Wednesday, 27 April 2016

My Top Ten Contemporary Romances Of All Time


The Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge is hosted by Gone with the Words and Love at First Page. As part of the challenge they are setting a different topic every month that participants can choose to join in with which I think is a brilliant idea so you can expect a post like this to appear at random most months throughout the year.

The April Prompt is:
My Top Ten Contemporary Romances Of All Time
(Links below will take you to my reviews)

I've kind of cheated a little because it was impossible to narrow it down to just 10 books! So I've picked my Top books for three different categories, Young Adult, New Adult and Adult. I read a lot less contemporary YA so I've only chosen 5 of those but I've picked my top 10 NA and Adult books.

Young Adult:

  1. Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles
  2. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
  3. Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry
  4. Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen
  5. The Square Root of Summer - Harriet Reuter Hapgood (review coming soon)
New Adult:

  1. Rock Hard - Nalini Singh
  2. Come Back To Me - Mila Gray
  3. Once Pure - Cecy Robson
  4. Losing It - Cora Carmack
  5. Before I Fall - Jessica Scott
  6. Deeper - Robin York
  7. Ugly Love - Colleen Hoover
  8. Sins & Needles - Karina Halle
  9. Easy - Tammara Webber
  10. Anything but Broken - Joelle Knox
Adult:

  1. Forever and a Day - Jill Shalvis
  2. Ride With Me - Ruthie Knox
  3. Hearts in Darkness - Laura Kaye
  4. Wrecked - Shiloh Walker
  5. The Siren - Tiffany Reisz
  6. Bared to You - Sylvia Day
  7. A Wild Ride - Vivian Arend
  8. On Dublin Street - Samantha Young
  9. 30 Days - Christine d'Abo
  10. Hollywood Dirt - Alessandra Torre (review coming soon)


So what do you think of my choices? Would you pick any of the same books as me? Have I missed off any of your favourites?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Review: Z - Larissa Ione

Zhubaal, fallen angel assistant to the Grim Reaper, has spent decades searching for the angel he loved and lost nearly a century ago. Not even her death can keep him from trying to find her, not when he knows she’s been given a second chance at life in a new body. But as time passes, he’s losing hope, and he wonders how much longer he can hold to the oath he swore to her so long ago…

As an emim, the wingless offspring of two fallen angels, Vex has always felt like a second-class citizen. But if she manages to secure a deal with the Grim Reaper — by any means necessary — she will have earned her place in the world. The only obstacle in the way of her plan is a sexy hardass called Z, who seems determined to thwart her at every turn. Soon it becomes clear that they have a powerful connection rooted in the past…but can any vow stand the test of time?

The Demonica Series:
Pleasure Unbound
Desire Unchained
Passion Unleashed
Eternity Embraced (Novella)
Ecstasy Unveiled
Sin Undone
Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 1)
Immortal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 2)
Lethal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 3)
Rogue Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 4)
Reaver
Azagoth (Novella)
Revenant
Hades (Novella)
Base Instincts (Novella)
Z (Novella)

For more information visit Larissa Ione's website

Review:
Zubaal was an elite warrior angel until he gave up his wings to follow the woman he loved when she fell from heaven. Unfortunately Laura died before he could find her again but he knows her soul was reborn and is determined to do whatever it takes to find her. He's dedicated his whole life since he fell to that search, even becoming an assistant to Azagoth, the grim reaper himself, so that he doesn't miss a chance to see Laura's soul if she dies again.

Vex is an emin (the daughter of two fallen angels) and that puts a huge target on her back from both angels and the fallen alike. Few emin are born and even fewer survive but her parents did everything they could to protect her and keep her away from the supernatural world. Until the day she started developing unusual abilities and they were forced to seek help. Vex's ability to capture souls by sucking them inside her was a lucrative one the whole time she was able to trade those souls on the black market but now that someone is working to shut down trade she's in trouble. Without help she has no way to get rid of the souls she has captured and she's at risk of being possessed by the evil soul that is already inside her. Her only chance is to make a deal with Azagoth but the grim reaper isn't a big fan of anyone who attempts to capture his souls.

I've been hoping we'd get Z's story for a long time now since he's been around as a side character in several of the previous stories. We've always known he was searching for someone but I didn't realise quite how much he had given up to be with Laura. He has spent 100 years searching for his long lost love and now finally he thinks he might have found her trapped inside Vex along with the other souls she is trying to sell to Azagoth. Things get complicated very quickly when Azagoth realises that the evil soul Vex has captured is too powerful for him to safely remove it and now the fight is on to save both Vex and Laura before that soul completely takes over and destroys the pair of them.

It's hard to go into too much detail about the romance without giving away spoilers but I loved seeing Z finally find the woman he has loved for so long. His expectations are thwarted when Laura has no memory of him and their past life together though, she is a very different woman now and although he's still attracted to her he keeps thinking if he can just show her how things used to be between them then he can get his version of Laura back. If he's not careful he risks losing her completely by not accepting her for who she is now though. The path to true love never runs smoothly and that's definitely the case for Z and Laura but their struggles are well worth it in the end. Z is another fab story from Larissa Ione and I enjoyed the chance to catch up with Azagoth, Lilliana and several of the other previous characters. I love this world and I'm glad that we've not reached the end of the series yet, in fact Larissa Ione has announced a spin off series that will feature the next generation of characters and I can't wait to get my hands on the first book!

Source: Received from author via Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Kindle:

Release Day Blast: Z - Larissa Ione


Z is the latest in Larissa Ione's incredible Demonica Underworld Series brought to you by the amazing team at 1001 Dark Nights! Be sure you grab your copy of this sexy new novella today!



About Z:

Zhubaal, fallen angel assistant to the Grim Reaper, has spent decades searching for the angel he loved and lost nearly a century ago. Not even her death can keep him from trying to find her, not when he knows she’s been given a second chance at life in a new body. But as time passes, he’s losing hope, and he wonders how much longer he can hold to the oath he swore to her so long ago…

As an emim, the wingless offspring of two fallen angels, Vex has always felt like a second-class citizen. But if she manages to secure a deal with the Grim Reaper — by any means necessary — she will have earned her place in the world. The only obstacle in the way of her plan is a sexy hardass called Z, who seems determined to thwart her at every turn. Soon it becomes clear that they have a powerful connection rooted in the past…but can any vow stand the test of time?


EXCERPT:

Inside Sheoul, the demon realm sometimes called Hell, evil was everywhere.

It dripped off the sides of the sheer rock walls in streaks of black acid that ate into the stone with a hiss. It wafted through the humid air on tendrils of mist that reeked of sulfur and decaying flesh. And, as Vex watched, it oozed like toothpaste from out of a fissure in midair that only people like her could see.

Her purple-tipped black hair, already short and spiky, stood even more on end as the thing squeezing out of the fissure, a dead demon’s soul, popped free of whatever realm and mystical enclosure it had been inside. The toothpastey glob took a transparent, vaguely humanoid shape, but its glowing crimson eyes were sharp and clear. A malevolent wave of rage and hate rolled off the soul, and Vex backed away, even though escape was impossible for her.

She was what her parents had called a daemani, a demon soul magnet, a person to whom souls stuck like glue. According to them, most daemanis couldn’t prevent it from happening, and that was a serious pain in the ass. If a demon died near Vex, not even the Grim Reaper’s personal daemanis, creatures called griminions, had a chance to collect the soul before it got sucked into her and stored as a glyph on her skin.

The demon shrieked, a sound only she or another soul-sensitive person could hear, as it struggled to keep from being sucked into the prison of her body. In a futile attempt to avoid the inevitable, she fled, her booted feet nimbly negotiating the rock shard-strewn ground that was all too common in this part of Sheoul.

But no matter how fast she ran, every time she looked over her shoulder, the distance between her and the soul had decreased. Closer. Closer.


About Larissa Ione:

Larissa Ione is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. An Air Force veteran, she traded in a career as a meteorologist to pursue her passion of writing. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and supernatural worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her U.S. Coast Guard husband, her teenage son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhound, a King Shepherd named Hexe.

Website | FacebookTwitter | 1001 Dark Nights

Monday, 25 April 2016

Review: Terry Pratchett: from birth to death, a writer - Terry Pratchett, Rob Wilkins, Neil Gaiman & Rhianna Pratchett

Limited edition hardback book provided at Terry Pratchett's memorial at the Barbican, London, 14th April 2016.

Find out more about the author's by visiting their websites:
Terry Pratchett
Rob Wilkins
Neil Gaiman
Rhianna Pratchett

Review:
This book is a limited edition hardback that was given out in the goody bags at the Terry Pratchett Memorial event at the Barbican Theatre in London on the 14th of April 2016. I did wonder if it was even worth writing a review for it since I don't think the book will ever be available to purchase but since I mainly write my reviews so that I can look back at them in years to come I'm just going to do what I always do.

I was lucky enough to be one of the fans who was given tickets to the Terry Pratchett Memorial and the whole evening was a wonderful tribute to Terry, there were some incredibly emotional moments but overall the theme of the evening was definitely laughter. I wrote about the event on my blog (HERE) so you can read all the details there if you're interested and for now I'll just focus on the book.

The team who organised the event obviously put a huge amount of effort into creating this book, aside from the iconic silhouette of Terry in his trademark hat on the front you also have the Roman numerals for his birth and death years (1948 - 2015) on the back along with a bee to represent the Venerable Order of the Honeybee which is an award Terry created to thank the people who most helped him during his writing career. Then on the inside you'll find a large image of the Pratchett family crest along with their motto "Noli Timere Messorem" (which translates rather appropriately to "Don't Fear the Reaper").


This is a fairly small book and has less than 100 pages but the contents are incredibly personal and very moving. After an introduction from Terry's long term personal assistant Rob Wilkins it includes several pieces of writing by Terry, from The Hades Business, the first story he ever sold (when he was just 13 years old!), to nonfiction pieces about his thought process and his love of hats, a very fitting excerpt from the last Discworld novel The Shepherd's Crown (I'm not going to say what it's about but I think anyone who has read the book will have a pretty good idea) and finally "A Little Advice for Life" from Terry that made me laugh and cry in equal measure.

It also includes a piece about Terry written by Neil Gaiman (that he actually read out at the memorial and I don't think there was a dry eye left in the whole theatre), this was written as the introduction to Terry's non fiction book "A Slip of the Keyboard" but was also posted on the Guardian website so anyone interested can read it in full HERE. If that wasn't enough to bring on the waterworks you'll also find Terry's daughter Rhianna Pratchett's obituary (that she also read to the audience on the night of the memorial) that was again posted online after Terry's death and can be read HERE.

This book is a wonderful keepsake from the event and it's one that I'll always treasure.

I'll leave you with a couple of appropriate Discworld quotes

“DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING," said Death. "JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”
- Good Omens

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away
- Reaper Man


GNU Terry Pratchett

Mind How You Go!

Review: The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett

As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld has only one possible saviour. Unfortunately, this happens to be the singularly inept and cowardly wizard called Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world . . .

The funniest and most unorthodox fantasy in this or any other galaxy.

Discworld Series:
The Colour of Magic (Rincewind book 1)
The Light Fantastic (Rincewind book 2)
Equal Rites (Witches book 1)
Mort (Death book 1)
Sourcery (Rincewind book 3)
Wyrd Sisters (Witches book 2)
Pyramids
Guards! Guards! (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 1)
Eric (Rincewind book 4)
Moving Pictures (Industrial Revolution book 1)
Reaper Man (Death book 2)
Witches Abroad (Witches book 3)
Small Gods
Lords and Ladies (Witches book 4)
Men at Arms (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 2)
Soul Music (Death book 3)
Interesting Times (Rincewind book 5)
Maskerade (Witches book 5)
Feet of Clay (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 3)
Hogfather (Death book 4)
Jingo (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 4)
The Last Continent (Rincewind book 6)
Carpe Jugulum (Witches book 6)
The Fifth Elephant (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 5)
The Truth (Industrial Revolution book 2)
Thief of Time (Death book 5)
The Last Hero (Rincewind book 7)
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
Night Watch (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 6)
The Wee Free Men (Tiffany Aching book 1)
Monstrous Regiment (Industrial Revolution book 3)
A Hat Full of Sky (Tiffany Aching book 2)
Going Postal (Moist von Lipwig book 1) (Industrial Revolution book 4)
Thud! (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 7)
Wintersmith (Tiffany Aching book 3)
Making Money (Moist von Lipwig book 2) (Industrial Revolution book 5)
Unseen Academicals (Rincewind book 8)
I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching book 4)
Snuff (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 8)
The World of Poo
Raising Steam (Moist von Lipwig book 3) (Industrial Revolution book 6)
The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Aching book 5)

Visit Terry Pratchett's website for more information

Review:
I've read most of the Discworld books many, many times over the years but I've not actually written reviews for most of them so I figured it really was about time I started yet another reread and this time actually sing their praises to the world!

If you've read The Colour of Magic you'll know it ended on quite a cliffhanger as we saw our two intrepid heroes, Rincewind and Twoflower, literally fall off the edge of the world. Luckily for them Rincewind happens to be carrying a very important spell around inside of him, and the Octavo (the magical book that the spell came from) can't let that spell disappear so it has to bend reality to rescue them. So Rincewind and Twoflower are now back on the Disc but they're in the middle of nowhere and they're going to have to try and figure out the way back to Ankh-Morpork, when Twoflower has finished sightseeing that is.

As I'm sure anyone who is familiar with the series will imagine lots of hilarious hijinks ensue as Rincewind and Twoflower, followed closely by the Luggage, meet up with the rather ancient and very toothless barbarian Cohen and proceed to accidentally rescue a virgin sacrifice. Meanwhile the lives of everyone on the Disc are in peril if the eight spells from the Octavo can't be reunited and spoken on a very specific date so every wizard from the Unseen University is taking part in a giant man hunt trying to find Rincewind before it's too late. Throw in a visit to Death's house and the Great A'Tuin's determination to fly the entire world into a giant red star and you're in for a bumpy ride.

Although most of the books in this series work as standalones I really think the first two books (The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic) should be read as a pair because the events from both books are so closely entwined. Rincewind and Twoflower have always been favourites of mine, I love the banter between them and like the way Twoflower's over enthusiastic love for everything balances out against Rincewind's fear of the unknown. The Luggage always steals the show though which is quite impressive since it's a wooden box that doesn't speak a word. It does have a lot of legs and very sharp teeth though so it can pull of menacing rather well whenever Twoflower is in danger. Although the series just gets better and better these earlier books will always be amongst my favourites just because they introduced me to this weird and wonderful world created by Terry Pratchett. I have never come across a series quite like this one and I seriously doubt I ever will.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Review: No Quarter - Christine d'Abo

When bounty hunter Gar Stitt is given a simple locate-and-retrieve mission, he’s convinced it’s a waste of his skills. His success rate is legendary, after all, and Captain Faolan Wolf isn’t hard to find. He’s the most notorious pirate in the galaxy, and when he shows up planetside to take his pleasures, he’s far from subtle.

Faolan never expected a hot but tightly wound hunter to walk into his private party and try to apprehend him single-handedly. And when an unexpected betrayal forces them to work together, Faolan’s even more surprised to find himself drawn to Gar personally—especially since neither of them do personal.

Gar had intended to put Faolan in prison. Instead he finds his solitary existence shaken by his desire for the pirate. And when the bounty hunter becomes the hunted, he must put his faith in Faolan and his pirate crew, or run the risk of ending up dead.

The Bounty Series:
No Quarter
No Remedy
No Master

Visit Chrisitne d'Abo's website for more information

Review:
Gar Stitt is a bounty hunter with a heart of ice, he lost his family when he was young and has sworn never to let anyone close again so he keeps himself to himself and is pretty much a loner. He's the best at what he does though so when the guild send him after space pirate Captain Faolan Wolf he's sure the job will be a walk in the park. Faolan isn't exactly hard to find and Gar knows he'll be an easy capture, what he doesn't realise is that Faolan has orchestrated the whole thing because he wants to make a deal with Gar's boss. What should have been a quick find and kill mission fast turns into a retrieval mission that will have the two men working closely together for days. Add in an unexpected betrayal that finds them on the run and fighting for their lives and all hell is about to break loose.

You can always count on Christine d'Abo when you're looking for a hot read, she creates excellent chemistry between her characters and her stories are always hot as hell so I knew exactly what to expect from No Quarter and I wasn't disappointed. Gar and Faolan are both damaged men with secrets to keep but there is no denying the attraction the feel towards each other no matter how hard they try and fight it. This is a fairly short novel so the romance does happen very quickly but that wasn't an issue because it's so well done. I liked both of the characters and enjoyed seeing Gar start to thaw out a little as Faolan got under his skin. Faolan is the more easygoing of the two and he loves nothing more than winding Gar up and getting him all hot and bothered. No matter how relaxed he is on the outside there's a lot more to Faolan than first meets the eye though and he's a dangerous adversary to get on the wrong side of.

The main storyline was fairly predictable but when I'm picking up an erotic novel let's face it I'm reading for the smut more than the plot so as long as the sex is hot and plentiful and I like the characters that's the most important thing. No Quarter is the first book in Christine d'Abo's Bounty series, these books were originally released a few years ago but are now being repackaged in sexy new covers and I can't wait to read the next two stories.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Friday, 22 April 2016

Cover Reveal: The Graces - Laure Eve (#TheGraces)

I've been excited about Laure Eve's upcoming novel The Graces ever since I heard about it at the Faber & Faber blogger event in February. It's not out until September so we have a little longer to wait but today I get to share the gorgeous cover with you!

First let's have a look at this fabulous animated version Faber & Faber created:


Isn't it awesome! Now let's have a look at the finished cover and the blurb (taken from Amazon):

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

Visit Laure Eve's website for more information

Now just imagine that cover with lots of gold foil so it's all shiny and it's going to be so pretty. Another really cool feature is the invisible writing on the spine. If you look at the full cover wraparound below you can see the greyish looking writing on the spine that says "everyone said" and "were witches", well Faber are using a special technique to print that writing so that you'll only be able to see it from a certain angle when the light hits the cover just right. Isn't that brilliant!


So what do you think of the cover? Was the book already on your radar or have you just added it to your wish list? Did you read Laure Eve's first series?

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