Wednesday, 30 May 2012

New Releases in Urban Fantasy for June 2012


Full list of Urban Fantasy, Fantasy and Paranormal book releases for June 2012.

Most anticipated and/or favourite covers of the month:


Make your shopping list for June!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Blackout by Mira Grant (#4 in Newsflesh Trilogy)

Awry by Chelsea Fine (#2 in The Archers of Avalon )

Seduced by the Vampire King by Laura Kaye (#2 in Vampire Warrior Kings )

Tuesday, June 04, 2012

Finding Magic by Stacia Kane (A Downside Ghosts short story)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Messenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (#2 in Lost Angels)

Stygian's Honor by Lora Leigh (#26 in Breeds)

Werewolf in Seattle by Vicki Lewis Thompson (#3 in Wild About You )

Bound in Velvet by Sophie Renwick (#4 in Annwyn Chronicles)

Undead and Unstable by MaryJanice Davidson (#11 in Undead)

Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke (#3 in Dragon Diaries)

Arise by Tara Hudson (#2 in Hereafter)

Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton (#21 in Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter)

Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick (#2 in Tales of the Kin)

Visions of Chains by Regan Hastings (#3 in Awakening)

Home From the Sea by Mercedes Lackey (#8 in Elemental Masters)

Blood Kin by M J Scott (#2 in Half-Light City)

Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane (#2 in Bound By Magic)

Fury of Ice by Coreene Callahan (#2 in Dragonfury)

Chase Me by Tamara Hogan (#2 in Underbelly Chronicles)

A Caress of Wings by Sylvia Day (#1.5 in Renegade Angels)

Devil's Gate by Thea Harrison (#4.6 in Elder Races)

Hex Appeal by various UF authors including Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher and Rachel Caine

Spellcrossed by Barbara Ashford

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells (#5 in Sabina Kane)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rapture by Lauren Kate (#4 in Fallen)

The Taken by Vicki Pettersson (#1 in Celestial Blues)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (#2 in Bloodlines)

Monday, June 25, 2012

All That Falls by Kimberly Frost (#2 in Etherlin)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tempest's Fury by Nicole Peeler (#5 in Jane True)

Bound by Erica O'Rourke (#3 in Torn Trilogy )

When Darkness Hungers by J K Beck (#5 in Shadow Keepers)

Angel Betrayed by Cynthia Eden (#2 in Fallen Angels of Death )

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost (#1 in Night Prince)

Darkness Devours by Keri Arthur (#3 in Dark Angels)

Changeling by Kelly Meding (#2 in MetaWars )

Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent (#6 in Soul Screamers)

Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane (#5 in Downside Ghosts (Chess Putnam))

Black-Hearted Betrayal by Kasey MacKenzie (#3 in Shades of Fury)

Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter (#1 in Angels of the Dark )

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel (#1 in American Fairy Trilogy)

Secret of the Wolf by Cynthia Garner (#2 in Warriors of the Rift)

Tarnished by Karina Cooper (#1 in The St. Croix Chronicles)

So, what are you looking forward to?

(If I have missed any releases, please feel free to let me know and I'll add it to the list)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Edge #1
Publication Date: October 2009
ISBN: 9780441017805
Page Count: 336
Rating: ★★★★★

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, between the world of the Broken (where people drive cars, shop at Wal-Mart, and magic is a fairy tale) and the Weird (where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny). Only Edgers like Rose can easily travel from one world to the next, but they never truly belong in either.

Rose thought if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn’t turn out how she planned, and now she works a minimum wage, off the books job in the Broken just to survive. Then Declan Camarine, a blueblood noble straight out of the deepest part of the Weird, comes into her life, determined to have her (and her power).

But when a terrible danger invades the Edge from the Weird, a flood of creatures hungry for magic, Declan and Rose must work together to destroy them—or they’ll devour the Edge and everyone in it.

Review:

Oh, I do love Ilona Andrews. I love her (their) Kate Daniels series and now I love these too.

It seems that the concept of a world that has part-time magic is something that has really captured the imagination of the writing duo. Because as in the Kate Daniels series where magic comes and goes in unpredictable waves, here we have another world (or worlds, to be more precise) that's partly magic-filled (The Weird), part magical dud (The Broken, aka our world) and then something else in between called the Edge which has elements of both.

The magic of the people from the Edge is only a trickle compared to that of someone from the Weird. Someone like Declan, for instance. I LOVED his character! He is a blueblood noble from the Weird and he's so very arrogant and pompous, particularly at the beginning of the book, and such a contrast to the hard-working country bumpkin that was Rose's character, that they just sizzled on the pages. They seemed so opposite at first, and Rose has such a difficult time trusting anyone, especially a noble (and with good reason), so their interactions throughout the first part of the story made for some very grin-worthy scenes.

This was one of my favourites, and is a good example of their differences:

"Eat slowly," the blueblood said. "Don't cut your food with the fork. Cut it with the knife, and make the pieces small enough so you can answer a question without having to swallow first."

Why me? "Right. Any other tips?" Her sarcasm whistled right over his head.

"Yes. Look at me and not at your plate. If you have to look at your plate, glance at it occasionally."

Rose put down her fork. "Lord Submarine..."

"Camarine."

"Whatever."

"You can call me Declan." He said it as if granting her a knighthood. The nerve.

"Declan, then. How did you spend your day?"

He frowned.

"It's a simple question: How did you spend your day? What did you do prior to the fight and the pancake making?"

"I rested from my journey," he said with a sudden regal air.

"You took a nap"

"Possibly."

"I spent my day scrubbing, vacuuming and dusting ten offices in the Broken. I got there at seven thirty in the morning and left at six. My back hurts, I can still smell bleach on my fingers, and my feet feel as flat as these pancakes. Tomorrow, I have to go back to work, and I want to eat my food in peace and quiet. I have good table manners. They may not be good enough for you, but they're definitely good enough for the Edge, and they are the height of social graces in this house. So please keep your critique to yourself."

The look on his face was worth having him under her roof. As if he had gotten slapped.

She smiled at him. "Oh and thank you for the pancakes. They are delicious." 

Hee hee! She called him Lord Submarine.....*snicker*

What's that saying about simple minds and simple pleasures?...

Moving on. Rose's character was someone you kinda wish you were half as cool as. She has this...neat trick, shall we say? And I love the fact that she developed the neat trick by hard work and not just by being "special" or being "the chosen one" or "right place right time". No, she got it like she gets everything else in her life: by trying her damnedest no matter how impossible it may seem.

She has two younger brothers that she is raising by herself, and they were excellent secondary characters. One is a necromancer that can't seem to get his head around the fact that...you know...people die. And the other one is a cat! Or a changeling cat shapeshifter at any rate, that is very easily distracted by pretty shinies.

The family unit is hard on its luck financially with only Rose's rubbish job to feed and clothe them all, but she would rather starve than let her brothers go without anything. That's how awesome and altruistic she is. Did I mention Rose was cool?

And finally, as anyone that's read any of their other stuff would expect, the writing was superb: witty, humorous, meaningful and thought-provoking. The characters were very enjoyable and the world wonderfully creative. My only slight complaint was the overly descriptive sections whenever anyone went into a new part of the forest. We got descriptions of every flower, plant and vine and what colours they all were until my eyes were glazing. Those were a bit overdone, but that's about all I can think of in terms of negatives. And it's Ilona Andrews so I forgave them and gave it 5 stars anyway!

I highly recommend this book to all Urban Fantasy/ Fantasy Romance/ or heck, even Fairy Tale fans. I don't know why I put off reading it for so long.

5 Stars! ★★★★★


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Review: In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks ★★★★

In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: McCabe Trilogy #1
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
ISBN: 0345519477
Page Count: 368
Rating: ★★★★

Ewan McCabe, the eldest, is a warrior determined to vanquish his enemy. Now, with the time ripe for battle, his men are ready and Ewan is poised to take back what is his—until a blue-eyed, raven-haired temptress is thrust upon him. Mairin may be the salvation of Ewan’s clan, but for a man who dreams only of revenge, matters of the heart are strange territory to conquer.

Though the illegitimate daughter of the king, Mairin possesses prized property that has made her a pawn—and wary of love. Her worst fears are realized when she is rescued from peril, only to be forced into marriage by her charismatic and commanding savior, Ewan McCabe. But her attraction to her ruggedly powerful new husband finds her craving his surprisingly tender touch; her body comes alive under his sensual mastery. And as war draws near, Mairin’s strength, spirit, and passion challenge Ewan to conquer his demons—and embrace a love that means more than revenge and land.

Review:

Having seen nothing but glowing, usually 5-star, reviews for this trilogy from my fellow book buddies, my expectations going into it were through the stratosphere. I thought it was set to be the best Highlander romance I'd ever read (and I've read one or two). And I have to say that although I wasn't quite as amazed as I anticipated, no doubt due to my overly high expectations, it is one of the better ones I've read and will join the handful that I would recommend as a good examples of the genre.

The characters were nice which is the first and most important thing to contend with in any romance novel for me. You just can't enjoy a romance if you dislike one or both of the main characters, or if you like them but then they do something you find unforgivable- that's often even more disappointing. Obviously, this being a historical, you have to make allowances for the accepted social behaviours of the time. The way women were treated and viewed by men and vice versa. And also, our male lead here is the Laird of the clan, which brings in a whole 'nother heap of responsibilities and a requirement for obeisance from the lady.

I am so glad I was born when I was. I would NOT fare well in 12th century Scotland. This is a simple, undeniable fact.

I really liked Mairin's character. Her stubbornness, her fierce protective motherly instincts to a child that wasn't her own and that she'd only just met. And she made me smile with her misguided attempts at telling Ewan about the do's and don't's of "loving" from the wealth of knowledge she'd garnered from a nun during her decade long sequestration.


“She said nothing the entire time she was with you? Let nothing slip? Think, Alaric. She had to have said something. It simply isn't a woman's nature to be silent for prolonged periods of time.” 


As I mentioned, Ewan is Laird of clan McCabe, a clan that is current not doing too well after being almost obliterated in a battle 8 years ago. At the start of the book he's also a frantic father who's son has been missing for days, so you'll forgive him, as I did, for being initially a bit gruff and unfriendly. He's also quite arrogant and smug, but ultimately, he's was a great hero and I grew to like him very much.

The plot centres around Mairin, who's been in hiding for 10 years to protect her from anyone who would seek to wed her to gain the dowry and lands she's set to inherit along with her first-born child. She is the niece of the current King, and although bastard-born, has been acknowledged, granted this large inheritance, and also branded (tattooed) so that she would be easily identifiable.

So, naturally, all this makes her a very hot commodity for any power-hungry men who seek extra lands and wealth, and the story starts out with her being kidnapped on the orders of one such man.

As villains go, he was pretty disgusting. A vile, manipulative, repugnant man. And although I detested him, I actually wish the part he played towards the end of the novel had been extended a little to create more tension. It all seemed to end too easily after the initial build-up.

I definitely intend to finish the trilogy. I was more than intrigued by the daughter of the McDonald clan that was introduced in this book. She is a would-be warrior and has promised to marry brother number two: Alaric McCabe. That sounds like it's going to be a fun book as she is more my kind of gal. Can't wait!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Friday, 25 May 2012

Review: The Siren's Song by Jennifer Bray-weber ★★

The Siren's Song by Jennifer Bray-weber
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Romancing the Pirate #2
Publication Date: May 14, 2012
ISBN: 9781426893742
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Pirate captain Thayer Drake lures ships onto reefs for plunder, and business is lucrative. Yet, saving a lass from drowning after her ship wrecks becomes more than he bargained for when the crazy wench dives back into the raging sea for her blasted purse. Tavern songstress Gilly McCoy, penniless and fleeing from the man who murdered her lover, stowed away on the doomed ship. Now at Drake's mercy, Gilly must earn her passage by performing for the captain. And that is not all: she must also kiss the captain at every ring of the ship's bell. But she discovers kissing the handsome rogue is not entirely a bad bargain... Drake is intrigued by the beauty, but there is no room in his black heart for a woman. He has demons that he drinks nightly to forget. Meanwhile, Gilly has her own secrets to keep—including why her purse is more valuable to her than her life...

Review:

I was a little disappointed in this book. I'd previously enjoyed most parts of the first book in the series, A Kiss in the Wind. It had drama, action and adventure, and a really great heroine full of grit and tenacity. I just had a teensy little issue with the male lead character being a total womaniser with a predilection for using burning hot wax in his love play....indeed.

So, I figured that was likely just a one-off occurrence, and that I'd have better luck this time. Well, there was no wax involved, thank Davy Jones, but unfortunately, I didn't really like either the hero or the heroine this time.

I'm all for flawed characters, but I found Gilly's flaw(s) very grating and tedious. She's one of those women that twitters incessantly and rambles on when she's nervous. She's also got a substance addiction, which wasn't really an issue in and of itself, but when you learned of the root cause of the addiction and what a weak doormat she'd been in the past (and still is) it didn't help endear her to me any further. And the grovelling and pleading towards the end... ugh! Grow a backbone, love.

The hero, Thayer, was...okay. A hellish past has left him cold and aloof, reluctant to care about anyone or anything. Pretty standard tortured hero stuff. He's also a raging alcoholic, which wasn't particularly appealing but at least his backstory warranted a need to block out painful memories.

And again, just as I was turned off by the sex scenes last time, this time was no better. It was disastrous, really. What happened certainly added drama, but in doing so it completely ruined the romance for me.

The end of the book, perhaps the last 30 or so pages, I largely skimmed as it was so predictable.

2 Stars ★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Review: First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain ★★★★

First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain
Genre: Fantasy adventure
Series: Green Rider #2
Publication Date: 2003
ISBN: 0756402093
Page Count: 639
Rating: ★★★★

Karigan G'Ladheon was a Green Rider, one of the King of Sacoridia's magical messangers. With evil forces at large in the kingdom and the messenger service depleted and weakened, can Karigan reach through the veils of time to get help from the First Rider, a woman who has been dead for a thousand years?


Review:

A really good follow up to Green Rider.

The overarching plot for the series becomes clearer in this instalment. It's written, as Green Rider was, in third-person omniscient, which makes it feel very broad-sweeping and grand in scale. I like the way we sort of zoom in like a telephoto lens on different characters and scenes. I actually lost count of the number of different character POV's I experienced along the way, although of course the main character, Karigan, has the majority of the page time. At one point it was written from the point of view of a swirly black tendril of smoke that had sentience. Bizarre but fabulous.

It's a long book and too much happens to summarise in a review, but suffice to say I was just as entertained by it as I was first time around with Green Rider, and I was more than thrilled by a couple of developments, and completely dismayed by others. The magic, politics and fascinating characters make this an engrossing and absorbing read. One I will probably re-read at some point in the future. And the addition of the time travel aspect proved an excellent way to fill in gaps in the world's history of important events that affect the current situation with the Wall and Blackveil forest.

“She was unfettered and free, a wild spirit he could not capture, tame, or confine, but one he wished would come to him, as a deer is tempted by a handful of oats.” 

I really would love to go straight onto the next book but as there are only two left in the series currently, and with the prospect of 3 years before the next book comes out ahead of me, I think I'll hold off for a while and read them back-to-back in a few years. I understand you can't rush or force creativity, but I really wish the gaps between these books weren't so enormous. It's a longer than average book at 600+ pages, but if authors like Kim Harrison can manage a 400+ page book every 12 months, plus anthologies, plus a separate YA series, then 4 years is just dilly dallying no matter how you look at it.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Cover Love: House Rules by Chloe Neill



New cover releases for upcoming titles. The good, the bad and the why-god-whys. Feel free to share your thoughts on the artwork.

And today we have...

House Rules by Chloe Neill


My thoughts.

I like it! It's got a more interesting backdrop than some of the others. I like Merit in her leather gear much more than the jeans she used to wear in the first couple of covers.
My Rating: 4/5

Previous covers in the series:




Monday, 21 May 2012

Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris ★★★

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12)
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #12
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1937007447
Page Count: 336
Rating: ★★★

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.
Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.









Review:

It was nice to be back with Sookie and her crew again. I can sorta see where all the negative reviews are coming from- it certainly wasn't the best book in the series by any stretch- but I still have a soft spot for Sookie in all her haughty, southern glory, as well as her mismatched gang of friends.

Usually, these books have a mystery that leads to some kind of cataclysmic event. And you can usually say, "Oh, that's the one with the torture scene", or "Ah, you mean the one where Eric forgets", or "Yay, the one where Bill gets kidnapped"...that kind of thing. This book doesn't really have a tag line like that you can apply to it. There is a gentle mystery element to the plot, but whereas usually Sookie is like a little terrier chasing down clues, she didn't really do that this time. In fact, she seems to be feeling a little confused at the moment and it's affecting her behaviour. I think she knows she's on the precipice of having to make some big life decisions, and she looks around and sees other people happy and in love and having babies and it's making her realise that she is not as happy as she should be.

"I so seldom had to dispose of a human body myself, I was at a loss. Fairies turned into dust, and vampires flaked away. Demons had to be burned. Humans were very troublesome."

We also got to go around and catch up with practically every major character in the series, and also got brief updates on the more minor ones. And there are a lot of characters and it's a pretty diverse bunch so that was nice.

Overall, it definitely has a feeling of wrapping things up about it. Or maybe it's just a feeling of the calm before the storm. But, either way, it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be from some of the reviews I'd seen. And, as always, my enjoyment was helped enormously by the narrating talents of Johanna Parker, who did an amazing job with the huge cast she had to contend with.

I am looking forward to the final release, Dead Ever After, out in early 2013.

3 Stars! ★★★


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Review: Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade ★★★★

Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade
Genre: YA fantasy
Series: Darkness Falls #1
Publication Date: May 13th 2012
ISBN: 9781620070567
Page Count: 299
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

“There is no pain in this death, only peace, knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most.”—Katriona Wilde.

Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?

Review:

What? No, no, no, no, no, that's not the end! It's doesn't end there! *Shakes eReader furiously* Ah man! That sucks!

Well, aside from the book ending VERY abruptly, and without any warning. (Usually you can tell you are being prepared for the end, even for a cliffhanger ending. This one kind of just stops. And I REALLY didn't want it to because I was enjoying it tremendously). So aside from THAT, I loved it!

I always know when my interest has been peaked by a book a bit more than usual because all other activities cease and desist. Normally, I might read for an hour, then maybe go online, listen to some tunes, then go back to my book.

Eeeeeyyyyeah. I don't think this book has left my hands since I picked it up 2 days ago except for maybe working and sleeping. 

I can't honestly say the book was perfection; hence the four stars not five. But in terms of enjoyment it was way up there. My main negatives were some slightly stiff and formal dialogue sections. A bit of repetition in the narrative (lots of hand holding, hand grabbing) and just a couple of teensy weensy niggly things like that, that as a reviewer I'm supposed to notice and comment on. Well there you go, I commented on them and they didn't really lessen my enjoyment much at all.

It's always nice to be shown something different and this book and the world(s) it's set in are very creative and unusual, which I just love. It's written in first person, present tense, which seems to be becoming an increasingly popular way of writing at the moment. I remember the first book I read in present tense felt very weird and jarring, but now I'm pretty much used to it and even prefer it in certain circumstances where you don't want your main character to have any clue what's coming. And that fits this book perfectly, because the main character, Katriona (Kate) Wilde, is literally thrown in at the deep end (and then shoved through a magical portal) and it's nice to have to figure things out right along with her.

The main themes of the book deal with prophecies, destinies, chosen ones, fated love etc. I know a few people have issues if their lead character comes across as too "special" and there are certainly elements of that in evidence here. But I don't mind it so much.

The world that she encounters on the other side of the portal I'm reluctant to say too much about as I want people to discover it for themselves. But, suffice it to say, they are having a hard time of it, and Katriona may be their only hope.
“This might be difficult for you to accept, but please know I will never lie to you. You are Encardia's only hope of surviving this war.” 
If I could wish for one thing, it would be that the ending was more suspenseful and climactic, rather than just being a surprise because it came out of nowhere. I realise the author will be saving a lot of the fighting/battles to come for future instalments, and judging by the dreams and visions Kate has been having, these should be pretty epic. But it might have been an idea to have some sort of mini battle to close out this book.

Anyhoodle. I will definitely be reading the next one, and I'm now off to stalk the author about when exactly I'll be getting it!

4 Stars! ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Review: Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan ★★★★

Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan
Genre: Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance
Series: n/a
Publication Date: Sep-2002
ISBN: 9780843950489
Page Count: 366

THE BEAUTY

Impoverished aristocrat Isabella Vernaducci will defy death itself to rescue her imprisoned brother. She'll even brave the haunted, accursed lair of the lion--the menacing palazzo of legendary, lethal Don Nicolai DeMarco.

THE BEAST

Rumor says the powerful don can command the heavens, that the beasts below do his bidding...and that he is doomed to destroy the woman he takes as his wife. It was whispered he was not wholly human--as untamed as his tawny mane and slashing amber eyes.

THE BARGAIN

But Isabella met a man whose growl was velvet, purring heat, whose eves held dark, all-consuming desire. And when the don commanded her to become his bride, she went willingly into his muscled arms, praying she'd save his tortured soul ...not sacrifice her life....


Review:

I really enjoyed this retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

I'd previously been a bit of a hit and miss with Feehan's writing. Mostly miss. See, I have this thing about men who are too controlling in books (in my opinion anyway, which sometimes differs greatly from that of others of the female persuasion). I know, for some, it makes their toes curl to be dominated and told what to do yada yada yada. But for me, it just makes me want to hurl something.

But in this book, although the male lead character (Nikolai) was very male and alpha and all that jazz, it didn't bother me nearly as much. He was the Don of the castle so she (the female lead- Isabella) was technically supposed to do as he said anyway- but she never did, which I just thought was awesome. Who doesn't like a little rebellion, hmm? And also the fact that he tried to protect her, tried to send her away to save her even knowing she was the only one who could help break the curse, gave him big brownie points with me too.

As you'd expect, a lot of the plot was familiar and predictable since it is a fairy tale retelling, but it still managed to remain mysterious in many ways. I really like what Feehan did with the curse, what it meant for the castle's inhabitants etc. It was (and always has been) a very good story and I enjoyed this version of it immensely.

And there were a lot of hot smexy times which were quite tastefully done as well, I thought. That never hurts either, does it?

So, even though I may never get invited to a Carpathian reunion party, I'm glad to know that there are other works in Ms Feehan's extensive back- catalogue that I can rummage through and enjoy, like this one.

4 magical stars! ★★★★

Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne ★★★★★

Tricked by Kevin Hearne
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Iron Druid #4
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
ISBN: 978-0345533623
Page Count: 384
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.


Review:

This has to be my favourite book of the series so far and it's the first one I've wanted to give all five stars to.

You see, I've loved everything about the series prior to this book apart from one teeny tiny thing, which was that I didn't feel the main character, Atticus, had enough inter-character relationships. At least, nothing stronger than an acquaintance or a business relationship. And I felt that, had that been there, it would have given me something to connect with and follow as an ongoing development in amongst all the other general badassery that the books are jam-packed with. The only person Atticus really gave two hoots about up until now, as far as I could tell, was his hound Oberon. But in this instalment we have a developing friendship, a teacher-student relationship, a cute bit of flirting and also a betrayal that really added that bit of personal drama I'd been looking for previously.

Now onto the rest of the badassery I mentioned. This time, the mythology was mostly Native American in origin. Atticus has called in Coyote to help him stage his own death so that he might be able to stay in one place long enough to train Granuaille in her Druidry in relative peace. It's always easier to concentrate on a chemistry lesson when you don't have someone trying to take your head off, after all. Of course, Coyote, being the little trickster deity that he is, wanted something in return. That's how these things generally work. And so begins the part where it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

I really loved the plot for TRICKED. I thought it had excellent pacing, the mythology was interesting, the action scenes were exciting and, of course, there were some hilarious dialogue passages thrown in there for good measure.

And this time, not only were Atticus and Oberon hilarious together, but Granuaille can hold her own in the conversations too! She had a couple of great lines. There was an ongoing point-scoring game that carried on throughout most of the book which provided many laugh-out-loud moments. A favourite quote from that game between Atticus and Oberon was:

 "Heh. I think you made your point, Atticus."

"Gods Below, Oberon, that was horrendous! You just violated the Schwarzenegger Pun Reduction Treaty of 2010."

"What? No, that didn't qualify!"

"Yes, it did. Any pun related to a weapon's destructive capabilities or final disposition of a victim's body is a Schwarzenegger pun, by definition. That's negative twenty sausages according to the sanctions outlined in Section Four, Paragraph Two."

My hound whined. "No! Not twenty sausages! Twenty succulent sausages I'll never snarf? You can't do that - it's cruelty to animals!"

"You can't argue with this. Your pawprint is on the treaty, and you agreed that Schwarzenegger puns are heinous abominations of language that deserve food-related punishments for purposes of correction and deterrence."

"Auggh! I still say it's your fault for renting Commando in the first place! You started it!" 


As with the rest of the series, I listened to it in audiobook format. There aren't many series that I would honestly rather listen to than read, but this is definitely one of them. Luke Daniels is a narrating genius, and he really upped my enjoyment level. I don't know, if I'd have read them myself, that Oberon would have been quite as funny to me as he is, but the voice Daniels uses for him is so incredibly perfect and hound-like and just adorably enthusiastic- exactly as you'd expect a mind-speaking dog to be- that it just makes it a delightfully enjoyable and entertaining experience.

There was an excerpt at the end from the next book, Trapped, which I am now VERY excited to read to see how my new favourite UF trio are faring.

Well done Mr. Hearne. Another excellent instalment. Go and have a nice cup of tea, you deserve it.

5 Stars! ★★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Review: Highland Lover by Amanda Scott ★★

Highland Lover by Amanda Scott
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scottish Knights #3
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
ISBN: 978-0446574327
Page Count: 400
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

HIGHLAND DANGER

Ever inquisitive, Lady Alyson MacGillivray embarks on a sea voyage and makes a shocking discovery: The young future king of Scotland is secretly traveling on board. Yet her surprise soon turns to terror when pirates attack the ship, take the boy prince hostage, and leave Lady Alyson to drown.

HIGHLAND WOLF

Known to the world as the The Wolf, Captain Jake Maxwell had been commissioned by the King to follow the prince's secret transport. When he spies Alyson struggling against a violent sea, he moves swiftly to save her. Soon desire sparks between them, bringing them pleasure-powerful and deep. But the young beauty's connection to the prince's abduction puts her in danger. And if their love is to survive, Alyson and Jake must play a game of intrigue with royal-and lethal-consequences.

Review:

Actual rating 2.5

This was a slight disappointment. The same issues I had with the last book were there: the jarring way of writing the Scottish dialogue and the less than scorching love scenes. But the things that I really liked about the last book were also there: nice, endearing characters, a hero that's not got a head full of rocks and a female with a bit of backbone. It really would be impossible to dislike either main character as "nice" as they were. If that also makes them a little dull, it's an unfortunate side-effect.

The dialogue problem is mainly the overuse of really unusual interjections such as "sithee", "prithee" or "in troth" at the beginning of almost every sentence. Now, I've read a lot of Scottish romances by this point, and every author has had their own unique twist on how they like to convey the dialogue and dialect, with varying degrees of efficacy, but none have annoyed me as much as this version. I'm happy with just swapping "you" for "ye" and "didn't" for "didna". The rest of it I can interpret myself and have the accent be as minimal or as strong as I like. Unfortunately, with the amount of affectations Scott puts on her dialogue sections, it's more like I have to translate each passage than read it. And I'm a Brit, I dread to think how much harder it would be for American readers who don't hear Scottish speech nearly as much as I do.

“By my throth, lass, I can tell you that I want you... more, I think, than I have ever wanted anything in my life.”

So at this point it's about equal with the last book in terms of positives and negatives, so why did it lose a star? Well, it was a couple of things, all of which are a bit spoilery. Click below if you want to read them.

Spoiler:
Spoiler!

Firstly, my staggering disbelief that a nineteen-year old, no matter how sheltered her life had been until that point, as a recently married woman, would not know a) what sexual intercourse is or b) whether or not she'd had it. Eeeeeeyeah. The other things were a duller plot that used many of the same characters and power players as the last book only with a much less thrilling result. And finally, just a personal pet peve of mine, I don't like for my characters to come into a romantic relationship with too much baggage- kids, ex husbands etc., so an existing husband is definitely too much baggage! It really complicated and slowed down the romance, and I wish that aspect hadn't been part of the plot.

Spoiler!


I don't think I'll pick up the next one as there are ones I enjoy much more, but if you don't think the language thing or the lack of excitement will bother you, do pick up the book as the characters are very charming and likeable.

2.5 Stars ★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review


Friday, 11 May 2012

Feature and Follow Friday - 11th May 2012



Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

The point of this hop is to follow other bloggers, to gain new followers yourself, and to make friends in the book blogging community.

If you follow me I will follow back. Just let me know in the comments that you are a new follower. Happy Friday!

Q: This Sunday in the U.S. is Mother’s Day, in celebration, what are some of your favourite books with strong mother/child relationships?

Well I had to go through my "read" shelf for the answer to this because I was drawing a total blank. And I'm sad to say there were so few to choose from. All my main characters tend to have no parents in their lives; either because they're dead or just becasue they're useless.

I did manage to find one though, but I can't remember her name! It was Faythe Sanders' mother from Rachel Vincent's Shifter/Were-cat series. She was the warmth in Faythe's house, always found in the kitchen cooking up something delicious to feed her Pride, classy and softly spoken but by no means a push over. And when Faythe needed her, she was a were-cat with whom one does not mess!

So, what about you?

Thanks for visiting me! If you follow me just let me know so I can return the favour! That's what this here get together is all about, after all.

Review: The Green Rider by Kristen Britain ★★★★

The Green Rider by Kristen Britain
Genre: Fantasy Andventure
Series: Green Rider #1
Publication Date: 1998
ISBN: 0886778247
Page Count: 504

A young woman on the run discovers her true destiny--as a royal messenger for Sacoridia.

Karigan G'ladheon is expelled from her school at Selium for challenging a nobleborn boy one too many times. On her way through the Green Cloak Forest, she encounters a dying royal messenger, a Green Rider, and takes on the job of carrying out his final duty. She doesn't realize however that she has been chosen by the magic to assume his place in the Green Riders. Now, Karigan must defend Sacoridia while trying to rid herself of the unexpected duty.






Review:


Swords and sorcery, coming of age, adventure, action, magic, creatures of myth and legend, dark magic, evil power-hungry bad guys, magical horses, kidnappings, betrayals, triumphs, defeats. Any of that sound good? Then you should read this book!

It truly had a bit of everything. It's quite a long story but the pacing was pretty consistent and fast throughout. I instantly felt comfortable in the world-building, it was very easy to acclimate to. I have read a few swords and sorcery type books but not so many as to become complacent with them so I put this feeling of easing into the world-building so effortlessly firmly in Britain's hands. At the start of the book it almost felt as if we are coming into a story midway through, due to the fact that Karigan, the main character, is on the run because of something bad that happened. At the time you just had to go with it and trust that all would become clear later. Which of course it did, and it all linked nicely together to combine characters and plots and all the various points of view into one excellent story of an ordinary young girl being put on an extraordinary path.

In the first chapter Karigan crashes headlong into a rider coming the opposite way with two black arrows protruding from his back. She quickly identifies him as a Green Rider- a type of royal messenger with rumoured magical abilities- and accepts his dying wish that she continue his mission to deliver an urgent message to the King of Sacoridia. She accepts, and fearing that whoever shot those arrows may be nearby, heads off swiftly to complete her new mission, taking the now dead Green Rider's horse and message with her.

And so starts Kari's journey, and it soon becomes evident that simple timing and a chance encounter may not have been the only reason the rider found Karigan that day, for Green Riders are called to their professions through magic, and the rider's broach has accepted her.

"Caving in to fear will be your death,” he once said. “There is no room for it on the battlefield. Being afraid is healthy, but fear is an enemy.” 

All in all a great fantasy-filled adventure story. Suitable in content for younger readers but not written specifically for them. There is a definite sense that Kari's story has only just begun even though this book's story is completely wrapped up and could be read as a stand alone. There are clues throughout to Kari's specialness. I get a bit annoyed when people complain about books whose main characters have that "the chosen one" thing about them. I mean, okay, if it's bordering on ridiculous and they can all of a sudden do EVERYTHING without any training or previous knowledge, then that's one thing, but other than that, I want my main characters to be special. Otherwise why would I be reading their story?

Frivolous side note: I hope I'm right in my suspicions about a possible romantic sub-plot to come, that would be very welcome please thank you.

My only negative would be that there was very little detail given on the characters in terms of ages, physical descriptions etc and I like details to help me build up my mental image. It said things like "character x looked only around 5 years older than Karigan" but since I don't know how old she is, other than that she was at school/university and is considered a "young woman" so, that's what? 16-21 then? That wasn't much help. And there's quite a difference in maturity levels in those ages. So, yeah that was a bit annoying but that's about the only thing I can think of.

Recommended to Fantasy adventure fans!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Review: A Kiss at Midnight Eloisa James ★★★★

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
Genre: Historical Romance, Fairy tales retold
Series: Happily Ever afters #1
Publication Date: July 2010
ISBN: 978-0061626845
Page Count: 372

Miss Kate Daltry doesn't believe in fairy tales... or happily ever after. Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince... and decides he's anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancé, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn't love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have for a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble...

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune...

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

Review:

This retelling of Cinderella was surprisingly sweet and funny. The funny part I wasn't really expecting. There's a lot of poking fun at all the stuff and nonsense that goes into the fashions of the time (whatever time setting that might be- we are never told and it doesn't really matter, it's not a historical novel, it's a fairy tale!) And also the couple themselves are just funny characters, especially Kate. She really stole the show.

And what a show it is! She's having to pretend to be her own step-sister to attend a betrothal party, along with her sister's fiancé, since her sister is unable to attend due to a swollen lip. This is not the ideal time to meet the man of your dreams, whilst not being able to be yourself, supposedly being engaged to the man you brought with you, and especially since the man of your dreams just happens to be the prince who's betrothal party you are attending!

Who ever said love was easy...

 “I did it,” Gabriel said, conversationally. “I met the woman, the only woman for me. I met her, and now . . . I’m going to meet my wife.” 

We all know the story and this retelling of it was very well done. Nothing too deep and meaningful; just a light, fluffy fun read. And sexy too! I really enjoyed it on audio and can recommend you trying it out this way.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Monday, 7 May 2012

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins ★★★★

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA dystopian, science fiction
Series: Hunger Games #3
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
ISBN: 0439023513
Page Count: 390

MY NAME IS KATNISS EVERDEEN.

WHY AM I NOT DEAD?

I SHOULD BE DEAD.

Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost. Katniss must now choose save the man she loves or save her home. And is the love real, or not?

Review:

So, we come to the end of this brilliantly gripping trilogy and I ask myself the question, am I satisfied with how it ended?

Answer: yes.

Second question: does that mean it ends with all happy hearts and flowers and dancing unicorns?

Answer: what do you think? This is dystopian fiction, and when you are talking about changing the "bigger picture", not just the characters' immediate futures, these things don't happen overnight.

Still, Collins certainly puts her readers through the emotional mill and goes out with a bang. I actually think she was maybe a little too ruthless and bloodthirsty in some areas, but, hey, I guess she was just keeping it real. We never would have bought the whole unicorn thing anyway...

Here are some of my favourite non-spoilery quotes:

 “They'll either want to kill you, kiss you, or be you.”


 “I think...you still have no idea. The effect you can have.”


 “Never underestimate the power of a great stylist.”


 “Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.” 


A fantastic end to a fantastic trilogy. Bravo!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Shadow Chase by Seressia Glass ★★★

Shadow Chase by Seressia Glass
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Shadowchasers #2
Publication Date: July 27, 2010
ISBN: 978-1439158777
Page Count: 352



Summary:

In a job like this, one mistake can cost you everything. As a Shadowchaser, Kira Solomon has been trained to serve the Light, dispatch the Fallen, and prevent the spread of chaos. It’s a deadly job, and Kira knows the horror of spilling innocent blood. But now she has a new role, as the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order, and an assignment that might just redeem her. A fellow Shadowchaser has gone missing, and so has a unique artefact imbued with astonishing magic. Unless the Vessel of Nun is returned, it will cause destruction beyond anything the modern world has seen. Kira’s got a team at her back, including Khefar, a near-immortal Nubian warrior who’s already died for her once. But as complicated as her feelings for him are, they’re nothing compared to the difficulties of the task she faces. And the only way to defeat the enemy is to trust in a power she can barely control, and put her life—and her soul—on the line.

Review:

Kira and Khefar are back in this second instalment to the Shadowchaser series. It picks immediately at the point where we left off in the last book; at the dinner celebrating Kira and Khefar's revival and new goddess-blessed statuses.

I was looking forward to hopefully getting to know both of the main characters more this time around and also trying to form more of a connection to them since that was slightly lacking in book one. I'd initially put that down to "book one syndrome" because of all the world-building that had to be done etc, etc. But now I'm thinking there may have been more to it than that because at the end of this book, I still find it quite hard to muster up much excitement for either of them in the same way I have with other characters in the past. And the excuse of it being the first book in the series, which will sometimes allow me to give it a free pass to fail in certain areas, no longer cuts the mustard.

It's a shame to have to say that because I really want to like this series. And it should, by rights, be very good. All the possibilities for exciting plots are there within the Egyptian mythology base. Unfortunately, there's just something about it that's leaving me cold.

I was also a little disappointed with the slow start. It took almost to exactly the midway point in the novel for Kira and Khefar's mission to become completely clear, for the book to give me that hook. I think the goal for the storyline should have been established much earlier on than this. I don't like words with no purpose. Get to the point.

Also, the fade-to-black sex scene was a little disappointing since the main bit of interest with regards to Kira as a main character is her inability to touch anyone. Ever. She literally has to go around with gloves taped to her wrists. So to then have Kira find the only person she can touch, having sex with him would surely be quite a monumental occasion for her, and yet it was skipped over with the barest of detail.

And, no, that's not me grumbling because there was no smut in the book. There was none in book one either but there didn't need to be because it wasn't time. Here, it was time, and it should have been part of the book.

The second half of the book was much, much better it has to be said, but by this point I think I'd already made the decision to see the book out to the end then stop reading the series. At this moment I don't see myself picking up the next one, the interest in the characters just isn't there.

3 Stars ★★★