Saturday 30 April 2011

Review: Winter's Passage - Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl...until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck--Meghan's best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon--who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.

Yet Meghan and Ash's detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter--a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat....

The Iron Fey Series:
The Iron King
Winter's Passage (Novella)
The Iron Daughter
The Iron Queen
The Iron Knight

Visit Julie Kagawa's website for more information

Winter's Passage picks up Meghan's story right after the ending of The Iron King and gives us an insight into the journey she takes with Ash to fulfil her promise to return to the Winter Court with him.  While I wouldn't recommend reading Winter's Passage before you read The Iron King as it includes a couple of spoilers I would definitely recommend reading it before you move on to The Iron Daughter.

I thoroughly enjoyed Julie Kagawa's debut novel and am looking forward to continuing to read this series, she has created a world rich in mythology and full of interesting characters that has me hooked.  I love Meghan and Ash but Grimalkin remains my favourite character so I was glad to see him make an appearance in this story.  I can't tell you much about Winter's Passage without giving spoilers so I'll just say that it includes a little romance and plenty of action and is well worth reading, especially since it is a free addition to the series.  I love it when an author gives a little something extra to their fans! 

Source: I originally downloaded this copy via Netgalley but you can also find it as a free read on the Amazon Kindle

Other Reviews:
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Review: Eternity Embraced - Larissa Ione


Demon slayer Andrea Cole has always taken down the demons and vampires she hunts without mercy. But when a fellow slayer is captured and turned into a vampire by a sadistic monster, she must choose between loyalty to her family and the man she loves.

Versus Instinct…

Kaden Quinn has dedicated his life to slaying vampires, so when he is turned into one, his greatest nightmare comes to life. And when the woman he loves is thrown into a dungeon with him — as food — he must battle new instincts and old desires, and choose between his life, and hers.

The Demonica Series:
Pleasure Unbound
Desire Unchained
Passion Unleashed
Eternity Embraced (Novella)
Ecstasy Unveiled
Sin Undone
Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 1)
Vampire Fight Club (Novella in the Supernatural anthology or as a separate ebook)
Immortal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 2)
Lethal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 3)
Rogue Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 4)
Azagoth (Novella) (Demonica Underworld book 1)
Hades (Novella) (Demonica Underworld book 2)
Base Instincts (Novella)
Z (Novella) (Demonica Underworld book 3)
Razr (Novella) (Demonica Underworld book 4)
Hawkyn (Novella) (Demonica Underworld book 5)
Her Guardian Angel (Novella) (Demonica Underworld book 6, also part of the Masters and Mercenaries Crossover Collection)
Dining with Angels: Bits & Bites from the Demonica Universe (Short Story Collection & Recipe Book, Demonica Underworld book 7)
Cipher (Demonica Underworld book 8)
Reaper (Demonica Underworld book 9)

For more information visit Larissa Ione's website

Kaden and Andrea are both Aegis Guardians and have spent their lives hunting and killing demons. When Kaden is captured by vampires Andrea is determined to find him but when she does her worst fears are confirmed when she realises he has been turned into a vampire. Knowing what he has become it is Andrea's job to kill Kaden before he can hurt an innocent but can she bring herself to stake the love of her life?

I'm a massive fan of Larissa Ione's Demonica series so it was no surprise to me that I really enjoyed Eternity Embraced. Although I would have loved a longer story it was still nice to revisit the Demonica world and get to meet Kaden and Andrea. This is a well written and fast paced short story and includes some fab sexy scenes as anyone familiar with the series would expect. Eternity Embraced is a great way to test the waters and decide if you'd like to try the rest of the series (which I would highly recommend as it is one of my favourite paranormal romance series!) and it is a must read for Demonica fans.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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Friday 29 April 2011

Review: A Wild Light - Marjorie M Liu

Waking the Demons within

Maxine finds herself covered in blood and crouched beside grandfather Jack's dead body, with no memory of what happened - or of the man she loves.  Grief-stricken, Maxine isn't sure whether to blame herself, though there's a chance that Jack's spirit lives on.

Then an Avatar bounty hunter comes through the veil into our world, investigating a death of his own.  Completely ruthless and subservient to those who bred him, his mission is to find Jack - dead or alive.  Racing to stop the hunter, Maxine must also deal with the blood on her hands.  But the answers she uncovers will be devastating - and the earth's salvation won't wait.

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

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

Although I enjoyed the first 2 books in the Hunters Kiss series I think A Wild Light would have to be my favorite so far.  I was left a little confused by the ending though, I thought the series was going to be a trilogy but I'm really hoping that this wasn't the final book because I still have questions that need answers!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Marjorie M. Liu has decided to continue the series but I haven't been able to find any information to support that.

I've mentioned in my reviews how much I like Maxine's "boys" and I think I love them even more after this installment.  We get to find out more about them and their relationship with Maxine's family and although they would make terrifying enemies I still find them unbearably cute.  Although I like the other characters for me they are the highlight of the series.

Maxine has a lot of problems to deal with in A Wild Light, not least of which is her complete loss of memory when it comes to Grant.  Waking up next to her grandfather's body covered in blood she has no idea what happened and no idea who Grant is.  Her lack of memory make it difficult for her to know who she can trust but she is going to need all the help she can get to discover what happened to Jack and stop the hunter who is chasing after him.  She also makes a startling discovery about her past and her abilities that could change everything so she is in for a bumpy ride.

If you haven't discovered this series yet then it is definitely one I would recommend reading in order starting with The Iron Hunt but it is well worth picking up if you're an urban fantasy fan.  Marjorie M. Liu has created an interesting and original world and I'm hoping we get to see more of it in the future.

Source: Thanks to Orbit for sending me this review copy

Other Reviews:
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Thursday 28 April 2011

Review: Rosebush - Michele Jaffe

Jane doesn't remember being hit by a car and left for dead.  But as she's convalescing she realises that her friends' stories and her memories of what happened that night aren't adding up.

Very soon the only thing she does know is that one of her friends was trying to kill her.

One of them still is . . .

Visit Michele Jaffe's website for more information

When Jane first wakes up in hospital she has no memory of the events that lead up to her being run over by a car and left for dead lying in a rosebush.  But as her memory starts to return she begins to realise that the her friends versions of events don't quite match up to the way she remembers things happening.  Was it really an accident or did one of her friends try to kill her?  If so who was it?  When she starts receiving threats in the hospital the doctors put it down to hallucinations because of the medication she is taking but is it really the killer letting her know they are planning to finish the job they already started?

Rosebush is a well written thriller that managed to keep me hooked even though I didn't really like any of the main characters.  Jane is a member of the popular crowd at school, she has the perfect friends, the perfect boyfriend and a perfect life - well that's what it looks like at first but you soon start to realise that things aren't quite what they seem.  I've never been much of a fan of stories about the popular crowd so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one and that just goes to show what a good job Michele Jaffe did writing it.

The story starts with Jane waking up in the hospital and we discover more about the night of the accident and her life leading up to it through flashbacks.  I'm not always a fan of flashbacks as they can sometimes make a story disjointed and hard to follow but in this case they were really well done giving just enough information to keep you interested without becoming confusing.  When it comes to trying to figure out who the killer is I found myself suspecting pretty much everyone at some point, I even started to wonder if there really was a killer or if it was all just Jane's imagination.  The ending managed to surprise me although I did find part of it slightly far fetched and unbelievable.

Even though I didn't love the story I did enjoy it and I think it will be popular with teens who like things like Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars.  It's well worth picking up a copy if you're looking for a high school thriller that will keep you guessing right to the end.

Source: Received from Atom in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Wednesday 27 April 2011

Review: Infinity - Sherrilyn Kenyon

I say I control my destiny and my life.  No, nothing controls me.  Ever.

Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything.  Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is renowned.  But his whole world is suddenly turned upside down on the night his best friends try to kill him.

Saved by a mysterious warrior, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters - immortal vampire-slayers who risk everything to save humanity - and he quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one that's filled with all kinds of evil.  Nick knows he's in real danger and he soon has a lot more to deal with than high school - all without getting grounded, suspended . . . or killed.

Chronicles of Nick Series:
(This is a YA spin off from Sherrilyn Kenyon's adult Dark-Hunters series)
Invasion (2016)
Intensity (2017)

The Dark-Hunters Series:
The Beginning (Short Story)
Fantasy Lover
Dragonswan (Novella) (Were-Hunter 0.5)
Night Pleasures
Night Embrace
Dance with the Devil
Kiss of the Night
Night Play (Were-Hunter 1)
Seize the Night
Sins of the Night
Unleash the Night (Were-Hunter 2)
Dark Side of the Moon (Were-Hunter 3)
The Dream-Hunter (Dream-Hunter 1)
Fear the Darkness (Short Story)
Devil May Cry
Upon the Midnight Clear (Dream-Hunter 2)
Dream Chaser (Dream-Hunter 3)
One Silent Night
Dream Warrior (Dream-Hunter 4)
Bad Moon Rising (Hellchaser 1, Were-Hunter 4)
Dark-Hunter: An Insider's Guide (Hellchaser 2)
No Mercy (Were-Hunter 5)
The Guardian (Dream-Hunter 5, Were-Hunter 6, Hellchaser 3)
Time Untime (Were-Hunter 7, Hellchaser 4)
Dark Bites (Short Story Anthology)
Son of No One (Were-Hunter 8, Hellchaser 5)
Dragonbane (Were-Hunter 9, Hellchaser 6)
Dragonmark (2016)

Visit Sherrilyn Kenyon's website for more information

Nick is from the wrong side of town, his mother had him young and was kicked out by her family when she refused to give up her baby. As a result of this she struggles to make ends meet working as a stripper, she may hate her job but she will do anything to make sure Nick gets the education she missed out on. Nick struggles to fit in at his posh school, as a poor scholarship student he is bullied mercilessly by other students and hates that his mother makes him go there. Nick's life is changed forever when he is nearly killed, rescued by a mysterious stranger who also pays for his hospital bills Nick feels obliged to accept a job with him so he can repay his debt. Through this stranger Nick is introduced to a supernatural world he had no idea existed and suddenly school seems like the least of his problems.

I have been wanting to read Sherrilyn Kenyon's adult Dark Hunters series for ages but despite the fact I own the first four books I still haven't got around to starting it. I have to admit that I think I would have found Infinity less confusing if I had already read the other series, we are introduced to a lot of different characters in this book and unless you already know who they are it can be hard to keep track of them all. Having said that I still really enjoyed Infinity and I am definitely going to get started on the Dark Hunter books soon because I really want to find out more about Kyrian and Acheron!

Nick is a great character, he is streetwise and sarcastic and often had me laughing out loud at the comments he came out with. I really liked the fact that he has such a close relationship with his mum, since his dad isn't in the picture they only have each other to rely on and you can tell how much they love each other. Nick isn't ashamed that his mum works as a stripper and will defend her to anyone, in fact the best way for anyone to get a rise out of him is by insulting her. His mother has a strong moral code and has brought Nick up to know the difference between right and wrong. Although he makes mistakes he does try to do the right thing which is an admirable quality in any main character.

I've already said that I can't wait to find out more about Kyrian and Acheron but I also desperately want to know more about the Dark Hunters. We don't get much of an explanation about what they are and what they do in this book, possibly because most people will have already read the other series or possibly because this will be explained in more detail in future books in this series. To be fair Nick doesn't spend a great deal of time learning about the Dark Hunters in this book, he has more important things to worry about with some very strange occurrences at his school. I just found that a few things were a little confusing and I had to backtrack a bit to make sense of them.

Overall I thought this was a good start to a YA series and one that I'm sure will be popular with both boys and girls. The storyline is action packed and this is one of those books it is easy to read in one sitting. If you're already a fan of the Dark Hunters series I think you'll enjoy this even more than I did because you will already be familiar with the world and some of the characters. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series (Invincible) and have a feeling I'm going to love Sherrilyn Kenyon's adult series too!

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

Other Reviews:
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Tuesday 26 April 2011

Review: Tell Me A Secret - Holly Cupala

In the five years since her bad-girl sister's death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. When two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister's demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her future.

Visit Holly Cupala's website for more information

I have really mixed feelings about Tell Me A Secret, on the one hand I thought the teenage pregnancy aspect of the story was extremely well written.  The things that Rand goes through during the pregnancy and her labour painted a realistic picture of what women go through, especially a teenage mother.  I really enjoyed that aspect of the book although I did find the scenes after the birth where Rand spends weeks hiding out at the hospital were unrealistic and I wanted to see her grow up and take responsibility for herself and her life.

The problem I really had with the book was the fact that I found it extremely difficult to like any of the characters.  Rand has had a lot to deal with since her sister Xander died 5 years ago, she has never really dealt with her grief and her parents haven't helped by refusing to talk about Xander now she is gone.  Rand seemed to think that Xander had been perfect but the more I found out about her the less likable she became.  I absolutely hated their mother too, she was so self obsessed and only cared about what other people might think of the family.  It didn't seem like she cared for Rand at all and after the way she acted throughout the entire book I found the turn around in her attitude at the end of the book was completely unbelievable.

I found it hard to feel any sympathy for Rand when she was so cruel to the person who was supposed to have been her best friend for years.  Even knowing she was grieving and then later struggling with her pregnancy I found it hard to forgive her treatment of Essence and that meant I just didn't care about what she was going through.  It annoyed me that she couldn't see through her new so called friend Delaney, yes I could understand why she wanted to see the best in Kamran & Delaney but you've got to be pretty stupid not to put two and two together and come up with four.

I downloaded this as a free audio podcast from Holly Cupala's website and the only thing that kept me listening to the end was that I wanted to find out what happened with the baby.  The scenes where Rand gives birth and the following few chapters were heartbreaking and kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know how things would work out.  Perhaps this book would be enjoyed more by teenagers (I'm hardly the right age to be included in the books target audience) and hopefully it contains enough information about teen pregnancy to make them think twice about getting themselves into Rand's situation.

Source: I downloaded this book as a free audio podcast from Holly Cupala's website

Other Reviews:
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Monday 25 April 2011

Review: This Side of the Grave - Jeaniene Frost

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally" - the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

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 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 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

With Apollyon still spreading rumours about Cat's abilities it looks like the vampires and ghouls could soon find themselves at war.  Vampires have started to go missing and it looks like gangs of ghouls are responsible. Cat & Bones are forced to seek the help of ghoul queen Marie to try and prevent all out war but it seems she has an agenda of her own so can they really trust her as their ally? When Cat picks up a new ability it looks like this could cause even more trouble for them, especially if she can't learn to control it in time.

I'm a massive fan of the Night Huntress series so have been looking forward to reading This Side of the Grave for months. That's the one problem with starting a series before all of the books have been published - I've now got another long wait for book 6! Cat and Bones are my favourite urban fantasy / paranormal romance couple and I can't get enough of them. If you haven't started reading this series yet then I would highly recommend it but I would suggest reading the books in order starting with Halfway to the Grave. If you're already a fan of the series but haven't started the spin off Night Huntress World series yet then I would recommend reading those two books before you start this one, the timeline has now caught up and this does contain slight spoilers for First Drop of Crimson and Eternal Kiss of Darkness.

I'll admit that this wasn't my favourite book in the series but it was still a worthwhile addition to the series and one I'm sure fans will enjoy. The story is a little slower paced this time around but there are still some great action scenes, the only one I was a little disappointed in was towards the end and that was because I expected a bigger more dramatic ending to the one we got. Having said that I think this was probably the best possible outcome for all concerned so I'm not too upset by it! I love spending time with Cat & Bones, this is a series that I will happily re-read many times over and I'm glad that they are in a better place regarding their relationship. It's been fun watching them work out their differences but I'm glad we don't have to see them struggle as a couple forever more.

One of the things I really enjoyed in this instalment was getting to see more of Mencheres & Spade along with their partners (I don't want to give anything away if you've not read the spin off series). I like both of these characters (Mencheres in particular) a lot more than I did before I read their books so it was good to catch up with them and see how things are going. I also loved the fact we got to see a lot more of Vlad, he is such a fun character and I love the way he banters with Cat - I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on his series.

After some new developments I'm hoping that we're going to get to see more of Cat's old team in the next book. Cat has some very difficult family matters to deal with in this instalment and it was heartbreaking seeing some of the things she has to go through. Luckily she has Bones to support her but even then it isn't easy for her and after the twist at the end I'm very curious to see what the future holds. Justine (Cat's mum) continues to surprise me and I laughed out loud when I found out what she has been up to. I'm still a massive fan of the series and would highly recommend it to any urban fantasy / paranormal romance fans.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
Mysterious Books
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NAC Mini-Challenge - TBR Newbies (April & May 2011)

I'm taking part in the New Author Challenge hosted by Literary Escapism and it's always fun to take part in the mini-challenges that are run throughout the year. 

The aim of this mini-challenge is to get through some of those new (to you) authors you have sitting in your TBR pile.  I really need to start tackling the books that I keep buying for myself and never reading so this is an ideal challenge for me to take part in.  I know I have a book buying problem - I just can't resist all those pretty covers lol - but the books I buy for myself always seem to end up with the lowest priority when I'm deciding what book to read next.  I'm going to enjoy making it a focus for April and May to get started on them.  If you'd like to join me and take part in the challenge click here

The books I read for this challenge will be listed below (links will take you to my reviews):
  1. Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between - J.A. Saare
  2. Infinity - Sherrilyn Kenyon
  3. Death's Daughter - Amber Benson
  4. The Swan Kingdom - Zoe Marriott
  5. Angel's Blood - Nalini Singh
  6. Small Blue Thing - S.C. Ransom
  7. Magic Bites - Ilona Andrews
  8. The Darkest Night - Gena Showalter
I'm aiming to complete the full challenge and read 6 new to me authors who are already sitting on my TBR pile, that should be pretty easy to achieve considering the number of books I've bought but not read yet!

Update 25th May: Only the first 6 books count towards the challenge but I'm going to keep updating this page until the end of May just to see how many I manage to read

Sunday 24 April 2011

Review: Biting the Bullet - Jennifer Rardin

Jaz Parks here, though I can't say for how long.  This case is a tough one.  So tough, it could be my last.

The Wizard, a terrorist thorn in the military's side, has finally revealed a chink in his armour.  So my vampire boss, Vayl, and I have been asked to join my brother's special ops team to take him down.  But nothing on this mission is as it seems.

The Wizard has some vicious tricks up his sleeve, including the placement of a mole within the ops team.  Add to the mix a pack of reavers bent on revenge, a Seer who'll do anything to share Vayl's power, and a small army of parasitic monsters who prey on murderers and their victims.  You can see why I'm going to need all my wits and more than my share of luck if I plan to get through this with my job, not to mention my life, intact.

Jaz Parks Series:
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Another One Bites the Dust
Biting the Bullet
Bitten to Death
One More Bite
Bite Marks
Bitten in Two
The Deadliest Bite (2011)

Visit Jennifer Rardin's website for more information

Jaz and Vayl have a new mission, this time they are going to be working alongside Jaz's brother Dave's special ops team to bring down the Wizard, a terrorist who has been causing trouble for years.  Alongside their primary goal they also have to find out who is the mole in Dave's team, someone has been feeding information to the Wizard and they have to find a way to stop them.  It isn't going to be easy for Jaz to work alongside Dave given their history but can they put aside their differences long enough to track down the Wizard?

Biting the Bullet is the third book in the Jaz Parks series and I would recommend reading the series in order starting with Once Bitten, Twice Shy.  This is a great urban fantasy series that is action packed and has some great characters so I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.  This installment sees Jaz, Vayl, Cassandra, Cole & Bergman head to Iran to join with Dave's special ops team as they try to take down the Wizard and is a great addition to the series.

I really enjoyed getting to see more of Dave and his team.  Although he has made brief appearances in the earlier books this has mainly been in the form of flashbacks so it was nice to get to "meet" him properly.  If you've read the earlier books you'll fully understand how complicated the relationship between him and Jaz is and it was interesting to see them forced into working together.  I'm hoping that we'll get to see more of him in the future books because Jaz really needs his help if she is ever going to deal with her very messy past and be able to move forwards with her life.

I also love watching the developing relationship between Jaz and Vayl.  Although at times I'm almost screaming at them both to just get together already I actually really like the will they / won't they aspect of their relationship (although I'm definitely hoping that they'll get together sooner rather than later!).  Things get quite complicated between them this time around when Vayl's attention is caught by someone else but this helps Jaz finally start to realise just how much he means to her.  She has to face her past before she can be ready to move on but will she be able to do it before Vayl gets fed up of waiting for her?

As with the other books the action scenes are well written and make it easy to picture what is happening.  There was a great twist when it came to who the mole was but I have to admit I had my suspicions before they were revealed - I hadn't worked it out long before Jaz did though.  I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series and have already ordered my copy.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
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Book Trailer - Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman

Last October I reviewed Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman (you can read my review here) which is the story of 17 year old Dante who is literally left holding the baby when his ex-girlfriend can't cope with motherhood.  This was a fantastic story and one I really enjoyed so I wanted to remind you of it in case you haven't read it yet.  The paperback comes out in the UK next Thursday and it's well worth picking up a copy of!

Have a look at this video of Malorie Blackman talking about why she wrote the story here:

And make sure you check out the official trailer here:

If you like the sound of the story you can read the first chapter online here

Review: Firelight - Sophie Jordan

With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special among the draki - the descendants of dragons with the power to shift into human form.

But when Jacinda's rebelliousness forces her family to flee to the human world, her draki spirit starts to fade.  If it is lost, she will remain as a human.  The only thing that revives it is gorgeous, elusive Will . . . whose family hunts her kind.

Jacinda can't resist getting closer to him.  Even if it means risking the draki's most closely-guarded secret - and her life.

Power and passion ignite as love crosses an ancient divide.

Firelight Series:
Hidden (UK Release date to be confirmed)
Breathless (UK Release date to be confirmed)

Visit Sophie Jordan's website for more information

Jacinda and her Pride are draki, they are descended from dragons but also have the ability to take human form. As the first fire breathing draki born in centuries Jacinda is special and her Pride have big plans for her future. But when Jacinda risks her life breaking the rules her family is forced to flee into the human world to protect her. Living amongst humans Jacinda starts to lose her connection to her draki side, a fate worse than death as far as she is concerned. When she meets Will she knows he is dangerous - he comes from a family of hunters who want to destroy her kind - but being with him helps to keep her draki alive. By spending time with him she risks everything but can she stay away and let her inner draki die?

I have a bit of an obsession with dragons so as soon as I heard about Firelight I knew I had to read it. I absolutely loved the mythology Sophie Jordan has created, there are so many different types of draki and they all have different abilities that I found fascinating. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see more of what life is like living amongst the Pride but I have high hopes that we will see a lot more in future books in the series and can't wait to get my hands on the next installment of Jacinda's story.

Life isn't easy for Jacinda when her family moves away from the Pride. Things are much better for her mother and sister who are both happy to embrace their human sides but Jacinda doesn't want to let her draki die. I could completely relate to her feelings and really felt for her but it was easy to see things from her family's point of view too. It was interesting to see the family dynamics because of their different abilities, Jacinda's sister Tamra was always in Jacinda's shadow when they were living amongst the Pride. Out in the human world it is the other way around and Tamra is the one who finds it easier to fit in while Jacinda struggles to cope. It is hard for the sisters to find middle ground when they both long for such different lives and I'm curious to see how things play out for them in the future.

Although I loved the mythology of the draki the story definitely centres around the forbidden romance between Jacinda and Will. I absolutely loved the chemistry between the two of them and the fact that Jacinda knew she was risking everything by spending time with Will added a great dangerous edge to their romance. She knows that if Will discovers her secret she is putting not just herself and her family at risk but also the rest of her Pride but I could understand why she was so drawn to him because she was desperate to keep her draki side alive. If I was in her position I wouldn't want to give up my draki either! Their romance is very intense and great fun to read.

Firelight is definitely a story I would recommend to paranormal romance fans and I can't wait to get my hands on Vanish when it comes out later this year. We were left with quite a cliffhanger and I can't wait to see what happens next.

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

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

Paperback / Kindle:

Friday 22 April 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys

Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?  That morning, my brother's life was worth a pocket watch . . .

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away.  They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun.  Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again.  But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For the future.
For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . .
Will hope keep Lina alive?

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

Visit Ruta Sepety's website or the Between Shades of Gray website for more information.  I had to include the book trailer below because I think after watching it you'll find it impossible not to want to read the story.  I will warn you to have tissues to hand though, this is the first book trailer that has ever made me cry!

Ruta Sepetys discusses her upcoming novel, Between Shades of Gray from Penguin Young Readers Group on Vimeo.

Lina is just 15 years old when her whole family are captured in the middle of the night by Soviet guards.  Along with her mother and younger brother she is about to face the most difficult journey you can imagine.  Forced into packed cattle cars with other innocent civilians they soon find themselves on their way to a Siberian work camp.  They will face conditions that most would find impossible to survive but throughout their ordeal they manage to keep hope alive. 

It's been nearly a month since I read Between Shades of Gray but I still can't get Lina's story out of my head. Just thinking about the book brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes and I don't know if I can find the words to tell you just how amazing this story is.  When I think of WW2 I automatically think of Hitler and the Jewish concentration camps.  I know horrific crimes were committed and millions of people were killed.  What I didn't know so much about was the atrocities that took place under Stalin's rule.  I've heard next to nothing about the millions of people who were deported from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland and taken to concentration camps in the Arctic Circle.  For me reading this book was like discovering a hidden side to history and I can't tell you how important I think it is for this story to be told.

Author Ruta Sepetys has done intensive research into the concentration camps, she has spoken to survivors (including her own family members) and has used their stories to show the brutal treatment the prisoners received.  I'm not going to tell you this book is easy to read because it isn't.  In fact at times it is completely heartbreaking and I'd strongly recommend keeping tissues to hand while you're reading.  Please don't let that put you off reading it though because despite showing the absolute worst that humanity has to offer the story also shows you the best.  The love and friendship between Lina's family and the other prisoners is extremely moving, even when food is scarce and times are hard they stick together and watch out for each other in a way that gives you hope for the future.  We need to learn from the mistakes made in our history and make sure nothing like this can ever happen again.

I know my review hasn't done this book justice so if you're undecided about whether you should read it please, please watch the book trailer above or on the Between Shades of Gray website.  If that can't convince you this is a must read book then nothing can.

Source: Received from Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
Mrs. V'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.

Happy Easter!

I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy Easter!  Even if you don't officially celebrate the holiday I hope you have a fantastic long weekend with your family & friends.  I'll be desperately trying to avoid chocolate but I'm hoping spend some time relaxing in the garden soaking up some sunshine while reading a good book or two!

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and please someone make sure you eat my share of chocolate too :o)

Thursday 21 April 2011

Author Amber Benson reading from Serpent's Storm

So I stumbled across a link to this video on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and it had me laughing so much that I ordered all 3 books in author Amber Benson's Calliope Reaper-Jones series.  The reading is from Serpent's Storm (the third book in the series) and be warned it does contain adult only content.  It's hilarious watching Amber trying to keep a straight face when reading one of the more naughty scenes from the book - I guess that is one of the hazards of writing books for adults.  I did share the link on Twitter but had to post it here in case any of you missed it.  If you'd like to find out more about the series you can check out Amber Benson's website here.

Book 1 - Death's Daughter:

Daddy's Little Girl

For the last few years I'd been in a state of bliss - living under a self-imposed Forgetting Charm, because I so did not want to go into the family business.  What I wanted was a glamerous career in New York City and the opportunity for a normal life - buying designer shoes on sale, dating guys from craigslist, Web surfing for organic dim sum for my boss.  And then my father's Executive Assistand, a faun named Jarvis, showed up to to tell me that my dad had been kidnapped.

Good-bye, Forgetting Charm.  Hello, (unwanted) responsibility.  Not only am I expected to step into the CEO slot on the company Board, but I have to "prove my worth" by competing against the Devil's protege - who's so hot in more ways than one.  The contest involves finding three (why is it always three?) objects of power.  In Hell.

One of them is this adorable puppy - who happens to be a hellhound.  The others are turning out to be not much fun.  All this so I can take (unwanted) charge of Death, Inc.

My name is Calliope Reaper-Jones, and I'm . . . Death's Daughter

Book 2 - Cat's Claw:

My name is Calliope Reaper-Jones.  I'm just like any other working girl in New York City - stuck in a boring job, barely making rent, coveting every expensive fashion accessory I see but can't afford.

I know what you're thinking: "Callie, your dad is the head of Death, Inc.  You can afford those accessories."  But there's more to running the family business than wielding cosmic power over life and death.  Cubicle hell is nothing compared to the real thing.  Trust me on this.  So I've tried to stay clear of it.

But no matter how far I walk toward a normal life in my (bought-on-sale) Manolos, I keep getting dragged back into the paranormal world.  Now Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell, wants me to repay a debt I owe him, which means a trip to Purgatory, Las Vegas, ancient Egypt - and a discount department store.  The things a girl has to do when she's Death's Daughter!

Book 3 - Serpent's Storm:

My entire name is Calliope Reaper-Jones, but you can call me Callie.  Please!  Like many a young woman before me, I've chosen to go out on my own in New York City, working my way up in the magazine world, living paycheck to paycheck, buying only the new shoes I absolutely must have.

Of course, having a superhot boyfriend does make it all the more bearable.  Even if he isn't entirely human.  After all, I'm Death's Daughter, so I'm not one to critisise.

But once again, my efforts to lead a normal life have gone bye-bye, thanks to my older sister, Thalia.  She's made a deal with the devil himself - and all that's standing between him and a takeover of the Reaper family business (which would be tres bad for mortals) is . . . me.

When I first found out, I wasn't too worried.  I've already kicked Thalia's butt once.  But I was wrong.  She and the Devil have a secret weapon - someone very close to me, someone very dangerous.

This time, it is way personal . . .

I don't know about the rest of you but I think this sounds like a great series, I'm about to get stuck into Death's Daughter so I'll get my review posted as soon as I can.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Review: Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between - J.A. Saare

No one knows better than Rhiannon Murphy that one bad corpse can ruin your whole day.

She left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start.  A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her - until now.

The deliciously good-looking vampire, Disco, knows her secret.  When he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, Rhiannon discovers he's not the kind of person that appreciates the significant of the word no.

But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it's only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market.  Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn't their first stroll around the undead block.

Rhiannon's Law Series:
Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between
The Renfield Syndrome (August 2011)
The Ripple Effect (2012)

Visit J.A. Saare's website for more information

Rhiannon is a necromancer who can see and talk to ghosts but she works hard to keep this ability hidden wanting to have nothing to do with the supernatural world.  Her secret isn't as well kept as she thought it was though and vampire Disco knows what she can do.  He needs her help to investigate the strange disappearances of other vampires in the area and he isn't going to take no for an answer.  Rhiannon may not want to learn more about her abilities or get involved with the supernatural community but it doesn't look like she has much choice in the matter.  She'd best learn quickly if she is going to have any chance of surviving.

It took me a long time to get around to reading this book but I wish I'd picked it up sooner.  Rhiannon is a great heroine, she is feisty, smart and totally able to stand up for herself.  She is quite defensive and prickly and it took me a while to warm up to her completely but once you know a bit more about her background it is easy to understand why she acts the way she does.  I enjoyed watching things develop between her and Disco although I really would have liked to learn more about him.  He definitely has me intrigued though and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book.

I really liked watching Rhiannon develop her abilities with the help of another necromancer Goose.  It was fun seeing the two of them together and watching him slip past her defences.  She doesn't find it easy to trust but it seems like she has found a good friend in Goose and I hope we see more of him.  I'm also looking forward to learning more about Disco's vampire family, I'm intrigued about how they all met and I definitely want to find out more about Paine.

The story moves along at a nice pace and this was a quick and easy read that I would recommend to urban fantasy fans.  Be warned there is a major cliffhanger though!  I'm not usually a big fan of cliffhangers but although this one knocked me sideways it has left me desperate to get my hands on the next book.  Perhaps it's a good job I waited so long before I read this one as I only have a few months to wait for The Renfield Syndrome!

Source: I won this copy in a giveaway that the author Jamie Saare did on her Twitter page

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.

Trailer: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

I've had this book on my to read pile for a while now but after watching these trailers it has jumped right up the list - I know which book I'll be picking up next!

The video below shows author John Stephens talking about his debut novel The Emerald Atlas, the exciting first installment in a new series:

Here is the official trailer, I just love the animation!

If you'd like to know more here are some character profiles for Gabriel, the Countess and Dr Pym:

The book was released in the UK last week so if you want to get your hands on it head to your local book shop now

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Review: Before I Die - Jenny Downham

It's really going to happen.  They said it would, but this is quicker than anyone thought.

Everyone has to die.  We all know it.

With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most.

She's made a list though - ten things she wants to do before she dies.  Number one is sex.  Starting tonight.

But getting what you want isn't easy.  And getting what you want doesn't always give you what you need.  And sometimes the most unexpected things become important.

Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous - this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's really like to die.

I can't find a website for Jenny Downham but you can visit her Goodreads page here

Tessa is just 16 years old and she's dying of Leukemia.  She knew she would die young but she wasn't prepared for it to be happening so soon.  She wants to make the most of her last few months though and has written a list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies.  Can she achieve all of her goals in time?

I knew just from reading the blurb that this book would be a heart breaker but I didn't expect it to be as powerful as it was.  In many ways Tessa is a typical teenager, she is rebellious, stroppy and selfish but she also has big dreams and cares about her family and her friends.  At times she can come across as dislikable but considering her circumstances I think she had every right to be angry and to want to get her own way, that side of her character just made her all the more realistic to me.  Although I don't necessarily think all of the things she had on her list of things she wanted to do before she died were good ideas I'm pretty sure my list would have been very similar at her age.  Don't we all want to try dangerous things or things that aren't allowed when we're teens?

What I enjoyed most were Tessa's interactions with her Dad and younger brother Cal.  It wasn't easy for any of them and they all struggled to accept what was happening and find their own ways of dealing with the fact that Tessa was dying.  Some of the scenes with her and Cal were incredibly emotional, particularly towards the end of the book.  I also loved Adam, he was so brave to give his heart to Tessa knowing it would be broken when she was gone.  I don't think many people would be brave enough to put themselves in his situation.  I really didn't think much of Tessa's so called best friend Zoey though and think life would have been a lot harder for her if she didn't have Adam and her family to support her.

I don't think I've ever read a book that made me cry as hard as Before I Die.  I had trouble seeing through my tears to actually finish the book.  This was partly because it hit a little close to home and brought back a lot of memories of my Nan dying of cancer but it was also because Jenny Downham's writing was so beautiful.  Although the story will break your heart it will also make you appreciate every minute of your life.  I think we all take for granted how lucky we really are and sometimes it does us good to be reminded of that.  I'd recommend this book for anyone but whatever you do make sure you have tissues to hand because I'd be amazed if you reach the end without needing them!

Source: Received from RHCB 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.

Monday 18 April 2011

Review: Grace - Morris Gleitzman

If you don't ask, you'll never know . . .

In the beginning there was me and Mum and Dad and the twins.

And good luck was upon us and things were great and talk about happy families, we were bountiful.

But it came to pass that I started doing sins.  And lo, that's when all our problems began . . .

Visit Morris Gleitzman's website for more information

Grace has been brought up as part of an extreme religious group and has to abide by the very strict rules set by the church elders.  She must keep her hair long and pinned up neatly in a bun, she must never under any circumstances talk to anyone who isn't a part of her community - the outside world is full of sinners who are destined to go to hell - and she must never, ever question the elders.  Her parents, especially her father, have always encouraged her ask questions but this causes problems with the elders and leads to her father being expelled from the church.  Grace may have been told that she should act as if her father is dead but she is determined to find a way to bring him back home so they can be a family again.

Although this book is aimed at a younger audience than most of the books I read I'm so glad I gave it a chance and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Grace is one of the best young female protagonists I've come across in a long time and it is a joy to read the story from her perspective.  She has a child's natural curiosity and questions everything around her which is something that often gets her in trouble but she is brave enough to stand up for what she believes in even when she has good reason to be fearful of the outcome.  Her speech is peppered with religious references - hardly surprising when the only book she is allowed to read is the bible - and often caused me to laugh out loud as I was reading.

With less than 200 pages Grace is a quick and easy read and one that is easy to devour in one sitting.  Although it covers serious topics it doesn't come across as preachy and includes plenty of humor alongside the horror of discovering more about the church group.  It gives a real insight into what it can be like growing up as part of an extremist group and just how difficult it can be.  This is a book I'd highly recommend for all ages and I'm looking forward to picking up some of Morris Gleitzman's other stories, if they're anywhere near as good as this one I'm sure I'll be in for a treat.

Source: Received from Penguin 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.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Review: The Land of Painted Caves - Jean M. Auel

Europe is in the grip of the Ice Age.  Its harsh but spectacularly beautiful terrain supports many varieties of animal but few people.  They are Cro-Magnons - the first anatomically modern people - and Neanderthals, the other race with whom we shared that cold, ancient land.

Ayla is a Cro-Magnon child who lost her parents in an earthquake and was adopted by a tribe of Neanderthal, the Clan.  The Clan's wary suspicion was gradually transformed into acceptance of this girl, so different from them, under the guidance of its medicine woman Iza and its wise holy man Creb.  But Broud, the Clan's future leader, becomes an implacable enemy, and causes her exile.  Forced into dangerous isolation, she eventually finds her soul mate and fellow Cro-Magnon, Jondalar.

Their epic journey across Europe is complete and Ayla and Jondalar join his people in the region now known as south-west France.

Settling into the rhythm of life in the Ninth Cave, the couple find much pleasure in their baby daughter and in being reunited with friends and family.  Ayla plays a vital role in the area of healing: her knowledge of plants and herbs, gleaned from her days with the Clan, strikes awe in her new tribe.  They are also both impressed by and wary of her uncanny affinity with long-time companions, the mare Whinney and Wolf.

But, torn between her desire to concentrate on her new child and the rigours of her training as a Zelandoni acolyte, Ayla finds her relationship with Jondalar moving into stormy waters.  Can she manage to balance her sense of destiny with her heart?

Earth's Children Series:
The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Valley of Horses
The Mammoth Hunters
The Plains of Passage
The Shelters of Stone
The Land of Painted Caves

Visit Jean M. Auel's Website for more information.

This is such a hard review for me to write.  I've spent the last 10 years waiting to get my hands on this book and I spent a good chunk of February & March re-reading the first 5 books (that's approx 4,000 pages of the tiniest writing you can imagine!) so you can probably guess how much I wanted to love it.  I am so disappointed to have reached the end of the final book in the series only to be left with so many questions.  There were so many plot lines that I wanted to see tied up, stories of characters I've loved that I needed to have resolved but I guess I'm just going to have to use my imagination.  I know I probably had high expectations but when you invest so much time in a series (I've read all of the books at least 5 times) you can't help but want the best ending possible.

I knew from the last 2 books in the series to expect repetition of Ayla's entire life story and I probably found it worse because I'd only just finished re-reading the books but if things had just been mentioned once I could have forgiven it.  The fact that it was repeated every time they met new people, along with the constant reminders of Ayla's long list of names and ties was enough to drive me insane.  Especially since they met a lot of new people on their journey to look at the painted caves!  Then when it comes to the descriptions of the caves I found the first couple really interesting but by the time you hear about what felt like cave number 50 it starts to wear thin.  There are only so many times you can describe a picture of a horse (or any other animal) before it becomes dull and hard to read.  It felt more like Jean M Auel's travel diary from when she visited the caves herself than part of the story - even Ayla mentioned that she didn't want to see any more caves at one point!  It could have been so much more powerful if less caves had been mentioned. 

The story is in 3 parts and I found the jumps between sections jarring, without any kind of warning you'd start the next chapter and find you'd fast forwarded 4 years (which is probably a good thing really as the book would have been even longer if we'd had to read about those lost years too).  The first time it happened I had to go back a few pages to try and work out what was going on in case I'd missed something, I even wondered if my copy had pages missing.  For the first half of the book I was annoyed that Ayla was being forced into becoming an acolyte when all she wanted was to be Jondalar's mate and have a family.  Then suddenly she completely changes her mind and decides it's what she wants after all (despite the fact that she's spent the last 3 books dead against the idea).  It just didn't ring true to her character but I wish that was the only thing that surprised me about her and Jondalar.  Other parts were so unbelievable that it was almost like reading about entirely new characters that we've never met before.

The highlight of the book for me (alongside the first couple of painted caves that were described) was the appearance of some characters we haven't seen since very early on in the series.  I was so excited when they first made an appearance and couldn't wait to hear about what they'd been up to but unfortunately we didn't get to see as much of them as I hoped for.  Another thing seriously missing was the Clan - we didn't meet a single Clan member in the whole book which really shocked me.  I honestly expected that they would have made contact with some of the local Clans especially as this was something they were discussing in The Shelters of Stone and The Land of Painted Caves ends approximately 7 years later!  Surely at some point in those 7 years Willamar would have gone on one of those trading missions he is so famous for?  I also could have screamed at the fact that every time Ayla opened her mouth someone would comment on her foreign accent.  Even Jondalar's family and people she knew well were reminded of how far she must have travelled every time she spoke, seriously I'm sure the novelty would have worn off, at least for the people she has been living with for years.

Although I didn't hate this installment it is definitely my least favorite book in the series and it could have been so much better.  I'm still very sad to reach the end and have to say goodbye to these characters.  I know I'll re-read the series again in the future, I tend to pick it up every few years when I want an old favorite to fall back on.  What remains to be seen is if I pick this one up again or if I finish my next read through at The Shelters of Stone.

Source: Purchased

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

Saturday 16 April 2011

Video Footage from the Terry Pratchett I Shall Wear Midnight Signing

Apologies for the fact it's still so quiet around here, I've not really spent much time online over the last week or so.  On the plus side that has meant I've had plenty of time for reading - I think I'm actually up to about 13 books that I need to write reviews for now so I promise I'll start posting them soon!  I'm planning to get things back to normal around here next week :o)

I stumbled across these videos on YouTube that were taken by Waterstones at the Terry Pratchett signing I went to last year.  I really enjoyed watching them & it reminded me how much fun my Dad & I had at the event.  The videos show part of the interview Tony Robinson did with Terry before the signing & I thought I'd share them here in case anyone is interested in watching them. If you missed my event report last September you can find it here if you'd like to read it.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Earth's Children Week Giveaway Winners

With the help of I am very happy to announce that the winners of my Earth's Children Giveaways.

First we have 5 UK winners each winning a paperback copy of The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel:

Raimy Greenland
Lisa M831

Second we have the winner of the international giveaway who gets to choose a book of their choice from The Earth's Children Series is comment number 7 on my review of The Mammoth Hunters:


Congratulations to you all!  I am about to contact you all by email to ask for your addresses so I can arrange for the prizes to be sent out.  If I don't hear from you within 48 hours then new winners will be chosen.  The books from the first giveaway will be sent out directly from Hodder & Stoughton so you will need to give permission for me to forward the books to them.  I will be sending the prize for the second giveaway out via The Book Depository / Amazon but I need to know which book you would like Clover.

Thanks to both Kate at Holler and Hodder & Stoughton for allowing me to host the first giveaway for you.


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