Sunday, July 27, 2014

Beta reader wanted


For those who don't know, I write, and I've been working on editing my urban fantasy story for a while now. I've reached the point where I need some help - I can't see what needs fixing any more. This is where you come in: I'm looking for a beta reader.

What I'm looking for: Someone to read through the story and give me some feedback. While spotting spelling/grammar mistakes I might have missed is helpful, I'm more interested in things like what you think works or doesn't, if the pacing is right, any inconsistencies you see, and places where you think I haven't explained stuff properly.

A bit about the story: 90k words. Urban fantasy.
Shapeshifter Bryony comes to Scotland for a fresh start, but instead finds a territory war brewing. Should her new pack help a child seeking their aid, or protect the peace they've worked for?

First 250 words below. If you're interested, leave me a comment on this post, or email me at the address in the sidebar.

***

If you’d asked her even two weeks ago to make a list of ‘places to start your life over’, Bryony would not have included Scotland. And yet, here she was, stepping off a plane in Glasgow airport at some horrendously early time in the morning, feeling like it was still the middle of the night. No amount of time on the plane or coffee grabbed on the layover in London could prepare her for this.
Next time, think first, she reminded herself.
The contrasts between JFK and Glasgow hit her immediately as she moved into the arrivals hall and stared around. This place was tiny. She scanned the row of people holding up placards, then common sense caught up with her and she used her nose instead. There it was - the scent of cat, something familiar at last. She walked over to the woman, tall and slim and dressed to blend in. Bryony didn’t know for certain, but she’d be willing to bet this woman worked in the security side of the pack.
As she approached, the woman met her eyes.
“You must be Bryony.” It was said with a smile, but Bryony had faked enough of her own to see the lie.
“That’s me.”
The woman’s eyes flicked over her, and Bryony was forced not to fidget.
“I must say, considering all the fuss and arguments you’ve caused, I was expecting someone a little bigger.”
“Arguments?” Bryony asked, feeling something clench in her stomach.

***

Looking forward to hearing from you :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

I'm back!


So I've been away from the blog for a while. I wrote a dissertation, finished my undergrad degree, and graduated. I also went to the States for a month to see my boyfriend and some study abroad friends. It's been amazing to have TIME again. Time to read, without feeling guilty. Time to just wander around the city, or hang out with my friends, without worry about leaving time to study and do homework. 

I've had enough of a break now that I'm ready to get back to reviewing, and I have a lovely stack of things to read and review. I'm not going to give myself a strict schedule, but here's, roughly, what the blog will look like for the next few months:

3 reviews a week, or more
'Top Ten Tuesday' meme on Tuesday
'Letter Box Love' & 'Stacking the Shelves' posts or videos on Sundays. 

I can't wait to start sharing books with you again!

~Ailsa

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Letterbox Love/Stacking the Shelves


 


Hello everyone!
It's a very gloomy Sunday here in Edinburgh, but luckily I have books to cheer me up in my study breaks.

Here's what I got recently:

Before Jamaica Lane, by Samantha Young - book 3 in her 'Dublin Street' series. These are set in Edinburgh, and over all I liked this book. Review coming soon.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Reading & loving this just now, will definitely be reviewing it very soon.

Hounded, by Kevin Hearn - Book one of the 'Iron Druid Chronicles'. Lots of friends have talked about this series, so I thought I'd check it out.

I also saw that 'The King', the latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book from J. R. Ward was reduced to about £2.50 on amazon at the moment, so I've downloaded that to read sometime. I've read the first chapter and wasn't getting in to it, but I know I'll want to read it sometime.

How about you? What did you get this week?

-Ailsa

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Emperor's Edge #1


Emperor's edge tells the story of Amaranthe Lokdon, a female enforcer in the city of stumps who (in no fault of her own) ends up on the wrong side of the law. Trying to redeem her place in history, she gathers together an unlikely team of "heroes" called the emperor's edge in order to protect the young emperor from danger and hopefully in doing so, get back on the right side of the history books.

  Blah - that was a pretty dry summary for such a fun book!

 EE is the first of 7 books which tells the story of how Amaranthe Lokdon and her team (of misfits and Sicarius, cause he's no misfit) try to redeem themselves and save the empire. In my opinion this book (and series) are just such fun to read (and re-read - always a good sign). Although set with a serious setting (i.e. political instability etc.), and with certain themes like morality and leadership running through the series, it manages to be a light and adventurous read which captured me from beginning to end (and then made me go and read all available books in the series in 3 days).

 I believe Lindsay Buroker's great talent (which is reflected in all her books) is her character development and dialogue. The characters in her books come alive, with us rooting for them from beginning to the end. I think any other writer would be very much in danger of making Amaranthe unlikable or a Mary-Sue, but Lindsay instead makes both a strong and talented character which is also very likable that (like in the books) draws you in and wants you to be on her side. Similarly, the character of Sicarius the taciturn assassin could easily have been a paper-cut out/assassin stereotype or Gary-Stu, but through out the series (and with various eyebrow twitches) we slowly see a much richer character. In seeing these characters grow during the series, and seeing them grow closer - it adds both romance and a believably element that these two characters know each other and belong together (rather than typical UF/PR romance of insta-love which can often be too prevalent).

Beyond the great characters, dialogue and funny moments, it was Sicarius and Amaranthe's growth and their relationship which made me come back again and again to these books to get that lovely warm feeling of reading a very enjoyable book! I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone if you enjoy a fun light adventure series with great characters and lots of laugh-out-loud dialogue!!

 It is now FREE on all major e-book websites so go on read it!!

FYI: This is a cross-post from my blog

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: The Boy With The Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick


Title: The Boy With The Porcelain Blade
Author: Den Patrick
Release date: 20/3/2014
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

Description: Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted - but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria. Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.

My thoughts: This book was not what I was expecting from the blurb and opening chapter. It starts at a critical point in the main character Lucien's life, as he faces the final test that will complete his training as a soldier. It goes horribly wrong, and Lucien is soon exiled from the city. Demesne is a city split into elite houses, each with a speciality, ruled by a king no one has seen for decades. Lucien is one of the 'Orfani', treated to an exceptional education & living in luxury, but separated by some kind of abnormality - in Lucien's case, he has black fingernails & no ears.

The book alternates from chapter to chapter between the present where he deals with the consequences of exile, and the past where we learn more about him, from when he was a small child gradually getting closer to the present.  While some of these flashbacks were interesting, I did find myself skimming through several of them, wanting to get back to the excitement of the present and the maturity of 18 year old Lucien rather than the more childish version in the other chapters.

I felt like it took until the second half of the book for the story to start living up to the promise of the first couple of chapters, with the intrigue and the challenge of a system finally coming out. That's where it really started to pick up for me and I felt far more engaged. Lucien's journey across the city, through the creepy sanatoria, the oubliette, and onwards, trying to rescue & save his friend before she is co-opted in to another gruesome experiment, kept me on the edge of my seat.

The other thing worth commenting on is that this is quite a creepy story. I'd almost class it as horror rather than fantasy. There are a lot of spiders, so I found myself picking my feet up from the floor while I read some parts! If I'd been watching this on tv, there are a lot of places where I think I would have been peeking around a cushion at the screen.

While it takes a little while to get to reach the potential set up by the first chapter and the blurb, 'The Boy With The Porcelain Blade' is a gripping fantasy story which will keep you up past your bedtime and probably sleeping with the light on. I look forward to the second book in the trilogy.

Overall, I give The Boy With The Porcelain Blade 7/10.

-Ailsa

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Letterbox Love: belated birthday edition


This is a catch-up Letterbox Love/Stacking the Shelves post for the last few weeks, because I've been so busy lately!
 


All links go to Goodreads.
First up, there's the great 'Beyond Jealousy', book 4 in the 'Beyond' series by Kit Rocha. I loved this, and posted my review on Thursday. (Click through to see a contest!)
   

Next, there's 'The Lady Always Wins' by Courtney Milan, a short historical romance story which was free on Kindle for a while. I'll be posting my review for that one this week.

Then there were my birthday books:


'Prince of Thorns' by Mark Lawrence. First in a fantasy series that has been on my wishlist for a few months. I'm planning on taking this on holiday with my in April.

'Half-Off Ragnarok' by Seanan McGuire. 3rd in her InCryptid series. I'm not sure if I'll review this one yet, as I really don't have praises I haven't already said. I love every one of Ms McGuirre's books I've read, and this was no exception.

'Curtsies & Conspiracies' by Gail Carriger. Book 2 in the 'Finishing School' series. I'll probably review this one when I read it, sometime next week after my dissertation is handed in.

'Lunch in Paris' by  Elizabeth Bard. Another that's been on my wishlist for a while. It's been a while since I read any travel stories, so I'm looking forward to this.

Last but by no means least, I was one of the 'Gollancz Geeks' picked out the hat to review this.


'The Boy With The Porcelain Blade' by Den Patrick. I'm reading this at the moment & enjoying it. I think 'gritty fantasy' might be an apt description.

What did you get recently?

-Ailsa

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Beyond Jealousy by Kit Rocha


Today I'm excited to be taking part in the blog tour for the release of 'Beyond Jealousy', book 4 in the O'Kane series by Kit Rocha.


Title: Beyond Jealousy
Author: Kit Rocha (aka Moira Rodgers)
Release date: 17th March
Source: Review copy
Genre: Dystopian

Description: She’s been looking for the perfect man. She found two.
When Rachel Riley sacrificed a life in Eden to protect the O’Kanes, she earned her place in the powerful Sector Four gang. But the former crime princess is tired of being everyone’s sweet little sister . It’s time for her to get wild, to embrace her fantasies as only an O’Kane can—with a delicious exiled soldier and the gang’s wickedly sinful tattoo artist.
A saint...
Lorenzo Cruz is a warrior, taught by his commanding officers in Eden that involvement equals distraction. Emotion is a liability, and desire a sin.  In Sector Four, he finds decadence, shameless sex—and his own dark urges. No battle strategy prepared him for how Rachel makes his heart race…or the way his rival for her affections sets his blood on fire.
...and a sinner.
Ace Santana has a dirty reputation and a mind to match, especially where his new lovers are concerned.  He’s eager to help Cruz embrace his dominant side, and to explore the lines between pleasure and pain with Rachel. But corrupting them quickly becomes an obsession, a need he can’t deny—and a love he never imagined.
Three hearts on the line means a hundred ways their ménage a trois could go wrong. After all, even O’Kanes do forever two-by-two.  One of them could be the missing piece that makes them all whole…or a temporary diversion destined for a broken heart.

My thoughts: If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I'm a fan of this series. I love the dystopian world the ladies who make up Kit Rocha have created, with a civilisation forced to change after solar flares knocked out a lot of the electricity sources and communication devices. Eden is an isolated city, meant to be a perfect place, and around it are built the Sectors, each run in a different style by a different leader.

One of my favourite things about this book is that we're really starting to learn more about the world outside Eden, and how Eden is managing to run itself, and protect itself from any other cities. There are hints that the city is managing its resources very badly, despite apparently being set up to cope just fine, which is something I think would be very interesting to see as the series continues.

Tension between Ace & Rachel has been there since the beginning. They've always "sparked" as Ace puts it, but the wrong words coming out mean that as the book starts, they're not exactly getting along with each other. Instead, Ace and Cruz have turned their work partnership into something a whole lot more personal. There are some very hot scenes as the group set aside their arguments and start trying to make a go of things as a threesome. Of course, love is never simple, and although they work as a three when it would probably never last with any of them in a pair, it's hard to feel balanced in a three. Ace's past makes it very difficult to let other people in, and the events of Beyond Jealousy really push him to accept some things.

There are so many things developing around this romance, too. The fake O'Kane liquor from book 3 comes back to keep causing trouble, and Rachel's father the beer brewer from Eden becomes involved. The crisis leads to something which has been brewing in these books since the beginning and I can't wait for the next book to see how the next stage of things starts to play out.

With 'Beyond Jealousy', Kit Rocha shows a steamy hot menage-a-trois come together, while further exploring their dystopian world, and the effects of events in the previous books. As ever, I'm waiting desperately for the next in this brilliant series.

Overall, I give this one 8 out of 10.


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