Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Review: Magic Dreams - Ilona Andrews

Magic Dreams originally appeared in the anthology Hexed.

From New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews comes a tale of darkness, desire, and werecats.

Alpha Pack leader Jim Shrapshire has always been the strong, silent type. But something has come over him--a magic force currently residing in one of the Pack's headquarters. Were-tigress Dali Harimau has always wished she could get Jim's attention--but now he needs her help.

Stricken with a magic-sickness, Jim needs Dali's flair for magic. And to save him, she must challenge a powerful, dark being to a battle of wits.

Includes an excerpt of Ilona Andrews's upcoming novel in the world of Kate Daniels, Gunmetal Magic, available in August 2012.

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

Review:
Magic Dreams is available to purchase as an ebook novella but was also included in the Hexed anthology. The story is set after Magic Bleeds and is told from Dali's point of view. We've already seen Dali's magic skills in previous stories but this time she faces her toughest challenge yet - saving the life of her Alpha Jim who is dying from a strange magical illness.

I already really liked both Dali and Jim but for some reason I'd never pictured the two of them together, I'm not sure why though because I think they're going to be a fab couple. Dali is such a fun character to spend time with, practically blind but determined to be independent I find it hilarious to think about her entering car races even though she can't see past the end of her nose. Having seen her drive Kate around I have to admit I wouldn't want to be her passenger though! I love the fact that she turns into a powerful white tiger but is a vegetarian who gets sick at the sight of blood. Yes, Dali definitely isn't your average shapeshifter but she is a lot of fun to be around and the scenes with her mother were hilarious.

Dali has been crushing on Jim for a long time but he is Alpha of the werecat clan and she knows he couldn't possibly be interested in her. In a lot of ways they are complete opposites, Dali is a crazy loose cannon with a chip on her shoulder and Jim is the sensible Alpha who is Curran's trusted right hand man and head of security for the entire clan of shapeshifters. He is over protective when it comes to his people and Dali drives him insane with the way she constantly puts herself at risk. She is the only one he can turn to in this situation though, the only competent (if erratic) magic user he has and someone he can trust to keep his predicament to herself.

We get to see a bit of a darker side to life in Atlanta in this story and discover the nasty underground characters who sell exotic animal parts on the black market. Dali must face these traders for a magical ingredient she needs to save Jim but as a rare white tiger she would make quite a prize if they were to capture her. I loved the plot of this story, it was fast paced and introduced some great characters (I can't be the only one who really hopes we're going to see more of her new friend as the series continues!). I would have really liked it to have been longer so we could have had a bit more of the romance that starts to develop between Dali and Jim though. I'm actually going to keep my fingers crossed that they are given a full length novel somewhere down the line. Either way Magic Dreams is a great addition to the Kate Daniels series and one that fans won't want to miss.

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.

Novella (Kindle) / Anthology (Print / Kindle):

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Review: Reason to Breathe - Rebecca Donovan

All she wants is to hide away, but love has found her . . .

In a town where people worry about what they're seen in and who they're seen with, Emma Thomas doesn't want to be seen at all. She's more concerned with feigning perfection - which means pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises. Emma doesn't want anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is.

But when Emma unexpectedly finds love it challenges her to recognise her own worth, at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she's desperate to hide.

Breathing Series:
Reason to Breathe
Barely Breathing
Out of Breath

Visit Rebecca Donovan's website for more information

Review:
All Emma wants is a quiet life and she is happy to live in the shadows, especially if it means she can stay out of her abusive aunt's way. She is counting down the days until she can leave her aunt and uncle's home and is working hard to secure a place at a college as far away from her them as possible. She keeps herself to herself and apart from her one friend Sara she tries to avoid social situations, it would just be too hard to explain the bruises otherwise and she since she isn't allowed out in the evenings unless its for something school related it hasn't been too hard to avoid going to the usual teen parties. Emma has never admitted how bad things really are to Sara but her friend has a good idea that Emma's home life isn't all that it should be. No matter how hard Sara tries to get Emma to open up she remains determined to just live through it until she can make her escape. When Evan moves to the area and starts at their school he quickly gets under Emma's skin but spending time with him is a huge risk and who knows what her aunt will do if she ever finds out about it.

I'm going to admit that I find books about domestic violence hard to read, most of the ones I've read have come across as unrealistic and felt like an inaccurate portrayal of the situation which has really annoyed me. Because of that I was a bit wary when it came to picking up Reason to Breathe but so many of my friends had given it positive reviews that I decided to take a chance and I'm glad that I did. Rebecca Donovan has created one of the most hateful fictional characters I have ever come across and I wanted to climb inside the book and give Emma's aunt a taste of her own medicine. If ever there was a character I could murder it is her and I'm really praying that karma is going to come round and bite her in the arse by the end of the series! The fact that I had such strong feelings about her just goes to show how invested I became in Emma and how much I wanted her to find a way out of her current situation.

I did struggle slightly with the fact that Emma refused to tell anyone what was happening to her because she didn't want her young cousins to lose their family. I would have preferred for her to have had a different reason but I've seen first hand how domestic violence victims can justify the craziest things because of the way they have been conditioned by their abusers so I don't think it was completely unbelievable. I did want to beg Emma to speak out though, not just for her own safely but also because it was such a horrific environment for her cousins to be raised in. Jack (6) and Leyla (4) were the cutest children and although their mother wasn't violent towards them they both saw how terribly she treated Emma and living like that is bound to have a long term emotional effect on them. I was almost as angry with Emma's uncle as I was with her aunt, as much as he wasn't Emma's main abuser and her aunt was careful to do things out of his sight there is just no way he didn't have a damn good idea of what was going on in his home and I was so livid that he didn't put a stop to it.

I want to mention how much I loved the fact that Emma had such a supportive friend in Sara and also in Evan once she got to know him. For once the rich, popular girl from school isn't portrayed as a complete bitch and Sara tried so hard to make things better for Emma, in fact I think without Sara's support Emma would have crumbled long ago. This story shows what a huge effect that domestic violence has not just on the victims but also on the people around them. Sara and Evan both had a good idea that Emma was in trouble but they didn't know how to help her. Emma kept things as quiet as she could and was too scared to tell either of her friends the full story which made it very hard for them to try and do anything for her. They both supported her as much as they could but there were times when they felt like they had to walk away from the situation for their own sanity. As much as I hated that Sara deserted Emma at one point I could completely understand why she felt that she had no other choice and my heart just broke for both of the girls.

Reason to Breathe is a fantastic start to this series and I'm relieved that the final two books are already available so I'm not going to have to wait to read them. Rebecca Donovan takes a really difficult subject but she tackles it with sensitivity. She doesn't downplay the things that Emma goes through, in fact the violence was quite hard to read about in places, but I never felt she added things for the shock factor. I think it is important for subjects like domestic violence to be discussed openly and books like this can only help make that happen so I'd like to thank the author for raising awareness on the topic.

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

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

Paperback / Kindle:

Monday, 29 July 2013

Excerpt: Play Me - Diane Alberts (+ International Giveaway) #PlayMe


I'm a huge fan of Diane Alberts' Take A Chance series so I'm thrilled to be able to share an excerpt from the latest instalment Play Me which is released today. I've been lucky enough to have already read this one (watch out for my review which will be posted soon) and I'm happy to tell you that it's a fab contemporary romance and I think it might even be my favourite book in the series. Don't worry if you haven't read the previous stories, each book can be read as a stand alone (although I'd recommend giving them all a try!), there is a slight crossover of characters but nothing that will give you major spoilers.

Anyway, let's have a look at the cover and blurb for Play Me and then I'll get to the excerpt!

Even the best-laid plans can go awry.

Single-mom Kiersten Worth knows a bottle of champagne and night of hot, no-strings-attached sex is the perfect solution to her jilted bride blues…and Garrett Kelly, long-time friend and her teenaged son’s sexy basketball coach, is just the stud for the job.

Garrett wants more from the elusive temptress than a casual affair, but he never expects it to come in the form of an unexpected pregnancy. When he proposes an unorthodox solution—move in and raise their baby together—Kiersten has to decide whether to let down her guard and open her heart to the man who secretly loved her for years, or risk losing his tender embrace for good.

Take A Chance Series:
Try Me
Love Me
Play Me
Take Me (August 2013)

Visit Diane Alberts' website for more information

Excerpt:

Three months, two weeks, one day, and nineteen hours.

That’s how long it had been since Garrett walked away from Kiersten. She barely even spoke to him anymore, other than a soft hello as they passed on the court after practices. It was probably better that way. Anything more than a brief encounter hurt too much. He’d spent most of his life pretending not to care about her. Pretending he was fine without her. But now that he’d had one night in her arms, he knew he wasn’t.

And he wanted her more than he could ever possibly describe.

Oh well. Tough shit. He wasn’t going to get her on his terms. And he wouldn’t accept hers.

He needed a drink. Or three.

He unlocked the door to his apartment and froze. Pots clanged in the kitchen. Dropping his gym bag to the carpet, he walked around the corner. Only his buddy Mike had a copy of his key, and that was just in case of an emergency or if he somehow lost his own set. But why would Mike let himself in and then cook? To the best of his knowledge, Mike didn’t even know how to cook.

“Mike?” he called out.

“Uh, no,” Kiersten replied. “It’s me.”

He tensed and walked slowly into his kitchen, his heart beating rapidly in his ears. “How did you get in here?”
She flushed. “I asked Mike for the key. Told him I needed something for Chris to practice at home.” She waved a hand. “He didn’t question me, thank God. My story was weak.”

He studied her. “Why are you here? You could have just knocked.”

“I was worried you wouldn’t let me in,” she said softly, averting her eyes. “So I took matters into my own hands.”

“And the dinner?”

“A way to try to make up for what I did. It’s pathetic and not big enough, I know, but I had to do something.”
He raised his brows. “You could give me space, like I asked. Why cook for me? What do you want?”
She looked at him. “I thought you might like to eat some food. Last time I checked, you were human.”

“It’s been over three months since we talked or hung out.” He crossed his arms over his chest, not sure what her sudden reemergence in his life meant. What game did she play? “And last time I checked, we weren’t really on speaking terms. Yet here you are. Cooking me dinner.”

“Yep.” She set down the spoon she was stirring the sauce with, shoulders tight as she leaned on the counter. “Pretty much.”
He looked away from her and swallowed hard. Did she realize how much it hurt him just to see her face or to hear her voice? Probably not, since he’d been the only idiot who had wanted more. Every woman paled in comparison to her. No matter how hard he tried to move on, to be attracted to another woman, there was only one person on his mind. Kiersten. But if she was here…

He shoved his hands into his pockets. “Have you changed your mind about us?”

She paled and he cursed himself for jumping to foolish, optimistic conclusions. “I—no, not yet. But—”

“Then you need to leave,” he said. He raised his head and met her eyes, unwilling to back down. “I haven’t changed my mind, either. I need space.”

“It’s been three months. Isn’t that enough space?”

“No.” He drew in a ragged breath. “It’s not. Now please leave.”

She bit her lip. “No.”

“Yes.” He stalked toward her, picked her up, tossed her over his shoulder, and headed for the door. He tired not to remember that the last time he’d carried her like this, they’d been going up to her bedroom. “If you won’t walk out on your own, then I’ll carry you out.”

She punched his back and squirmed. “Let me down. We need to talk.”

“The time for talking is over. I need distance right now. Eventually we can be friends again. But for now?” He opened the door, set her in the hallway, and closed the door in her face. “Please go home.”

He turned away and stomped into the kitchen. Damn it, he wasn’t doing this anymore. He may have played the part of the lovesick friend for months—hell, years—now, but he was done with being a benchwarmer she pulled out when it suited her mood.

From now on, it needed to be a starting position for him…or nothing at all.

Shutting off the stove, he picked up the pot and peeked inside. She’d made his favorite meal. Cheese ravioli. Vodka sauce bubbled away in a different pot and he could smell the garlic bread in the oven.

“Listen, Garrett, we need to talk,” Kiersten said.

Garrett jumped and faced her with a glare. “What are you doing in here—again?”

“I have a key.” She waved a gold key under his nose, her nose tilted up in the air stubbornly. “And I know how to open a door on my own. I’ve been doing it since I was three.”

“Congratulations.” He snatched the key out of her hand and reached for her, determined to put her right back where he had left her. “But you need to go. I’m serious.”

She jumped out of his reach and sprinted behind the relative safety of his favorite chair. “Not until you listen to me. Sit down and shut up for a second, will you?”

He pursued her, ready to stick her back out in the hallway, sans key this time. “All I asked for was a break. Can’t you respect that?”

He bolted around the chair, reaching for her arm. Her eyes widened and she darted to the side when he feinted left and ran right, hoping to fool her into his arms. “I can’t leave until we talk,” she replied.

“Why not?” he asked in exasperation, holding his hands up. “What could possibly be so damn important?”

She blinked at him, wringing her hands. “I’m pregnant.”


Author Bio:
Diane Alberts has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn't until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she's not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another.

She is a multi-published, bestselling author with Entangled Publishing, Swoon Romance, and Decadent Publishing. ON ONE CONDITION hit #18 on the Barnes and Noble Bestseller List, and TRY ME hit #76 on Amazon. CAPTIVATED BY YOU hit #31 on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list. Her goal is to write so many fantastic books that even a non-romance book fan will know her name. She also writes New Adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. Diane is represented by Louise Fury from the L. Perkins Agency.

Website: http://dianealberts.com/
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DianeAlberts6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianeAlberts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5081315.Diane_Alberts

Giveaway Details:

Diane Alberts is offering a $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N for one lucky reader who enters using the rafflecopter form below. The winner will announced by Diane and she will contact them directly to arrange sending out the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 27 July 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 3 - Who are your blogging BFFs?


I stumbled across the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge hosted by April from Good Books Good Wine and it looks like so much fun that I have to take part. You can find out all about the challenge and how to join in HERE. Obviously the idea of the challenge is to take part 15 days in a row but I don't have enough time for that and since April is so relaxed over the rules I've decided  dedicate one day a week to the challenge.

The Day 3 topic is: Who are your blogging BFFs?

I have met so many fabulous people since I started blogging, not just other bloggers but also authors and publicists who have all helped make blogging such an amazing, fun experience. I could spend all day and write a huge, huge list of wonderful bloggers but I'm going to try to keep this post relatively short so I'm narrowing it down to just 3 names. Please don't feel upset if you're not included - I love all the British bloggers I've met up with face to face (and many other bloggers from all around the world who I've only spoken to online) I just would have been here all day if I'd tried to include everyone!


Kirsty & me

I can't even remember the first time I met Kirsty (although I suspect it might have been at a Random House blogger brunch!) but we've had many, many adventures together since then. Kirsty has become one of my closest friends, we spend a crazy amount of time texting or emailing each other and although we don't live nearby we usually manage to squeeze a few trips to visit each other throughout the year. We always have a lot of fun whether we attending bookish things like signings and publisher events or just randomly exploring London hunting for Wenlocks and Mandevilles! It's great to have a friend who is as crazy about books (and as completely bonkers!) as I am and her OCD tendency comes in very handy because it means she re-organises my library every time she visits!

Sammee from I Want To Read That

Sammee & me

Sammee was one of the first bloggers I ever met in person (way back when I'd only been blogging for a couple of months) and we have spent countless hours sitting in coffee shops nattering about books and life in general since then. When we're not eating cake we're inevitably book shopping (I can always trust Sammee to encourage me to buy more books) and I love the fact that out of all my UK blogging buddies she is the one whom it is easiest to convince to read adult books as well as YA. We have so much in common (right down to the same birthday!) that sometimes I'd swear we were separated at birth and I always look forward to our marathon catch ups!


me & Carly

Carly is another one of the bloggers I have known since not long after I started blogging and I have to say I love her! Unfortunately I don't get to see her as often as the others but whenever we do get together I can count on a fabulous gossip session and a LOT of giggles. It's funny because in a many of ways Carly and my taste in books tends to be the complete opposite, where I've always swayed towards the paranormal (although contemporary romance has definitely made a come back in the last year or so) Carly is definitely a contemporary girl at heart. She loves the kind of books that I usually avoid like the plague - all the bitchy gossip girl type stories full of drama and cat fights - but in spite of (or possibly because of) that we get on incredibly well in every other way. One day we're actually going to manage that evening full of cocktail drinking that we always talk about!

So those are my blogging BFFs and it just wouldn't be the same without them. I only wish we all lived closer and were able to spend more time together away from the bookish events we get to go to. They are all fabulous friends and wonderful bloggers so if you aren't already following them please do go and check out their blogs!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Review: Magic Bleeds - Ilona Andrews

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially, as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community.

When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and rode to war at the side of Kate's father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family . . .

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

Review:
Please be aware that this review will contain minor spoilers - I've tried but I just can't seem to write it without them!

So after the ending of Magic Strikes I couldn't wait to get started on Magic Bleeds and see Kate pay up on her bet with Curran where she promised to cook him dinner naked. It feels like I have been waiting FOREVER for them to finally give into their desire and become a couple so I had such high hopes for that night. Well you can imagine my disappointment when Curran fails to turn up - I think I was almost as broken hearted by the way things turned out as Kate was, especially when she calls the keep to make sure he is OK and gets a big brush off. As you'd expect from Kate she turns her pain into anger and she becomes absolutely determined to avoid all contact with Curran in the future, something that she knows isn't going to be easy when she is the Order's main point of contact for all things involving the Pack. It gets especially difficult to avoid him when a mysterious new arrival in town starts targeting shapeshifters, not only are they behind multiple deaths but they also seem determined to start a modern day plague in the middle of Atlanta. It doesn't take too long for Kate to figure out that one of Roland's most trusted warriors is in town, unfortunately this is one family reunion that she is never going to forget - that's if she even survives it.

Just when I think I can't love this series more Ilona Andrews pulls it out of the bag and delivers yet another 5 star read. Magic Strikes has everything I've loved about the previous books - the fantastic characters, edge of your seat action, truly evil enemies who aren't going to be easy to beat and to top it all off the absolutely wonderful banter between Kate and Curran. They may have a HUGE misunderstanding at the beginning of the book but oh boy do they make up for it further down the line and finally, FINALLY we get to see the moment we've all been waiting for!!!! I seriously don't think I'll ever get enough of this couple or their friends so I just hope the authors start writing faster - I need at least a book a month from them to keep me happy!

The stakes are higher than ever and Kate is facing her greatest battle yet. It honestly makes me worry about what will happen when she eventually has to face Roland, I really don't know how she will be able to survive it. She isn't the type to give in easily though and she kicks arse in this book just as well as (if not better than) she ever has before. As much as Curran steals the show every time he steps onto the page I also adore the secondary characters in this series, Angela is just brilliant and she gives Kate the kick up the butt that she needs when it comes to giving Curran a chance to explain himself. I have to give a special mention to Kate's new attack poodle too, he added a lot of light relief to the story and I hope we'll see more of him. There were just so many moments I loved about this book, particularly towards the end when Kate has a face off with the shapeshifter council to stand up for her man.

Lots of people have already reviewed this book and I'm not sure that I can articulate my thoughts well enough to come up with a coherent review so I'm just going to tell the rare few people who haven't started this series yet that they need to do it immediately. If you have started the series but are still playing catch up like I have been then you need to hurry up because the books really do just get better and better!

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Faking It - Cora Carmack

Every girl likes a bad boy . . . 

And Max's current boyfriend is as bad as they come. She knows her family would freak if they saw his tattoos and piercings.

So when her parents turn up unannounced Max grabs the most wholesome guy she can to play her boyfriend.

But Cade Winston is so perfect that Max needs him to keep playing the part. And the more they have to fake their relationship, the harder it gets to just pretend . . .

Losing It Series:
Losing It
Keeping Her (Novella)
Faking It
Finding It (October 2013)

Visit Cora Carmack's website for more information

Review:
I absolutely loved Losing It when I read it earlier this year so I had high expectations for Cora Carmack's second novel Faking It. I'll admit that Cade and Max's story didn't quite have the same addictive quality to it that Bliss and Garrick's book did but it was still a really enjoyable read that I devoured in a day. I liked Cade when we met him in Losing It so although I was definitely rooting for Bliss and Garrick to end up together I was excited that we were going to see him find his own happy ending.

The story picks up not too long after the last one ended and Cade has moved to Philadelphia to start his masters degree but he is still hung up on Bliss and it hurts him to see how loved up she is with Garrick. As much as he wants her to be happy he hasn't been able to move on himself and he has come to the realisation that their friendship will never be the same as it once was. Max has spent years hiding her true self from her parents, not because she is ashamed of the person she is but because she knows they will never understand her. When they threaten to cut off financial support because she refuses to give up her dreams of making it big with her band she has to resort to drastic measures to keep them onside. In a lot of ways she is the complete opposite to Bliss which is probably part of her attraction to Cade. Besides, she only wants someone to pretend to be her boyfriend to keep her parents off her back so Cade doesn't have to risk letting his emotions get involved. Well that's the theory anyway, but it turns out to be easier said than done!

I liked Cade but I have to admit I was a little frustrated with him in the beginning because he was so caught up on Bliss and didn't seem able to move on with his life. I guess it was understandable though and luckily he didn't mope about for too long before Max entered his life and turned everything upside down. He quickly grows to care about Max even though they are only supposed to be a pretend couple and I loved the way he encouraged her to open up to her family and show then the real her. He cared about her for who she really was inside, not for one of the faces she put on to keep everyone else happy and that helped her gain the confidence she needed to be herself even around her judgemental family. There is a lot more to Cade than meets the eye, he isn't really the perfect guy that everyone thinks he is but he does have a heart of gold.

Max was a great character, she knew who she was and what she wanted from life and wasn't afraid to put the effort in to get there. She had terrible taste in boyfriends and tended to pick men who treated her badly but I think that was a self defence mechanism to stop her from actually getting seriously involved and putting her heart at risk. It makes a nice change to read about a nice guy paired with a bad girl type character - not that Max was actually bad she just had attitude! - when so many of the books I've read recently have been the other way around. Max is a rebel and away from her parents she is confident and in control but around her family she is a completely different person. There are reasons for the way she acts around them but it takes time for them to fully unfold for the reader. I liked her much more when she was being her true self so was glad to see Cade encourage her.

On the outside this looks to be a case of opposites attracting but underneath Cade and Max aren't quite as different as you'd think they are at first glance. The differences they do have compliment each other but they also have enough in common to make a believable couple. The chemistry between them was great, not quite as off the charts as that between Bliss and Garrick but definitely enough to keep me hooked to the pages. I'm very much looking forward to reading more from Cora Carmack in the future and will be adding anything she writes to my to read pile but I have to admit I'm super excited for Keeping Her a novella featuring Bliss and Garrick that is released next month!

Source: Received from Ebury 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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Review: South of Surrender - Laura Kaye

She’s the only one who can see through his golden boy façade to the broken god within…

Chrysander Notos, Supreme God of the South Wind and Summer, is on a mission: save Eurus from his death sentence and prove his troubled brother can be redeemed. But Eurus fights back, triggering vicious summer storms that threaten the mortal realm, dangerously drain Chrys, and earn the ire of the Olympic gods who ordered Eurus dead.

Laney Summerlyn refuses to give up her grandfather’s horse farm, despite her deteriorating vision. More than ever, she needs the organized routine of her life at Summerlyn Stables, until a ferocious storm brings an impossible—and beautiful—creature crashing down from the heavens.

Injured while fighting Eurus, Chrys finds himself at the mercy of a mortal woman whose compassion and acceptance he can’t resist. As they surrender to the passion flaring between them, immortal enemies close in, forcing Chrys to choose between his brother and the only woman who’s ever loved the real him.

Hearts of the Anemoi Series:
North of Need
West of Want
South of Surrender
East of Ecstasy (2014)

Visit Laura Kaye's website for more information

Review:
Ever since the death sentence was passed on his brother by the Olympic gods Chrys has been trying to find a way to save Eurus's life. He needs to get Eurus to repent for his crimes and ask for forgiveness but Eurus is just as determined to carry on with his evil plans and the pair have been battling against each other for weeks. When Chrys is badly injured during a fight with Eurus and plummets to earth in his sacred animal form it is a human woman who saves his life and tends to his wounds. Laney is gradually losing her sight thanks to a congenital condition so the last thing she wants to do is leave her house in the middle of a nasty storm but she can't ignore the cries of her terrified horses. She is shocked to find an extra animal in the middle of her stable, especially one that has stepped right out of the pages of a fairytale, but she has to at least try to help him. Chrys has never had anyone look out for him the way Laney did that night and he is drawn to the beautiful, independent woman like no other before her. Unfortunately his attraction just brings unwanted attention to her in the form of Eurus. Can Chrys save both his brother and the woman he has come to care for, and, if he is forced to choose between them who will he pick?

South of Surrender is the third book in Laura Kaye's Hearts of Anemoi series and it's a book I couldn't wait to read. I have really enjoyed both previous instalments, in fact Owen from North of Need is still one of my favourite heroes, so I had high hopes for this book and I couldn't wait to get to know Chrys better. I'm a massive fan of Laura Kaye's writing, she has a way of pulling me into her stories and she writes such realistic characters and heroes I never fail to fall for. Chrys is no exception and I think he may just have topped Owen to become my favourite from this series!

Chrys is the youngest of the four seasonal gods and he rules over summer and the south wind. He has always blamed himself for the way their father treated Eurus and has spent years trying to make things right with his brother. No matter how much Eurus has betrayed him and the others Chrys remains convinced he can be saved and he is determined to do whatever it takes to bring Eurus back into the fold. Some people just don't want to be saved though and Eurus seems equally determined to destroy Chrys and the rest of their family, even going so far as to steal an item of great power to use against them all. I felt really bad for Chrys for the way that his brother had treated him. He is so kind hearted and always sees the good in everyone but he has been betrayed time and time again by those he should be able to trust. He takes the blame into himself and doesn't feel that he is deserving of love and happiness, in fact he is so determined to be the one to face Eurus because he wants the rest of his family to be able to live out their happy endings in peace.

Laney is a fabulous heroine and perfect for Chrys, I can't even imagine how hard it must be to lose your sight but she is handling the experience with dignity. Her character was so real that it felt like she was a friend and I couldn't help but admire her for the way she was so determined to remain independent in the face of everything that is happening to her. I really admire the author for creating such an unusual heroine and for dealing with her handicap in such a realistic way, she had obviously put a lot of thought and research into the problems that Laney would face and ways that she could cope in different situations. I think what I liked most about Laney though was the way that she saw the real Chrys, the side he tried to keep hidden from the world, and she loved him for the person he is on the inside. Their relationship does develop quickly but that isn't something that bothers me in paranormal romance and I believed that they would be drawn together so quickly due to the circumstances. I'm going to have to point out that Chrys is one sexy summer god and I think it would be pretty hard for any woman to resist him!

I'd have to say that South of Surrender was probably the most action packed instalment to the series so far, there were some great fight scenes a few shocking twists and one moment where I actually shed a tear or two. Laura Kaye completely threw me with something that happened right near the end of the book and I'm still hoping that it is going to turn out to be some kind of awful mistake! The stakes have been raised and nobody is safe although I guess I should have expected that after reading West of Want. Fans of the series are going to love this book and you'll be left as eager as I am to get hold of a copy of East of Ecstasy when it is released next year. If you haven't started reading these books yet what the heck are you waiting for - go and buy North of Need IMMEDIATELY but don't forget to buy a tub of ice cream to eat while you read it!! (That book and ice cream go hand in hand trust me!)

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing 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:

Saturday, 20 July 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 2 - What's your bedtime reading ritual?


I stumbled across the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge hosted by April from Good Books Good Wine and it looks like so much fun that I have to take part. You can find out all about the challenge and how to join in HERE. Obviously the idea of the challenge is to take part 15 days in a row but I don't have enough time for that and since April is so relaxed over the rules I've decided  dedicate one day a week to the challenge.

The Day 2 topic is: What's your bedtime reading ritual?

I'm not sure that I have a bedtime reading ritual as such but I do tend read every night before I go to bed! I might read throughout the evening downstairs curled up on my sofa (or at the moment out in the garden trying desperately to cool off after the sun goes down and the temperature starts to drop - this heatwave is killing me!) but I always read in bed before I go to sleep.

To be honest I probably shouldn't read in bed because I suffer with terrible insomnia and I know that I sometimes end up making it worse by getting hooked into a story that I just can't put down! I've lost count of the number of times I've ended up staying up ridiculously late just so I can finish a book LOL.

At bedtime I'll go upstairs, do all the things you have to do before bed (wash, brush teeth etc) then I'll sometimes listen to a chapter of two of an audiobook while I do my cleanse, tone and moisturise routine sitting on the bed. Once I'm actually in bed I'll go back to whichever book I'm currently reading. If I'm reading a print book then I have to keep the bedside lamp so I have to admit I tend to prefer reading ebooks in bed because my kindle cover has a light attached. It means the room is much darker and I'm more likely to feel sleepy sooner.

I usually only aim to read for an hour or so but if the book I'm reading is really good then I'll often be reading much longer. Very rarely I'll end up being too tired to read more than a chapter or two but that doesn't happen often and I'm more likely to fall asleep with the book still in my hand because I'm desperately trying to carry on reading LOL.

So what is your bedtime reading ritual? Do you read in bed or do you prefer to read earlier in the day?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Spirit - Brigid Kemmerer

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

Elemental Series:
Elemental (Short Story)
Storm
Fearless (Short Story)
Spark
Breathless (Short Story)
Spirit
Secret (2014)
Sacrifice (2014)

Visit Brigid Kemmerer's website for more information

Review:
I've been a huge fan of the Elemental series practically from the very first book so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this latest instalment. As much as I've loved the earlier books I'm afraid this one just didn't quite live up to my expectations, that doesn't mean it was a terrible book but it was definitely my least favourite of the series so far. This is still a series I'd highly recommend though, I LOVE those Merrick brothers and I'm super excited about Nick's book which is due to be published early next year.

I've never been a huge fan of Hunter so that was probably why I didn't love Spirit as much as I've loved the previous books. He actually really grew on me in the beginning, I felt so badly for everything his family put him through and my heart just broke for him when everyone had seemed to turn against him. I absolutely loved the way Michael took him under his wing and tried so hard to help him but that left me feeling frustrated by the way Hunter refused to trust the Merricks. I know he has good reasons not to trust anyone at all but the Merricks were the only ones who were trying to help him and he kept throwing it back in their faces. That would have been easier to understand and believe if he hadn't pretty much immediately accepted new girl Kate into his life. He had only just met her, he had evidence that she had lied to him and was keeping secrets and yet he trusted her more than the people who had given him a roof over his head and put food in his belly. That just didn't make sense to me and it left me feeling really frustrated and annoyed with him.

I also never found myself warming up to Kate, she kept too many secrets and I just didn't feel like I could trust her. I was never clear which side she was on and was wary that she was going to end up betraying not just Hunter but also the Merricks. I have to admit that even though I didn't love either main character I did really enjoy their text banter, it was so well written and very funny to read. There were also some fabulous action scenes that had me on the edge of my seat and some really heartfelt moments when Hunter finally started to open up to Michael and the others. I went into complete shock over the twist at the end and although I can't tell you any more because I don't want to spoil things for you it did help to explain some of the things I had problems with earlier in the story.

Although Spirit wasn't my favourite book of the series it is still a worthwhile read that I'm sure fans won't want to miss. This is a series that I would highly recommend (I've said it before but it's worth saying again - I LOVE those sexy Merrick brothers!) and this instalment does include information that is going to have an impact when it comes to later books in the series. Now I'm just waiting impatiently for Nick's story because I know that one is going to be amazing.

Source: Received from 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:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Review: Magic Mourns - Ilona Andrews

Kate is on medical leave and Andrea is sitting in her office. Everything is going well, until a a giant hell dog escapes the Underworld and Raphael, the smoking-hot and very persistent werehyena, asks Andrea to help him track it down . . . 

This novella was originally published in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology but has since been released separately as an ebook.

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

Review:
Magic Mourns is available to purchase as an ebook novella but was also included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology. The story is set after Magic Strikes while Kate is still recovering from her injuries and taking a break from her duties for the Order of Knights so her friend Andrea is standing in for her. When Andrea gets a call from a member of the public concerned that a shapeshifter is in danger she gets more than she bargains for when she goes to investigate. Not only does she come face to face with a giant hellhound but she is also forced to work closely with Raphael, the werehyena she has been trying to avoid ever since she realised he had feelings for her.

I have been a fan of Andrea since she first appeared in the series, she always makes such brilliant snarky comments and her interactions with Kate never fail to make me smile. I loved getting to see her take a leading role and this has me even more excited to read the full length novel that is told from her point of view (Gunmetal Magic). Andrea is just as kick ass as Kate but in a different way, where Kate excels with a sword Andrea is more comfortable with guns - the bigger the better. It's a good job she's a crack shot because her skills are certainly put to the test in this story. This may only be a novella but it packs a lot in and I really enjoyed seeing Andrea start to come to terms with her past and accept herself and her abilities.

I have to say I really started to fall for Raphael during this story, I've always liked him and found him amusing but this was the first time I really felt the chemistry. He is such a sweetie when it comes to Andrea, she has been pushing him away for a long time now because she is scared of getting hurt but now he finally has her full attention he goes all out to prove that she can trust him. I love the way he acts towards her and think they make a great couple so I'm all for seeing more of them together in the future.

I'm not going to talk about the plot because it would be too easy to spoil this novella but I will tell you that it has everything you'd expect from one of Ilona Andrew's full length books just wrapped in a shorter package. There is plenty of action, a lot of humour and some fab banter between the main characters. Don't expect to see much of Kate though, she only makes a very brief appearance as this is very much Andrea and Raphael's story. A very worthy addition to the series and a story that fans aren't going to want to miss, my only complaint is that I wanted more!

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.

Novella (Kindle) / Anthology (Print / Kindle)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Review: Stormbringers - Philippa Gregory

Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. Breaking his journey in Piccolo, he finds a place filled with superstitious fears: of the unknown, of the forces of the sea and sky, of strangers. With him are his loyal friend and servant, Freize, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Isolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children's crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint. Its young leader promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod all the way to Jerusalem. Luca and Lady Isolde are swept up in the growing excitement; but something dangerous is brewing far out to sea...

Visit Philippa Greggory's website or the Order of Darkness website for more information.

Order of Darkness Series:
Changeling
Stormbringers
Fool's Gold (2014)

Review:
Isolde travelling to her godfather hoping he will help her regain the inheritance her brother stole from her while Luca is on a mission for The Order of Darkness to search for signs of the end of the world. While their paths take the same direction the group has agreed to travel together but their journey comes to an unexpected stop when they come across a children's crusade. The crusade is led by a 16 year old boy referred to as Johann the Good. Luca is immediately suspicious of the boy thinking that he is up to no good but after talking to him and watching him preach both Luca and Isolde are convinced he is speaking the word of god. As they prepare to travel with the crusade a terrible tragedy unfolds, one that brings suspicion down on the group and that is going to make it hard for Luca to prove their innocence.

I really enjoyed Changeling so I was looking forward to catching up with Luca, Freize, Isolde, Ishraq and even Brother Peter. Unfortunately I'm left with mixed feelings over Stormbringers, and didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book. The first half of the story was quite slow going and I found myself getting bored and feeling disinclined to pick up the book to carry on reading. Luckily the action really picked up in the second half and the story became much more enjoyable and turned into the kind of book I was expecting to read.

I think it is probably down to personal preference but I wasn't a huge fan of the strong religious focus at the beginning of the story. Although I'd not come across children's crusades in fiction before and therefore should have found it an interesting topic it failed to hold my interest. It wasn't until the tragedy begins to unfold that I found myself really invested in the story. I'm not going to tell you what actually happens I'll just say that it was a bit like watching a horror movie unfold, you know that part where you know what is coming but the heroes are completely oblivious and continue walking straight into the danger zone? That was exactly how I felt while I was reading. For someone living in modern times we would easily recognise the signs and know what was about to happen but back in the middle ages they would have had no way of predicting the events that were unfolding or known how to avoid them.

I also found myself starting to get a little frustrated with the characters, I'd been enjoying watching Luca and Isolde get to know each other in Changeling and had hoped for a romance to start to develop between them but I found myself disappointed with the way Isolde was acting in this instalment. There was one particular point where she seemed to turn into a spoilt childish brat and it left me really annoyed with her. Freize is also absent for a large chunk of the story which was disappointing because he has always been such a source of entertainment who adds a lot of humour to the series.

Although Stormbringers wasn't my favourite book in the series it was still an OK read and I will definitely be picking up the third book when it is released next year in the hope that it follows the same vein as the second half of this story.

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
Dab of Darkness
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.

Hardback / Kindle:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Trailer Reveal: Frigid - J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout)

I'm a huge fan of Jennifer L Armentrout (and her pseudonym J. Lynn!) so I'm thrilled to be taking part in the official trailer reveal for her latest novel Frigid. I absolutely can't wait to read this book and the trailer has just made me even more excited!

Before we get to the trailer let me tell you a bit more about the book:


Blurb:
For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

To Buy Links:
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frigid-ebook/dp/B00CONW5I6/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1373937221&sr=8-1&keywords=frigid+j+lynn

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Frigid-ebook/dp/B00CONW5I6/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373884777&sr=1-1&keywords=Frigid

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/frigid-j-lynn/1114986686?ean=9781939392749&itm=1&usri=frigid

Author bio:
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Find Jennifer on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Blog

So I know you've all been waiting for the trailer so without further ado here it is:



What do you think? It looks fab doesn't it!! If any of you have already read Frigid I'd love to know what you thought of it! Which is your favourite Jennifer L. Armentrout / J. Lynn book?

If you don't already have a copy then you might want to check out this fabulous giveaway that Jennifer L Armentrout is hosting to celebrate the Frigid release. You can be in with a chance of winning a $100 gift card for Amazon or B&N, a signed ARC of Frigid with a selection of swag OR a snowflake necklace. Make sure you visit Jennifer's blog for your chance to win: http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com/frigid-is-out-winners-contest/

Monday, 15 July 2013

Review: Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews

When magic strikes and Atlanta goes to pieces, it's a job for Kate Daniels . . .

Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that's saying a lot.

But when Kate's werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she finds herself with a personal stake and a whole new level of problem. As her investigations lead her to the Midnight Games - the invitation-only, no-holds-barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament - she uncovers a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta's shapeshifting community . . .

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

Review:
Just when I think this series can't get any better the husband and wife team behind the name Ilona Andrews manage to prove me wrong! Seriously, every single book in this series just gets better and better and leaves me more desperate to read the next instalment. Magic Strikes really ups the ante in the action stakes and I couldn't put it down for a second. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I raged over things that happened, I sighed in relief, I laughed some more, I suffered with crazy sexual frustration and then the ending nearly killed me! Kate and Curran have turned me into a crazy fan girl - I want to be Kate's best friend and I want to jump Curran's bones (I have a feeling that if I picked option 2 Kate would brutally murder me but it would definitely be worth it!).

Kate is everything a heroine should be, she is smart, funny, loyal, kick ass and capable of standing on her own two feet to defend herself. She doesn't need anyone to protect her all the time but that doesn't mean she is too stupid to accept help when circumstances require it. She doesn't have many friends but anyone who earns that distinction from her will find she has their back no matter what it costs her. She isn't afraid to risk her life to keep those she cares about safe but she won't go down without a fight. Then you have Curran. What can I say about Curran? I really don't have the words to describe the Beast Lord but I'll try. He is an arrogant, domineering alpha who knows what he wants and won't stop until he gets it; he's a powerful leader who is respected by his pack and feared by his enemies; he is sexy as hell and he knows it; he wants to protect Kate but he loves her because of her strength; he respects the fact that she can and will stand up to him and he treats her like an equal. There aren't many heroes who make me swoon quite as much as Curran does and I absolutely love every single interaction between him and Kate. The ending of both Magic Strikes and Magic Burns absolutely killed me with how much they made me love him!

I haven't even got around to mentioning the other fantastic characters this series has to offer. In this instalment Derek is in trouble and when he is seriously injured Kate and other members of the pack will do anything to help him. They find themselves caught up in the Midnight Games, an underground fighting tournament where participants fight to the death, and Kate is forced to enter a team to fight for Derek's life. They are facing their fiercest enemy yet and the stakes have never been higher. Not only do we have the fantastic fight scenes and plenty of action surrounding the Midnight Games but we also get to find out more about Kate's background, we finally discover what Saiman is and we see just what happens when the shapeshifters go against Curran's laws. There are plenty of surprises that will keep you on your toes and I'm sure you're going to enjoy the banter between the characters as much as I did.

I don't think it's possible for me to write a serious review for this book so you're just going to have to ignore my rambling and trust me when I tell you this is a series you don't want to miss out on. If you haven't already started it then go away, read Magic Bites and then come back just to tell me how amazing it is. If you're already a fan then you can just jump straight to the crazy fan girl behaviour - I'll be jumping up and down right along with you!

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Sunday, 14 July 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 1 - Make 15 book related confessions


I stumbled across the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge hosted by April from Good Books Good Wine and it looks like so much fun that I have to take part. You can find out all about the challenge and how to join in HERE. Obviously the idea of the challenge is to take part 15 days in a row but I don't have enough time for that and since April is so relaxed over the rules I've decided  dedicate one day a week to the challenge.

The Day 1 topic is: Make 15 book related confessions

It's actually surprisingly hard to come up with 15 different confessions but here we go:
  1. I can't stop buying new books - I have five whole book cases of unread books in my house (and that's not even thinking about the number on my kindle!) yet I keep finding new books that I just HAVE to have!
  2. I can't resist a pretty cover - if I see a cover I love then I'll often end up buying the book without even reading the blurb! On the other hand if a book's cover doesn't appeal to me then I don't even consider picking it up. I know I shouldn't put so much weight on what the cover looks like - I've been burnt by way too many books with amazing covers and a rubbish story and I'm sure I miss loads of great stories by being so selective but first impressions count people and I just can't help myself!
  3. I always wanted to own a library - I actually turned my spare bedroom into a library and it's my favourite room in the house. My only disappointment is that the bookshelves aren't big enough to need one of those sliding ladders! In my dream house (when I've won the lottery) I'm going to have a huge multi-story library with ladders, balconies and huge big squishy sofas in front of an open fire. Yes, I know it will probably never happen but a girl can dream can't she?
  4. I hate that books come in different sizes - come on publishers how difficult is it to have one size for paperbacks and one for hardbacks? Just looking at one shelf of books in my front room I can see 4 different sized paperbacks on there and it drives me crazy! What is even worse is when you end up with different sized books in the same series - I have actually been known to buy the same book more than once just so I can end up with a matching set.
  5. I wish publishers wouldn't change the covers mid way through a series! - in a similar vein to confession number 4 I get so annoyed when the covers for books in a series don't match. I hate that I've spent money buying books and then the publisher decides to change the covers and I have to buy them for a second time. It actually makes me less likely to buy the rest of the series - if I can I'll borrow them from the library and I'll end up giving away the books I already owned. The only exception to that is books that are absolute favourites, for those I might end up re-buying the new covers but it doesn't happen often.
  6. I have a spreadsheet where I list all the books I own - OK I'll admit it, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to my books! I have a spreadsheet that lists all of the books I own, what format they are in (paperback / hardback etc.), whether I've read them or not and their location in my house so that I can always find the book I'm looking for. I also use it to keep track of the books I have loaned out to friends. There are a few people who know they can always borrow any of my books they like but I've lost too many books over the years because I never got them back so now I'm more careful about it.
  7. I grew up on horror stories but now I'm too scared to read them - I adored the point horror books when I was a teenager and was reading Dean Koontz and James Herbert by the age of 13 but now that I'm older I seem to have turned into a complete wimp! On the rare occasions I do read a scary book I have to read it in daylight and have to read something lighter before bed so I don't have nightmares!
  8. I hate hardbacks - I will never, ever buy a hardback no matter how much I love the author or have been dying for the next instalment to a series. The only hardbacks I own are ones I have been sent for review or given as gifts. I just don't find them comfortable to sit down and read because they are so heavy and would much rather curl up with a paperback or my kindle.
  9. I'm scared to start long series of books - There are some book series that I just know I'm going to love but I keep putting off starting them because there are so many books already published. I've heard so many amazing things about J.D. Robb's In Death series and I'm dying to try it so I can finally meet Eve and Roarke but even though I bought the first book over a year ago the fact that there are already 37 books (not including short stories / novellas!) in the series and no end in sight scares me too much. I have a similar problem with Rachel Caine's Morganville vampires series. I read and really enjoyed the first book but even though I already own the first 12 books I keep putting off reading them. I love her adult series and I know I'm going to enjoy these ones just as much so I just need to bite the bullet and read them!
  10. I love my kindle but I still buy print copies of my favourites - I have to admit I wasn't sure about the idea of reading ebooks but now I have my kindle I can't imagine being without it. I don't buy a lot of ebooks though, there is something about spending money and not getting something physical to show for it that really annoys me. I wouldn't mind if ebooks were cheaper than print copies but when they cost as much (or more!) then I'm going to spend my money on the paperback. I mainly use my kindle to read books or ebooks I've bought when they've been reduced to a ridiculously low price (I can't resist a bargain!) but if I discover a book or series that I love then I often end up buying print copies too so I can see them sitting on my shelves.
  11. I'm reading so many series that I find it hard to keep track of the details - This didn't used to be such a big problem before I started blogging because my to read pile was so much smaller and I would often re-read my favourite series in anticipation of the next instalment being released. I no longer have the time to re-read everything that I'd like to though and I find it really hard to keep up with all the series that I'm already part way through.
  12. I'm sick of reading about love triangles - I know I'm not the only one to say this but I really am bored of authors using triangles as a way of creating conflict in a story. It's very rare that an author can pull it off in any kind of realistic way (the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Cynthia Hand and her Unearthly series) and most of the time they just make me want to scream & throw the book across the room! Does anyone actually like triangles? I'd love to know if there are people out there who actively go looking for stories containing them because I'm the complete opposite and will put aside books I've been dying to read because friends tell me there is a triangle in them!
  13. I love romance - My reading goes in phases, over the years I've gone through cycles of devouring horror, crime, thrillers, fantasy, dystopian and many more. The longest running cycle has been paranormal romance / urban fantasy but I've recently been devouring contemporary romance. I think as I get older I like to pick up a book knowing I'm going to get a happy ending, I read for fun and as much as I sometimes really enjoy a heartbreaking book that will make me bawl my eyes out most of the time I want something that will make me smile. Give me a hot guy and a HEA and I'm 
  14. I'm intimidated by large books - I used to love reading long books and getting completely lost in a complicated world where the author takes time to really develop the characters but now I find myself putting off reading them. Even books that I'm really excited about end up being put to one side because they have over 500 pages.
  15. I'm almost as addicted to Goodreads as I am to books - I LOVE chatting about books and Goodreads is a great place to do that. It is also a great way of keeping track of the books I own and I use the app on my phone all the time when I'm in a bookshop to make sure I don't buy duplicates (I have to admit I used to buy books all the time and then get home only to realise I already owned them LOL). The only problem I find with Goodreads is that it adds so many new books to my wish list!
So what are your reading confessions? Do you share any of mine? If you're taking part in the challenge leave me a link to your day 1 post and I'll come and check it out!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Review: The Night Itself - Zoe Marriott

When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.

The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.

The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.

Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword.

With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the bewitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

The Name of the Blade Trilogy:
The Night Itself
Darkness Hidden (2014)

Visit Zoe Marriott's website more information.

Review:
I'm a huge fan of Zoe Marriott, I absolutely love her writing style and have been waiting to get my hands on The Night Itself since I first heard about it over a year ago. As you can imagine I had high expectations for this novel and I'm happy to say Zoe that absolutely smashed them! This is a fabulous start to her first urban fantasy series - you have strong, independent characters, great supportive friendships, a hot boy, lots of action and sword fights, wonderful use of Japanese mythology and it's set in London! What more can you ask for? My only disappointment is that I've got to wait another year for the next instalment.

Before he died Mio's grandfather showed her an ancient katana (Japanese sword) that has been protected by members of her family for over 500 years. He promised her that on her 16th birthday the sword would belong to her but warned her that she must always keep its existence a secret and told her to keep it hidden and protected. In the years since Mio hasn't been able to stop thinking about the sword but she has stuck to her grandfather's rules and hasn't touched it. Days before her birthday she comes up with the perfect excuse to bring out the sword though - it would be the ideal accessory for her fancy dress costume! She justifies her actions by telling herself that it will be hers in a matter of days anyway and with her parents away who is to know that she took it a couple of days early? But she has forgotten her grandfather's warning and removing the sword from its hiding place has consequences she never could have imagined. Now with demons roaming the streets of London it is up to Mio to find a way to stop them and her first task is learning just what the sword is capable of.

I have to say I loved Mio, she is such a strong character who is more than capable of defending herself when she needs to. She has a fantastic friend in Jack and the two girls are inseparable and always supportive of each other. Neither of them has had it easy but they have each other to rely on and their friendship has seen them through the difficult times. Jack added a lot of humour to the story and I really enjoyed the interactions between them. Mysterious Japanese warrior Shinobu was another great character and the relationship between him and Mio was great, they do develop feelings for each other quite quickly but it is a testament to Zoe Marriott's skills that I didn't even notice that until I sat back to reflect on the book after I finished reading it. I'm not usually a fan of insta-love but in this case it was done so well that it felt completely natural and believable and left me looking forward to spending more time with them both as the series continues.

I've already mentioned that the story was action packed and full of mythology but I have to tell you how much I loved the addition of the Kitsune characters, Hikaru in particular was a favourite and he stole nearly every scene he appeared in. I don't want to spoil the story by telling you much about them so you'll just have to read the book for yourself to learn more! If you've ever wanted to see demons on the loose in London then you're going to love The Night Itself. There are some truly creepy moments along with fantastic fight scenes full of magic, kendo moves and sword fighting. I was gripped from the first page and I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment!

Source: Received from Walker 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.

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