Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review: Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this...

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar...

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules...

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises
Magic Steals (Novella included in the Night Shift anthology)
Magic Breaks
Magic Shifts
Magic Stars (Novella, Grey Wolf book 1)
Magic Binds

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

I honestly don't know Ilona and Gordon Andrews do it but the Kate Daniels series just gets better and better with every book. We're heading to the end of the series now (just one more book to go *sob*) so everything is building up and falling into place ready for the big finale and the only word to accurately describe Magic Binds is epic. The stakes are higher than you could possibly imagine, the confrontation between Kate and Roland is closer than ever before and shit just got real.

It's so hard to write a review for a book that's so amazing because I want to talk about all the things but at the same time I don't want to mention any of them and unintentionally spoiler people. Just trust me when I say this has all the humour you've come to expect from the series as well as some beautiful and heart wrenching moments. Kate shows a little of her dark side, Curran proves beyond a shadow of doubt what a perfect couple they make, Julie has me a little worried but I'm going to trust her to do the right thing, Ronan is the most hilarious wedding planner you could ever come across, Christopher remembers something very important and leaves Barabas looking rather flustered, Andrea and Raphael prepare for a new arrival, Jim is his usual idiot self but Dali sets him straight when he needs it, Derek frustrated me by not believing in Kate when he should have but at the same time made my heart melt because he was just trying to protect Julie, the shock reappearance of an old character was absolute genius and then there's Roland, loving father one minute, crazy dictator the next Roland is a complex character but one who can never be trusted.

I've already devoured this epic rollercoaster of a book twice and I'm contemplating reading it for a third time just because I still have such a book hangover and no other book is able to compete. There aren't any other series that come anywhere close to this one, it's urban fantasy at it's very finest and I'm not going to know what to do with myself when I don't have my yearly dose of new Kate to look forward to. At least I'll still have my annual reread to help with the withdrawal symptoms and of course everything Ilona and Gordon write in the future will jump straight to the top of my to read pile.

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Friday, 23 September 2016

Cover Love: Caraval - Stephanie Garber

I've been excited about Stephanie Garber's debut novel Caraval ever since I was given an arc at the Chapter Five Proof Party back in July. We were told it was perfect for fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, both of which happen to be favourites of mine, so I have extremely high hopes for this book! I've not read it yet (it's not publishing until the 31st of January 2017 so it hasn't quite got to the top of the TBR pile yet) but I definitely think it's going to be a book to watch out for and I thought I'd share the fab animated cover with you in the meantime!

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

Doesn't it sound brilliant? Who else is looking forward to Caraval as much as I am?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Review: A Crown of Swords - Robert Jordan

Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has escaped the snares of the White Tower and the first of the rebel Aes Sedai have sworn to follow him. Attacked by the servants of the Dark, threatened by the invading Seanchan, Rand rallies his forces and brings battle to bear upon Illian, stronghold of Sammael the Forsaken . . .

In the city of Ebou Dar, Elayne, Aviendha and Mat struggle to secure the ter'angreal that can break the Dark One's hold on the world's weather - and an ancient bane moves to oppose them. In the town of Salidar, Egwene al'Vere gathers an army to reclaim Tar Valon and reunite the Aes Sedai . . .

And in Shadar Logoth, city of darkness, a terrible power awakens . . .

Wheel of Time Series:
The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Winter's Heart
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams
The Gathering Storm
Towers of Midnight
A Memory of Light

Visit the Wheel of Time series website for more information

I've fallen so far behind our group buddy read of this series thanks to this book. I read it back in
July and I've spent the last couple of months trying to pretend it never existed. I was so in love with this series, yes there were problems with it but I was still completely hooked on the story and eager to find out what would happen next, but then I read A Crown of Swords and it nearly ruined everything.

I've ignored the fact that nearly every single female character spends half their time acting like an idiot and the rest screeching like a fishwife; I've put to one side the fact that Robert Jordan is pretty hopeless at creating believable romantic relationships (seriously do any of the couples actually speak to each other or do they all just stare longingly across the distance before suddenly declaring themselves head over heels in love?); and I've not even minded the way the story is taking so long to actually get anywhere but I can't ignore Tylin's actions in this book. I've tried so hard to forget about it but every time I think about this book I want to start screaming. There is just nothing on this planet that can justify the direction the story took and even though I'm sure there were lots of other brilliant plot developments in this instalment I can't remember a single one of them because they've all been eclipsed by Tylin the rapist queen.

I'm going to give the author the benefit of doubt and assume he meant for the scenes between Mat and Tylin to be amusing but he couldn't have missed the mark more badly if he'd tried. If Mat (or any other male character) had forced Tylin to sleep with him at KNIFE POINT there would have (rightfully!) been uproar. Just because Tylin is female she seems to get away with it but rape is rape and it is NEVER acceptable. It's not something that should be used as an "amusing" plot device either because it is NOT a laughing matter. The way she stalked Mat was downright creepy and it got to the point where every time her name appeared on the page I started feeling nauseous but when we reached that scene with the knife I nearly broke my kindle by throwing it across the room. Just what was the author thinking putting that scene in there? Where were the editors? Why did nobody think to question it before it was sent out into the hands of the unsuspecting public?

I'm sure there were good parts to this book because I wouldn't have made it to the end if there hadn't been but I literally can't remember a single thing that happened apart from the scenes with Mat & Tylin. I know that sounds crazy considering Tylin wasn't even on the page for at least three quarters of the book but she's such a sore point that it's all that stuck in my mind. I have such mixed feelings about A Crown of Swords that I'm not even sure that I want to carry on reading this series anymore but I've invested so much time in it that I feel obliged to see it through to the end. Fellow buddy readers have assured me that Tylin isn't even mentioned in The Path of Daggers and at the moment that's the only thing enticing me to give it a try. I really, really hope that Robert Jordan can rekindle my love for the series with that book but he's got his work cut out and at the moment I'm not holding my breath.

Source: Purchased

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Roald Dahl Day: My love for The BFG (Let's talk about the book and the movies!)

Every year I plan to write a blog post to celebrate Roald Dahl Day and every year time runs away with me and I somehow end up missing it. But this year we're celebrating 100 years since his birth so I guess that makes it a perfect time to talk about how much Roald Dahl's books meant to me as a child.

I used to reread all of his books over and over again but The BFG was always my favourite, I just loved everything about it from the friendship that forms between Sophie and the BFG, to the adventures they have together along with all of the crazy new words you discover along the way. Don't you just think that we should use words like scrumdiddlyumptious, gobblefunking and whiffswiddle in every day conversation? Not to mention the fact that I'm still waiting for someone to invent a real life version of frobscottle so I can practise my whizzpopping LOL.

The BFG is just the ultimate adventure story, I loved the idea of dreams being real things that you could capture and I desperately wanted to visit the land of dreams so I could find my own. I wanted a giant friend who could run so fast with me hiding in their pocket that it felt like I was flying and I even wanted to have breakfast with the Queen. Roald Dahl's stories always have a darker side to them and the giants terrified me but you get to see justice served in the end which was incredibly satisfying.

I still have my original copy of this book from 1985 and it's one of my most treasured and reread books. The illustrations by Quentin Blake compliment the story perfectly and make it something to be treasured.

My brother was never much of a reader (I'm pretty convinced he must be a changeling because surely we can't be related! LOL) but he absolutely adored the animated version of The BFG and would make us watch it over and over again. I think I've probably seen this adaptation of the story even more times than I've read the book and I have to say it's pretty perfect. It completely captures the feel of the story with it's laugh out loud humour but also the more heartwarming moments between Sophie and the BFG as well as the fearsome man eating giants to add tension. I love the music too and can remember singing along with my brother when he we were kids.

This animation may have been created in 1989 but it's still utterly brilliant and when we watched it with my 12 year old nephew a few months ago he loved it just as much as we did.

Being such a huge fan of the story I had incredibly high hopes for the new Disney version directed by Steven Spielberg. We made a family outing of it a few weeks ago and I think my Dad, brother and I were probably even more excited than my nephew was. There is no denying that the visual effects in the new movie are stunning, the land of dreams in particular was spectacular and the giants looked impressive.

The opening scene where Sophie first sees the BFG and the way he manages to sneak down the streets and avoid being spotted by anyone else was very cleverly done. The young actress who played Sophie did a brilliant job and there was one moment in particular that made me laugh so hard I had tears rolling down my face. I wasn't the only one either and pretty much the entire audience was laughing hysterically.

Unfortunately even though there were things I loved about the movie it didn't manage to live up to expectations and we all agreed that the animated version that is nearly 30 years old was better. The new movie stays pretty faithful to the book but it managed to be boring in spite of that, there were actually times when I was just wishing it was over so we could leave the cinema and no matter how good the graphics were or how humourous those few stand out moments were it just didn't make up for the poor pacing.

The new movie may have been a slight disappointment but that hasn't decreased my love of The BFG. I have so many happy childhood memories wrapped up in reading Roald Dahl stories and it's easy to see why they're still so popular today.

Digitally remastered trailer for the original animated movie made in 1989:

Trailer for the 2016 Disney & Steven Spielberg movie:

What is your favourite Roald Dahl book? Are you a fan of The BFG? I'd love to know what you thought of the movies, if you've seen them both which was your favourite?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Review: Barefoot on the Wind - Zoe Marriott

Everyone in Hana's remote village knows that straying too far into the wood means certain death. Hana, still grieving the loss of her brother to the beast, knows it better than most. When her father is taken too, she gathers her hunting gear and goes in search of the monster, determined to destroy it - or be destroyed herself. But the forest contains more secrets, more magic, and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects . . .

A beautiful, thought-provoking retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" set in a fairytale Japan.

The Moonlit Lands Series:
(These are companion novels set in the same fictional version of Japan but there is no crossover of characters so they can both be read as standalone stories)
Shadows on the Moon
Barefoot on the Wind

Visit Zoe Marriott's website more information.

I've been a huge fan of Zoe Marriott's writing ever since I read Shadows on the Moon five years ago, it's a fairytale retelling of Cinderella set in a fictional Japan where magic is real and it's one of my all time favourite books so you can only begin to imagine how excited I was when I found out she was writing a companion novel set in the same world. Barefoot on the Wind is a feminist retelling of Beauty and the Beast (which happens to be my favourite fairytale!) and it's just as wonderful as Shadows on the Moon.

Although both books are set in the same world and are linked by the same beautiful writing and the fairytale feel to them there is no crossover of characters so you don't have to read them in any particular order but I want to go out and place a copy of both of these books into the hands of every fantasy fan I come across. Zoe was writing YA fantasy long before it became so popular and she really doesn't get the recognition she deserves considering how absolutely amazing her stories are so I want to see her at the top of the best seller charts where she should be.

Let's get back to Barefoot on the Wind though, this is the tale of a young girl called Hana who lives in a remote village in the middle of a dark and dangerous magical wood. Everyone in her village knows that there is a monster in the forest and they live every day with the knowledge that leaving the safety of home means certain death. Hana's family have lost more than most to the monster, she is still grieving after the deaths of her grandmother and her brother but when her father is taken too something inside her snaps. Her grief and the additional pressure of survivor's guilt have combined into a reckless desperation to do something, anything, to try and save her father's life. She knows that she is unlikely to survive an encounter with the monster but when the rest of the village turn their back on her pleas for help she just has to try and fight for what is right.

I'm not going to tell you much more than that so you're going to have to read the story for yourself to find out whether Hana manages to slay the monster and rescue her father. Instead I'm going to talk about the rich world building, the evocative and beautiful writing, the fantastic three dimensional characters that each have their own fears and sorrow, the heartbreak you'll feel as Hana talks about her grief, the joy and pride you'll feel for everything she accomplishes, how you'll fall be drawn totally into this world and find yourself wishing it was real just so you could live there. Barefoot on the Wind is a Beauty and the Beast retelling unlike any you've read before, it's utterly captivating and so, so beautiful that it makes my heart hurt just thinking about it. There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be in one of the top slots when I'm trying to pick my favourite books of the year and I can't wait to reread Shadows on the Moon when the new extended version is published in November.

Source: Received from Walker in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
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, 11 September 2016

Review: Haunted by the King of Death - Felicity Heaton

A ruthless vampire warrior, Grave Van der Garde rules the mercenary Preux Chevaliers with an iron fist, determined to retain his hard-won position as one of the most powerful men in Hell and his reputation as the heartless King of Death. But beneath the cold façade beats the heart of a vampire torn between love and hate, ripped in two directions by a single ethereally beautiful female—his fated phantom mate.

Driven by her phantom instincts, Isla used a spell to make her solid in order to deceive the vampire who killed her sister’s demon mate and have revenge on him, condemning him with a single kiss to become a phantom too. But her plan took an unexpected turn when she fell in love with him, and with her new life, and the night she betrayed him shattered both of their hearts. Now, he lives to make her suffer through their connection, one that is fading with them as they begin to slip into the phantom world, and she must face the monster she created if she is to save herself and the vampire she still loves.

With a demon from Grave’s past determined to destroy him and everything he holds dear, and the clock ticking down to their inevitable doom, can he and Isla overcome their past and their pride to work together to claim the future they both desire deep in their hearts? Or will death finally catch up with the vampire king and his phantom mate?

Eternal Mates Series:
(This series is set in the same world as the Vampire Erotic Theatre series but can be read completely separately)
Kissed by a Dark Prince
Claimed by a Demon King
Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Hunted by a Jaguar
Craved by an Alpha
Bitten by a Hellcat
Taken by a Dragon
Marked by an Assassin
Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Awakened by a Demoness
Haunted by the King of Death

Vampire Erotic Theatre Series:

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Unlike the previous couples in this series Isla and Grave are already mated but a series of misunderstandings and betrayals have turned them into bitter enemies and neither of them has any intention of forgiving the other. They have spent the last 100 years apart and that time has just allowed their resentment and anger to grow so it's fair to say that this couple have major issues to deal with. Unfortunately for them they can't avoid each other forever, there has been a nasty side effect to a spell that Isla placed on Grave and now if they don't work together to fix things it'll end up killing them both.

It's not easy to work with someone you can't trust, especially when that person is someone you loved who went on to betray you in the worst possible way. Grave has every reason to hate Isla and it was easy to see his point of view but at the same time Isla had very good reasons for doing what she did and she has regretted her actions for a long time now. I have to admit I found it a little frustrating that Isla was able to understand why Grave was so twisted up about their relationship one minute but then the next she expected him to put it all behind him like it was nothing and was angry when he didn't trust her. I wanted her to be a bit more apologetic for what had happened between them but that really was a minor irritation when I enjoyed so much more about the story.

One of the things I loved the most was the chance to catch up with some familiar faces from the Vampire Erotic Theatre series. I don't want to say too much about it but fans of the previous series will love the surprises in store for them. Haunted by the King of Death also introduces some great new characters and I really want stories about Isla's brother-in-law and Grave's brothers in the future. The story is full of action, has a great romance and has started to bring back old characters as well as new ones which is a trend I'm really hoping continues in the future.

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Review: Witches' Bane - Pippa DaCosta

“I didn’t earn the name Godkiller, but in three days I’ll own it.”

Witches are disappearing all over New York and Ace Dante couldn’t care less. Until one holds his friend at gunpoint, demanding Ace take the job.

The witch produces a girl's severed arm, bearing an unusual hieroglyph, and Ace starts to care a whole lot more. He recognizes that mark. It’s connected to Ace in ways he doesn’t yet understand. Why is it on a dead witch’s arm?

Missing witches and severed arms aren’t Ace’s only problems. With a new name around his neck—Godkiller—Ace has a promise to uphold. He has three days to kill the god, Thoth. Or risk Osiris’s wrath. The last time Ace defied Osiris, he earned a curse that crippled his life and turned him into Osiris’s puppet for eternity.

This time, Osiris won’t be as lenient. Ace must kill Thoth. An impossible task. It takes a god to kill a god, and Ace is just a washed-up mercenary. Isn’t he?

As the spells are cast and the truth is revealed, there’s only one way out. Ace must become the monster the gods fear him to be.

The Soul Eater has a new name, and now, nobody is safe.

Soul Eaters Series:
Hidden Blade
Witches' Bane
See No Evil (November 2016)

Visit Pippa DaCosta's website for more information

I loved Hidden Blade but wow, Pippa DaCosta has definitely upped the stakes in Witches' Bane. This series has quickly become one of my favourites and I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on See No Evil in a couple of months.

Ace is my favourite kind of anti hero, there is darkness inside him and he's definitely crossed plenty of lines in his time but he also tries to do the right thing and he stands up and fights for people less powerful than himself. He's walking a very fine line thanks to the curse that binds him to Osiris knowing that no matter how hard he tries to be good Osiris always has a hold over him and can force him to act against his will. Ace is compelled to kill Thoth at Osiris's command and even though he knows he doesn't stand a chance against someone that powerful he also knows that Osiris will take it out on his friends and allies if he fails. Throw in murdered witches, missing memories and meddling gods with plenty of time on their hands to play a very long game and Ace's life has hit an alltime low point.

Everything I loved about the first book was ramped up a level in this one, the story is darker, the gods are even more twisted and Ace is caught up in plots that are far more complicated and overreaching than he could ever have guessed at. Shu is totally brilliant and we meet a new (and equally badass!) sidekick that is going to help make Ace's life interesting. We're starting to dig a little deeper into the characters and I loved the glimpses we saw of Ace's history and finding out how he ended up in the situation he's in now. He's trying so hard to live up to Bast's assertion that there is good inside him but sometimes the past comes back to bite you and the stains on his soul aren't so easy to wipe clean.

If you're looking for an urban fantasy series that stands out from the crowd for it's unique mythology, brilliant world building and outstanding, three dimensional characters then you need the Soul Eaters series in your life. I love all of Pippa DaCosta's books and would happily recommend any of them but I think Ace might just be edging Caleb (from her 1000 Revolution series) out of the top spot on my favourite anti heroes list and that's very high praise indeed.

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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