Friday, 31 May 2013

Flash Fiction Friday #1

It has been AGES since I did a flash so here I am again

A pic is posted on Monday, then you write 350 words about it :)


Hosted by Tink's Place

The slave

It was cage, just like any other cage. She was treated like a princess, but that did not make up for the fact that she was a slave. A cage was a cage none the less. And cages happened to girls who did not listen.

Marayna looked through the bars and sighed. She had been here for years and sometimes she lost hope of ever escaping. She had been a young foolish girl who had ventured outside the borders of her homelands and had been taking by slave traders. Even though she knew that elves like her were something everyone wanted. The Elven Council tried to buy back every slave they found from the pagan North. But her, well no one had ever come for her.

He was there again. She tried not to look at him but found it hard. She always wanted to look at him when he stopped by the palace gardens. He seemed nice, but then who wouldn’t feed the caged animal? Sometimes he tried to coax her to talk too, but she dared not.

He sighed and walked away from her cage. She watched him in silence and closed her eyes. She was lonely. She closed her eyes harder so not to cry. So very lonely. A sound made her look up. He was back. He smiled and offered her something. She came closer and took it from his hand. It was a honey cookie and she smiled as she ate it. He tried to speak to her again, but she did not know enough of their language to fully comprehend him. So he walked away once again.
                                                                                                                                          
That same evening women came to get her. They bathed her and dressed her in the finest dress she had ever seen. They fed her honey cakes and gave her the sweetest wine. They chattered on and on about something that she did not understand. And when they painted her nails she started to fear. Was this not more than just for standing display in the gardens? Should she fear? Should she expect the worst? She braced herself as they showed her to way and opened to massive doors. They closed them behind her and she was alone. She took a deep breath. She had faces worse. But then he came, and he smiled.


--------------------

Done :D


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Review: Coyote Summer - J.S.Kapchinske

Author: J.S Kapchinske
Title: Coyote Summer
Genre: YA, Drama
Pages: ebook
First Published: March 17th, 2013
Where I Got It: Given to me by the author to review for my honest opinion.


"Heath always looked forward to summer visits at Grandpa’s—long days in the wild Rocky Mountains, fishing with Dad on the Piedra River, and nights sleeping on the screened-in porch. Plus this summer, Dad promised to finally tell him the secret about old Mrs. Baylis—a mysterious Native American woman living down the dusty dirt road… But now, after Dad’s accident, it can never happen that way. Heath and his mother go to Grandpa’s, but only to spread Dad’s ashes in the river. 


In the beginning, Heath feels like he's been swallowed by the raging Piedra, held upside down in some dark and unforgiving eddy. But one day, wandering along the riverbank, he meets Annie, a wild-eyed tomboy who shows him a hidden cave with a litter of orphaned coyote pups. Together they discover the cave holds another secret—one that might help them figure out the mystery of old Mrs. Baylis. During that summer in the mountains, Heath comes to realize there is both beauty and ugliness in the world, sometimes all tangled together. By opening himself up to Annie and the coyotes, he rediscovers hope and joy in this big, beautiful, mixed-up world."

This book was written for Middle School level readers and after reading this I really think that kids should read this in their Middle School reading/English classes. For more advanced readers, this will be a quick and simple read. Not only is the story really good, but also, all the life lessons embedded within the text were good too. I liked it.

This story is not only about Heath's moving on from his father's death, but it is a story that tells us that bad things may and will happen, but you have to move on. You need to move on and be happy...but never forget the past. The world can be an ugly place, but with the help of those around you and your own inner strength there is nothing that can defeat you.

I'm not sure what else to say about this, because I don't want to spoil anything. *ponders*

I wished that the author had dived more into the mysterious old Mrs. Baylis and her story. I know they give some sort of "resolution", but I feel like it rushed and something was...missing and things didn't add up right. Along with the mystery of old Mrs. Baylis, there were some other minor strings left hanging in the wind. Yes, they were minor, but I HATE when everything isn't concluded and tied up in the end. This ties in with the ending...the author upset me, because I really wanted an epilogue and 100% resolution to everyone's story. I know...I know...she left to the reader's imagination, but yeah...I like knowing.

In the end, this was a really good read. The lack of resolution and some loose ties annoyed me, but I did enjoy this. If I were to teach a Middle School English/reading class, I would have them read this. Not only is it a good story, but it has great themes and lessons to be learned. I think I would like to check out more of this author's stuff, he certainly has GREAT potential. I would recommend this to those that love YA books or for those looking for a nice feel-good book about life lessons. In the end, I'll give this four stars. 

Favorite Character(s): Annie, Grandpa (you'll see why later on in the text), and of course those adorable pups.
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Gus (bastard)

*CaroleRae*

Carole owner of caroleraesramblings.com


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review: Naked in Death - J.D.Robb

In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line--between seductive passion and scandalous murder... Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

My thoughts:
Not the review to write after a long long workday, which also was mostly spent outside, in the strange May heat wave. But I will try to string a few words together.

Do I love Roarke now? No, I can't see it. He was all over here, did I get why he found her attractive? Nope. I never saw the passion or felt anything between them. Did I get why she went for him? God no. She was a cop, bad bad call there.

But it was not bad. Nope (even if I kept thinking of the show Castle), it was thrilling, suspenseful. I wondered about the killer. I wondered about Eve and Roarke (not that I cared much but still.) It was one of those books that are good, but that I still wont buy more of. It felt like a good one time deal.

Cover
BORING

In Death #1
Sci-fi / futuristic / suspense /romance
Mass Market Paperback, 306 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by Berkley
Own


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review: The Headmaster's Wager - Vincent Lam

Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Percival Chen English Academy. Fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, he is quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables. But when his only son gets into trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival faces the limits of his connections and wealth and is forced to send Dai Jai away. In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive. Percival's new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see.

My thoughts:
A lot happened in this book, where to start? It took place over a few decades and even if a lot did not always happened to the character, then the world around him was re-shaped.

Percival is the principal of an English school. Is he a good guy? Well what is a good guy? He is kind (sort of), he cares about his family and tries to make their lives better. But at the same time he spends a lot of time gambling and whoring. But I would call him a good guy, a naive stupid man who is neither good or bad. Just human.

He leaves China when the Japanese comes. Then they come to Vietnam too (damn war is evil!). He marries, he has a son. He finds his father. The French, the Americans and later the Northern Army all fight over Vietnam (arghh I do not get communists! Fair, fair? There is nothing such as equal rights with them.) Yes this is a country that sees war, but it's not always present. He manages to stay away from much of it. But we do get a taste of the brutalities too.

Other people we get to know is his son, his ex-wife, who was a sort of a harpy but I liked her. Teacher Mak, Percival's mistress and many more. It's not a happy book so all of these wont be happy in the end. I felt sorry of the country, and of the people, and all the metisse children. But war and shaping a new country is never easy. It's bloody, horrible and disgusting.

I did come to realize that I know way too little of this era. Mostly cos what I know has been shaped through US eyes. And here we get the view of a Chinese man, who does not have it easy either as he is not liked either.

Conclusion:
An interesting story

Cover
Works

Fiction
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Anchor Canada (first published April 24th 2012)
Own


Monday, 27 May 2013

Review: Masques - Patricia Briggs

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. 

Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi.  But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?

My thoughts:
I meant to write a review yesterday, oh well.

I did like this one more than Briggs' other old fantasy romance novels. But yes of course it could have been much better. It was also rushed and could have been dragged out to a thick trilogy. Sure there is a book 2, but this book ended with the bad guy beaten.

Aralorn was a cool kick-ass woman. Wolf was an enigma, and yes I wished the secret who he was would have been left longer. Now it was all, maybe, and aha. Ok that's it then.

There is action, danger, a bad guy and a king to be helped. A nice little book, the first she wrote (even if she did edit a bit later on). But still it was nice and I want to see what happens next. But I did read the blurb and was all come on, told you so peeps.

Cover
Nice

Sianim #1
Light fantasy
Mass Market Paperback, 294 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Ace (first published December 1st 1993)
Own


Friday, 24 May 2013

Review: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette - Carolly Erickson

Author: Carolly Erickson 
Title: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA 
 Pages: 343 
First Published: 1997 
Where I Got It: Borrowed from Library

Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution. 

Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again. 

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

As many of you know Marie Antoinette is my second favorite female historical figure, so I'm bound to be rather skeptical. Yes, knowing the real and true history of the Queen...it's hard to ignore the obvious (at least to me) inaccuracies. This, like many movies, are made to be overly dramatized and entertaining. Not a history lesson, so taking off my "history goru" hat and just enjoying the story made things 100% better. 

I enjoyed the ride that Carolly Erickson presented. I did feel like she hurt the Queen's case more then helped though. She made her seem very selfish and vain. Yes, she was like that in real life, but this version of the Queen was rather different from other versions. Not only was she selfish and vain, but she was annoying at some points. It's hard to explain really, but I was NOT at all a fan of this version of the Queen. Granted it IS suppose to be in diary format, but still... 

Also, I was surprised to learn that this falls into the YA category. Interesting...I didn't get the feel of "YA"ish to it. Eh, oh well. 

Even though I wasn't a fan of the Queen that Erickson presented, I must applaud the author for her writing skills. It was lovely and she made the world of France come to life. She made the fictitious and real-life characters blossom to life. I have read another book by Carolly Erickson...I am starting to like her more and more. Perhaps another book is on the horizon. We shall see. 

In the end, this was okay. There are A LOT of historical inaccuracies and I wasn't too keen on the version of the Queen the author painted, but it wasn't bad. A nice read for a hot day by the pool. You do get the nice splash of drama, romance, fun, and in the end... tragedy. I would recommend this to open-minded History lovers and for those that like Historical Fiction. I shall stamp this with...mmmmm....(very undecided)...mmmmmm....3 stars. 

Favorite Character(s): Count Ferson (such a dreamboat), Louis (can't help but want to pinch his cheeks), Madame de Barry (she always entertains me...I think I may be her for Halloween next year) and Princess Lambelle. 
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Marie Antoinette (not too keen on how she was presented) and the Empress (meh)"
*CaroleRae*
Carole owner of caroleraesramblings.com


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: C.C.Humphreys - Jack Absolute

Today I have C.C Humphreys over for an interview (and there is also a giveaway at the end :)

Welcome!

Could you please tell me a little about yourself?
Absolutely! (Sorry – but you’ll be amazed how often that pun comes up!)
I am bi-continental – born in Canada, lived till I was 7 in LA, then grew up in London. But North America drew me back – I lived in LA again as an adult, working in Hollywood, then Canada. I now live on an island in British Columbia.

All four grandparents were actors and so was my dad, so naturally I became a marine biologist. Joking! I acted all over the world for years. Major roles have included Hamlet,  Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s ‘AD’ and the original voice of Salem the Cat in ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’. And of course, the role of Jack Absolute in the 18th century comedy ‘The Rivals’. But more of that later.

I’d always dreamed of writing. Began with plays but soon moved to my passion, historical fiction.I have written eight historical fiction novels: ‘The French Executioner’, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002; and its sequel, ‘Blood Ties’, a bestseller in Canada; ‘Jack Absolute’, ‘The Blooding of Jack Absolute’ and ‘Absolute Honour’. My latest are: ‘Vlad – The Last Confession’,  the epic novel of the real Dracula. (Sourcebooks May 2011); and the recently published, ‘A Place Called Armageddon’  published in the US by Sourcebooks in September 2012. My new novel about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer, ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ came out in the UK March 2013 and in Canada in June 2013. I have also written for young adults: a trilogy called ‘The Runestone Saga’ consisting of, ‘The Fetch’, ‘Vendetta’, and ‘Possession’. (Knopf). My latest YA novel is ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ (Knopf), runner up in the recent M Awards, Victoria BC. I have been translated into thirteen languages.

You newest book is Jack Absolute. How about a quick intro to this book?
Of course! ‘Jack’ is a true labour of love. Having loved playing the role on stage, years later I decided I could be him again by making him the star of a series of novels. In the play, he’s a bit of a rogue, an adventurer, a ladies man – all things I use in the books. But I knew he had to be something more. Hence the unoffical subtitle: ‘the 007 of the 1770’s’.

In this first novel Jack is caught up in the American Revolutionary War. He has history there – speaks fluent Mohawk, knows the land well – he’s a bit Hawkeye as well as Bond. But he falls foul of a sinister secret organization, the Illuminati – and in love with an American Loyalist, Louisa. His main task is to root out the spies bedeviling the British. This takes him into some very tough scrapes during and after the Saratoga campaign. 

How did you come up with the idea for the character?
As I said, I stole him! But my Jack is very different from the play. My theory of writing is to write my fantasies. So I added to him the whole Mohawk side, the spy, the soldier, the lover. He’s also brave – and very foolish sometimes. Especially regarding women. Don’t know where he gets that from!

You've written about different eras in time. Is there another you’d like to explore?
Gosh, all of them! I love history, most eras. I would like to write about more ancient history, Greek or Roman perhaps. I am also fond of the Wars of the Roses. But my favourite battle is Waterloo, and the 200th anniversary is coming up. Maybe I can get Jack there. He’d be 72 but…

In which period of time would you like to time travel to?
Actually I have just done it – my latest novel, out in the UK and Canada now and the US soon is ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’. Its about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer and is set at the time of the first production of hamlet, the play that obsess me. I describe its first performance at the Globe – the place where I would most want to be that afternoon.

What’s coming next from you?
Sourcebooks, my wonderful US publishers, are publishing all my books over the next few years so I get to revisit them all again. And I am just finishing my new novel. Its called ‘Plague’ and is set against the Great Plague of London 1665. It will be followed by ‘Fire’ set against – you guessed it! – the Great Fire of London 1666.

thank you!

Giveaway
1 copy of Jack Absolute

1. US only
2. Ends June 2nd
3. Just enter :)


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Review: Daughter of the Sky - Michelle Diener


The sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Zululand coast, 15 year-old Elizabeth Jones is taken in by the Zulus, the people of the sky. Six years later, her white skin becomes useful to the Zulu army as they try to work out why the Victorian Empire has pointed their war-machine at the Zulu nation. Elizabeth is suddenly Zululand's most important spy.

While infiltrating the British camp, Elizabeth's disguise as a young soldier is uncovered almost immediately by Captain Jack Burdell. However, he believes the tale she spins of searching for a missing brother and shields her from discovery, allowing her to bunk in his tent and giving her a job as his batman. Burdell is war-weary and disillusioned - no longer willing to follow regulations at all costs.

But as Elizabeth and Jack explore their growing attraction to each other, the two armies move towards their inevitable clash. Elizabeth is torn between the guilt of betrayal and her fierce loyalty to her Zulu family, and when Zulu and British meet on the battlefield, both she and Jack find their hearts and their lives caught in the crossfire.

My thoughts:
I can't say that I have ever read anything in this era in this place. All new to me, but new is good.

It's about a young girl who grows up to a young woman among the Zulus. Elizabeth has no love for the British (and it's totally understandable) and she gets a new home and family threw a horrible accident. But for her it's all the better. A new way of life, and a new look at life. She was strong, she felt real, because even if she is strong she is also afraid.

All good things must come to an end and the British Empire was not exactly known to be nice all the time. War is on the horizon and in comes our hero of the book. And it felt totally refreshing for him to actually notice that she is a woman! Yes I know the rest did not but like it was said, sometimes you do not see the obvious. Especially not if it's sun burnt and has learnt not to walk like your petticoat will show by accident. So yes they did not see, but Jack takes a closer look at does notice. And in comes a bit of tension as they get to know each other, and to want each other. Jack was real too, he was tired of war, and things just did not make sense anymore. Of course, he was nice too, always a plus.

It was interesting to read about, as I have not read anything about this war before, or anything set near it. I also liked to see her free spirit, to see if they ever would let go and just fall in love, and to see how it all would play out in the end.

Conclusion:
An interesting book, historical fiction with a  romantic side to it.

Cover
I like it

Historical fiction
Paperback, 340 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Michelle Diener
For review


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Review: He's Gone - Deb Caletti

I’ve read a couple of Caletti’s young adult novels and I’ve loved them. Her work is like literary catmint to me, which is weird because Caletti writes about emotions and slow paced moments of change rather than adventurous plots. Her books are pure character studies of people trying to move, and usually I like the introspection that’s characteristic to Caletti, but here it doesn’t quite work. Here, it’s taken a step too far. The balance is gone.
”But he’s gone. He’s gone, and I don’t know what’s happened, but I know I wanted him gone.”
Dani wakes up in an empty house and takes her old dog out. She enjoys the morning and makes her own coffee for a change. She plunges into her personal history for a moment, comes back, and realises her husband, Ian, is gone. Just like her YA books are about rejecting a bad relationship for a better self-worth—in the ones I’ve read at least—this book is about an adult, a middle-aged mother, learning new things about herself when her crutch, her husband, is gone. The book is told from Dani’s point of view with first person voice. She goes through the motions of realising someone close to her has disappeared and beginning the search process. She talks to the neighbours, calls family and friends, and all the while she’s slowly working through her two failed marriages in her mind. She thinks about her own choices, she thinks about Ian’s choices, and she reflects on how those choices affected their children, and everyone else around them. The problem is, that’s all she does. Dani takes a trip up the river Denial, climbs ashore, and sets up camp in Memory land.
”You learn, she says. You go from there. And then you change.“
Maybe it’s because of the set up—the agony of having to wait, to go slowly mad with worry and without having anything concrete to do—that Caletti relies so heavily on the introspection and itemising all the wrongs of Dani’s life. Unfortunately when the flashbacks are paired with inactive present, the book becomes impenetrable and boring. Caletti doesn’t even properly show the discussions Dani has with the police rather than tells about them in passing after the fact. So, she’s a suspect in her husbands disappearance that wouldn’t be interesting to the reader. Why would it be? The underlying story and the epiphany it leads to are good. Caletti even dabbles with an unreliable narrator, but when the balance is off everything slides to the side, just out of reach, off the pier and into the waters of the Pacific. The book is set in Seattle if you couldn’t tell. Fans of Caletti’s work might enjoy reading this book, as long as they don’t mind switching the teenaged protagonist to her mother, but I hesitate to recommend this to anyone who doesn’t relish reading about thorough navel-gazing. 

  I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. 



 Series: N/A Pages: 352 (paperback) 
Publisher: Random House Imprint: Bantam 
Published: Expected May 21st 2013
 Source: NetGalley


Monday, 20 May 2013

Review: The Last Conquest - Berwick Coates

Hastings, October 1066. The Normans have landed in Sussex, ready for battle. They have prepared for everything about the English - except their absence…

Their enemy, King Harold and his fyrd, are hundreds of miles away, fighting to expel the Viking host in the north. But they have heard that William has landed and rumour is that they are marching back, triumphant and dangerous - and spoiling for a second victory.

Back in Sussex, Gilbert, a young scout in William's army, is sent out in search of the enemy. He is dedicated and ambitious, and determined to be the first with news for his leader. Deep in the English countryside, Edwin, houndsman to King Harold, longs too for glory. He has missed the first battle against the Vikings, but he will not miss the second. He knows his king is about to make history, and he is going to be part of it. And as the action sweeps up towards the hilltop close to Hastings where Harold will plant his standard - defying the Bastard of Normandy to come and get it - the ground is laid for battle.

This is the story of the greatest battle ever seen on British soil and of the men who fought it. This is the story of the Battle of Hastings.
 
My thoughts:
This book takes place during a few days, leading up to the famous battle where England's fate changed forever.

There are two leading POVS, but there are also a lot of other POVS, real and not real historical figures. The two leading POVS are those of Gilbert and Edwin. Gilbert is a young scout in the Duke's army. He is trying to find his place and does not always have it easy. He also wants revenge on a man he does not even know.

Then there is Edwin, who takes care of King Harold's hounds. He brings in a few other characters. A Saxon family living near the famous battle grounds. And they will meet the war firsthand.

A few hectic days, all while the saxon family that Edwin knows try to live as they always have. The book was interesting, but I also wanted more. I think it would have been better if the story would have focused solely on Edwin and Gilbert. Instead there where lots of POVS as the author wanted to show what happened, as these two were not always nearby to know. And I did like some of those POVS, like Baldwin de Clair. I wanted to know what he did after the war. Actually I wanted to know what everyone did after the war. Instead it ended, we got a few moments as people scattered, but I wanted to see. Now I can only hope they all got happy...well sort of happy.

Conclusion:
This one is for the historical fiction fans.
 
Cover
Works
 
Historical fiction
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published March 1st 2013)
For Review
 
 


Friday, 17 May 2013

Review: Werewolves be damned - Stacey Kennedy

Author: Stacey Kennedy
Title: Werewolves Be Damned (Magic & Mayhem #1)
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Action, Drama, Romance
Pages: ebook

First Published: April 15th, 2013

Where I Got It: Given to me to read & review honestly from the publisher/Blodeudd 

"Nexi Jones—part witch, part guardian, and wannabe kick-ass warrior—can’t throw a punch or conjure the simplest magic. But that doesn’t stop her from hunting the werewolves who slaughtered her human family. She’ll have her revenge, but only if Kyden, the elite guardian, would get the hell out of her way.

Kyden can’t decide if Nexi wants to get herself killed or if she just has no clue what she’s doing. But her father made it clear: keep Nexi safe…or else. Of course, the more Nexi runs toward revenge, the more she needs Kyden’s aid, and as she grows into her power and confidence, so does his desire to protect her. The only problem? She’d rather he dropped dead.


But when a vampire paints a bull’s-eye on Nexi’s back, she’s hard-pressed to deny Kyden and the help he’s offering. Even if it means getting her revenge will be a little bit harder. At least it will still be as sweet." 

The moment I read the summary I knew I had to read this myself. I have been craving over a good Fantasy novel featuring werewolves and other such supernatural beings. This not only fed my need, but it created a need to read more by Stacey Kennedy.

This was a marvelous ride and I did not want to stop reading. I wanted more. I needed to find out what happened next and I was late to class a couple times, because I was reading this in my car beforehand. Whoops. Not only was I enthralled with Nexi's story, but I am in love with the world that the author created. How cool is that? Not only do the creatures live in our world, but many live in beautiful place called the Otherworld. If I was to live in the Otherworld, I think I would want to be a witch. Being a Guardian seems like a lot of hard work. 

Anyways, not only did the world and the story catch my imagination, but so did the characters. Nexi was pretty kick-ass and she seemed to handle the whole new world rather well, Kyden was drool-worthy *drools*, Finn was equally drool-worthy, Haven was annoyingly cute, and the Big Boss/Baddie was rather scary (avoiding the spoiler as best I can). I had no idea how they were going to rid of the Big Boss/Baddie. Tough one that one was. 

There is so much I adored about this book, but I do have one complaint though...there seemed to be a lot of repetitive feelings to the information being shared. She would repeat the same thing the reader already knows a million times. It seemed unnecessary and annoying. But that's it.

In the end, I adored this book. I haven't read an excellent fantasy in quite some time. It reminded me a little of the Anita Blake series I loved as well. Can't wait for book 2 to come out. I would indeed recommend this to those that love fantasy books (with vamps, werewolves, witches, and etc) and for those that are looking for a good adventure. Also for all you Anita Blake fans, check this book out. 

Out of five stars I grant this one 5 stars.

Favorite Character(s): Nexi, Kyden, Finn (though he didn't get much spotlight), Valor, Briggs (hope he gets more spotlight too), and Drake.
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Zia (for some reason I can't stand her) andthe Big Boss/Baddie (grrrr)

 a note  from B:
Please help me welcome Carole Rae to my blog :D
Thanks Carole!


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Review: If he's tempted - Hannah Howell


Lady Olympia Wherlocke has the gift of foresight. When Lady Agatha Mallam asks Olympia to locate her brother so he can rescue her from an arranged marriage, she knows exactly where to find Lord Brant Mallam, Earl of Fieldgate. What happens next is something she never envisioned… 

Since his betrothed died, Lord Brant Mallam has drowned his sorrow with wine and women. His dissolute ways have only emboldened his calculating mother. But with the help of the enchanting Olympia, he concocts a daring plan to end his mother’s devious designs for his sister. While each step in their bold scheme works to perfection, the sins of the past could unravel a growing desire that neither Olympia or Brant can control…

My thoughts:
It was book 5, but it went well just jumping right in. I soon had the hang on things. And as it was HPNR the books all have different couples.

This book is about Lady Olympia. She was so kind, all big heart. Smart and just the kind pf person that would be a perfect friend. She also knew what she wanted and never gave up. She does have some secrets that we later learn.

The hero is a rake with a truly bad rep, but then he also have the mother from hell who does everything to destroy his rep even more. Oh she was beyond evil. But Brant is not as bad as he seems and together they make quite the team as they try to save his sister and more. Sparks fly.

Danger and passion is what makes this book. Because it gets dangerous, and they get close. But there is also more, her warm heart and her big family. Yes we meet a lot of them, some that has had their story told and some whose story is yet untold. What a family they are, and it made me curious.

Conclusion:
It was a good historical paranormal romance, and I liked the dangerous aspects, it gave the story something more.

Cover
I am tempted

Wherlocke #5
Historical paranormal romance
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Zebra


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Review: The House at the end of Hope Street - Menna Van Praag


A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

My thoughts:
Magical realism, do I need to say more? The words themselves are magical and so is this book.

Alba is a young woman, smart, but troubled. We do not know what exactly happened with her supervisor, but something did and now she feels that her beginning academic career is over. So she finds the house, the magical house that invites her in. There Peggy tells her she can stay for 3 months but that's it. There she will learn to know herself, find out things about her past and hopefully find a future. There are more secrets but those are Alba's and the readers to find out. 

Other characters are the house, the house with talking paintings and notes that it leaves around. Peggy who owns the house are having a love affair with a neighbor and he wants more. Gree who also is staying in the house has a failed acting career behind her and she wants more. Then there is Carmen who has secrets, and has lost that which she loves the most.

The book was magical, I said it before and I can say it again. I loved seeing the women finding new paths in life. For them finding strength, happiness and love. And the magic was great and real, because that is how the book was made to be. That is why magical realism works so well.

Conclusion:
Highly recommended

Cover
Works for the  book

Magical realism /Fiction
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 4th 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books
For review


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Review: Thinking of you - Jill Mansell


When Ginny Holland's daughter heads off to university, Ginny is left with a severe case of empty nest syndrome. To make matters worse, the first gorgeous man she's laid eyes on in years has just accused her of shoplifting. So, in need of a bit of company, Ginny decides to advertise for a lodger, but what she gets is lovelorn Laurel. With Laurel comes her dangerously charming brother, Perry and the offer of a great new job, and things begin looking up...until Ginny realizes that her potential boss is all too familiar. Is it too late for Ginny to set things right after an anything but desirable first impression?

My thoughts:
Mansell brings us many HEAs and personal growth.

First we have Ginny, divorced, working here and there and about to be home alone as her daughter Jem is leaving for uni. She is not happy and there will be a few mistakes on the way. But as this is a Mansell book there will also be happiness and hers will be in the form of love.

Jem, her 18 year old daughter will also find herself during this year and make her own mistakes. But some mistakes have to be made.

Then we also have Ginny's best friend Clara, and Laurel who I will not say more about now. Clara is forward, and Laurel is sad. Ginny's ex husband also makes an appearance, yes they were clearly not suited together and there is a man hiding in the shadows for Ginny. I was happy about that.

Conclusion:
There is romance, friendship, personal growth and the search for happiness. It's a feelgood book, but then it's a Mansell book and I would have been surprised if it had not ended with a smile on my face.

Cover
Eh

Women's fiction
Paperback, 424 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published January 1st 2007)
For review


Monday, 13 May 2013

Review and Giveaway: Heart of Iron - Bec McMaster


Lena Todd makes the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a sympathizer for the humanist movement haunting London’s vicious blue blood elite. Not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger, and the one man whose kiss she can’t forget…

Stricken with the loupe and considered little more than a slave-without-a-collar to the blue bloods, Will wants nothing to do with the Echelon or the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds a coded letter on Lena—a code that matches one he saw on a fire-bombing suspect—he realizes she’s in trouble. To protect her, he must seduce the truth from her. With the humanists looking to start a war with the Echelon, Lena and Will must race against time—and an automaton army—to stop the humanist plot before it’s too late. But as they fight to save a city on the brink of revolution, the greatest danger might just be to their hearts…

My thoughts:
First, she was not as much a spy as the blurb let me to believe. But then who cares about that. This was Lena steering through the danger of the blood court, at a time when most vampires seems to forget about the old thrall contracts. And the Echelon debutantes do not have it easy.

Back to the start then. In book 1 Lena flirted with the beast, Will Carver, werwulfen and a dangerous man. In book 2 she is a debutante looking to be a thrall to some powerful vampire, while dodging some. Will does his best to try and forget her. His kind does not mix with humans, it's too dangerous.

Lena does do some spy work, a bit of telling about things she hears, but she is not happy about how some do things. And I feel conflicted. I do want the humans to be free. But at the same time there are good vampires too. So what should happen? I just do not know. This is a world that will go up in flames soon. And what will then happen to Blade and Will, well they will die. Conflicted yes, as some vamps are so evil too.

Conclusion:
Anyway, romance, Passion! Danger! That is what this book will bring you. Steampunk? Eh, not so much. But it was a good book.

London Steampunk #2
Paranormal romance /alternate history /steampunk
Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
For review

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away a copy of book 1, Kiss of Steel, so that you can get started on this series. Thanks to Soucebooks.

1. Open to everyone in the world
2. Ends May 20th
3. It's easy, just enter


Friday, 10 May 2013

Lady Scoundrels': The Darkness that Comes Before by R.Scott Bakker


Aye we Scoundrel ladies be back!
And this time we discussed a fantasy book called The darkness that comes before by R.Scott Bakker.

First question, Ana, WHY?! Why this book?
Ana: Ehem, I warned you all, time and again, didn’t I? I linked the reviews posted on Goodreads, I told you it is a very different book, difficult, demanding. You said you wanted to give it a try and so you did.

Ram: I knew it would be a hate it or love it book, but the prologue was actually interesting. Then it just became such a mess of characters and points of views that I lost all perspective. I simply didn’t care anymore.

Ana: It is actually a pity you weren’t more...obstinate? Motivated? The novel is not that bad once you get past the first shock of excessive world building :).

Ram: I’ve read novels with excessive world building before and they weren’t as difficult to get into as this was. I’ve seen the book compared to G.R.R.Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire but I read the first two books of that series and that had the decency of starting with a single family unit tying the narrators together. It’s only as the story progresses that their voices and storylines deviate from each other to give the bigger picture. Reading this was like being a drop into an ocean one minute and across the the world on a small island the next. Then maybe I’d be back in the deepest part of the world two minutes later, or on top of the Himalayas. Or jumping from one infodump to another.

Blod: I did like the blurb..ahem, sort of. So I blame myself. But I agree with everything Ram has to say. So I do not need to ;)

Ana: How very convenient, right B? (*snickers*)

Blod: Ok if I must. It was not that it was dreadfully boring, I did make it to half of it. But I was also confused already on page 1. And then omg then! 1000 different POVs, one million languages, states and blah blah blah. I grew bored, I never liked or hated anyone. Well ok 2 guys seemed interested. I just wanted out in the end.

Ram: I’m totally blaming the ebook btw. A paperback with easy flipping to character index would have helped. 

Blod. I agree, I only realised when I skimmed the end that there actually was in index *head desk* Not that it seemed to help in this case because I could keep the peeps straight, I just would never remember their long long names.

Ram: I was too busy puzzling over the pronunciation to care.

Ana: Why  didn’t you hate anyone? There were plenty of characters to hate. Some of them were really well-rounded and complex.

Blod: Who?

Ana: Achamian for the starters, Kelhus next.

Blod: Eh, Akka seemed nice, Kelhus I only saw in the beginning and then I kept wanting him to come back and he never did.

Ana: Akka seemed nice? Oh, maybe you didn’t get to that moment when he condemned his own favourite pupil to death? Or when he left Esmi behind knowing fully well what she would have to do to survive?

Blod. Well you did tell me peeps were evil so I just went with it. It was a cruel world, people are cruel then.

Ram: Ana makes it sound so interesting. Too bad I never fully learned who the characters were to CARE. 

Ana: LOL maybe I will make you to read this one again or at least try to do so. Borrow a copy from your library.

Ram: If I do, it’ll be an eternity project. 

Blod: I am not really into to reading it either, it was just too much, too boring. And not nearly evil enough as Ana promised. But then I did not read it all.

Ana: NOT EVIL ENOUGH? I really don’t understand what you need more. The protagonists in this book kill and manipulate people right left and centre. They do it not because they want to survive or anything, they do it because of ugly politics and religious belief. There is more than one nearly-rape scene, there are Others who can change shape and blend with other people seamlessly, even taking over their bodies. If it is not evil then I am really curious what books you find so.

Blod: That is fantasy ;) Sometimes I do not get myself either. Still not evil enough. But then I just finished a book today where the main character, a woman, raped a guy, killed her own son for not doing what she wanted and then cut his lover’s belly open and taking out the child....yup.

Ram: The level of evil depends on how it’s done as well as the heinous acts themselves. If it’s written poorly it’s not evil enough or as evil as it could be.

Ram: Ana, you wrote a review for this and mentioned the historical and philosophical references. Could you give me an example from within the first hundred pages or so because I utterly missed them?

Ana: Sure. Kelhus is a monk who, reaching the tell-tale age of 30 (the age of Jesus when he discovered his calling and started his public ministry) is going to look for his father, allegedly somebody far more powerful than an ordinary human being. I consider it one of clearer religious references. Also take into account the fact that one of main religions in the novel worships an INRI. Do you know where these letters come from? If you are a Christian you should (look at the inscription on almost every crucifix).

Ram: Oh, those. I noticed those but didn’t really think about them. Maybe I’m just not religious enough to appreciate this book? (INRI = Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, would have remembered it in Finnish but there’s a disconnect in my mind with these things.)

Ana : Then there is that Holy War going on which resembles closely crusades.

Blod: Ugh, Christian religion is so boring, was it my subconscious that made me dislike the book?

Ram: I’m just used to thinking fantasy books making references to Christianity boring or too judgmental  I’m a pagan at heart (although I was baptised and had a confirmation). 

Blod: Same here, I do not like it when fantasy books go too Christian (even if I like Ram has gone through the same boring rituals:)

Ram: I’d rather read contemporary or historical books set in real world examining and questioning the real faith than a fictitious one based on it.

Ana: Bakker is questioning EVERYTHING - the figure of Jesus/Kelhus is so skewed that I am really surprised no group of Christian fundamentalists has ever condemned this book for such a blatant blasphemy. 

Ram: Have you read Holy Blood, Holy Grail?I have. If there are people writing those kind of books without needing to create a fantasy world as a crutch I don’t understand why couldn’t Bakker do that too.

Ana: I suppose he wanted to tell his version of the story. And if you dared to continue you would see Kelhus marrying TWO women actually :D one of them being a prostitute.

Blod: Well go Kelhus then *eye roll* Another thing, so few women in this book, except for our dear prostitute and a queen called a whore a lot.

Ana: ...and there was that Serwe but I suppose you didn’t read far enough to meet her. By the way I agree - too few good female characters to make me satisfied.

Ram: Kelhus seemed like an interesting character but he basically disappeared after the very beginning. I think Bakker tried to do too much too soon and it overwhelms anyone not taking copious of amount of notes. And Christian fundamentalists will protest against anything. 

Ana: Definitely true - the world is unfurled too fast and you must get used to new characters being introduced every page which can be a pain you know where. I bet not many Christian fundamentalists read books at all btw ;) especially fantasy books with  religious undercurrents.

Blod. Ha, burn! :)

Ana: So how would you describe shortly your reading experience? (*puppy eyes*)

Blod: Confusion leading to interest and ending in boredom.

Ram: Intriguement killed by the scope of things. Aka poor writing.

Ana: I read it till the end and Iiked it with some caveats of course. I am a weirdo but don’t shoot me, please.

Ram: You’re just too smart for us. And that doesn’t get you shot, ever.

Ana: I think it’s not the matter of my brain, just pure obstinacy but thanks.

Ram: Or you just couldn’t get out of the house because of the snow.

Ana: ;P


Happy Easter from the past. Tune in again next month. 


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Review: A stitch in time - Amanda James


A stitch in time saves nine… or does it? Sarah Yates is a thirty something history teacher, divorced, disillusioned and desperate to have more excitement in her life. Making all her dreams come true seems about as likely as climbing Everest in stilettos.

Then one evening the door bell rings and the handsome and mysterious John Needler brings more excitement than Sarah could ever have imagined. John wants Sarah to go back in time…

Sarah is whisked from the Sheffield Blitz to the suffragette movement in London to the Old American West, trying to make sure people find their happy endings. The only question is, will she ever be able to find hers?

My thoughts:
How to tell this quickly, well a cute guy shows up and tells her she must stitch together times and sends her back to do so. If she saves 3 she saves 9 and more. Will she do it?

I am taking a step back. Our heroine Sarah is unhappy, she is a teacher but has issues at work. Her personal life sucks too. And if I was her I would also be unhappy. But in comes mystery guy from the time agency. And because she is a history teacher she does well with her time-hopping. She gets to to go to WWII Sheffield, to play little house on the prairie and to be a maid. But yes her modern sensibilities both saves her and gets her in trouble. But then it was not easy back then, and certainly not for a modern woman.

Oh yes, I did not forget mystery guy, there are sparks there and I will say no more.

Conclusion:
Time-travel, romance and lives to be saved in this interesting mix.

Cover
Her roots are showing, that is all I see

Romantic Fiction
Paperback, 301 pages
Published April 7th 2013 by Choc Lit (first published January 1st 2013)
For review


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Review: Black City - Christina Henry


When Maddy finally killed her father, Azazel, she thought his depraved experiment died with him. But now Chicago has been infested with vampires immune to the effects of the sun, and the bloodbath is worse than she could have ever imagined. While the Agency refuses to interfere with other supernatural courts, Maddy is determined to do everything within her power to save her city—wings or no wings. 

But when the leader of the vampires requests that she turn herself in or risk more deaths, Maddy becomes a target for the very people she’s trying to save. Left with no other choice, she turns to Lucifer, the one creature who has the power to help her. But her grandfather’s aid has always come at a price…

My thoughts:
After a long week I need a book that I could enjoy and read in a second and I knew Henry would deliver and so she did.

Vampires running amok in the city! Nahaniel guarding her back! Who is Puck! What is stirring in the area? The agency being a bunch of asses. Yes lots going on and Maddy is kick-ass as always, taking names and getting shot. She has a darkness growing inside her too and trying to deal with it all, while being preggers.

I also wonder if she will find a new love interest and who it will be....

Also Lucifer is scheming and the schemes are totally 0_0

Conclusion:
A fast kick-ass book that left me wanting more. This series just keeps on improving.

Cover
I do like her covers

Black Wings #5
Urban Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Ace
Own


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Author post and Giveaway - Gini Koch and Alien in the House

Today I have Gini Koch over with a fun post, yay :)
Happy release Day to Alien in the House!

Top 10 Ways to Avert the Destruction of the World
By Gini Koch

Katherine Kitty Katt-Martini knows how to save the world. In a variety of ways. Sometimes she even has to do it in her sleep. So think of what she manages when she's awake. In honor of the release of her latest exploits, chronicled in Alien in the House, here's her go-to list for how to keep the world spinning and at least some of the populace none the wiser.

10. Remember that animals are your friends! What looks like a dangerous prehistoric attack dog can be used for good. This is also true for dogs, cats, cute little bundles of alien fur, and alien attack peacocks. Just be sure to have lots of raw chicken handy.
9. Pack your purse with whatever you can think of. Treat it as if you were going to go on Let's Make a Deal during Militia Week. You never know when a pen, a wad of paper, or a can of hairspray will come in handy, and a Glock with extra clips never goes out of style.
8. Until a politician proves otherwise, assume he or she is out to kill you and everyone else you love. That goes double for anyone working in the C.I.A. unless their name is Chuckie Reynolds.

7. Read the briefing books. Or not. Someone else is sure to know the answer and you can spend the time doing something else, like listening to music and kicking bad guy butt.
6. Speaking of music, listen to it all the time. Rock and roll is your friend. It can rev you up, hurt your enemies if played loudly enough, soothe many a savage alien beast, give you tips, hints, and clues, and keep you relaxed. And don't limit yourself. Tears for Fears can save the day just as well as Aerosmith, so feel free to branch out and try everything.
5. Remember that while looking good is important to those you work with, nothing says "ready for action" like a good pair of jeans, your best pair of Converse, and a rocking band T-shirt, Aerosmith for preference. Sure, other bands can work, but so far, nothing has overcome the Bad Boys from Boston -- and let's face it, nothing ever will.
4. Learning martial arts, Kung Fu for preference, is never a bad idea. Keep these skills up. Other than the meditation part, which, like reading the briefing books, is probably better left to someone else. Someone with a much higher tolerance for boredom.
3. Being able to run far and fast is never a bad thing and can, many times, save your life. If you're still in school, join the track team. If you're not, just run a lot. All those pets will appreciate the opportunity to run with you, too. As will many of the people you work with. Some of them will insist on making you run every day, whether you want to or not, so just go with "want to" as your norm.
2. When a horrific monster appears in front of you, the Woman of Today slams a heavy pen into its back or sprays it in the face with extra hold hairspray and calls it good. Never shirk from your duty -- if it's scary and needs to die, well, kill it. You have that packed purse and all that Kung Fu training for a reason. And if you're out of ideas, call your mom. It's guaranteed that she's been hiding a secret life in kick butt espionage and will have some important tips once she discovers what you're really up to.
1. Remember what you're fighting for -- the protection of the world and all the people you love in it, along with the right to continue to have great sex with your man, the Alien Sex God, otherwise known as Jeff Martini. If you ever falter, just think about the fact that if the terrorists win, you don't get to do the deed with Jeff any more, and, trust me, you'll find the will to go on, the power to do the impossible, and the creativity to figure out what the crazed evil geniuses have going.


Thank you Gini!
Giveaway
1 signed copy Alien in The House with a set of magnets & postcards

1. Open to ALL, yes everywhere in the world
2. Ends May 21nd
3. Just enter :D
Or say something about why this book sounds fun

BIO:
Gini Koch lives in Hell's Orientation Area (aka Phoenix, AZ), works her butt off (sadly, not literally) by day, and writes by night with the rest of the beautiful people. She writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine Kitty Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series. She also writes under a variety of other pen names (including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch), listens to all kinds of music 24/7, and is a proud comics geek-girl willing to discuss at any time why Wolverine is the best superhero ever (even if Deadpool does get all the best lines). She speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. She is also the Lead Editor at Raphael's Village, an online, nonpaying 'zine. Because she wasn't busy enough, Gini's added on featured guest columnist, reviewer, and webcaster for Slice of SciFi and It's Comic Book Day. She can be reached through her website at www.ginikoch.com.


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