Monday, 31 May 2010

Review: Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom - Julie Cohen

All work and no play makes Nina a dull girl...

But when you're PA to a celebrity chef who's tastier than one of his delicious dishes, you can't help loving your job.  What's wrong with fancying the pants off your boss?  Erm, everything if he's married to someone else.

So when Nina meets sexy Spaniard Juan, she's thrilled to escape to a new life abroad...until he does a runner with her hard-earned cash and she's forced to move to "The Temple of Gloom" - a gothic flat with some unusual inhabitants.  Nina's had enough of bloodsuckers, but is her mysterious neighbour Viktor really a vampire?  Sometimes it's hard to know who to trust...

Visit Julie Cohen's website for more information

Review:
Nina has a slight problem, she has fallen in love with her boss - who just happens to be a very happily married man.  Desperate to move on she jumps into starting a new life with Juan, moving to a country where she doesn't know anyone and can't even speak the language.  When things go horribly wrong she is left homeless and without a penny to her name and takes refuge in the flat of a deceased family member.  It isn't going to be easy to start her life over again but perhaps she'll be able to do it with the help of her new friends.

I really enjoyed Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom and will definitely be on the look out for more by Julie Cohen.  Nina is a very likeable main character and I found it very easy to relate to the position she found herself in.  I think most of us have fallen for the wrong person at least once in our lifetimes & I know I've ended up in a relationship with the wrong person at least once!  So as much as you are mentally screaming at Nina not to jump into things with Juan while you're reading what she does is completely believable and even understandable in the circumstances.

Although I couldn't see what she did in either her boss or Juan I loved Vicktor and could definitely see the attraction there!  I enjoyed watching Nina turn her life around and would definitely recommend this book to romance fans.  If you're looking for a light entertaining read that will have you laugh out loud you should definitely give this a try.

Source: Thanks to Headline for sending me this review copy

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.

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (21)

This meme was started at J. Kaye's Book Blog but has now moved to One Person's Journey Through a World of Books run by Sheila.

News:

I've not had much time for reading & blogging over the last few days due to a family crisis so I apologise that things have been a bit slow here & I've got behind on my reviews and returning comments.  Things are going to be a little crazy for at least the next week but I'll try to post as often as I can and I will be returning visits when I have a bit more time on my hands again.  Please do comment if you visit - it really makes my day reading your comments even though I've not got time to reply straight away.  Hopefully I'll be back to the normal schedule next week :o)

There is still time for UK bloggers to sign up for the ARC tour of Ivy Devlin's Low Red Moon - this is a new young adult paranormal romance and it looks fab, I'm really looking forward to reading it.  If anyone is interested in joining the UK tour you can sign up here.  The tour copy of Low Red Moon arrived on Saturday & I'll be reading it ASAP so I can send it on to the first person in the tour

This week's guest for Author's Animal Antics feature was the lovely Laura Stamps who stopped by to tell us about her work rescuing feral cats.  You can read Laura's post here.  I have some fantastic authors lined up to take part in the feature so keep an eye out for the posts every Thursday.

Books read last week: (Click on the links to read my reviews)
  1. A Hunger Like No Other
  2. Darkness Calls - Marjorie M. Liu
  3. A Vampire's Kiss Volume 3 - Laura Stamps (Chapters 7-9)
  4. Guardian of the Dead - Karen Healey
  5. Nina Jones & the Temple of Gloom - Julie Cohen (review to come asap)
  6. The Demon's Covenant - Sarah Rees Brennan (review to come asap)
What I'm reading now:
What I'll be reading next:

Like I already said I'm not going to have much time for reading as usual this week so I'll have to see how I go.  I am going to read Dido by Adel Geras next so I can hopefully review it in time to post a review with Adel's guest post on Thursday.  Then I'm going to be reading Low Red Moon so I can send the book off on the UK tour.

Challenge updates:

100+ Reading Challenge - Read 99/200
Paranormal Reading Challenge - Read 50/50 - COMPLETE
Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge - Read 24/24 - COMPLETE
April NAC Mini-Challenge - Battle Royale - Read 5/5 - COMPLETE

What are you reading?

Saturday, 29 May 2010

In My Mailbox (22)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

Books Purchased:

This is the second week I've managed to stick to my book buying ban - will I be able to keep it up for another week?

Library Finds:
I'm determined not to look around the library until I've returned some of the books I already have but I'd reserved book 3 in the GhostWalkers series - Night Game by Christine Feehan.  I'm really enjoying this series so I'm looking forward to reading this one!

For Review:
I had a busy week for review books this week but I got a great selection & I can't wait to start reading them all!
  1. I received the ARC of Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlyn that I'm organising a UK book tour for (click here to sign up).  I believe the UK release date for this is February 2011 but it will be out in the US in September.  I will be reading this one ASAP & then it will be being sent off on the UK tour.  Thanks to Ivy for sending this one.
  2. Thanks to RHCB for the review copies of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and Tall Stories by Candy Gourlay - these both look like great reads!
  3. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC of My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares - this is described as having the power and intensity of The Time Traveller's Wife and the passion of Twilight & I can't wait to read it.
  4. I'd also like to thank Devyn Quinn for sending me an ebook ARC of Siren's Call - this comes out in paperback in the UK on the 28th October.  I've not read anything with mermaids in before so I'm looking forward to giving this a try!
  5. I'm looking forward to reading the 3 novellas Kept, Claimed & Mated that make up the first book of the Preternaturals series by Zoe Winters.  Kept can be downloaded for free from Zoe's website here and Claimed is also available.  The 3 novellas will be released as 1 book called Blood Lust soon.  Thank you Zoe for sending me these novellas for review - I can't wait to start this series!
Won:
I was very excited to win an ARC copy of The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell from publisher Tor in a Twitter giveaway.  This is out in the UK in September & looks like it's going to be a great read.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Review: Guardian of the Dead - Karen Healey

In less than a day, I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed.  I'd been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable.  And up until now, I'd been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: She hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious bad boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.  Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is lurking.

Visit Karen Healey's website for more information

Review:
Ellie has recently started at boarding school while her parents travel the world for a year.  She is struggling to fit in but at least she has her best friend Kevin to hang out with.  Everything starts to change when she literally bumps into the mysterious Mark who she has had a crush on for ages.  She has blank spaces in her memory but when she tries to remember what happened she suffers from horrible headaches.  But what does all of this have to do with Mark and does it have anything to do with the horrifying murders that are being committed?

Before I read Guardian of the Dead I knew absolutely nothing about Maori mythology but Karen Healey has done an amazing job of bringing legends to life in a way that makes it really interesting to read.  She has created a great heroine in Ellie - someone who may not be the prettiest or skinniest girl but who doesn't allow her insecurities to take over her personality.  She is strong & determined and able to defend herself but always uses physical force as a last result.  Mark is the perfect hero for a YA story - cute, mysterious and a bit of a bad boy, what more could a girl want? 

I found the story action packed and completely different from anything I've read before.  There were some great secondary characters in Kevin (Ellie's best friend) and Iris who was a lot more important to the story line than I expected her to be but was another great female role model.  The ending was unexpected and although the story did have a proper ending I can easily imagine this being turned into a series - if it does it will definitely be going on my buy list.  A great debut from Karen Healey and I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

I also really liked her best friend Kevin and

Source: Received as part of a book tour arranged by International Book Tours, this book has already been sent on to it's next destination.

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.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Author's Animal Antics - Laura Stamps

Author's Animal Antics is a new regular blog feature here at Sarah's Book Reviews where I'm very excited to have some fantastic authors come and chat to us about their pets.  I'm thrilled to introduce the lovely Laura Stamps as my guest today...

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The SexWitch & Her Feral Kitties
by Laura Stamps

I may be a lusty slut and an erotica novelist, but I've also been involved in feral cat rescue for over 30 years. Seriously. This SexWitch loves her furbabies!

When we built our house next to a state forest I quickly discovered the forest was not only the playground for the neighborhood's outdoor kitties but also for feral cats and strays. Before we moved to the new house I had helped a friend of mine (also in feral cat rescue) socialize and find homes for all the ferals living in the field behind the condo complex where we had lived for over a decade.

So when we built our house I had to laugh when a feral mom and two female kittens showed up shortly afterwards. Sometimes I think ferals publish an underground newsletter that list my current address. I know my husband Wes believes that (much to his dismay *lol*).

In fact, I wrote about that feral mom (who later became the Queen of the large colony she started with that first litter). Those notes became a book of award-winning poems called "The Year of the Cat," which was later nominated for the "Pulitzer Prize" in 2005. Within a year that tiny cat family of three grew to a colony of 21 cats and kittens. What can I say? People have a bad habit of abandoning their cats in the forest, most of them unneutered males. Yeesh! I spent a year getting all of them fixed and socialized. Then I found homes for almost all of them. The remaining three cats I kept for myself, and four years later they spend their days sunning on my back porch and thinking of themselves as my outdoor kitties. Which they are now. ;)

As you know if you've read my interviews, I started out in the writing biz 23 years ago as a poet, but have been a novelist for the last 17 years. There were many things I wanted to accomplish with my "The Witchery Series" trilogy. Primarily, I wanted to show people what modern-day Pagans are really like since we've received so much bad/false press the last 2000+ years. Yes, I really am a Witch, a Wiccan Faery Witch (just a fancy name for a SexWitch). So that trilogy of novels is full of real spells, chants, and rituals from my personal spellbook.

I also included vegetarian recipes and many of my cat care secrets from three decades of feral cat rescue. I made two of the characters in "The Witches of Dixie: Book One of the Witchery Series" cat ladies (Mirabella and Ravena). Mirabella specializes in adopting black cats and those who test felv+ (feline leukemia positive). Unfortunately, everyone in feral cat rescue tangles with feline leukemia. The good news is only 30% of those who test positive die young from the disease. The rest go on to live happy healthy lives for several years or more.

I thought I would include a few excerpts from that novel, which contain some of my fav cat care tips for the taming, care, and feeding of feral cats.

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from "The Witches of Dixie: Book One of the Witchery Series" by Laura Stamps (c)

"Mirabella section" (pages 41-42)

September is the month for hurricanes. The season titters to life in May and burbles through the summer, dwindling by late November. But September trembles as the peak month, a time when angry lows swollen with moisture hurl themselves off the African coast, swirling across the Atlantic with a frantic eye for the warm waters of the Gulf or the Southeast’s tepid shores. This is also the season when the garden releases a final sigh and bows its frilly head.

In the Deep South, September tap-dances as a month of contrast. The atmosphere churns fiercely, while impatiens, lilies, and zinnias quiet their riotous colors.

Because I live with six housecats and welcome any hungry feline wandering into the yard, my friends and neighbors call me the Cat Lady. All my housecats are black or mostly black, all feral strays I slowly tamed with yogurt and bits of meat. Black cats are my favorites, their velvet coats glimmering like onyx pearls or glossy crows. Incredibly friendly, they’re quite curious, and most are devoted to warm laps and a brisk chin scratch.

Usually the last adoptions from rescue agencies and shelters, black cats are often burdened with the lingering threads of silly superstitions. Knowing this, who could resist a homeless black cat?

All my cats tested positive for feline leukemia when adopted, a plague galloping wildly through the streets of this area. Fortunately, the disease is no longer a death sentence. Some positive cats thrive into old age, never manifesting a single symptom. Others throw off the cancer after a while, remaining negative and healthy for a lifetime.

The strength of the immune system holds the key to this feline mystery, so every day I add L-lysine, colloidal silver, Vitamin C, and Echinacea to their food, keeping them spunky, strong, and rambunctious. Committed as I am to organic foods and a holistic lifestyle, I consider the defeat of feline leukemia in my cats an incessant and worthwhile quest.

************

"Ravena section" (pages 174-175)

First week of September, and Ravena places a chair in front of the sliding glass door, where she can see the gaping hole leading to a woodpecker’s nest deep in the trunk of a dead oak. The opening grows each day, the busy work of tiny beaks.

Trees shake their emerald hair in a breeze while sunlight scatters its blazing coins across the grass, and a stray cat laps the last bite of dinner from his bowl on the patio.

When Ravena had been married for six months, her husband, Odell, found a stray kitten behind the dumpster at their apartment building and brought it to her. She adopted it and has rescued feral cats ever since.

Sometimes only one cat appears. Other times she cares for colonies of feral cats, doctoring their wounds and illnesses, practicing the trap/fix/release method until she finds good homes for them.

After so many years of this, Ravena believes she possesses a natural talent for taming and socializing feral cats. Or maybe it’s just that her unconventional methods work particularly well.

While most allow a feral cat plenty of space the first few weeks, she persistently stalks a stray, drawing it closer and closer, using soft words and food to calm the cat’s fears. Sometimes she sings a Goddess chant to it, invoking all the faeries to help her in this quest.

“Great Lady Bast, ancient Goddess of Cats,
grace my voice with your sacred dance.
Faeries of the air, stream, flame, and tree,
lead your precious cat-child to me.”

The first day or two she backs away from the food she leaves, so the starving cat might eat in peace. But after that she stands a few feet from the food bowl, inching closer each time, forcing the cat to tolerate her presence.

This gentle but aggressive strategy maintains her edge, allowing Ravena to slowly move the cat beyond its comfort zone, using food as her primary tool. Soon Ravena stands next to the bowl, singing or talking softly to the cat so it might associate her voice with safety and good things to eat.

That’s when she touches the cat for the first time, while it munches a meal. Often a feral cat’s first experience with human touch, it will bolt, dashing away in terror.

But it returns for food the next day, and Ravena continues to touch, her hand remaining on its coat a little longer each time, building trust, until her fingers travel up and down the cat’s back, its tail shoots up, and it runs to her when she calls, as anxious to be petted as fed.

Seated before the sliding glass door, Ravena laughs as each of her calico cats competes for her lap. It’s hard to believe these three were once skittish ferals she claimed from the wild with chants and faerie spells.

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Thank you so much for visiting today Laura!  Laura Stamps is an award winning author with a huge number of published works to her name.  She wrote the popular Witchery Series and her current novel A Vampire's Kiss the first book in the spin off series The Manigault Vampires is currently being released as a monthly serial.

For more information about the Author's Animal Antics feature click here

Review: A Vampire's Kiss Volume 3 - Laura Stamps

The Manigault Vampires is a serialized, paranormal erotica series. It's a spin-off from The Witchery Series trilogy and contains many of the same Witches and Pagans you fell in love with from that series. A Vampire's Kiss is the first novel in this series. Here's what it's about...

"Sara Gadsden is a Wiccan Green Witch addicted to paranormal romance novels and their gorgeous vampire heroes. Like most people, she has no idea vampires actually exist until she meets Drayton Manigault at a Samhain party. Dray is not only one of Columbia's wealthiest businessmen, but he's also been a vampire for the last 145 years. Oh, and he's totally yummy. When Dray offers Sara a job working for his computer company, Manigault Technologies, fantasy collides with reality, and Sara's future is suddenly transformed into one wild, smokin' HOT ride!"

The Manigault Vampires:
A Vampire's Kiss
 ~ Volume 1 (Chapters 1-3)
 ~ Volume 2 (Chapters 4-6)
 ~ Volume 3 (Chapters 7-9)

A Vampire's Kiss is being released in installments that can be downloaded from Laura Stamps' blog - Volumes 1, 2 & 3 are available now and the other volumes will be available monthly.  Each volume is a very affordable $1.99 so it's a bit like a monthly magazine all about hot vampires - my kind of magazine LOL.  For more information & to read the first chapter check out the blog.

Review:
At the end of volume 2 Dray had asked Sara a very important question but Sara is going to make him work hard for an answer.  I've already come to realise that Sara has a high libido and this hasn't changed in volume 3.  The chemistry between them is still fab & this time the action has moved from the greenhouse to Dray's massive water bed which they both definitely make the most of!  Sara isn't afraid to go after what she wants and what she wants is Dray - as many times as she can have him. 

I'm really enjoying this book but I have to say that I didn't realise what torture it would be reading a serialised novel.  Laura is a master at leaving things on a cliffhanger and keeping you desperate to read more and I really want to have the whole book in my hands so I can devour it all in one go.  I guess I'm going to have to learn patience to read this one!

Source: I received this volume from Laura Stamps for 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.

Purchase Information:
Don't forget you can purchase this book, get more information & read the first chapter on the blog here.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

ARC Review: Darkness Calls - Marjorie M. Liu

Haunted by the past, determined to change the future.

Nomad born and bred, demon hunter Maxine Kiss has always relied on herself to fight the darkness that surrounds her, and the predators - human, zombie and otherwise - who threaten the earth.  One man has managed to get through her protective isolation, but Grant isn't just special to her.  He's the last of his people, and can use music to control any living creature... including demons.  And now that they've found him, his life is in danger.

Maxine follows Grant's trail through night-bound cities and underground clubs, ending up in an ice palace lost in a fold of time.  She comes to understand that to save Grant, she has only one choice - to lose control, and release her own powers of darkness.  But a great evil is coming, and Maxine has more to lose than love.

Hunters Kiss Series:
Hunters Kiss (companion story available in the anthology Wild Thing)
The Iron Hunt
Darkness Calls
Armor of Roses (novella in the Inked anthology)
A Wild Light

For more information visit the Marjorie M. Liu's website

Review:
Darkness Calls is the second book in the Hunters Kiss series by Marjorie M. Liu and I was looking forward to spending more time with Maxine and her "boys".  I really enjoyed the first book The Iron Hunt but in my opinion Darkness Calls was even better.  I like the fact that Maxine doesn't know the full extent of her powers and that we are discovering things alongside her.  Although I enjoyed The Iron Hunt I did find myself getting confused by some of the plot twists but Darkness Calls was a much smoother journey and I didn't want to put the book down.

Maxine is a unique heroine and I love her "boys" - the demons who are there to protect her.  During the day they magically attach themselves to her body in the form of tattoos and protect her from any harm - they can stop a bullet or any other weapon which comes in very handy if you're a demon hunter.  At night the 5 boys Zee, Aaz, Raw, Dek and Mal peel from her skin and come to life - at times like children they are affectionate to Maxine and love to chew on teddy bears but they are also deadly fighters who will protect her no matter what.

We get to learn a lot more about Grant and his musical abilities in this book which is something I was hoping for after reading The Iron Hunt.  Maxine obviously loves him deeply but she worries about putting down roots and the fact that the demons could use the people she cares about to get to her.  It was nice to see Maxine's friends rally around her in this book though and I can't wait to read the next book in the series A Wild Light.

Source: Thanks to Orbit for sending me this review copy

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.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Review: A Hunger Like No Other - Kresley Cole

UK Cover
A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her...
After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one.  This Emmaline is small, ethereal half Valkyrie / half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...
Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents - until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae - and their notorious dark desires - ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all-consuming desire...
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

Immortals After Dark Series:
The Warlord Wants Forever (Novella in the Playing Easy to Get anthology)
A Hunger Like No Other
No Rest for the Wicked
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night
Dark Needs at Night's Edge
Dark Desires After Dusk
Kiss of a Demon King
Deep Kiss of Winter
Pleasure of a Dark Prince
Demon from the Dark
Dreams of a Dark Warrior
Lothaire
Shadow's Claim (The Dacians book 1)
MacRieve
Dark Skye

For more information visit Kresley Cole's website

Review:
Lachlain suffered unbearable torture at the hands of the vampire horde for 150 years before finally escaping when he senses his true mate is near by. After everything he has been through and the pain he suffers trying to escape he is horrified to discover that his mate is a vampire. But he has been waiting for 1000 years to find his true mate and isn't prepared to let her slip away from him even if she is part of a race that he despises. Emmaline isn't just your average vampire, she is actually half Valkyrie and has been raised by her Valkyrie aunts since her mother's death when she was just a baby. She has lived a sheltered life, always feeling different because of her vampire heritage and has set out to find out more about her parents and try to discover who her father is. When she is taken hostage by Lachlain she is terrified of him but agrees to help him get to his home in Scotland because he promises that he will let her go home if she does. Little does she know that she is his mate and he has no plans to ever let her escape from him.

I'd heard a lot of great things about this series and was really looking forward to reading A Hunger Like No Other but at the beginning I really wasn't too sure if I'd be able to finish reading it. I understand that Lachlain has survived horrific torture but when he practically forces himself on Emmaline within minutes of meeting her it made me feel quite uncomfortable & I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to like him as the hero of the story. Emmaline (known as Emma the timid by her family) starts off as a very weak and mild character and again I wasn't sure that she was going to make very good heroine material.

However, I'm very pleased that I persevered with the story - both Lachlain and Emma grow a great deal throughout the story and I enjoyed watching their relationship progress as Lachlain grew to care for Emma and she finally found her backbone. We were teased quite a bit before they finally consummated their relationship but when they finally did it was worth the wait and the action between them was very steamy.

I did find myself getting a bit confused about the world Kresley Cole has created and the number of characters made it difficult to keep up with who was who to start with but I felt that I'd got to grips with it by the end of the book. There is a novella in the anthology Playing Easy To Get that comes before this book in the series so perhaps if I'd read that first I would have found it a little less confusing. I'm definitely planning on reading the anthology along with the rest of the series though. Although there were a few things that irritated me I did find myself really enjoying A Hunger Like No Other by the end and am looking forward to re-visiting this world again in future books. Overall this was a great start to the series and I'm curious to see where it will take me. I've not read anything with Valkyrie's in before and I found them an interesting addition to the genre. I'd definitely recommend paranormal romance fans give this book a try but if like me you aren't too sure at the beginning please keep reading - it is worth it in the end.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
Chrissie's Corner
Tynga's 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.

US Cover
Paperback / Kindle:

Monday, 24 May 2010

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (20)

This meme was started at J. Kaye's Book Blog but has now moved to One Person's Journey Through a World of Books run by Sheila.

News:

There is still time for UK bloggers to sign up for the ARC tour of Ivy Devlin's Low Red Moon - this is a new young adult paranormal romance and it looks fab, I'm really looking forward to reading it.  If anyone is interested in joining the UK tour you can sign up here.

This week's guest for Author's Animal Antics feature was the lovely Stella Price who stopped by to tell us about her chihuahua Moo including some very cute pictures!  You can read Stella's post here.  I have some fantastic authors lined up to take part in the feature so keep an eye out for the posts every Thursday.

Books read last week: (Click on the links to read my reviews)
  1. Lover Awakened - J.R. Ward
  2. Victoria Gardella: Vampire Slayer - Colleen Gleason (Short Story)
  3. Forget You - Jennifer Echols
  4. Linger - Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Mind Game - Christine Feehan
  6. Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
  7. A Hunger Like No Other (review coming later today)
What I'm reading now:
What I'll be reading next:

I've got a few review books that I'm planning on reading this week.  Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey is on a book tour so I need to get that read this week but I'm also planning on reading Fallen by Lauren Kate, A Vampire's Kiss volume 3 by Laura Stamps & The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan.  After that I'll have to see how I get on.

Challenge updates:

100+ Reading Challenge - Read 97/200
Paranormal Reading Challenge - Read 50/50 - COMPLETE
Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge - Read 24/24 - COMPLETE
April NAC Mini-Challenge - Battle Royale - Read 5/5 - COMPLETE

What are you reading?

Review: Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs

Like most people who own their own business, I work long hours that start early in the morning.  So when someone calls me in the middle of the night, they'd better be dying...

Mercy Thompson; woken at 3am by a vampire. Stefan also happens to be a friend, and he needs her help. He has to deliver a message to a fellow undead and needs a witness that won't be noticed - and Mercy's shapeshifting abilities make her the perfect candidate.

But the assignment turns into a bloodbath and Mercy attracts the attention of not just a powerful vampire, but the even more powerful demon possessing him.  She can count on the supernatural community for protection - and alpha werewolf Adam would like her to rely on him in other ways, too - but when it comes to being proactive, she's on her own.

Mercy Thompson Series:
Homecoming (Graphic Novel)
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed
Silver Borne
River Marked
Frost Burned
Hopcross Jilly (Graphic Novel)
Night Broken
Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson
Fire Touched

Alpha and Omega Series:
(This is a spin off to the Mercy Thompson series)
Alpha and Omega (novella found in the On the Prowl anthology)
Cry Wolf
Hunting Ground
Fair Game
Dead Heat

For more information visit Patricia Briggs' website

Review:
Blood Bound continues the story about 6 months after the events of Moon Called.  The werewolves have started to come out to the public, like the fae before them but the vampires are still keeping their existence a secret.  When Mercy is woken by a phone call in the middle of the night from her vampire friend Stefan she isn't happy but Stefan needs a favor and as Mercy owes him one she agrees to help.  There is a new vampire in the area who has raised Stefan's suspicion and he wants Mercy to be an impartial witness to the events by attending the meeting in her coyote form.  It sounds like an easy way for Mercy to return the favor she owes Stefan but she should have realised things are never simple when it comes to vampires.

I really enjoyed Moon Called but I thought that Blood Bound really stepped things up a gear.  The first book focused more on the werewolves and setting the scene for the world Patricia Briggs has created.  This book concentrates more on the vampires but because most of the characters are already established it gets to focus much more on the story.  We get to learn more about Mercy's unique abilities as a Walker, abilities that are going to come in very handy in this book.

Mercy has to show a lot of strength to face her enemies in Blood Bound, I'm really enjoying watching her character grow and of course you have her 2 werewolf admirers Adam & Samuel still fighting for her attention.  In fact she picks up another unexpected admirer in this book which I think is going to make the rest of the series even more interesting.  Although this book focuses more on the vampires we still get to learn more about the werewolves.  Although Mercy has a lot of allies she has to stand more on her own two feet and she has a major part to play in this installment.  I'm hoping we continue to see her grow as a character throughout the rest of the series.

I'd definitely recommend this series to urban fantasy fans.  Mercy is a likeable heroine with unusual abilities in a genre that tends to focus more on vampires and werewolves (not that I have a problem with vamps & weres but it is nice to come across something a little different).  Patricia Briggs has created a believable world populated with interesting characters and this series really could end up taking you in any direction.  I'm looking forward to reading more about Mercy and her friends.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
All Booked Up
Chrissie's Corner
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.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

In My Mailbox (21)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

Books Purchased:
I impressed myself and managed to stick to my book buying ban this week!  I wonder how long that will continue for LOL.

Library Finds:
After both Jo and Lynsey raved about the Night Huntress series at the UK YA blogger meet up last week I had to order book 1 from the library.  I'm looking forward to trying Halfway to the Grave, Jeaniene Frost is a new author for me but I've heard a lot of great things about this series.

For Review:
  1. I was very excited to receive a copy of The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan and Passing Strange by Daniel Waters from Simon & Schuster for review this week.  I'm already reading both of these series so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next - thanks S&S!
  2. I'm also looking forward to reading Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey that I received as part of a book tour arranged by International Book Tours
  3. I'd also like to thank RHCB for sending me a copy of Dido by Adele Geras, I have Adele dropping by to take part in my new Author's Animal Antics feature in a couple of weeks so I'm going to review Dido at the same time and there may even be a giveaway included (hint, hint LOL)
  4. I'm taking part in a book tour for The Moonstone Legacy by Diana de Gunzburg and Tony Wild in June so thank you to Pushkin Press for sending me a review copy of this book.
Won:
  1. I was really excited to win a copy of Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire from Alyssa, Jake & Gregory at Teens Read and Write.  This is book 1 in the October Daye series and I've heard really good things about it, I actually won a copy of book 2 a while ago so this has been on my purchase list and it came in really handy winning a copy as I'm on a buying ban.
  2. I also won a copy of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson from Walker Books in a giveaway they did on Twitter.  It looks great & I'm looking forward to reading it.
  3. I was also really happy to win a copy of Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon from Stella at Ex Libris.  I now have the first 3 books in the Dark Hunters series in my TBR pile - I've heard so much about this series & I'm looking forward to giving it a try.
What was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Review: Mind Game - Christine Feehan

Possessed of an extraordinary telekinetic gift, Dahlia Le Blanc has spent her life isolated from other people.  And just when she thinks she's finally achieved some semblance of peace, her well-orchestrated world comes crashing down...

For a reason she cannot guess, she has become the target of deadly assassins.  Suddenly no place is safe - not even the secret refuge she's established long ago.  Now she must rely on Nicolas Trevane - a dangerous warrior sent to track her down and protect her.  Together they generate a scorching heat Dahlia never imagined was possible.  But can she trust this man with her secrets - especially when some people would kill to get their hands on them?

GhostWalkers Series:
Shadow Game
Mind Game
Night Game
Conspiracy Game
Deadly Game
Predatory Game
Murder Game
Street Game
Ruthless Game
Samurai Game (2012)

For more information visit Christine Feehan's website

Review:
At the end of Shadow Game Lily and the GhostWalkers were determined to find the other children that Lily's father Dr Whitney had experimented on to enhance their psychic abilities.  Dahlia is the first of those children that she has managed to track down but after looking at recordings of her training it seems she has a dangerous ability.  Nicolas is sent to find her and let her know that they can help her to live a normal life but when he gets to her he finds she has become the target of deadly assassins.  He manages to save her from their first attack but her friend has been taken hostage and Dahlia is determined to save him.  She is going to need the help of Nicolas and the other GhostWalkers to rescue her friend and find out who is behind the plot to take her life.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and Mind Game didn't disappoint.  I find the idea of an experiment to increase psychic abilities really interesting and love finding out about the different powers that the GhostWalkers have.  Dahlia has a very unusual and dangerous talent which allows her to do amazing things but it comes at a very high cost to her.  Constantly absorbing energy from her surroundings and the feelings of others she is easily overwhelmed and when that happens things become explosive, with Dahlia often setting fire to anything around her.  Unable to control her powers she is a danger to anyone around her but Nicolas is willing to take the risk to be with her.

Dahlia has been through a lot since she was experimented on as a child, she has had no one she could rely on and has never allowed anyone to get close to her.  Her dream of having a family has always seemed an unrealistic one and she has been forced to spend most of her time alone to avoid the affect that other people's emotions have on her.  Nicolas is the most cold and aloof of the GhostWalkers but Dahlia breaks down his barriers and allows his passionate side to come to the front.  It takes a while for Dahlia to allow Nicolas in but it's well worth the wait and the heat between them is literally explosive!

I enjoyed seeing more of the camaraderie between the GhostWalkers and it was sweet watching them welcome Dahlia into their family.  We've been introduced to some more interesting characters who I'm hoping we'll see more of in future books and I'm looking forward to finding out more about the individual GhostWalker's psychic abilities.  This series has a little of everything - action and danger, psychic abilities and a lot of hot romance - and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!

Source: Library

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.

Friday, 21 May 2010

ARC Review: Linger - Maggie Stiefvater

The longing.

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together.  For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past.  For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.

The loss.

Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger.  He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.

The linger.

For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces - wolf and human - with love baring its two sides as well.  It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming.  As their world falls apart, love is what lingers.  But will it be enough?

The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy:
Shiver
Linger (July 2010)
Forever (TBC)

Visit Maggie Stiefvater's website for more information

Review:
I was so excited when Lynsey offered to lend me her ARC of Linger but when I actually had it in my hands I was quite nervous about reading it.  I loved Shiver so much and I was worried that Linger might not be able to live up to my expectations but I was so relieved to find that I had been worrying needlessly.  I don't want to give any spoilers for Linger so I'm not going to go into any great detail about the plot, I'm just going to say that if you're a fan of Shiver then you don't want to miss this one!

I wasn't too sure how well it would work having 4 different narrators telling the story but it didn't take me long to get the hang of it and I didn't find myself getting confused about who was speaking.  We already know both Grace and Sam's voices well from Shiver but I enjoyed getting to know Isabel better - her sarcasm still makes me laugh out loud and it was fun watching her interaction with new pack member Cole.  I found Cole an intriguing character and I'm curious to find out what will happen to him in Forever.

I was a little surprised that we didn't get to see more of Olivia in this book, she is mentioned briefly at the beginning but we don't actually get to find out what has been happening with her which I found strange.  I can only assume that she will have a part to play in the final book in the trilogy. 

Overall I really enjoyed Linger (and I confess to having tears in my eyes at the end) but I can't believe I've got to wait a year for ForeverMaggie Stiefvater has done it again, capturing all of the romance of Shiver and wrapping it up with wonderful characters (both old and new) - this may be character driven rather than action packed but Linger is one young adult romance you really don't want to miss.

Source: This ARC was lent to me by Lynsey from Narratively Speaking - thank you so much Lynsey!!

Other reviews of this book:
Narratively Speaking
I'd So Rather Be Reading
What Book Is That?
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.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Author's Animal Antics - Stella Price

Author's Animal Antics is a new regular blog feature here at Sarah's Book Reviews where I'm very excited to have some fantastic authors come and chat to us about their pets.  I'm thrilled to introduce the lovely Stella Price as my guest today...

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I don’t need kids. I have a Moo.  Every morning I get up and walk into my living room and smile at my Moo. He looks at me from the couch, growls, then goes back to sleep. This is a daily occurrence. Moo is a temperamental Chihuahua that thinks he owns the world, which is probably my mothers doing.

His eyes glow red at any time, which just proves to me he is the devil, LOL. Like all dogs, he smells because he finds gross things to roll in, and he has the worst gas in all creation, worse then my friend’s cat’s farts. Yes I said it. But why is Moo the best? Because Moo thinks he is human and he’s extremely neurotic.
Moo sits up when he sleeps, with his legs straight out. He sits on the couch or the lazy boy, and watches TV. He doesn’t like anyone sitting in his spot, but will pretend its ok till you get up and he can steal it, to steal the warmth. For some reason everyone loves the Moo. My grandparents carry pictures of him with them and they show people. My friends and my sister call and ask about him. He’s more popular then me.

And that neurotic thing? Well he wont leave the house without his harness on. I can leave all the doors open to my place and be standing outside beckoning him, but unless he’s got his harness on he wont step through. So Moo has a security harness, like Linus has a security blanket. He hates leaving his own house, and pisses a fit when we take him anywhere. In the car he likes to sit in the center of the back seat. Still not sure why, but its kinda funny seeing him there, snarling and grumbling.
And snarl and grumble he does a lot. When you walk into my house he will jump on you, stand above you and growl at you. No, he’s not challenging you, and no he’s NOT being mean, Moo has a lot to say. He doesn’t like his picture being taken, and he is vocal about it. He doesn’t like taking baths, and again, he’s vocal about it. Mostly, he bitches and complains about anything that doesn’t go his way. See? Like a child, or an old man, as I keep comparing him to as he’s now 8 years old and set in his ways.

Moo doesn’t do commands, he is above that. He’s his own “person” and nothing is going to change that. As you can see, Moo is not a little chichi. He’s what is called a “Standard” and should weigh about 10 lbs. He weighs 15. Blame THAT on my grandparents. When they come over it’s a never-ending processional of treats and goodies for him. Which is probably why he likes them so much.
Wow, sounds like Im bitching about him aren’t I? Im not. Moo is a special dog, and special to me. Almost 8 years ago, my mum rescued him from some complete asshole that was going to turn him out into the February night to freeze to death. I know theres a special place in hell for that dipshit, and I know that Moo dodged the bullet with my mum saving him. I cant imagine my life without The Moo. Hes… Hes precious when he wants to be, and when Im not feeling good, hes the one that stays with me and snuggles, making me feel better. I have given up a lot for him, last Feb he had a tumor they had to remove and I spent the better part of a Month only sleeping 4 hours a day because he wouldn’t wear the cone and his head was healing. I wouldn’t do that for my Hunny, but I do it for my dog. Truth is, I do anything for my dog.

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Thank you so much for visiting today Stella!  Stella Price writes with her sister Audra and together they have written among others the popular Eververse, Dragon Elementals and Weresnakes series.

Find out more about Stella and her work here - Website / BlogTwitter

For more information about the Author's Animal Antics feature click here

ARC Review: Forget You - Jennifer Echols

There's a lot Zoey would like to forget.  Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four year old girlfriend.  like Zoey's fear that the whole town will find out about her mom's nervous breakdown.  Like darkly handsome bad boy, Doug, taunting her at school.  Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she's the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.

But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there's one thing she can't remember at all - the entire night before.  Did she go parking with Brandon, like she'd planned?  And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her?  And why is Doug - of all people - suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them?  Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoeyto admit how much is a blank to her.  Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life - a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

Forget You is released in the UK on 20th July 2010

For more information visit Jennifer Echols' website

Review:
Life changes for Zoey when her Dad has an affair with his 24 year old assistant and gets her pregnant.  Since most of her friends from school work for her Dad's business everyone knows what has happened but it is something that Zoey would much rather have kept quiet.  When her Mum attempts to commit suicide Zoey is forced to move in with her Dad and his new fiance.  Worried about her Mum and the stress of trying to keep what happened a secret changes Zoey and makes her act in ways she never would have imagined.

When she has a car accident and looses her memory of a whole night she is determined to piece together what happened by herself - too embarrassed to confess that she can't remember.  She had planned to go parking with her boyfriend Brandon but doesn't understand why he suddenly seems to be avoiding her.  Then there is Doug, who usually spends his time teasing her at school but is now acting almost like she's his girlfriend.  What could have happened that night?  And how is Zoey going to find out without letting everyone know that she can't remember?

This is the first book I've read by Jennifer Echols but it definitely won't be the last.  I was really impressed with Forget You and it is one of my favorite young adult romances.  Although Zoey is a smart student she makes some stupid choices over the course of the book, however, I think with everything that was going on in her life at the time this is actually quite understandable.  I'm sure she's not the first teenager who does something that they later regret in the heat of the moment.  I actually liked this about her as it made her seem a more realistic character.

I absolutely loved Doug - I wish I'd known a boy like him when I was Zoey's age.  He comes across as your typical bad boy but in the end you discover there is so much more to him than that & it doesn't hurt that he is also incredibly sexy.  The chemistry between Doug & Zoey was great - I thought it was surprisingly steamy for a young adult book (but then I've not read a huge amount of YA contemporary romance to compare this to) but found it very enjoyable.  I have to mention that I could not stand Zoey's Dad - I really wanted to punch him several times throughout the story and if I had to pick one thing I didn't like about the story overall it would be that I'd have liked to see him get some of his own medicine!  That is a minor complaint though & if you're a fan of young adult romance I'd definitely recommend this book to you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Source: UK Book Tour organised by Dwayne from Girls Without A Bookshelf

Other Reviews:

Girls Without A Bookshelf
Trisha's Book Blog
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.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Free Short Story Review: Victoria Gardella: Vampire Slayer - Colleen Gleason

A short story introducing readers to the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, a series about a female vampire hunter in 19th century London. Join Victoria as she navigates her way through balls and Society even as she works to rid the world of dangerous, bloodthirsty vampires.

This short story can be read online or downloaded free by clicking this link






The Gardella Vampire Chronicles:
Victoria Gardella: Vampire Slayer (Free Short story)
The Rest Falls Away
Rises The Night
The Bleeding Dusk
When Twilight Burns
As Shadows Fade

For more information visit Colleen Gleason's website

Review:
This short story is a great introduction to the Gardella Vampire Chronicles series by Colleen Gleason.  It highlights the difficulties that Victoria Gardella faces as a young lady making her debut into London society whilst trying to keep her life as a vampire hunter secret.  We are also introduced to 3 of her potential love interests who you will see more of in the books.

I have already read and enjoyed the first book in the series The Rest Falls Away and enjoyed the fact that this is both a historical and urban fantasy series.  If you're already a fan of the series I'm sure you'll enjoy this short story and if you've yet to discover the series this is a great way to get a free taster to see if you want to read more.  I'm looking forward to continuing with this series and following Victoria's adventures.
Source: Free ebook - can be read online or downloaded here

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