Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review: Protecting Their Mate (Part One) by Moira Rogers


Title: Protecting Their Mate (part one)
Author: Moira Rogers
Release date: 24th July 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Erotica
Source: ARC from author

Description: Blake is on a mission from his alpha--to track down a werewolf whose parents dragged her into the human world years ago, one who may be in danger. He expects the lead to go nowhere, given how few wolves live among humans, but he discovers something rare indeed, caged in a basement: a beautiful, curvy woman gripped by the fever, ready to mate.

Ashley Todd has never fit in. She's always been too much--too big, too demanding, too aware of the wolf hiding beneath her skin. She's been locked away for months--been alone for a lifetime--and in walks Blake to save her from her prison. Her rescuer is hard, intense--a dominant wolf whose bossy attitude makes her growl...and yearn to submit.

Soothing Ashley's mating fever is Blake's responsibility--and his pleasure. Their passion is explosive, undeniable. But what started out as a job for Blake quickly becomes something more, and the toughest part of his mission looms: taking Ashley back to his pack so she can choose her permanent mate from amongst his brethren.

Ashley is drawn to dominant Blake, but meeting the rest of the pack reignites her desire. She is overwhelmed by her new life and all it entails, but embracing her inner wolf means embracing the truth: if she doesn't explore her attraction to the other members of the pack, she'll never find her forever mate .

Protecting Their Mate was originally published as an eight part serial under the penname Mia Thorne. It has been repackaged, but the story remains the same.

My thoughts: This is part one of a three part serialisation, with parts 2 & 3 to follow in the next couple of months. The story opens with a young woman called Ashley locked in a basement. She's fighting down her werewolf instincts, which are telling her 1) that she should shift into wolf form and 2) that she needs to find a mate. Luckily, she's soon rescued by Blake, another werewolf, who begins to correct some of the many lies she's been told about werewolf life. The most important thing is that as she's now in heat, only having sex will ease the pain she's experiencing and that she can sleep with lots of different members of the pack before it'll become clear who her mate is.

Blake and his pack have been searching for Ashley for a while, for various reasons. He's angry about the conditions he found her in but more than happy to look after her, doing anything she wants with his body...

Ashley has had a pretty horrible upbringing, but despite the host of revelations she gets as the pack bring her back to their home, she takes it in her stride. She's confident, and embraces the fun of getting to sleep with the other men in the pack, not just Blake.

It's a very sexy story, and there are also some hints dropped about problems in the wider werewolf community. I'm looking forward to seeing more about that in parts 2 & 3. It was a fast read, as you'd expect from part of a serial. I'm giving part one 6/10 - it was very sexy, but most of the plot revolves around that.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh


Title: Silver Silence
Author: Nalini Singh
Release date: 15 June 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #1
Source: Bought (at Waterstones)

DescriptionControl. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that's exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence--her mind clear of all emotion--Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That's what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious...and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

My thoughts: I'm a huge Nalini Singh fan, and this world is my favourite. It follows on from her Psy-Changeling novels but as the main story arc of those books has now come to a close, this new book marks a step in a slightly different direction, following a new pack and focussing on a new area of the globe (although there are cameos from some familiar faces).

I was excited about the new characters before I started reading, and I'm pleased to say that they live up to the packs from the original series. There are jokers, trouble makers, and that overwhelming sense of family. There are just a couple of people who we get to know well in the pack, but already several who I want to see get more stage time and explore their stories. I think this is one of Nalini Singh's great strengths - her supporting characters are all detailed enough that you want to know their own story, without them being so strong as to steal the show.

Valentin is very playful, particularly with Silver, who he's decided to pursue before the book starts. Being an alpha, of course he also has a lot of responsibilities, and he's always looking out for the people in his pack. Silver, we've met already in previous books, and I loved seeing more of her family dynamic, and how, despite them being Psy, they're very close as a family.

I enjoyed the political aspects of the story, the conflicts going on in the wider world and how Silver and (to a lesser extent) Valentin are tied in to them. I wasn't so keen on the internal conflicts, like Silver's issues that hold her back from letting go of her Silence. I'm being vague to avoid spoilers, but I didn't like how the issue was resolved - I didn't think it was explained well enough. While we met a lot of the bear pack, who are all a lot of fun and I can't wait to read more about them, we don't meet many knew Psy. I think I would have liked to get a few more new characters on that side of things. One notable exception is Silver's brother, who is gay. I'm so happy that it looks like there might be a male/male romantic pairing getting a more central focus. Nalini Singh has had same-sex relationships between side characters before in the series, but those were already established off-page, and there was never much attention on those characters. With Arwen that might change!

Unsurprisingly, given my love for all the other Nalini Singh books I've read, I really enjoyed Silver Silence. It's not my favourite in the Psy/Changeling world, but I do think it's an excellent start to a new story arc, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Overall, I'm giving Silver Silence 8 out of 10.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

June Reading Wrap-Up


I hope everyone had a good week? It was my first week back after a holiday, so a bit of a struggle, but I did manage to film a reading wrap up for the books I've read over the last six weeks or so. I'll do some written reviews of books mentioned, but here is a brief summary.


Have you read any of these? What do you think? And what's on your reading pile for the next few weeks? Let me know in the comments!

~Ailsa

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book reviewe: You Will Grow Into Them by Malcolm Devlin


Title: You Will Grow Into Them
Author: Malcolm Devlin
Publication date: 12th June 2017
Publisher: Unsung Stories
Genre: Horror
Source: E-copy for review from publisher

Description: The world is a far stranger place than we give it credit for. There, in the things we think familiar, safe, are certain aspects. Our fears and desires given form. Moments that defy explanation. Shadows in our home.
In Malcolm Devlin’s debut collection, change is the only constant. Across ten stories he tackles the unease of transformation, growth and change in a world where horror seeps from the mundane. Childhood anxieties manifest as debased and degraded doppelgängers, fungal blooms are harvested from the backs of dancers and lycanthropes become new social pariahs. The demons we carry inside us are very real indeed, but You Will Grow Into Them.
Taking weird fiction and horror and bending them into strange and wondrous new shapes, You Will Grow Into Them follows, in the grand tradition of Aickman, Ligotti and Vandermeer, reminding us that the everyday world is a much stranger place than it seems.

My thoughts: I read the occasional short story online, but don't buy them very often, but since I'm trying to step out of my reading comfort zones this year, I thought I would give it a try when Unsung Stories offered me a copy of You Will Grow Into Them to review. It's a collection of horror stories with a fantasy element to them, which varies in strength from one story to the next.

I have to say that as a whole, I didn't enjoy the stories all that much, and it was for the same reason with most: the endings. I felt like most of them left the endings on far too much of a 'draw your own conclusions' note, and I would have preferred to have some more concrete answers to what was going on. Let me quickly hop through each of the stories.

Passion Play - A girl acts out the last steps of her missing friend for a TV appeal. I really wanted to know what had happened to the friend, and how many of the things friends & neighbours thought they had seen were actually true, but the conclusion you get is a bit vague.

Two Brothers - The older brother goes off to boarding school, when he returns for the holidays his younger brother knows something's not right. Again, I wanted concrete answers, and in this one the reader is very much left to draw their own conclusions.

Breadcrumbs - Magic takes over a city tower block and affects all the residents. I think this was the one where I was happiest with the ending, I did quite enjoy how you see the attitudes change over the course of the story, and the gradual acceptance and adaption of the people.

Her First Harvest - on a colonised planet, crops are grown on the humans themselves. This one icked me out a bit, so I skimmed through it - no strong thoughts about it other than the slightly gross factor!

Dogsbody - A few years ago, some people turned into werewolves for a few hours but it's never happened again. I liked this story a lot, seeing the prejudices the main character has been facing and also how his attitude is affecting his whole life. I wanted to know where they would turn into werewolves again but that isn't where the story goes. I guess my own expectations and hopes got in the way a little bit with this one.

We All Need Somewhere To Hide - This had the most promising set up for me. It's an urban fantasy-type story, with a demon hunter as the main character. I feel like there's so much potential in this story for it to be bigger - novella length at least - and obviously in a short story those avenues couldn't all be explored and not all questions could be answered. My favourite story in the collection.

Songs Like They Used To Play - I don't know how to summarise this in one sentence. At one point I thought a cool time travel thing might be happening, but it turns out no. This story was just too weird all around for me, and there are no explanations at all of what was really going on in the spooky house.

The Last Meal He Ate Before She Killed Him - I don't want to give away the twists in this one, because a lot happens in a small space. It was ok, a bit creepy, but not overly memorable or special.

The Bridge - I didn't really understand what was going on in this story that was spooky, or what the story was trying to get at. A bit meh, unmemorable.

The End of Hope Street - Houses on the same street gradually become 'unliveable', killing anyone inside, and the story looks at how the residents adapt. Interesting, but once again, no whys, which was frustrating.

All around, the stories are interesting and have potential, but left me feeling
unfulfilled & frustrated. 5/10.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

May & June Book Haul


I'm going to try over the summer to do more of the things I enjoy, rather than just getting home from work and slumping in front of the tv - so that includes regular blog and booktube posts! Here's my May & June book haul.



Have you read any of these books? What books have you bought/borrowed/been given recently? Let me know in the comments!

~Ailsa

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blackwing


Title: Blackwing
Author: Ed McDonald
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication date: 27th July 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Source: ARC from publisher

Description: Set on the ragged edge of a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve…

My thoughts: I love a good fantasy novel, and when I heard an excerpt of Blackwing earlier this I knew I had to read it. I'm pleased to say it absolutely lived up to my expectations and hopes! The book begins with Galharrow and a small group of mercenaries travelling through the area known as the Misery, chasing down some criminals. It sets the scene well, as the book takes place along the border of the Misery and this episode introduces some of the creatures that result from the creepy magic that infects the Misery - many humans who go in don't stay human, and if they do, they're constantly under threat from the things that didn't.

From here, the story never slows down. As Galharrow tries to protect a local noblewoman, he discovers that the machine which should be protecting his country from the Deep Kings who live on the other side of the Misery might not be being maintained the way it should. As he tries to uncover the truth, various parties try to keep him quiet.

I loved the little revelations as Galharrow uncovers different pieces of information and tries again and again to fit them together. I really didn't see the end coming the way it did - Ed McDonald's skill in writing it this way is excellent. It's a very grim book in a lot of ways. Galharrow is an alcoholic, the setting is - pardon the pun - miserable, and the baddies get to do a lot of bad things. I also really liked the version of magic in Blackwing: 'spinners' can collect moonlight and channel it into power, often for mundane things like lighting but it can also be thrown in a blast as a weapon.

This is dark, gritty fantasy, and it's been executed perfectly. I was kept in suspense throughout, and couldn't put the book down. Ed McDonald is a great new talent in the fantasy genre, and I already can't wait for his next book. I'd recommend this for fans of Joe Abercrombie or Scott Lynch, but if you're relatively new to fantasy it's also a great book to get stuck in to. Overall, I'm giving this 10 out of 10 - it's one of the best books I've read this year.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne


 Title: The Boy Who Saw
Author: Simon Toyne
Publication date: 15th June 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Thriller (with supernatural twists)
Source: Review copy from publisher

Blurb: Only one boy can see the darkness.
Only one man can save him from it.

‘Finishing what was begun’

These are the words written in blood beside the body of an elderly tailor who has been tortured and murdered in the ancient town of Cordes. He leaves behind a cryptic message for his granddaughter and her son, Leo – one that puts them in immediate danger. When the mother and child are forced to go on the run, accompanied by the enigmatic Solomon Creed, they find themselves hunted across France, on a journey that will take them into the heart of Europe’s violent past. What begins as small-town murder will become a race to uncover a devastating secret dating from World War II. The few men who know the truth are being killed by a powerful organisation, and only one man stands in its way.

Only Solomon Creed can stop the murders.
Only he can save the boy.

My thoughts: The Boy Who Saw is the sequel to Solomon Creed, which I read when it came out and really really enjoyed. It left me really wanting to know more about Solomon Creed, who he was, and where he came from, so I was excited that proofs of The Boy Who Saw arrived in the office while I worked at HarperCollins.

The book gets off to a dramatic start, with the gruesome murder of a tailor, who is being tortured for information. The killer wants information about a list. As police begin their investigation, Solomon Creed enters the picture. As in Solomon Creed, he has very few memories - in fact this book takes place just a couple of weeks after the events of the first. There are two main threads to the story, wrapped around each other. The first is the Dan Brown-esque mystery of what the murderer was looking for, and the flight of the granddaughter and her son across France, aided and abetted by various others along the way as they try to remain ahead of the killer and also solve the clue left behind by the tailor.

Entangled with that is Solomon's quest to figure out who he is and where he came from, a quest that is exactly why I wanted to read this book so badly! There are a few more clues and a little bit more light shed on the situation, but if like me you wanted to find out 'who is Solomon Creed' you'll remain disappointed for now. The upside of that is that there must be more books to come!

As with Solomon CreedThe Boy Who Saw is full of elements that make you think 'Is something supernatural going on here?' Most of them can be explained away, or dismissed as overactive imaginations, but then, like in book one, a couple of things happen which unquestionably are something magical. Simon Toyne has written very skilfully to keep the reader guessing about this, and the plot is full of twists and turns. Fans of Solomon Creed will not be disappointed with this followup, and overall I'm giving it 8 out of 10.

 

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