Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stacking the Shelves/Letterbox Love

StS is hosted by Tynga's reviews, and Letterbox Love was started by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking. 

I said in my last StS/LL post that there is a great library here. I picked up a few more this week.

A Murder of Crows, by Anne Bishop. #2 in the Others series. I read book one at the start of the summer and loved it, and book 2 is just as good. I'm racing through this one at the moment and will probably post a review soon. Meg and her friends are trying to figure out why Crows are being attacked.

Lola & the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins. I loved Anna & the French Kiss, and I've been
looking forward to reading this one. I know it'll be a quick read, so I was happy to find it in a library. May or may not review, we'll see.

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. #1 in the Grisha trilogy. This was one of the books I mentioned in the top ten Tuesday about series' I want to start. Looking forward to starting it later this week.

Indexing, by Seanan McGuire. I'm pretty sure this is a standalone story. I love everything by Ms. McGuire that I've read so far, and I like the sound of this one - fairy tale stories can affect the lives of some people, and there's a Bureau trying to help them.

I also borrowed the audiobook of Nalini Singh's 'Kiss of Snow' - it's one of my favourite books in the Psy/Changeling series, and I think the narrator is really good.

So what did you get this week? Have you read any of these books?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book review: Magic Breaks, by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7)
Author: Ilona Andrews
Release date: July 2014
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Bought

Description: As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear...

My thoughts: I was a bit nervous starting this Ilona Andrews book. After the previous one, Magic Rises, it seemed inevitable that the story was reaching the point where Kate would have to face her father. And I couldn't imagine that happening without things going really badly for Kate and her allies, the way things did in Magic Rises. I don't want to spoil everything, but it wasn't the bloodbath I worried it might be.

I love this book. However, it's hard to say that I love it on it's own merits, or to review it on it's own merits. Magic Breaks works, for me, because of the series as a whole. It's the little bits and pieces from the earlier books starting to really pull together and reach a head that makes me appreciate it so much. It's seeing Kate stand up and do things that are a world away from what readers might have expected from her in the first few books. The characters and situations are meaningful because we got to know these characters, like Derek, Ascanio, and Barabas, to pick out just a few.

There are some acceptances and realisations in Magic Breaks for Kate and others that come out of just the events of this book. But overall, I felt like it was a culmination of things that came before. It's the proof that events in the previous books are still affecting Kate and Curran. The events of Magic Rises in particular are very much still felt.

I'm not saying that I think it wouldn't be a good book without the rest of the series. It's a great book. But it's hard at this stage in the series, with such a strong link of the story arc going between them, to take it as a stand-alone. It's not. It's the next chapter, and that took it from being a great book in a great series, to being one of my favourite reads this year.

With Magic Breaks, Ilona Andrews has a story with character development, romance, revelations, tough decisions, and unexpected twists. I can only hope that the remaining couple of books in the series live up to this. 10/10.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: series I want to start

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's question is 'New series' you want to start'. Since I'm not so up-to-date on this year's new releases, I'm going to do this as any series I haven't started yet but want to. This was actually quite hard for me, because most of my wishlist consists of second, third etc books in series I've already started. I've linked to the first book of each series on goodreads.

1) The Twilight Reign series, by Tom Lloyd. This series has been on my radar for a while, and after briefly meeting Tom last year at WFC '13, I've really been thinking about buying the first one, Stormcaller. Fantasy series.

2) The Throne Of Glass series, by Sarah J. Maas. Another fantasy series, I've heard so many good things about them and I'd love to read it.

3) The Paranormalcy series, by Kiersten White. Again, I've heard many many good things about this series, and haven't had a chance to read it yet.

4) The Grisha Trilogy, by Leigh Bardugo. I'm sure this doesn't need explaining.

5) The Charley Davidson series, by Darynda Jones. I don't know so much about this series, but I keep seeing recommendations for the later books in the series, and I think I'd like to check it out.

6) The Curse Worker's series, by Holly Black. I love the sound of these books, and Holly Black seems kind of awesome. I love her Spiderwick series and I've read some of her other books, so I've been hoping to read these ones for a while.

7) The Shadow Police books by Paul Cornell, which start with London Falling. Magic in London. Always a fun thing to read about.

That's all I've got... so if anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Particularly if there are new steampunk novels that have come out this year! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Stacking the Shelves/Letterbox Love



Letterbox Love (from Narratively Speaking) and Stacking the Shelves (from Tynga's Reviews) are memes to share the books you've received this week.

Busy times here, as per usual. I'm in Texas for a few weeks visiting a friend, and the library here is brilliant, they have so many books I want to read! Here are the three I got to start me off. (Links go to Goodreads.)

The Undead Pool, by Kim Harrison. The penultimate book in the hollows series. I've been looking forward to reading this for a while, can't wait to see how it goes, and of course I'm looking forward to seeing how things go between Rachel & Trent in this book. Reading it at the moment, review coming soon.

Black Arts, by Faith Hunter. (#7 in the Jane Yellowrock series.) Evan Trueblood comes to New Orleans looking for his wife. I started reading this on the bus yesterday, and I'm excited to see how it goes. Getting to see more of the Trueblood family? Yes, please, I love seeing Jane with her 'pack' and it looks like this book might see the mending of some bridges between them.

Fortune's Pawn, by Rachel Bach. 1st in the series. I first heard of this book when I think Ilona Andrews reviewed it on her blog, and I've noticed it in a couple of places since then. Something a little different for me, but I think it'll be interesting.

What books did you get this week? Leave your links in the comments and I'll check them out, and let me know if you've read any of these three!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book review: Hell's Belle, by Karen Greco

Title: Hell's Belle
Author: Karen Greco
Publisher: Self published
Release date: July 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Bought

Description: Half vampire, half human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents that quietly take down rogue monsters, the human world none the wiser. She moves back to her hometown of Providence, RI to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt. 

Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city's community of witches. 

But Nina's investigation unearths deadly secrets from her long buried parents. Now the target of supernatural assassins, could Nina be the most dangerous vampire hybrid to ever exist? No wonder she can’t get a date.

My thoughts: The story starts (after a prologue which I'll talk about in a minute) with Nina working in a bar in Providence. A cute guy comes in, but she's quickly distracted by the guy who snarls at her then tries to slit her throat. Thankfully, since Nina is part vampire, she heals quickly enough that it doesn't cause a big problem, and in the chaos, the cute guy turns out to be a cop, working for the FBI. By the end of chapter one, I was hooked.

Apart from the attack on her in the bar, there are also several gruesome murders in the city. Nina investigates, and discovers that a blade used in the attacks looks the same as the one the vampire attacked her with at the bar. Even more interesting, she owns a blade that looks almost the same, which was given to her by her late father. She begins to try tracking the killer vampire across the city, amidst a turbulent relationship with Max, the FBI guy. (Do they want to date, or is she a suspect in his investigation? And the classic, what if he finds out the truth about her?)

There were a couple of things I didn't like in this book. The prologue was interesting: we see Nina fighting off some vampires with the help of Frankie, her best friend & also a vampire. You get a lot of information about why they are killing these vampires and the situation in that city (Newark). I enjoyed reading it, thinking it was set up for the main story. However, no. Nothing about these vampires or the situation in Newark links in with the rest of the story at all. Yes, it gives you an idea of what her usual monster-hunting job involves, but I think you could get enough of an idea about that from the rest of the story. As it became clear that the prologue wasn't actually going to tie in with the main story, I got more irritated - it really didn't need to be there at all.

There were also the inevitable phrases here and there which I stumbled over and think would have been different in a traditionally published novel. However, there were fewer than in other self-pubbed books I've read, and I believe the sequel will be even better. I couldn't find any information about when it comes out, but I'll definitely be reading it when it does turn up.

I really enjoyed this book, and how refreshing it is to have vampires who are actually creepy and more like monsters. Some of the other monsters I won't spoil you about were also very good, very creepy.

Overall, I found Karen Greco's "Hell's Belle" to be an exciting urban fantasy murder mystery story, stepping away from the romanticising of 'monsters'. I give it 7/10.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Letterbox Love: the LonCon edition

I was at LonCon a couple of weeks ago, and of course picked up a few books :) All links go to Goodreads.

The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie - I still haven't read any of Joe Abercrombie's books, but I've seen him do a few pannels and he's really funny, and I've heard great things about the books, so I'm looking forward to reading this.

Memory of Water, by Emmi Itaranta -   I'd seen this on a couple of blogs, and the author was signing coppies. It looked interesting, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Songs of the Earth, by Elspeth Cooper - This one I'd never heard of before,  but it sounds really interesting, I'm looking forward to starting it. It's another fantasy, so right up my street :)

The City of Silk and Steel, by Mike, Linda and Louise Carey - I actually heard Mike Carey talk last year about co-writing this book with his wife and daughter. Knowing I like his work and curious about how the writing together process worked out, I decided to pick this one up too.

I also bought a few books, but amazingly managed to limit myself to three!

The King's Bastard, by Rowena Corey Daniels - I had wanted to read this one for a while, but it was a bit disappointing. Review here.

The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire - the next in the October Daye series. Observant people will notice this wasn't actually released at the time of the con, but Forbidden Planet had a couple of copies in the dealer's room, so I snagged one. Fans of the series - you are going to love this one, it might be my new favourite in the series.

Deadly Curiosities, by Gail Z Martin - again, seen this in the shops a few times and been interested. They were on sale so that was all the push I needed! I expect this will be one of the next ones I pick up when I get home from my current travels.

I'd love to know if you've read any of these books, and the books you've bought recently!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review: The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniels

Title: The King's Bastard
Author: Rowena Cory Daniels
Publisher: Solaris
Release date: out now
Source: Bought

Description: The Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours of new Affinity Seeps, places where the untamed power wells up. By royal decree all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Abbey, the King's youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Elsewhere others are tainted with Affinity and must fight to survive. Political intrigue and magic combine in this explosive first book in an exciting new fantasy trilogy.

My thoughts: I have to say it was very frustrating reading this book. I love a fantasy series with political intrigue and I'd thought that would be what I was getting with this. Right from the start though I was disappointed.

The story starts with Byren on a hunting trip, and he soon hears the prophecy that he will kill his twin. Readers are also introduced to younger brother Fyn, training to be a monk because of his magical ability, and little sister Piro, still very much a child in the eyes of those around her. The story focuses on Byren & how events develop because of the prophecy and something that happens with his friend early in the book. Byren did annoy me a bit - I never saw him as the inspiring leader other characters supposedly see him as. He made some poor judgement calls that I just couldn't understand. Fyn was more interesting to read about but the schoolboy squabbles and bullying at the abbey were the sort of thing I find quite boring. Piro was my favourite, and I think will be an interesting character  to follow in the next book. She had the most character development over the book.

I was incredibly frustrated with the author's style though. The writing just felt a bit clunky, and although the plot was good, I think it's really been let down by the storytelling here. I felt like the author did a lot of unnecessary 'telling' - a character would say something to themselves that had already been implied, for example. If it only happened a few times I could let that go, but it came up again and again. I did enjoy the plot, but I often found myself skimming pages so that I could find out what was going on without having to actually read it. Because of the plot, I'm giving this 5/10. I would read the sequels, but they are a long way down my list of bookish priorities at the moment.
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