Sunday, 24 July 2011

Book Review: The Translation of the Bones ARC

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (25 Aug 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0297865080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297865087

Reality or delusion? Fantasy or fact? When word gets out that Mary-Margaret OReilly, a slow-witted but apparently harmless young woman, may have been witness to a miracle, religious mania descends on the Church of the Sacred Heart in Battersea. The consequences will be profound, not only for Mary-Margaret but for others too - Father Diamond, the parish priest, who is in the midst of his own crisis of faith, and Stella Morrison, adrift in her marriage and aching for her ten-year old son, away at boarding school. In the same parish Alice Armitage counts the days until her soldier son comes home from Afghanistan, and Mary-Margarets mother, Fidelma, imprisoned in a tower block, stares out over London with nothing but her thoughts for company. Remembering her early childhood by the sea in Ireland, the bleak institution she was sent to and the boy she loved, she hungers for consoling touch. In the meantime Mary-Margarets quest grows increasingly desperate. But no one is prepared for the shocking outcome that ensues. The Translation of the Bones is a searingly powerful novel about passion and isolation, about the nature of belief, about love and motherhood and a search for truth.

The Translation of the Bones is wonderfully written – a fresh new novel to shake the cobwebs off and introduce readers to something a bit different.

The style for one thing, is genius. No chapters, no dialogue tags and skips between multiple POVS. For a lot of writers, this would be catastrophic. Francesca Kay pulls it off effortlessly. She places you firmly inside the hearts and minds of her characters; their fears and delusions almost becoming your own.

Mary-Margaret O’Reilly is at the centre of the novel, bringing all the other threads together. She is a simple-minded woman, who enjoys her work cleaning Sacred Heart church. She takes particular care of the statue of Jesus on the cross.   One afternoon’s cleaning has disastrous consequences for all involved. Mary-Margaret falls from a precarious position, breaking her wrist and banging her head. Before her fall, Mary-Margaret believes she saw the eyes of the statue open, and the wounds of Jesus bleed.

A crowd descends on the church, with many believing what Mary-Margaret is saying. While she is pondering her soon-to-be fame and now passionate relationship with Him, Alice Armstrong is awaiting her son’s return from war. Stella Morrison is in an unhappy marriage and pining for her son who is off at boarding school. Father Diamond is trapped in his own worries. Mary-Margaret’s mother, Fidelma, who is house-bound and disabled, is stuck in her small flat with nothing but her mind and memories for company.

The Translation of the Bones is a thought-provoking novel, with so many elements and twists. It is a story of passion and desperation, of loss and tragedy. It is not to be missed.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Book Review: The Girl With Glass Feet

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Jan 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 9781843549208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843549208
  • ASIN: 1843549204

A novel to fall in love with - for anyone who loved the escapism of "The Time Traveller's Wife" and "The Memory Keeper's Daughter". A mysterious metamorphosis has taken hold of Ida MacLaird - she is slowly turning into glass. Fragile and determined to find a cure, she returns to the strange, enchanted island where she believes the transformation began, in search of reclusive Henry Fuwa, the one man who might just be able to help...Instead she meets Midas Crook, and another transformation begins: as Midas helps Ida come to terms with her condition, they fall in love. What they need most is time - and time is slipping away fast.

The Girl With Glass Feet is one of those rare reads that grab you and hold you hostage, unflinchingly until you have devoured the story. It has the eerie, almost ethereal qualities like the Time Traveller’s Wife, but also firmly footed in our reality.

Ida Maclaird returns to the strange St Hauda’s Land. The first time she visited, it was for a holiday. Now it’s for a cure. Ida encounters the reclusive and socially awkward Midas Crook as he is lost in his world of photography. As a native islander, Ida hopes Midas can help her find the one person she believes can give her the answers she has been searching for.

When Midas stumbles into Ida’s life, it opens up a life time of old wounds that had never healed, only scabbed partially over. The story flits effectively from the present to the past, revealing a loveless and often cruel father and a lifetime of regrets that come from almost every character. Except Ida herself.

It struck me as ironic that the Ida, the girl with glass feet, has nothing to fear. She has lived a full life and even though she is slowly turning into a hardened mineral, she is the wholest of all the cast of characters, the only one who does not fear what is to happening to her. She has no regrets.

The Girl With Glass Feet is a romantic story with a warm heart, but it wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized it was a cleverly disguised paranormal romance. With strange creatures that have the ability to turn anything it looks at to pure white, or the cattle-moths, or glass bodies hidden in bogs, St Hauda’s Land is like no other place. It has an other-wordly quality to it that at times feels fantastical, at others like it could easily happen.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Ali Shaw has created something very special, and it should be adored by everyone. Seriously. 


Friday, 22 July 2011

Book Review: Deviant ARC

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books (Oct 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0810984202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810984202

Danny Lopez is new in town. He made a mistake back home in Las Vegas, and now he has landed at an experimental school in Colorado for “tough cases.” At the Cobalt Charter School, everything is scripted—what the teachers say, what the students reply—and no other speaking is allowed. This supercontrolled environment gives kids a second chance to make something of themselves. But with few freedoms, the students become sitting ducks for a killer determined to “clean up” Colorado Springs.

Initially, Deviant starts off seeming like a story about an angry kid, forced to move from a neighbourhood he was only just settling into. Danny is angry about a lot of things – his hippy/posh step-dad Walt, who insists he call him Dad, his Mom who got a new job, the move to a part of the country that can only be described as the polar opposite of what he is used to. Danny grew up in East L.A. before he was moved to Vegas. Now he is in Colorado, replacing desert sand for snow. Lots and lots of snow.

Danny reads like an average fourteen year old boy – angry at the world, becoming interested in the girl across the street, hating his new school. Only when you scratch the surface of this book and delve a little into its pages does its true nature appear. At the heart of it, Deviant is a mystery and a horror story about evil in the world and serial killers. And with correctional institutions after correctional institutions very close by, there isn’t exactly a shortage of them in Danny’s new hometown.

Little does Danny know, there is more to worry about than the weird new school rules he has to abide by, or how he is going to adjust to the bitter cold of Colorado. Something weird is going on in his new town. Someone is taking cats. And sacrificing them. 

At his new school, Danny is quickly targeted. He is protected by an elite group who manage to find ways around the strictly enforced school rules. And his new friends are very interested in what is going on with all the neighbourhood cats.

Deviant is primarily a mystery story but it has so many other elements thrown in. Great suspense, the blossoms of first love, the acceptance of the hand that fate has dealt us. What struck me as the greatest surprise was how much Danny himself grew on me. In the beginning he seemed like any other petulant teen boy – rude to everyone and never apologising for his passive aggressive attitude. But as the story and the mystery unfolds, so does Danny. He becomes a sympathetic character who only wants to have his old home life back, and when it is clear that isn’t going to happen, he fiercely protects the new one he has. Danny is a selfless character, with a brave heart and a very likeable nature.

Deviant is left wide open for a sequel – and I sincerely hope there will be one! This is a great book for anyone who wants a good mystery or who enjoys YA.  


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Book Review: Merciless ARC

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Books (26 July 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0373775792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373775798

Tall, dark and eligible? That’s all that matters to the women of Jacobsville when it comes to handsome and aloof FBI agent Jon Blackhawk. But if it were up to him, he would never settle down. Luckily, Jon has the best gatekeeper: his efficient and reliable assistant, Joceline Perry. Without her help, he’d be at the mercy of husband hunters — but the more he comes to rely on her, the more he notices how invaluable she really is....
While Joceline can’t deny that her boss is attractive, as a single mother with responsibilities she’s determined to be professional. But when Jon is accosted by a criminal seeking revenge, she comes to his aid — fueling the spark that is growing between them.
As the attempts on Jon’s life increase, Joceline stands by his side. But when the smoke clears, will the man who avoided love realize that all he ever needed was right there all along?

I went into Merciless thinking it would be another romance novel. Colour me surprised when I found out it was so much more than that. Merciless is a crime novel, a mystery, a thriller with a romantic twist.

When a criminal with an appetite for vengeance is released, he doesn’t waste time making his intentions clear. Both Jon and Jocelyn receive threatening phone calls, putting all their families at risk.

Merciless is full of secrets and revenge and double-crossing…not to mention the achingly sweet romance at the heart of it.

The characters of Jocelyn and Jon are at times beautiful to read, at others incredibly frustrating. They are both well written and complex characters, easily carrying the storyline and the reader along with it.  For comic relief there is the ever-loveable Markie. There’s nothing like a tell-it-like-it-is child to bring a laugh to the story. And every story needs a villain in the shape of Mother Dearest.

Merciless delivers a steady thump of fear throughout, adding to the mystery and the whodunit quality. But always on the periphery, is the growing attraction between the leading characters.

This story will get under your skin and stay there long after the book is finished. My mind constantly drifted back to it whenever I wasn’t reading, wondering what would happen next and how the pieces of the puzzle would all slot together.

Merciless is one book not to be missed this summer.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Book Review: Day of Vengeance ARC

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Templar (1 Aug 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1848771037
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848771031

Schoolboy time-traveller Jack Christie is thrown back to 1940s Nazi-occupied France. With the Battle of Britain and the German Vengeance programme underway, the Second World War is at a crucial point. Jack and his best friend Angus take a more senior role in VIGIL's attempts to prevent intervention in history, attempting to stop the Revisionists from their highly volatile nuclear plan to stop the war. With spitfire dogfights, jeep races and thrilling chases, the boys have their most hair-raising adventure yet, including involvement in an assassination attempt on Hitler himself. Just as all seems lost, Jack's father returns and a nuclear disaster is averted in the nick of time.

In the latest instalment of the Jack Christie novels, there is no short of action and adventure for Jack and his good friend Angus. When VIGIL security is breached, the boys have no option but to travel back in time again – this time landing themselves smack bang in the Second World War.

Jack and Angus find themselves involved in an assassination attempt of Hitler, an underground rebel base in Paris and an extremely risky rescue mission. The boys get themselves in more than a few sticky situations, but the action is nicely balanced by the humour, which is not in short supply.

Day of Vengeance was an extremely enjoyable read. It is very well written, easily throwing the reader into the excitement and danger alongside Angus and Jack. What I enjoyed most, was the connections to the future, and how, unwittingly, the boys contributed to certain things in their present time.

This is a book that can be enjoyed by everyone – boys, girls and adults alike. I cannot wait to see where the author will take Jack and Angus, and me also of course, on their next adventure. 


Monday, 11 July 2011

July is NetGalley Month!

Over on Red House Books, Emily a.k.a WilowRaven is sharing the NetGalley love!

The goal is simple: read as many NetGalley books as you can in the month of July!

All you have to do is "declare yourself". Preferably, post on your book, Facebook wall, Tumblr - anywhere on the interwebs and link back to the original Red House Books post. Tell all your friends and followers about NetGalley July.


Tweet about the event using the hashtag #NetGalleyMonth

But you MUST comment on the original post.

And then the best as many NetGalley as you can!

There will be prizes - two winners will receive $15 worth of books from The Book Depository :)

Happy reading!


Book Review: A Touch of Crimson ARC

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: SIGNET (12 Aug 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0451234995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451234995

Adrian Mitchell is a powerful angel leading an elite Special Ops unit of Seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen - angels who have become vampires - and command a restless pack of indentured lycans. But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals - losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly 200 years, he has found her, Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body, with no memory of him. And this time he won't let her go.

Angels and Vampires and Lycans, oh my!

A Touch of Crimson catapults you headfirst into the action from the very first page. The start of the book sees the male protagonist, Adrian Mitchell, on a very bad day. His best friend, and second in charge, has been killed. A foaming-at-the-mouth vamp tried to kill him. He has to fly commercial.

All is not lost for the leader of the Special Ops group of Seraphim angels. On the day his world began to crumble, his reason for existence stumbled back into it.

Lindsay Gibson has always felt different. Losing her mother at a very tender age, she was irrevocably changed from witnessing the horrific murder. Stronger, faster, a sixth sense attuned to the weather ensures she will never have a normal life. A normal relationship. And when she meets Adrian at a crowded airport, that is more apparent than ever. 

The connection she feels when she first lays eyes on Adrian is intense and all-consuming. The feeling only increases the more time she spends with him. But as Lindsay battles with her lustful feelings towards Adrian, she soon realises there are bigger things to worry about. Like Adrian’s true calling in life, the discontentment of the guards sworn to protect Adrian and his people. Lindsay’s true father, who swears to return her to his side, once and for all.

A Touch of Crimson had everything I could hope for in a book. Fantastic characters, a hunk of a leading man (and bodyguard – Elijah deserves a very big swooooon), a sympathetic and headstrong leading lady and an awesome story line. I was glued to the pages of this book. It haunted my thoughts whenever it wasn’t in my hands and the world fell away when it was.

It isn’t all mush and romance. A Touch of Crimson has so much more substance than most paranormal romance novels. It is packed with action, killer one-liners and gripping cliff-hangers.

I look forward to more in the Renegade Angels series, but for now, I’m happy basking in the after-glow of Adrian


Friday, 8 July 2011

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Books; Original edition (19 July 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0373775830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373775835

When the ton's most notorious heartbreaker…
Dangerously seductive and sinfully beautiful, Susanna Burney is society's most sought after matchbreaker. Paid by wealthy parents to part unsuitable couples, she's never yet failed to accomplish her mission of diverting a groom-to-be. Until her final assignment brings her face-to-face with the man who'd once taught her an intimate lesson in heartache….
Meets London's most disreputable rake…
James Devlin has everything he's always wanted: a title, a rich fiancĂ©e and a place in society. But the woman who's just met his eyes across a crowded ballroom threatens it all. Not because she'd once claimed his heart, or that every sinuous swirl of her ball gown takes his breath away. But because the secrets she carries could cost him everything. To put the past to rest once and for all, Dev just might have to play Susanna at her own wicked game….
Let the seduction begin!

Notorious is the fourth book in the Scandalous Women of the Ton series. I have not read any of the previous books and that did not spoil the read of Notorious. Each novel stands alone, though characters of the other books will crop up familiarly to fans of the series.

From the first page, the author transports you back in time to glittering ballrooms, handsome gentleman and elegant ladies. She paints the portrait of the time effortlessly, before ripping the rose-tinted glasses from out face and showing the world of seduction, greed and ambition the glammer cleverly disguises.

The story is told in multiple POV’s, which usually I find distracting. In the case of Notorious, I found it exhilarating. Jumping from Susanna’s perspective to Dev’s was intoxicating and only made me yearn for the book more in between my bouts of devouring this book.

I found myself bewitched by Susanna and Dev as they played out their bitter contempt for the other, which naturally progressed to deeper, more primal feelings. It was a pleasure to watch as the characters came undone, as they chipped away at the carefully erected exterior they had maintained so well in the past. Susanna and Dev grew as characters and evolved naturally as the story progressed.

I cannot praise this book enough. Notorious is one of those rare books that makes you itch when it is not in your hands – when a moment not reading is a wasted one. It will crawl beneath your skin (much in the way Dev does with Susanna) and stay there, unflinchingly.

Notorious has everything – intrigue, mystery, betrayal, sex, love, gambling, seduction, loyalty and honour. Grab it up as soon as you can. I guarantee after the first chapter you know exactly what I’m talking about.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Review: Tris & Izzie ARC

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: EGMONT - US (24 Nov 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1606841734
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606841730

Tris & Izzie is the modern re-telling of the classic German tragedy, Tristan & Isolde. Fans of the classic will be able to spot moments in the new book that pertain to the original story , but for the most part, Tris & Izzie is very much a new story in its own right.

Izzie thinks she has the perfect life – popular at school, perfect, handsome and safe boyfriend and a loyal best friend.  Sure, her mother is a witch, but she doesn’t let that stand in the way of her dreams for the future – graduate high school, go to college, get a good job, marry and settle down in her home town. Safe. But then Tristan shows up. Beautiful, arrogant and amazing Tristan, who tempts her from Mark, the best boyfriend any girl could ask for.

Things get stranger for Izzie, as her best friend acts weird, a love potion goes awry and she realises her mother has been lying to her. And that is just the beginning…with Tristan in the middle of everything.

Tris & Izzie is definitely for the younger end of the YA spectrum.  It was refreshing to read about a sixteen year old protagonist and have her sound immature and unsure, rather than a worldly wise and sage twenty something trapped in a teen body, which seems to be the norm for many other YA novels.

The character of Izzie is incredibly flawed, with her herself having no idea. It was a pleasure to see her grow as a person and realise her mistakes and learn from them. The hidden messages in this book will be valuable for any teen, while the romance will melt them and the action keep them glued to the pages.

Magic, betrayal, true love, loss, bravery, warriors, danger, happiness. Tris & Izzie has it all. Let them take you into their world, and forget about yours.   


Sunday, 3 July 2011

Book Review: Blood ARC

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Egmontusa (27 Sep 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 160684220X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606842201

From the first page, Blood puts you in the centre of a modern gothic story, starting during the horror of the witching-burning era, the story travelling back centuries rather than mere decades.

The character of Will – short for William, Earl of Mercia, leads us through the book, from his time as a human during the witch trials, leading up to his agonising plight in the present day. Will is a classical vampire character, and refreshingly so. With immense powers but also the usual vulnerabilities, he is more akin to Bram Stoker’s Dracula than modern day vampires.

When Will wakes in a brand new millennia, he finds more than the world changed. With nothing but loneliness and bitter self hatred to keep his thoughts occupied in the past, he is more than surprised when events are set in motion that will change his path forever.

Certain twists of fate lead him to equally lonely and troubled Eloise, a pretty girl living rough. Together, Will and Eloise try to unravel the complicated details of Will’s destiny, which is irrevocably linked with Eloise.

The mystery of the book was complex, though not so much that it distracted from the story. Action and suspense hitched with every page, the budding and sweet romance between Will and Eloise a perfect breather from the tension. Uncertainty and fear play a large role in the book, with a malevolent force stalking Will’s steps, making him unsure who to trust.

At times Blood felt like a gothic horror, at others a modern paranormal romance. It is a perfect blend of the two, creating one, sure to be popular, YA book.   


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Book Review: A Long, Long, Sleep ARC

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (18 Aug 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0575104724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575104723

As soon as I heard of it, I knew I had to read A Long, Long Sleep. Described as a dystopian fairytale, the excitement built before I even read the synopsis. I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy before publication, and I couldn’t wait to devour it.

Stass isn’t unusual for Rose. All her life, she has been in and out of her own personal stass machine, taking twice the usual time to age normally. But during her last stint in the machine, something goes wrong. And Rose doesn’t wake up for more than seventy years…waking to a kiss from a handsome boy.

Waking from her stass-induced sleep is hard on Rose. She has lost muscle mass, is skeletal thin and extremely weak. But that isn’t the worst part. She has outlived everyone she ever knew. Including her beloved Xavier.

So now Rose has to learn to live again in a world that is so different from the one she last saw. As her insecurities and raw feelings grow, she craves the serenity her stass machine brings. Only when it is clear to those she has bonded with that she uses the stass sleep as a coping mechanism, does Rose realise how bizarre and unnatural, bordering on cruel, her last life was.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin has her in his sights – and this assassin doesn’t stop until his objective is complete.

A Long, Long Sleep was wonderful in so many ways, and surprising in others. It wasn’t the light, romantic and dreamy book I half expected it to be. It was a book about self discovery and finding that inner strength to face your fears head on. I felt like I was taking a journey with Rose, one that led me to terrifying places, to new and unusual friendships and the bitter realisation that sometimes the ones closest to us have the power to hurt us the most.

I sincerely hope there is more to come after A Long, Long Sleep, as I am not ready to let Rose and her friends (especially Otto) go just yet.  All in all, a perfect read for anyone who loves YA, sci fi, romance and dystopian. 

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