Monday, 31 March 2014

How to handle a Cowboy - Joanne Kennedy

Sidelined by a career-ending injury, rodeo cowboy Ridge Cooper is desperate to find an outlet for the energy he devoted to his sport. He decides to teach rodeo skills to the kids at the Phoenix House, a local group home for foster children. Here he falls for a big-city girl who just might make him the perfect wife. 

Inner-city social worker Sierra Dunn has been exiled to a last-chance home for foster kids in a remote Wyoming town for blowing the whistle on her boss. Her only goal is to prove herself and move back to the city, but the town's rodeo hero is going after her heart.

My thoughts:
I would not call it drama filled, just a lot of issues that had to be dealt with as the book dealt with broken people.

First we have Sierra who works aa a social worker and takes care of 5 young boys. They all have their own issues and she tries to protect them and make them come out of their shells. So she is a nurturer, protective and her job is her life.

Ridge is the broken one of the two of them. He is like the boys she protect. He has demons from his past and he does not know how to move on with life when he can't do rodeo anymore.

They meet, they slowly become friends, they bond over the boys and ranch life. They argue and they will get that HEA in the end. It just has a way to go.

Conclusion:
A romance with a bit of extra to it.

Cover
Nice

Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2014 by Sourcebooks Casablanca (first published January 1st 2014)
Cowboys of Decker Ranch #1
Contemporary romance
For review


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Carole Reviews: Under the Dragon's Claw - Alex George

Author: Alex George
Title: Under the Dragon's Claw (Heartstone Talisman #1) 
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: ebook
First Published: January 8th, 2014 
Where I Got It: Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion


"The Dark Circle is augmenting its ranks with fresh blood and will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. Their esteemed son Zarzbudin, Dragon Lord and Warlock of the Dragon’s Foot Mountains has set his eyes on Alcavia, a fortress kingdom on the furthest outskirts of strife-torn Thalagia.




Theodor leaves his isolated world and sets off on a voyage with the crew of the Sea Breeze to thwart the warlock’s plans and rescue from his clutches Princess Adelayne. Aiding him in his quest are Archon, High Mage of Aldorn, ancient Zoi and the traitor nymph Roxette. Relentlessly pursuing them with all the resources the Shadow has to offer is Archon’s nemesis, the notorious Dark Sorcerer.

With a past shrouded in mystery and a future destined to be as turbulent as the seas surrounding his island home, the outcome of Theodor’s struggle is all but certain…"


Like earlier stated I read this for the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Yayy dragons!!!! I've been craving a book with dragons. The few that I thought were going to have to dragons in them left me upset and void of dragons. 0.0 But not only were there dragons in this they could talk and some were good guys! ^.^ I am super happy.

Along with the dragons in this world, there were a lot of different creatures running about. Mages, nymphs, dwarves, ancients, and etc. It was fun and it reminded me a little bit of Lord of the Rings mixed with YA and Game of Thrones. Weird, I know, but it worked. This did seem very YA. I'm not sure if it is officially in the category, but I would put it there if I had it my way. 

Anyways....

There is a lot going on. A lot of characters and a lot of stories and back-stories. The first few chapters really were a blur sometimes and I had to re-read spots because I couldn't remember who was who. >__< Perhaps its was just me, but I feel that too much was thrown in at once. He jumped RIGHT into the story. I wish that he slowly introduced the characters that would follow Theo on his journey. After like 4 chapters, I finally got down and understood who was who and what was going on. 

I can't really go into much detail without giving away major spoilers...

The ending was a cliffhanger...but not the annoying rip-out-my-hair type of cliffhanger. It left the reader wanting more...if they want it. If the reader doesn't want more, then its fine. It was slightly abrupt, but it worked. I did like the final battles (yes there were a handful going on all at the same time) at the end. I can only imagine a director if a movie having a ball with all the battles. Dragon on dragon, mage on mage, knight on knight, and human on evil nymph. Fantastic. I think that last little bit was my favorite scene throughout the entire book. hahaha.

In the end, this was indeed a fun adventure. The world was nicely displayed. The beginning may have been confusing at times, but once the story goes along everything begins to slow done and be understood. I really liked the final battles at the end. I would recommend this to those that like fantasy books with adventure and a little bit of romance mixed in. I'm so glad it had dragons in it. ^.^ Out of five stars I shall stamp this with...mmmm...ummmm....3. It would be a four, but the beginning really let me down. 

Favorite Character(s): Nem, Princess Adelayne, Roxette, and Dark Sorceror (a good baddie).
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Archon (he annoyed me...can't explain why). 



Saturday, 29 March 2014

Takedown Twenty - Janet Evanovich

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail. 

It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.  

With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 19th 2013 by Headline Review (first published January 1st 2013)
Stephanie Plum #20
Library

My review:
I know some hate them, but this calls for GIFs

  

 Why do I keep doing this to myself?! Why do I read these books?! They never ever change.

   

 Do you want to know what the book is about?
 Ranger says Babe a LOT of times, and nothing else. And saves her sorry ass.
 Steph almost dies a LOT of times. And she is TSTL

 

Morelli is all over her, why I do not know as she is a cheater.
She does not choose a man.
Lola is being Lola and saying stuff like Ho.
Grandma is being spunky and grandma.
Step's mum irons and her dad says nothing.
There is a giraffe.
Cars get totaled and I lost count of how many she borrows.
Steph fails and fails with getting her skips.

   

The End

.


Friday, 28 March 2014

Enclave - Ann Aguirre

In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn't like following orders. At first she thinks he's crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don't always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she's never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy... but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known. 

My thoughts:
I gave it a 3 in the end cos it was good, it could have been a 4, and I really should have given it a 1 because of last part. So I give the beginning  4, the middle part a 3 and the latter part a 1.

Right, good things:
It was a creepy freaky world. You can become a breeder, a hunter or a builder. And then die when you are 25. You live your whole live underground and do not know what the sun is. I liked all of this. It was dark, people died, there was injustice. People were stupid and it was just cool.

The narrator did a good job (not with Face though) and I was never bored.

Bad Things: 
Spoiler alert
The shit hits the fan when Fade and Deuce leaves the tunnels and heads up. This is where I started to question the world building. How the hell did it all break down so fast, how did people forget so fast, and why do people die so young, but start working so late? Maybe if a class of 5 year olds where the only ones to survive I can believe it.

But that was not the worst thing, no, that was the victim blaming. Deuce was all cool and thought about how if anyone abused a woman they would be cut and thrown at the freaks. Ok, good. BUT, why the hell does she then blame poor Teegan for getting raped? Yes it's SO her fault that she never learned how to defend herself and was gang raped by 20 guys. Had lots of stillborn children and almost died. SO her fault. Stupid Teegan, you should just have fought and died. What a stupid slut.

Ok can it get worse? YES. Ok so the guy who was the boss of the raping gangers comes along when Fade, Deuce and Teegan. No one except Teegan questions it. And suddenly we are supposed to think that he was the only one who did not rape Teegan (or anyone else). HA, are you kidding me? Of course he raped everyone, he was the leader. Yes just invite him along and do not think he would not rape you while you sleep. And and, omg. HE comes a love interest of Deuce. No fuck no! You did not think of the raping murderer as a love interest. How am I supposed to handle that? 

And honestly Deuce, you are sad over some blind kid but do not give one damn when you leave the city that you are leaving young girls and children to get eaten by freaks. I get that Stalker does not care.

I am torn, I want to see what happens but wtf Stalker wtf. I can not forgive that.WTF

Audio CD, 6 pages
Published April 12th 2011 (first published April 11th 2011)
(Razorland, #1)
YA Dystopia


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Warsworn - Elizabeth Vaughan

Lara is the Warprize. A powerful healer, she has sworn an oath of loyalty to Keir the Warlord, and his people. Now the Warlord and his chosen mate face enemies within the tribe and danger lurks on every hand as they journey toward Keir's homeland.

When they reach a village marked with the warnings of the plague, Keir forbids Lara to heal the sick, commanding that she not risk her own life. But both Lara and Kier are strong of will and neither will bend easily, even for love; and when Lara disobeys, she pays the price: both she and Kier are plague-struck... and so is their entire encampment.

In the midst of the dying, Iften, a rival warrior, gathers his followers and challenges Keir for the right to rule their tribe. If Keir, weakened by the sickness, loses -- he dies. And so does Lara. To save her love, her life, and her adopted people, Lara must find a cure for the plague -- and fully embrace her sworn role as Warprize to her Warlord.

My thoughts:
I read book 1 3 years ago, which sucks. Cos I do believe if I had been in the zone I would have liked it more. Of course I still liked the book, but it was a long time between them. And I should just have re-read the end ;)

Keir and Lara are on their way back. Keir has to deal with his people, and Lara wonders if he still wants her there. A healer and a barbarian warrior, what is there not to love? ;) Yes honestly that is all I have to say, I love the concept. He is all rawr! we are different but it works, and she is all...I have no idea where I was going with that, lol. Ok forget it.

Plague, yes much about the book is about the plague and how they all get it and...people doubt Keir. Damn asses! It's a plague! A horrid plague.

The book ends with so more promised. I am worried and anxious about what will come next. Oh and there is one person in this book that I want to kick in the balls.

Cover
eh

Kindle Edition, like 300-400ish?
Published April 4th 2006 by Tor Paranormal Romance
Chronicles of the Warlands #2
Fantasy romance
own


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Truth and Fear - Peter Higgins

Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air raids are a daily occurrence and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defense of the city. 

But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city. But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?

My thoughts:
I had planned to save this for Friday, but ok you get 2 Higgins after each other :D I did not know I'd read it so fast. I just could not stop ;)

Look at that, I actually liked book 2 more. That does not happen a lot but here, maybe it was because now I knew the world, now I was truly invested, or maybe just because book 2 kicked it up a notch.

Lom and Maroussia return to the city. There are more to Lom than meets the eye and I do wonder about his origin. While Maroussia is no longer the confused woman on the run, she now has a goal. Together they must run from those who seek them. They get closer and closer to the Pollandore which might change the world. 

The world is still awesome. War is coming closer, the dictator is dead. The leadership of the city had changed, and yes the angel is still watching and playing. It was a constant fear for their lives, perfect.

Conclusion:
This book is about a journey through the city, fighting for your life, the search for something and what war do to people. And the end, oh that was rather evil wasn't it. Now I need more. Now I need to know what will happen to Vlast. Because, awesome.

Cover
Still so thriller looking

Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 20th 2014 by Gollancz (first published January 1st 2014)
Wolfhound Century #2
For review
Alternate history / thriller / detective


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Wolfhound Century - Peter Higgins

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown terrorism with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

My thoughts:
How to describe this one? How to do it justice? In Soviet Russia reviews writes you! Anyway...

Yes, this book takes place in a world that is ours, or maybe it is not our world. We have a "Russia" turned "Soviet", ruled by a ruthless dictator, revolutionaries running around in the streets bombing stuff, a war with a place called The Archipelago, and that is all we learn of that place. But that is only the beginning. There is a vast vast forest, there are creatures from Slavic mythology, there are Gods that left, and there was a war in the sky that broke the moon and made angels fall to earth and die. Their flesh used by scientist for their own gain, and one of those angels are still alive, huge, dark and hungry. Hey there was even "Finnish" giant. Now you might to understand that this was different. 

In this fascinating world an investigator named Lom is brought to the capital to find a terrorist. Instead he finds a conspiracy bigger than anything he could have imagined. A city killing itself, earth moving beneath his feet and a world that needs to be saved.

Conclusion:
So, it's a mystery, fantasy, alternate earth, detective story. Really different and honestly just cool.

Cover
It made me think more thriller and not this crazy mix

Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 9th 2014 by Gollancz (first published March 1st 2013)
Wolfhound Century #1
Alternate history / detective story /speculative fiction
For review


Monday, 24 March 2014

The Golden Apple - Michelle Diener

Kayla's father has made her the prize in a deadly, impossible tournament, and Kayla has retaliated in the only way she knows how; by choosing her champion beforehand. But taking control of the outcome changes the game completely, and when the real reason behind the strange test becomes apparent, Kayla realizes not just her life, but her entire kingdom is at stake.

In order to save his brother, Rane will do whatever he has to--including deceive and betray a princess. He knew nothing about this tournament would be easy, but when it turns into a deeper, far more sinister game, Rane is forced to see it through to the end, or leave his brother at the mercy of their enemy.

Now their fates are entwined, and they must venture into the deep, dark forest together . . . 

Kayla and Rane are bound to one another by an enchantment and Kayla's actions. But the sorcerer forcing them to do his will may have miscalculated, because no-one comes out of the Great Forest unchanged. No-one.

My thoughts:
This story is loosely based on The Princess on the Glass Mountain, I read that story, and I do not remember if I have come across it before. Perhaps long long ago. But like with everything, Diener makes the story her with all it's twists and turns.

Kayla is a princess, but she wants to choose her own destiny and so she does. Afterwards she is put on that glass mountain for a man to win her.

Rane wants to save his brother, and the princess is just a way to it. They have both lied and used each other. But they both also know it. Romance? Well it takes time, they need to trust each other as they are bound together on a journey. And I do like slow-building romance. Considering this is more fairy-tale in my mind than fantasy, I like that is builds, that they need to be friends, or sort of, and to watch each other's backs.

There are dangers, magic, wicked wizards and an enchanted forest, that is not kind to travelers. 

Even if the book does reach somewhat of a conclusion to this story, more is to come. The might have won the battle but not the war. I do wonder how they will over come certain things... ;) I can't wait to read more.

Conclusion:
A fairy-tale like fantasy.

Cover
nice

Paperback, 298 pages
Published March 24th 2014 by Michelle Diener
For review
Fairy-tale remake / Fantasy romance


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Carole Reviews: The Secrets of Casanova - Greg Michaels

Author: Greg Michaels

Title: The Secrets of Casanova
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, and Adventure
Pages: ebook
First Published: October 19th, 2013 
Where I Got It: Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion. 



"Paris of 1755 is bloated with opportunity. That’s the way Jacques Casanova, an unredeemed adventurer with an ever-surging appetite for pleasure, needs it. But times, men, and gods are changing—and Jacques’ luck is fading. When he is thrust to the center of a profound mystery, he doesn't ask if vice or virtue leads him onward. “After all,” he declares, “a man who asks himself too many questions is an unhappy man.” But as Jacques’ challenges mount, what questions will he ask? What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? Loosely based on Casanova’s life of intrigue, danger, and passion, The Secret's of Casanova will keep you burning the midnight oil."


Like earlier stated, I was given this book for my honest and unbiased opinion. 


Ooooooooooooooooooh Casanova! WHAT A ROGUE! However, one can resist his charms even in a book. Greg Michaels truly did his homework on Mr. Casanova. I feel this is the closet representation of the man (from what I know and believe) that I know of. The movie did an okay job, but this book really painted the man wonderfully. Yes, he was a gambler and a lover, but he was also smart. He was a philosopher and technically had a degree in being a lawyer. He was also and foremost and adventurer. 


The adventure that we are taken on was exciting and I was addicted! I needed to know what the next clue was and even though I had a deep foreboding (which would be come true twice over) about what was going to happen, I still plummeted forward, because I needed to know just as badly as Casanova did. The ending did make me mad, BUUUUT I seen it coming. I also understand the symbolism and WHY the author ended it the way he did. Still though...I was not a happy camper and it was a small let down (at least for me...one might see it differently).


The beginning was a little slow, but it was indeed the calm before the storm. Enjoy the slowness, because after a couple of chapters things EXPLODE and the adventure begins. I'm glad the author didn't just jump into the adventure. 


Poor Dominique...can't say much, but I truly connected with her and I felt bad....sighs.

In the end, this was a fun and exciting book. Even though the ending was a small let down for me (personally), I see the wisness and the symbolism behind it. The beginning was a little slow, but it was necessary and I liked it. I recommend this to those who like their historical fiction mixed with some mystery and adventure. I shall stamp this with 4 stars. 



Favorite Character(s): Casanova and Dominique 

Not-so Favorite Character(s): Petrine and Quentin 



Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mishel reviews: Find Momo



Thousands of Internet fans play hide-and-seek with Momo the border collie every day, and now you can, too. Momo and his best buddy Andrew Knapp have traveled all over—through fields, down country roads, across cities, and into yards, neighborhoods, and surreal spaces of all sorts. The result is a book of spectacular photography that’s also a game you can play anytime. Lose yourself in page after page of Andrew’s beautiful, serene, dreamlike images, and sooner or later you’ll find Momo’s sweet, eager face looking back at you. (Can’t find him? Don’t worry…the answers are in the back.)

Andrew Knapp is a freelance interface designer and photographer from northern Ontario who desires to make everyday routines into creative adventures. Along with his commercial photography and design work, he’s filmed a TEDx Talk, collaborated on an Instamissions project with MTV and Sony, and cofounded the We Live Up Here collaboration exploring life in Sudbury, Ontario.

Momo is an adorable black-and-white, brown-eyed border collie, Andrew’s BFF, and a genius at hiding. Together they’re an Instagram phenomenon, bringing smiles to over 100,000 followers who never miss their chance to try to find Momo.

Dog lovers, photography buffs, and all readers in general will fall in love with Momo and his human sidekick, Andrew Knapp. This dynamic duo has been hiding-and-seeking through Instagram (http://instagram.com/andrewknapp) for quite some time. I remember seeing an article years ago when Andrew first started posting photographs featuring his beloved border collie. His photography is beautiful by itself – unique places, gorgeous landscapes, peaceful and bustling spaces. The bonus part with this photography book is finding Momo hidden somewhere in each photograph! And if you somehow can’t find him within the pictures featured within don’t fret – there’s an answer key in the back!

What I really love about this book is how inspirational it is. With every photograph I felt the need to travel to places I’ve never been but have always wanted to visit. I wanted to go to any and all places that I’ve only seen in pictures and only dreamed of going. I tend to get like that anytime I look at fantastic photography but pair the stunning images with Momo’s beloved face and a new sense of longing comes to mind. I had a border collie years ago and I know all too well the loving spirit these dogs possess. But you don’t have know the breed personally to know how magical the human and dog bond can be. That magic comes through these photos and through Andrew’s few pieces of writing in the book. The love shared between them is abundantly clear and really great to be a part of.

I loved the inclusion of an answer key. I’m not tooting my own horn but I found Momo in every photo! (TOOT TOOT) Although I was stumped on a few pictures it’s easy to spot Momo’s charming, furry face. I almost became automatically drawn to him as soon as I turned the page. I also enjoyed the fact that Andrew included where each photo was taken – in case one feels the need to travel to those very places (like yours truly)! The tiny snippets of personal information about Momo and his relationship with Andrew was a wonderful addition that added a sweet and relatable touch to the entire book. I would have loved more writing but this is a photography book after all. 
Find Momo has found a permanent home on my bookshelf. I even asked my other half if he had heard of Andrew and Momo and as I handed him the book he quickly got lost in the game of hide and seek. This book can serve as a great gift or just a simple reminder that the love of dogs, photography, travel, and friendship can shine through and spread happiness with just a turn of a page.

5/5

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp
Published March 4, 2014 by Quirk Books
Paperback, 144 pages
Tags: Art, Photography, Non-fiction, Animals -Dogs
Received for review




Friday, 21 March 2014

Written in red - Anne Bishop

In a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities--vampires and shape-shifters among them--who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. 

As a "cassandra sangue," or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut--a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard--a business district operated by the Others. 

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

My thoughts:
I so wanted to love this book like everyone else did, but, well it was good, I really enjoyed it but I did not love it. You know going all OMG OMG about it. Now, I just enjoyed it, and was glad to have read it.

The world was amazing. Well done there. Though if I were the Others I would not have let the meat spread so much. Less spreading, more eating. But it was really cool and I loved the quote about what happened to the dinosaurs, the others did it. Haha.

I think if I have to point out a flaw that might have made me like instead of really like is Meg. Why does everyone love her? Come on! I know she does not smell like prey but she is still meat. You guys are supposed to be big and scary monsters, but as I read out I just so fluffy dogs and silly crows. I know they can bury a town, but they all became too fluffy, she made them too fluffy and she felt like a Mary Sue. I want to be scared, instead I got the impression that everyone will end up friends with the meat. No! You are supposed to eat the meat, not play with it..ok play with it for a while and then eat it.

Conclusion:
But hey the world was fascinated, and sure I did like how they all liked and wanted to protect her. It just lessened the story a bit. The danger was taken away.

Cover
Ok

ebook, 448 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Penguin Group (USA)
The Others #1
urban fantasy romance
Own


Thursday, 20 March 2014

The boy with the porcelain blade - Den Patrick

Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted - but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.

Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.

My thoughts:
Now what to call this one? Most of the action takes place in a castle, like 95% of the book (makes me think of Mervyn Peake). There is somewhat of a Gothic Darkness over the whole castles area. A king who no one sees and who seems to be immortal. People going missing and of course the Orfanos. The king has ordered that they should be treated well so they are all in "school". Some of these Orfanos are very deformed while some like Lucien got lucky, he has no ears, but it ends there. They, the nobles, and everyone really have their own intrigues and lots of backstabbing going on here.

The whole fantasy feel is also different. The world is Italian of a sort, but then some names and myths are mentioned. It made me think that a bunch if Italians got on a ship and got ship wrecked on a mythical island. And there they are stuck, for all time and we can't find them. And island of their own horror.

The book is told through flashbacks of his life growing up and the tests he had to take. And present time when he gets into trouble because of something I will not mention. The end is open in a way, it has a conclusion for him, but I do wonder about what happens next.

I liked it. At first I was not sure about the flashbacks cos I really wanted to know what would happen to Lucien, and not see what happened before. I do hate waiting. But I can live with that ;) A different sort of fantasy when it's not easy to really stick out.

Cover
Ok

Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 20th 2014 by Gollancz

Fantasy
For review


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Author Interview: Den Patrick

Today's author interview is with Den Patrick.

Welcome!

1. First, who is Den Patrick? Tell me about yourself.
I live in London, where I’ve had jobs as a bookseller and comics editor. I worked for Games Workshop many years ago in their stores. I still enjoying tabletop gaming, role playing games, card games, console games... you get the idea. I also reviewed SFF books for a few years for the now defunct Dreamwatch Magazine. I’m originally from Dorset, born to Londoner parents. I attended a performing arts college, which just goes to prove you never  know what you’ll be when you eventually grow up.

2. In your new book, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, we have Lucien who is Orfano. Enlighten is what that means.
The Orfano are, as you might guess, orphaned children, found on the steps of Demesne, the vast sprawling castle where the novel takes place. The Orfano are unique from other foundlings, bearing strange deformities and possessing talents. The reclusive king has decreed that the Orfano be fostered with one of the four Great Houses. The Orfano are distrusted because of their otherness; the more superstitious folk of Landfall think them witches, or streghe in the old tongue.

3. How was Lucien born in your mind?
I tried to ask myself what it would be like to grow up in that environment. I studied counseling and family counseling briefly and I’m fascinated by what makes people tick: nature, nurture, environment, conditioning and so on. Lucien lacks ears and is self-conscious about his deformity, though he tries to hide it with long hair, fine clothes, and a teenage bravura he rarely feels. 

Lucien was always going to be brat, growing up in Demesne with so much privilege. It was important to surround him with people who would humanize and ground him. Camelia the cook becomes a mother figure to him. His relationship with Rafaela, his nanny changes over the course of the novel, but she is frequently a conscience of sorts. 

4. What's the best thing about writing fantasy?
All genres have their tropes, but I like to think Fantasy is more mutable. Daniel Polansky added a strong noir flavour to his Low Town Novels. Richard Morgan, Mark Charan Newton and M. John Harrison all feature technology, and that’s before we get into Urban Fantasy, which has become a distinct genre to itself. Reviews have already commented that The Boy with the Porcelain Blade feels like a Thriller, but features a dash of Horror, and even nods to Gothic. I think it’s great that people can see those influences bleeding through.

5. If you could choose a fantasy world other than your own, which world would you like to explore and why?
I couldn’t stay in Mark Charan Newton’s rich and mysterious Villjamur on account of the fierce cold. 

China Miéville’s New Crobuzon feels like a Weird version of London (where I currently live). I would love to meet a cactus person. Downside: Slakemoths, and the police state.

Rivendell would be great place to go for a writing retreat but I’m pretty sure I’d get bored after a week. There’s only so much unearthly singing and angelic beauty I can take.

I have a terrible sense of direction. I’d be taking my life in hands visiting M. John Harrison’s Viriconium, a vast, tumbledown, unknowable city.

I realise I’ve unwittingly answered this question citing Fantasy cities, which just goes to prove where my heart is. Ultimately, I think I’d live in Scott Lynch’s Camorr. A nice high tower in the Videnza, round the corner from Madam Strollo’s candle shop. I’d have a view of the sea and wide windows for lots of sunlight.

6. Last, what are you working on right now?
I’m editing book two of The Erebus Sequence, the follow up to The Boy with the Porcelain Blade. It’s set nine years after the first novel, and features a new point of view character. I tend to stick with a single point of view for the length of the novel, so it’s fun to have a new protagonist. The emergence of a shadowy manipulator called Erebus creates a crisis that threatens to destroy the fragile peace. It’s proving to be a lot of work, but very rewarding.

Thanks!

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is out tomorrow, March 20th from Gollancz


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather and once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina—has stood for years as a monument to misfortune and scandal. Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite Paxton Osgood—has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light, accompanied by a spate of strange occurrences throughout the town. Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living.

My thoughts:
Nothing like a Addison Allen book to make you believe in books again (I had two very bad DNFs before this one). 

I am sure I could go on and on. But I would honestly just want to say that you really should read her books. The magical realism in them is simply wonderful. It's so real, yet so magical. It's called magical realism for a reason after all.

Here we have a hidden secret under a peach tree. It's about Willa, who never really lived, and Paxton, who wants to spread her wings too. They find each other, they find secrets and they both find love too. And sprinkled all over it there is magic as they get close to the mystery.

Conclusion:
I recommend her books to everyone. I do no have much more to say, this is one of those books that do not need a lot of words spoken about it. Just read it.

Cover
Nice

Paperback, US, 304 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Bantam (first published March 22nd 2011)
Magical realism, Fiction
For review


Monday, 17 March 2014

Sapphires are an Earl's best friend - Shana Galen

Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm by the Prince Regent himself, plays the role of the courtesan flawlessly while her real purpose is spying in the service of the Crown. Her mission now is to seduce a duke to test his true loyalties. She'll do it, even though the man she really wants is Andrew Booth-Payne, Earl of Darlington—the duke's son.

Andrew is furious when he finds himself rivaling his father for Lily's attention. When he uncovers Lily's mission, Andrew is faced with impossible choices. It seems he is destined to betray either his family, his country, or the longings of his own heart...

My thoughts:
Lily is a courtesan...but not really. She is a spy for the Crown and she has also been taught by the Countess of Sinclair to sort of be a courtesan. Her reputation is forever in the gutter but at least her body is clean. She knows she can be charming, but she also know she is not as pretty as the two other famous courtesans (previous books). Also she has been in love with an earl called Andrew for ages.

Andrew is the son of a duke. A duke who wants Lily. A duke who just lost his duchess. So Andrew is not happy, but who can blame him. Sure he is a bit mad at Lily at times then but again, who can blame him? 

These two had great chemistry. She had once pined for him, he had pined for her friend. Now they argue and you know I love a good banter.

There is also the mystery part when Lily needs to find out if the Duke is a traitor. So it will get a bit suspenseful in the end, and of course these two will argue and get a bit passionate too.

Cover
Works

Mass Market Paperback, 324 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Jewels of the Ton #3
Historical romance
For review


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mishel Reviews: Hannie Rising - Jeanette Baker

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: December 2013 
Publisher: Createspace
Pages:  428
My Rating: 4.25/5 
Source: Received for review from author
Cover: I don’t really see a connection between the cover and the story but the cover is pretty with the clean and simple colors.

Mickey Enright isn’t ready to be dead. His life on earth has been more than satisfactory. He is an icon in Tralee, a “typical Kerryman,” an easy-going, life-of-the-party jokester, a man’s man, a decent, although unexceptional provider who took for granted the faithfulness of his wife, the love of his children, Kerry football, and a few pints with the lads in Betty’s Pub on Rock Street. Convinced there has been a mistake, he demands another chance at mortality.  

St. Peter, with an agenda of his own, sends Mickey back to Tralee as a stranger.  
Meanwhile, Hannie, Mickey’s widow, has begun to resurface from her loss and celebrate her freedom. She has also learned a thing or two about her late husband, enough to convince her that life after marriage might be more satisfying than it was during.

Mickey, his original purpose to win back a few more years of his former life, finds himself in the unique position of attempting to court his wife, a woman he believed held no surprises for him and, in so doing, learns a thing or two about Hannie as well as playing directly into the hands of St. Peter.

Review:
I read, reviewed, and enjoyed Catriona by Jeanette Baker back in 2011. Ever since, I’ve been interested in reading more of Baker’s work. I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed Hannie Rising and am actually pretty surprised how much the story stuck with me. It wasn’t quite what I expected having read the synopsis. This story has nothing to do with the supernatural but rather redemption, the love of family and friendship, and self-discovery. It left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that stayed with me long after I finished. 

The untimely death of Mickey Enright has affected a lot of people in the small town of Tralee. His wife, Hannie, isn’t quite sure how to cope with the loss and his grown children, Kate and Liam, can’t quite imagine what life will be like without their father around any longer. Mickey himself is probably the most shell-shocked of them all. He’s far from ready to leave his life and family behind.  After passing into that brilliant white light, St. Peter is there to greet him. Mickey all but begs for a second chance and is again surprised to find out that his wish is to be granted. But his mission isn’t simply about unfinished business. Mickey is in fact allowed to return; he must come back as a stranger and keep his true identity a secret. Not quite sure what this new venture entails Mickey is all too eager to return to his wife, his children, and his life without truly understanding what he must 

Meanwhile, it’s been a year since Mickey’s death and Hannie is still missing her husband but is starting to adjust remarkably well. With her children out and living their own lives she has her home to herself and is able to do whatever she likes without having to worry or look after anyone else. It’s a refreshing freedom that comes to a screeching halt even before it truly began. When both of her children ask to come back home and her mother slow descent into the grip of Alzheimer’s, Hannie must relinquish hold on a life she barely got a taste of. But what can she do? She’s a mother, a daughter, a pillar of emotional strength. She couldn’t possibly turn her family away when they need her. But when is someone going to be there for her when she needs it?

I can’t really say this story is just about Mickey or Hannie. Even though the title and even synopsis may lead one to believe this is Hannie’s story it really belongs to the entire family. It’s told in alternating POVs and is very well-executed in my opinion. Kate and Liam become main characters in their own right and even Hannie’s mother levels up there with the rest of the family. What I like most about Baker’s writing is her ability to create relatable, down-to-earth, and emotionally-layered characters. I found a little bit of myself in each of these people. Both Kate and Liam are in their twenties and are struggling to find a path for themselves with different obstacles in their way. Hannie is determined to be the person her family needs but she was just starting to experience a newfound freedom that I really hated to see taken away. Mickey, in disguise, is plopped down into the hubbub trying to discover what his new purpose is. All of them are on a journey that I know countless people can relate to on some level. 

I love how I was also able to be totally immersed in Tralee and Ireland itself while following these characters. Having never traveled out of the country, or much out of my home state for that matter, I truly appreciate author’s that are able to bring the setting to life as if I were there. I’m very happy with my overall reading experience and although this is Baker’s latest release I still plan on reading her other books and any future ones she may write. 




Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mishel Reviews: Princesses behaving badly - Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date:  November 2013 
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4/5
Source: Received from publisher for review
Cover: It’s pretty creative; I like it, although the princess at the very top looks very manly…

You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders—but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev murdered thousands of men, and Princess Rani Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back.  Princesses Behaving Badly  offers mini-biographies of all these princesses and dozens more. It’s a fascinating read for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

Review:
I know the whole Disney princess franchise is a rip-off and may or may not be detrimental to young girls today. But honestly, I like Disney princesses…to a certain extent. Do I like that most of them (the earlier ones especially) need a prince to have their Happily Ever After? No, I don’t like that fact or many others. But I’m a sucker for fairy tales and the entire idea of what a Disney princess is appeals to me for some reason. I have a three year old daughter that loves all things Disney princess-related. Do I want her to eventually grow out of it though? Hell yes! But this isn’t a rant or discussion about Disney princesses. I brought Disney up because unfortunately that’s my only real knowledge of princesses. But real life princesses – the ones who fight for their freedom, scheme for power, lie, cheat and steal for gain are the ones featured in this book. These women are nothing like the princesses I grew up with but I became truly fascinated by so many of them after reading Princesses Behaving Badly.

I love the fact that this is such a fun, light, and fluffy read. These short, mini-biographies of the royal women of history is not only fascinating but an excellent introduction to a lot of women I hadn’t even heard of before. A number of their stories intrigue me enough to want to go off and explore more about their lives. It got especially exciting for me as the author moved closer to the current time period and even included some women who were still alive or had recently just passed within my lifetime. I do believe there was no intention of a deep, methodically researched portrayal of these women and honestly that’s what makes this read so much fun and so easy to read. McRobbie provides just enough insight to attract even the most reluctant historical reader. The gossip-rag style of delivery brings a modern outlook on these women and the choices they voluntarily made or were forced to make during their lives. Again, I think it’s a brilliant way to interest young and older readers alike. 

Although I’m sure all facts are as reliable and accurate as possible I don’t think one should look upon this book as a serious read. I think it was meant to shed light on royal women, (including empresses, ones that may only be myths, ranis – which means “queen” or “lady” in many Indo-Aryan languages, khans – yes think Genghis!, and even imposters) that have “made the headlines” in their day. While most of these princesses were definitely behaving “badly”, even downright insane in some cases, some were merely stepping over boundaries that were frowned upon greatly or doing things other women would only dream of.  The majority of these ladies never got their fairytale happily-ever-afters but they led extraordinary lives that over time have come to inspire and/or entertain the masses; a big accomplishment in its own right!






Friday, 14 March 2014

Blood and Iron - Jon Sprunk

It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn't even begin to understand.

Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn't last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen's court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire's caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

My thoughts:
Ok let me explain this one as, European like crusader is shipwrecked and ends up on eastern enemy lands. But this East is a mix of every culture, old and older and well made up :)

Right so we have Horace, who becomes a slave but then they see he has magic and he is saved. His country does not have magic just over zealous priests so this is new to him. But he slowly finds his way.

Then we have Jirom, another slave turned gladiator and who is sold yet again. Poor guy. But he mostly fought and fought so I was never really in his head a lot.

Last we have Alyra, a slave and spy who spies for another country. With her comes questions, what is going on? Seems to be a lot of city states in this empire. Then the neigbors wants control too (because the empire is evil), and then we have the idiot priests that wants to take over too. So everyone wants something, and all our players may not always realise what they are fighting for.

Conclusion:
Magic, an old eastern touch and that is just the beginning. I really do not have an idea how this will all turn out. That is the problem when many countries are at war and there are priests, arghh those priests!

Cover
ok

Paperback, 428 pages
Published March 11th 2014 by Pyr
The Book of the Black Earth #1
Fantasy
For review


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Author Interview and giveaway: Janet Gover

Today I interview Janet Gover, author of Flight to Coorah Creek. There is also a giveaway :)

1. Who is Janet Gover?
Gosh – you really start off with the hard ones, don’t you. I’m a girl who grew up in a tiny bush town – I was the only person between the ages of 4 and 40. It was a bit lonely – so I escaped through books. When I got older I escaped for real – I was a TV reporter, an academeic, a horse breeder and trainer, a teacher , a comuter geek, a shop assistant.. all these things.

But underneath it all, I was a girl who wanted to explore the whole world and meet everyone in it.

Now that I’m older – I like to go back to that small country town. I appreciate now what a unique upbringing I had. It has given me some rare insights that I use in my writing. But I still want to go everywhere and meet everyone in the world! 

2. Tell me about your new book, Flight to Coorah Creek...
Coorah Creek is a fictional town in the far outback of Queensland. It’s a place people sometimes go to hide - from their past or from themselves. Jessica Pearson is tryin to hide from her past when she takes a job flying the air ambulance. Dr Adam Gilmore is hiding a dark secret that as haunted him since he was a child.
They are two damaged souls – who may just find redemption together.

The book is also about the town itself – the people who make it the sort of close knit community it is.

3. What was your inspiration behind this book?
Coorah Creek was inspired by the town in Queensland where I grew up. I am trying to capture that experience in the book. 

The idea for the air ambulance comes form my own experience – I was once flown out if the Central Austral desert by an air ambulance. I guess this book is my way of saying thank you to those wonderful people who may just have saved my life.

4. Now let's talk characters. 3 words each that sum up Jessica and Adam?
Three words? That’s hard - I can barely manage to tweet ...  Ummm (thinks)
Jessica – lost, determined, honest. 
Adam – dedicated, strong, caring.

5. I only know the outback from The Flying Doctors (loved that show), so is the real outback like that?
This is going to sound strange – but I don’t remember ever seeing the series. I think it may have been more popular the UK than in Australia. I always think most TV shows have an element of truth, exaggerated or modified to make a better show.

Having lived there – I can say it’s not an easy life. There are droughts and bush fires. Working a cattle property is physically demanding – especially in the heat. The people who live there have to be tough, but there is a community spirit in the small towns which is wonderful.

And it’s beautiful. At night, looking up into the sky, there are more stars than you would believe. They hang so low in the sky, you feel you could reach out and touch them. 

6. And last, are you working on something exciting right now? :)
I am almost finished the second Coorah Creek book. This features two characters we met in Flight to Coorah Creek – it was time for them to have their own stories. Adam and Jess and some of the other characters from the first book make an appearance too – so you can check in and see how they are getting on.

Thanks!
Thanks for having me on the blog.

Giveaway
1 copy of Flight to Coorah Creek

1. Open to everyone!
2. Ends March 22nd
3. Ask questions if you want to :D

That's all!

PS. And yes please leave a way to contact you if it's not in your profile (and I do not do google+, never find anything there)



Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Flight to Coorah Creek - Janet Gover

Only Jessica Pearson knows the truth when the press portrays her as the woman who betrayed her lover to escape prosecution. But will her new job flying an outback air ambulance help her sleep at night or atone for a lost life?

Doctor Adam Gilmore touches the lives of his patients, but his own scars mean he can never let a woman touch his heart.

Runaway Ellen Parkes wants to build a safe future for her two children. Without a man—not even one as gentle as Jack North.

In Coorah Creek, a town on the edge of nowhere, you're judged by what you do, not what people say about you. But when the harshest judge is the one you see in the mirror, there's nowhere left to hide.

My thoughts:
I loved the show Flying Doctors as a kid, and a teen, and  honestly I can watch that show anytime. So when I saw this book I wanted to read it, and it had the same heart. A small town, a close community and what matters is what you do there.

Jessica had a lot of issues. She was a pilot, fell in love with her boss, who then turned out to be a drug smuggler. She blames herself, she should have seen it sooner. Poor thing. I mean it was not her fault! And she had to run to the outback do get away from the papers and pointing fingers. I felt for her, people can be idiots.

Adam has issues too, I am not going to say what, but he does not want to get too close to anyone. But then Jessica shows up, and he likes her, oh he likes her.

The book has another couple too, Ellen who is also on the run with her two kids and Jack, the mechanic who falls for her.

I got to see all of these work through their issues and find love. And a new life and friends too. It was a lovely town.

We get a bit of, well medical action as that is what she is there for after all. A bit of very slow building romance and just life in general.

Conclusion:
I would take a flight to Coorah Creek if it meant meeting all of these people.

Paperback, 320 pages
Out now in ebook form from Choc Lit (print US March 15)
Women's fiction /romantic fiction
for review


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