Category Archives: Books

The Crush Saga Book 1 by Chrissy Peebles – Review

If you like paranormal romance, particularly if you like it since the boom of Twilight and True Blood, then Chrissy Peebles is your kind of author. I read Crush, book 1 of the Crush Saga, as part of a free anthology I downloaded off Amazon. With these anthologies, it is often hit or miss, and Peebles’ cute little novel was definitely a hit. Continue reading The Crush Saga Book 1 by Chrissy Peebles – Review

You had me at Shakespeare the Vampire Hunter – preview

This September, a new book documenting the life of William Shakespeare as a vampire hunter is being released. Yes. William Shakespeare as a vampire hunter. What more do you need? I wonder if he has more skills that Abraham Lincoln? Continue reading You had me at Shakespeare the Vampire Hunter – preview

The Hyde Park Squirrels – review

The Hyde Park Squirrels written by Nick Croydon and illustrated by Petra Brown is a new Children’s Book series about a couple of red squirrels and their adventures, many of which are set in familiar territory but with an adorable animal-kingdom spin. It is published by Hyde Park Editions. In a nutshell (see what I did there?) these are gorgeously decorated tales with enough substance to keep a child engaged. Continue reading The Hyde Park Squirrels – review

The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Mahni Tazhibi – review

I saw this book online and thought it looked fabulous. The famous Aesop fable illustrated by Iranian artist Mahni Tazhibi, published by Tiny Owl publishing house. I am very fortunate that this book has been sent to me for review.

As a children’s story book, you have certain expectations, but Tazhibi’s art transcends mine. The cover is bright and inviting, and the illustration is relatable. Many children’s books are block colours, whereas Tazhibi’s has an innocent, crayon-like quality to it. Continue reading The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Mahni Tazhibi – review

@BookItForwardUK giveaway! Phantom Thief Jeanne

#BookItForwardUK: High school student Maron Kusakabe has a secret: she’s Phantom Thief Jeanne. She sneaks into private art collections to steal paintings in which demons reside. Jeanne’s task is to seal the demons before they can devour human hearts. So far she’s been able to evade the police on her midnight outings, but now another thief has come onto the scene – Phantom Sinbad – and he’s trying to take the paintings before she does! Continue reading @BookItForwardUK giveaway! Phantom Thief Jeanne

Summoner Book 0: Origins – Review

While perusing Twitter I saw a tweet stating some new book was ‘Harry Potter meets Pokemon’. Obviously I skipped straight to Amazon and clicked pre-order. To this day I haven’t actually read the blurb.

Summoner: Novice by Taran Matharu is released in the UK on May 5. To give us all eager readers a taster of the world of Hominum, where people of noble blood can capture demons to fights alongside them, Matharu has released, for free, a short 100 page origins story. Continue reading Summoner Book 0: Origins – Review

The Sin Eater’s Daughter – review

“I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch.”

Twylla lives in a castle much like a princess, however, Twylla is no princess. Twylla is the kingdom’s executioner. But she does not kill with a weapon, she kills with a mere touch. She lives with a mad queen, a gentle king, a bored prince, and many guards who fear her, until one day when a rather handsome guard appears, he out swords all others and is put in charge of Twylla’s safety. But there is a chemistry that makes Twylla feel different, and it isn’t just the fatal poison that rushes through Twylla’s bloodstream.

Continue reading The Sin Eater’s Daughter – review

Fire Sermon – sample review

I have been plagued by the intrigue and temptation that is Francesca’s Haig’s Fire Sermon for weeks. When a fabulous and blazing front cover was planted repeatedly before my eyes, I began to crack.

And then you hear a summary like ‘they are born twins, but they only share their death’, how can you not want to read more? Continue reading Fire Sermon – sample review

The Bees by @LalinePaull – Review

WHEN golden banded honeybees, so often likened to summer and honey sweetness, become the metaphor of a dystopian version of British Government and the Monarchy, what is one left to think? Continue reading The Bees by @LalinePaull – Review

Frogs, Cats and Pyramids – Could there be a better title? – Preview

It is not often that a title alone can sell merchandise, but Tony Cleaver’s Frogs, Cats and Pyramids has probably already got your attention. Why not give into temptation and go buy it from recommended purchases? Continue reading Frogs, Cats and Pyramids – Could there be a better title? – Preview

My number is up – Review

Remember the book I found out about a couple weeks ago? Well now I own it, and it is wonderful. Continue reading My number is up – Review

#Win books with @DarklyDelishYA and @BookNerdTours Good luck to all! – Competition

May the Luck of the Irish be with you!

-1

Just click this link for

a Rafflecopter giveaway

to try for a pot of gold!

Well, Amazon vouchers … but in my opinion books are akin to a pot of gold.

Continue reading #Win books with @DarklyDelishYA and @BookNerdTours Good luck to all! – Competition

What’s your number? Was finding Yi Number Oracle destiny? – Preview

I recently came upon this book, Yi Number Oracle by Joey Yap. As a love of the fantastical and avid fortune teller of sorts myself, I couldn’t help but be wholly intrigued. Continue reading What’s your number? Was finding Yi Number Oracle destiny? – Preview

Take a Chance – Tempted by stars – Review

Tempt the Stars, by Karen Chance is the sixth book in the Cassandra Palmer Series.

I have waited around two years for this book, after Hunt the Moon finished on such a cliffhanger.

Nobody would start on the sixth book, so this post will not help you if you haven’t reached this point. Go get tucked up in bed with your Kindle and Touch the Dark and come back in a couple weeks. If you are one of the Cassie coven, then join me in further discussion.

tempthestars

Continue reading Take a Chance – Tempted by stars – Review

Be sure to find it – Review

‘If you find me’ me by Emily Murdoch is released this month (April, 2013) by St Martin’s Griffin publishers New York. Continue reading Be sure to find it – Review

A silver lining to feathers – A Shimmer of Angels – Review

A Shimmer of Angels

Lisa Basso, of San Francisco

ISBN-10: 0985029439

To be published on January 29, 2013 at £7.90

Blurb

16-year-old Rayna Evans has spent the last three years in a mental institution for seeing angels—intent on remaining free, she ignores signs that she may be slipping into a world she has tried to climb out of. When her hallucinations begin showing up at school, can she keep her sanity and prevent students from dying at the hands of angels she cannot admit to seeing? Psychiatry, fantasy, and realism come together here in a story of a young girl struggling with identity, secrets, and confronting her greatest fears.

So much of today’s fantasy novels are about young people keeping secrets, but when so young, and without any motivation to keep quiet what happens to those kids that speak out about the monsters?  To see a story unfold through the experiences of a girl from a mental institution is curious and fascinating, and not in the morbid Victorian fascination of watching ‘the crazy people’ from the balconies… ok maybe a little. But angels over vampires are a refreshing turn to the over-done myths of popular modern culture.

Story

If you were expecting to see the insides of the asylum and what it’s like to be with other crazy people, this is not the story for that. A Shimmer of Angels follows selfishly close to Rayna, which even she picks up on (to an extent). Far from Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rayna is already out of the institute when the story starts. Though you do get a glimpse of the institute, but don’t expect any more than ‘learning not to turn your back on a schizophrenic.’

More than being a story about angels, it is a love triangle between a gifted human and two cagey angels (aren’t they all?). However, the linear flow of the story is very easy to follow and to be enchanted by. A Shimmer looks like it will become a great substitute for the void that twilighters will feel now that the final instalment of films is over. And the fact that it is out in January means it will not just be a rebound love, and has the opportunity to be the next franchise to become ‘multi-platformed’.

I hope that the screenplay is not far behind the print release, the visual aspects of A Shimmer will easily reel in a fan base. You can almost feel the ‘soft feathers that looked like they should be oily’ and when the dark shadow swirls on the wall you might jump when the nightlight flickers. I say nightlight as this book does not want to be put down. The story moves on quickly, you might think you have found a slow passage but Ms Basso is only luring you in so that she can jump spectacularly into a new direction.

Although the story line moves on quickly – and sometimes a little too quickly, and possibly predictably – the character interaction is great. You will get more plot and fall deeper in love with the conversation than in, shall we say, a mid-air fight where wings are town off? Ok, so Basso can make quite the fight scene, the kid still only takes two sentences to walk/bus across the city. Don’t expect scenic journeys, you’re not getting it.

Yet, this isn’t described as a flaw to Basso’s writing, whether it was intentional or not, the entire novel IS Rayna. You can feel her heartbeat, you can tell that this is a childhood lost to an insane asylum, a young girl forced to grow up as she was held in a young age – all the while proving repeatedly that she is only 16 years old. Young Adults will love this; the more mature young-at-hearts of us may get annoyed by the constant technical use of short, snappy sentences and youth idioms that we left behind in the last generation. But it suits Rayna, and the interaction with her heavenly boy toys is wonderful.

Two of the biggest concerns, which will affect the entire series, is one, there is not enough angelic and heavenly pun based jokes. Two, the earlier reference of Twilight has another impact; remember that joke of ‘Hey Renesmee, Jacob got off with your mum – twice.’ Well yes, that.

The ending was, almost predictable, but in a rather fun way. It will make the next instalment worth the 12 month wait. If I were you, I would pre-order this on Amazon straight away, and as soon as those feathers flutter through your letter box, don’t think you will be putting down for a little while.

Character development

As above, Rayna is a very believable character. Young women will ‘get’ her, even though she has experience – and not experienced – an awful lot that they have. Basso has crafted a character the reader can fall into easily. The way A Shimmer is written makes it directly through Rayna’s eyes, if Rayna doesn’t realise, the reader doesn’t realise, you will have to hold on until her mind understands.

Series potential

A Slither of Hope – January 2014, I am so excited for this.

A Matter of Time – Hopefully not too long. O_o

‘The potential is seductive’ Judging Covers with #DevaZan – Review

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, yet first impressions are the most important. Here I will review a book’s potential from the first chapter.

 

Title: Deva Zan   ( ISBN9781616550301  )

Author: Yoshitaka Amano

Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors, Dark Horse

Date release: February 5, 2013

Price: $49.99

 

Cover:

 

The monstrous steed on the front recalls images of dragons, until you realise the stereotypical wings are not present. It makes you think that this book will leads you on goose chases if you dare to guess ahead.

From my GCSE art days I know that black will be most likely to draw the eye, yet I feel myself more inexplicably drawn to the lost, hollow white eyes of the humanoid character than Bella to Edward. Echoeing that of the moon behind, the character looks to be a hero but the zombie-esque stare scares in such a way as though it is a warning not to trust your first instinct.

Though beautiful in the artwork, the dark and powerful theme of nightmares is ever present as you look at the cover of Deva Zan. It promises a story that will twist your mind as well your head as you look at the flickering shadow in your peripheral vision.

 

Blurb:

In his forty year career, Yoshitaka Amano has illustrated many projects, becoming famous for Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D. But never before has Amano written the visions he depicts — never until now! Dark Horse has the honor to publish Deva Zan, Yoshitaka Amano’s first fantasy novel as an author as well as an illustrator! An epic ten years in the planning, Amano has made Deva Zan as his personal expression of the legends of Asia for his Western readership.

In esotevic Japanese Buddhism, twelve generals — the Juni Jinsho — stood guard over the cosmos at the points of the zodiac. But now they have vanished, and nothing stands between us and the forces of darkness but Deva Zan, a samurai without a memory. To restore order to existence, he must marshal not only his own fighting skill, but find companions that can cross the boundaries of time and space — to join him in a battle that will stretch from the fields of ancient Japan, to the streets of modern New York City — and to dimensions beyond human comprehension!

 

I know of Final Fantasy, but Vampire Hunter D is not so familiar. But as an avid manga fan, a book reader since I could sit up and perpetually interested in the human mind, Deva Zan excites me that someone is attempting to write the novel and illustrate. I have, of course, read picture books before, as well as Beatrix Potter and Dicken’s novels that have prints on some of the pages, but this, this looks to be something more.

That it is also about the supernatural has me sold and the book bought – except the price is 49.99? Even for me… that seems a little too much, if not a lot.

With ancient and modern mixing, with different dimensions and battles, there is a lot for Yoshitaka to grab hold of and bring the reader something to be amazed by. Even though, the price tag is eccentric, the blurb shows potential that the book is worth it.

 

First Chapter:

 

As you reach the prologue you have to flick through abstract pink prints and a grey empty horizon that is mottled with fake age. I am experiencing the eBook version, but the memory of the cover coupled with the patience of getting through the pages still allows you to ‘feel’ the book as though you were holding it. You can still imagine the burden of those simple prints, with such a promise from the busy detail of the art and the exaggerated blurb you can only wonder why the prints are so empty.

The text is fragmented, the lines ending short, which is probably meant to be poetic, yet personally I think it looks horrid. The next page, probably meant to be shown together, is garish, bold flat prints of colour and a black white pencil-detailed warrior… yet in its ugliness it is still desirable. Maybe the excitement of the cover and blurb haven’t worn off yet.

The shortness of the lines are cold with clear facts and basic speech, there is no metaphor, or simile, or any romantic devices used in prose. Yet Deva Zan can still make you see the scripture, and it’s not because it is illustrated, as the illustrations are not clear – completely opposite to the cover.

The need for more information brings greed to turn the pages, rather than a swift intake of the story. Two pages in and you are graced with a beautiful concept-like art double page picture, of a goddess-like surrounded by goldfish. It seems unfinished in its muted colours, but it is still worthy of being a centrepiece on any wall.

More gorgeous artwork surrounds small amounts of text that start to tease you onto the next page. Unfortunately the eBook now limits the impact and there is no effort to absorb the work gone into it.

And then it is chapter one… which brings more of the same. I’ll admit I did flick through – or rather click through – and the images continue to have a concept like quality, and are beautiful.

 

FIRST LINE – How many times have I awoken?

First lines are extremely important to me, it sets character scene and can sometimes forge a connection with the reader so that they cannot turn back.  This line engages with a philosophy of existence which will appeal to some.

 

Main character:

 

The blurb let me know he was a samurai, and the prologue backs this up. The words make me think he is strategic, which tends to go hand in hand with leadership qualities, which just echoes the cover and the blurb again. The images show you that he is not quite perfect yet, but has great potential and that you should wait and watch just a little longer.

 

Potential:

 

This is definitely a book I would like to hold, to touch, to experience firsthand. It is what proves that published books are not yet dead and that we will always need them. Deva Zan has an unknown quality that makes you want to feast upon the whole of it. Probably more likely to be a book enjoyed on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you have a couple hours spare rather than a chapter before you go sleep. Worth the $49.99? Owning the amount of art work at that quality, yes. The story itself? Well, you would probably get time value out of it…

 

Further:

 

I couldn’t help but look more, the potential was too seductive! The pictures get more detailed and more full, I can only imagine that they reflect clarity of storyline.

 

Put a Moon Spell on you, and now you’re mine… well, hers…

Broody, possessive and controlling hero? Check.

Virginal young maiden who has never looked at guys before? Check

Rich family and definite attraction/arranged marriage? Check.

Dull, lip-biting woman that does as she is told and can’t do anything? FAR FROM IT. In fact she blows sh!t up all over the place.

Scottish author Sam Young has created a series of intrigue and brilliance. Well, it’s at least an interesting read.

I have read book one of the Tales of Lunarmorte series: ‘Moon Spell.’ Without wanting to offend or put off anyone I would place it as the missing link between 50 shades of grey and Twilight. This may excite some and make others run in fear, but Moon Spell takes what is good and bad from the aforementoned and arranges it in some logical order.

Sure, my kindle version had a few missing words and grammatical mistakes, and the intimate scenes last as long as cake at a wedding, but the book has good bits as well! Like… well… let me think. Things blow up did I say that yet?

Okay, so it definately has the good and bad parts from Twilight  and 50 shades, but at least there’s no damn lip biting. And there might be some ‘oh my goddess’ but at least there is no ‘inner goddess’ mentioned.

It was still a good read.

Caia is a lycan and… well if I said that it would ruin the plot, but let’s just leave it at she can blow stuff up. (No, not a demolitions maniac.) The fascinating side of the book is probably the research and mythology that occurs throughout, it has been well done and you get a feel for the world that Sam Young creates. It is not often that you can understand somebody else’s world, but the description and information is all presented to the reader so they can fully immerse themselves, I could not put this book down. Yet it isn’t overbearing either, Young has mastered the balance.

When told she has been lied to all her life, Caia doesn’t lie down and take it, she snaps and snarls like any person would. There is a real sense of character there, she has personality, something that is lacking in the main heroine’s role in most modern popular fiction.

What I found lacking was the fight scenes. Here you have a girl that can BLOW STUFF UP (did I mention that yet?) but we don’t get to really see it. There are good descriptions of her training, and with the multi-narrator style of writing you get to see the consequences of her power from different angles. But it isn’t enough. Maybe the fights jsut didn’t last long enough, what with most of the book being based around the relationship between pack alpha Sebastien and Caia. Oh yes, warning, this is a romance read. Paranormal romance- the best kind. With glowing lights.

No seriously, glowing lights.

As just mentioned it is written in the point of view of many characters, and not just switching between the two main ones, you get a look of the bad guy and some minor characters. It adds depth, and although it isn’t clearly drawn who is talking when the style of thought changes for each ‘person’ so it doesn’t take long to figure out. The whole inner monologue in third person helps some too.

To buy your own for just 77p  go HERE

To see Sam Young’s blog go here  or the lunarmorte specific blog

 

For a book that has romance, intimacy, an awesome heroine, stuff getting blow up AND kickass fight scenes read Karen Chance

Help me find another book like this.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett 2009

Not going to lie to you, I read this book in December 2011. But it is that good I can still remember it clearly.

Girl writes controversial book in 50s. Wait, no. Woman (with no life experience) take romantic notion of compiling the memoirs of black serving maids (with years of experience) in 1950’s Minnesota to impress a book publisher from the city, however, after finally obtaining some co-operation from the titular Help she realises how the world around her; that she often complains about, is rose tinted. Does this book end with a glamorous saving of the day and reforming the world? No, no it does not. Does this book contain a ‘terrible bad’? Why yes, yes it does.

Written from the viewpoint of three characters, the reader can see three very different stories, each with secrets from each other, and each with their own distinct voice. After the first couple of changes I barely needed the announcement of the character.

The characters are human. They are ordinary people in (unfortunately?) ordinary circumstances (for the 50’s anyway). But they do have extraordinary resolve, which is something most humans lack, and that is what makes this worthy of a story. Besides the whole black/white racism thing (I don’t want to write a rant in my review about how racism is stupid) it is written about the value of human life to one another. If you employ someone, does that make you better than them? If someone employs you, do you respect them even in their foulest actions?

Stockett writes with a beautiful detail that is insinuated more than physically touched upon; to the point the reader sometimes feels as though the character is still lying to themselves. There will be times you shake your book/kindle in frustration when the characters undergo another ‘facepalm’ moment. But it is all equalled to those passages that had me laugh out loud to the point I couldn’t focus on the words for a minute.

The conflict within Minny’s mind is perfectly crafted; especially in comparison to her arrival in the other two character’s chapters. Her fiery temperament and vulnerable thoughts will have you loving her within moments of her introduction.

Every character feel’s so real, maybe this is helped by the phonetic dialect being spelt (Pretty sure I had an American drawl for the couple days I was reading) but the honesty of the novel is appealing to me. I would happily read this book again whilst on holiday etc. It had the obvious serious tone, but it was so damn funny. I cried a little, sure, but this book doesn’t make the reader feel bad or guilty. Even without a happily ever after you see the resolve of the people extend past the life of the novel.

I could put it down at certain intervals. The style of writing; i.e separating the narrating characters into different chapters, meant you could stop between each story, thus, making ‘The Help’ suitable for people with busy lifestyles or bedtime readers. However, most individual segments drop off at a cliff hanger moment; playing on your mind, but if that didn’t happen, it wouldn’t be a good book.

I am glad I read The Help, a wonderful style is used to make you laugh, cry and inspired for revenge with creative but vile tactics.

For people who can’t/won’t read it is also a film made in 2011 but I haven’t seen it yet.

Also, I apologise profusely for that awful pun title for this review, sleepy Natalie just thought it was funny.

Ready Player One : Ernest Cline

A dystopian outlook after 2012 sees us using all our fuel and living in stacked caravans and working just to log in to the immersive simulation version of Facebook aptly named in the book as OASIS.

If you understand geektech language you will love to know the plot revolves around easter eggs, haptic suits, pac man and an assortment of acronyms folded around explosions. If, like me, you are thinking chocolate, hectic, yellow faces and letters all over the page then you will still enjoy the book as it is completely -and painstakingly- written in detail.

To be quite honest with you, I can’t be bothered to explain everything, nor the amount of 80’s trivia. I shall just highlight what I loved and I didn’t love so much from this book of which I only like.

I was annoyed that Cline kept setting up a tragedy and then sidestepped it. I was told repeatedly that our protagonist; Wade, lived in a now fuel-defficient dystopian future and was camping in a van in a junk pile where the only electricity was pedalling on a cycle. Yet never once did power cut out and ruin something at a critical moment, he was always lucky.

More annoying was that Wade came from nothing, and then after receiving EVERYTHING became a no-good punk that lost all of his humble pie. Well he wasn’t a no-good punk, but I stopped liking him by chapter 11.

I loved the twist with Aech. I had already figured out two-thirds of it on our first meeting but I did not expect THAT.

As much as I hope we don’t become a reclusive society I admit I am more than a little infatuated with being able to enter a 3d simulation world. However is it bad that I kept wondering which virtual world would be more important out of  Twilight or Harry Potter. Alas, neither of these worlds ever came up as it was all about the 80s. And yet not One David Bowie reference or Dandy Highwayman lyrics were ever mentioned. Well screw you too Cline.

I love gamer talk, even the lingo I don’t understand so when the storyline got a little distracted and too much of an easy ride for the protagonist the continuous amusement of future game and 80s related jokes really did keep you turning the page (or clicking the kindle next page button).

My ending comment for this book is that I think it would make an amazing film the visuals it probably the real reason I kept reading, what I was imagining was a beautiful chaos that I have been dreaming about since I first picked up a Nintendo64 controller. The rights have already been acquired by WarnerBros (rumour?) and may be around for 2012.

2015 edit: It’s still not a film. Don’t believe rumours kids. They are full of heartbreak.