Sunday, 31 October 2010

Review: Alpha - Rachel Vincent

"The only thing I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt - I would live and die for my pride"

Everything is about to change for werecat Faythe when her father is ousted from the council that controls their secret world. And a shocking tragedy jeopardises her future as Alpha of the pride.

Now a rebel on the run, Faythe's biggest fight lies ahead. Old allies from the supernatural world are ready to stand by her side. And weretoms Marc and Jace would give their very souls in the duel for Faythe's heart...

Yet as their enemies draw near Faythe knows that she - and she alone - can lead the pride into what may be their final battle.

Shifters Series:
Stray
Rogue
Pride
Prey
Shift
Alpha
Hunt (Novella)

Wildcats Series:
(This series is set in the Shifters world featuring characters we've already met but is paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy)
Lion's Share
Further titles and release dates to be confirmed

Visit Rachel Vincent's website for more information

Review:
This is the 6th and final book in the Shifters series so it is very difficult to review without giving spoilers for previous books. There won't be any spoilers for Alpha included in this review but if you're new to the series I strongly recommend you stop reading now as this series really should be read in order - why not check out my review for Stray instead. This is my favourite Urban Fantasy series though so I'd definitely recommend you check it out!

Anyone who knows me probably knows by now what a massive fan I am of this series, I have been completely hooked since I first read Stray and my addiction has only got worse as I continued reading. I think it's fair to say that I've been anticipating this book for what seems like forever but I've also been dreading it too. It's always sad to reach the end of a series you love and know that you're going to have to say goodbye to characters you've come to know and love and I know I could have happily read many more books set in this world. I have to say that I'm pleased that Rachel Vincent decided to end this series on a high though rather than drag it out until I wanted to stop reading like some authors who I refuse to mention here!

I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that as soon as this book arrived I immediately dropped everything else and settled in for the long haul. I did manage to make it last 2 days but that was more due to lack of reading time than anything else! If you've read the other books in the series then you'll already know how action packed the story lines usually are and Alpha was even more of a roller coaster ride. There were plenty of times I was reading with my heart in my mouth worrying desperately that everyone would survive the final battle. I'll admit that I was worried about Rachel's ability to tear my heart out and I'll confess to shedding more than a few tears during this instalment in the series.

I really did go through every possible emotion reading this book & was glad I was reading in the privacy of my own home as I literally shouted in indignation at the bad guys, sobbed my heart out with both joy & sadness and jumped up and down with glee. This probably isn't a story you'd want to be reading in public!

There are a lot of threads that needed to be tied up in the final instalment but one that was at the top of my list had to be the love triangle between Faythe, Marc and Jace. I'm not going to say if I was happy with the outcome of that as I'm sure I've mentioned in other reviews which guy I was routing for so I'll just say that Rachel managed to ratchet up the tension until I wasn't sure if I could stand any more. I swung wildly back and forth over who Faythe would eventually choose until I almost decided that she would be left without either of them. It was both heartbreaking and uplifting to read.

If you're a fan of the series you need to get hold of Alpha as soon as possible but if you're yet to enter the Shifters world then I'd urge you to do so as soon as possible. As soon as I'd finished the last page I wanted to pick up Stray and start the journey all over again (the only thing that stopped me is that it's already been packed in anticipation of my house move!). I'm pretty sure re-reading the series is one of the first things I'll do when I've unpacked. Faythe has come on such a massive journey since the beginning of the first book and I feel lucky that I got to share that experience with her. I can't recommend this series highly enough and am looking forward to seeing what Rachel Vincent comes up with next. I just hope that one day she will revisit the world of the werecats and that we will get to see how the future pans out for the characters we love.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
Ink and Paper
Portrait of a Woman
I Want To Read That
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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Happy Halloween


I guess it's a bit late in the day to say it but I'm going to say it anyway - Happy Halloween everyone!  I hope you've all had (or are having) a fab Halloween holiday.  I've actually been sick today so I didn't get to go to London like I'd planned (I'm gutted that I missed the Foyles Fear Fest event but hope everyone who attended had a fab time!) but my Mum & I had fun with our first ever attempt at carving pumpkins.  I have no idea why we've never done it before but we both enjoyed it & I'm sure we'll be doing it again next year!

Don't forget you still have time to enter my Spooktacular giveaway & win a signed copy of Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.  The giveaway is international so if you haven't already entered click here to join in.  There are over 80 blogs offering prizes so don't forget to visit the others to see what else you can win!  As this giveaway is international & I'm easily confused by different time zones I'm going to keep it open until 12pm GMT on Monday 1st November to make sure everyone is able to enter up until Midnight 31st October wherever they are.  That gives you 13 hours from now to enter so what are you waiting for?

Friday, 29 October 2010

18 & Over Book Blogger Tag Along

This book tag along is hosted by Laurie over at Bitten by Paranormal Romance.  If you'd like to join in the head over to Laurie's blog and the current post for all the details.

This is the first time I've taken part in this tag along and I'm looking forward to getting to know some new bloggers.  I'm a UK blogger who reviews both adult and YA books and has a particular passion for paranormal romance and urban fantasy stories.  I enjoy romance of all kinds including the occasional historical, contemporary or erotic romance but most of what I'm reading at the moment definitely has a paranormal edge to it.

I love finding new blogs to follow so please leave me a comment to let me know you've dropped by and I'll return the visit and check out your blog.  If you've reviewed any of the same books as me I'll be happy to add your links to my reviews, just leave a comment on the review with your review link :o)

Review: Halloween Fantasies - Katie Salidas

Touted as the sexiest party of the year, the annual Halloween Fantasy Ball is the one place a girl can let loose and succumb to her wildest fantasies.

Disguised as a sexy vampire huntress, Sasha captures the attention of Dante, a real life creature of the night. For Sasha, meeting bona-fide vampire is enough to fulfill one of her life long fantasies. She’s ready to go home a happy woman.

But Dante has other plans. It is after all, a night of fantasies, and he has a few of his own to share.

Visit Katie Salidas' Website for more information.


Review:
Halloween Fantasies is a thoroughly enjoyable erotic novella guaranteed to add a little spice to your holiday, in fact I think it might just have become my new Halloween tradition to read this story.

I don't want to give too much away about the plot because it is a short story and it would be too easy to give you spoilers but I this is the perfect read for when you're looking for something short and steamy for a quick read.  I often find the romance unbelievable when you're expected to believe the characters fall madly in love within a couple of pages so one of the things I liked the most about this novella is that it's about lust, attraction and fulfilling your wildest fantasies.  It is easy to feel the attraction between the main characters & I really hope that Katie will revisit Sasha and Dante in a future book / novella.

Although this does include a m/f/m menage it doesn't include any back door activity so even if that is something you'd usually be uncomfortable with I'd still recommend this if you like erotica.  This story would definitely count as one of my recommended reads and I know I'll be checking out anything Katie releases in the future!

Source: Received free from the author 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.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Author's Animal Antics - Katie Salidas


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 Katie Salidas as my guest today...

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There is a saying that cats don’t have owners, they have staff. Boy is that true in my house. I can’t even begin to tell you where the shift happened. One day they are these cute little fuzballs begging for love and attention and the next day they are full-grown fuzzy overlords demanding food and grooming, and God forbid you don’t clean the litter box on time.

I have three: Boose, Shady, & Lurky. If I weren’t married with children, I’d say I was getting dangerously close to becoming one of those crazy cat-people. You know the kind. They have a house full of fuzzies… Kind of like chips, “You can’t just eat one,” cats are the same way. You can never just own one, or is it be owned by one… hmmm?

Boose, Shady & Lurky

Each one has a very distinct personality and their own idea on how they should be cared for. They all provide a different sort of joy in our family’s life, but it’s the oldest, Boose that gets the spotlight here.

She was originally supposed to be my husband’s cat. He had her for years before we met. In fact, he jokingly told me that, “I would be judged by his cat” when we first met.

Boose

I wasn’t worried, as soon as she saw me, she switched sides. She’s mine through and through. Which is probably a good thing because if she hadn’t endeared herself to me early on, I might have been tempted to make her an outdoor kitty. No, I’m not an anti-cat person. Boose just has a very annoying problem that can be difficult to deal with.

She is neurotic about cleaning. You’d think I’d be over the moon about that. Who doesn’t want a clean cat? The problem is, she’s a long-hair cat and that long hair doesn’t digest well. I think you see where this is going. I find little Boose presents all over the house. Like I said, if she hadn’t endeared herself to me early on, she’d be spending lots of time outdoors.

Let me just tell you, there is nothing like waking up in the morning and stepping in a fresh pile of regurgitated fur. Works better than coffee to get the blood pumping. Blech!!

Boose

But, sometimes we find inspiration in strange places. Boose, my writing buddy, who always sits below my feet while I type, gave me a flash of inspiration one day. I needed a catalyst, something to change the course of the evening for one of my characters in the recently released, Halloween Fantasies. As I watched Boose, leaving me yet another present, it hit me (no, not the hairball, thank goodness). Why not give Boose a starring role doing what she does best. So Sasha’s cat, also named Boose (what can I say, it’s a unique name I had to run with it), ruins her Halloween costume, thus changing the course of her entire evening and sets in play events that will allow her to explore her secret fantasies.

So, in an odd turn of events, Boose’s presents really did give me something after all, and not just another mess to clean up. Now, if I could just train her to heave hairballs in the trash I’d be all set.
 
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Thank you so much for visiting today Katie!  Katie Salidas is the author of the new urban fantasy series Immortalis.  The first book Immortalis Carpe Noctem is available now (this is a great start to a new series and you can read my review here) and the second book Immortalis Hunter & Prey is released in 2011.  Katie has also released an erotic novella called Halloween Fantasies & let me tell you this is the perfect quick read to spice up your Halloween!  I will be posting my review soon.

Find out more about Katie and her work here - Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Facebook Author Page / Myspace / LinkedIn / Goodreads

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

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

RHCB Bloggers Meet Lauren Kate Event - 18th October 2010

Lauren Kate (centre) with the lovely RHCB publicists Lauren (left) & Becky (right)

Last week I was lucky enough to be one of the bloggers invited by RHCB to meet up with Lauren Kate, author of the popular YA books Fallen & Torment.  It was an event I've been looking forward to since I read Fallen earlier this year and I'd like to say a massive thank you to RHCB for arranging the meet up for us.

The event was at a pub called The Angelic in Islington and I was planning on meeting up with Lynsey (Narratively Speaking) beforehand for a little book shopping but I woke up late and missed the train I was aiming for.  I wasn't too worried because I thought the event started at 2:30pm and that I had plenty of time but when I arrived at about 12:45 I realised I'd got the time wrong & it had already started!  Luckily I wasn't too late and there were a couple of people who arrived after I did.

It was lovely to get the chance to meet Lauren Kate, she seemed a little shy (I guess us enthusiastic bloggers can probably be a little overwhelming) but was lovely and friendly.  We had all brought stacks of books with us which Lauren very kindly signed, it was probably good practise for her as I know she had lots of signings coming up throughout the week.

Lynsey pumping Lauren for spoilers!

We were all keen to try and get some information about the 3rd book in the Fallen Series (Passion) but Lauren managed to keep her secrets close to her chest.  She did say that the story picks up right after the ending of Torment which I'm relieved about as I'd heard that Passion was going to be a prequel to Fallen and I really need to know what is going to happen next! 

Lynsey, me, Lauren Kate, Carly, Becky, Jo & Lauren

I was very excited to find out that Fallen has been optioned by Disney and I think Lauren said the movie is due to be released in 2012.  Lauren told us that she will be consulting on the film and has met the team who will be producing it but she wasn't sure how much say she would have when it comes to making any decisions.  I'd never really thought about who I'd like to play the characters in a film but there were some great suggestions made as we chatted about it.  I wish I'd thought to write the names down while I was there as I could only remember a couple of them by the time I got home.

I think Lauren's choice for Daniel is Ed Westwick (who plays Chuck in Gossip Girls) and that the studio would like Liam Hemsworth.  I apologise if I've got that wrong (please feel free to correct me in the comments if you were there & I'll edit this post!) but they were definitely 2 names that came up as suggestions for Daniel.  I have to confess I've never seen Gossip Girls and I'm useless when it comes to names so I couldn't picture either of these actors when we were talking but here are a couple of pictures I found on Google:

Ed Westwick

Liam Hemsworth

If you've read Fallen or Torment what do you think of either of them as Daniel?  I don't think either of them are quite how I'd pictured him but I have to say I think they could both be good!  Who would your pick be for Daniel or any of the other cast members?  I wish I could remember people's suggestions for Luce & Cam!  Please don't think that either of the above actors have been cast - I'm sure that no decisions have been made yet - we were just talking about ideas :o)  I'm looking forward to seeing the cast list when it has been finalised though & I can't wait to see the film.  I think we should try and arrange a bloggers trip to see the film (wonder if we could get tickets to the London premier?? Yes, I know that's wishful thinking but it's fun to dream LOL).

Becky, Jo, Lauren & Carly

Lauren Kate and Lauren & Becky from RHCB had to leave at 2:30pm to head to another event but I'd like to thank them all for arranging the meet up.  We all had a great time & it was lovely to get a chance to chat with Lauren!  I'm so relieved I got there "early" or I'd have ended up missing the whole thing (I'm going to be so careful double & triple checking times for any future events!!!)

Becky, Lynsey, Lauren & Jo posing with an Angel wing sculpture near Angel tube station

It was also great to get to spend some time with some of my blogging friends.  One of the best things by far about book blogging has been getting to make some wonderful new friends who are part of the blogging community.  I love getting together with them all & we always have so much to chat about :o)  Carly, Jo & Becky had to leave after the event but Lynsey, Lauren & I all headed back to Victoria station together and found a pub to sit in until it was time for Lynsey's bus home. 

Caroline

Caroline (Portrait of a Woman) came to meet Lauren & I for dinner after she had finished work and we had a lovely meal at Garfunkels together.  It was a shame that Caroline couldn't make it to the event but I'm glad we got to meet up afterwards.  The evening flew by and before we knew it it was 9pm and we all had to leave to make sure we didn't miss our last trains home!  I did get to give Caroline her surprise from the Jennifer Lynn Barnes event though - I think she was happy with her signed book & wolf pen :o)

Who was there:
Lauren - Lauren Kate
Lauren - RHCB
Becky - RHCB 

Monday, 25 October 2010

Review: The Crescent - Jordan Deen

Becoming a werewolf is not an option for seventeen-year-old Lacey Quinn, but death can be a strong motivator.

Lacey is so focused on her future that everyday life has passed her by.  Counting down the days to her eighteenth birthday, Lacey is almost home free.  But when she falls for the mysterious Alex Morris, she lands in the middle of an ancient war between two enemy wolf packs.  Tempting dreams, tantalizing lies and a dangerous love triangle ensues leaving Lacey heartbroken and confused.

Lacey's fate rests in the hands of Alex and Brandon, but both are pulling her strings for their own agendas.  Even as she slips further into the dark world of werewolves, Lacey struggles to find the truth and save the only family she's ever known.

The Crescent Series:
The Crescent
Half Moon (Jan 2011)
Full Moon (Jan 2012)

Visit Jordan Deen's website for more information

Review:
Lacey has a difficult home life and the constant arguments between her parents have her longing to go to a college as far away as she can get.  She is about to turn 18 and can't wait to finish school and leave home.  When she meets and starts dating Alex the new boy at school she has no idea how drastically her life is going to change.  Then Brandon, another new boy, arrives on the scene and although she loves Alex she feels a strong connection to his rival Brandon.  With one boy filling her days and the other overtaking her dreams she is struggling to distinguish dream from reality and make a choice about which one to choose.  What she doesn't know is that she is the key to winning a war and both sides will do anything to get her on their side.  Torn between her heart and her head how can she know which to follow?  Does she choose her family and everyone she knows or take a chance on a stranger and believe what she has been told?  It is a difficult decision but she has to pick a side - before it's too late.

The Crescent is Jordan Deen's debut novel and what a start to a new series.  I was impressed by the depth of the story and Jordan did a great job of pulling me towards both Alex and Brandon - I really struggled to know who Lacey should trust and felt her confusion completely.  This is one of those books that you pick up thinking you'll just read a couple of chapters and the next thing you know you're half way through the book.  I just couldn't put it down as I had to know what would happen next.

Lacey has a lot of shocks in store for her throughout the story and revelations that are made leave her doubting everything and everyone she's ever known.  The decision she is forced to make tears her apart and will have a major impact on her family and friends.  I found Lacey was a very realistic character and I felt myself desperately hoping things would turn out well for her.  Although I was drawn to both Alex and Brandon I definitely know who I was routing for, I'm not going to say anymore for fear of spoilers so I'll just say I was very happy with the outcome and you'll have to read the book to find out more.

I feel I have to point out the fact that this book was very badly edited, I'm usually a stickler for this and as I was reading the first few pages I really did worry that I wouldn't be able to finish the book.  However, by the end of the first chapter I was so drawn to the characters and captured by the story that I found myself noticing the errors less and less.  I have been assured that the sequel will have been properly edited so please don't let the errors put you off of reading this fantastic debut.  I can't wait to get my hands on Half Moon and am very much looking forward to seeing what Jordan Deen comes up with next!

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

Other reviews of this book:
Narratively Speaking
The Fiction Enthusiast
Cem's Book Hideout
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.

Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop - Win Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - NOW CLOSED

*UPDATE - THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED - Winner announced here*

Along with over 80 other bloggers I'm taking part in the Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop to celebrate halloween.  This hop is being hosted by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and you'll have the chance to win loads of fantastic prizes (see the link list below for other participating blogs).


The prize I'm offering this week is a signed copy of Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes along with a fab carved wooden wolf pen.  This is a fantastic YA paranormal romance that I absolutely loved (you can read my review here) and it's perfect halloween reading.


To enter all you need to do is follow my blog using Google Friend Connect and leave a comment on this post.  The giveaway closes on 31st October 2010 and is open internationally.  The winner will be announced by the 3rd November and you'll have 48 hours to contact me with your address or a new winner will be chosen.

For extra entries:
  • Comment on my review of Raised by Wolves +1
  • Follow me on Twitter +1
  • Become a Friend on Goodreads +1
  • Link, Tweet or Blog about this contest (& leave a link in your comment) +1
Don't forget to check out the giveaways hosted by other bloggers in the hop here:

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Winners: Cattitude by Edie Ramer & Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne

It's time to announce some winners again so with the help of random.org here they are:

First winning an ebook of Cattitude by Edie Ramer is.....


Since I never heard back from the international winner of Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne I am announcing a new winner today.....

Lucy (From Lucy's Bookshelves)

Congratulations to you both!  If you can email me at sarahsreviews at ymail dot com to confirm your details I will arrange for your books to be sent to you.  If I don't hear from you within 48 hours then a different winner will be chosen.

Sorry if you didn't win but I have plenty more giveaways coming soon - the next one is for signed copy of Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and will be posted on Monday so make sure you come back for your chance to win.

Review: Demon Hunts - C.E. Murphy

Seattle police detective Joanne Walker started the year out mostly dead, and she's ending it trying not to be consumed by evil. Literally.

She's proven she can handle the gods and the walking dead. But a cannibalistic serial killer? That's more than even she bargained for. What's worse, the brutal demon leaves no tracks. So, if Joanne is to stop its campaign of terror, she'll have to hunt it where it lives: the Lower World, a shamanistic plane of magic and spirits. Trouble is, Joanne's skills are no match for the dangers she's about to face-and her on-the-job training could prove fatal to the people she's sworn to protect....


Walker Papers Series:
Urban Shaman
Thunderbird Falls
Coyote Dreams
Walking Dead
Demon Hunts
Spirit Dances (2011)

Visit C.E. Murphy's website for more information

Review:
Joanne Walker is a police officer but she is also a shaman and along with her partner Billy Holiday she investigates crimes that involve the supernatural.  Joanne isn't an expert Shaman though, she is new to her powers and is definitely having to learn on the job.  This time they are up against a serial killer who is eating part of their victims but leaving absolutely no evidence behind to give the police a clue to their identity.  Can Joanne track down the killer using her magical abilities before he claims any more victims?

Before I start this review I have a confession to make - when I started Demon Hunts I didn't realise it was book 5 in a series (which is very unlike me as I'm quite obsessive about reading series in order!) so I did find myself getting a little confused in places as I wasn't sure of the back story.  I still really enjoyed the book and am now planning on reading the other books but I have a feeling that I've probably picked up on some major spoilers for previous stories so I would strongly recommend reading this series in order.  Although this review won't include spoilers for Demon Hunts I can't guarantee it won't include spoilers for previous stories so you might want to skip reading if you're not up to date with the series.  If you're an urban fantasy fan and like an action packed story with a strong female heroine then I'd definitely recommend you give the first book Urban Shaman a try though.

I really do wish I'd read this series in the correct order, I have a feeling that Joanne has done a lot of growing to get to where she is today and I'd like to have seen that happening (I'm going to be checking that by reading the earlier books but am going to leave it a few months so that I can hopefully forget any spoilers I picked up by reading this one).  I thought she was a great main character, she is obviously still learning about her abilities and it appears that she has struggled to come to terms with the new supernatural world that she has found herself in but she is doing a great job of it.  Joanne was a very realistic character and I enjoyed listening to her voice as she tells the story.

There are also a lot of interesting side characters who I'm looking forward to getting to know more about.  Billy added a lot of comedy to the story and I enjoyed watching him & Joanne work together but it was also nice to see him with his wife and family too.  One of my favorite characters was Coyote, he seems to hold his cards quite close to his chest but I'm hoping to see more of him and find out some of his secrets in future books.  Gary and Morrison were both interesting characters and ones I'd have liked to have seen more of but I get the feeling that they've both played major roles in previous stories.  C.E. Murphy has created a detailed world but I felt like I was missing out on some important information by picking up the series so late in.  I'm looking forward to investigating the world more fully in the future and think I'm going to become a big fan of this series by the time I've caught up.

Source: Received for review from publisher via NetGalley

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.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Review: The Trouble with Spells - Lacey Weatherford

Portia Mullins had always lived the life of a normal teenager, up until her sixteenth birthday.  She is then informed by her grandma that she is actually a witch who is a descendant from a long line of witches and warlocks.  After overcoming her disbelief she finds that being a member of the coven comes with one great perk in the form of the school's handsome bad boy, Vance Mangum.  Vance and Portia have an immediate connection as a budding romance begins, only to be threatened by turbulent skies on the horizon as Vance's checkered past rears its ugly head to haunt them.  Portia is forced to use her untried powers in defense of everything she loves in a desperate attempt to hold on to the one thing that really matters in her life.

Of Witches & Warlocks Series:
The Trouble with Spells
The Demon Kiss
Blood of the White Witch (coming soon)

Visit Lacey Weatherford's website for more information

Review:
Portia has always been a normal teenager - until the day of her 16th birthday when she finds out that she comes from a family of witches and warlocks.  As her magical powers start to develop one of the best things about joining the coven is getting to know the school bad boy Vance.  Portia and Vance are drawn to each other but when Vance's past comes back to haunt them Portia is going to need all of her new found magical skills if they are both going to survive.

The Trouble with Spells is the first book in the Of Witches and Warlocks series by Lacey Weatherford and I thought it was a great start to the series.  There were a couple of things that irritated me, the main one being that there were quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes in the book I read (that is a major bug bear of mine and makes me want to get out my red pen!) but I have since found out that there was a mistake at the publishers and an unedited version of the story was printed in error.  This has apparently been corrected now so shouldn't be an issue if you purchase a new copy of the book.

I really liked Portia as a main character, she is smart and sassy and I liked the fact that she came across as such a realistic teenager.  Her new magical abilities came as a complete shock to her so I did feel that she picked up her new skills a little too quickly but the advantage of this was that the story was able to move at a much faster pace and believe me it is definitely a story you'll want to read in just one sitting!  One of my favorite characters was Portia's grandma - she was so much fun to read about.

Vance is a great swoon worthy hero and yes he did steal my heart just a little bit!  At first I was shocked that he & Portia's relationship built so quickly - within a few days of the first time they'd spoken to each other they knew they were soul mates and had a bonding ceremony - but this is explained in the book.  Once you start watching the two of them together it is easy to forget about how rushed the beginning of the relationship felt, their emotions and feelings completely drew me in and I absolutely loved the pair of them together.

The Trouble with Spells is a romantic, action packed read and one that I would highly recommend to fans of YA paranormal romance.  I can't wait to get my hands on the second book in the series - this book ends on quite a cliffhanger so you might want to make sure you get hold of both books before you start reading!

Source: Received as part of a book tour arranged by UK 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.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Review: Total Exlipse - Rachel Caine

Unnatural Disaster

Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin has defeated her longtime enemy and saved the world - again.  But at what cost?  Standing at ground zero for the last attack, Joanne, the Djinn David, and the Earth herself have been poisoned by a substance that is destroying the magic that keeps the world alive.

Joanne and David have already lost their powers, but that's just the beginning.  The poison that has seeped into the planet is destabilising the entire balance of power, bestowing magic on those who have never had it and taking it at critical moments from those who need it.  It's just a matter of time before the delicate balance of nature explodes into chaos, destroying mankind - and every living thing on Earth - with it.

The Weather Warden Series:
Ill Wind
Heat Stroke
Chill Factor
Windfall
Firestorm
Thin Air
Gale Force
Cape Storm
Total Eclipse

Outcast Season Series:
(This is a spin off from The Weather Warden Series)
Undone
Unknown
Unseen
Unbroken

Visit Rachel Caine's Website for more information.

Review:
Total Eclipse is the 9th and final book in the Weather Warden series and I would strongly recommend reading the series in order.  I think if you tried to read this as a stand alone book you'd probably be missing too much of the back story to get the full enjoyment from the book.  This is an urban fantasy series that I've thoroughly enjoyed though so I'd definitely recommend checking it out starting with book 1 Ill Wind.  Although this review won't contain spoilers for Total Eclipse it is impossible to review without giving hints to previous events in the series so if you haven't read as far as Cape Storm yet I'd recommend you don't continue reading this review.

Total Eclipse picks things up right after the ending of Cape Storm so Jo and David have beaten their enemy but at great cost - they have been left without their powers and the damage caused to the earth has fully awoken the Mother.  Not only is Mother Earth awake, she is also seriously unhappy and has decided that humanity has blown it's chance.  With the Mother determined to wipe humans out of existence the few remaining Wardens are stretched thinly trying to control fires, floods, earthquakes and storms on a never before seen scale.  Their only chance is to try to plead their case directly to the Mother through one of the Oracles.  Despite knowing they are heading on what is likely to be a suicide mission Jo and David know they have no choice but to accept the task.  They are in a race against time to try and stop things before humanity is destroyed but will they be able to get the mother to listen?

I have been a massive fan of the Weather Warden series since I first read Ill Wind so although I was desperate to find out how things are resolved in the final book I was also sad to be saying goodbye to the characters I've grown to love.  I have to say I loved Total Eclipse and thought that the series ended really well.  Although I'd happily have read more books about Jo & David I'd prefer to see the series end on a high note than drag on until I'm bored with it.

I'm glad that Jo and David got to spend a little quality time together at the beginning of the book as the cruise ship returned to shore.  It was interesting to see how they reacted to losing their powers and I enjoyed seeing them as equals for the first time.  When they hit shore the storyline really picks up pace and I was completely unable to put the book down.  You never knew quite what to expect next and there were plenty of twists to keep you interested.  I enjoyed the road trip they take with Cherise and Kevin trying to get to the Oracles, it was nice to be reminded of the earlier books and I thought it was a great way to end the series.  All of the wardens are facing plenty of danger and not everyone survives to the end of the book, I'm not going to say any more because I don't want to give spoilers but I found myself getting quite emotional at times while reading.

Overall I thought this was a great ending to the series & I loved the epilogue.  I'm happy with how things turned out for most of the characters and glad that we are going to get to carry on reading more about the world Rachel Caine has created in the Outcast Season Series.  I have to say that I'm hoping that we get to see more of Jo, David, Lewis, Rahel & Venna in the new series as I'm not ready to completely say goodbye to them all yet.  I know this is a series that I will be reading again in the future and I'd recommend it to any urban fantasy fans.

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.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Review: Her Dark Angel - Felicity Heaton

An angel without a mission, Apollyon lives trapped in Hell guarding the bottomless pit. Surrounded by endless darkness, he longs to fly free on Earth once more but his master hasn’t called him in centuries. When the call finally comes, it’s to serve a new master, a beautiful woman he has often watched over, a woman who has always captivated him.

Serenity is shocked when a gorgeous black-winged angel shows up in her city of Paris claiming that she called him when she was only casting a simple vengeance spell. He’s no other than the angel of death! When Apollyon offers to obey her and help her have revenge on her cheating ex-boyfriend, she can’t resist the temptation, but can she resist him? Can an angel as dark as Apollyon ever fall for a mortal woman like her?

Their charade as lovers quickly becomes reality when one dance leads to another and Apollyon proves that he’s as sinful as he looks. His sensual and hungry touch brings Serenity back to life, freeing her from the hurt of being betrayed and reigniting her passion, but she can’t ignore her growing fear. Lost in their moment together, Apollyon realises that there is a reason he heard her call—he’s in love with her.

But will Serenity see past the wings and believe that Apollyon returns her feelings and won’t hurt her? When her ex-boyfriend asks her to forgive him and be with him again, will she take the easy route or will she find the courage to fly away with her dark angel?

Her Angel Series:
Her Dark Angel
Her Fallen Angel
Her Warrior Angel
Her Guardian Angel
Her Demonic Angel
Her Wicked Angel
Her Avenging Angel
Her Sinful Angel

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Review:
Apollyon has spent centuries guarding the gates of hell and has been longing to be back on earth and able to fly again. He is lonely and spends his time watching events on earth while waiting for his master to call him. When he finally hears the call he is surprised to find it was not his master who called him. Serenity is a witch and is desperate to get revenge on her cheating ex-boyfriend. When she casts a vengeance spell the last thing she is expecting is a visit from the angel of death. Apollyon offers to help her get revenge on her ex but will their charade become more as the attraction between them blossoms?

Her Dark Angel is a novella and contains everything you'd expect from an erotic short story and makes a great quick read. While I enjoy smut I sometimes find that it is hard to connect to the characters in a novella, it can be difficult for an author to build much of an emotional connection between the characters in so few words. I have to say I think Felicity Heaton did a great job of showing the relationship between Apollyon and Serenity develop and although I would have loved to read more about these two I was very happy with the way things built between them.

I have to say I definitely fell for Apollyon - he is one HAWT angel. I absolutely loved the description of his wings and how it felt to fly - he could fly me off on a romantic date any day!! There are some scorching love scenes (I love kitchen & shower smex) & I was kept turning the pages to see how things turned out for the couple. I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, erotic paranormal romance and am very much looking forward to reading Her Fallen Angel.

Source: Received free from the author 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.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Winners: Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne


With the help of random.org I can confirm that the 4 winners of my John Boyne giveaway (each winning a copy of Noah Barleywater Runs Away) are:

UK Winners: (each winning a finished copy that will be sent directly by RHCB)
Rhiana (From Rhiana Reads)
&
Iffath (From Love Reading X)
&
Lanta (From Mayitbe Book Recommendations)


International Winner: (winning the ARC copy I was sent for review)
Kai (From Amaterasu Reads)

Congratulations to you all!  If you can email me at sarahsreviews at ymail dot com with your full address I will get your books posted to you.  UK winners your address will be forwarded to RHCB and they will be sending your prizes so by sending me your address you are agreeing for me to pass it on to them.  If I don't hear from you within 48 hours then a different winner will be chosen.  I'd like to say a massive thank you to RHCB for allowing me to host this giveaway for them.

Sorry if you didn't win but I have plenty more giveaways coming soon so check back for your chance to win.  In fact I am currently hosting a giveaway of a copy of the paranormal romance Cattitude by Edie Ramer so if you haven't entered already click here for a chance to win.

Review: First Drop of Crimson - Jeaniene Frost

The night is not safe for mortals. Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows - her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield - and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family's past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness - and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who lusts for a taste of her.

He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human - even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the nightmare together...

Night Huntress World Series:
(This is a spin off from the Night Huntress Series that fits into the time line after Destined for an Early Grave)
First Drop Of Crimson
Eternal Kiss of Darkness

Night Huntress Series:
Halfway to the Grave
One Foot in the Grave
At Grave's End
Destined for an Early Grave
One for the Money (Short Story in the Magic Graves Anthology)
This Side of the Grave
One Grave at a Time
Home for the Holidays (Novella available as an ebook or as part of The Bite Before Christmas anthology)
Up from the Grave

Night Prince Series:
(This is a spin off from the Night Huntress series that fits into the time line after One Grave at a Time)
Once Burned
Twice Tempted

For more information visit Jeaniene Frost's website

Review:
First Drop of Crimson is the first book in Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress World series, a spin off from her Night Huntress series featuring Cat and Bones. While the original series straddles the line between paranormal romance & urban fantasy and focuses on one couple through all of the books this new series definitely fits into the paranormal romance category and will feature a different couple in each of the books. The characters that it is focusing on have all been introduced as side characters in the first series so I'd recommend reading the Night Huntress books before starting this book but I do think you are given enough information that you can probably catch up if you are new to Jeaniene Frost's work. You will pick up spoilers if you read this first and then move onto Cat & Bones' series though.

I absolutely love the Night Huntress series (I am crazy about Bones!) so I was really looking forward to reading First Drop of Crimson. Spade has been a character I have liked whenever we have seen him in previous books and I was keen to find out more about his past. Denise is Cat's best friend and (mostly) human and I never really felt we got to know her in the other series so I wasn't too sure what to expect from her in this book. I have to say she really grew on me and I enjoyed getting to know her better and watching her change throughout this book. I loved Spade (he'll never replace Bones in my affections but he isn't a bad stand in!) and really feel I understand him a lot better now.

Although Denise could be a little irritating at times I felt that the way she acted was understandable considering her recent experiences at the hands of vampires. It isn't surprising that she has no trust of the supernatural and doesn't want anything to do with them - all she wants is to have a quiet life where she won't be in danger any more. She doesn't get much choice in the matter because an ancestor has put her whole family at risk and if she is going to have a chance to save them she will need help. When she is unable to get hold of Cat or Bones she turns to the only other person she can think of - Spade. Luckily Spade is willing to help, he has been attracted to Denise ever since he first saw her but he has also been hurt in the past and is scared to get into the same situation again. I really felt the attraction between them (the shower scene in particular had me more than a little flustered!) but I liked the way they didn't jump right into a relationship. They both had issues that needed to be dealt with first and I liked the fact that they were able to discuss things. I think they're very well suited to each other and I'm hoping that we get to see more of both of them in future books in both series.

If you've already read Jeaniene's work then you'll already know to expect plenty of action and some interesting plot twists and I don't think you'll be disappointed even though there is more focus on the romance as their story is only told in one instalment. I love the fact that we are introduced to new supernatural creatures in the demons & I'm curious to see if they'll cross over into the Cat & Bones series. I also really liked the fact that we get to see some of the other characters we've come to know and love - Cat & Bones in particular but also Mencheres and Ian (who is growing on me the more I see of him & I'm hoping he will get his own story eventually).

Overall I probably like the Night Huntress series slightly more but I've spent 4 books with Cat and Bones and adore them both so that probably isn't surprising. When you compare this to other standalone PNR stories then it really does hold it's own. I'm looking forward to reading Eternal Kiss of Darkness - I'm so curious to read Mencheres story! I would recommend this series to fans of the Night Huntress series but also to people who enjoy a good PNR book that has a fast paced plot as well as hot romance.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
Ink and Paper
Story Wings
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, 14 October 2010

My Perfect Chemistry Review Was Quoted!!

OK so I know I'm behind with my reviews but I seem to have lost my reviewing mojo over the last few days - I'm hoping it's just where I'm still recovering from the tail end of my cold!  I'm sure I'll get back on track soon as I've been reading some great books recently.  In the meantime I wanted to share a little bit of news that made my day week.  I received a copy of Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles for review from Simon & Schuster (which was exciting enough in it's own right as I've been dying to read this one since I read Perfect Chemistry!) and part of my review was used in the press release!!  I know that's probably not a massive thing to some of the bigger bloggers out there but I had to jump up and down doing a happy dance when I saw it :o)

Front of the press release

Back of the Press Release (my quote is in the top left corner)

Close up of my quote

You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger image.  My quote is in very good company alongside quotes from some of my favorite blogs - Wondrous Reads, Once Upon A Bookcase, The Bookette & I Was A Teenage Book Geek (links will take you to their reviews of Perfect Chemistry) Congratulations to you all girls!!  You can also read my review of Perfect Chemistry here.  Thanks so much to S&S for sending me Rules of Attraction and for making my week by using my quote!

Anyway, I think I've rambled on enough - I just had to share my excitement with you all :o)  Hopefully I'll be back on track and get a review posted tomorrow for you all.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Quercus Blogger Party with Jennifer Lynn Barnes - 4th October 2010

The fabulous Jennifer Lynn Barnes

When I first heard about the Artwork my ARC tour of Raised by Wolves that was arranged by Parul from Quercus and Lynsey (Narratively Speaking & UK Book Tours) I couldn't wait to take part.  I really loved Raised by Wolves (you can read my review here) so the idea of getting to meet Jen was too good to resist.  The idea behind the tour was that we would all get to make notes, draw pictures & generally decorate an ARC of the book that would then be presented to Jennifer Lynn Barnes at a party during her UK tour.  I'd like to say a massive thanks to both Parul & Lynsey for all the effort they went to organising the tour and the event - it was such a fun idea and I'd love to take part in something similar again! 

I know Lynsey was getting quite stressed worrying about getting the book back in time to present to Jen so we arranged to meet up early on the day of the event for lunch & so I could add my notes.  I ended up getting to London really early so as Lynsey was delayed I spent a couple of hours sitting at a coffee shop in Waterloo station.  I'd planned on drawing some pictures in the book but since I had time to kill I drew them on paper instead so I could stick them in the book before the presentation.  I ended up keeping a few other travellers amused while they sat drinking their coffees watching me doodling.  I'd printed off quite a few pictures from google to help give me ideas & here are the pictures I came up with:


Because of strikes on the underground we'd come to London prepared to have a nightmare travelling around but luckily the only tube line we needed was still open.  We had agreed to meet Jenny (Wondrous Reads) at Euston station so we could all figure out the bus to the event together but as we had plenty of time Lynsey & I decided to have a look around Waterstone's in Piccadilly first.  We managed to get a tube to Leicester Square & then had to walk to Piccadilly but luckily with the help of a couple of passersby we managed to find it quite easily.  We happily spent ages wandering around the YA books (they have such a huge selection to choose from!) and then completely lost track of the time after getting chatting to a lovely member of staff (Hey Nicole!!) who was an absolute expert about all things YA. 

By the time we'd dragged ourselves away from Waterstone's and made it to Euston Station we were very late meeting up with Jenny (I'm so sorry Jenny!!) but at least we found her in the end.  I have to say it was so lovely to finally get a chance to meet Jenny, I've been following her blog ever since I started blogging but hadn't had a chance to meet her before now.  We just about had time to grab some food and for Jenny & I to make quick notes in the book before we had to leave for the event.  I didn't have quite enough time to add everything I wanted to but at least I had already prepared my pictures to stick in.

I don't think any of us had ever needed to navigate London by bus before so we were all a bit nervous that we wouldn't know when to get off the bus but luckily Parul had given us fantastic directions & we found Truckles bar really easily.  It was a lovely surprise to find that Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) was at the event, I hadn't seen Lauren for ages so it was good to have a chance to catch up.  It was so disappointing that Caroline (Portrait of a Woman) couldn't make it though - we can blame that one on the tube strike!  I did manage to get her a special pressie though, so I'm looking forward to seeing her soon to give it to her.  When we arrived we were greeted by Parul and given drinks & these fabulous Raised by Wolves cupcakes

Aren't they cute?!

We also got given these lovely carved wooden wolf pens (& yes one of the ones I'm holding in this picture might just be for a halloween giveaway I'm planning for the end of the month along with a signed copy of Raised by Wolves)

Me, Jen & Lynsey

After spending some time chatting with Jen (who is absolutely lovely by the way) and getting to meet some of the staff from Quercus it was time for speeches and for Lynsey to present Jen with the ARC we'd all doodled in.  It was great fun listening to Jen talking about Raised by Wolves, she got inspiration for Brynn from growing up as the only girl hanging around with her older brother & his friends so she knows exactly what it's like to be the younger, smaller girl who the boys want to protect.  Having a degree in cognitive science and spending time studying primates has also come in handy when it comes to writing about a werewolf pack.

Lynsey & Jen after the presentation

After the presentation Jen was happy to spend time chatting to us bloggers and signing all of the books we'd brought with us.  She really is so sweet and I'm amazed at how much she has achieved at such a young age - she wrote the first draft of Golden in just 3 weeks when she was only 19 years old and it was sold to a publisher just before her 21st birthday.  I don't know where Jen found the time to write & publish 7 novels while studying for her degree but it is obvious from talking to her that she is very passionate about both her writing and science so she works hard to fit it all in.  We did manage to get a few hints about Trial by Fire (the sequel to Raised by Wolves) and I was very excited to find out that she is currently in talks with her US publisher about writing a 3rd book in the series.  We won't know if this is going to happen for at least a couple of months but I for one am keeping my fingers crossed!

Another fun Jen fact for you - she is the only person I know who reads books in the shower (yes the shower!), she has perfected the art of holding the book with one hand and still being able to turn the pages while using her other hand to wash with.  I'd never heard of anyone doing that before but Jen assured us that Sarah Rees Brennan does the same so perhaps it's an author thing!

Me & Jen

The picture above shows Jen and me with a werewolf picture I'd made for her with encaustic wax.  I have to confess I'm very new to encaustic art so it isn't a fantastic picture but I had fun trying to create it - it's amazing what you can do with coloured wax and a travel iron!

Lauren, Lynsey, Jen, Jenny & me

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Jen for being so lovely and answering so many of our questions.  I can't wait to get my hands on Trial by Fire (is it 2011 yet???) and I'm really hoping you get to write a third book in the series!  I'm definitely planning on ordering Jen's previous books too (hopefully we'll get them publised in the UK soon).  Thanks again to Parul and all of the staff at Quercus who went out of their way to be so welcoming to us bloggers - we had a fantastic time :o)

Here is a slideshow of some more of the pictures I took that evening:


Who was there:
Parul - Quercus

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