Monday, April 25, 2011

Rivers of London, (or Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch




Title: Rivers of London (UK) / Midnight Riot (USA)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Gollancz (UK) / Del Ray (USA)
Release Date: Out Now!
Source: Bought in Waterstones, London

Description from author website: My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May.
Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden . . . and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying.

I heard a lot about this book when it was first released, but didn't really know what it was about. I was about to get on a train home from London to Edinburgh, and needed something to read, so I decided to check it out. Lo and behold, not only was it a genre I like to read, but it sounded really good. I must have read about half of it on that journey home, and the rest in a second, later sitting. I love it.

When the book starts, Peter Grant is about to be assigned to a branch of the police, and is trying hard not to antagonise his superiors (too much). Along with his friend Lesley, he ends up standing around in the cold in the wee hours of the morning guarding a murder scene. And it's here that he meets the first ghost. He's soon picked up by Inspector Nightingale, and moves in to The Folly, where suddenly he has to learn magic on top of his ordinary police duties. Don't worry - there's no waving magic wands around.

The plot moves between the string murders that Peter knows are linked, even if he can't quite work out how yet, and a territory dispute between two of the river deities in the city - Father Thames, who controls the north, and Mama Thames who controls the south. I loved the interactions with the rivers. Although manifestations of something like a river are things I've come across before in books, I felt like this was fresh in many ways, and the personalities of each of the rivers were very strong. It's a very clever plot, full of twists and turns, and I was constantly wondering what would happen next. I had a wonderful 'oh!' moment mid-book where it 'clicked' and suddenly I could see how things were tied together - but it wasn't like the typical 'oh' moment in a book. Sometimes it clicks, and you can see exactly who the bad guy is, and how the rest of the book will pan out. This wasn't like that. I still had so many questions, and I had no idea how things would work out. I'll say it again - it's a very clever plot. I love it.

My favourite part of the book though, the thing that kept me reading so fast, was the writing. It's suffused with humour, and within the first few pages of the book you get a distinct impression of the main character's voice. I kept stopping to read bits to my dad, or anyone else who was nearby. Aaronovitch brings the city of London to life, whether you're familiar with it or have never been before.

In short, this book is brilliant. I love it. I can't wait to read the sequel - and luckily, it's out now too! So I'll have to find my way to a bookshop soon.
Rivers Of London gets 10 out of 10 from me.

~Ailsa

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, and is a way to show the books you got this week.

I've had a slow time for books recently, catching up on my 'to read' pile instead, but I did get a couple this week.

First, for review I got an e-ARC of 'Before The Witches' by Karina Cooper.
Karina Cooper is a debut author - according to the description, this book is a novella-length prequel to her series, the first book of which will be released on May 31st. This one comes out on May 17th. I'm really looking forward to reading this, and the series sounds like something I'd like. Thanks Harper Collins for the e-arc!

I bought an ebook for the first time. Whoop! I've read ebooks for a while from net galley for review, but this is the first time I've bought one. I got "Lust, Lace, and Lingerie" by Brandi Evans after reading a review on ParaJunkie's blog. It was really good! I'll try and post a review soon.

And then something completely different - I bought a copy of 'Something Else' by Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell.
I love Chris's illustrations *happy face* I read this book when I was younger, and it's one that we still refer to in our family. I'm going to work in a summer camp in the USA this summer, like I did last year, and this book has a story that reflects the 'accept people' attitude of the camp, so I wanted to take a copy with me to share it with the kids. (If you're interested, I'm blogging about my summer camp experience here)

So, that's my mailbox! What did you get this week? Feel free to share your links, I love seeing what books people got :)

~Ailsa

Monday, April 18, 2011

CHLOE NEILL: 'HARD BITTEN' blog tour - author interview


Ladies and gentlemen, today I am honoured to welcome Chloe Neill to the blog!
Chloe is the author of both the YA 'Dark Elite' series, and the 'Chicagoland Vampires' series, and is here today to talk a bit about book 4 in the series, 'Hard Bitten', which is released May 3rd.

So without further ado, let's get started!

Ailsa: Welcome to the blog Chloe! I really love the series, so it's great to have you here. How did you first come up with the idea for Merit & her world? Was it Merit first?

Chloe: Merit was first, but her name was Katie and she was in a band with her best friend, Mallory. She was attacked by a vampire in a club, and saved by Morgan (who owned the club). I thought that was a little silly, so I put the pages aside. And then one day I had a mental image of Ethan, and the rest flowed from there.

Ailsa: It's interesting that Ethan wasn't there straight away. Do the characters ever do things that you aren't expecting, or do you have things pretty tightly planned out?

Chloe: A little of both. I generally know where I want a book to go, but sometimes the characters surprise me. The antagonist in DRINK DEEP, the fifth book (Nov. 2011) was a complete surprise to me!

Ailsa: Ooh, I'm intrigued! And I'm very glad that Drink Deep comes out relatively close to Hard Bitten. So can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication - did it take you a while, or was it fairly quick?

Chloe: SOME GIRLS BITE was the second manuscript I wrote. I received one rejection for my first manuscript, then sent SOME GIRLS BITE to one publisher--Penguin. My editor bought the first two books, and the rest is history! I consider myself very lucky to have had such a quick route to the shelf.

Ailsa: That does sound very quick! Has your life changed much since the books were published?

Chloe: I have a full-time dayjob, so it's mostly become much busier with writing, editing, marketing, blogging, interviewing, etc. I don't get many days (or hours) off.

Ailsa: Twice Bitten was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for my emotions - can we expect more of the same in Hard Bitten?

Chloe: I hope that readers think all my books include a good emotional rollercoaster and with some resolution at the end!

Ailsa: They do, but I thought it was especially true for Twice Bitten! I can't wait to see what happens next! Finally, I know I'm going to love HARD BITTEN - can you tell us one reason why you think readers will love this one?

I think we see Ethan's and Merit's relationship grow, and we see Merit really dive into her position as Sentinel. I'm very
proud of her!

Thanks for having me today!

Ailsa: You're welcome! I'm so excited to read the book now!

HARD BITTEN comes out on May 3rd in the USA, and 11th May in the UK.
For more information about Chloe Neill and all her books, check out her website or blog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Island of Icarus, by Christine Danse


Content warning: This is an adult novel, and may not be suitable for younger readers.

Title: Island of Icarus
Author: Christine Danse
Publisher: Carina Press
Released: out now!
Source: review copy via NetGalley

Description from publisher website:
Field Journal of Jonathan Orms, 1893

En route to polite exile in the Galapagos Islands (field work, to quote the dean of my university), I have found myself marooned on a deserted tropical paradise. Deserted, that is, except for my savior, a mysterious American called Marcus. He is an inventor—and the proof of his greatness is the marvelous new clockwork arm he has created to replace the unsightly one that was ruined in my shipboard mishap.

Marcus has a truly brilliant mind and the gentlest hands, which cause me to quiver in an unfamiliar but rather pleasant way. Surely it is only my craving for human companionship that draws me to this man, nothing more? He says a ship will pass this way in a few months, but I am welcome to stay as long as I like. The thought of leaving Marcus becomes more untenable with each passing day, though staying would be fatal to my career...


My thoughts: I'll be honest - I was disappointed with this story. Two men on a desert island making interesting clockwork things while they fall in love - it sounded interesting. The story starts with Jonathan describing how he was pushed into taking a sabbatical from the university where he was working. Although I liked knowing how he got to the island, I found myself skimming over the first two chapters, until he was shipwrecked.

I feel like the story went too slowly - I was often scanning over pages, waiting for something more interesting to happen. I think some of it might have been the way the story was told - it's all written as Jonathan's diary, and takes place in the 1890s, so is very... staid, in the way Jonathan writes. The time period was something else that bugged me, for different reasons. I'll admit I don't read much historical romance, but I think some points are fairly consistently agreed on, and a couple of the things Jonathan describes as having happened just don't seem likely to have happened.

He also seems to adjust very quickly and easily to the idea of being attracted to a man, and this man being attracted to him. To me, it just didn't feel very realistic, and it was the little things like that that kept pulling me out of the story.

I did like Marcus's inventions - they were very interesting. It wasn't a boring story, or too unbelievable, it just felt very 'meh' to me. I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this book if you have read it - what did you like/dislike? Have you read anything else by Christine Danse? What did you think of that?

Overall, I give Island of Icarus 5 out of 10.

~Ailsa

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Exciting Announcements, and a winner!


There are some very interesting things coming up on The Book Bundle in the next few weeks!

Before we get to them, though, I need to announce the winner of the 'Witch & Wizard' giveaway. I put the number of entries into a random number generator and the winner is: Diana!
Congratulations Diana, I'll get it in the post to you at the end of the week. Keep an eye on the blog for more giveaways and contests soon!

First bit of exciting news: on April 19th, Chloe Neill, author of the Chicagoland Vampire series & the Dark Elite series, will be here for the first day of her blog tour, for the release of Hard Bitten, book 4 in the Chicagoland series! You can find out more about Chloe on her blog, here. Chloe will be doing an interview. I'm very very excited to be participating in the tour - I read the first three books in the series in January, and absolutely loved them.

Secondly, towards the end of the month we will have another author interview, this time with Karen Mahoney, author of The Iron Witch which came out earlier this year. Again, I'm very excited about this, and I hope you will drop by to read and leave comments :)

Finally, if you want a sneak peek at some of the things coming up on the blog, check out the widget on the right hand side of the page where we've got a list of just some of the things coming up in the next few weeks. If you have any questions, suggestions of things you'd like to see on the blog, or just want to chat about books, I'm always happy to hear from you - my e-mail is on the right hand side of the page.

~Ailsa

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney


If you need a really good book about standing up for yourself, look no further than Daisy Whitney's, The Mockingbirds.

Summary from goodreads.com:

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.



Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

If you're thinking "Does this book have anything to do with To Kill a Mockingbird?"  The answer is there are elements of the story in this story and it's weaved into it very well.

Alex is our main character who from the very beginning knows she was date raped but has a hard time remembering.  All she knows is that she is disgusted with herself and for what happened.  The star piano student at Themis, even her music world is tainted with the situation.  It's a very sad and gasping moment when she can't play her favorite piece, "Ode to Joy" without wanting to rip the keys off the piano for it being taken away from her.  Her safe haven isn't safe anymore and it's a heart wrenching moment for our character and the reader.

Luckily, her friends are there to help her when she tells them about what she thinks happened.  Immediately they tell her to tell someone.  Unfortunately at Themis, all the faculty thinks that every student is so perfect and that nothing bad happens at their school.  But Alex does in fact turn to her friends advice and enlists the help of the vigilanted student justice system known as The Mockingbirds.

I loved how this story weaved through the emotions and Alex coming to her memories of that night when it happened.  I loved the fact that her friends stood by her side to help her through an emotional pain that she couldn't face on her own.  

Basically, in short terms, I love this book!  It's a well woven tale of how to stand up for yourself even in the hardest of times.  To get yourself back to you before the you that you used to know was taken away.

It's a strong story that had me cheering at the end and not putting this story down at all.  I kept reading and reading past midnight some nights because of how this story kept moving.  I had to know what was going to happen next.  How the Mockingbirds worked, how the story was going to twist and turn and end.

For me, I love that Alex did take her friends advice to get the help she needed to become herself again and to stand up for it.  I was that friend once helping a friend.  I'm thankful that I could have been there to help my friend.  Not everyone wants help, but they need it when they are the most vulnerable and this story helps us all realize that.  If you are the victim or the friend of the victim, stand up for yourself!  Stand up to those that would take you away from you.

Daisy Whitney has the second book coming out this year, The Mockingbirds--The Rivals.  It sounds just as amazing as this story is.  I suggest that every girl ages fourteen and older read this.  It may just give you that courage when you need it most.
 
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