Monday, 31 October 2011

Book Review: Twilight Fulfilled

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mira Books; Original edition (20 Sep 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0778312674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778312673

Utanapishtim has paid dearly for the sin of creating the vampire race—imprisoned in a living death for centuries, driven to near madness. With a single white-hot glance, he immolates his descendants…and the vampire Armageddon begins.
Beautiful and deadly Brigit Poe, not wholly vampire but fiercely loyal to that shared bloodline, is called into action. She abhors yet cannot deny her destiny: to vanquish the once-great king of the immortals and save the vampire race.
Two warriors, equally matched in power and determination, are soon locked in an unwinnable battle, only to discover a passion so shocking it threatens every truth they've ever known—even as they must face one final battle that seems fated to end in death and heartbreak for them both.

Twilight Fulfilled is the 18th instalment of Maggie Shayne’s hit series. This book focuses on Brigit Poe – vampire half-blood. Brigit and her twin brother James are the only two of their kind, and neither aren’t without their…charms. James is the ‘good twin’ who has the power to heal. Brigit is the ‘bad twin’ and has the power to destroy. To shoot death lasers out of her eyes, to be exact.

When the first immortal, Utana, was resurrected, he believes he must destroy his race of vampires to earn favour with the gods. Only Brigit can stop him before the eliminates her entire family.

When Utana and Brigit meet, sparks literally fly. Plus a few cars, trees, general debris. But more than that the spark of passion ignites between them. Utana is sworn to destroy Brigit and her kin, Brigit sworn to protect her own.

Twilight Fulfilled was a pleasurable read, an original story with charming characters. I enjoyed watching the development of Utana and Brigit’s romance and as they struggled to come to terms with what it meant for both of them.

Any fans of Maggie Shayne will devour this book whole. 


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Book Review: Lord of the Wolfyn

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (18 Oct 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0373618700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373618705

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden.
To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance.
Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.…
For practical Reda Weston, nothing could explain how reading a sexy version of "Little Red Riding Hood" catapulted her into another realm—face-to-fang with the legendary wolf-creature who seduced women. A wolf who transformed into a dark, virile man….
Dayn cursed the Sorcerer that turned him wolfyn and damned him to a lonely fate. As a beast, he mated with women to gain strength.
Strength he needed to rescue his royal parents. But as a man, he craved Reda's heated, sizzling touch. With little time left, Dayn had to either embrace his wolf to save his kingdom…or fight it to save his woman.

Lord of the Wolfyn was another fabulous instalment of the Royal House of Shadow series. In this book, we meet Dayn, a prince of Elden, sent to the realm of the wolfyn at his kingdom’s downfall. But Dayn has more in common with his enemy than he ever knew…

Reda is in the mortal realm, struggling to overcome the traumatic experience of watching her partner get killed. As a cop, freezing isn’t an option, but it seems to be Reda’s specialty. With her mental state fragile, she finds herself drawn to an unusual shop where she is reunited with a book she had a strong connection with as a child…the first and original edition of Red Riding Hood.

Dayn has spent two decades in the wolfyn realm, awaiting his guide that will take him home. He has hidden his true nature, a blood drinker with the unusual ability to shift into a wolfyn, to himself, knowing that it would get him killed. But things are shifting into alignment, and his guide arrives when he needs her most.

Reda awakens to the handsome woodcutter from her book. But it isn’t her who needs rescuing, it’s Dayn himself.

Lord of the Wolfyn has to be my favourite book in the series yet. I fell in love with the characters, the story, the setting. It was a pleasure to watch Dayn and Reda fall for each other, realise their feelings and struggle on how to act on them.

Along with a beautiful romance, there is plenty of action and heart-pounding intensity in the book. Lord of the Wolfyn has made it onto my just-one-more-chapter bookcase. I cannot wait for the next in the series. 


Monday, 24 October 2011

Book Review: Midwinterblood

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Indigo (6 Oct 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1780620098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780620091

Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting. Beautifully imagined, intricately and cleverly structured, this is a heart-wrenching and breathtaking love story with the hallmark Sedgwick gothic touches of atmosphere, blood-spilling and sacrifice.

Midwinterblood felt like several different stories of the same event…which basically it was. Sometimes a gothic horror, at others a tender romance, Midwinterblood takes you on a dangerous adventure with vampires, Vikings and forbidden love.

The story begins with Eric Seven, cynical journalist investigating the magical properties of Blessed Island where no one ages and there are no children. Eric struggles to keep his wits about him as he slowly succumbs to the…charm of the island and its inhibitors. When he meets Merle, it is love at first sight and even if he doesn’t understand it, he knows that it is right. What he doesn’t know is that he has met Merle before. Many times before. Sometimes as a friend, a mother or a lover. Their souls are connected, destined to find each other in each new life.

Marcus Sedgewick writes with simple, lyrical prose that somehow makes the horror he shows  bloody and beautiful all at the same time. His plot is genius, beginning the story a the end and working his way back. It could have been a disaster. Instead it was amazing.

Fan of Sedgewick’s edgy writing will love his latest work of triumph, and while this one in particular would be better suited for the older end of the YA spectrum, I have no doubt that adults of all ages will adore this book. I know I did.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Book Review: Dearly, Departed ARC

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Childrens (29 Sep 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0857530003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857530004

Love can never die.
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.
But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.
In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.
Dearly, Departed is part of the new craze sweeping the YA market – zombies. The author takes on an awesome adventure of love, daring, upper classes, war and betrayal. And I loved every moment of it.

Nora Dearly is a high society ‘New Victorian’ girl. When she returns home from boarding school, a year since her father, Dr Dearly, passed away, Nora encounters a strange man. A man who insists he knows her father and wants to reunite the pair. He is chased away before Nora can even consider his offer. But meeting him wasn’t the strangest thing to happen to Nora.

One evening, a swarm of zombies descend on her house, intent on making a meal out of her. The man returns again for Nora, swooping her out of danger…and landing her in even hotter water. The man is Bram – sixteen year old captain of the zombie army, dangerously good-looking even in death, and apparently one of the good guys. Though convincing Nora is a challenge of an after-lifetime.

The book splits between a few various characters – Nora and Bram primarily. This means we don’t miss a second of the action and get to see the world of Lia Habel through different eyes.

I absolutely adored Bram and Nora – their feisty relationship and tenderness drew me to the story like a moth to the flame. The action pitched with each passing page, new information and feelings making the book completely irresistible.

Nora and Bram were two of the most charming characters I’ve come across in a good long while, and I sincerely hope there is a sequel to Dearly, Departed. Because frankly, the world just isn’t as entertaining without them in it. 


Monday, 17 October 2011

Book Review: The Kissing Tree ARC

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sweetwater Books (8 Dec 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1599559366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599559360

After five long years, Georgiana McLaughlin returns to the only place she’s ever considered home—the same place she stole a kiss from Ridge Carson under the community “kissing tree.” But this time he’s a man, and reconciling their past is just the beginning. You’ll find yourself applauding each new chapter filled with fun, romance, and adventure in this captivating, heartfelt tale of love, friendship, and finding your way back.

The Kissing Tree made me actually swoon out loud. Tad embarrassing when you’re on a train!

Five years ago, Georgiana McLaughlin left with her mother and brothers to visit with their aunt in New York City. No one told her they wouldn’t be returning to her childhood home in Colorado. Georgiana left behind not just the rest of her family, but her two best friends, Samantha and Ridge. Right before she left, Georgiana stole a kiss from Ridge…one neither of them forgot.

But now Georgiana has returned, and Ridge isn’t the boy she remembered…he has grown into a strong and handsome man who still retains his boyish teasing nature. Feelings that never really went away suddenly flare to life for both Ridge and Georgiana, but things are different than they were before. Both are older, less sure of their actions. Not to mention the rich and handsome Dawson that Georgiana left behind in New York.

The Kissing Tree was the kind of book that lingered with me whenever I wasn’t reading it. It was achingly romantic and laugh-out-loud funny. I adored the banter between Georgiana and Ridge, and how Georgiana more than handled the men on her grandfather’s ranch.

This novel is not just a romance one – it is about family and commitments, and the difficult choice between following your heart or your head. A sure pleaser for anyone who adores romance, comedy or historical fiction. An author to watch.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book Review: Tortured Rake ARC

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Ltd (15 April 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0263889580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0263889581

Nathaniel... Icon. Celebrity. Heartthrob.

Underneath the movie star's good looks is a man battling with the demons of his past. No one knows the real Nathaniel, they only see the pin-up, the man he pretends to be. Until one night he is forced to rely on Katie Field, an ordinary young woman from a very different world to Nathaniel's. She may be starstuck but she isn't blinded by the bright lights of fame. Can Nathaniel trust her enough to reveal the man behind the mask? Let the seduction begin...

 Tortured Rake was a book that took me totally by surprise. I curled up with it, fully expecting a sexy, fun, adventurous ride. Colour me surprised when underneath its glossy and glib exterior, was a vulnerable hero with a traumatic past.

Nathaniel Wolfe is a name everyone has heard. Legendary actor, sexiest man alive and ridiculously wealthy, Nathaniel is used to being in the spotlight. Little Katie Fields, relative unknown costume designer, is not. But all that is about to change. Nathaniel needs Katie’s help. When she aides him, Katie is thrown headfirst into Nathaniel’s decadent world where nothing is as it seems…and nothing is real.

Katie wants nothing more than to meet Nathaniel Wolfe – the real Nathaniel Wolfe, that is. Not the Hollywood version the rest of the world is familiar with. But Nathaniel isn’t one to let his guard down or let people get close to him. Good thing for Katie, she has ways of talking people around.

I adored Katie and Nathaniel’s story. It was a pleasure to watch them both grow as characters, how they complimented each other and how their feelings progressed. Nathaniel is the perfect leading man for any book – strong, sexy and just a little bit broken. And Katie is just the woman to fix him. The book was extremely well written and held my attention effortlessly throughout.

I definitely look forward to more in this series. 


Monday, 10 October 2011

Book Review: Eye of the Crystal Ball

Kindle Edition
Published June 23rd 2011

When Sara was newborn her parents left her at the doorstep at Mr. and Mrs. Schneider's house.

When Sara was ten she discovered she was telekinetic. She began to move stuff around when she got angry just by her will alone.

When Sara was twelve her real parents came for her and took her with them to live like the Gypsy that she was - or Romani as they like to call themselves. They told her she was going to fulfill a prophesy. That it was once said that out of the Romani people the greatest sorceress who had ever lived would be born.
When Sara was thirteen she had a baby brother and when she was fourteen he got very sick with a strange illness.
To save her baby-brother Sara sets off on a quest to find his cure - well knowing that it will cost her dearly.
Soon Sara finds herself going through the Singing Cave, crossing Wild Witches Valley, talking to a ten foot giant snail, rescuing the Beads of Souls from the Hell-hounds, escaping a spell in Vamila, the Forest of Vanity, visiting the king at the City of Lights before she finally reaches the Black Castle where she is told the Eye of the Crystal Ball can tell her how to cure her brother's strange illness.

But nothing is free in this world - and as Sara soon will know - everything has a price.

The protagonist of our story is young Sara. As a baby, Sara was left on the doorstep of a kind couple, only to be reclaimed by her paternal family at age twelve. Sara’s real family are gypsies, and Sara had to get used to a whole new way of life. Not to mention come to terms with the fact that she is a part of a huge gypsy prophecy.

When Sara’s baby brother becomes ill, Sara sets off on an epic quest to find his cure. She encounters giant fast-talking snails, Hell Hounds…even a unicorn. As with all quests, our hero goes through tests of endurance and will…but will Sara make it in time to save her brother?

The author keeps the reader guessing throughout the story, plenty of twists and turns to keep the action up. This story would be suited to younger readers, possibly fans of Harry Potter. The fantasy at times was reminiscent of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but for younger readers.

But even with the best of stories, one thing is guaranteed to distract me – grammar. The Eye of the Crystal Ball would benefit hugely from a thorough edit – it would make the story and the characters shine beautifully without the reader being distracted by something unrelated to the story. 


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Book Review: Penitence

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing (29 April 2010)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1933963832
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933963839

Book Two. Seeing good and evil spirits is a gift Zoe guards with her life. Despite her guardian angel's disappearance, Zoe forces herself to accept that she still has a purpose-but how does she carry the weight of her brother's drug abuse, the hardship of living with an autistic sister, and a best friend who's obsessed with a guy who only wants Zoe? She's never felt more alone. When a mysterious spirit appears, Zoe thinks she has a new guardian angel. Instead, her brother's addiction worsens, her parents are on the brink of separation, and her best friend tries to kill her. The spirit she thinks is her new guardian isn't there to protect her: he's out to destroy her family and seize Zoe's soul. . . for Hell. Will Matthias' return mean that he is Zoe's guardian angel again? Or is their love the reason the jaws of Hell now gape open?

Penitience is the second book in the Heavenly series, picking up right where we left Zoe in Heavenly.

Jennifer Laurens eases us back into the story effortlessly, reminding us where the story ended in the last book without sounding repetitive.

When Zoe re-enters her body after experience perfection in Paradise, it’s clear she doesn’t want to be there. She wants to be back in the loving arms of Matthias where there is no pain, only love and absolute certainty of what she craves.

Matthias doesn’t appear like Zoe expects him to. She pleads and prays for him to come to her…and his absence cuts deeper than the glass wounds from her accident. Zoe’s aunt steps in as Abria’s guardian, only confirming Zoe’s worst fears that something has happened to the love of her life.

Even though life without Matthias doesn’t feel like living, Zoe knows she must pick herself up and move through life regardless. If not for her sake, than her family’s, which is hanging together by a thread. Zoe’s stoner brother, Luke, falls off the wagon and hits the booze and weed heavier than ever before. Her parents are arguing more and more, and the students of Pleasant Grove High School are getting increasingly out of control. Especially best friend Britt…and Zoe’s worst nightmare, Brody.

The opening pages of Penitence are stark and brutal to read. Zoe’s raw agony radiates off the page and sinks deep under the skin of the reader. While it is uncomfortable, it is not off-putting, and only draws the reader further into Zoe’s world…making it come alive around them.

There wasn’t a point in this book where I wanted to put it down. It quickly became one of my ‘just one more chapter’ kind of reads. You know, where you tell yourself just one more chapter before doing the dishes. Just one more chapter before turning out the light at bedtime. Just one more chapter before I get off my butt and go to work.

The characters of Penitence were outstanding. Usually, secondary characters can get lost in the story, become under developed and uninteresting. Never with Jennifer Laurens. I enjoyed wondering where their characters would go, what they would do next…who would fall victim to the evil spirits lurking around Zoe’s friends and family.  

As always, I adore Jennifer Lauren’s style of writing. Many authors, YA ones in particular, stay away from harsh topics, sugar coat things rather than tell it like it is. Jennifer Laurens isn’t afraid to look beneath the surface, write about real problems and how teenagers actually act. A lot of people could benefit from her writing – teens and parents alike. Especially with the Heavenly series.

Penitence ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers gasping for more. As for me? I’m way more than eager for the final part of the Heavenly series – Absolution


Monday, 3 October 2011

Book Review: Legacy

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 701 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonEncore (4 Aug 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language English
  • ASIN: B0028Y5O7U

I noticed his eyes. They were blue, sharp and intense. Despite the youthful glows of his suntanned face, his eyes were cold and unfriendly, suggesting he had great experience in the world and was now expecting the worst.
In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father's choice of suitor fills her with despair.
When the palace guard captures and intruder—a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom's greatest enemy—Alera is alarmed…and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.
In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won't be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom.

Legacy is told through the eyes of the Crown Princess Alera as she faces the most difficult decision she will ever have to make. She must choose the man she is to marry and who will inherit the crown of the King. Alera’s father makes his opinions on who he would like this to be very clear…but unfortunately Alera cannot abide his choice.

When Alera encounters an intruder in the castle – a Cokryi her age with mesmerising steel grey eyes, her decision is made even harder. Especially when she starts to fall for him. But their love could destroy her kingdom. For both share a dark destiny that could bring about the end of her world as she knows it.

Legacy has the promise to be an amazing book. It has an intriguing storyline, interesting characters and tension and action to keep the pace up. Unfortunately the story drowns under the weight of overly-described scenes, constant clothing descriptions, very contradictory behaviour from the main character and the mix of old and modern speech.

I feel if the characters had been more defined they could have carried the story better, but as they are now they feel too one dimensional. The character of Princess Alera put the final nail in the coffin for me. She was very up and down with her decisions, wanting to be a strong woman and be taken seriously, then acting like the classic damsel in distress. She has a betraying nature that does not make her a sympathetic character. Often as I read I thought her sister would have made a better main character.

Legacy would be enjoyed by historical and YA lovers, perhaps the older end of the spectrum due to the length of the book. We end on a cliffhanger that will ensure plenty of readers come back for the sequel. 

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