Thursday, July 16, 2015

Follow Friday


Feature & Follow is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Each week there is a question to answer and the idea is to meet other book bloggers.

I'M VERY EXCITED TO BE ONE OF THIS WEEKS FEATURED BLOGGERS!!! Hello, new visitors! Welcome to the blog and please have a look around :) Check out the ladies' posts (linked above) for my answers to their interview questions. You can also add your own FF link to their linky post over there.

This week the #FF question is: If you had the money, what would your personal library be like?

I think this is a great question for book lovers! My library would have a lovely wooden floor but with a nice rug to stop my feet getting too cold. There would be big windows to let in the light and all of the walls would be covered with shelves, floor to ceiling. I'd have a big wooden desk in the middle, with a nice comfy winged leather chair for settling in to with a book. I'd also have a window seat with lots of cushions, as another little reading nook.

How about you, what would your library look like?

You can follow me by GFC, email or on Twitter - all links over to the side. Or if you're more into video, my Book Tube channel is
Ailsa Vlogs.

Mini book review: Natural Causes by James Oswald


Title: Natural Causes
Author: James Oswald
Publication date: May 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Crime
Notes: #1 of the Inspector McLean series

Description: Natural Causes is the first novel in the Detective Inspector McLean series, from Sunday Times best-selling author James Oswald. A young girl's mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago. For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority - but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death. Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave Edinburgh's police at a loss. McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory. And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil...

My thoughts: I'd heard good things about this author for both this series and his newer fantasy series, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the books. I knew the author was Scottish and the books were set in and around Edinburgh, so that boded well for it painting Scotland & Edinburgh accurately - not something that always happens. I was right - James Oswald begins the story with Inspector Tony McLean stopping at a violent crime scene in one of the affluent areas of the city. Right from the start, Oswald brings Edinburgh to life - or rather death, as Inspector McLean goes from one crime scene to another, interspersed with time at the frantic police station and several visits to the morgue. While at first each crime seems straightforward and isolated, with a killer being found soon afterwards, Tony knows it isn't that simple and tries to untangle all the threads before someone else becomes a victim.

There is a hint of something supernatural in the story and readers are left guessing as to whether there really are ghosts involved, or whether the 'supernatural' events are simply coincidence and imagination. I thought it was a good story and I liked the cast of characters and their developing professional and personal relationship. I do plan to read the next book in the series when I can find it. So, if you're in the mood for some Scottish crime solving with a frustrated Detective Inspector and a hint of something supernatural, I can recommend this one. I'm giving this one 7/10.

~Ailsa

Buy it: The Book Depository

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stacking The Shelves


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, to share the books you got this week.

Last week the publisher Hachette UK ran an 'Insight Into Publishing' day with talks from staff in a variety of departments giving more information about what their jobs involve. I was lucky enough to be there and apart from it being a really interesting day, we got a couple of free books!

First there was an ebook of 'A Man Called Ove' by Fredrik Backman. I don't really know much about this one and I haven't started it yet, but since it's an ebook, it'll be one of my 'back up books' on holiday next week. Here's the description: At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets. But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...

Next we got a paperback copy of The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith. This is a crime novel, the sequel to A Cuckoo's Calling, and while I haven't read the first one, I started reading this on the tube and it seems good so far. I'm thinking of taking it on holiday and finishing it there. It's about a private investigator who is looking in to the disappearance of an author, then the author turns up murdered. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.


Finally, while I was in London I caved in & bought the latest Psy/Changeling novel - Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh. This is the 14th book in the series and follows two of the Arrow Squad, the elite soldiers who protect Psy. I loved this book and will review it very soon.

What books did you get this week?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday



Feature & Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View

You can follow me by email, GFC or on Twitter! Links on the right hand side of the page to all three. You could also subscribe to my Book Tube channel on youtube, which is here: Ailsa Vlogs.

The question this week is incredibly un-bookish but I'll go ahead and answer it anyway. "You can only eat one cuisine type for the rest of your life. Which would you choose? (E.g. Italian, French, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Indian etc…)"

Hard question but I'll stick with British because apart from having some favourites I miss when I'm away, it's a big conglomeration of foods - we have our own versions of a lot of other things, after all (like curry!).

Feel free to link your FF posts in the comments and I'll have a look at them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book review: Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin


Title: Deadly Curiosities
Author: Gail Z Martin
Release date: June 2014
Publisher: Solaris
Source: Bought
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description: Welcome to Trifles & Folly, a store with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 - acquiring and neutralising dangerous supernatural items. It's the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market.

When a trip to a haunted hotel unearths a statue steeped in malevolent power, and a string of murders draws a trail to the abandoned old Navy yard, Cassidy and Sorren discover a diabolical plot to unleash a supernatural onslaught on their city.

It's time for Kincaide and her team to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up. 

My thoughts: This is one of the most action-packed stories I've read for a while. The first chapter sees Cassidy and her colleague Teag hearing about a haunted guest house which someone wants their help with. To simplify the story a little I'll say that they also have to deal with a variety of 'haunted' objects which cause Cassidy, with her magical gifts, to go a bit funny. Teag & Cassidy both think all the hauntings and negative feelings around these objects are linked together and connected to a string of brutal murders which are happening in the city but they can't figure out how.

I thought it was an incredibly spooky story - a lot of the danger & fear in the books comes from shadowy things seen out the corner of the eye, or things moving in mirrors if you look at them long enough, which is exactly the sort of thing that creeps me out. I get paranoid and jumpy and this book really uses that kind of fear to crank up the tension of the characters in the story. They know that there are bad things watching them but they have a hard time getting a clear look at them and figuring out what it is.

Aside from the action and the creepy bad guys, I really liked the voice of it and the way Gail Z Martin paints the world. I believe she has written several short stories set in this world, and although this book is the first in a series you can really tell, reading it, that those other stories exist. For instance, Teag has some magical powers of his own and it says those are a recent discovery for him. The way it's talked about, I'd be willing to bet there are stories with Teag learning about this gift somewhere. The back cover description also emphasises the vampire Sorren but he actually comes in to the story later on and seems to be more in the role of 'big back up they call in an emergency'. Again, I expect he has more of a role in other stories. For all that it's obvious this world has been built up over other stories, I think it works very well and it doesn't affect the telling of this particular story. I didn't feel like I needed to have read the other things first, but it did make me want to read them now!

One thing keeping me from giving this a perfect score is that there is no hint of romance (except between Teag & his boyfriend but they're very solidly a couple already) and I am partial to just a little bit of romance. However, it's not necessarily a bad thing at this stage in a series and it gives me hope that this will go the way of my favourites and gradually bring in a little hint of romance over several stories, building it up realistically. Although the book takes place over the time of a couple of weeks, there really wasn't any time for Cassidy to be thinking romantically, after all!

As one of the best starts to an urban fantasy series that I've read in the last year, I'm giving this one 7/10. I hope there's a sequel soon and I imagine this series can grow in to 10 star ratings as it goes on.

~Ailsa

Buy it: The Book Depository  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Book review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie


Title: Ancillary Justice
Author: Ann Leckie
Release date: 2013
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: #1 in a trilogy
Source: Borrowed from a friend

Description: On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. 
Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance. 

My thoughts: If you read science fiction and haven't heard of this book yet, I'm not sure where you've been. I only dip an occasional toe into the SF side of SFF but I've been hearing about this book since it came out and started winning awards all over the place. My friend has a copy so I jumped at the chance to read it.

The book follows the starship 'Justice of Torren', an artificial intelligence. The story goes between the past where Justice of Torren was based on a planet, with hundreds of bodies (ancillaries) she controlled simultaneously, each functioning alone and able to function together as one, and the present, where she has been cut down to just one body and is using the name 'Breq'. The past sections paint the events leading up to the betrayal that led to the loss of all her other bodies and eventually the betrayal itself. The present follows Breq as she reaches (she hopes) the end of a twenty year quest for something that will give her vengeance on her betrayers.

The story is in first person from Justice of Torren/Breq's point of view which I think works very well. There were times when it was hard to get my head around how she could be controlling all the bodies at once, performing so many different tasks, having multiple conversations, but generally it was fine. One interesting side-effect of her narrating the story is that because the people who built her have no concept of gender, she refers to everyone as 'she'. Occasionally there are characters who she knows are on their planet male or female but she never actually reveals it in the narration - it's just "I used the correct gender pronoun for the language". I found this interesting but I've heard some people got annoyed with it.

I found the story really interesting, with plenty of 'oh crap now they're really in trouble' moments. It was very interesting to have the story told by an AI (artificial intelligence) and focussed around them and the nature of their ability to choose things, have feelings, express things while still being neutral, a computer built to obey. I'm definitely going to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.

Overall I'm giving this 8/10.

~Ailsa

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Independent Bookseller Week: 3 of my favourites


If you hadn't heard, it's Independent Bookseller Week here in the UK - a time to highlight independent stores, with events around the country. I thought I'd share three of my favourite independent shops. Written list below the video :)




First, I love Transreal Fiction, in Edinburgh. They have an amazing selection of science fiction and fantasy books, and everything in between, as well as comics, stuffed toys, etc. They're always happy to order in something if they don't have it and it's a great place to find American editions of books, especially if it's not currently published in the UK.

Next, Looking Glass Books, also in Edinburgh. This one is part cafe, part bookshop and regularly hosts author events. Very cute shop and a lovely place to hang out and write.

Third, Seven Stories in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Seven Stories really deserves a post of it's own - it's the National Centre for Children's Books and apart from hosting various wonderful exhibits (I loved the Jacqueline Wilson one) they have a large children's bookshop on the ground floor, with everything from picture books to young adult stories.
 

Term of Use

If you would like us to review your book, do an interview or host a guest blog, you can contact Ailsa at: ailsa.floyd@yahoo.com or Emily Cross at:emilycross09@gmail.com

We are happy to review any genre of books - get in touch and we can chat.

The Book Bundle Copyright © 2009 Flower Garden is Designed by Ipietoon for Tadpole's Notez Flower Image by Dapino