Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Banished by Liz de Jager

Title: Banished
Author: Liz de Jager
Release date: 27 February 2014
Publisher: Tor
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Source: Promotional copy from WFC '13

Description: Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

My thought: I've been looking forward to this since I heard Liz de Jager had a publishing deal. Her old review blog was the first one that got me in to book blogging, and I have always admired the way she wrote in her reviews. I was not disappointed: Banished is the start of a great new urban fantasy series that I can't wait to share with my friends. And look at that cover! Don't you just want to see that on your bookshelf?

The story opens with an episode of Kit's 'everyday' life as she works under cover at a school to banish a banshee. It introduces the things she and her family do for their job, and that our world runs alongside the fae world. After her fight with the banshee, Kit goes home to recover for a few days, and that's when the trouble starts. When she meets Prince Thorn, his attackers turn their attention on her house, forcing the two to flee. As they move from place to place, bits of the jigsaw of what is happening start to come together and they try to stay one step ahead of their enemies as they head north.

The first person point of view threw me off a little bit at first, as I don't usually read books written that way, but once I had time to sit and read larger sections in one sitting, I adjusted. Seeing everything from inside Kit's head really let's you see how she is trying to fit in to this role of 'a Blackhart', keeping the human world safe, while fighting her own insecurities and coming to terms with the death of her gran, who raised her. Ms de Jager nails the 16/17 year old voice, and although I was never running around Britain with a fae prince in tow as a teenager, I felt like I could relate to Kit's experiences.

Banished brings in a fantastic cast of characters and I felt like several of them could probably carry a book of their own. My favourite is Aidan, a werewolf around Kit's age who accompanies her & Thorn for a lot of the trip. I think it's safe to guess he'll be in the next book and I'm looking forward to learning more about him. Kit's cousins are also really interesting even though there's really only a snapshot of what they get up to.

For me, the first half of the book was a series of peaks and troughs with bits I raced through reading and bits which were slower. It built up the momentum, so that when the little group leave London half way through the tension amps up and I was holding my breath as I kept turning pages to see whether Kit would save the day. Once the story grabbed me in that second half, it didn't let go. I was a little worried about a cliffhanger ending, and although readers are absolutely left wanting more, it's satisfying enough that I'll be able to cope ;-)

A fantastic debut, Liz de Jager's 'Banished' introduces a relatable young heroine whose quest to save her friends had me on the edge of my seat. I can't wait for book two.

Overall, I give it 8 out of 10.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Letterbox Love: another UK author


As always, welcome to Letterbox Love/Stacking the Shelves, memes hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Lynsey at Narratively Speaking.

I hadn't planned on buying any books, as I still have a massive pile to read through that I picked up in November at WFC '13, but this book has been on my radar for a while and I noticed that the Kindle edition was really cheap this week - only 79p!

Brighton Belle, by Sara Sheridan.

As you can guess, this is set in the UK, and the author is actually from Edinburgh, where I live! I've read the first couple of chapter, and I'm enjoying it so far. I expect I'll finish it by the end of February or early March. If you're interested, it's still reduced on amazon UK.

What books did you get this week?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Marked (Anthology) by Vivian Arend, Kit Rocha & Lauren Dane

Title: Marked (anthology)
Authors: Kit Rocha, Lauren Dane & Vivian Arend
Release date: 10th February, 2014
Source: Review copy from Kit Rocha

Description: New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Dane takes you into a brand new world in ALL THAT REMAINS. Summer Killian falls fast and hard when Charlie arrives in Paradise Village. But the heat turns all the way up when she learns Charlie is also with Hatch - the man she loved three years before. While she's not sure she's cut out for a triad, neither man is going to give her up. 
           Take a ROCKY RIDE with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Vivian Arend as she leads you back to the Six Pack Ranch. Anna Coleman might be the law around Rocky Mountain House, but bad boy Mitch Thompson knows that under the stiff RCMP uniform is a woman with a passion for speed and pleasure that matches his own, and he's not giving up until she's his.
          Kit Rocha returns to Sector Four in BEYOND TEMPTATION. A promise to a dying friend backfires when Noah Lennox finds that the girl he was supposed to rescue is all grown up - and wearing O'Kane ink. He wants to protect her from the secrets of their past, but she wants him. And an O'Kane woman always gets what she wants. 

My thoughts: 
Beyond Temptation, by Kit Rocha
I've been a Kit Rocha/Moira Rodgers (different pen names) fan for a few years now, particularly their latest series which follows the O'Kane gang in a post-apocalyptic city somewhere in America. This novella focuses on Emma, apprentice tattoo artist, and Noah, a computer hacker. We haven't seen much of either of these characters before, but you quickly get to know them. Noah can't believe how different Emma is now to the girl he knew, but he doesn't trust that she is genuinely happy where she is, and he has some secrets of his own that would be better off with fewer people knowing them. Noah needs to decide how much he's going to align himself to the O'Kanes, and what the consequences will be.
I did enjoy this story, and of course, with a Kit Rocha book, there are some smoking hot sex scene, but I was still a little disappointed that the conflicts were resolved with relative ease. Part of that, I know, is the curse of the novella - there just aren't the words for things to go on too long, but I felt like there was a lot more to Noah and his secrets that could have been explored. Hopefully this means that he'll continue to be an important character in the next book and we can learn more about him and the significance of his past. I felt like some of Noah's secrets are going to have a big impact on the future of Eden & the sectors.
While I think you can pick this up and enjoy reading it without being confused, you'd definitely be best to start with 'Beyond Shame', the first novel in the series, and read them in order.


Rocky Ride, by Vivian Arend
This is novella 1 in a new series set in the same area as Ms Arend's 'Six Pack Ranch' books, and the timeline picks up after 'Rocky Mountain Freedom'. However, I struggled to connect with some of the characters and setting at first, and suspect it would be easier to read the other series first. Anna and Mitch open the show with a very hot scene on a quiet road, which sucked me in. The first few chapters were interesting, and the little glimpses of the world she has created made me want to read the other Rocky Mountain books. Then we get to the conflict of the book. Mitch wants to pull Anna out of her shell, as she almost acts like a different (and happier) person around him. This seems fair enough. My problem was that Anna is so hung up with her job as a police woman. She has a particularly irritating partner who I wanted to smack, he was just so idiotic. He's the sort of person who (I write this as a UK citizen) gives American cops a bad reputation, refusing to look past people outward appearance, seeing Mitch's tattoos as a clear mark that the man is no good, amongst other things. He holds massive prejudices against several groups of people. I also found it hard to see that there was really an issue with Anna being a police woman - just do you, girlfriend! Thankfully, all is redeemed in the end. Unlike with the Kit Rocha story above, I think this story is exactly the length it needs to be.


All That Remains, by Lauren Dane
Another new series, this one is set in a future America after a new kind of plague has wiped out large parts of the population and changed the way people live. With far more men born than women, people living in groups of 3 or more is common. I really enjoyed what was going on in this one, although the writing in some of the early chapters did keep tripping me up - the story was good, but I felt like in some places, it was like a statue that hadn't been fully cut out of the marble block yet - I could see that it was good, but there were still bits that needed trimming away to show it at its best. Luckily that feeling disappeared as I got to the middle of the story. However, I felt very uncomfortable with that last couple of chapters. Summer, rightly given the situation, gets cross with Hatch about something. She is cross, then the two men come to her house, and they all have sex. I never felt like he appologised. And the sex they have is with Hatch bossing everyone around. Given the argument, and the lack of apology, I really did not enjoy reading that sex scene at all. I've had another look as I write this, and it still makes me squirm (in entirely a bad way).

Given my very mixed feeling with this one, I don't feel like I can give this a rating. It was on track for a 7 or 8, then dropped to something like a 5.

While I did enjoy these stories, they did prove again for me why I tend to lean away from anthologies. Partly they can be too hit-and-miss for me, and partly I just like my stories to be longer and more developed. I'd love to hear what you thought of Marked if you've read it.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Letterbox Love/Stacking The Shelve


Phew, another week gone already? I've had my boyfriend staying with me for the past several weeks, which has been lovely, but he's now off home again. The upside is that now I'll have reading time again! So reviews will be back very soon. Specifically, I'll be putting up my thoughts on the 'Marked' anthology, which I talked about in the last LL/StS post, either tomorrow or Monday as it releases very soon!

On to the books!

I had an amazon voucher, so yesterday I bought this:

As someone who worked a ski season in the alps a few years ago, I've known about Belle's blog for a while and enjoyed reading it, so when I saw she'd turned a lot of the blog into a book, I wanted to see what it said. Review to come soon. 

I'm also full of the cold just now, so decided I should get a new audiobook for when I just can't cope with looking at a screen/page any more. I picked out this: 

I've seen Peter V. Brett's books all over the place in shops for a while now, so thought I'd give it a try. 

What books did you get this week?