Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Review: Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill

They killed me.  They healed me.  They changed me.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was mine.  I was doing fine until Chicago's vampires announced their existence to the world - and then a rogue vampire attacked me.  He only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker...one who decided the best way to save my life was to take it.

Turns out my saviour was the master vampire of Cadogan House.  Now I've traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan 'Lord o' the Manor' Sullivan.  Of course as a tall, green-eyed, four hundred year old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he also seems to expect my eternal gratitude - and servitude.  Right...

But my burgeoning powers (all of a sudden, I'm surprisingly handy with some serious weaponry), an inconvenient sunlight allergy, and Ethan's attitude are the least of my worries.  Someone's out to get me.  Is it the rogue vampire who bit me?  A vamp from a rival House?  An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war - and there's going to be blood...

Chicagoland Vampires Series:
Some Girls Bite
Friday Night Bites
Twice Bitten
Hard Bitten
Drink Deep
Biting Cold
House Rules
Biting Bad
Howling for You (Novella)
Wild Things
Blood Games
Lucky Break (Novella)
Dark Debt
Midnight Marked
Phantom Kiss (Novella)
Blade Bound

Visit Chloe Neill's website for more information

Review:
Merit is a graduate student who doesn't live the most glamorous life but is happy with her lot, that is until she is attacked on campus by a rogue vampire.  The rogue is chased off by Ethan but to save Merit's life he does the only thing he can do - he turns her into a vampire.  Waking up to discover that she has been turned comes as quite a shock to Merit, even though she is aware of the existence of vampires (they came out to society several months ago) she had no interest in them and the last thing she wanted was to become one herself.  Now she has no choice but to try and fit into the vampire world - unless she wants to live her life on the outside like the rogue who attacked her.  She has to come to terms with what happened to her while at the same time try to find the rogue vampire and stop them from attacking someone else.

I'd heard good things about Some Girls Bite so was looking forward to reading it but I didn't realise just how good it was going to be.  For the first book in a series I was very impressed and Chloe Neill managed to suck me into the story right from the very beginning.  Although there is a lot of world building going on I really liked the way this was handled and didn't feel overwhelmed with information like you can be in some series.  With the story told in first person narrative from Merits point of view you experience things exactly as she does and get to join her on her journey into the unknown.  She isn't happy that she was turned into a vampire without being given any say in the matter but I liked the fact that she didn't spend the whole book moaning about her lot, she accepted things and worked to find a way to fit in.  That doesn't mean she was a pushover though - she was willing to stand up for herself and earned my respect by doing so.

Merit is a very likable character and I found her easy to relate to but I was also impressed with the secondary characters in the story.  I loved Merit's human best friend Mallory, it's always good to see strong female friendships in books and they have a strong bond and care deeply for each other.  I loved the banter between the two of them and they had me laughing out loud on several occasions.  I also loved Merit's Grandfather, Merit has never had particularly supportive parents (in fact I wanted to smack her father more than once when I was reading!) but her Grandfather was a great role model.  He has a few secrets of his own and I'm pleased that we'll probably get to spend more time with him in future books.  Catcher and Jeff are also both interesting characters who I'm looking forward to getting to know more about.

When it comes to love interests you have 2 very different characters to choose from.  First there is Ethan - the master of Cadogan House and the vampire who turned Merit.  At 400 years old he is very removed from his human life and comes across as very arrogant.  There were a few things he did that really made it difficult for me to like him but there is something about him that makes you want to get to know him better.  There is a strong sexual attraction between him and Merit but I liked the fact that Merit didn't immediately jump into a relationship with him.  She stands up to him and puts her own needs first which was another thing I admired about her.  I'll be very curious to see how things develop between them throughout the series and find out whether Merit can help him adjust his attitude.  The other love interest is Morgan who is second in command of the rival Navarre House.  He comes across as sweet and loyal but although there is an attraction between him and Merit it wasn't as strong as the heat between her and Ethan.  I can't quite put my finger on it but there was something about him that I found off putting.  I'll be curious to see if this continues when I read further books.

Overall this was a fantastic start to a new series and a book I thoroughly enjoyed.  It wasn't as action packed as some urban fantasy series I've read but there was a lot of character development and I did enjoy the mystery of who was behind the rogue vampire attacks.  This is definitely a series I'm looking forward to continuing and one I would strongly recommend to fans of the genre.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
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Monday, 29 November 2010

NEW Winner: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting + Swag

Since I didn't hear back from the first winner I've picked a new one with the help of random.org and I am very happy to announce that the new winner of  The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting along with a signed poster, stickers and a Body Finder wristband is:

Claire (From Cem's Book Hideout)

Congratulations Claire!  If you can email me at sarahsreviews at ymail dot com with your address details I will pass the information along to Headline so they can send your prize out to you.  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 Headline for allowing me to host this giveaway for them.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness - Jeaniene Frost

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness... And now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears - this fearless, beautiful ... human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

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:
Eternal Kiss of Darkness is the second book in the Night Huntress World series which is a spin off on the Night Huntress series starring Cat & Bones. Although the original series straddles the lines between paranormal romance and urban fantasy the spin off would definitely be classed as paranormal romance. Each book in this series features a different couple and allows us to get to know characters who have been on the sidelines in the previous series. I would recommend reading the original Cat & Bones series first because you may pick up some spoilers for it if you read the Night Huntress World books first but I am a massive fan of both series and Jeaniene Frost and would definitely recommend you give them a try.

Mencheres is a character that I've been curious about as we've come to know him in the Night Huntress series and I was looking forward to finding out more about his past in Eternal Kiss of Darkness. Some of the things he has done previously made me a little worried that I wasn't going to like him much but I'm happy to say I quickly grew to love him. He has lived for a long time and done things that he isn't proud of but it becomes clear that he has done it all with the best of intentions. He cares deeply for his friends and the vampires in his line and would go to any lengths to protect them. An old enemy is determined to hurt him and isn't above using members of Mencheres' line to do it, Mencheres is tired of life but has a plan to stop his enemy even if it does mean resorting to drastic measures.

Kira is a strong and likeable heroine and one who is perfectly suited to Mencheres. She stumbles into his world by mistake when she tries to help him and ends up with a lot more than she'd bargained for. Both of the main characters have been through difficult times in their past but this only helps them understand each other better. Their attraction was instant but I also felt that Jeaniene Frost did a great job of making their relationship believable. Kira isn't the sort to sit back and let things happen to her, she is more than willing to stand up for herself which is something Mencheres finds very attractive. He is used to people falling at his feet and doing whatever he tells them to so it comes as quite a surprise to him to have someone talking back to him and actually telling him when he's wrong about something. Together they make a formidable couple and I almost like them as much as Cat and Bones which is a big compliment believe me.

Eternal Kiss of Darkness is definitely right up there with the Night Huntress books and I hope we get to see more of Mencheres and Kira in the future. I enjoyed seeing Cat, Bones and Vlad make appearances and I'm even more eager for Vlad's series and the next Cat & Bones books now! Jeaniene Frost remains on my "must read" list of authors and I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her books in the future. If you're new to her work then I'd highly recommend you give her a try.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
Ink and Paper
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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Review: The Long Weekend - Savita Kalhan

Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home.  They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with a man who means to harm them.  But Sam doesn't know how to get them out.

They were trapped, then separated.

Now they are alone.

Will either of them get out alive?

Visit the Savita Kalhan's website for more information


Review:
Sam has just started at a new school but has quickly made a new friend in Lloyd and settled in.  They have arranged to spend the weekend together but as they are waiting for their parents to turn up it soon becomes clear that there has been a mix up over which house they should be staying in.  When a car pulls up the each presume that it is the other's father who has come to collect them and don't think twice about getting in.  However, as they drive further out of town they discover that neither of them know who is actually driving the car.  It is only after arriving at a secluded mansion and being separated that they discover just how much trouble they are actually in but will either of them manage to escape and get help?

Despite being a young adult novel The Long Weekend actually scared the life out of me.  I can deal with supernatural horror but when it comes to something more realistic like kidnap and child abuse I am much easier to scare.  This story is very realistic, it is so easy to imagine 2 young boys in Sam and Lloyd's situation - at that age I could easily have got into the car right beside them.  For that reason if nothing else I would recommend this to all young adults - I'm sure that after reading this book older children and teens would think twice before getting into a car without making sure the driver was known to them.  If The Long Weekend had been a film I would have been watching from behind a cushion and while reading the book I found myself holding my breath as I waited to see what would happen.  I only read this in 2 days because it was getting late and I thought I might have nightmares, otherwise I would easily have finished the book in one session.  It is a compelling and gripping read that I would highly recommend.

Although the story covers a difficult situation and pulls no punches about what happens to Sam and Lloyd it does so without giving graphic details which I was grateful for.  Although I'm sure my imagination did far too good a job of filling in the gaps and was one of the reasons I was so frightened!  This really is a must read book with likable and realistic characters you'll be routing for the whole way through and the author did a fantastic job capturing the voice of 11 year old Sam.  At 180 pages it is a short read but no less powerful for it's length.  I would recommend starting it in the morning so you can read all the way through without stopping - I really didn't want to put it down without finding out what happened.  I'm very impressed that this is a debut novel and can't wait to see what Savita Kalhan comes up with next - I know her next book will be included on my must read list.

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

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Winner: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting + Swag

With the help of random.org I am very happy to announce that the winner of  The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting along with a signed poster, stickers and a Body Finder wristband is:


Congratulations!  If you can email me at sarahsreviews at ymail dot com with your address details I will pass the information along to Headline so they can send your prize out to you.  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 Headline for allowing me to host this giveaway for them.

*** Note 29th Nov - since I didn't hear back from Kim a new winner has now been chosen & announced here ***

Friday, 19 November 2010

Review: By Midnight - Mia James

April Dunne is not impressed.

She's had to move from Edinburgh to Highgate, London, with her parents.  She's left her friends - and her entire life - behind.  She has to start at a new school and, worst of all, now she's stuck in a creepy old dump of a house which doesn't even have proper mobile phone reception.

Ravenwood, her new school, is a prestigious academy for gifted (financially or academically) students.  So trying to fit in is more than tough.  It's intimidating and isolating, even when she finds a friend in the conspiracy-theorist Caro Jackson - and perhaps finds something more than friendship with the gorgeous, mysterious Gabriel Swift.

But there's more going on at Ravenwood than meets the eye.  Practical jokes on new students are normal, but when Gabriel saves her from ... something ... in Highgate Cemetery, and then she discovers that a murder took place just yards from where she had been standing, April has to wonder if something more sinister is going on.

...and whether or not she's going to live through it...

Ravenwood Mysteries Series:
By Midnight
I couldn't find a name for book 2 but it will apparently be released in 2011

Visit the Ravenwood Mysteries website for more information

Review:
April isn't happy about being forced to leave Edinburgh behind to move to London with her parents - all because her father lost his job.  She is struggling to fit in at her new school and make friends but things get even worse when she almost witnesses a murder.  Strange things are happening at Ravenwood but who can she trust to help her solve the mystery?

Being a massive vampire fan I was really looking forward to reading By Midnight, especially as it is set in London which I thought would add something special to the story.  Unfortunately I ended up feeling disappointed.  I know a lot of people who have loved this story but I'm going to have to go against the trend and say it just wasn't for me.  The best thing about the book was the setting, I have to give Mia James (this is actually husband & wife team Tasmina & John Perry working together) credit for the great job they did with the Gothic feel of the novel.  I loved the descriptions of Highgate Cemetery and as you're reading it really was like being on location.

Unfortunately the rest of the story just didn't live up to my expectations.  When I'm reading a story I need to have a main character I can relate to - or at least like - but I struggled with April.  Yes I can understand how hard it must have been for her having to move away from everything that is familiar to her and start again at a new school and I felt sorry for her at first but I quickly got fed up with her woe is me attitude and constant whinging.  She was selfish, self obsessed and childish and I didn't find her a very likeable character.  The characters I actually liked the most were her friends Fiona and Caro, both of whom I could have happily spent more time reading about.

As for the main love interest Gabriel I didn't get to know enough about him to be interested in him in any way.  All you really know is that he's gorgeous and has secrets he can't tell April yet April is madly in love with him within days despite the fact they've never had a proper conversation.  I love a good mysterious bad boy but I have to feel like there is some connection between the main characters and for me it just wasn't there between April & Gabriel.  Even by the end of the book I really didn't care if they ended up together or not.

I found the story really dragged, it took me ages to finish a book that I would usually have finished within 2 days because I couldn't face picking it up again.  I'll admit that I should have just given up but I'm one of those readers who has the "I've started so I'll finish" attitude and I had to know what would happen at the end.  The action did pick up but it felt like everything happened in the last few chapters and the rest of the book was too long winded.  I understand that with the first book in a series there is a lot of world building to be done but having read a lot of series I know other authors usually manage to do this in a way that doesn't leave the reader wanting to fall asleep.

I don't think it helped that the copy I read had several inconsistencies with days and lengths of time since things happened but the book I read was an ARC so hopefully this has been resolved in the final version.  There were mentions of Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake that I think will date the story relatively quickly and I felt were just thrown in to appeal to the teen audience.  I was also surprised at the passage that had been taken almost word for word from Twilight, I'm not sure how that got through the editing.

~~~SPOILER ALERT~~~

Usually I really like it when an author puts a new twist on vampire mythology but on this occasion it just didn't make sense.  To become a vampire you have to be bitten by another vampire to get infected with the vampire virus (the virus constantly destroys your bodies cells which forces the body to make new ones which keeps you looking young) however you have to somehow choose to let the virus infect you - not everyone who is bitten is turned.  (I wish I could choose not to let viruses effect me and never have to suffer another cold again!).  If you want to stop being a vampire you can cure yourself though, all you have to do is kill the vampire that initially infected you & it will neutralise the curse (hang on a minute I thought it was a virus, where does that curse come into it??).  Next time someone passes a cold onto me I'll have to remember that if I kill them the virus will somehow magically know that I don't want to be infected anymore!  You can also get vampires who are born to 2 vampire parents - I dread to think what they'd have to do to cure themselves (watch out Mum & Dad!).  Come on, if you're going to create a mythology at least have one that makes sense.

Another thing that was never really explained was the fact that vampires don't show up in photos or on film (apart from as a blurred image).  I would have liked to know the reasoning behind this and thought a handy time to explain would have been when Gabriel made a joke about how silly it would be if vampires didn't show up in mirrors.  Not sure why he thought that would be so silly considering what happens if you try to take a picture of one of them!

~~~END SPOILER~~~

Although there is an interesting twist at the end of the story and I'm curious about what will happen in the sequel I don't think I can bring myself to carry on reading the series.  As witnessed by plenty of other reviews out there I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy the story but personally I'd say with the number of YA vampire books currently on the market there are plenty of better options available.

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:
Chrissie's Corner
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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Red Riding Hood Film Trailer

I mentioned in my post about the Atom Blogger event that we had been told about a book they will be bringing out next year to tie in with the Red Riding Hood movie by Warner Bros.  This modern retelling of a classic fairy tale is one I was really looking forward to and now I've seen the film trailer I can't wait to see it!



What do you think?  Looks fab doesn't it?  I definitely think it has a Twilight feel to it and I'm liking the look of the actor playing Peter!  Move over Edward there's a new hottie in town :o)

The film is being directed by Catherine Hardwicke and the book has been written by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright.  As the book has been written alongside the film they should match up really well and I'm looking forward to comparing them both.

For more information about the film you can check out the website here and the IMDb page here.  Don't forget to keep an eye on Atom's website for updates on the book release.  I'm not sure of an exact UK release date but the film comes out in the US in March so hopefully we won't have too long to wait for it to hit the UK.

Review: Witchfinder Dawn of the Demontide - William Hussey

An Ancient Evil Walks Again

Witches exist

The Demontide is coming

Jake Harker is the only one who can stop it...


Witchfinder Trilogy:
Dawn of the Demontide
Gallows at Twilight
The Last Nightfall (September 2011)

Visit the Witchfinder website for more information






Review:
Fifteen year old Jake Harker has been a fan of all things horror since he was given a box of old comics when he was nine years old.  Ever since then he has devoured horror stories in any format and has built up an impressive knowledge of things that go bump in the night.  He never for a minute suspected that any of the stories were real though - not until the night of his mother's murder when he finds himself thrust into a dark and dangerous world just as frightening as the scariest horror story.  As he investigates the cause of his mother's death he learns of the Demontide - something that occurs once in every generation and unless it is stopped the gates to hell will be opened allowing demons to overrun the world.  Jake has an important part to play in stopping the Demontide but will he have to give his life in order to save the world?

The first book in the Witchfinder trilogy Dawn of the Demontide is a dark and frightening tale that will appeal to fantasy and horror fans of all ages.  Jake is a likable and realistic character and one I'm sure most of us can relate to on some level.  He has been thrust into a world where nothing is as it seems and creatures from your worst nightmares actually exist.  Not sure who he can trust or where he can turn to for help Jake must rely on his instincts and his knowledge from horror books and films as he tries to find a way to stop the Demontide.

The story is well paced and has so many twists you can never be quite sure what will happen next.  The world William Hussey has created is both realistic and terrifying and I was completely sucked into the story right from the very beginning.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the story is the way that it shows how blurred the lines between good and evil can be.  Although some of the characters claim to be doing things for the greater good the lengths that they are prepared to go to leave you wondering how good they actually can be.  In the same vein not all of the bad guys are actually as evil as they first appear so you're never quite sure who can really be trusted.

Dawn of the Demontide is a story I'd highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a good horror story, it may be one you want to start reading in daylight though and could be a little too gory for younger teens.  The story is a delight and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.

Source: Received from OUP in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Review: Deadly Game - Christine Feehan

It began as a mission to find a notorious politician whose plane went down in the Congo.  But the risky operation took an unexpected turn when Mari, a physically enhanced member of the rescue team, was taken hostage by rebel forces.  Now, imprisoned in an isolated compound, Mari has only one chance for survival - escape.

What she doesn't count on is Ken Norton, expert assassin and himself a GhostWalker warrior, fighting to get behind the prison walls on a mission of his own - one that reaches into Mari's own past and the mysterious fate of her twin sister ... and that will bind Ken and Mari in an intoxicating passion that raises the stakes on the deadliest game of survival they've ever played.

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:
Ken and his twin brother Jack are on a mission to protect a politician when they come under attack from what is clearly another group of GhostWalkers.  Determined to carry out their job Ken shoots the sniper from the other team but is surprised to find he didn't make a successful kill.  When they discover the sniper is Mari (the twin sister of Jack's wife Briony) they capture her and take them with her.  While Ken and Jack try to discover if Mari is working for the enemy Mari is desperately trying to escape to get back to the compound she was raised in and protect the rest of her team.

Deadly Game is the 5th book in the GhostWalker series and I would strongly recommend reading the series in order to get the full enjoyment of the back story of the GhostWalkers.  I'm really enjoying this series and I would highly recommend it to paranormal romance fans - especially if you like an action packed story full of conspiracy theories.

I have loved each of the GhostWalkers in the series and have been looking forward to reading Ken's story since I learnt more about him in Conspiracy Game (the book about his twin Jack).  Jack had become my favorite hero of the series and I wasn't expecting to like Ken even more but I just couldn't resist him.  We already know from previous books that Ken was badly tortured when he was captured in the Congo and he is still suffering from severe physical and emotional scarring.  Although he has always been known as the most friendly of the twins things are very different underneath the surface, Ken may put on a good front but that's all it is.  He struggles against the same demons as Jack and this has only become worse since he was captured.

Mari has had a very different upbringing from her sister Briony.  She was raised in a compound along with other GhostWalkers and only allowed to leave when she was on a mission.  Things have become a lot harder for her and the others she was brought up with recently but I can't say any more about why without giving spoilers.  I really liked the strength and loyalty we see from Mari, she cares so much about her sister and the people she was raised with and has suffered a great deal to try and keep them safe.  Although she has strong feelings for Ken she is scared to act on them because of the circumstances.  The heat between them is fantastic though and I loved watching the two of them together.

If you've read other books in the series you'll be expecting a fast paced story line and Deadly Game won't disappoint.  It is somewhat darker than the previous books and does include some quite detailed descriptions of the torture that Ken suffered but I felt that this was needed to show how Ken ended up in the place he's at now emotionally.  I enjoyed getting to see Jack and Briony again and we also get to see a little of the other GhostWalkers which is one of the things I enjoy most about an ongoing series.  Things are really hotting up when it comes to the ongoing plot with the GhostWalkers trying to uncover what Dr Whitney has been up to and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

If you're new to this series then I'd highly recommend you give it a try but make sure you start with book 1 Shadow Game.  If you're already reading the series and you enjoyed Jack's book then I'm sure you're going to love Ken just as much if not more.

Source: Library

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams

It's an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished.  The Earth follows shortly afterwards, to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, and his best friend has just announced that he's an alien.  At this moment, they're hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words:

DON'T PANIC.

The weekend has only just begun...




Hitchhiker's Guide Series:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Mostly Harmless

Visit Douglas Adams' website for more information

Review:
When Arthur Dent wakes up on Thursday morning he has no idea of the kind of day that is in store for him.  It was bad enough when he discovered that his house had been scheduled for demolition but it only gets worse when shortly afterwards the Earth is vaporised to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.  Arthur discovers his best friend is an alien - which comes in quite handy when Ford is the one who gets Arthur off the planet just before it is destroyed - and soon finds himself hitchhiking his way across the galaxy.

I've been wanting to read the Hitchhiker's series for as long as I can remember so I really don't know why it's taken me this long to get around to it.  I'm glad I finally did though as it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I can't wait to get stuck into the rest of the series.  There is a reason that this series is still as popular today as it was when it was first released 30 years ago and I was amazed at how many things I recognised as I was reading, references that have become a part of modern culture even if you don't realise where they came from.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a thoroughly whimsical read that often had me laughing out loud with its off the wall comedy.  The humor of the story reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series as Douglas Adams had the same ability to take things from everyday life and twist them to show just how ridiculous they really are.  I challenge you to read this book without snorting with laughter, I know I couldn't do it.

At only 180 pages this is a great quick read when you're looking for something fun and light hearted to read.  If you're like me and new to the series (I'm guessing that will mainly apply to the younger generation) you're going to be introduced to a whole host of fun characters (from Zaphod the 2 headed, 3 armed president of the universe to Marvin the paranoid android), learn about the smartest species on Earth and find out the answer to life, the universe and everything.  I'm going to bet that once you've read this one you'll be joining me on a journey through the rest of the series.

Before I finish this review I just have to add how much I love the DIY cover on this version of the book that includes this great page of stickers so you can decorate the cover yourself!


Source: Won from Pan Macmillan in a Twitter giveaway

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Monday, 15 November 2010

Review: Dark Visions - L.J. Smith

Gifted and cursed

Kaitlyn Fairchild has always felt like an outsider.  Her haunting eyes and prophetic drawings have earned a reputation as a witch.  But Kait's not a witch: she's psychic.  Tired of being shunned, Kait accepts an invitation to attend the Zetes Institute, where she can study with other psychic teens and have a fresh start.

As Kaitlyn learns to hone her abilities with four other gifted students, she starts to discover the intensity of her power - and the joy of having true friends.  But those friendships quickly become complicated when Kait finds herself torn between two irresistible guys.  Rob is a healer - kind and gentle, he's surrounded by good energy, while Gabriel is aggressive and mysterious - a telepath concealing his true nature.

Together, Rob and Gabriel's opposing forces start to threaten the group's stability, and when an experiment traps the five teens in a psychic link - a link that threatens their sanity and their lives - Kaitlyn mist decide who to trust and who to love...

Dark Visions Trilogy: (this book includes all 3 stories in the Dark Visions series, they have also been published as separate books)
The Strange Power
The Possessed
The Passion

Visit L.J. Smith's website for more information

Review:
Kaitlyn has always been considered an outsider at her school and is known as a witch because of her strange drawings.  When she gets the urge to draw she never knows what she will produce but her pictures always give a warning about something that will happen in the future.  When she is offered a place at an institute for gifted psychics she jumps at the chance to go to California and hopes to find out more about her gifts.  Life at the institute isn't what she was expecting though.  She makes 4 new friends who all have different psychic abilities but all is not what it seems and someone at the institute seems to want to use the students for their own agenda.  When the group accidentally get locked together in a telepathic link they are desperate to find a way to break the connection between them.  But as time goes on they realise that the link between them may be the only way they will survive long enough to figure out what is really going on at the institute.

I really enjoyed L.J. Smith's Night World series so was looking forward to trying her Dark Visions trilogy.  I love the fact that all 3 stories have been incorporated into 1 volume so there is no having to wait between installments.  Dark Visions was a great read and I would definitely recommend the series to fans of young adult urban fantasy.

Each of the students that have been hand picked to attend the institute have different psychic abilities.  I'm not going to tell you what they are - you'll have to read the book if you want to find out - but I found it interesting to see how their abilities worked and the impact that had on them as individuals and as a group.  Kaitlyn had always felt different from her peers so meeting others with similar abilities means she finally has people she can relate to.  She quickly forms friendships with Anna, Lewis and Rob but Gabriel holds himself apart from the group and is harder to get to know.  I liked all of the characters but I'd have to say Gabriel was my favorite, it takes time to get to know him but he will steal your heart as you do.

The psychic bond that formed between them allowed them to read each others thoughts and made life very difficult as everyone could hear what the others were thinking, I don't think I'd like to be stuck in a bond like that even with my closest friends.  The only one who could keep his thoughts to himself was Gabriel who has a very strong telepathic ability and is the one who caused the bond to form in the first place. 

I really enjoyed the romance in the story, Kaitlyn is attracted to both Rob and Gabriel.  They are practically complete opposites but you can see what it is about each of them that draws her to them.  Rob is kind and caring while Gabriel is the secretive bad boy that leaves you wanting to know more.  I thought the romance between them developed well and I'll just say that I was happy with the ending.

As much as I love having so many stories about vampires and other supernatural characters available Dark Visions was a refreshing change and I'm looking forward to reading more by L.J. Smith.  I'd definitely recommend giving this book a try.

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster UK 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.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Atom Blogger Party - 9th November 2010


I can't tell you how excited I was to be invited to the Little, Brown offices for an Atom blogger party to find out about the books they have coming out in the first half of 2011.  Being a massive paranormal fan Little, Brown publish some of my favorite books under their Atom & Orbit imprints so I couldn't wait to see what they have planned for us to read in the new year.

I had arranged to meet up with Sammee (I Want To Read That) before the event so we got together for lunch and some book shopping in the Piccadilly Waterstones before heading to the Little, Brown offices.  We gave ourselves plenty of time just in case we got lost but luckily Rose had given us fool proof directions and we arrived without any problems.  I have to say their offices are in a very impressive building that I'm sure has a great view over the Thames (I didn't think of peeking out of the windows while I was there).  Reception is in a huge atrium and after signing in and being issued with passes security let us through to the glass elevators.  I have to confess I was relieved we only had to go to the second floor because I'm scared of heights!

Some of Atom's current releases

Once at the offices we were met by Rose, Sam, Kate, Gina and Kirsteen and shown into the boardroom where an impressive array of books and cupcakes had been arranged on the massive table.  We were handed champagne and had time to mingle while we waited for everyone to arrive.  It was lovely to see some other bloggers I already knew - Jo (Once Upon A Bookcase), Liz and Sarah (My Favorite Books) but it was also nice to get a chance to meet other bloggers too (see the bottom of this post for a list of everyone who was there).  Some I recognised as soon as I heard their blog names but others I'm looking forward to getting to know better in the future.

Close up of the delicious Nightshade & Atomics cupcakes

The Atom Team: Gina, Kirsteen, Sam, Rose & Kate
(Sorry the picture is so dark but I took it during the presentation when we had mood lighting to give us a better view of the screen)

When everyone arrived and we'd all found seats (along with a fab goodie bag each that may just have caused a few excited squeals!) the Atom team gave a presentation telling us all about some of the new releases we can look forward to in the new year.  The team were very enthusiastic about their new titles & let me just say I can see why - they have some VERY exciting things coming up!  I know I'm looking forward to reading them all.

Here is a slide show showing some of the books we got to talk about:


Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
This is the first book in the Witches' War series and is released in the UK on 28th December.  I've already seen a lot of hype about this book on US blogs and have been dying to get my hands on a copy - you can imagine my excitement to find a lovely shiny ARC in my goodie bag (I just about restrained myself from doing a happy dance right there in the boardroom but was close to making a fool of myself!).  Andrea Cremer is a Professor in Medieval History and Nightshade is her debut novel.  We've been told that the story is exciting, informed, pacey and has a strong Buffy style kick ass heroine - what's not to love about that!

Awakened - P.C. & Kristen Cast
This is the 8th installment in the House of Night series which I have to confess is a series that I'm badly behind reading.  I read & loved the first 5 books way back before I started blogging but have been meaning to re-read them so I can review them here.  I was very excited to be able to pick up copies of the few books I was missing and am going to need to do a House of Night marathon reading session so I can get caught up in time for Awakened.  Apparently P.C. Cast will be visiting the UK in January so I'm really hoping there will be an opportunity to meet her, I'll definitely be going to a signing if I can.

Bloody Valentine - Melissa de la Cruz
This is a new romantic novella in the Blue Bloods series and will be released in January.  This is a series I've been wanting to pick up and read for a long time so I was very excited when Rose said I could take a set home with me.  I can't wait to dig in & catch up with the rest of you!

Invincible - Sherrilyn Kenyon
I'm a massive fan of Sherrilyn's adult Dark Hunters series so have been looking forward to trying her new young adult spin off series The Chronicles of Nick.  Invincible is the second book in the new series and will be released in February.  I still haven't read the first book (Infinity) but I did manage to pick a copy up yesterday so am planning on reading it very soon.

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide - Stephanie Meyer
Released on the 12th April the Illustrated Guide will be full of all sorts of new Twilight material including character profiles, pictures by the illustrator of the Twilight graphic novel and an interview with Stephanie Meyer.   Atom have confirmed that despite the rumors Stephanie Meyer IS writing the illustrated guide & I'm sure I'm not the only Twilight fan who is looking forward to reading it.

Halo - Alexandra Adornetto
This is another book I've heard a lot about on international blogs and am already looking forward to reading.  I absolutely love the cover too which is so pretty.  Alexandra Adornetto was just 14 when Halo was published in Australia and when Halo was released in the US it hit number 4 on the NY Times list - pretty impressive!

Red Riding Hood - Sarah Blackley-Cartwright & Catherine Hardwicke
I'm really curious about this one, it is a sexy retelling of the fairytale and is being made into a film by Warner Brothers directed by Catherine Hardwicke (director of Twilight).  The book is being written alongside the film and they will be released together in the spring.  It will be interesting to see how much they have changed the original story.

Rosebush - Michele Jaffe
This is Atom's first non-paranormal release and it sounds great.  A dark mystery where the main character wakes up in hospital after a hit and run car accident.  As she starts regaining her memory she realises that the story her friends have told her doesn't quite add up and it looks like they are covering for someone.  But who was behind the accident and does she have any friends left that she can trust?  This won't be released until March so I'm very happy that we got given an ARC, I'm sure I'll enjoy this one.

Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard
This series is already available in the UK but Atom are re-printing the books with tie in covers for the TV series.  I've heard a lot of good things about these books and the TV series but I've not read / watched any of them yet.  After hearing everyone rave about them I'll really have to give them a try.

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Lois Duncan
Like a lot of people I've seen the film but I've never actually read the book.  Originally released in the 90's Atom are re-releasing 3 of Lois Duncan's books (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Don't Look Behind You and Killing Mr Griffin) in March, April and May 2011.  The books have all been updated by the author to make them more modern so I quite like the idea of getting copies of the originals & the new versions and reading them both so I can make a comparisson!  Apparently the book is quite different to the film and deals with some interesting issues so I'll definitely be adding it to my wish list and giving it a try.

The Ghoul Next Door - Lisi Harrison
This is book 2 in the Monster High series and I have to say it sounds like a really fun read.  The main character Frankie is Frankenstein's granddaughter and the book has all kinds of supernatural characters from vampires, mummies and werewolves all the way through to mermaids.  I've picked up a copy of the first book so keep an eye out for my review.  This series is a join US and UK project with Mattel toy company producing tie in toys.  Check out this fab doll based on one of the characters Draculaura (Dracula's daughter).  My inner child is begging me to go out and buy one, it's the kind of thing I would have loved when I was younger (I still do if I'm honest hehe)!

Draculaura from Monster High

The team also showed us a clip from the Monster High music video which has a really catchy song and dance moves.  We have been told that Rose can't hear anyone mention Monster High without doing the dance & having now watched the video I can understand why!  I had to include the video for you:



The Gathering - Kelley Armstrong
This is the first book in Kelley's Darkest Rising series, a new spin off series set in the same world as her popular Darkest Powers YA trilogy.  Atom are re releasing the Darkest Powers trilogy (that were previously published under a different imprint) and we can look forward to The Gathering in April.  I've not read any of Kelley's YA books but I'm a massive fan of her adult Women of the Otherworld series so am really looking forward to reading her YA books.  For more information you can check out the new Darkest Powers website

The Game - Krystyna Kuhn
This is another first for Atom and is actually a translation project of a series that has been published in Germany.  The book is aimed at both boys and girls and is about a brother and sister who move to a new school in a remote village in the Rocky Mountains.  After finding a body within their fist week at school they soon discover that the school is not all it seems.  I really liked the sound of this one & the great news is that we're only going to have to wait 9 months between each release in the series.

Chasers - James Phelan
Chasers is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy and will be followed by Survivor and Quarantine with the 3 books releasing in June, August and October respectively.  The story starts on a school trip in New York, when an explosion rocks the subway carriage they are travelling in Jesse and his 3 friends crawl out of the wreckage to find things have gone badly wrong.  The only other survivors have been infected with a virus turning them into zombies.  With a strong I Am Legend feel I think I'm going to really enjoy this series and it is another one that I think will be popular with both boys and girls.  The Atom team happened to mention that they all have a slight crush on James Phelan so of course I had to track down a picture, now I've seen him I can see what they were talking about!  This picture was found on James Phelan's website

James Phelan

One Seriously Messed-up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite - Tom Clempson
I think this has to be the winner of the longest book title I've ever seen award!  I have to say that this book sounded hilarious and I'm definitely going to be getting myself a copy.  It was described as a modern Adrian Mole and Louise Rennison for boys so I think it's safe to say it will be a fun read and it sounds very different to anything currently on the market, especially anything aimed at male teen readers.

Wolfsbane - Andrea Cremer
I was very excited to find out the sequel to Nightshade will be available in the UK in July.  The cover picture in the slide show above is actually the US cover as the UK one hasn't been confirmed yet but hopefully we won't have to wait too long to see it.  I'm really looking forward to this series!

So what do you think of the new releases we have to look forward to next year?  Are you as excited about them all as I am?  I think 2011 is going to be a fantastic year for books!


We were also given some information about an exciting new program that Atom will be releasing within the next few weeks.  They will be adding a section to their website aimed at getting more young adults reading and also to encourage the next generation of bloggers.  They will be giving out free books to a limited number of under 18's each month and encouraging them to discuss the books and write reviews on the website.  The program is called The Atomics and I just wish I was young enough to join myself!  If you know any under 18's that you think would like to take part keep an eye out for more information on the Atom website.  Atom will be sending out a press release soon so I will post more details as soon as I have them.

I didn't get many pictures of the bloggers who attended but here are a few shots I took as we sat around the table for the presentation:


After the presentation finished we had a chance to mingle in the Little, Brown library before it was time to go home.  It was great to get to chat to some of the other bloggers (I'm sorry I didn't speak to you all but the time just seemed to fly by, hopefully I'll see you all again at future events!).  All of the information in this post has come from my notes and my not-so-reliable memory so if you were at the event and you spot anything that is incorrect or if I've got any of your blog links wrong please let me know & I'll change them.

I'd like to say a massive thank you to all of the staff at Atom & Little, Brown for hosting the event.  It was so lovely to meet you all and I really enjoyed finding out about the books you have coming soon.  Thanks also for letting us loose on the pile of books on the table (believe me there weren't many left by the time we'd all finished!).

Who was there:
Rose, Sam, Kate, Gina & Kirsteen from Atom - website - Event Report
Liz & Sarah - My Favorite Books
Matthew - Teen Librarian

Never Forget


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

By John McCrae, 1915

I'm a little late getting this posted as I wanted it to go live at 11am but better late than never & at least I did observe the 2 minutes silence.  Every year I get involved in the Poppy Appeal as my friend organises the collections for the area I live in.  If you have any spare time I'm sure your local organiser would be thrilled to have some extra help - you have no idea how much work is involved in delivering the collection tins, organising volunteers to go out collecting and adding up the money.  I will be collecting poppy tins from the local shops on Saturday ready for the big count on Sunday afternoon - it takes hours counting and bagging up the money collected but it is so satisfying to see how much people have generously donated.

If you don't have time to offer please, please try to make a donation if you haven't already, it doesn't have to be much but every penny really does help.  Buy a Poppy & wear it with pride to show you support your Armed Forces past and present.  The Royal British Legion does some amazing work and it's the donations that they receive from us that make it possible for them to continue.  We must not forget those who have died, and those who continue to fight and die for our freedom.

For more information check out The Royal British Legion website.  You can also make donations to the Poppy Appeal here

Monday, 8 November 2010

UK Only Giveaway: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting + Swag NOW CLOSED

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

A GIRL WITH A MORBID ABILITY
When a murder is committed it leaves a unique echo... on both the victim and the killer.  Most people are unaware of these echoes but Violet Ambrose has always been able to sense them.


A SERIAL KILLER ON THE LOOSE
Now Violet's town is in the thrall of a serial killer the echos of the local girls he has murdered are haunting her.


AND THE BOY WHO WOULD NEVER LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO HER
The only shining light is Violet's best friend Jay.  She's started falling for him and his fierce protectiveness gives her hope that he may feel the same...


With the police at a loss, can Violet use her ability to stop the killer of is she in danger of becoming his next victim?

The Body Finder is released in the UK on 11th November

Visit Kimberly Derting's website for more information

I'd like to say a massive thank you to publisher Headline for offering a copy of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting to giveaway to one of my UK readers.  I really enjoyed this book - you can read my review here - and am really excited to be able to host this giveaway.  Headline are also including a signed poster, stickers and a Body Finder wristband so I'm actually rather jealous that I can't enter the giveaway myself!

This is the US Trailer for The Body Finder but I thought you might like to watch it



Giveaway Details:
  • Headline have offered a copy of The Body Finder, a signed poster, stickers and a Body Finder wristband for a lucky UK winner.
  • You don't have to be a follower on my blog or Twitter to enter (although of course I'd love it if you were LOL). 
  • You can get extra entries by spreading the word but that isn't required
  • You can also get extra entries by commenting on my review of The Body Finder here or Kimberly's fab guest post about her gender confused cat here (again this is not required)
  • To enter please fill in the form below
  • You have until 22nd November to enter the giveaway and I'll announce the winner on my blog soon afterwards.  The lucky winner will then have 48 hours to email me with their full address details or another winner will be chosen.
  • The books will be sent to the winner by Headline so the winner will have to give permission for me to pass on their address.

UK ARC Review: The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting

A GIRL WITH A MORBID ABILITY
When a murder is committed it leaves a unique echo... on both the victim and the killer.  Most people are unaware of these echoes but Violet Ambrose has always been able to sense them.


A SERIAL KILLER ON THE LOOSE
Now Violet's town is in the thrall of a serial killer the echos of the local girls he has murdered are haunting her.


AND THE BOY WHO WOULD NEVER LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO HER
The only shining light is Violet's best friend Jay.  She's started falling for him and his fierce protectiveness gives her hope that he may feel the same...


With the police at a loss, can Violet use her ability to stop the killer of is she in danger of becoming his next victim?

The Body Finder Series:
The Body Finder
Desires of the Dead
The Last Echo
There will be a fourth book in this series but the title and release date are currently unknown

Visit Kimberly Derting's website for more information

Review:
For as long as she can remember Violet has been able to sense echos from creatures that have been murdered, echos that are also left behind on their killer.  The echo can come in many forms - a sound, a vision or even a taste - and Violet feels compelled to track down the victim and give them a proper burial.  Luckily her finds are usually animals who have been killed by predators but she did make a much more sinister find when she was only 8 years old.  She is supported by her family and her best friend Jay who are all aware of her strange ability and with their help she has been able to cope with the things she has seen.  At the start of her freshman year things get a lot harder for Violet, she has feelings for Jay that go far beyond friendship and isn't sure how to deal with her emotions.  Even worse than that is the fact that a serial killer is at work in her town targeting young girls.  With the police struggling to find leads Violet is determined to use her ability to track down the killer but is she just placing herself, her family and her friends in danger or can she actually help?

I have to start with how much I enjoyed reading The Body Finder, it is up there with my favorite reads of the year & I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel Desires of the Dead.  It is hard to believe that this is Kimberly Derting's debut novel and she has definitely earned a spot on my list of must read authors.  The story is a great mix of romance and mystery with Violet's abilities adding a unique twist to the paranormal genre making it unlike anything else I've read before.

Violet is a likable character right from the beginning and I found her very easy to relate to but my favorite part of the book was probably the romance between her and her best friend Jay.  I have to confess I like the mysterious bad boy as much as the next girl but it's become such a common theme in YA paranormal stories recently that I found it a refreshing change to read about a relationship developing between friends.  Violet and Jay have been best friends since they were 6 years old, they spend all of their time together and know each other inside out.  The new feelings they are developing for each other catches Violet unprepared and I loved watching her process her emotions.  Jay is one of my favorite male characters, he is sweet and caring but he is also protective and completely hot.  The banter between him & Violet had me laughing out loud and I loved the fact that they both give as good as they get.  Their relationship is backed up by a long shared history and that really adds depth to the story.

The mystery is well written and has a couple of surprising twists that left me on the edge on my seat in places.  I found it interesting having some of the chapters told from the killers perspective - those chapters were very creepy to read but weren't too graphic in detail which I was grateful for.  I would recommend this book for all fans of young adult paranormal stories - get hold of a copy today, you won't regret it.

Source: Received for review from Headline 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, 6 November 2010

Author's Animal Antics - Kimberly Derting


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 Kimberly Derting as my guest today...

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


So we have this cat, and let’s just say that “it” is a little confused.

Our cat started out like any other cat: cute, small, cuddly, and utterly adorable. As a matter of fact, he really wasn’t meant to be our cat at all. I actually got him as a gift to give to my mother for her birthday. I had it all planned out, the cat would stay one night at our house and I would surprise my mom the next day with this wonderfully thoughtful gift. Um, big mistake, because it only took a night for my youngest daughter to fall in love. Completely, madly, and totally in love with him, um…I mean her.

Princess Beachball

Let me explain.

My daughter, who was only five at the time, had decided that this cat was most definitely a girl cat! Despite what the pet store told us, and what biology pretty much confirmed, she was convinced that this cat was in fact “a girl.”

Okay, so we humored her. Fine, the cat was a girl, so what? It’s not like we were breaking the law or anything by letting our daughter think that her new cat was a girl. The cat would never know the difference, right? Well, here’s the thing with girl cats: they get girly names. And in our house, the kids get to name their pets whatever they want, so of course these names will sometimes begin with “Princess,” as in….wait for it…. Princess Beachball. Yeah, you heard me, and now this boy-kitty was shackled with the name Princess Beachball…for life.

Do you know the worst part about having a cat named Princess Beachball? Calling for him. I’m sorry but there is simply no way to call out “Princess Beachball!” without getting strange looks from the neighbors. To this day, my husband refuses to call the cat. Of course he says it’s because he’s trying not to embarrass the cat in front of the other boy cats, but come on, we all know he’s the one who’s really embarrassed.

Abby with Princess Beachball

And to top things off, the “beachball” part of his/her name became like a self-fulfilling prophecy, because this cute and tiny kitten grew (and grew) into this large, and dare I say it, very beachball shaped (and gender confused) cat.

Poor kitty.

By the way, our daughter is nine years old now and still doesn’t know. ;)

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Thank you so much for visiting today Kimberly!  Kimberly Derting is the author of The Body Finder which has already been a huge success in the US and releases in the UK on 11th November.  The Body Finder is a fantastic start to a new young adult urban fantasy / paranormal romance series, I'd highly recommend reading it if you are a fan of these genres (I'll be posting my review and a UK giveaway later today thanks to Headline).  I can't wait to read Desires of the Dead when it releases next year!

Find out more about Kimberly and her work here - Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Myspace

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

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