Saturday, 31 March 2012

Review: Forgiven - Jana Oliver

The stakes are high when you bet on your soul . . .

Hell's finest are ruling the streets and it seems that Armageddon might be even closer than Riley Blackthorne imagined.  But with her soul and her heart in play it's all she can do to keep herself alive, let alone save the world. Riley's not afraid of kicking some major demon butt, but when it comes to a battle between Heaven and Hell, she might need a little help . . .

The Demon Trappers Series:
Retro Demonology (Free Short Story)
Forsaken (Released in the US as The Demon Trapper's Daughter)
Forbidden (Released in the US as Soul Thief)
Forgiven
Foretold
Grave Matters (Novella)
Mind Games

Visit Jana Oliver's website for more information

Review:
Poor Riley hasn't had the easiest time of things recently and as both Heaven and Hell seem to have their sights set on her it doesn't look like it's going to get better any time soon. She is struggling to cope with the betrayals of both her ex-boyfriend Simon and Ori who lied to her about everything so she doesn't know who she can trust or where to turn. At least her father is safe with Mort and her best friend Peter is there when she needs him. As she comes under investigation from the Church Hunter's who think she has allied herself with Hell Riley is determined to solve the mystery of the fake Holy water to help prove her innocence. With Armageddon just around the corner can Riley work out just what she needs to do to prevent the end of the world?

If you've read my reviews for Forsaken (US title: The Demon Trapper's Daughter) or Forbidden (US title: Soul Thief) then you'll already know how much I love this series. It's by far one of the best YA paranormal series that I've read so I couldn't wait to get started on Forgiven. Thankfully Jana Oliver didn't disappoint me and this was the best book yet! There is literally so much going on in this series that the books are almost impossible to put down when you've started them. I don't know how I'm going to survive the wait until August for the final book Foretold!

Riley is a fantastic heroine and a character that I love. She isn't perfect and makes mistakes (I think most of us were shouting at the pages telling her not to do what she did with Ori at the end of the second book!) but that just makes her easier to relate to. She has done a lot of growing up since the series began and it's good to see her gaining confidence in her abilities. There are some absolutely heart breaking scenes with Riley and her Dad in this book and they really showed just how far she has come in the last couple of months.

I love the fact that Riley has a strong and supportive friendship with Peter but that there is no hint of a romance between them. I'm sick to death of the best friend who is madly in love with the heroine while she doesn't notice him that way so it's good to find a series that breaks away from that. Riley is currently caught between good and evil owing a favour to both Heaven and Hell but everyone is keeping secrets from her. The more she uncovers the more everything changes from black and white and into shades of grey and the harder it is to decide who really has her best interests at heart. I really don't know if I should be routing for the angels or the demons at this point!

I've said before how much I adore Beck and I'm going to say it again! I can't get enough of his character and love that we get to see part of the story from his point of view. The developments in his relationship with Riley had me jumping for joy - they make such a cute couple and I need to see them end up together. We learn a few shocking things about Beck's past in Forgiven but at the moment we have been left with more questions than answers about what he is hiding. I'm desperate to see how things play out - especially now we've started to see Justine's true colours (I did try to warn you Beck!).

This really is a series that I can't get enough of and one that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for an action packed story with a kick ass heroine, a hero to swoon over and a plot with more twists and turns than a roller coaster. I can't wait to get my hands on Foretold!

Source: Received from Macmillan 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.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Review: Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver

Love, the deadliest of all deadly things.
It kills you when you have it.
And when you don't.

I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Pandemonium is a poignant, explosive, recklessly romantic and utterly heartbreaking novel. Like Delirium, the first in the compelling trilogy, it will take you to the very edge. That's all you need to know. We'll let Lena do the rest of the talking . . .


Delirium Series:
Annabel (Short Story)
Delirium
Hana (Short Story)
Pandemonium
Raven (Short Story)
Requiem

Visit Lauren Oliver's website for more information

Review:
I'm going to assume that if you're reading this review you have already read Delirium - if you haven't then whatever you do don't keep reading because I can't talk about Pandemonium without mentioning a major spoiler for the first book! If you are new to the series then it's one I'd definitely recommend though so make sure you check it out.

OK so now we're down to the people who've read Delirium (last chance to look away if you don't want spoilers!) can I just say how much that cliffhanger ending killed me! It feels like I've been waiting forever to find out what happened to Alex after he was captured. I'm not going to give you any hints about that though so you'll have to read the book for yourself to find out if he survived or not. Now as much as I enjoyed Delirium I did find the first half of the book was a little slow while Lauren Oliver set up the world for us explaining the amor deliria nervosa disease and how people were cured. That wasn't the case with Pandemonium though and the story was action packed from beginning to end.

Throughout the book we are following two separate story threads:
- "Then" which is set just after Lena escaped into the Wilds, she is taken in by a group of Invalids and has to learn to live in a world that's very different to the one she grew up in. Lena has to toughen up, learn hunting and survival skills and we really get to see her grow up as she settles in and starts to make friends.
- "Now" is set several months later, Lena has joined her new friends in the resistance and has infiltrated the DFA (an organisation called Deliria-Free America who are campaigning for the cure to be administered on people who are under 18). It is her job to find out as much as she can about the DFA's plans and report back to the resistance.

I really enjoyed following each story and discovering more about life in the Wilds and the resistance movement. Pandemonium was certainly a page turner and I didn't want to put it down for a minute until I reached the end. As I'm sure anyone who has read Delirium will expect there were some shocking twists and turns as Lena learns who she can and can't trust amongst her new friends. I have to admit I wasn't too keen on the new love interest in Lena's life though. Julian did grow on me as I got to know him but I didn't really feel a connection between him and Lena and he definitely can't compare to Alex (in my books anyway!). Once again Lauren Oliver leaves us with a killer cliffhanger (although I'll confess I spent the whole book keeping my fingers crossed that something like that would happen!) and has left me desperate to get my hands on Requiem. It's going to be another long wait for the next instalment to this series but I'm sure it will be worth it.

Source: Received from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
Forever Reading
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.

News Roundup: Publisher Contests, New Book News, Chip Lit Fest & a Book Trailer

It's time for another round up of some of the bookish news I've come across recently. First up HarperCollins have created a game on Facebook to celebrate the launch of The Rising by Will Hill. Test your powers of observation by watching the video below and then heading to the Department 19 Facebook page to answer questions about it and you could win a spy training day for you and your friends!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Philip Pullman

Did you see the article on The Guardian website confirming that Philip Pullman's next book is going to be an anthology containing his versions of 50 of his favourite Grimm's Fairy Tales? I'm looking forward to seeing his take on the classics like Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel - I love a good fairytale retelling - but I'm even more curious to discover new to me stories like Hans-My-Hedgehog and Godfather Death.  The book will be published in September by Penguin Classics and has been timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the original Grimm's Fairy Tales.

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Have you heard about the Chipping Norton Literary Festival being held from the 20th to the 22nd of April?  It sounds like a great opportunity to meet some fabulous authors! Unfortunately I won't be there but I'd love to hear all about it from anyone that does go. Here is the press release with all the details or you can find out more at the Chip Lit Fest website:

20th – 22nd April 2012
Fifty events throughout Chipping Norton

Hear your favourite author and learn how to become one too.

For aspiring writers, Chipping Norton Literary Festival sets the tone. There are lots of events on getting started, finding your ‘voice’, keeping focused, finding your genre, as well as one-on-one meetings with established authors and other writers.

Come April, Chipping Norton will be in the news again as organisers launch the town’s first literary festival. The event will take place at venues convenient to the centre of Chipping Norton and will include speakers such as Mark Billingham, Joanna Trollope, Colin Dexter, Katie Fforde, and Sir Andrew Motion. In total about fifty literary luminaries will be participating.

For aspiring or developing writers there are a host of useful workshops and panel discussions on topics such as…
  • How to break into freelance writing
  • Life writing
  • Writing historical fiction
  • Author, agent & publishers
  • Bringing your characters to life
  • A rough guide to travel writing
  • Writing humour
  • Writing short stories
  • Crime Writing Workshop
  • How to Get Published – panel discussion
  • Book Groups and the Novel chaired by Sue MacGregor
Events will be held at The Theatre, Jaffé & Neale Bookshop and Café, and the historic Town Hall. Chipping Norton is easily accessible via car or trains to Kingham, Charlbury, and Oxford.

The idea originated via WOW, the West Oxfordshire Writers group. Local to Chipping Norton, they meet twice a month to discuss creative writing, how to get published, and how to go about writing within various genres. Thus the Festival has a host of events which will be of interest to aspiring writers.

And in addition to being known for its array of celebrity residents and now putting itself on the map with the ChipLitFest, as it is known, Chipping Norton itself is a fine example of Georgian market town architecture and a splendid setting for taking in talks as well as the town.

Other Topics and Events include:

Fiction
Emily Barr, Elizabeth Buchan, Julie Cohen, Josceline Dimbleby, Katie Fforde, Louise Harwood, Veronica Henry, Angela Huth, Prue Leith, Jill Mansel, Sir Andrew Motion, Joanna Trollope, Fiona Walker.

Crime/Mystery
Mark Billingham, Helen Black, S.J. Bolton, Colin Dexter, Sophie Hannah, Dan Waddell

History and Biography
Carole Angier, Sally Cline, Mick Conefrey, Robert Hardman, Mark Johnson, Penny Junor, Ian Mathie, Fiona Mountain, John Julius Norwich.

Gardening
Cotswold Gardening – panel discussion with Roddy Llewellyn,
Robin Lane Fox, Andrew Lawson

Humour
Guy Browning, Jasper Fforde, Graeme Garden, John O’Farrell,
Sandra Smith.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan Stroud

Random House Children's Books have announced that they have signed a deal to publish a new supernatural thriller by Jonathan Stroud in 2013.  The book is going to be called Lockwood & Co and will star three young operatives who work for a Psychic Detection Agency fighting an epidemic of ghosts in London.  Sounds fab doesn't it, it's just a shame we have to wait so long to get our hands on it!  Check out Jonathan Stroud's blog for more information.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


If you're a fan of I Am Number Four by Pittacus Law then you'll definitely want to head over to the Facebook fan page on Monday (the 2nd of April). To celebrate the paperback release of The Power of Six on the 12th of April Penguin Books have created a game where using your knowledge of the series could win you some fantastic prizes. The Power of Six Quest won't be up on Facebook until Monday but here is a bit more information about how it works and the prizes that will be available. Good luck to everyone who enters!

We have created a Facebook game called The Power of Six Quest - a game show that draws on your knowledge of the books to help the Loriens fight against the Mogadorians and track down one of the characters in the book, Seven.

Points are collected by speed of which contestants answer questions (there's a countdown clock for added urgency and pressure!), accuracy of answers and how many friends a player recommends to play the game. Prizes are awarded to players who collect the most points.

The amazing prizes Prizes include: 

  • a holiday to Spain for Seven nights!
  • an ipad
  • a kindle
  • special release hardbacks of The Power of Six
  • advance special release hardbacks of Rise of Nine (published in August)
  • DVDs of the film I am Number Four

Game play will be open to all from 2nd April 2012 at our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/IAmNumberFourBook

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

OK well I think that's everything for now so I'm going to leave you with the book trailer for Gemma Malley's new novel The Killables. The book was released in the UK yesterday and sounds fabulous, I'll be reading my copy soon so keep an eye out for my review.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Review: The Rising - Will Hill

91 days til zero hour:

That's 91 days to run
91 days to hide
Or 91 days to pray for Department 19 to save you...

The policeman looked round at the dimly lit road.  On the factory wall opposite, in black paint that had dripped all the way to the tarmac, someone had sprayed two words:

He Rises...

After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula's stolen ashes.

They won't be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering.  Old enemies are getting too close.  And Dracula... is rising.

Department 19 Series:
Department 19
The Rising
Battle Lines
Zero Hour

Visit the Department 19 website for more information

Review:
It's no secret that Department 19 was one of my favourite books of 2011 so I couldn't wait to get my hands on the second book in the series The Rising. Although this was one of my most anticipated novels of the year I couldn't help feeling a little nervous when I picked it up to start reading - what if it didn't live up to my expectations? I'm glad to be able to say that I wasn't disappointed and if Department 19 was a 5 star read (which it was!) then The Rising is a 10 star one! I'm going to assume that anyone reading this review will have already read the first book so please be aware that this will contain spoilers for Department 19 - I will be careful not to give spoilers for The Rising though! If you haven't read the first book yet stop reading this review now and go out and buy it - I can't recommend this series highly enough!

The attack at Lindisfarne at the end of the first book has had huge ongoing consequences for all of the characters we know and love. Jamie may have built quite a reputation for himself amongst his colleagues by killing one of the oldest and strongest vampires in the world but he is devastated by the loss of his friend Frankenstein. He feels guilty that he wasn't able to save him and is also worried about the changes in his mother. Jamie is lucky to have strong bonds with Larissa and Kate though and they have been helping him cope. I love Jamie for how normal he is, despite the fact that he works for a secret organisation hunting down vampires for a living he is just a 17 year old boy and can be quite a moody one at that. His relationship with Larissa is going well but keeping things a secret is adding extra pressure on both of them and Larissa has her own issues to deal with.

I really enjoyed getting to see more of Kate and Matt too. Since Lindisfarne Kate has signed up to be an Operator and is working in a team alongside Jamie and Larissa. The three of them work really well together and it was good to see a friendship between them all that didn't include some kind of love triangle. Matt returned home after recovering from his attack in the first book but found it impossible to settle back into a normal life. He may be Jamie's opposite in a lot of ways but he is a great addition to their team and I can see him having an important role in the future.

All of the characters have some heart wrenching, emotional decisions to make throughout the story and it was good to see how much they have all grown since we first met them. There has been some serious character development but that doesn't mean there is less action though, in fact the plot progresses at breakneck speed and with more twists and turns than a roller coaster! Be prepared for some absolute shockers - I had to pick myself up off the floor a couple of times. The story takes you around the UK and Europe as well as on a road trip across the US as we follow the Department 19 crew and a few new characters. There will be betrayals from people we trust, surprising new allies and a couple of shock appearances as the Department prepares for the rise of Dracula. The countdown has begun but are you prepared for the consequences?

If you loved Department 19 then I guarantee that you'll love The Rising even more. Will Hill has managed to top the first book in every way and the only disappointment is that I don't have book 3 yet! This series is a must for anyone who wants a gruesome, action packed story full of old style terrifying vampires who in most cases will kill you as soon as look at you.

Source: Received from HarperCollins 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.

Launch Party for The Rising by Will Hill - 18th February 2012


Will Hill's debut novel Department 19 was one of my favourite books of 2011 so I was incredibly excited to get my hands on sequel The Rising. It was by far my most anticipated book of 2012 and I can tell you now that it more than lived up to my expectations (I'll be posting my review later today). Anyway, back in February I was lucky enough to be invited to a special fan event at the National Army Museum to celebrate the release of The Rising.

I met up with some other bloggers and managed to have a quick look around part of the museum before the event started. I wish I'd allowed a bit more time to look around though because I've never been there before, I'm going to have to arrange another visit sometime. After a bit of a catch up it was time for the event to start and I have to admit that Caz (from Big Book, Little Book) & I were particularly excited to see the Department 19 Operators complete with their T-Bones! I have to say I really want one of those costumes for the next fancy dress party I go to lol.

Department 19 Operators

The event was hosted by Nick Lake (who is an author himself but also happens to be Will Hill's editor) and there was a Q&A session followed by a reading from The Rising. It was great to see so many younger readers in the audience and they were all obviously excited about their goodie bags with a lovely shiny hardback of The Rising in it - some of them even started reading it at the event!

Nick Lake & Will Hill

I took loads of notes during the Q&A so here are some of the highlights:

  • Department 19 was the biggest selling YA debut novel of 2011 (I'm assuming that this was for the UK but can't confirm that)
  • The main inspiration for the series was Bram Stoker's Dracula. Will first read it when he was about 12 or 13 and didn't really enjoy it but when he read it again at about 17/18 he thought it was amazing. He wanted to know what happened to the characters after the end of the story - how could they go back to a normal life after everything they'd seen?
  • When Will decided to start writing he wanted to write about a very normal young boy who had his life turned upside down through no fault of his own. He decided to combine that with the question about what happened at the end of Dracula and Department 19 was born.
  • When asked about his experience over the last year since Department 19 was published Will said he worked in publishing for 6 years so he knew how things worked from that side of the coin. He said it was totally different when it's your own book though! Once the book was published he didn't feel like it belonged to him anymore, it belongs to the readers. He also mentioned how nerve wracking he found it meeting readers and waiting to find out what they thought of the book.
  • Will talked about his research trip to America to research locations for The Rising. His road trip took him 5 weeks to complete and he travelled over 7,000 miles through the Californian desert, New Orleans and Area 51. Some of his experiences from Area 51 are included in the story and after visiting there he felt it was completely plausible that something strange is going on there. He wasn't able to use all of his research material in the book though and Nick made him take out a lot of the New Orleans sections.
  • When asked about the inspiration for Jamie Will said he wanted to make him as normal as possible. Jamie isn't the most handsome or popular boy and is probably quite similar to Will as a teen. Jamie doesn't realise how much he needs his parents until they aren't there anymore. Will wanted to create a real boy and he feels he has done that with Jamie - even making him a bit of a brat at times!
  • Talking about the research he did for the series Will said he wanted everything in Department 19 to be as realistic as possible so although the T-Bone doesn't exist it would be technically possible to create one. He did a lot of research into pneumatic bolt guns, helicopters, weapons and the military before starting to write the series. He also spent an hour learning gun safety from a very scary ex Marine when he was living in LA.
  • One of the kids in the audience had a fantastic question about whether Will prefers writing the emotional or gory parts of the story. Will confirmed that there is a lot of gore in The Rising (I can definitely vouch for that!) and said that he loves writing the action scenes. He finds the emotional scenes harder to write but the most satisfying when he gets them right. One of the hardest scenes to write in Department 19 was chapter 3 where Jamie has a big argument with his Mum just before she is kidnapped.
Caz & me with the D19 Operators

After the Q&A had finished it was time to get our books signed. Caz and I may have been among the few adults who queued up with the kids to have our pictures taken with the D19 Operators (we're just big kids really!!). We had a fab time and Caz even got to hold a T-Bone!!




After getting a little too excitable with the D19 Operators it was time to get our books signed & head home. I had a fantastic time at the event and would like to say a massive thanks to everyone at HarperCollins for inviting me!

They had a film crew there on the day so here is a video with some footage from the event:


Who was there:
Rosi & Nick - HarperCollins
Leanne - District YA
Liz & Mark - My Favourite Books

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review: Lover Avenged - J.R. Ward

As the vampire warriors of the Black Dagger Brotherhood defend their race from their slayers, one male's loyalty to the Brotherhood is about to be tested - and his dangerous mixed blood revealed.

Caldwell, New York, has long been the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It's also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and owner of a notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he's approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood.

However, Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood. He's a sympath and the revelation of his deadly secret will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world: Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has it's hold on him - and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

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:
After the disappointment of Lover Enshrined I have put off reading Lover Avenged for a long time. I don't think it helped that Rehvenge is a character I've never been particularly keen on throughout the rest of the series. As a half vampire and half sympath Rehvenge is a sociopath, he is also a crime lord, murderer, pimp and a drug dealer - as much as I like a bad boy I do have my limits! We have seen a nicer side to Rehvenge in the way he cares for his mother and his sister Bella but I wasn't convinced that he was hero material. Still if anyone could convince me otherwise it would have been J.R. Ward so I finally decided it was time to give Lover Avenged a try.

I have to admit I ended up liking Rehv more than I expected to but considering this was his story I still don't feel like I actually know him that well. In the earlier BDB books the main focus was the romance, yes there was an ongoing background story with the war between the brotherhood and the lessers and we always got to spend time with the other brothers to build the excitement for when it was their turn, but the majority of the books were spent getting to know the two main characters. That always let us really get to know our heroes and heroines and meant that the romance was so much more believable, I felt invested in the outcome of their relationships and enjoyed spending time with them. For me the parts of the story that I liked less was where you are seeing things from the lesser's point of view so I'm disappointed that the series seems to be changing the focus away from the romance and onto everything else. Lover Avenged spends so much time on other story lines that I didn't really care about Ehlena and Rehv. I'd read nearly 300 pages and realised that we'd only seen them together once and they'd had a total of two phone conversations. I actually liked them when they were together but there was nowhere near enough considering it was their story.

We spent far more time with Wrath and Beth, John Matthew and Xhex and even with Torhment than we did with Ehlena and Rehv. I enjoyed catching up with Wrath (my heart broke for him and some of the latest developments!) although I was disappointed with the way he had pulled away from Beth but luckily she was able to kick some sense into him. It was also great to see Torhment start to pull himself together after his devastating loss. We spent so much time with JM and Xhex that it makes me nervous that they might not even make an appearance in their own book judging by the way the series is going! There was also far too much time spent with Lash for my liking.

So, although I liked Rehv more than I expected to and the chemistry between him and Ehlena is undeniably hot I still felt like their relationship was missing something. I also felt that Rehv's sympath side wasn't explored as much as it could have been, I wanted to know more about his heritage and the sympath side of his family. I felt that the resolution with his blackmailer was all dealt with a bit to quickly and easily and I don't think Ehlena would have been so fast to accept the fact that Rehv was a drug dealer and crime lord. Lover Avenged was an improvement on Lover Enshrined but for me it still didn't reach the heights of the earlier books in the series. I am still looking forward to picking up Lover Mine but I think I need to accept that this series is no longer going to be the paranormal romance series it once was and learn to enjoy it more for the ongoing threads surrounding the brotherhood.

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.

Review: The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide - J.R. Ward

Prepare to enter the dark, passionate world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and get up close and personal with each of the Brothers...

You'll find insider information on the Brotherhood, including their dossiers, stats, and special gifts. You'll read interviews with your favourite characters, including a heartbreaking conversation with Tohrment and Wellsie, conducted in the weeks before she was killed by lessers. You'll discover deleted scenes - accompanied by the whys behind the cuts - in addition to exciting material from J.R. Ward message boards and the answers to questions about the series posed by readers. You'll learn what it's like for J.R. Ward to write each instalment of the series, and in a fascinating twist, you'll read an interview with the author - conducted by the brothers. For the first time ever, you'll see an original novella about Zsadist and Bella, and witness the miracle of their daughter Nalla's birth and experience the depth of their love for each other. Also, you'll receive a sneak peek at the much-anticipated next book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Avenged, Rehvenge's story.

This is a compendium no Black Dagger Brotherhood fan should miss ... an insider's guide that will seduce you as powerfully as the sexy band of Brothers and the "ferociously popular" world in which they live.

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:
The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide is a great addition to the series and one I'd highly recommend to BDB fans. It does contain spoilers for the earlier books in the series though so make sure you've read at least as far as Lover Enshrined (book 6) before you pick this one up. The guide includes character interviews, statistics about all of your favourite brothers, deleted scenes and slices of life along with writing advice for aspiring authors. I have to admit I skimmed through the writing advice because it was of no interest to me so I can't comment on how helpful it would be for writers but the book is well worth buying for the other content.

I would have happily paid the price of this book just for the novella featuring Zsadist and Bella as they try to adjust to life with newborn Nalla. Zsadist is by far my favourite brother so as far as I'm concerned I can never have too much of his story and Father Mine is a wonderful extra for fans. Bella and Zsadist didn't have much time to bond as a couple before Nalla was born and the pressures of having a newborn is driving a wedge between them. Zsadist worries about the effects his past will have on Nalla in the future and it is making it hard for him to bond with his daughter. The novella was an incredibly emotional read as Zsadist takes another step towards accepting himself and coming to realise that he isn't to blame for the things that happened to him.

I also loved the character interviews and statistics that we get for Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Butch, Vishous and Phury. It reminded me of all the things I loved about each of the warrior's stories and has made me want to re-read the whole series again from the beginning. A lot of the interviews were laugh out loud funny and I really enjoyed the slices of life where you get to see everyone hanging out at the mansion. I know that some of the information included in the book has already been published on J.R. Ward's website but personally I like having it all in one place and easy to access. This is a book that it is easy to dip in and out of and I really hope that J.R. Ward writes something similar for the heroes of the later books in the series.

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review: Kiss of the Vampire - Cynthia Garner

Warriors of the Rift

Once a generation, the rift between the paranormal world and the human world opens, allowing supernatural entities to cross. Vampire, demon, or shapeshifter, they can save the world-or send it spiralling into chaos.

Half-demon, half-human, Nix de la Fuente is accepted by neither and mistrusted by both. Determined to prove she's more human than not, she devotes herself to solving crimes between the world's mortals and its most unsavoury undead. But her latest case brings her face to face with the one vampire she could never resist . . .

Called in to investigate a string of violent murders, special agent Tobias Caine isn't interested in rekindling his relationship with Nix. Yet one look and the vampire knows his need for her is as strong as ever. Once, their all-consuming passion nearly cost Nix her fragile hold on her humanity. Now, as their hunger for one another intensifies, exposing them to an unimaginable danger, it could cost them both their lives.


Warriors of the Rift Series:
Kiss of the Vampire
Secret of the Wolf
Heart of the Demon (2013)

Visit Cynthia Garner's website for more information

Review:
Once every 73 years a rift between dimensions opens allowing incorporeal beings to get to earth. These beings are unable to survive unless they take over the body of a human host - usually a body that is either dead or dying - and when they merge with their new body they change into either a vampire, demon or shapeshifter. Most of the beings who come through the rift are criminals but Tobias was a law enforcement officer and he followed an escaped prisoner to earth to carry out the punishment he was sentenced to. For over 200 years Tobias has searched for his enemy but he still hasn't been able to take him down.

Nix is half human and half demon, and she constantly has to work at keeping her demon side under control. She is on the edge of both the human and preternatural worlds, not quite belonging in either and not accepted by either group. She works as a liaison between the human police and the preternatural council helping to solve crimes. Five years ago Tobias was the love of Nix's life but then he broke her heart by leaving her. Now they are forced to work together to investigate a murder and the attraction is back in full force but Nix isn't prepared to risk her heart for a second time and Tobias still thinks he is a bad influence on her that brings her demon side to the surface.

I love both paranormal romance and urban fantasy so I was looking forward to starting Cynthia Garner's new series which looked like it straddled the lines between the two genres. I found her idea of a gateway between two different dimensions really interesting but I wanted to know more about where the incorporeal beings came from and quite how they ended up mixing with humans to create such a variety of different supernatural creatures. In some ways I felt it would have been more realistic (in as far as any book with vampires and shapeshifters in it can ever be realistic!) if there was only one type of supernatural being rather than so many different varieties though. Still, the whole idea was an interesting one and I'm sure we will learn more about how it all works as the series continues, it can be a fine line between overwhelming you with information in the first book and not giving you enough and I find a lot of authors end up going one way or the other.

I enjoyed the romance between Tobias and Nix but I have to admit that neither of these characters particularly stood out for me as particularly memorable. Although I understood why Tobias felt he had to leave Nix I don't like the way he went about it, he must have known how little support she had from anyone else and how much she had come to rely on him so it was particularly cruel and heartless to dump her like she'd never meant anything to him. Then he comes back on the scene and pretty much expects her to pick up where things left off but with no commitment which was completely unrealistic. I actually liked Nix's human colleague Dante much more and spent the early part of the book hoping Nix would kick Tobias to the kerb and go out with Dante instead. Tobias did win me over in the end but I was disappointed with the ending which felt a little rushed.

Overall I have really mixed feelings about Kiss of the Vampire. It wasn't the best start to a series that I've ever read but it was far from the worst too. I'm curious enough about the world to want to read more and finding out that Dante is the hero of Secret of the Wolf is enough to make me pick up the next book. Hopefully the series will just get stronger with each instalment.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley 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.

CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for 2012


Last year I posted about the long list for the 2012 Carnegie Medal (read my post here). I had planned on making a concerted effort to read more of the books on the long list before the shortlist was announced but I have to admit I kind of failed at that. Anyway, today the press release for the 2012 Shortlist has been released so I thought I'd share the list with you here.

CILIP Carnegie shortlist 2012:

David Almond
MY NAME IS MINA
Hodder (9+)
ISBN: 9780340997253

Lissa Evans
SMALL CHANGE FOR STUART
Doubleday (8+)
ISBN: 9780385618007

Sonya Hartnett
THE MIDNIGHT ZOO
Walker (9+)
ISBN: 9781406331493

Ali Lewis
EVERYBODY JAM
Andersen (12+)
ISBN: 9781849392488

Andy Mulligan
TRASH
David Fickling (12+)
ISBN: 9780385619011

Patrick Ness
A MONSTER CALLS
Walker (9+)
ISBN: 9781406311525

Annabel Pitcher
MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE
Orion (10+)
ISBN: 9781444001839

Ruta Septys
BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY
Puffin (12+)
ISBN: 9780141335889

I've only read 3 of the 8 books on the shortlist but they were all fantastic books and would be worthy winners. I've seen great reviews for all of the other books too though so really must try to read them.

Since I don't read or review books for younger children I haven't included the shortlist for the Kate Greenaway medal in this post.  If you are interested in seeing the list you can find it here.

What do you think of the shortlist? Have you read any of these books? Which one would you pick as the winner if you had to make a choice? I'm pleased to see that Ruta Septys' Between Shades of Grey made the shortlist as that was the book I'd tipped as winner from the long list (based on the books I'd read)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Review: Bleeding Hearts - Alyxandra Harvey

It's not easy being the new girl in town, and Christabel Llewellyn is certainly that.  She's new to Violet Hill, new to country life, and new to vampires.  Which, considering she's Lucy Hamilton's cousin, is going to prove problematic . . . Lucy's boyfriend is one of the Drake brothers, her best friend is a Drake princess, and all of the Drakes are vampires.

But they aren't the only undead to reside in Violet Hill.  The town is infested with a very different and entirely more dangerous type of feral vampire, the Hel-Blar.  And when Christabel is kidnapped by their leader and held to ransom, the Drakes are forced into action.

The Drake Chronicles:
Corsets and Crossbows (Novella)
Lost Girls (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Moon)
My Love Lies Bleeding (released in the US with the title Hearts at Stake)
Blood Feud
Out for Blood
A Killer First Date (Novella)
Bleeding Hearts
A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton (Novella)
Blood Moon
Sound and Fury (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Prophecy)
Blood Prophecy
A Tithe of Blood and Ashes (Novella)
The Longest Night (Novella)

Visit Alyxandra Harvey's website for more information

Review:
Christabel has moved to Violet Hill while her Mum is in rehab and is staying with her cousin Lucy.  She is used to city life and can't understand why her aunt and uncle are so obsessed with curfews and not letting the girls out after dark - surely life in a small hippie community can't be that dangerous? Of course Christabel has no idea about the Hel-Blar vampires that are currently causing havoc in the area, she doesn't even know vampires exist. Lucy is working hard to keep the Drake family's secrets but when Christabel is kidnapped she gets thrown into the vampire world at the deep end. The question is can the Drakes save Christabel from the Hel-Blar who have taken her?

This really is turning into one of my favourite YA vampire series, each book is so much fun to read and they always make me laugh out loud.  Add in the gorgeous Drake brothers and I'm completely hooked! Bleeding Hearts is the fourth book in the series so this review may contain minor spoilers for earlier books. If you're new to the series then I'd strongly recommend starting with the first book My Love Lies Bleeding (or Hearts at Stake if you're in the US) but it's a series you definitely want to be reading. Whether you're a vampire fan or not if you like fun stories with strong characters and a great sense of humour you'll love this series.

Each time I pick up one of these books I change my mind about which brother is my favourite and this was no exception - after all who doesn't love a geeky guy like Connor? Let's face it as a book blogger I'm a bit of a geek myself so Connor definitely did it for me. Connor is used to having people underestimate him because of his geeky status but he is much stronger than they realise "People always assumed I was weak and socially awkward because I liked comics and computers. I used it against them all the time." He may not be a ladies man like his twin brother Quinn but that's more because he hasn't found a girl he is interested in than because the girls aren't interested in him. Connor has the Drake brother good looks, he's charming in an understated way and he has the fighting skills he needs to protect those he cares about.

Christabel is even more book obsessed than I am which is saying something. She spends her whole life with her head buried in one of the classics or quoting poetry that she has memorised and I think any book crazy girl will be able to relate to her. I loved the way she stood up for herself against the school bully (you can tell she's related to Lucy!) but I also liked the fact that she wasn't quite as kick ass as the other heroines from this series. She hasn't grown up in a world of vampires learning to defend herself so it would have been unrealistic if she'd taken to using stakes too quickly. That doesn't mean she sits around waiting to be saved, she does her best but doesn't instantly become a perfect fighter.

I have to admit what I loved most about the story was that we get to read some of it from Lucy's point of view again. She has been my favourite character since the first book and it was great that she had a bigger part to play in this book. Spending more time with her and Nicholas reminded me just how great a couple they are and it was also good to see more of Hunter and the Helios-Ra. While I enjoyed the romance between Connor and Christabel it was the action that had me on the edge of my seat. There were times I was genuinely concerned for the safety of more than one of the characters and I'm not going to confirm if they all make it to the end of the book or not - you'll have to read it for yourself to find out! I will say that the story ends on a killer cliffhanger though and I'm desperate to get my hands on Blood Moon - luckily it is published in the UK in June so there isn't too much longer to wait!

Source: Received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Review: Out for Blood - Alyxandra Harvey

"Tell me about the Drake brothers.  Are they as yummy as everyone says?"
"Totally."  I didn't even have to think about that one.  "It was like being in a room full of Johnny Depps."

Hunter Wild, vampire hunter and star pupil at a top secret slayer academy, has a crush on a guy called Quinn.  He's tall, dark and very handsome.  He's also a vampire, and one of the infamous Drake brothers at that.

As if forbidden love wasn't bad enough, something strange is also happening at the Helios-Ra academy. Vampire attacks are increasing, students are mysteriously falling ill and the teachers seem completely clueless.  It's up to Hunter and her friends to put things right . . . that is, if she can get a certain immortal out of her head long enough to think about anything else.

The Drake Chronicles:
Corsets and Crossbows (Novella)
Lost Girls (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Moon)
My Love Lies Bleeding (released in the US with the title Hearts at Stake)
Blood Feud
Out for Blood
A Killer First Date (Novella)
Bleeding Hearts
A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton (Novella)
Blood Moon
Sound and Fury (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Prophecy)
Blood Prophecy
A Tithe of Blood and Ashes (Novella)
The Longest Night (Novella)

Visit Alyxandra Harvey's website for more information

Review:
Hunter comes from a long line of vampire hunters and is one of the star pupils at the Helios-Ra Academy.  Her friendship with Kieran has recently brought her into contact with the Drake family and for the first time she is questioning the Helios-Ra ethos that all vampires are evil and should be destroyed.  Back at the Academy students are suffering from a mysterious illness and Hel-Blar attacks are on the increase.  Hunter is convinced there is something suspicious going on but who can she trust to help her get to the truth?  If she can't trust the other hunters can she really trust a vampire to help her get to the bottom of things?  Does she have any other choice?

It's no secret that I really enjoyed the first two books in the Drake Chronicles series so I couldn't wait to pick up Out for Blood.  This series really does get better with every book as Alyxandra Harvey continually steps things up a gear.  If you're new to the series then I'd highly recommend reading the books in order starting with My Love Lies Bleeding (or Hearts at Stake as it is called in the US) so you don't miss out on the ongoing plot threads.  This is a fabulous series though and one I'd definitely recommend reading!

What can I say about Out for Blood apart from move over Logan and Nicholas I have a new favourite Drake brother in Quinn!  I have to confess I didn't think I'd fall for Quinn as hard as I did, he's a bit of a ladies man and a player which isn't something I would usually go for in a guy but you can easily see why Quinn is such a hit with the girls because there is definitely something irresistible about him.  I loved seeing the tables turned on him, he is used to having girls fall at his feet not falling himself so it was fun to see his reaction to Hunter and his new found feelings.  Hunter was one of my favourite heroines in the series, she is a kick butt warrior who can protect herself and her friends and I love how she stands up to Quinn.  It was also fantastic to learn more about the Helios-Ra from an insider's point of view and I hope we get to see more of her friends from the Academy.

The banter is one of the best things about this series - the banter between each couple but particularly between the Drake family and each of the brothers.  You can feel the love this family has for each other and I really enjoy reading about a happy, supportive family for a change.  It's great that although the focus is on Hunter and Drake we still get to see how the previous couples are getting on.  Lucy still steals the show for every scene she appears in though, I can't get enough of her and Nicholas and she never fails to make me laugh out loud!  As usual for this series there is also plenty of action and a plot that will keep you turning the pages as quickly as possible.  If you're a fan of the series and haven't read this instalment yet what are you waiting for?  Go out and grab your copy now!

Source: Received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: Oliver Twisted - JD Sharpe (and Charles Dickens)

If you think you know Oliver Twist, think again

"FLESH" the woe-begotten moaned at Oliver, baring teeth which were ragged and black.

"FLESH" came another moan, and he turned to see two more behind. They began to shuffle towards him barefoot - toes blue from cold, arms outstretched.

The world according to Oliver Twisted is simple. Vampyres feed on the defenceless, orphans are sacrificed to hungry gods and if a woe-begotten catches your scent it will hunt you forever.

When a talking corpse reveals that Oliver will find his destiny in London, he sets out to seek the truth. Even if it means losing his soul . . .

Visit JD Sharpe's website for more information

Review:
Oliver Twisted introduces us to an Oliver not quite like any we've seen before. He's still an orphan growing up in an orphanage but this is a world where vampyres snack on the children! After making the decision to go to London Oliver barely survives a woe-begotten (zombie) attack on the journey, it is only thanks to the help of Dodger that he arrives in one piece. But that is just the start of his troubles and if you thought the Bill Sykes and Fagin you've read about before were evil you haven't seen anything yet - Oliver Twisted is even darker than the original tale!

You think you know Oliver's story but JD Sharpe has managed to include some fabulous twists in the characters we love (or in some cases love to hate!). So while she has managed to keep the essence of the story she has also managed to make it her own and put a fresh spin on a much loved tale.

Oliver Twisted is a great debut and one that I'm sure will appeal to both boys and girls. It is a very dark and gory read so not one I would have wanted to read just before bed (but then I'm a well known wuss when it comes to horror!) but I found myself enjoying the gruesome details much more than I expected to. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who likes seeing a new twist on classic stories, especially if they also happen to be a horror fan. I'm looking forward to seeing what JD Sharpe comes up with next.

Source: Received from Egmont in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
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Event Report: Book of Wonders & Oliver Twisted Launch Party


Back in February I got to go to the book launch for The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards and Oliver Twisted by JD Sharpe. In case you're wondering Jasmine and JD aren't two different people - they are just two different hats worn by author Jasmine! I first met Jasmine last year when she was wearing yet another persona - that time as an editor for OUP (Oxford University Press) where she introduced us to both Joss Stirling and Dave Cousins (read all about that event here). At the time she had mentioned that her middle grade debut novel The Book of Wonders was being published in the US in January so obviously that book has been on my wish list ever since. She'd managed to keep the release of her debut YA novel Oliver Twisted (published in the UK by Egmont in February) a secret though. It wasn't until a couple of days before the event that Kirsty (from The Overflowing Library) told me that both books were written by Jasmine - I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes!

Anyway, I had already read and enjoyed Oliver Twisted but hadn't been able to get hold of a copy of The Book of Wonders (it was constantly out of stock on Amazon and The Book Depository) but I was looking forward to the event and getting to chat with Jasmine again. Luckily Daunt Books had ordered in a stash of both books so I was able to snag a copy of The Book of Wonders and get both books signed on the night.

Jasmine Richards / JD Sharpe
(Check out her super cool skull and crossbones dress - I really should have asked her where she got it because I want one!)

It was a lovely event and it also happened to be Jasmine's birthday so we got to help her celebrate which was nice. She read a section from both books, although she had to change the Oliver Twisted reading because there were some very young people in the audience and it's a very gory book!

Along with chatting to Jasmine I got to catch up with a few other bloggers which is always good and we were able to do a bit of star spotting of other authors in the crowds.  If I'd known who would be there I could have taken quite a few extra books for signing! We managed to have a quick chat with Dave Cousins, Sarwat Chadda and Jon Mayhew but I also spotted Michelle Harrison in the room and I'm sure there were others that I missed.

Jasmine signing my books

We had a great time at the event so I'd like to say a massive thanks to Jasmine for inviting us and a massive congratulations on the publication of her two debut novels!

Here is a bit more information about both of the books:

If you think you know Oliver Twist, think again

"FLESH" the woe-begotten moaned at Oliver, baring teeth which were ragged and black.

"FLESH" came another moan, and he turned to see two more behind. They began to shuffle towards him barefoot - toes blue from cold, arms outstretched.

The world according to Oliver Twisted is simple. Vampyres feed on the defenceless, orphans are sacrificed to hungry gods and if a woe-begotten catches your scent it will hunt you forever.

When a talking corpse reveals that Oliver will find his destiny in London, he sets out to seek the truth. Even if it means losing his soul . . .

I will be posting my review of Oliver Twisted later today.

Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all.

When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all.

I haven't had time to read The Book of Wonders yet but I'll get my review posted as soon as possible - in the meantime you can check out the book trailer below:



Who was there:
Jasmine Richards - Website
JD Sharpe - Website
Dave Cousins - Website
Jon Mayhew - Website
Michelle Harrison - Website
Sarwat Chadda - Website

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Review: Grave Dance - Kalayna Price

'Memories hid in every cell of the body.  Memories that my grave magic could unlock and give shape as a shade. Of course, that depended on having enough of the body at my disposal for my magic to fill in the gaps.'

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, Grave Witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of FIB agent Falin Andrews and Death's shocking 'L'-word confession, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be more of a challenge than she was expecting.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in a nature preserve. The strange part? There are no bodies, just fragments of them.  With a probable serial killer on the loose and no way to raise a shade without a body, Alex will have to rely solely on her ability to sense the grave to lead her to the dead. But with the strain of overusing her magic, this might be the last case Alex ever solves . . . 

Alex Craft Series:
Grave Witch
Grave Dance
Grave Memory
Grave Visions (2013)

Visit Kalayna Price's website for more information

Review:
Alex uses her grave magic to raise shades from dead bodies, these shades have all of the memories that the person had and she is often asked to use her ability to help the police solve murders. When the police contact her they usually have the whole body though. This time all they have is a mysterious pile of left feet and no idea how the people they belonged to were killed. Alex agrees to help but how can she solve the murders when they don't even know who the victims are?

I really enjoyed Grave Witch, the first book in Kalayna Price's Alex Craft series so had high hopes for Grave Dance and picked it up immediately after finishing the first book. I wasn't disappointed and if anything this book was even more action packed than the last. It definitely had me turning the pages and I was annoyed when anything interrupted my reading time - after all who needs sleep when there's a good book to be read?

In Grave Witch we are introduced to two very different potential love interests and while I didn't think I'd enjoy another triangle the author managed to convince me otherwise and I found it impossible to choose between Falin and Death. Although I'm enjoying the triangle I was a little nervous that it might start to take over the majority of the story line so I was pleased to see that didn't happen. This book focuses much more on the investigation into the random body parts that the police keep finding. It also lets us discover much more about Alex's abilities as a grave witch and her family history. We learn a lot more about the Fae realms and the Winter Queen's Court and I'm very curious to see where the series takes us next. The story steams along at a great pace and had plenty of twists and unexpected surprises to keep me guessing at the outcome.

To go back to the triangle I'm pretty sure I've decided - Team Death! Although we still don't know as much about Death as I'd like we do know more than enough to pique my interest. He may be a mystery man but I feel like he is being as honest as he can be with Alex and I can't say the same for Falin. When Death keeps quiet about something I feel like he has a good reason to but with Falin it comes across like he has something to hide. I like Falin but at the moment I don't trust him to have Alex's best interests at heart. I may be proved wrong in the future but either way I'm looking forward to seeing more of all 3 characters.

Grave Dance is another great instalment to what is shaping up to be a fabulous new urban fantasy series and it's one I'm looking forward to continuing. If you're looking for a story full of magic and mayhem with a strong heroine who can kick ass but who has to pay a price for using her powers then this will be right up your street and it's a series that I'm very happy to recommend.

Source: Received from Berkley UK in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
Between Dreams and Reality
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, 23 March 2012

Review: Hollow Pike - James Dawson

A killer is out there, and the birds see everything...

Lis London is hoping for a fresh start when she arrives in the sleepy village of Hollow Pike.

But nothing here is as it seems... and a killer stalks the night.

Something wicked this way comes...

She thought she'd be safe in the country, but you can't escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her.

Lis thinks she's being paranoid - after all who would want to murder her? She doesn't believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn't believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you?

Not until you're alone in the woods, after dark - and a twig snaps...

Visit James Dawson's website for more information

Review:
Lis has moved to live with her sister Sarah to get away from the bullies who were making her life a misery.  All she wants is a fresh start somewhere that she will be accepted for who she is and where she won't be tormented daily.  When she is befriended by the popular crowd on her first day it looks like she has found what she always dreamt of but the more she gets to know Laura and her crowd of groupies the less she likes what she sees.  Is is really worth being part of Laura's gang if it is at the expense of others?  Getting to know the school outcasts Kitty, Delilah and Jack she starts to question everything.  Then after a prank goes wrong and Laura's body is discovered in the woods Lis finds herself in more danger than she could ever have imagined.

I have been waiting to get my hands on Hollow Pike since the cover was revealed at the Orion Indigo event last year - it was one of my most anticipated novels of 2012!  I fell in love with the cover but it was James Dawson's atmospheric writing that really pulled me into the story and kept me turning the pages.

The story is actually less about the supernatural than I expected it to be but that isn't a negative - it just surprised me.  The focus is more on the effects of bullying which is such an important subject and made for a really interesting story.  As someone who suffered from constant teasing throughout school this is the kind of book I wish I'd had access to as a teen.  Even as an adult I connected with Lis, I was reminded of just how I felt at school and I had the satisfaction of seeing Lis stand up for herself in a way I only wish I could have done myself!  If you know a teen who is suffering from bullying you should buy them this book immediately.  In fact I think you should buy it for any teen as it will hopefully make them think about their actions before they become a bully themselves.  I really enjoyed watching Lis trying to find a place for herself in her new school, she slowly starts to realise that in order to be happy you have to be true to yourself no matter what anyone else thinks of you.

Alongside the themes of bullying you also have a creepy and chilling murder mystery to solve.  The descriptions of the woods, the mysterious birds that seem to be following Lis and the nightmares that are haunting her all created a spooky feel to the story that had me on the edge of my seat.  Hollow Pike is a great debut and I'm looking forward to seeing what James Dawson comes up with next.

Source: Received from Orion Indigo in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: Eternal Hunger - Laura Wright

Alexander Roman wants nothing to do with the controlling rulers of his vampire breed or the family he escaped from a hundred years ago.  But as a new threat to the pureblood vampires emerges, Alexander's ties to the past are forced upon him again, and without warning, he finds himself - disoriented, terrified, and near death - at the door of a stranger.

Fear is in the Blood.
Dr Sara Donohue is dedicated to removing the traumatic memories of her patients - like those of the stranger at her front door.  But what he tells her of his past is too astonishing to believe.  Yet she has seen his flesh scarred by the sun and witnessed his inhuman strength.  And never before has she felt so connected to a man....


Love is eternal....
But as their worlds collide, Sara and Alexander are bound by something stronger, as one becomes hunter and the other prey....


Mark of the Vampire Series:
Eternal Hunger
Eternal Kiss
Eternal Blood (Novella)
Eternal Captive
Eternal Beast (August 2012)
Eternal Demon (2013)

Visit Laura Wright's website for more information

Review:
Alexander and his brothers Nicholas and Lucian escaped from the world of The Order and the pureblood vampires after years of abuse and have no intention of ever being drawn back into that society again.  Alexander has gone through his change 100 years early and is finding it hard to control his blood hunger, he also has an irresistible instinct to search for his true mate.  When he discovers that his change was brought on deliberately by The Order he is told that unless he agrees to help them his brothers will be changed too.  Helping The Order is the last thing he wants to do but he wants to protect his brothers and has no other choice.

Sara became a doctor because she is desperate to heal her brother Gray who was physically and emotionally scarred by a fire when they were children.  Sara accidentally caused the fire and has felt guilty ever since, the only way to redeem herself is to heal Gray.  Discovering an injured man on her doorstep her first instinct is to turn him away but she can't leave him to suffer and ends up offering him shelter.  When she is attacked by one of her patients the mystery man saves her and she is drawn into the dark and dangerous world of the vampires.

Paranormal romance is one of my favourite genres so I'm always looking for another new series to get hooked on and I was excited to read Eternal Hunger.  Although there were some similarities to the BDB and Midnight Breed series I felt that the story was different enough to hold my interest, I liked both of the main characters and I'm curious to see more of Alexander's brothers (Lucian in particular because I loved his snarky attitude!).  However there were a couple of things that stopped me enjoying the story as much as I could have.

The first problem was the number of new words we were introduced to and the lack of a glossary to explain them all.  There is always going to be a certain amount of confusion when it comes to the first book in a series, this is something I understand and don't necessarily have a problem with but note to authors - if you are using a lot of made up words to describe your world please, please include a glossary to make it easy for those of us with a poor memory!  I lost count of the number of times I had to stop reading and flick back through previous chapters trying to find a word meaning and that just took away from my enjoyment of the story.  I'm confident that this won't be as much as an issue when I'm more familiar with the world though so it hasn't put me off reading future books.

My second main problem was the excessive use of the "C" word.  Now this may not be a big problem for some people but if there is one word I can't stand it is that one (and the majority of my friends are the same so I know it isn't an uncommon feeling amongst women in particular).  I'm quite good at ignoring the word if it crops up once or twice in a whole book but when it crops up at least twice (and sometimes as many as four times) per smexy scene I don't find it a turn on -  in fact it has quite the opposite effect and left me feeling cold about all of Alexander and Sara's encounters.  If you'd taken out that word I'd have had a very different opinion because Laura Wright knows how to write a good smut scene.  I'm aware that this won't bother everyone but it is one of those things that is likely to be a deal breaker for me and if it continues in the next book I doubt I'll continue with the series beyond that.

So, now I've got the negatives off my chest I want to finish my review by talking about the more positive aspects of the story.  I've already mentioned that I liked both of the main characters, Alexander was that kind of growly

Although I had some problems with Eternal Hunger the story was interesting enough to make me keep reading and I do want to find out more about the world Laura Wright has created.  I definitely want to spend more time with the Roman brothers so will be picking up Eternal Kiss soon.  I think the series has a lot of potential and hopefully the next book will fully live up to that.

Source: Won in a Twitter giveaway hosted by the author

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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