risa (Dia's little girl) when it comes out. I know she's mentioned that Riley and her team will make the odd appearance so as much as I'm looking forward to Risa's story, I'm looking forward to just a little more of Riley too. I loved this book and while I'm sure this series wouldn't be for everyone, I'd still really recommend it. And if you loved the previous Riley books, then this is clearly a must read.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Check This Out

Over at Paperback Dolls there is a character interview with Mahon and Aunt B from Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series. Looks like it'll be a one off because Ilona and Gordon said they won't be doing another. But it gives a few interesting snippets of information about Mahon, Aunt B and a young Curran that I wouldn't have guessed.

They're also offering a chance to win a signed copy of Magic Bleeds!! I am desperate to get my hands on this book and was very, very happy to discover today that Book Depository (who I highly recommend by the way) have it instock! With a bit of luck my copy will arrive on Monday, although more likely Tuesday. Still, I'll soon have it and I can't wait!

Anyway, my point, there is a very cool charcter interview and chance to win a signed copy of a book I'd do just about anything for, I highly recommend checking it out!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead (and a winner!)

First up, my Spirit Bound/Shadow Kiss contest is now closed. Winner is Sam Tomi! Please contact me at cem_214AThotmailDOTcoDOTuk within 3 days with your name/address and I'll get the books in the mail to you. If I don't hear from you by then, I'll draw a new winner.

No spoilers if you've read Blood Promise, but if not, I really recommend you skip this and start the series from book 1!

"Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong… After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and he's out there, somewhere.
She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her...forever"

I've adored this series from the start and I've been anxiously waiting for this book since I finished Blood Promise the day it was released last year. Thankfully, it was not a disappointment. It was, for me at least, quite possibly the hardest book to read, but I still can't help loving it because it's a great continuation of Rose's story.

Rose knows there is a chance, a very slim one, that Dimitri can be saved and she's determined to find out if it really is possible. But she and Lissa aren't in school anymore and the consequences of being caught doing some of the things required, will be a lot bigger than detention. On top of Rose's love life issues, the Moroi government seem to be making moves for a big decision. But what that decision is, or the consequences it could have Rose can't begin to imagine.

There are parts of this book I had a very hard time reading. There are parts that made me laugh, and others that shocked me completely. And despite almost hating parts of it, I had a very hard time putting it down. I may not like everything that's happened, but I can see why it was done as it was, and I think (hope) things will work out with the result I want in the end. Rose was not always the smartest girl in this book. She made a lot of spur of the moment decisions, often based on emotion rather than logic, and she paid the price more than once. I wanted to shake her at times and tell her to wake up, to stop being an idiot and realise the truth. Which is a first. I've never really gotten mad at Rose before, but I did here. Not a bad thing, but it made things interesting.

I loved how the issues with a few side characters were dealt with as well. Nothing in this series has worked out easily, and that continued to be the case here. Actions have consequences and it shows. One big plus point of this book, is seeing a little more of Abe from Blood Promise. I love his character! He's just awesome really, and I love the part he plays towards the end of Spirit Bound. I'm curious as to how that's going to play out in the final book.

I would love to comment on certain aspects of this book, but doing so would involve revealing pretty big spoilers. Simply put, a lot happens in this book. Several things are dealt with, at least partially, from the previous books, while new things also make their entrance. The ending was shocking and a real cliff hanger, although not of the intensity of Shadow Kiss. But despite being desperate to know what happens next, I am actually glad there is a break between books, because this was quite the emotional rollercoaster. Rose may have been out in the world killing Strigoi already, but it doesn't mean she's ready for everything headed her way. I would love to say I can see where certain things are going in the final book, but honestly, Richelle always manages to surprise me, even if there are things I guessed before the book was even out.

If you liked all the previous Vampire Academy books, then you should love this one. It's really quite different to all the previous ones with Rose, Lissa and the others no longer students, but adults trying to make things work at the Royal Court. But that doesn't make it any less of a great, if difficult, journey. There is some great character development through this book, with some interesting twists. I can't wait to see how it all ends in Last Sacrifice. If you want my more...detailed and scrappy thoughts on Spirit Bound, you can read them here, but I warn you, there are HUGE spoilers in that post and unless you've read the book, I'd recommend avoiding it! If you actually like reading spoilers, then go ahead, but don't say I didn't warn ya. 10/10

Monday, 17 May 2010

Shade by Jeri Smith Ready

"Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift."
I heard about this book via Twitter, specifically via a few authors I follow mentioning it being good. So of course I checked it out. It sounded good but I did not expect to be blown away. This is the first in a new YA series, and it is awesome from beginning to end.

The blurb on the cover explains that one major plot thread in this book is a love triangle between Aura with her recently dead boyfriend Logan, and the very much alive Zachary. So before you even meet the characters, you know one of them is going to die early on in the book. And yet despite knowing that, despite knowing he was still going to be 'around' his death was intense and heart wrenching, and had me tearing up. Aura's pain was so obvious, so heartfelt that you can't help feeling it with her. The confusing feelings that come with grief, anger, loss, fear, are all there, carefully and fantastically written. The realness to Aura as she tried to deal with Logan's death, 'afterlife' and the other on going issues around her had me tearing up on more than one occasion.
The other major plot point is Aura's desire to not see ghosts, or to at least figure out why the Shift happened. Everyone born after than can see ghosts, and it's often far from fun, sometimes it's terrifying. It's something she's trying to figure out as a school project, close to her heart, and she intended to do so alone. But then Scottish native Zachary arrives and is told to work on it with her, causing further confusion to Aura's feelings and maybe the possibility of getting the answers she's always wanted.
Both major plots, along with a few other subplots, are woven carefully together. The book moves at a good pace and had me hooked right from the start. It was almost impossible to put down as I followed Aura's rollercoaster of emotions. Aura, Logan and Zachary are all good, well rounded characters who are pretty easy to get on with. Despite the intense, often painful nature of the book, there are a few good funny bits as well, not least of which (for me at least) all the girls going gaga over Zach's accent. I love when a book can make me laugh and cry, I adore it when it can make me do both within pages. That doesn't happen often, but it happened here.
There were some good twists and some interesting developments as the book went on. The ending was heart wrenching, yet beautiful, but left me hungry for more. I can not wait for the sequel, 'Shift', next year. I can't explain just how much I love this book. The characters, the feeling in it, the world Aura's in. It's a wonderfully written and compelling story. It's easily one of the top 3 books I've read so far this year. Two words for you: Read it!! 10/10

White Cat by Holly Black

"Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen."
I've read a couple of Holly Black's other books and liked them, but this one I loved! It's the first in a new series 'The Curse Workers'. Workers can change things with the brush of a fingertip, so as a precaution, everyone wears gloves. Cassel grew up in a family of workers and wanted to be one himself, badly, instead he's just a magic free conman. He spends his time trying to make others forget where he comes from, make them think he's 'normal'. All that shatters when he awakes on the edge of his dorm roof having been sleepwalking. Forced out of his boarding school temporarily, he has to go back home to his family. But once there be begins to realise his sleep walking isn't the strangest thing going on.
The action starts on page one and the pace never really slows down. I had a really tough job putting the book down. The story is all about Cassel trying to move forward, by unraveling the past, so we get a several short, snappy flashback type scenes where a little bit more is seen or explained, that work very well. I love Cassel. He's cocky, smart and a little arrogant, but his 'voice' is easy to read and it's easy to see where he's coming from. There are no big info dumps to drag the story down, we're told what we need to know, when we need it and without interrupting the story. There are some great twists, not least of all right at the end. It left me hanging and begging for more. I love the story, the mobsters, conmen and the curse magic. It's a fantastically drawn, dangerous, intriguing world to get lost in. A must read in my opinion. Great characters, great plot, some sharp wit and just overall a fantastic read. Can't wait for Red Glove (book 2) next year!

Rating: 9/10

Spirit Bound Final Teaser Quote

A quick reminder that there is still time to enter to win a free copy of Spirit Bound and a Signed copy of Shadow Kiss, just click the image of Spirit Bound at the top of the side bar.


In 25 hours I will be almost to the store and almost have the book in my hands. I may not survive reading it though judging by that quote. If I do though, expect a review for it tomorrow night ;)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Demon in Me by Michelle Rowen

Eden Riley is little bit psychic, and thanks to a lucky (or possibly unlucky) psychic moment, Eden finds herself working as a psychic consultant for the police. Working one such scene Eden comes face to face with a serial killer, who is quickly gunned down by the very hot detective Ben. But when the killer dies, a black 'smoke' comes from him and heads for Eden. The next thing Eden knows, there is a voice in her head claiming to be that of a demon.

Eden's psychic power works in the demon, Darrak's, favor, giving him the ability to take physical form in daylight hours. He tells Eden he lost his body 300 years ago and that this is the first time since then he's been able to take physical form again. But it doesn't change that he's cursed. With Eden's help he hopes to track down the witch responsible for his curse and break it. And like it or not, Eden has no choice but to help.

This is the first book in Michelle's new Living In Eden paranormal romance series. Normally, I'm not overly fond of PNR, I prefer urban fantasy with romantic subplots. But some times PNR makes a nice change, and this a great change. I loved this book. I could barely put it down and read it in a day easily. Eden has the hots for Detective Ben Hanson, but having Darrak living inside of her complicates things. She may be psychic but she's unaware of the rest of the supernatural world around her and Darrak's about to give her a crash course.

I love Eden's character. She's strong, but vulnerable. She's been hurt before and she's trying both to move on, and protect herself from being hurt again. She's smart and funny and easy to like. I wasn't so quick to like Darrak, but there was always something new to find out about him which I really enjoyed. The side characters weren't quite so well rounded, but they worked just fine and added to the story.

While romance is a big part of this story, there is more to it than only the romance and I think that's why I enjoyed this so much. It's not a straight forward romance either. One complication after another makes for entertaining reading. There were some good laugh out loud moments as well as some serious and painful ones, and some twists that took me by surprise. A really good read and I'll be looking out for the second book, Something Wicked, in October. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next for Eden and Darrak. 8/10

Friday, 14 May 2010

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan

"As the son of the late High Lord Akkarin, saviour of the city, and Sonea, the former street urchin turned Black Magician, Lorkin has a legacy of heroism and adventure to live up to. So when Lord Dannyl takes the position of Guild Ambassador to Sachaka, Lorkin volunteers to be his assistant in the hopes of making his mark on the world.

When news comes that Lorkin is in danger, the law that forbids Black Magicians leaving the city forces Sonea to trust that Dannyl will save him, and now Cery needs her as never before. Someone has been assassinating Thieves, and when his family is targeted he finds evidence that this Thief Hunter uses magic.

Either a member of the Guild is hunting down the Thieves one by one, or there is - once again - a rogue on the streets of Imardin. But this one has full control of their powers - and is willing to kill with them."

This is the first book in the Traitor Spy trilogy, the follow up to the Black Magician trilogy. I read The Black Magician trilogy under force from two of my best friends, I'm not big on straight fantasy, I much prefer the urban side of things, but they read my recommendations, so I read theirs. And fell in love. It was a fantastic trilogy, with a great ending, but at the same time I am very happy that it continues with this trilogy. Set 20 odd years later, things have changed in Imardin, within the Guild and in the slums. But that doesn't mean everything has changed for the better.

Told in third person but from several different points of view, like the BM trilogy, we catch up with Sonea, Cery and Dannyl from BM, and are introduced to Sonea and Akkarin's son, Lorkin. A few other familiar faces appear, but we don't get their POV. I loved Sonea, Cery and Dannyl in BM, and this book didn't change that. They're all older now and have changed a certain amount in that time, but they're still the characters I loved, and I love seeing what happened to them. Lorkin I grew to love very quickly. He's a fantastic character with as much depth to him as all the others. Didn't really feel like it was the first time I'd met him for long. There were also many new side characters, some of whom I really enjoyed reading about. And throughout the book there was some good character development for all the main players.

Like BM, there are several different plot threads, some over lapping, others not so much, at least, not yet. There were some good twists and turns, although some things I did see coming. But all the varying plots moved at a decent pace, not lingering too long on one over another, and carefully balancing various plots between different POV's. One thing I've liked from the start in The Magicians' Guild (BM #1), seeing the story through different eyes at different stages. We as the readers get a much better view of everything going on for the various characters than any individual one of them. And yet, when one is afraid, even if we know there is little or no reason to be, it can still be felt.

This book gives us a much better look at Sachaka, and how things work differently for people, magicians and non-magicians, there. And hints of how things work in other lands outside the Allied Lands as well. It makes for interesting comparison to Kyralia, in negative and positive ways. One of the many bonuses to seeing the world that's been created here through many eyes.

While there is plenty of tension in this book, and some great action filled parts, over all I felt like it had a lighter, slightly more relaxed tone than any of the Black Magician books. Not a bad thing, it worked very well. It was funnier too, there were some actual lol moments. Which I really liked. While I have no problem with dark books (tend to love them actually), the ones with the right touch of humor at the right time, tend to feel more complete, more well rounded. I don't think I have any true complaints about this book, other than wanting more of everyone. There is a side character, Anyi, in particular who I'd love to get to know better. She's a fighter and I think there is, or could be, a lot more to her than what we've seen so far. Even so, I felt that it was a great book, easy to get in to and hard to put down. If you've not yet read The Black Magician Trilogy (The Magicians' Guild, The Novice, The High Lord) I strongly suggest you read them first as I don't think you'd get nearly as much out of this book otherwise. If you liked BM, then this is a must read. This ended on something of a cliff hanger, and I'm very much looking forward to the second book, The Rogue, next year!

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Today is international M.E./CFS awareness day. Why am I blogging about this instead of writing the review I owe or finishing The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan? Because I suffer from ME/CFS and have done for well over 10 years now. It's an illness that's meant I missed most of high school, dropped out of college (twice) have very few RL friends and live about 80% of my life in my bedroom.

It's an illness that little is known about, often passed off as being 'in the mind'. In otherwords, most people (that includes doctors) think it's faked. Bullshit. That's all I have to say to that. No one wants to live their life like this. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. So as today is international awareness day, I'm telling you all a little about it.

This illness, like any other chronic debilitating illness, can't be understood by someone who doesn't have it. But there is a woman who suffers from Lupus who did a damn good job of explaining what living with such an illness is like to a friend of hers. If you've read this far in my post I would please urge you to carry on and read the story she has to tell here. It may mean little to you, but it means a lot to me. I've suffered mostly in silence as most sufferers do, but if I can help just one person have a little more understanding and sympathy towards those who suffer chronic illness then this post was more than worth it. Another post that should be checked out is this one here containing a list of 25 things you never knew about ME/CFS. Thanks for reading :)

Waiting (Im)Patiently

It is May 12th today, meaning it's just 6 days, less than at this point, until Spirit Bound is (finally) released. [ today posted an exclusive first look at a SB trailer and interview with Richelle here and my SB/Shadow Kiss contest is still going on here]. But while I'm totally hyped up on that, it's not the only super-awesome-must-have book coming out in the next few weeks. There are several coming out that should be checked out asap!

May 25th:
Reign Check by Michelle Rowen. The second Demon Princess book, a YA series following teen Nikki after she discovers her father is a demon king. Fun times with a serious undertone, loved the first one and can't wait for this! (And totally adore the cover!) (speaking of Michelle's works, I owe a review of The Demon in Me, which I loved, will try and have that up later or tomorrow.)

Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur. The 9th and final Riley Jenson book. Life got twisted upside down for Riley in the previous book, Bound To Shadows, and she's got a lot to deal with. I will be sad to say goodbye to Riley, but I'm also really excited to see how her story ends! (note: Moon Sworn is out 27th May in the UK) patiently

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews. The 4th Kate Daniels book. I am going as crazy waiting for this book as Spirit Bound. Kate's world is a fascinating one with some of the deepest and realistic characters I've ever read. The first book may have put a few people off, it's not great, but the rest of the series is incredible and I can not wait to see how things go for Kate in the new book after some of the events of Magic Strikes! Brand shiny new snippet of this went up on Penguin's site today here. Reading it about killed me. Seriously. I want it more than ever and I didn't think that was possible!

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black. The first book in a new YA series about faeries. First chapter is up on Jenna's site here and it's good! Very excited about this one!

June 1st sees the release of Rachel Vincent's 3rd Soul Screamers book, My Soul To Keep. A friend of mine was lucky enough to get a hold of an early copy from Rachel at RT this year and tells me it's the best yet. She's rarely wrong about these things!!

June 8th Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is out. Other than being about a girl raised by werewolves I know little about this new YA book, except for repeatedly seeing various authors I follow mentioning that they love it. It sounds good and with the recs it's getting, I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Spirit Bound Teaser Quote 6

I can't quite believe it is only a week until Spirit Bound is out now!! Here is the penultimate teaser quote from Penguin and a reminder I'm giving away a copy of Spirit Bound and a signed copy of Shadow Kiss here.

I do not want to speculate on that one. -.- Next Tuesday can not get here fast enough!!!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Inside Out by Maria V Snyder

"Keep Your Head Down. Don't Get Noticed. Or Else.

I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. The Trava family who rules our world from their spacious Upper levels wants us to be docile and obedient, like sheep. To insure we behave, they send the Pop Cops to police us.
So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous--the only neck at risk is my own.

Until a lower level prophet claims a Gateway to Outside exists. And guess who he wants to steal into the Upper levels to get the proof? You’re right. Me. I alone know every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple. But guess who can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered? Right again. Me.

I should have just said no..."

This is the first book in new young adult series from Maria V Snyder. I've read her Study series, and loved it, but I was cautious about reading this one. It's science fiction more than anything else, and I predominantly read urban fantasy generally not liking sci-fi. But a couple book buddies mentioned they loved this book and told me I had to read it. I trust their judgement and tried it. And fell in love.

Trella is a scrub, expected to do her job, keep her head down and stay in line, who only wants space to herself. To find it, she's learnt to hide out in the pipes she cleans. Her only friend is Cog, a guy who gets on with everyone. For him, she agrees to speak to Broken Man, a 'Prophet' who claims to have proof of 'Outside'. He wants Trella to retrieve it and because she can't refuse a challenge, she agrees. The consequences of her actions though, are far worse than she could have imagined.

I liked Trella from the start, although I'm certain she's not the kind of character everyone could like. She's distant and doesn't seem to care too much about anything, except finding a space she can get some peace away from people. Something I can relate to, I like my space too. Cog is more or less Trella's opposite, he cares about everyone. Watching them play off each other is sweet and funny. I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. It's a strong, fast plot with some great twists and turns. The end left me hanging and I wanted more badly. It's frustrating to know I've got a wait a year for the second book, Outside In. The characters are well rounded and while they all keep their secrets, we see and know enough about them to care about them. I felt Trella's fear of the Pop Cops easily and came to flinch at their mention. Ms. Snyder pulls no punches with this book and the hint of romance threaded in adds to the overall experience.

A fantastic book and one I'll happily reread. When I manage to get my hands on my own copy. Big thanks to xkenaix on Twitter for sending me hers to read :) This book may not be my usual style or preference, but it's got great characters and it's a world that while a little confusing to start with, is one you can understand and imagine easily through the narrative. I would highly recommend this book for those aspects, and because I had a tough job putting it down! 9/10

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Spirit Bound Teaser Quote 5

And don't forget I'm giving away a copy of Spirit Bound and signed copy of Shadow Kiss!! (see the previous post)

Friday, 7 May 2010

First Contest! - Spirit Bound! EDITED

Contest now CLOSED.

For the first time, I've decided to hold a contest here on my blog, and I figure what better book to start with than the upcoming release from one of my favourite series ever! The prize will be a UK copy of Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead.

EDIT: I've managed to get ahold of a stock signed UK version of Shadow Kiss (the 3rd Vampire Academy book). As I already have 2 signed copies of ShadowKiss, I'm giving this one away! So the prize for winning is now a signed UK copy of Shadow Kiss and a unsigned UK copy of Spirit Bound :)

Entering is simple, just leave a comment here on this post! One comment per person. Is open internationally :)
Already being a follower gives you +2 entries
New follower +1 entry.

Contest closes May 18th at midnight BST (British summer time). I'm not sure what times that makes it for various other time zones, but the internet is a helpful place ;)

I will name the winner May 19th (will be selected by random number generater) and they'll have 3 days to contact me with their details or another winner will be picked.

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead the 5th book in the Vampire Academy series:

"Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her...forever"

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Burned by P.C. & Kristin Cast

SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers for previous books present.

Burned is the 7th book in the House of Night series.

"'Y'all need to get yourselves together. Here's a newsflas from the only High Priestess you have left at this dang school: Zoey isn't dead. And believe me, I know dead. I've been there, done that and got the fricken tee-shirt.'

Zoey Redbird is the youngest High Priestess in House of Night history and is the only person - vamp or fledgling - who can stop the evil Neferet from raising all kings of immortal trouble. And she might just have a chance if she wasn't so busy being dead. Well, dead is too strong a word. Stevie Rae knows she can bring her BFF back from her unscheduled va-cay in the Otherworld. But it's going to take a lot more than hoping to bring Zoey back. Stevie Rae might have to give up a few secrets of her own..."

It is no secret amongst my book buddies that I am not a fan of this series. I thought the first 3 books were okay, cliched and silly but okay, but then it went down hill. Book 4 wasn't very good, book 5 ridiculous and book 6 very dull as the authors backed themselves out of the various corners they were in from book 5. Why having not enjoyed the previous 3 books in this series did I bother with this one? Because I managed to get it cheap and I wanted to see if it could get worse. I have a hard job dropping any series that does downhill if I've read more than 3 books of it to date. Dumb, maybe, but it's just how I am.

So, did it get worse? Honestly, I don't think it did. But only because what was bad in this one, was what was wrong with previous books. I'll get to that in a second, but first, this book does have one good point that deserves mentioning. The authors used their alternative to actual swear words no more than twice. And then went on to use swear words many times. Too many times. I lost track of how often the 'F' word appeared, but it was far more often than was needed. Every time a person swears, it doesn't need to be written out phrases such as 'so-and-so swore loudly...' work just as well.

And I believe that's where most of this series problems occur. Everything is written out. Time and again. Nothing is skipped, even if it was done in the previous chapter. One character finds/figures something out, tells it to the room, calls the next character and repeats it to them and we see it all, word for word. And every time one of them preforms a ritual to invoke one of the elements, we see it all start to finish again. Nothing gets skipped even though we're on book 7 now and used to the process. Repetitive and annoying. I also dislike how characters are stood around a lot, in a group or alone, wondering 'now how we gonna get outta this mess' and suddenly 'poof' all the answers they need are right there. Time after time it happens, but with no real cause. I'm sorry, I get that the characters are all about following Nyx and trusting her ways, but the way it's played out over and over is dull and irritating. Do something new already, or at least, if it's not going to change, speed it up.

Like the previous book, this one is from multiple points of view. 7 in total, with Stevie Rae and Aphrodite getting the lions share. Some characters only get a chapter or two from their POV but even so, I felt there were just too many. It didn't add anything to have certain POV's, just adding more repetitiveness. Each chapter was marked with the name of who's POV it was from, but there were on at least two occasions that I caught, mistakes made. A chapter would be in one characters POV but would then, without warning or notation, switch to another character giving up their thoughts instead, before switching back to the original characters POV again.

I found this book very frustrating as it moved at a slow place with predictable twists and turns. I gave up properly reading it with about 100 pages to go and skim read it to the end. That actually made the ending almost okay for me, but I suspect only because I skipped the repetitive stuff and only read the 'new' bits. The book picks up where Tempted left off, one of Zoey's (many) guys dead and her shattered by it, her marks gone and apparently dead as well. Obviously she's not, that much was a given with her being the 'heroine' and all. What surprised me though, was the lack of Kalona in this book. He has been a major player through the past few books, but he's more or less forgotten here only appearing briefly at the start and finish, with little side mentions here and there which all basically say the same thing 'bad immortal must be stopped'. And for that matter, Neferet who's been there since the start, got even less of a mention, appearing only in a few early chapters before being forgotten about.

One final big grip from me about this book: how they got the Scottish accept across. I've got Scot's blood in me, my dad is a Scot and most of his family are still in Scotland. I love it there and I've no problem at all with the accent. But here, it drove me crazy because rather than simply stating that the speaker used a thick Scots accent, and only using 'Aye' to show it, every word was written out how it sounds for example, 'wumman' instead of 'woman'. As a reader it's irritating, but to me, it also made the Scots characters come across as a little stupid. I don't believe that was the intention, but really, was it necessary to show the accent in such an obvious way?

Overall, a bad book. Dull, predictable and repetitive with too much going on at once, without actually going anywhere. Many of the subplots (Stevie's secret meetings with Rephaim for example) don't seem to add anything to the series, but slow it down further. So not a series or book worth reading. 1/10

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers for the first book, Evermore, present. Not for this book :)

Blue Moon is the second book in the Immortals series which started with Evermore. Ever is trying to adapt to life as an immortal, she's taking lessons from Damen (boyfriend teaching her = big distraction!) on how to use the power she has, whilst still attending school (which Damen also believes a waste of time) and trying to prove to her aunt that her not eating doesn't mean she's anorexic. Not too easy, but it could be worse. Then, just when things seem to be levelling out, getting a little easier for Ever, they suddenly start getting weird. Again. And more so than before. But Ever can't figure out exactly what's causing Damen's behaviour changes, or in her friends at school either. She's convinced a rogue immortal is at work, but with her limited experience and practise of her own immortal powers, is it enough to get to the truth before it's too late?

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and this wasn't a let down for me. I felt it was a little slower to start, but it did pick up and had a good plot. We learn a lot more about how Summerland, the in-between world works and about where immortals come from, the powers they possess etc. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book, but it was still really good. It particularly picked up towards the end as Ever faced some tough decisions and you can certainly see why she made the ones she did.

There was the introduction of two new characters in Summerland, who I could never decide if I trusted or not. Not a bad thing, they were interesting and I liked the indecision they brought and how Ever dealt with them. Ever herself developed a bit in this, showing her strength, and her weakness at times. The book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, with a lot left unsaid and a lot needing dealt with. I do like this series quite a lot, and I'm looking forward to reading the next one, but I don't see it becoming a top favourite any time soon. Very good filler reads between new releases I'm anxiously waiting for though! 7/10


Please excuse the random short post, but Ilona Andrews, author of the awesome Kate Daniels series answered the question 'what if Kate and Curran could Twitter?' on the blog today. The result left me doubled up in laughter. And in tears. Just that funny. So I have to share:

If you've not read the Kate Daniels series thus far, or have put it down because the first book is not so great (it's not, but the rest of the series more than makes up for it!!) then I suggest you take a little look around Ilona and Gordon's site and check it out. It is very easily one of the best series I've ever read, combining humor, tension (sexual and otherwise), magic, shifters, a very different take on vampires and a post apocalyptic world seamlessly to create a unique and un-put-downable urban/dark fantasy series. Read it. Right now.

And bring on May 25th for the 4th installment!! It can't get here soon enough!!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Spirit Bound Teaser Quote 3

I'm pretty sure I know who says that one, and it makes my heart ache. Seriously.