Friday, 30 September 2011

Review: Deadlock - Moira Rogers

Abandoned by her wolf shifter father and raised by her human psychic mother, Carmen Mendoza can't deny she's different. She craves things most women shy away from--and she has a trail of shapeshifting ex-boyfriends to prove it.

Working at a clinic for supernatural creatures, she's escaped the notice of her father's legacy-obsessed family. Until they need a pawn in their bid for power. Snared by a vicious spell designed to wake her inner wolf, Carmen's only hope is to trust the one man strong enough to soothe her darkest instincts.

Alec Jacobson was once the heir apparent to the wolves' ruling elite, until he walked away to marry the woman he loved. She paid with her life. He lives as a rebel, a black-sheep alpha who protects the supernatural residents of New Orleans from the wolves' barbaric class system. Too bad he can't protect himself from his need for Carmen.

Yet staking his claim on his enemy's niece will turn his city into a battleground. Unless he can find a way to stop breaking the rules--and start making them.

Warning: This book contains a renegade alpha wolf, a smart empathic doctor, very dirty sex with psychic safe-words, the occasional dominance game in and out of the bedroom, and a group of supernatural citizens ready to take on the corrupt leaders of their world.

Southern Arcana Series:
Crux
Crossroads
A Peyton Family Christmas (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Zola's Pride (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Deadlock
Two Weddings (and One Near Funeral) (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Cipher
Impulse
Enigma

Visit Moira Rogers' website for more information

Review:
I've been a big fan of the Southern Arcana series since I first read Crux and I'm pleased to say that Deadlock doesn't disappoint.  I wasn't too sure how I'd take to Alec as the hero, whenever we've seen him before he has come across as a grumpy, uptight alpha and I wasn't sure I'd be able to warm to him but I have to say he had me hooked within a few pages.  We get to learn more about why he acts the way he does and although he may still be a grumpy b*stard he was also sexy as hell.  He is protective of those he cares about and although he doesn't want to have feelings for Carmen he steps straight up to the plate when she is in danger.

Carmen is not a full wolf shifter and was raised by her psychic mother, her father didn't want to know when he realised she couldn't change into a wolf.  She has always avoided pack politics but things are about to catch up with her and she's going to need all the help she can get.  She is immediately drawn to Alec and does a good job of letting him feel like he's the one in control even when she's doing a lot of the chasing.  The sexual chemistry between them is off the charts and I loved the way things build up so slowly between them.  There is plenty of dirty talk before we get to see any bedroom action and it was well worth the wait!

We get to see some of our favourite characters from earlier books in the series and we also get to see more of some of the future heroes and heroines.  I really hope that we get to see more of some of the new characters we are introduced to (Carmen's brothers in particular) and am looking forward to seeing how things play out in the future.  The shifter politics just got a whole lot more complicated and it'll be interesting to see where Moira Rogers takes things from here.

Although this series is definitely paranormal romance it also has a strong ongoing back story with plenty of action to satisfy most urban fantasy fans.  I love both genres and books that straddle the lines between the two are just my kind of thing.  If you haven't started reading this series yet you're missing out on a treat and I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of Crux today.

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

Free Online Read: Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions edited by Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new land-scapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.

Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

Description taken from Goodreads

How do you fancy reading some of the short stories from the Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions anthology online for free?  Thanks to Harper Teen you now can!  They have made 4 of the 16 short stories from the anthology available for a limited time on their website.

The stories included in the anthology are (stories highlighted in bold can be read free online - see link below):
Giovanni's Farewell - Claudia Gray
Scenic Route - Carrie Ryan
Red Run - Kami Garcia
Things About Love - Jackson Pearce
Niederwald - Rachel Vincent
Merely Mortal - Melissa Marr
Facing Facts - Kelley Armstrong
Let's Get This Undead Show on the Road - Sarah Rees Brennan
Bridge - Jeri Smith-Ready
Skin Contact - Kimberly Derting
Leaving - Ally Condie
At the Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show - Jessica Verday
IV League - Margaret Stohl
Gargouille - Mary E. Pearson
The Third Kind - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Automatic - Rachel Caine

Browse Inside Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions by Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong at the Harper Teen website


Browse Inside this book
Get this for your site

If you'd rather purchase the full book you can find it on Amazon UK using the links below:
Paperback / Kindle

Thursday, 29 September 2011

International Giveaway: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

To celebrate today's release of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor thanks to Hodder I have a fantastic UK hardback to giveaway to one lucky winner.

UK Cover
There once was a young artist called Karou who drew tales of monsters and demons that delighted and enthralled those around her.

But she has a secret, a secret that ties her to a dusty subterranean chamber, where her beloved guardian brokers dark deals in a place that is not here. A place that is Elsewhere.

Living with one foot in each world, Karou has never really known which one is her true home.

Now the doors to Elsewhere closing . . .

If you'd like more information you can visit the Daughter of Smoke and Bone website, follow the DoSaB Twitter page or visit Laini Taylor's blog here

So what do you think of the UK cover (above)?  Having now seen a finished version I can confirm that it's even more beautiful than it looks on screen.  I think I prefer the UK cover to the US one but I'd love to know which one you like better.
US Cover
Before we get to the giveaway I thought I'd also share the UK Daughter of Smoke and Bone trailers with you so here they are:







What do you think?  Are you as excited about this book as I am yet?

Now onto the bit you've all been waiting for - the giveaway!  Massive thanks to Hodder for sending me a copy of the UK hardback to giveaway on my blog.  This giveaway will be international and will close on the 13th of October.  I'm testing out rafflecopter as a way to collect entries so hopefully this will work but if you have any problems entering leave a blog comment and I'll make sure I enter you manually!  I'd be very interested to know if you prefer entering giveaways via a google form or via rafflecopter so please let me know in the comments which you find easier.  There are extra entries available for this giveaway but none of them are mandatory so if you don't have to do them unless you'd like to.



HarperCollins Announce A Fantastic Maureen Johnson Competition

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux flies to London for the start of a new life at boarding school.  But her arrival is overshadowed by the sudden outbreak of brutal murders in the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper.

"Rippermania" grabs hold of modern day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses.  Except one.  Rory has seen their prime suspect on the school grounds.  But her friend Jazza, who was with her at the time, didn't see anyone.

So why could only Rory see him?  And more urgently, what is he planning next?

Shades of London Series:
The Name of the Star
Future book titles and release dates to be confirmed

Visit Maureen Johnson's website for more information



To celebrate today's release of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson HarperCollins have announced a competition with a fabulous prize.  How do you fancy getting to meet Maureen Johnson?  Do you like the idea of going with her on a tour of London stopping at the haunts of the famous murderer Jack the Ripper?  Sounds like fun doesn't it!  To be in with you chance of winning just check out the information below (I know I'm going to enter!)


JACK THE RIPPER FAN WALK

To celebrate the publication of Maureen Johnson's new YA thriller The Name of the Star, HarperCollins Children’s Books is offering 10 lucky readers the opportunity to accompany Maureen Johnson on a private Jack the Ripper walk in London on Thursday, 13th October 2011.

The walk begins at 5:00 PM and will carry-on for two hours into the night! Visit the haunting sites of Jack the Ripper and hear first-hand from Maureen how they inspired her new book The Name of the Star.

To enter, simply email nameofthestar@harpercollins.co.uk for a chance to attend the event with a friend.

Disclaimer: Entrants must be 13 or over. Please ensure that you are available to attend the event on Thursday, 13th October from 5.00pm to 7.00pm before entering. Winners will be informed on Friday, 7th October, and will be provided with further instructions then.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Guest Review: Burning Secrets - Clare Chambers

Today I'd like to welcome 12 year old Kain to Feeling Fictional, he is back today with his second review!  Thanks for writing another guest review for me, I'm glad you enjoyed the book.  Hopefully Kain will be making semi-regular appearances on the blog from now onwards so watch out for more reviews for him coming soon.

An intense and thrilling teen mystery set on a tranquil island where all seems perfect…

Daniel has dark secrets and a troubled past. So when his family move to the island of Wragge, a gentle backwater where local life remains undisturbed he feels he’s escaped. But outsiders aren’t always welcome and the more Daniel tries to conceal, the more he reveals about sinister goings on. Does this picture perfect community have something even greater to hide? An explosive thriller that tingles with brooding menace and ignites as the clues fall into place…

Visit Clare Chambers' page on Goodreads for more information

Kain's Review:
This Book was one of my favourites, my reasons being, the way the author describes the story and the other people in the story and their behaviour. I also like this books plot as it is something completely different, than all the other vampire romances and stuff. At the end of the book there is a twist on the storyline.

I hope you like this review; it could not be long as I would be giving it away.

Kain

Source: Received from Harper Collins 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.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

News: RHCB to Publish a New Lauren Kate Novel

Lauren Kate
(picture taken at the Passion launch party last night with 2 of the angel waiters, how gutted am I that I couldn't make it to the event!)

You probably already know that I'm a fan of Lauren Kate's Fallen series so I was very excited when I received the following press release from RHCB!  I'm sure when you've read it you'll understand why so here it is:

RANDOM HOUSE CHILDREN’S BOOKS ANNOUNCES THE ADDITION OF A NEW NOVEL SET IN THE WORLD OF LAUREN KATE’S GLOBAL BESTSELLING FALLEN SERIES

Fallen in Love to be Published on 2nd February 2012

Random House Children’s Books will publish an original novel by Lauren Kate that is connected to her internationally bestselling series, Fallen. The novel, FALLEN IN LOVE, acquired in the UK by Annie Eaton and Becky Stradwick, will be released in the UK on 2nd February 2012, before the fourth and final title in the series, Rapture, is published. FALLEN IN LOVE is a riveting collection of four intertwined love stories featuring the Fallen characters that fans have grown to know and love: Miles, Shelby, Roland, Arriane, and Luce & Daniel.

Since the publication of the first book, Fallen, in December 2009, Kate’s series has become a bona fide smash hit with close to half a million copies sold in the UK alone. Her story of star-crossed lovers and fallen angels has captured the hearts and imaginations of readers all over the world, with rights sold in 33 countries and counting. All bestsellers in the United States, the novels of the Fallen series: Fallen, Torment, and Passion, have become international sensations, hitting No.1 slots in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The final novel in the series, Rapture, will be released in the UK in June 2012 taking readers on a journey that will close the chapter on Luce & Daniel’s love forever.

Annie Eaton, Fiction Publisher comments "It's incredibly exciting for us - and all Lauren Kate's legion of fans- to have this extra-special Fallen book coming for Valentine's Day. What a treat to start 2012 with!"

The release coincides with Lauren Kate’s current UK tour to promote the third book in the Fallen series, Passion. Last night guests attended a drinks reception at Proud Camden which featured a reading from Lauren. The tour includes a visit to Ireland, and an appearance at the Bath Children’s Lit Festival this weekend.

Lauren Kate is the internationally bestselling author of The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove and the Fallen novels: Fallen, Torment, Passion, and the forthcoming Rapture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

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

So what do you think?  Have you added Fallen in Love to your wish list?  I know it's going on mine :o)

Winner: Set of Mary Hooper's Historical Novels


With the help of random.org I am happy to announce the winner of a full set of Mary Hooper's historical novels: At the Sign of the Sugared Plum, Petals in the Ashes, The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose, At the House of the Magician, By Royal Command, The Betrayal, Fallen Grace & Velvet (That's an amazing 8 books!) is:

Mel Symonds (email address starting notanotherbookblog@...)

Congratulations Mel!  You should have already received an email from me asking for your addresses so please make sure you look out for it.  If I don't hear back from you within 48 hours then a new winner will be chosen.  The prizes will be sent out by my contact at Bloomsbury so you'll need to give permission for me to forward your address to them.  I'd like to say a massive thank you to Bloomsbury for allowing me to host this giveaway for them.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Review: Wolf Tracks - Vivian Arend

TJ Lynus is a legend in Granite Lake, both for his easygoing demeanor—and his clumsiness. His carefree acceptance of his lot vanishes, though, when his position as best man brings him face to face with someone he didn’t expect. His mate. His very human mate. Suddenly, one thing is crystal clear: if he intends to claim her, his usual laid-back attitude isn’t going to cut it.

After fulfilling her maid-of-honor duties, Pam Quinn has just enough time for a Yukon wilderness trip before returning south. The instant attraction between her and TJ tempts her to indulge in some Northern Delight, but when he drops the F-bomb—“forever”—she has second thoughts. In her world, true love is a fairytale that seldom, if ever, comes true.

Okay, so maybe staging a kidnapping wasn’t TJ’s best idea, but at least Pam has the good humour to agree to his deal. He’ll give her all the northern exposure she can stand—and she won’t break his kneecaps.

Now to convince her that fairytales can remake her world—and that forever is worth fighting for.

By popular demand: Clumsy sidekick wolf grows up, sarcasm reigns, and the wilderness gets wilder. Includes hot nookie in places you expect—like a remote cabin—and places you don’t.

Granite Lake Wolves Series:
Wolf Signs (Novella)
Wolf Flight (Novella)
First Howl (Short Story free on Vivian's website)
Second Howl (Short Story free on Vivian's website)
Wolf Games (Novella)
Wolf Tracks (Novella)
Wolf Line (Novella)
Wolf Nip (Novella)

Takhini Wolves Series:
(This is a spin off from the Granite Lake Wolves series but can be read separately)
Black Gold
Silver Mine
Diamond Dust
Moon Shine

Takhini Shifters Series:
(This is a spin off off the Granite Lake and Takhini Wolves series but can be read separately)
Copper King (Novella)
Laird Wolf (Novella)

Visit Vivian Arend's website for more information

Review:
I have been a big fan of TJ's since we first met him in Wolf Signs so I couldn't wait to finally read his story.  He has always been such a fun character and it was great to see more of him.  Although he is clumsy and has caused a lot of giggles throughout the series in Wolf Tracks we get to see a more sensitive & serious side to him, yes he is still a lot of fun to be around but when he sets his sights on Pam he is determined to do whatever it takes to win her over.  TJ really comes into his own here and it's like we've seen him grow up as the series has progressed.

Pam was a likable heroine and different to any of the previous ones in the series.  As a human she has no idea that her best friend Maggie is a werewolf so she is in for quite a shock when she finds out the truth about TJ and his friends.  She actually finds it easier to believe in werewolves than she does in a happy ever after though so it is going to take TJ some time to convince her they are meant to be together.

As I'd expect from any of Vivian Arend's novellas Wolf Tracks has a lot of humor, scorching love scenes and a romance you can believe in.  This is a series I really love and would recommend to any paranormal romance fans who are looking for a quick read that is easy to finish in one sitting.  I'm looking forward to the next story already.

Source: Purchased

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.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Review: Lover Enshrined - J.R. Ward

Phury, Zsadist's twin brother and a vampire in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, makes the ultimate sacrifice and stands in for a fellow brother to become the chosen - the one who will save the brotherhood's bloodlines.

Tormented by the love he has for his twin's mate, he devotes his passion to the higher good of his race and forbids himself from being distracted by a romantic relationship.

The war with the Lessening society is graver than ever, and the brothers need the few warriors they have to fight. Phury is resigned never to divert himself with love or put his brothers in jeopardy, until he comes face to face with the only woman who can tempt his heart and make him question his chosen destiny . . .

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series:
The Story of Son (novella set in the BDB world but about completely unrelated characters)
Dark Lover
Lover Eternal
Lover Awakened
Lover Revealed
Lover Unbound
Lover Enshrined
The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide
Lover Avenged
Lover Mine
Lover Unleashed
Lover Reborn
Lover at Last
The King
The Shadows
The Beast (2016)

The Fallen Angels Series:
(This is a spin off series set in the same world with a slight crossover of characters)
Covet
Crave
Envy
Rapture
Possession
Immortal

Black Dagger Legacy:
(A second spin off series that stars the original characters from BDB and the new recruits they're training)
Blood Kiss

Visit J.R. Ward's website for more information

Review:
I have to admit that I've been putting off my re-read of Lover Enshrined for months now. As much as I wanted to get to the later books in the series (that I've never read) I refused to skip Phury's story but knowing how much I hated it the first time around I struggled to make myself pick it up a second time! I have to say that now I've read it again it wasn't actually as bad as I remembered it being but it is still far from my favourite book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

As much as I have both admired and felt sorry Phury in previous books for the things he did for his twin Zsadist I just didn't like him as the hero of his own story. His drug addiction and the ridiculous plot with the "wizard" just irritated the heck out of me and made Phury come across as such a weak character - not hero material at all no matter how noble some of his previous actions have been. I was also annoyed at his continuing obsession with Bella, she is mated to your brother - just get over it already! I was pleased with the changes within Phury towards the end of the book but for me I'm afraid it was a case of too little, too late. Although Cormia is likable she is a bit to sweet and innocent for my tastes and I just couldn't care about them as a couple. I didn't find their relationship believable and I wasn't invested in them, it really wouldn't have bothered me if they'd ended up going their separate ways.

In my review of Lover Unbound I complained that the story didn't focus enough on Vishous and Jane because there were so many side stories going on. In Lover Enshrined we have the same thing but this time it was something I was thankful for because the less time I had to spend listening to Phury's thoughts the better.  In fact, the best part of the story by far was focused on John Matthew, Qhuinn and Blay and I can't wait to see more of all of them. I felt like we were missing the banter and camaraderie with the main brothers and I hope that is something that returns more in the next book. I'm a little nervous about reading Rhev's book because he has never been a character that I've been particularly keen on but I'm hoping going into it with lower expectations will mean I enjoy Lover Avenged more than I'm expecting to.

Overall I'd have to say that Lover Enshrined is worth reading for the side stories alone even if the main romance is somewhat lacking. I am very curious to see how things develop for the Brotherhood and in the war with the Lessers and hope that the series gets back to the heights of the earlier books which are still some of my favourite paranormal romance books.

Source: Purchased

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, 24 September 2011

Review: Stealing Phoenix - Joss Stirling

What do you do when your soulmate turns out to be a thief?

Steal her, of course.

Phoenix was raised within the Community, a gang of thieves with paranormal powers, under the control of a harsh master known as the Seer. The notion that there's a soulmate out there for every person with a paranormal gift is mere myth in Phoenix's world. That is until the Seer gives Phoenix the details of her next target, Yves Benedict.

He's more than just her next victim, he is her destiny. To be together, Phoenix must break away from the Community but resistance against the Seer puts them both in mortal danger. Phoenix has never trusted anyone before, now it's time to trust Yves with her life.

Savants Series:
Finding Sky
Challenging Zed (Free Short Story)
Stealing Phoenix
Burning Yves (Free Short Story)
Seeking Crystal
Misty Falls
Angel Dares
Summer Shadows

Check out Joss Stirling's website for more information

Review:
Phoenix (Phee) has been bought up in a community of savants who are all controlled by the Seer.  He has strong powers of mind control and has instilled fear into the entire community, if they don't do what he tells them too then there will be severe consequences.  Phee is often sent out to steal for the Seer and has to bring back whatever he requests but when she is asked to steal from Yves things don't quite go to plan.  When Yves realises that Phee is his soulfinder he is horrified by the fact that she is a thief but as he learns more about her upbringing he becomes determined to save her from the Seer's clutches.  It isn't going to be an easy task though and they will need the help of his family to do it.

I loved the first book in this series Finding Sky so was very excited about getting my hands Stealing Phoenix. Now, having read both books, I'm really struggling to decide which one I liked best - Yves may just have stolen my heart from Zed!  In my review of Finding Sky I said that it was a must read for fans of YA paranormal romance who were looking for something different and I can definitely say the same about Stealing Phoenix.  This is a series you want to watch out for and I'm very excited to know we're going to get to see more of the Benedict brothers in the future.

Phee is a character you can relate to from the very beginning, she may be a thief but it is down to the way she has been raised rather than a personal choice she has made.  The Seer is a baddie with truly horrific powers and I spent a lot of the book worrying about how Phee and Yves could possibly escape from him.  Phee may be under the Seer's control but she is still a strong character and she does her best to stand up to him.  She hasn't had the best start in life but she dreams of something better and meeting Yves and his family finally shows her what things could be like.  Although she desperately wants that happy family she is scared to trust that that could be an option for her, she is frightened of what the Seer is capable of and worried about what could happen if she tries to escape.

I've already said that I liked Yves even more than Zed which is something I wasn't expecting because I loved Zed!  Yves has the whole geeky genius vibe going for him and I have to admit to having a soft spot for the geeky guys.  He is extremely intelligent but also very shy and has no idea of the effect he has on the women around him which was quite funny to watch.  I loved getting to see him with his family and just like in the first book I enjoyed the banter between all of the brothers and the fact that although they tease each other they still have each other's backs.

The plot is fast paced and had me on the edge of my seat but I also enjoyed the romance between Phee and Yves as she slowly learns to trust him.  I can't wait to see what Joss Stirling comes up with next and am very much looking forward to reading Xav's story which I understand is up next.  If you haven't started this series yet you could probably read Stealing Phoenix as a stand along story but I'd highly recommend starting with Finding Sky, both are great books and you'll be missing a treat if you don't!

Source: Received from OUP in exchange for an honest review

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

Friday, 23 September 2011

OUP Blogger Event with Joss Stirling & Dave Cousins - 21st September 2011


For my stop in the Stealing Phoenix blog tour I'm doing a write up from the fantastic event I was lucky enough to attend earlier this week.  I had planned to get this post up first thing this morning but I've spent the best part of the last 2 days trying to get the pictures uploaded - my internet connection reallys sucks at the moment :o( - so I'm sorry it's a bit late.  Still, better late than never so finally here is my write up!  Make sure you check back tomorrow to read my review of Stealing Phoenix.


On Wednesday I was part of a group of bloggers who were invited to an event with OUP (Oxford University Press) to celebrate the launch of Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling and to introduce us to Dave Cousins an author whose debut novel 15 Days Without A Head will be published in January 2012.  We were treated to cocktails and canapes and had time to mingle with the authors, staff and other bloggers before getting to hear both authors talking about their work.

Jennie (OUP) introducing Joss Stirling & Dave Cousins

First to chat to us was Joss Stirling who told us that she decided to have a go at writing dark romance because her daughter was stuck in a Twilight loop, re-reading the 4 books over and over, refusing to give anything else a try.  Joss wanted to tempt her to read something different so decided that she would have to write something for her, she wanted it to be about something other than vampires and werewolves and came up with the idea of characters with psychic abilities.  She hadn't planned on writing more than 1 book so although she was happy to continue the series she isn't quite sure how she will be able to write books for the older brothers as they aren't really the right age range for the YA market.  We did speak to her about this earlier on in the evening and she reassured us that she knows the fans all want to see each of the brother's stories and she is currently thinking about possible ways to do this.

Joss reading from Stealing Phoenix

When Joss decided to write Yves' story for the second book in the series she thought it would be nice to set the story in London rather than in the US.  Yves is the right age to have come over to London for a college conference and she had fun setting the story in an area that she knows well.  She wanted to make Phoenix very different to Sky and decided to not to give her the same stable background.

When asked about how many drafts she writes Joss told us that she doesn't tend to plan her books in advance and makes it up as she goes along.  She said that her first draft usually ends up being quite similar to the finished book although there can be some changes along the way.  Talking about the names she gives her characters she said that she wanted to give them unusual names because they are unusual characters.

If you read my review of Finding Sky then you'll already know how much I was looking forward to Stealing Phoenix and I can tell you now that I loved it even more.  You'll have to come back tomorrow if you want to read my full review but if you haven't started reading this series yet then I'd highly recommend ordering your copy now!  I'm very excited to be able to confirm that Xav's story is definitely coming next, Joss hasn't started writing it yet but it is due to be published in February 2013 (I know, that sounds like a horribly long wait doesn't it!!).  The working title for Xav's book is currently Seeing Crystal but please be aware that this might change by the time the story is written and ready to publish.

Dave tells his life story in under 8 minutes

Dave Cousins was introduced by his editor Jasmine who told us that Dave was the winner of the Undiscovered Voices competition.  Part of his novel was included in an anthology that was sent around to the publishers and as soon as Jasmine read it she knew she wanted to be the one to publish it.  In fact, she went as far as getting one of her male team members to dress as a woman to convince Dave that OUP was the publisher for him (that will make much more sense when you've read a bit more of my write up!).

Dave started by giving us a quick run down of his life so far, he has been writing stories since he was a child but joined a band when he was at college studying for his art degree.  The band got a record deal and were almost famous for a while in the 80's and spent time touring the country.  (Despite our attempts to persuade him we didn't manage to get the band name out of him, although I think he may have let it slip to Carly so I'm intending to try and drag the information from her next time I see her!).  When he decided it was time to retire his leather trousers and get a proper job he started working for a design company but he had always wanted to go back to writing stories.  He got up at 5am every day to write before work but despite doing this for 4-5 years and completing several manuscripts whenever he re-read them he was convinced they weren't good enough and would stick them under the bed and start all over again.

One day when in a pub he was sitting at a table next to a drunk obnoxious woman who was there with her two children, one about 15 and the other much younger.  He started to wonder what the children's lives must be like - was the mother always like that?  Did the older brother have to look after the younger one?  In the end this is what sparked the idea for 15 Days Without A Head.  Dave re-wrote the book twice and spent over 2 years on it but he was still convinced that it wasn't good enough.  Eventually he got his wife to read it and luckily for us she was the one who persuaded him to enter the Undiscovered Voices competition. 

Dave did a reading from 15 Days Without A Head and I have to tell you now you want to add this book to your wish lists as it was absolutely hilarious (I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much!).  In the part he read the main character Laurence (who is 15 and has to hold things together at home for his younger brother 6 year old Jay because their mum is always out drinking) is desperately in need of money because they haven't eaten properly for days.  Laurence has found a bank book in his name but he needs his mum to be present to withdraw any money so he decides he'll have to pretend to be his mum and go to the bank.  The descriptions of poor Laurence trying to put on tights and a bra were so funny and I can't wait to read the rest of the book!  Dave did confirm that he tried dressing up as a woman himself before writing the scene and you can tell it was written from personal experience.

Casey, Hayley, Viv, Liz, Dwayne, Jasmine & Joss

Harriet, Stacey, Karen, Casey, Hayley, Viv & Liz

Carly, Darren, Sammee, Megan & Harriet

Dave & Joss

I'd like to say a massive thanks to OUP for organising such a fab evening and to both Joss and Dave for telling us all about their new books.  I already know I love Stealing Phoenix and I'm sure I will enjoy 15 Days Without A Head.

Who was there:
Jennie, Jasmine & Harriet - Oxford University Press
Joss Stirling - Website
Dave Cousins - Website
Casey & Hayley - Dark Readers

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Book Trailer: Haunting Violet - Alyxandra Harvey

A couple of months ago I reviewed the fantastically creepy Gothic ghost story Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey.  I really enjoyed reading Violet's story (you can read my review here) and would highly recommend it.  Since I just found the book trailer I thought I'd share it with you here.



I also spotted this video of Alyxandra Harvey talking about ghosts and seances and even doing a short reading from the story that I thought you might all be interested in:

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

UK Giveaway: Signed copy of Department 19 by Will Hill

To celebrate the paperback release of Department 19 by Will Hill Harper Collins have a fabulous competition where you could win an ultimate gadget pack, which includes: iPad2 with accessories, iTunes vouchers and a guest-list spot to their top secret, invitation-only D19 author event at an undisclosed location in the UK.

Sounds good doesn't it?  Well if you want a chance to win that amazing prize all you have to do is create a scary video (like the one below) and upload it to YouTube.  Full details can be found on the Department 19 YouTube channel here and you can find out more about the book on the Department 19 Facebook page here.

Department 19 is still one of my favourite books of the year so far and a fantastic debut by Will Hill so if you missed my review you can read it now HERE.



Giveaway Details:

Now how would you like the chance to win a signed paperback copy of Department 19 along with a Department 19 poster?

  • Courtesy of Harper Collins I have a signed paperback of Department 19 and a Department 19 poster to giveaway to 1 lucky UK winner.
  • The winner's prize will be sent out directly by my contact at Harper Collins so winner must give me permission to pass their address on.
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all entries received. 
  • Only 1 entry per person please, multiple entries will be deleted.
  • To enter please fill in your name and email address in the form below and confirm you are a UK resident.
  • The giveaway will close on the 30th September 2011 and the winner will be contacted soon afterwards.  You will have 48 hours to reply to me with your address or a new winner will be chosen.

Guest Review: Duty Calls: Dunkirk - James Holland


Today I have a guest review from the lovely Kirsty at The Overflowing Library.  Kirsty is a fab blogger and a great friend so if you've never visited her blog make sure you drop by and see her.  Thanks for letting me post this as a guest review Kirsty!  This review was originally posted on The Overflowing Library here.

Friday 24th May, 1940

Private Johnny Hawke, aged sixteen, awakens to artillery fire.

Hours later, stukas scream down from the sky.

Messerschmitt fighters roar towards them.  Trucks burst into flames.

Now men and mules lay dead and dying, severed limbs twisted grotesquely as blood soaks into the cobbled streets.

As Private Hawke - and his fellow soldiers - prepare to stop the German advance, there's only one question on everyone's lips . . .

How will they survive?

Visit James Holland's website for more information

Kirsty's Review:
Duty calls: Dunkirk is a brilliantly insightful and realistic portrayal of the events of Dunkirk as experienced at ground level by ordinary British soldiers. I didn't find it an easy read and it took me a lot longer than normal to get through it but it was certainly worth it.

I specifically requested this book for review because the whole concept of it intrigued me. I am always on the lookout for YA books set in historical settings which are historically accurate which I can recommend to pupils to compliment work done in class. This book is perfect in that regard. The author is clearly well informed about the period and has done extensive research when writing this book.

Another thing I look for in books to recommend to my pupils is a story and main character than they can relate to as it helps to make them empathise with the people who the story is about and draws them in to the story as a whole. Again the main character was perfectly picked in this regard. A 16 year old boy who joined up to fight for his country under age. I think seeing the war through his eyes will give youngsters a jolt because of how very horrific the nature of warfare was and make them see that it was something real that happened to people like them and not just to some random people a long time ago.

What this book also does well is its realism. It does not try to glorify war in anyway to make it more exciting than it was. Yes there are bits that are action packed but there are also scenes which are hard and uncomfortable to read, which will in some cases shock the reader. Again this adds to the story as it really helps you to get into your head what the soldiers really went through in order to save the UK from Nazi invasion.

All in all a book which is historical accurate and engaging. One I would whole heartedly recommend for teens studying the time period for a different perspective of the events depicted.
 
Source: I received this book from Penguin 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.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Review: The Soft Edge of Midnight - Stella & Audra Price

After a horrible ordeal and lengthy captivity, Illori Swain is resigned to wither her life away in loneliness.  Then she meets Karsten Morris, a male unicorn she has been searching for, the other half of her soul.

A man of worth and a stallion of breeding, Karsten Morris sees Illori as his salvation, the love he's searched for all his life.  The luck and light that rule their existence finally bring them together, but everything worthwhile is tested, and fate isn't against making the good suffer.

After escaping her captivity, free from the bonds of hell that held her, Illori is now hunted by two of Hell's minions.

One, Sammael, a fallen angel with one foot in Heaven, is set on the scent by Lucifer himself.  The other, Nybras, is a devil vying for Sammael's job.  Nybras will stop at nothing to get what he thinks he deserves.

When the devil cheats to gain his prize, Sammael must join forces with Karsten to save the mare Illori to make sure the balance of the verses are not compromised.

Keepers of Twilight Series:
The Soft Edge of Midnight
Astoroth: Her Last Sin (Short Story)
A Bitter Kiss of Chaos (release date TBC)

For more information visit Stella & Audra Price's website

Review:
Illori has spent a thousand years held captive by a demon who wanted to use her abilities, and now she has finally managed to escape she just wants to find a mate and settle down.  But the Glimmer was sealed off from the mortal world years ago and she believes she is the last unicorn remaining so has resigned herself to loneliness.  Karsten is a stallion who has been trapped on earth since the portals were sealed, he has been searching for his kind and a way home ever since.  When he stumbles across Illori he is thrilled at finding a potential mate but there are dark forces searching for her - can he find a way to keep her safe?

Illori has been through a lot and has given up on having any kind of happy ending, unicorns are supposed to be lucky but she is convinced that she is the unluckiest unicorn to have ever existed - something that she has quite a lot of evidence to back up.  I did feel that she came across a little too innocent at first but I was pleased she had a backbone to her and was prepared to stick up for herself so that she didn't end up being captured again.  Karsten was a hot stallion who has a bit of a dark background and has worked as a spy in the past.  I really would have liked to have learnt more about both of their backgrounds as I feel it would have helped me become more invested in them as a couple but I still liked them both and wanted them to find a happy ending.

We spend a lot of time with Sammael, a fallen angel who seems to straddle the lines of good and evil working for both sides.  At first I didn't think I would like him at all but as you get to know him better I became really curious about him and hope that we get to see more of him in the future.  It'll be interesting to see how things change for him now he has become involved with a certain character (I don't want to say more for fear of spoilers).  I'm also looking forward to finding out more about the other fallen angels and seeing if there is a way for them to redeem themselves.

While the sex scenes were definitely steamy (and there were plenty of them!) I would have liked a bit more of the focus to be on Illori and Karsten rather than the side characters.  The plot was good though and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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

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

Paperback / Kindle

Today I'm making a guest appearance on Floor To Ceiling Books


Amanda from Floor to Ceiling Books wrote a fabulous guest post for me for when I was on holiday talking about her top recommendations for Fantasy & Science Fiction novels releasing this autumn (if you missed it when I was away make sure you check it out now as she had some fab suggestions for us to add to our wish lists!).

So now that Amanda is on her holidays in Florida making the most of the sunshine and the theme parks (I'm not the slightest bit jealous honest, well not much anyway lol) it was only fair for me to return the favour.  So if you'd like to know the top 5 YA books that I'm most looking forward to reading over the next few months head over to Floor to Ceiling Books now & check out my post :o)  I'd love to know if you're excited about the same books as me and if you have any suggestions for books that should be jumping to the top of my to read pile!

Monday, 19 September 2011

ARC Review: Dearly, Departed - Lia Habel

UK Cover / US Cover

'I'm newly wired with a burning desire for hot flesh.  You know, like every other teenage boy.' Bram, recent zombie recruit.

It should be game over for Nora Dearly when she is ambushed and dragged off into the night by the living dead.  But this crack unit of teen zombies are the good guys, sent to protect Nora from the real monsters roaming the country and zeroing in on cities to swell their ranks.

Can Nora find a way to kill-off the evil undead once and for all?

Can she trust her protectors to resist their hunger for human flesh?

And can she stop herself falling for the noble, sweet, surprisingly attractive, definitely-no-longer-breathing Bram...?

Nora Dearly Series:
Dearly, Departed (UK Release date = 29th of September 2011, US release date = 18th October 2011)
Dearly, Beloved (Title & release date TBC)

Visit Lia Habel's website for more information

Review:
I have to admit when I first heard about Dearly, Departed and it was described as a zombie romance I was sceptical.  I don't mind zombies as the bad guy but I don't have the best track record when it comes to them as the hero - especially when they have a romance with a human heroine.  It just presses my ick button & I can't usually get past that to enjoy what I'm reading.  However, I'd heard from friends I trust that the story is amazing so I put my fears to one side and decided to give it a try.  I'm so glad I did because Lia Habel has managed the impossible and I have to admit to having a slight (OK possibly more than slight!) crush on a zombie!

Dearly, Departed is set in the future, the ice caps have melted and there is a shortage of land - the world looks very different from how it is today.  After a massive loss of life people have now settled into new regions and Nora Dearly lives in the Elysian Fields, an underground city in New Victoria.  The people have latched onto Victorian times as a time of peace and prosperity and have set about re-creating that era now to see them through their current hardships.  The story is a cross between a dystopian and steampunk and the world Lia Habel has created is both believable and realistic.  It was easy to understand people's motivation to escape their current situation by stepping back into the past.

Nora has been brought up as a proper Victorian young lady should be but she has a fascination with politics and war that her aunt doesn't believe she should indulge in.  Ever since the death of her father the previous year she has been living with her aunt but it hasn't been an easy environment to live in.  Where her father encouraged her to look at the world differently her aunt is determined to train her properly and make a successful marriage for her.  Everything changes for Nora when she is set upon by a group of zombies who attempt to kidnap her.  She is saved by a mysterious group of strangers but soon discovers that they are also zombies - but these ones are supposed to be the good guys.  Can Nora really trust a group of strangers who are fighting the urge to eat her flesh though?

The Lazarus virus causes the death of anyone who is infected but shortly afterwards they rise again as zombies, some people retain all of their previous mental capacity and go on to become the good guys, others come back like monsters - much more your traditional zombies who can only focus on their next meal.  Our hero Bram is one of the good zombies, he fights the urge to eat flesh and along with his team helps to protect the humans from the bad zombies.  They are still dead though, their bodies incapable of healing and any damage done to them is permanent.  Some of the group are missing limbs or flesh and they aren't the most attractive bunch.  What they are missing in physical appearance they more than make up for in heart though and you can't help but like this group of misfits and respect them for the choices they make.

I don't want to give the story away but there are a lot of mysteries for Nora to uncover as she learns more about the people who saved her.  Nothing about her life will ever be the same again but she is a strong heroine who takes things mostly in her stride.  The story is told from several different perspectives which really allows the author to reveal things to the reader in a way that is fascinating to read.  Seeing things from Bram's point of view really helped me get past the fact that he was a zombie and I found myself really hoping that they would be able to find some kind of a cure for him.  I'm very excited to know that there will be a sequel and I can't wait to re-visit Nora's world in the future.  The story is action packed with plenty of twists and turns that keep you gripped to the pages and I have to mention how much I loved Nora's friend Pam (just wait until you see what she can do with a parasol!).

Even if, like me, you're not sure about the idea of a zombie romance story I would definitely recommend checking out Dearly, Departed.  The romance is sweet and believable but is by no means the main focus of the story and you'd be missing out on a treat if you don't give it a try.

Source: I received a UK copy of this book from RHCB and was given a US copy at AADPhilly, both copies were given 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, 18 September 2011

Review: CRYPT: The Gallows Curse - Andrew Hammond

Meet Jud Lester: star agent with CRYPT, The Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team.

When a crime is committed and the police are at a loss, CRYPT is called in to figure out whether something paranormal is at work.  Jud is their star agent.

Jud, unwillingly paired with new recruit Bex, has just landed his biggest case yet ... people have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances while others are viciously attacked - yet there are no suspects and a complete lack of hard evidence.  The only thing that links each attack is the fact that survivors all claim that the culprits were 17th century highwaymen.

Can Jud and Bex work out what has caused the spirits of these dangerous men to return to the streets of London before they wreak more death and destruction?

CRYPT Series:
The Gallows Curse
Traitor's Revenge (March 2012)
There are a further 3 books planned in the series but titles and release dates are TBC

Visit Andrew Hammond's page on Goodreads for more information

Review:
CRYPT (The Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team) is a secret agency set up by MI5 and a private benefactor to investigate paranormal crimes that the police are unable to solve.  When a spree of murders start occurring, with witnesses blaming highwaymen and ghosts the police are at a loss and CRYPT is called in to investigate.  It is up to star agent Jud, along with new recruit Bex, to try and discover what is going on.  If there really are ghostly highwaymen on the rampage can they find a way to stop them?

The Gallows Curse is a great start to a new series and one I'm really looking forward to continuing.  The story is without a doubt one of the scariest books I've read all year and I'm surprised I managed to read it without hiding under the bed in terror.  I have to admit I've become quite a wuss in recent years when it comes to horror so the fact that I was so gripped to the pages is a testament to how good the story is!

Jud is a great main character, he has a lot of faults but that just makes him more realistic and the more you learn about his background the easier it is to see why he behaves the way he does.  He has a big secret to keep and it is no wonder he has been traumatised by things that have happened to him.  In trying not to let his secret out he has become cut off from the people who surround him, he finds it hard to trust anyone and the stress has given him quite a temper.  I do think he has quite a bit of growing up to do and I'm looking forward to seeing this happen as the series continues.  It was nice to have a strong female lead character in Bex too, she is smart and brave and I liked the way she dealt with Jud.  My slight complaint would be that I felt their friendship was a little rushed, one minute they hated each other & the next they were very close.  I would have liked to actually see things develop between them but considering all the other things that were going on in the story that is fairly easy to forgive.

I've already mentioned how scary this was, the ghostly attacks were written in great detail and were gory to the extreme.  As the plot proceeds and you start to uncover the reasons behind the attacks I was fascinated by the historical information interwoven into the story - I actually learnt quite a bit while reading.  I also enjoyed discovering all the high tech equipment that the CRYPT agents had access to.  The Gallows Curse is an impressive debut from Andrew Hammond and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes the CRYPT agents next.  This is sure to be a hit with horror fans of all ages and I'm already looking forward to the sequel.

Source: Received from Amazon Vine 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, 17 September 2011

Review: Touched by an Alien - Gini Koch

It was just another day in Arizona - and then the monster showed up . . .

Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt had just finished a day on jury duty.  When she stepped out of the Pueblo Caliente courthouse, all she was thinking about was the work she had to get caught up on.  Then her attention was caught by a fight between a couple - a domestic dispute that looked like it was about to turn ugly.  But ugly didn't even begin to cover it when the "man" suddenly transformed into a huge, winged monster right out of a grade Z science fiction movie and went on a deadly killing spree.  In hindsight, Kitty realised she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing.  Instead she got mad, searched her purse for a weapon, and, armed with a Mont Blanc pen, sprinted into action to take down the alien.

In the middle of all the screeching and the ensuing chaos, a tall handsome hunk of a guy in an Armani suit suddenly appeared beside her, examined the body, introduced himself as Jeff Martini with "the agency," called out to an Armani-clad colleague to perform crowd control, and then insisted on leading her to a nearby limo to talk to his "boss."

And that was how Kitty's new life among the aliens began . . .

Katherine "Kitty" Katt Series:
Touched by an Alien
Alien Tango
Alien in the Family
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
Alien vs. Alien
Alien in the House
Alien Research
Alien Collective
Universal Alien
Alien Separation
Alien in Chief
Camp Alien
Alien Nation
Alien Education
Aliens Abroad (release date to be confirmed)
Aliens Like Us (release date to be confirmed)
Alien Galaxy (release date to be confirmed)
Alien Rescue (release date to be confirmed)
Alien Reckoning (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Gini Koch's website for more information

Review:
Katherine "Kitty" Katt has just finished jury service and is about to head back to work when she gets caught up in a domestic dispute.  When the husband suddenly mutates into a creature from Kitty's worst nightmares and goes on a killing spree she takes action without even thinking and manages to kill the creature using just her pen.  What started as a normal day goes downhill rapidly from there and she soon finds herself whisked away by a group of Armani clad hunks who want her to come and work for their secret organisation.  Kitty soon discovers that there are aliens walking amongst us.  You have the good guys from AC who are all drop dead gorgeous and the bad guys who are parasites that infect humans and turn them into evil superbeings.  The good guys want Kitty on their team but is she brave enough to face the bad guys again?  Does she even have a choice in the matter?

I'd seen a lot of rave reviews for this series and it's one that I've been meaning to start for a long time now but for some reason had never got around to.  The only reason I don't regret waiting is that the next 2 books are already available so I can spend more time in Kitty's world without having to wait!  I'll admit now that I haven't read a lot of science fiction but Touched by an Alien had me hooked from the very first page and I literally couldn't put it down.  Yes, there were a few things that bugged me - an entire race of aliens and they all looked like supermodels and Kitty was a tiny bit too perfect - but I absolutely loved the snarky sense of humor that runs through the story and I can't remember the last time a book make me laugh out loud as much as this one did.

Kitty is a likable heroine, although she is thrown in at the deep end when she discovers that aliens exist she keeps a level head and takes things surprisingly well.  She is smart, witty, speaks her mind and won't let anyone push her around which I appreciate in a main character.  Although she doesn't have superhuman strength she can hold her own and isn't afraid to fight back.  From the moment Jeff Martini walked onto the page he stole the show for me, I absolutely loved him and couldn't wait for more scenes with him and Kitty.  Being from AC of course he is gorgeous but he isn't just a pretty face, although he makes his feelings for Kitty known from very early on it soon becomes clear that he genuinely does care for her. 

Aside from two fabulous main characters we are introduced to a whole host of wonderful side characters who just made me love the book even more.  It was a little confusing trying to keep the different characters straight in my head at first but this is often a problem at the beginning of a series and I soon got to know who was who.  The whole secret organisation reminded me a lot of Men In Black (even Kitty makes a reference to the film so I think it's supposed to) but each member of the team stood out as an individual and I'm looking forward to getting to know them all better.  It was probably Kitty's parents that I loved the most though, they certainly had some surprises up their sleeves for Kitty to uncover!

Touched by an Alien is a hilarious book and if you're looking for something light hearted and fun to read then you can't go far wrong.  Don't be put off by the science fiction label even if that's something you wouldn't normally read - if you like a fun story with snarky banter, melting hot smexy scenes and a fast paced plot then look no further.  I loved Gini Koch's writing style and absolutely can not wait to see where she takes this series next.  If Alien Tango is half as good as this was then Gini Koch will definitely be added to my list of must buy authors.

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.

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