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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Spider's Bite- Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, #1)Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I liked most of the book, the concept was good and I liked the mix of supernaturals. The world is reasonably believable, although it is set in a very shady town. It had a bit of a 'noir' feel to it.



Gin was feisty and strong, but perhaps a bit too unemotional. We got glimpses of her past which was interesting, but there was a lot of repetition of the same themes. For example, not relying on her magic because of what she had done with it on the past.



Speaking of repetition, if I ever see the phrase 'grey on gold' again it will be too soon. Which brings me to another pet peeve- who the hell has grey or gold eyes? I have never met anyone whose eyes were not brown, blue or green. Only in paranormal fiction have I heard of such a thing! I could understand it if we were talking about supernaturals, but it's often the humans with these crazy eye colours.



Ranting aside, the story was fast paced enough to keep me interested and I will read the next one in the series to see if it improves. Definitely the beginnings of a good UF series, but not one my favourites yet.



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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Kim Harrison's Madison Avery Trilogy- Audiobook Review

I have just finished listening to the Madison Avery trilogy back to back on audiobook, narrated by Mandy Seigfried. My rating is 3 out of 5 stars.

Once Dead, Twice Shy (Madison Avery, Book 1)Early to Death, Early to Rise (Madison Avery)Something Deadly This Way Comes (Madison Avery)

Madison Avery is your average, rebellious 17 year old. She just also happens to be dead. How she got that way is explained in the prequel Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper contained in Prom Nights from Hell Prom Nights from Hell I seriously recommend you read this first. I didn't, and although the back story is *eventually* explained, it's pretty disjointed and fairly annoying not to know what's going on.

Madison died in a car accident set up by a 'dark reaper'. Reapers are either Light or Dark, and are a type of angel. Dark Reapers are sent to collect souls of teenagers who are going to make bad choices that tarnish their souls. Light Reapers try to get there first and provide the 'mark' with a guardian angel. Once they have a guardian angel, the Dark Reaper can't touch them and they will live until their natural death.

Madison was part of a reap gone awry, when she managed to steal the reaper's amulet and it kept her soul bound to earth. So, although she's dead, the amulet gives the illusion of a body and she can continue an almost normal life inbetween dodging dark reapers. Barnabas is her friend, and the Light Reaper who was sent to save her. Over the course of the series, the way we view Light and Dark changes with the main themes being fate, choice and the ability of humans to change their destiny.

Madison soon learns that she was not just a 'mark', but the victim of a nefarious plot to prevent her from her true destiny- becoming the Dark Timekeeper (the Dark Reapers' boss. Over the course of the series, she starts to come to terms with this and learns more about her powers, and her ability to change the current system for the better.

The series is YA, and is a quick, fun listen/read. I enjoyed the stories, and the world building was adequate although not as detailed as I would have liked. Madison is perhaps not the most likeable heroine at first, but I did warm to her quite quickly.

My absolute biggest pet peeve with this series was the continued and, quite frankly, disturbing overuse of the word 'puppy' as an alternative swear word- e.g. 'Puppy presents on the rug', 'son of a puppy' etc. Every time it was used I cringed.

Other than that, the books were interesting enough to keep my attention and it was nice to hear a story about something a little bit different to weres, vamps and fey. If you are a fan of YA paranormal series, I would certainly recommend them.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Shadowing: Hunted- Adam Slater

The Shadowing: Hunted

This is the first in a YA horror series, and what a start to the series! I just couldn't put this book down. Luckily it is a fairly quick read so it didn't interfere with my sleep!

Callum is a chime child- born between sunset Friday and dawn Saturday when there is a full moon. he doesn't know it yet, but he's the only thing standing between the world and a whole bunch of scary creatures. He's always been able to see ghosts, but suddenly he finds that he has other abilities too.

I enjoyed reading from the male perspective. I tend to read PNR and UF and they are generally from the female point of view. I found Callum's perspective to be interesting, and refreshingly uncomplicated by various bouts of becoming 'weak kneed' or swooning at the sight of an attractive person of the opposite sex. Not that there isn't a possible love interest going on- there is- it's just barely there with the potential to grow into a little more over the series.

The characters are believable, and it was nice to see the character development for Callum and Melissa over the book. I suspect that Gran has a few more secrets to share, and I also hope that we will learn more about Callum's dad as the series goes on.

Hunted is fast paced, gripping and pretty scary too. It's certainly not for younger teens, or the squeamish amongst us. The scene is pretty well set for the next in the series which I can't wait to get my hands on.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Kiss of Midnight- Lara Adrian

Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed,  #1)Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


There was just something missing for me. I nearly abandoned this book halfway through and the only reason I finished it was because I hate to leave books unfinished.



I thought that the concept of the Breed and the vampire mythology in the world of the Breed was original and new. Not my favourite take on the vampire theme but definitely interesting.



I didn't like Lucan, to be honest he got on my nerves for the whole book. Whiny, self absorbed, self pitying and shallow. Not exactly my ideal alpha male! I think he was supposed to be 'brooding' but it just didn't come across well to me at all.



Gabrielle was equally irritating to me, lacking the wit and snark that I like in my female lead characters. Her decisions often seemed irrational to me and I seriously struggled to identify with her.



Humour was seriously lacking and the storyline failed to hold my interest. I found my mind wandering off several times throughout the book. There was one good twist to the plot, when the traitor was revealed, and other than that the action was so-so.



It's the first book in a fairly popular series, and I have often come to love series where the first book just didn't do it for me, so I am likely to give the next 2 books in the series a go to see if this is the case with Midnight Breed.



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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Audiobooks

This is my second post about Audiobooks. My first experience of them was not the best, as you can see from my original post: http://beyondtwilightfictionreviews.blogspot.com/2010/12/audiobook-review-of-need-by-carrie.html

I've been giving audiobooks another chance recently and have listened to several books from genres other than UF and PNR.

So far I have listened to His Other Lover The Secret Shopper's Revenge and Life and Laughing: My Story. Michael McIntyre

I have enjoyed all of these immensely. Lucy Dawson's His Other Lover was a brilliant cross between chick lit and a psychological thriller that I found myself listening to at every opportunity. The Secret Shopper's revenge was a longer listen, and kept me interested. I liked that there were several narrators to keep it interesting. Michael McIntyre's autobiography was great, narrated by the man himself and had me laughing out loud walking round the supermarket!

One thing these all have in common are British narrators. I think I find them easier to listen to as they are a bit more like my inner 'reading voice' in my head.

I have also listened to Darkling (Sisters of the Moon, Book 3) which is an American narrator but after the first hour or so, I had gotten past the accent and still enjoyed the book.


I'm glad I gave audiobooks another chance and am determined to keep listening to American narrators as well as British so I can listen to mix of genres. I've just signed up to an Open University course, so will have very little time for pleasure reading. Audiobooks are a great way to sneak books in when doing other tasks that you can't read a real book whilst doing- eg shopping, walking to work, housework.....

I'm listening to Kiss of Midnight (The Midnight Breed, Book 1) right now, so watch this space for a review!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Lord Of The Vampires- Gena Showalter

Lord of the Vampires (Harlequin Nocturne)

4 out of 5 stars.

This is the first in a new series by 4 different paranormal romance authors. This one is by Gena Showalter, and is the first Gena Showalter book I have read. I must say it is unlikely to be my last! Full of original ideas and steamy scenes, this has everything you need in a paranormal romance.

This book centres around Nicolai, who is a vampire being held as a sex slave and Jane, a human scientist who finds herself magically transported into Nicolai's world. Which is handy for her, because he's her predestined soulmate! Not so handy for Nicolai who finds himself unable to carry out his original plans to escape slavery due to his complicated emotions for Jane.

Nicolai is a real alpha male, which makes for some great action scenes of both the steamy and the non steamy variety. Jane is strong, intelligent and feisty; the kind of heroine you can really get to like.

The world building was excellent, and the alternating POV's added interest and allowed a connection with both of the main characters. Along with the romantic elements of the book there is a great balance of action and humour and the pace of the book is perfect.

This is a good, fast read that will definitely leave you wanting more.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Beyond The Grave- Mara Purnhagen

Beyond the Grave (Past Midnight, #3)Beyond the Grave by Mara Purnhagen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The third and final addition to this series, and a fairly good read although not my favourite book of the trilogy. I found myself being frustrated sometimes with Charlotte's inability to see what was going on in front of her. The book has a few twists and turns, but I had guessed them all before they happened and was just waiting for our heroine to catch up. The ending does wrap everything up nicely though.

The story starts shortly after One Hundred Candles left off, and there is a novella "Haunting The Night" that bridges the gap between One Hundred Candles and Beyond the Grave.

Although Noah played a big part in the story, I was disappointed that we don't really get to see very much of him. There was also a lot of setting the background for the finale, and minimal action in the first two thirds of the book.

Charlotte has a hard time in this book, struggling with her mum being in a coma and starting community college when her best friend has gone away to college. She is feeling pretty low but manages to find a good friendship in an unusual place! Over the course of the book we see the emotional growth in Charlotte as she pushes through her problems and gets her 'spark' back with the help of her friends and family.

I did enjoy the story and how it developed on and concluded the events in the first two books. if you have read the other two books in the series, Past Midnight and One Hundred Candles then I do recommend this book. It would not make a very good stand alone story, as I do think that you would need to understand previous events before really being able to appreciate it.





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Monday, 15 August 2011

Killing Time- Elisa Paige

Killing TimeKilling Time by Elisa Paige

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Fast becoming one of my favourite series, the second book in the Time series by Elisa Paige was almost as good as the first. Feisty heroine with slightly shady background? Check. Gorgeous love interest? Check. Nefarious scheme to upset the natural balance of the world as we know it? Check. Not earth shatteringly original but still a definite must read. I am astonished that this isn't as well known as some other, IMO inferior, PNR.

There was a slight 'sameness' to this book with Ms Paige's other books that lost it that one star for me. However, as other reviewers have pointed out, this lady can write! Rich world building and sensitive character development make this another book that is a pleasure to read.

The romance develops realistically over a reasonable amount of time so that we really start to identify with the main characters. The action is, well, action packed, and there is plenty of it to keep the plot moving along at a good pace. Although I was a bit sad to not be spending more time with James and Evie, I soon grew to love the new characters and the overall story arc develops over the course of events, continuing on from Stealing Time.

If you haven't already started this series then I suggest you get yourself a copy of Stealing Time to see what all the fuss is about. If you've already read Stealing Time then no doubt you've pre-ordered Killing Time, I know I did!



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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Divine Misdemeanours- Laurell K Hamilton

Divine Misdemeanors: A Novel (Meredith Gentry, Book 8)

Spoiler Alert! Don't read on if you don't want to see spoilers. I usually avoid them but couldn't say what I needed to without them on this.

I am a big fan of the series but I found this book pretty disappointing. There have been many incidents discussed in the book and series at length- the return of the sidhe powers to Merry's lovers, the Goddess answering Merry's prayers and crowning her queen (which she turned down), Merry's pregnancy etc, etc. This book had the opportunity to expand on these and give us some kind of plot development and tie up some of the very many loose ends. Instead there was a half hearted serial killer and too many pointless sex scenes fleshing out the book and we are still left with no answers at all.

There was an inordinate amount of explaining and re-explaining the same thing. Frost and Doyle are stuck on the phrases "I was once the Killing Frost" and "I was once the Queen's Darkness" nothing we weren't already aware of!

Also, we get drawn out descriptions of the same characters we already know as well as detailed dialogue on long, ankle length hair. Page space that would have been better used to develop the plot.

Most of the rest of the book is devoted to petty bickering between Merry's "people", and her putting the men in their place.

The small amount of page space left is devoted to the "killer Tinkerbelle" storyline.

All in all a forgettable instalment to a series that I will be seriously reconsidering continuing with.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Spell Bound - Kelley Armstrong

Spell Bound (Women of the Otherworld, #12)Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Another great book from Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. This book is the second of the final 3 books which are narrated by Savannah Levine.



I wasn't sure I'd enjoy Savannah as a narrator. I loved all the books but the novellas and shorts that have Eve as a narrator are my least favourite. As Savannah is similar to Eve I was apprehensive. Luckily I have really enjoyed them, especially seeing how much Savannah has grown and evolved over the two books. I am looking forward to seeing her develop further in the final story.



The romance between Savannah and Adam was really good, although I suppose it is technically more romantic tension than actual romance! I loved getting an insight into their relationship with each other that has been growing since Paige's books.



There was plenty of action to keep me turning pages and practically all of the recurring characters play a role in this book. I love how threads from previous books in the series are coming together and am excited to see exactly what is in store for the main characters. I'm just sad that it will be quite a while before I get to find out.



Overall a great addition to a brilliant series.



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Monday, 1 August 2011

Always a Witch - Carolyn MacCullough

Always a Witch (Witch, #2)Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book is a fun, fairly quick read. I made the mistake of starting it on the bus journey to work and was a third of the way through by the time I got there. The reason this was a mistake is that I couldn't stop thinking about it in work, and was even more desperate for the end of the day so I could finish it!

I definitely recommend that if you read this book you set time aside and read it in one sitting. The story is well paced and the world building is good and expands on the elements introduced in the first book. I really enjoyed the historical aspect to the story. It is a sequel to Once a Witch and whilst you could read this as a standalone the experience will be better if you have read Once a Witch.

The story follows Tamsin as she travels back in time to protect her family from a rival witch family who have been using blood magic to enhance their powers. This time Tamsin travels back without her boyfriend Gabriel with no way of knowing if, or how, she will be able to return.

She soon finds herself in the midst of the Knight family and in grave danger. Relying on her ancestors to trust and help her is not as easy as she had hoped, but luckily help finally arrives and she manages to set everything right. Unfortunately, saving her family and their future comes at a high price.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is perfect when you want a quick read with a fast moving, interesting story. The characters are well written and the members of the Knight family were particularly well done.





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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Gorgeous Covers

We all know that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover but these new YA upcoming releases are just too pretty to resist!

Always a Witch

The sequel to Once a Witch is released tomorrow. Watch this space for a review!

Possess

By debut author Gretchen Mcneill, Posessed is the tale of fifteen year old Bridget Liu who develops the ability to hear, and banish, demons. Definitely one to add to the TBR list ready for its release on 23rd August.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

River Marked- Patricia Briggs

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6)

Mercedes Thompson is fast becoming one of my favourite urban fantasy series. This is especially interesting as I am not usually a great fan of shapeshifter/weres. I enjoy the humour and the fact that Mercy is pretty down to earth.

This instalment of the Mercy saga was quite different to the others. Only Mercy herself and Adam really featured in this book rather than the rest of the supernatural creatures. The fae are involved but are pretty much on the sidelines and we get to meet a whole new group of beings as well as learn more about Mercy's past; even parts she didn't know herself!

I was torn between missing the other characters and enjoying reading about a whole new supernatural subset but on the end the latter won. I liked the idea of introducing something other than the usual vamps, weres, fae etc that are now so common among the genre. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing more of them throughout the series.

River Marked is a good addition that keeps the series fresh and keeps me wanting to read more and more.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Review- This Side of the Grave- Jeaniene Frost

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5)

I enjoyed this instalment to the series, and found it fast paced and exciting albeit a bit less so than the the others. the ending seemed a little too simple but i am dying for the next book to come out as I expect it will be excellent.

This book was very emotional both between Cat and Bones and also the scene with Don. It was more of a calm ride for Cat and Bones though with a lot less of the relationship drama than the other books. The emotional side was more of a cementing of their feelings for each other.

I hadn't read any of the spin off books and I do wish I had read them first as some of the story-lines from those books are mentioned here.

Overall a good addition to the series but not my favourite so far.

Review of Earth by Shauna Granger

Earth: Book One In The Elemental Series (Volume 1)

I really enjoyed this book. I've been a bit disillusioned recently with young adult and self published books recently. I'm more of an adult urban fantasy person these days but this was definitely worth a read.

However, I saw this on amazon for about 68p ($1.38) and couldn't resist- I've been on a bit of a witchy craze recently with my reading choices.

I found that the general grammar and spelling in this was pretty good compared to a few ebooks I have read recently, plus the story was interesting enough to keep me reading. The main character Shayna is refreshingly not a whiny or too stupid to live heroine. If I had a criticism of her it would be that she is, very occasionally, just a bit too straight laced and goody two shoes for my personal liking.

I've always had an interest in Wicca, and the book was good as it blended some real aspects of wicca such as elements, casting a circle etc with some more fantastical elements like demons and 'superpowers'.

The dynamic between Shayna and her friends is interesting and is a key focus throughout the book. There are also some romantic aspects to the story but these are minimal enough to add to the story rather than take over and become irritating.

I am really looking forward to reading the next one - 'Air'- when it is published.

Patricia Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson)Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson Novels)Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, Book 3)Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Book 4)Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5)

Wow, what a series! These are the first 5 books in the series. Watch this space for a review of book six River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6)

The series chronicles the adventures of Mercedes Thompson, a shapeshifter and auto mechanic who can change into a coyote and is possibly the last of her species. Mercy was brought up by werewolves and over the course of the first five books we get to meet vampires and fey as well as many werewolves.

The world building is handled skilfully, and the result is a believable melting pot of supernatural species. Mercy has a natural skill for landing herself in trouble but luckily she manages to get through most situations by the skin of her teeth. When things get really sticky, there is always a hunky werewolf or two just waiting to rescue her!

One of my favourite things about this series is that sometimes it's the men that get kidnapped and need rescuing rather than the big strong alpha males saving the little woman every time. It's definitely equal opportunities when it comes to danger.

There are lots of men to lust after, but the romance doesn't take over the story and there is plenty of action throughout the series.

I won't spoil it too much for you by giving the plot away but if you haven't gotten round to reading these yet then definitely put them to the top of your to read list. You won't regret it!