Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Hiatus


It's been a little quiet here for the last week or so, but fear not, kind readers! We will be back in the new year with plenty of reviews and other interesting things.

I'm just starting to write reviews for the books I've been reading over Christmas, and the first one will go up early next week.

In the mean time, what books (or anything else interesting, for that matter) did anyone get over the holiday?

~Ailsa

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Chick City's Urban Fantasy/Horror challenge!


I've never done one of these challenges before, but I read mostly urban fantasy anyway, so when I saw Book Chick City was running a horror/urban fantasy reading challenge for 2011, I though, why not?

All you have to do is read 24 H/UF books next year.
I already know some of the ones I want to do.

You can sign up by clicking on the challenge button on the right hand side of this blog.

Have any of you participated in challenges before? Is anyone signed up to do this one? Let me know in the comments! It would be great to have some challenge buddies :-)
Also, I'm really sorry not to have posted any reviews this week - I've had exams, which stressed me more than a little, but I'm hoping to get a couple of posts up over the weekend.
~Ailsa

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox


I thought writing a video post would be quicker and more fun than a normal one, and have just spent ages trying to clip things together and then upload it. Next time, I'll either find a quicker way (I'm sure it wasn't this hard before) or I'll just write it out!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, to show new books and encourage blogger interaction.



What did you get in your mailboxes this week?

~Ailsa

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter


Cleopatra's Daughter tells the story of Selene Kleopatra, daughter of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra of Ptolemy, who after the defeat and suicide of her parents, if left to live under the watchful eyes of the ruling family of Ancient Rome.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading Moran's other works. It's extremely easy to read, and isn't bogged down with too much historical detail. I found the characters and their stories to be engaging, and I would recommend it to others except for one major caveat.

Moran adds an additional element to the story, she creates a character/plot called the 'Red Eagle' which fights against the establishment for the freedom of slaves. This plot is meant to add an extra feeling of suspense and action to the plot which I feel is completely unneccesary and sort of ruins the atmosphere of the book. Immediately it adds a very 'modern' concept to the ancient world, yes there were those who were against slavery in ancient times but this 'red eagle' hero figure feels very modern. The entire slavery subplot contaminated the storyline for me, as Selene is seen as very anti-slavery, which just has me sort of shaking my head - she was raised with slaves tending to her every need, why would she start to question it now? I know it has to do with the fact that she now is a captive, but she is never a slave or experiences the life of a slave.

Moran is an excellent writer and I did enjoy the story, I just feel that it would have been much better and realistic for her to concentrate on the dangers for Selene being in Rome such as political intrique, the senate etc. This is touched on briefly but isn't explored to its potential. Reading is about suspension of belief but the 'red eagle' plot line pulled me out of this belief. I thoroughly enjoyed Moran's writing style and story (except for that aspect) and I LOVE anything to do with Egypt so this gets a 7 out of ten from me.

I'm looking forward to reading her other works Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen.

If anyone has any recommendations of egyptian historical fiction, please leave a comment :)

Grave Witch, by Kalayna Price


From the back cover: Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn't mean she likes what they have to say.
As a private investigator and a consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she's on good terms with Death himself - who happens to look fantastic in jeans - nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high-profile murder when she's attacked by the 'shade' she's raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around...
To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something - though it's certainly not his dislike of Alex. But Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer who wields a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life... and her soul.

First of all - look at the cover! Isn't it gorgeous? I love it, and it really holds the atmosphere of the book.

I’d never heard of this book before, or the author, but the blurb sounded interesting, and the cover looked cool, so I picked it up. It certainly didn’t disappoint.
Things are exciting from the very first sentence, where Alex admits she first met Death when she was five. Now, she’s trying to talk to a client, while Death hovers behind him, taking his soul before they can finish the conversation. Escaping this situation, Alex heads for the morgue to help her estranged family, and hopefully get paid. Of course it doesn’t turn out that simply, and with one of her friends in a coma in hospital, she has to figure out what’s going on. This all happens in the first 35 pages, and I had to read the rest of the book just as quickly. I took it to lectures with me, reading under the table whenever the lecturer didn’t seem to be saying anything important.

I love a lot of things about this book. There is always something important happening, and it’s always interesting. It’s told from Alex’s perspective, and it was very entertaining to read - I like her sense of humour. I loved how Death was taking a more personal interest in Alex. The coffee-sharing scene, where she has to hold the cup for him - sooo sexy! Drinking coffee will never be the same. I thought Falin was an idiot at first, another annoying cop where there are books full of them. But as we get to know him, I realised as Alex did that Falin isn’t so bad after all, and he’s another yummy guy to read about. I can’t wait to see in future books where these romantic beginnings go. There are a lot of problems with both relationships, and I want to see more about the fallout from certain things revealed about Falin at the end of the book.

My favourite thing was the mystery that Alex is trying to solve, the twists and turns as you try and work out who the bad guy is, and what they’re trying to achieve. Combined with the romance, this is what kept me reading so fast. Alex is a great main character to read about. Even without people trying to kill her, she would have a pretty interesting day to day life. I can’t wait to learn more about her and her world in the sequel, and I wish it came out sooner than July!
9 out of 10

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the Story Siren.
Another week then! This week has stuff from the past couple of weeks, because I've missed a few, and didn't read much recently. I'm also very excited because I received my first ARCs this week from NetGalley!
So:

Pictured:
The Crowded Shadows, by Celine Kiernan - this is the sequel to the Poison Throne, I finished book one and had to know what happened next! Will be reviewing TPT soon.

Red Hot Fury, by Kasey Mackenzie - interesting, but it's taking me a while to get through.

Grave Witch, by Kalayna Price - love this book! My next review, will try and post it tomorrow.

Beyond the Pale, by Savannah Russe - I recognised the name from a short story I'd read, have only just started reading it.

Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey - again, really enjoyed this book. I'll try and review soon.

The Two Towers, by J R R Tolkien - audiobook - I've read these before, a long time ago, and thought it would be great to listen to it over the holiday.

For review, from NetGalley:

The Fallen Blade, by Jon Courtnenay Grimwood - fantasy, it sounds interesting!

Death's Sweet Embrace, by Tracey O'Hara - I'm supper excited to read this, as I really loved her first book.


How about you? What books have you received recently? Any thoughts on the ones I've mentioned here?
We love to hear from you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Staying Alive



I know it's a tad strange to be doing a review of a poetry anthology, especially on a book blog, but I felt it necessary.

This book is one of the best poetry collections that I have read ever. The editor Neil Astley in his introduction states he wanted to bring together poetry which "speaks to us with the same unnerving power now as when we first cam across them".

This book includes some of the best poems by the great poets of recent history like Yeats, Frost, Kavanagh, Heaney, Auden etc. but also includes works which english speakers will not know such as the translated works of Polish, Hungarian and Sweedish poets.

This is an excellent book for both beginners (especially IMO) and for those who enjoy poetry - you have wonderful mix of known and unknown contemporary poets, divided into sections such as "War and Peace". Neil Astley didn't just pick wonderful poems but laid them out juxtaposing opposite tones of the same theme side by side.

On a personal note one of my favourites of the collection is an anonymous poem (although many seem to be linked to it) - Do Not Stand at my Grace and Weep.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Things!


Hi guys!
There are just a couple of new/different things on the blog that I wanted to draw your attention to quickly.

First of all, we have a little box over to the right hand side with 'coming soon' at the top, to give you an idea of what reviews & other cool stuff we have coming up soon.

Second, I'm changing my opinion on ebooks after discovering the wonders of netgalley and GalleyGrab - I will now review ebooks. I still prefer print by a long way, I just love holding a book in my hands, and being able to see them on my bookshelves, but I'll read & review ebooks.

Lastly, I'm running a give-away soon! I have 2 copies of 'Witch and Wizard' by James Patterson to give away. This competition will happen sometime next week, so be sure to check back for that!

We always love to read your comments, please let us know what you think!
~Ailsa
 
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