Monday, 30 April 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa

This is not your average vampire story, and these are not your average vampires. A rabid virus has killed off 6 billion humans, leaving a shell of a world, with the remains of the human population serving as blood cattle to the Vampire Prince and his followers. This is a world where vampires rule...

Allie Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them - the vampires who killed her mother and instill fear in the repressed population.

But after a disastrous food expedition, Allie is forced to make the decision she hoped she'd never have to face - die, or become one of them. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most - a vampire. To survive, she must work with her vampire creator and learn the rules of the immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

When Allie is separated from her creator, she flees into the unknown, to the world beyond the wall of her vampire city. There she joins a ragged band of humans who don't know what she is. These humans seek a legend, a cure to the Red Lung virus that decimated the population and created the rabids, the mindless creatures responsible for spreading the infection. But does such a cure exist? And can Allie prevent her vampire urges from destroying her new found family?

Blood of Eden series:
Dawn of Eden (Novella in the 'Til the World Ends anthology)
The Immortal Rules
The Eternity Cure
The Forever Song

Visit Julie Kagawa's website for more information.

Review:
Allie lives in a brutal futuristic world where a virus has wiped out the majority of the human population. The lack of humans to feed from caused vampires to come out of hiding and they have now taken control of the cities treating the remaining people as little more than cattle. People who are registered have to provide blood to the vampires and in exchange they are given a small amount of food to eat. Those who refuse to register live on the edges of society forced to steal and forage for food to survive but unable to leave the city for fear of the rabids (zombie like creatures) who are outside the city walls.

Allie hates the vampires and everything they stand for, she dreams of the humans rising up and fighting against them one day. Her life on the fringe of society is difficult but she has a crew who she lives with and they all help each other to survive. Then one day something terrible happens, an attack by the rabids leaves Allie with two choices - death or being turned into the thing she hates most. Although she hates the idea of becoming a vampire deep down Allie is a survivor so she takes the only option available to her. Forced to leave her home Allie is at the beginning of a difficult journey, she meets up with a group of humans who are searching for sanctuary but if they discover what she is they will never accept her.

The Immortal Rules is a fantastic start to Julie Kagawa's new series, the world she has created is dark and terrifying and it made a nice change to read about more traditional nasty vampires who look at humans as food. The world building was great giving enough information about the history to capture your interest and make it believable but not overwhelming the story with massive info dumps. I'm looking forward to discovering more as the series continues.

My favourite thing about the story was Allie though, she is a great heroine and one who always puts others before herself. When she was still human and living with her crew in the vampire city she looked out for the other members of the team and went hungry herself to make sure they had food too. Then once she has been changed she protects the human travellers that she meets even when she knows they would kill her if they discover her secret. I found it really interesting watching her try to come to terms with the fact that she has been changed into something that she has always hated, she has her opinions about vampires challenged but she has no doubt that she has been turned into a monster and she hates herself for it. I really want to find out more about Kanin, the vampire who changed her and hope he has a bigger part in the next book. I also loved Zeke who is second in command of the group that Allie meets on her journey.  It was nice to have hints of a possible romance but I'm glad that this didn't overtake the rest of the story.

Like I said I think The Immortal Rules is a fab start to the Blood of Eden series and it is a book I'd recommend to vampire fans and lovers of dystopian / post apocalyptic fiction. I can't wait for the next instalment!

Source: Initially received from publisher via NetGalley but I also received a print copy from Mira Ink 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

Book Trailer: The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa

Today I want to share the trailer and the animated cover for Julie Kagawa's new book The Immortal Rules. This is the first book in her new Blood of Eden series which is set in a brutal and frightening futuristic dystopian world where humans are blood slaves to the vampires who rule the cities. Anyone who refuses to become a blood slave has to fight for survival in a world where food is scarce and everyone is living in poverty. I will be posting my review of The Immortal Rules later today but I'll tell you now that it's a fantastic book and one I'd highly recommend!

This is not your average vampire story, and these are not your average vampires. A rabid virus has killed off 6 billion humans, leaving a shell of a world, with the remains of the human population serving as blood cattle to the Vampire Prince and his followers. This is a world where vampires rule...

Allie Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them - the vampires who killed her mother and instil fear in the repressed population.

But after a disastrous food expedition, Allie is forced to make the decision she hoped she'd never have to face - die, or become one of them. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most - a vampire. To survive, she must work with her vampire creator and learn the rules of the immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

When Allie is separated from her creator, she flees into the unknown, to the world beyond the wall of her vampire city. There she joins a ragged band of humans who don't know what she is. These humans seek a legend, a cure to the Red Lung virus that decimated the population and created the rabids, the mindless creatures responsible for spreading the infection. But does such a cure exist? And can Allie prevent her vampire urges from destroying her new found family?

What do you think of this really cool animated version of the cover?



and finally here is the trailer:



Don't forget to check out the other stops on The Immortal Rules blog tour:

Sunday, 29 April 2012

April 2012 Recap


Books read in March but reviewed in April:
Books read in April:
(Links will take you to my reviews)
  1. Unrest - Michelle Harrison
  2. Guardian - Rachel Morgan (Short Story)
  3. A Killer First Date - Alyxandra Harvey (Novella)
  4. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
  5. Surrender - Lee Nichols
  6. Royal Street - Suzanne Johnson
  7. The Alchemy of Forever - Avery Williams
  8. Ecstasy Unveiled - Larissa Ione
  9. Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James
  10. Labyrinth - Rachel Morgan (Short Story)
  11. Insignia - S.J. Kincaid (Review will be posted in July)
  12. Fifty Shades Darker - E.L. James
  13. The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa (review coming soon)
  14. Fifty Shades Freed - E.L. James
  15. Corsets and Crossbows - Alyxandra Harvey (Novella)
  16. A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton - Alyxandra Harvey (Novella)
  17. Fateful - Claudia Gray (review coming soon)
  18. Divergent - Veronica Roth (review coming soon)
  19. Darkness Unbound - Keri Arthur (review coming soon)
  20. Insurgent - Veronica Roth (review coming soon)
  21. Alien Diplomacy - Gini Koch (review coming soon)
  22. Changeling - Philippa Gregory (review coming soon)
April Books of the Month:
(Choices are made from books reviewed this month and the links will take you to my reviews)

My top YA reads in April:


Unrest by Michelle Harrison (read my review here)

My top adult read in April:


Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione (read my review here)

April Special Mention


I have to give the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James a special mention in my April recap - these books had me completely captivated (almost against my wishes) and I couldn't put them down! I'm definitely a member of the Christian Grey fan club!!

Fifty Shades of Grey - read my review
Fifty Shades Darker - read my review
Fifty Shades Freed - read my review

Challenge Updates:

These are the 2012 challenges I'm taking part in, I'll update my progress every month but so far so good!

2012 Debut Author Challenge - Read 20/50
2012 Sookie Stackhouse Read-A-Long - Read 2/12 - I have decided to quit this challenge, I didn't enjoy either of the first 2 books so it seems silly to force myself to carry on reading them!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Review: Ecstasy Unveiled - Larissa Ione

UK Cover
A Demon Enslaved

Lore is a Seminus half-breed demon who has been forced to act as his dark master's assassin. Now to earn his freedom and save his sister's life, he must complete one last kill. Powerful and ruthless, he'll stop at nothing to carry out his deadly mission.

An Angel Tempted

Idess is an earthbound angel with a wild side sworn to protect the human Lore is targeting. She's determined to thwart her wickedly handsome adversary by any means necessary - even if that means risking her vow of eternal chastity. But what begins as a simple seduction soon turns into a passion that leaves both angel and demon craving complete surrender.

Torn between duty and desire, Lore and Idess must join forces as they battle their attraction for each other. Because an enemy from the past is rising again - one hellbent on vengeance and unthinkable destruction.

The Demonica Series:
Pleasure Unbound
Desire Unchained
Passion Unleashed
Eternity Embraced (Novella)
Ecstasy Unveiled
Sin Undone
Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 1)
Immortal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 2)
Lethal Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 3)
Rogue Rider (Lords of Deliverance book 4)
Reaver
Azagoth (Novella)
Revenant
Hades (Novella)
Base Instincts (Novella)
Z (Novella)

For more information visit Larissa Ione's website

Review:
Lore and his twin sister Sin have been enslaved by the demon Detharu for years, forced to act as assassins on his behalf. Lore has finally been offered a chance to escape though, he just has to make one final kill and then he will be free. Failure is not an option, especially when the penalty would be the death of the sister that he would do anything to protect. Idess is an angel who has been tasked with protecting certain important humans in order to earn her wings. It just so happens that the human Lore has been hired to kill is the one that Idess must keep safe. Lore and Idess may be on opposing sides but the attraction between them is instant and intense, can they find a way for them both to get what they so desperately want or are they both doomed to fail?

I'm a massive fan of both Larissa Ione's Demonica series and her Lords of Deliverance books, she has created a wonderful world and populated it with some of my favourite paranormal romance heroes and heroines. I have been looking forward to reading Lore's story for a long time now (I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to it!) and I wasn't disappointed. This series is a must read for paranormal romance fans but I would recommend reading the books in order starting with Pleasure Unbound.

Lore has spent years being forced to do whatever his master tells him to, he has become a lethal killer but his actions have always been to protect his sister and deep down he just wants to live in peace. When he is hired to kill Kynan he has no idea that his actions will force him to go up against the brothers he only recently discovered. Lore is forced to choose between the sister he adores, the brothers he has only just met and the angel who is quickly stealing his heart and it doesn't seem like there is any way for a happy ending for all of them. Things sure do get complicated for the seminus brothers in this instalment to the series, lines are crossed, sides are chosen and there are a lot of arguments. It was strange to see what has up until now been such a close knit family fall so far apart but the reasons why all become clear in the end. I have to admit I was disappointed with Shade's treatment of Eidolon in this book though and Wraith wasn't much better. Lore understandably has little loyalty to the brothers he has only just met compared to the twin he grew up with but it is obvious he would avoid hurting them if possible, he just can't seem to see a way around it.

I fell for Lore completely reading his story, he's such a sexy demon! A stone cold killer with a heart of gold he is totally swoon worthy. Idess is his perfect match and not quite as angelic as you'd expect her to be. First and foremost Idess is a fighter who will do whatever it takes to protect her charges, even if it means resorting to underhand measures to achieve her goals. She is prepared to give up everything she has ever dreamt of to keep Kynan safe and you have to admire her for that. As a couple these two practically scorch the pages in every scene they share. Their attraction is intense and builds up to a wonderfully explosive conclusion.

Ecstasy Unveiled has everything you would expect from a Larissa Ione book - a hero to swoon over, a feisty heroine, scorching hot romance, action and a glimpse of how all of the previous characters are getting along. One of my favourite books in an amazing series.

Source: Larissa Ione kindly sent me a signed US copy of this book after I met her at ADDPhilly, I was also sent a UK paperback by Piatkus 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.

US Cover
Paperback / Kindle:

Friday, 27 April 2012

Review: Unrest - Michelle Harrison

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn't slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they are terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something dead that wants to live again - and it want Ophelia, too . . .

Visit Michelle Harrison's website for more information

Review:
Several months ago Elliott was in a serious accident, one that left him dead for 2 minutes before the paramedics on scene were able to resuscitate him. Ever since that awful event he has been having problems sleeping, waking in the early hours each night to find that he is no longer in his body or finding that he is completely paralysed. That would be bad enough but add in the strange ghostly figures he sees during the experiences and it has left Elliott terrified - either he is losing his mind or he is being haunted and he can't figure out which one it is. To try and get some answers Elliott decides to take a job working at a supposedly haunted living history museum. He is hoping to convince himself that he has been imagining things but instead it just get a lot more complicated - especially when his body is taken over by a mysterious spirit that has been watching him as he sleeps.

I knew I wanted to read Unrest as soon as I saw the cover! I enjoyed Michelle Harrison's book The 13 Treasures and was looking forward to seeing what she would come up with for a teenage audience. I wasn't disappointed and Unrest was a captivating read that I didn't want to put down. This was a seriously creepy story and one I would highly recommend!

Elliott was a fairly typical teenage boy before his accident, he was confident, outgoing and enjoyed spending time with his friends and his brother going out meeting girls. Things have changed a lot for him since his near death experience though and he hates the pitying looks he gets from people who know about the accident. His sleep problems have had a major effect on him - he is exhausted, depressed and his confidence has taken a knock. It was easy to feel for him but I loved the fact that he didn't spend all his time sitting around moping, he wanted to figure out what was happening to him and try to find a way to stop it. Michelle Harrison's vivid descriptions of his out-of-body experiences were terrifying and felt so real that it was like you were living through them yourself - this wasn't a book that I would have felt comfortable reading just before bed! I don't want to give spoilers so I'm not going to say anything more about Elliott's experiences and what caused them but I will say that the answers we are given made it seem very believable which just made it all the more scary to think about.

I really enjoyed reading from Elliott's point of view and thought his voice felt realistic for a seventeen-year-old boy. I loved his relationships with his dad and his brother Adam (who was one of my favourite characters!) and really liked how he slowly built up a friendship with Ophelia before they became romantically involved. Ophelia was another likeable character who had been through a lot but was a survivor, she has a few secrets of her own and I enjoyed finding out more about her.

Unrest is a fantastic story for anyone who enjoys a good supernatural mystery, there are some shocking twists at the end that had me kicking myself for not guessing them sooner because they seemed so obvious when they were pointed out to me! I can't wait to see what Michelle Harrison comes up with next (hopefully another book about Elliott because although Unrest works well as a stand alone story I'd really like to see more of his abilities!)

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster 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.

Extract: Unrest - Michelle Harrison

Yesterday was the UK release for Michelle Harrison's latest novel Unrest. Michelle is the author of the successful Thirteen Treasures series for MG readers but this is her first book for teens. I will be posting my review of Unrest later today but I can tell you now that it's a fab and very creepy ghost story and not one you want to miss! Thanks to Simon & Schuster I have an extract of the first chapter to share with you here, I've also included the cover image and synopsis and the book trailer.

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn't slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they are terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something dead that wants to live again - and it want Ophelia, too . . .

Visit Michelle Harrison's website for more information

Extract: Chapter One of Unrest by Michelle Harrison
(Posted with permission of Simon & Schuster UK)

PART ONE

Death’s brother, Sleep.
– Virgil

I’m not asleep . . . but that doesn’t mean I’m awake. 
– Author Unknown 

ONE

Outside

It started the way it always did.

I sat up in bed, unsure of what had woken me. My first thought was the new family who had moved in upstairs. Rowdy, Dad called them, amongst other things. Not even a month since they’d arrived and they’d managed to upset everyone, crashing up the stairs at all hours, swearing, slurring and burping.

Not this time, though. There was only the hum of silence. Our flat, and the rest of the block, was quiet. The room was dark, apart from the light in the hallway. Dad had left it on overnight a lot recently, even though neither one of us spoke about it.

Something moved on the other side of the door, disturbing the light creeping in through the door frame. A figure, moving past in the direction of Dad’s bedroom. I wondered how long Dad had been there, watching me through the gap, and whether he had been into my room while I was still asleep. I knew he lay awake some nights, thinking. Worrying. About me, about Mum. About the accident, and how different things had nearly been. The familiar guilt crept up on me. Before I knew it I was out of bed and across the room, shivering in only my boxers. The flat was freezing. I darted out into the hallway, squinting at the sudden brightness, my hand reaching for the light switch. I wanted to show him, in the smallest possible way, that tonight I was all right. I glanced at the clock at the far end of the hall.

Three in the morning.

I should have known then. The time was the first signal. That was the problem, though. I never knew until it was too late.

My fingers found the light switch just as my toes met the puddle. I froze, my hand hovering in place. The laminate flooring was dotted with patches of water, each the size of a footprint, leading to the bathroom. I was standing in one and it was icy cold.

Down the hallway, the bathroom door clicked shut. My eyes trailed over the watery footprints. My ears caught a noise – a stifled sob – coming from the bathroom, and a faint trickle of running water. Then my hand was away from the light switch and out in front of me, reaching for the bathroom door as I followed the wet trail.

I wanted to ask Dad why he was crying, even though I knew the answer, deep down. A dense wall of steam wafted over me as I pushed the door open. It wasn’t warm, but instead cool and damp. I shivered again. Th e door continued to open without a sound and some of the steam cleared from the bathroom as it spread out into the hall.

I took a step inside, clouds of water vapour clinging to my skin. The trickling sound came from the bath. One of the taps was on. Through the haze I could just make out an arm draped along the side of the tub.

‘Why are you up so late?’ I asked. ‘And why are you crying?’

No response came. It was only then that I noticed how thin the arm on the side of the bathtub was. How pale, and hairless . . . and female. I stumbled forward, glimpsing – without intending to – more than I was meant to see.

The woman in the bath faced forward, but she didn’t see me. Her eyes were dull and empty, and her long hair trailed like seaweed. Th e water had a pinkish tinge to it and lapped softly at the overflow. The running tap was keeping the water warm, and the slow, steady trickle kept it at a level designed not to flood.

Most of the steam had now evaporated through the open door, making everything horribly easy to see. The slight curve of a smile on the colourless lips. The razor blade on the edge of the tub. The incisions on her wrists, red and grinning.

Too late I realised. Remembered. This has happened before. Which could only mean one thing . . .

I turned, staggering from the bathroom and raced for my room, zigzagging one way to leap over the cat and the other to avoid tripping over my football boots. I should have been leaving the horror behind when I left the bathroom, but now I had remembered, I knew there was more.

Light from the hall streamed across my bed as I reached the door. I wanted to fall into it and huddle under the covers until I’d stopped shaking.

Two things stopped me. First, there was a shadow by the side of the bed. A tall, thin shadow that was somehow a shade darker than all the others in the room – and vaguely human. It was motionless and faceless, yet somehow, I knew what it was staring at.

A body lay in my bed. I saw the short, dark hair on the pillow. Already I knew who it was.

Me. Asleep.

A whimper tried to force its way out of my throat, but didn’t quite make it. I knew I needed to get back to myself, back into myself, but the shadow at the bedside was even more terrifying than the woman in the bathtub.

Slowly, the shadow’s head moved. Its focus changed, no longer on the me in bed, but on the me at the door. I lurched forward, scrambling for the opposite side of the bed and approached my body. Th e bed didn’t move – I was weightless, light as air.

I needed to get back in. I had to get back in.

My sleeping body’s mouth was open. I’d done it that way before. I leaned over, trying to prise its mouth wider while pushing my face into the tiny, impossible cavity. I felt the prickle of the shadow figure’s stare on my back and knew it had taken a step towards me. Towards us.

I pushed again, desperate, my hands clamped round the side of my body’s face. Just as I thought it was never going to work, that I’d never get back in, it happened. I felt a scratching sensation, then a rush of tightness all over, and then . . .

I was back in my body, jolted awake – for real this time. Heart thudding. Gasping, trembling, crying. Alone in the room. There was no shadow, though the feeling it brought still drenched me in sweat.

I wanted to collapse back into the covers, but there was one last thing I had to know. I eased myself off the bed and crept down the hall. This time, there was no woman in the bathroom. It was empty – and so was my bed when I returned to it.

It ended the way it always ends. With me, burrowed under the covers, too afraid to sleep again until dawn.

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

Now check out the super creepy trailer:



Here is a video of Michelle Harrison talking about the inspiration behind Unrest:



So what do you think? If the extract and trailer haven't convinced you that this is a book you NEED to read then nothing will! Have you added Unrest to your wish list? Don't forget to check back later to read my review.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Review: Royal Street - Suzanne Johnson

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

Sentinels of New Orleans Series:
Royal Street
River Road
Elysian Fields

Visit Suzanne Johnson's website for more information

Review:
DJ is a wizard who works alongside her boss Gerry to protect New Orleans from the supernatural creatures that are able to cross over from the beyond. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Gerry is missing and the boarders between worlds are thinner than ever, there is a serial killer on the loose and it is up to DJ to try and sort out the mess. The Elders have sent her a new partner to help but can she trust Alex or does he have his own agenda?

As a big urban fantasy fan I was drawn to Royal Street as soon as I saw the cover, DJ looks like she is going to be a kick-ass heroine and I was even more intrigued after reading the synopsis. I was a little bit nervous about a story written around a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, particularly a paranormal one because I thought it could have gone too far and made light of horrific events. In reality I felt that Suzanne Johnson tackled the subject with sensitivity and she really gives a feel for what people must have gone through both during the hurricane and in the aftermath. As someone who wasn't effected personally by the tragedy it really brought home just how bad things must have been in New Orleans at that time.

It would have been easy for the story to become bogged down in the distressing details of the hurricane but there was enough snarky banter between the characters to lighten the tone without being disrespectful. DJ isn't kick-ass in the same way that a lot of urban fantasy heroines are, she isn't the strongest physically and she doesn't have the kind of magical powers that are useful in a fight. In fact her skills lie with creating potions and charms so as long as she has time to prepare things in advance she is fine but it isn't so helpful when she comes under an unexpected attack. I actually quite liked the fact that she was more vulnerable than other heroines but there were times that she makes such stupid decisions that I wanted to shake her. She has some growing up to do and I hope we get to see that happen as the series continues.

When it comes to love interests we have several possibilities. The first one we are introduced to is the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, now we didn' t get to see as much of him as I was hoping for but he definitely has that bad boy vibe going for him and was deliciously dark. I hope he has a bigger role in future books. Then we have DJ's new partner Alex, he has less of a bad boy vibe but is still obviously keeping secrets, he is also very protective of DJ and I enjoyed the banter between the pair of them. Now I'm getting a bit fed up with love triangles so I wasn't particularly happy to find in this case we have what is quickly turning into a love square. Along with Lafitte and Alex you also have Alex's sexy war hero cousin Jake. Admittedly all three men are hot and they each have potential but I was frustrated by the way DJ was constantly flitting between them and it seemed like she was playing them off against each other. I actually felt quite sorry for both Alex and Jake and was a bit worried that she will end up causing a rift in their family.

Royal Street is the start of an urban fantasy series that has a lot of potential, there were some problems but I can see these being worked out over time and I'm definitely interested in reading River Road which is due to be published later this year. For a debut novel I was impressed with the world building, I enjoyed the mystery and although I did spot some of the twists in advance there were a few things that managed to surprise me. It will be interesting to see where Suzanne Johnson takes this series and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this world.

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: The Alchemy of Forever - Avery Williams

Seraphina is an immortal, and she wants to die.

She's been alive for centuries, after her boyfriend Cyrus shared his formula for immortality with her - moving from one body to the next for eternity, ending the life of the body's original soul in the process. But Sera can't bear the blood of one more innocent on her hands and has resolved to let herself leave this earth, and Cyrus, forever. Until she comes across Kailey - young, innocent, and dying . . .

Sera can't resist taking one more life, especially when that life is almost gone. But when she falls in love with Kailey's world, as well as her neighbour Noah, Sera realises that for the first time in years, she may have something to live for.

But being ready to leave Cyrus doesn't mean he's ready to let her go . . .

Incarnation Series:
The Alchemy of Forever
Release dates and titles for further books are currently unavailable.

Visit Avery Williams' website for more information

Review:
Sera has been alive for nearly 700 years but she pays a high price for her immortality. Every 10 years she must take a new body because she will have worn out the one she is currently using. After hundreds of years spent ending other people's lives the guilt is becoming hard to live with, even though she tries to chose from people who are intend on destroying themselves to be her victims. Sera has decided enough is enough but she knows Cyrus will never let her go willingly. She has spend months plotting her escape and intends to let her current body die but after witnessing a terrible car accident she finds herself switching bodies one last time. As she settles into Kailey's life she starts to dream of a future without Cyrus but he hasn't given up on her and is determined to find her and bring her back into his world.

I thought The Alchemy of Forever was a great concept, I loved the way Avery Williams has used alchemy as the way the immortals are created and enjoyed finding out about Sera's history with Cyrus and the other friends they have collected over the years. Cyrus is definitely a scary and controlling stalker of a boyfriend and it was no wonder that Sera is utterly terrified of him. The story is definitely a quick and easy read and the cliffhanger ending has left me keen to find out what happens in the next instalment.

I did have a few problems with the story though. The first was that I felt Sera slotted herself into Kailey's life far too easily, yes she struggles a couple of times but in general her friends and family don't notice any difference in her which seemed completely unrealistic. Noah makes a nice love interest, he is the sweet boy next door who has been friends with Kailey forever but has always been beneath her notice until Sera came along. Although I liked Noah I didn't find myself believing in their relationship, everything happened a bit too quickly and I never felt much of a connection between them.

As a start to a series The Alchemy of Forever is interesting enough to make me want to read the next book but it didn't quite wow me as much as I hoped it would. It is still worth giving it a try though - especially if you want a paranormal story without the usual vampires or shape shifters.

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster 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.

Cover Reveal: Losing Lila - Sarah Alderson

Yesterday I noticed that Sarah Alderson had posted the cover for Losing Lila on her blog (read her post here). I absolutely loved Hunting Lila when I read it last year (read my review here) so it feels like I've been waiting forever for the sequel - August the 2nd can't come soon enough! Anyway here is the cover:


What do you think of it? I think the strap line "It's time to stop running and start fighting" is awesome. I also love how the cover has so much movement to it, you can practically see Lila running across the page.

Now in case you didn't spot it I just want to show you a quick close up:


Yes, that's my quote on the front cover!!! I've never had a cover quote before so let's just say there was a lot of happy squealing in my house when I spotted it! Since Hunting Lila was one of my favourite books last year it was a pretty appropriate review to have quoted.

Now I'll just have to wait impatiently to get my hands on a nice shiny copy!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review: Fifty Shades Freed - E.L. James

Romantic, liberating and totally addictive, the Fifty Shades trilogy will obsess you, possess you and stay with you for ever.

When Ana Steele first encountered the driven, damaged entrepreneur Christian Grey, it sparked a sensual affair that changed both their lives irrevocably. Ana always knew that loving her Fifty Shades would not be easy, and being together poses challenges neither of them had anticipated. Ana must learn to share Grey's opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own integrity or independence; and Grey must overcome his compulsion to control and lay to rest the horrors that still haunt him.Now, finally together, they have love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of infinite possibilities. But just when it seems that they really do have it all, tragedy and fate combine to make Ana's worst nightmares come true . . .

Fifty Shades Series:
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed

Visit E.L. James' website for more information

Review:
Considering the number of things that irritate me about this series I am utterly addicted and well and truly on the Fifty bandwagon! I did feel that the author could have ended the story after Fifty Shades Darker until she included the epilogue at the end so I wasn't too sure what I would think of Fifty Shades Freed. I wasn't sure there was enough story left for a third book but I was happy to be proved wrong and this book was just as addictive as the rest.

Christian and Ana have married and enjoyed the honeymoon of a lifetime but it's now time to get back to reality and the pressures of work and daily life. Christian has come a long way working through his issues but he still has a way to go and the couple are still learning to live together and find a balance in their relationship. Their problems only get bigger when a face from the past makes an appearance determined to cause trouble.

I have absolutely loved the changes we've seen in Christian since the first book, he stole my heart against my wishes during the first book but I love him even more now. The romance between him and Ana may not have been traditional but it was beautiful to see. I felt that E.L. James has ended their story perfectly although I don't want to let the characters go. After the epilogue you get to see Christian and Ana's first couple of meetings (the interview and his visit to the hardware store) from his point of view and I loved getting to see inside his head. In fact, reading those few chapters made me desperately want to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey and start the series again from the beginning! So far I've managed to resist but I'm not sure how long that will last. I really would love to see the author rewrite the whole series from Christian's point of view.

This series has been utterly compulsive reading. It has romance with a seriously fucked-up hero, humour, plenty of erotic scenes, great character development and a relationship you can believe in. The writing isn't the best and it could have used some serious editing to cut out the repetition but that didn't stop me enjoying every minute of it. This was a wild ride and one that has made me a proud member of the Christian Grey fan club!

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.

Paperback / Kindle:


Consider me a full blown member of the Christian Grey fan club!

Winner: The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa


With the help of Rafflecopter I am happy to announce the winner of a UK paperback copy of The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is:

Brittany S (email address starting b_l2006@...)

Congratulations Brittany!  You should have already received an email from me asking for your address 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.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Quick Review: A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton - Alyxandra Harvey

Every new recruit to the Helios-Ra Society is issued this guidebook, with secrets to the inner workings of the League the vampires they are hunting. But when new recruit Lucy Hamilton gets her hands on a copy, she can’t contain her inner snark-especially because she has first-hand knowledge of the various vampire societies that sometimes contradicts the conventional wisdom of her new academy.

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:
Alyxandra Harvey has recently written several novellas to go along with her Drake Chronicles series, they are all quick reads and available for a reasonable price via Amazon for the kindle. If you don't have a kindle there are options to read the story on your computer or through various apps for other devices.

A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton is the guidebook given to all new members of the Helios-Ra but with added snarky comments from Lucy. It does contain minor spoilers for the rest of the series so I wouldn't recommend reading it until after the 4th book (Bleeding Hearts).

The guide includes everything that the Helios-Ra know (or think they know) about the different vampire groups and the Drake family. It also gives you some interesting snippets of the Helios-Ra history and information about some of the most famous vampire hunters since the society was first formed. Considering this is Lucy's personal copy of the guide she obviously hasn't been able to resist adding her own sarcastic comments and I'm sure any Lucy fan will enjoy reading them. Although I enjoyed reading this I have to admit that it was shorter than I expected it to be, I would have liked it to have been longer and had expected to see more of Lucy's comments. It was still a fun read though and worth picking up if you're a major fan of the series.

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.

Quick Review: Corsets and Crossbows - Alyxandra Harvey

Rosalind Wild thinks it's time for the Helios-Ra to give full membership and recognition to the female descendants of the society-after all, it is 1816 and it's time to make room for new traditions. When Rosalind interrupts a plot to assassinate the leader of the Helios-Ra, she sees an opportunity to prove her worth. But she never expected the assassin to be someone so irresistible, and off-limits. Written as a series of letters to a close confidante, this exciting e-novella gives a glimpse of the early days of the vampire hunting society as seen through the eyes of Hunter Wild's feisty ancestor.

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:
Alyxandra Harvey has recently written several novellas to go along with her Drake Chronicles series, they are all quick reads and available for a reasonable price via Amazon for the kindle. If you don't have a kindle there are options to read the story on your computer or through various apps for other devices.

Corsets and Crossbows is set in the early 1800's so can be read as a prequel to the series or at any other time because it contains no spoilers for the main storyline. The story is told using a series of letters from one of the first female members of the Helios-Ra; Rosalind Wild, to her friend Evangeline. Rosalind wants nothing more than to prove that women can be as good at vampire hunting as men are but although she has been allowed to join the Helios-Ra she hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms. When she uncovers a plot to assassinate their leader she sees it as the ideal way to prove her worth.

This is an enjoyable quick read and has the same humour to it that the Drake Chronicles books do. Although there is no crossover of characters from the rest of the series it was nice to see a glimpse of Helios-Ra history. Rosalind is an ancestor of Hunter's and it shows that her family has always contained it's fair share of spunky women - you can see where Hunter gets it from! I'd recommend this for any fan of the series.

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.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

News Roundup: Teaser Trailer, Cover Reveal & New Book Deals

Since I included the first teaser trailer for The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead in my last news roundup I thought it was only right to include the second one today. I literally can't wait to get my hands on this book!



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

Have you seen the cover for the first book in Darren Shan's new 12 part serial? The first book Zom-B will be published by Simon & Schuster on the 27th of September and the remaining eleven instalments will be released once every 3 months until 2015. I have to confess that this cover scares me so I don't think it's one I'll be reading but then I'm not much of a horror fan. I have a feeling this will be massively popular with Darren Shan's fans though!


What do you think? Is this a series you can't wait to start reading?

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

Did you see the news that Lauren Oliver will be writing her first novel aimed at adults? HarperCollins have purchased the book which will be called Rooms and will be publishing it in 2014. (I'm assuming this is the US publication date). For more information check out the article on the NYTimes website. I love Lauren's YA books Delirium (read my review here) and Pandemonium (read my review here) so I can't wait to see what she writes for the adult market!

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

Last but not least I was really excited to find out that Simon & Schuster will be publishing Kresley Cole's first YA novel Poison Princess on the 2nd of October. I love Kesley's adult series (the Immortals After Dark) so this was on my wish list before I'd even read the synopsis! Now I've read the blurb I just want to read it even more and I love the cover too:


Sixteen-year-old Evie Greene thought her horrific apocalyptic hallucinations were a sign that she was slowly losing her mind. But when her visions come true, decimating the world around her and killing everyone she loves, Evie is forced to accept that she was seeing the future.

Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she turns to wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate, the gorgeous and dangerous Jackson Deveaux for help. As Jackson and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have got the same call and discover that Evie is not the only one with special powers. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and as the battle between good and evil intensifies, it is not always clear who is on which side…


What do you think? Have you read any of the Immortals After Dark books? Are you looking forward to Poison Princess?

That's all the news I have to share today so I hope you've found it interesting!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Review: Fifty Shades Darker - E.L. James

Romantic, liberating and totally addictive, the Fifty Shades trilogy will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you for ever...

Daunted by the dark secrets of the tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Ana Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a US publishing house. But desire for Grey still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, she cannot resist. Soon she is learning more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades than she ever thought possible. But while Grey wrestles with his inner demons, Ana must make the most important decision of her life. And it's a decision she can only make on her own ...

Fifty Shades Series:
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed

Visit E.L. James' website for more information

Review:
If you read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey then you'll know that I had a bit of a weird love / hate relationship going on with it. There are a lot of things about these books that I don't like but I find them strangely compulsive reading and have definitely been obsessed with these characters since I started reading the books. I'm actually a bit scared to start the third book because I don't know what I'll do with myself when I've finished reading the series. Please be aware that this review will contain spoilers for the first book so please don't read any further if you haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey, this is a series that I have to recommend though so make sure you check it out!

Fifty Shades Darker picks up the story a couple of days after the ending of the first book, Ana has walked away from Christian because she can't handle his lifestyle choices and it has left her devastated. She misses him like crazy but doesn't think she can give him what he needs. Christian on the other hand isn't prepared to let her walk away, coming so close to losing her has scared him and he is determined to do whatever it takes to have her in his life - even face his inner demons.

I fell for Christian almost against my will when I was reading the first book, despite the fact that he is fifty shades of fucked-up he still has a vulnerable side that I think most women would find very hard to resist. This instalment sees some big changes in him and it just made me love him even more. The more you learn about his past the easier it is to see how Christian ended up the way he did, he had a horrific upbringing with his mother and even after being adopted into a loving family he never felt worthy. Then add in the abuse he suffered at the hands of the evil Mrs Robinson (if ever there was a character I wanted to bitch slap into next week it would be her!) so the only really surprising thing is that Christian has managed to make such a success of his business life. Despite his past you can tell that Christian really cares for Ana though, we really see him start to open his heart to her and I loved seeing the changes in him as he starts to overcome his background and become the fun loving man he should have always been.

I liked Ana much more in this book (although I still want to scream every time she mentions her inner goddess or subconscious!), she has started to grow up and I was impressed with how determined she was to have a relationship with Christian on equal terms. She couldn't deal with being a complete submissive and forced him to change his behaviour if he wanted to be with her. I liked the fact that there was so much give and take between them though and that they are both prepared to compromise. They don't know each other well so it takes time for them to set new boundaries but they are taking steps towards a relationship that will satisfy both of them.

Although there are a lot of erotic scenes in the story (lets just hope one of the companies Christian has invested in is Durex or he'll be bankrupt pretty quickly!) I think the main focus is definitely on the relationship and developing the characters. I missed the flirty email banter between them at the beginning of the book so was pleased when it made a reappearance later on - I did want to shout at Ana every time she emailed from her work computer though, stupid girl! I felt that the author had reached what would have been a pretty perfect stopping point for the series until she added the epilogue on at the end but I'm not going to complain about another instalment to a series that I have a new found addiction to! I can't wait to find out how things progress for the couple in Fifty Shades Freed - in fact I'm going to stop writing this review so I can go and read it now!

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.

Paperback / Kindle:


Consider me a full blown member of the Christian Grey fan club!

Friday, 20 April 2012

UK Giveaway: The Pack - Jason Starr

Next week is the UK release of The Pack, the first book in Jason Starr's new urban fantasy series and thanks to Berkley UK (part of The Penguin Group) I have 5 copies to giveaway to some lucky UK winners!

Let the hunt begin . . .

When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss's betrayal.

Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life- and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys' night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality.

As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their "pack", they were talking about much more than male bonding . . .

Check out this video of Jason Starr talking about the book for more information:



What do you think? If anyone has already read the book I'd love to know what you think of it.

Giveaway Details:

Now how would you like the chance to win a copy of The Pack?
  • Courtesy of Berkley UK I have 5 paperback copies of The Pack to giveaway to some lucky UK winners.
  • The winner's prizes will be sent out directly by my contact at Berkley UK so the winners must give me permission to pass their addresses on.
  • The winners will be chosen at random from all entries received.
  • To enter please use the rafflecopter below to confirm that you are a UK resident, there are optional extra entries for following or tweeting about the giveaway but these are not required to enter.
  • The giveaway will close at 12:01am EST on the 5th of May 2012 and the winners will be contacted soon afterwards. You will have 48 hours to reply to me with your address or new winners will be chosen.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Review: Wonder - R.J. Palacio

The most poignant, moving and heart-warming tale you will read this year; a book to devour in one sitting and press urgently into the hands of your friends and family. A true wonder of a book.

WONDER is the funny, sweet and incredibly moving story of Auggie Pullman. Born with a terrible facial deformity, this shy, bright ten-year-old has been home-schooled by his parents for his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the stares and cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, Auggie is being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. The thing is, Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

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

Review:
I'm sure at some point in our lives we've all made judgements about people based purely on their appearance, even if not as an adult (although I find that very hard to believe!) then most certainly as a child. Too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, dumb blond, fiery tempered red head, bad hairstyle, poor skin - the list of things people criticise is endless! As much as we've all made snap judgements I'd also be willing to bet that we've all been on the receiving end to some degree or another too so really we should know what it feels like being judged for something you can't necessarily change about yourself.

Remember that pain of being teased for not quite fitting the "norm"? Now imagine you're a 10 year old child, one who was born with severe facial disfigurements due to a genetic disorder, one who has suffered through the pain of multiple operations but still comes nowhere near close to looking like everyone else. Imagine that you've spent your entire life being stared at every time you step out of the house having people pointing at you, whispering about you, some even screaming in terror and running away from you. Now you have an idea about how Auggie has felt every single day of his life, not nice is it? How do you think that would shape you as a person? Would it leave you feeling bitter? How about depressed, miserable or insecure? I think I'd probably be all of those things but that is where Auggie is a much better person than I am!

Despite the problems he faces Auggie is one of the most positive characters you'll ever come across. He is absolutely beautiful in every way that is important and I dare you to read his story and not fall in love with him. Auggie has been lucky enough to grow up with a supportive and loving family and that shows in his bright and bubbly personality. He has always been home schooled but his parents think it is time he faced the world and learnt to deal with people's reactions to him. Watching Auggie bravely go to school and cope with the stares and taunts he receives is heartbreaking but seeing him slowly find a place and getting to know his classmates is beautiful. Inside he is a normal little boy who loves doing all the things other children his age do and as people get to know him they start to see beyond his looks to the person he is underneath.

Wonder is a stunning book and one that will stay with me for a long time. It is written mainly from Auggie's point of view but we also get to see things through the eyes of his sister and a couple of his classmates and discover first hand the effect Auggie has had on their lives. From the minute I picked up this book I didn't want to put it down. I was on a real roller coaster of emotions from sad to angry to proud and right through to happy. I adored Auggie, his family and his new found friends. I hated the students at school who teased him but I really loathed some of the adults for their attitude. It was easier to forgive a young child for a cruel remark made without malice than an adult who should know better. I was outraged on Auggie's behalf and wanted to climb into the book to protect him.

Anyone who has ever been bullied for any reason will automatically be able to relate to Auggie but what I think is even more important is that it will make people think about the way they act towards others. It will make you appreciate what you have and it will make you want to be a better person. If you're going to read one book this year make it Wonder, I promise you won't regret it. Whatever R.J. Palacio writes next will be going straight to the top of my wish list.

Source: Received from RHCB in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
The Little Reader Library
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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