Friday, April 17, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's reviews. 

I've actually had 'Farlander' for a while, but my Dad has been saying I should read it, so it's been rescued from the depths of my TBR shelf. The other two were also lent to me by my Dad.

Farlander, by Col Buchanan. The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators.
Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he chooses Nico, a young man living in the besieged city of Bar-Khos. At the time, Nico is hungry, desperate, and alone in a city that finds itself teetering on the brink.
When the Holy Matriarch's son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the Roshun, he forces the sect to seek his life in retribution. Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfill the mandate, and their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports...into bloodshed and death.

Blood Song, by Anthony RyanWe have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.
Vaelin Al Sorna's life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime - where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order's masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.
Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order's deadliest weapon and the Realm's only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

Ice Forged, by Gail Z MartinCondemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine "Mick" McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor's mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.
Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead...

What books did you get this week? Share your links in the comments and I'll check them out!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Tempest's Fury by Nicole Peeler

Title: Tempest's Fury
Author: Nicole Peeler
Release date: July 2012
Publisher: Orbit
Series: Jane True #5
Genre: fantasy/paranormal romance

Description: Supernatural halfling Jane True's not happy. She's been packed off to England to fight a war when she'd much rather be getting busy with her boyfriend Anyan. Unfortunately, Jane's enemies have been stirring up some major trouble and attracting a lot of attention - making it rather tricky for Jane and Anyan to get any alone time.
Catapulted into the role of Most Unlikely Hero Ever, Jane must lead supernatural races in a desperate battle to combat an ancient evil. But she'll also have to fight her own insecurities, as well as the doubts of those who don't think she can live up to her new role as Champion - the most powerful supernatural leader of all . . .

My thoughts: The fifth book in Nicole Peeler's 'Jane True' series about a half-human half-selkie woman from the Northeast USA, Tempest's Fury finds Jane in London, to help fight a war. In this book, Jane must learn to use the extra power she's been given, and wield the giant axe (labrys) which she'll be able to use against their enemies. Most of the usual gang are here - Blondie, Anyan, and some new British friends.

I have to confess this isn't my favourite book in the series. It took me a lot longer to read, as the plot allowed me to get distracted by other books. Basically this book is about Jane's development, while they visit various places in England chasing down ancient enemies.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book is how Ms Peeler paints England through Jane's eyes. You can tell that she has visited the country and seen things for herself - her observations (through Jane) are spot on with what I'd noticed in reverse going to America: the size and shape of houses, the way streets are different, the differences between what a 'city' looks like in the two countries.

With the book ending the way it does, I'm very glad #6, Tempest Reborn, is already out - I'll be reading it soon to find out what happens! I love the series, but this one just didn't hold my attention like the others. Overall, I give it 6 out of 10.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jess at Breaking The Spine.

I have three books to look at this week. They've all been released in the last couple of months, but I haven't had a chance to read them yet, and I'm making myself read a few more books on my kindle (or get my next job lined up!) before I buy... the waiting is hard!

First up:
Deadly Spells, book 3 in the Prospero's War series by Jaye Wells. I've read the first two books in this
series and really enjoyed them. Kate Prospero is a cop, and from a powerful magical clan - one of the clans she's fighting as a cop. I'm loving the developments in her professional life as a cop, seeing how her attitude to magic is changing, and of course the hints at potential love interests that are starting to creep in! I'm not a fan of insta-love at all, so I'm glad that by the end of book two, there were just some things starting to take shape.

Second: Vision In Silver, by Anne Bishop. Book 3 of the 'Others' series. I like
the way these stories are told, following main character Meg who is a seer - when she makes a cut on her body. Meg is making a home for herself amongst the supernatural creatures who live on the edge of a town in North America. In this series, supernatural creatures are way above humans on the food chain, but the humans have a bad habit of forgetting that! At the end of book 2 it looked like things were getting pretty bad for humans in America, but something in far away Europe could be trying to change that... I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for Meg and her friends, and how they deal with the next set of challenges.

Third: Prudence, by Gail Carriger. I'm a big fan of Carriger's work, and Prudence is about the daughter of my favourite of her heroines, Alexia, making her own way in the world. I can't wait to dive into another aspect of Ms. Carriger's world, and see some old friends from the previous series' too, hopefully.

Feel free to share you're WoW links in the comments :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: The Girl With All The Gifts, by M. R. Carey

Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Release date: January 2014
Genre: Horror

Description: Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

My thoughts: I wouldn't normally pick up a horror book, particularly something with zombies in, but after hearing Mike Carey read the first chapters of this book at an event, I knew I wanted to read the rest of the story. It starts with Melanie going to her daily classes. She sits in her wheelchair with her neck, arms, and legs strapped to it, so she can only face straight ahead. She knows that the classroom is somewhere far from Beacon, the place where everyone lives now, to stay safe from the Hungries. She knows that when Sergeant Parks wipes off his arm and holds it in front of her classmate, the boy snaps at his arm like a wild creature, and she can smell something wonderful in the room. Sometimes she asks her favourite teacher about how long they will stay in the classroom, or what she'll do when she grows up, but that makes the teacher sad.

Then the Hungries break in to the compound, and Melanie, Sergeant Parks, her teacher, and some others flee. They're heading towards Beacon, but no one has been able to get a radio signal from Beacon for months. So maybe they're creeping through zombie infested English countryside towards nothing. But they have to try.

I found the part of the story set in the classroom really interesting, seeing the life Melanie had, and the sort of thing the humanity of the book was doing to try to find a cure for the zombie plague. When they leave the compound, it becomes a lot creepier. It's a very 'Walking Dead' sort of environment, very quiet, with every little noise putting the characters and me reading on edge. The tension builds as they go from the countryside into first a small town, and then the outskirts of London. M. R. Carey moves between the different characters to tell the story, and by seeing from different stances, you gradually get a clearer picture of what happened with the spread of the plague, and the things the government did to try to fight it. The characters pass big craters in the roads where the government dropped bombs, and cross a swathe of land that's been burnt away to nothing from where they tried using fire to stop it. Everything seems like it could have happened, and even the route of the virus itself is something believable, which I enjoyed.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend 'The Girl With All The Gifts' for fans of zombie stories. It's an interesting look at what lengths some people might go to to 'cure' something, and how we deal with outsiders, people who are different from what we know. Melanie's innocence and intelligence combine to make her an interesting character to tell the story, and her gradual realisation about her background and how she can be more than just the girl in the wheelchair is a journey that sticks with you.

I give M. R. Carey's 'The Girl With All The Gifts' 7 out of 10.


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! :)
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