Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Gate to Kandrith, Nicole Luiken

Gate to Kandrith, Nicole LuikenTitle: Gate to Kandrith (Goodreads)

Author:   Nicole Luiken (@NicoleLuiken)

Rating: 

Series: Kandrith 1 of 2(?)

Genre: Adult High Fantasy/Romance

Published: Carina Press, March 26, 2012

My copy: Ebook ARC from NetGalley

Pre-order an E-copy: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Diesel eBooks

Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves.

Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic. (Goodreads)

Review

Gate to Kandrith drew me in from the very first chapter and didn’t let go. The story moves along at a cracking pace, introducing elements of romance right away and weaving them around an interesting society and world.

The countries of the Republic and Kandrith are very different. The Republic is ruled by a Primus who has seized power, attended by a court of nobles with slaves to serve them. Kandrith was founded by escaped slaves, headed by one chosen by the Goddess of Mercy and protected by magic. Kandrith is rather utopian –  even though they do have a fairly fool-proof justice system in the “Listeners” who cannot hear lies, surely even in a nation of escaped slaves there would be someone ambitious enough to seize power? In any case, it sounds like an idyllic place.

The magic system used by the slaves is based on sacrifice – you must give up something in order to receive power. I like systems like this where balance is preserved more than those where magic is freely available to be used. It seems more realistic to me – as realistic as magic can be, anyway.

When this book is described as “adult fantasy”, it’s not wrong – right from the first chapter we’re introduced to jazoria, a drug that increases desire against the victim’s will. There’s quite a few raunchy and violent scenes throughout the book, and I can’t help feeling that these scenes may prevent the book from reaching as wide an audience as it might otherwise have. Not that I didn’t enjoy the romance – Sara and Lance are rather swoon-worthy!

The characters were, perhaps, a little shallow. That didn’t stop them from being likable though. It was great to see Sara’s journey as she discovered that there were ways to live other than how she had been raised in the Republic. Lance was just a total sweetheart! Absolutely no complaints there, I loved him.

Gate to Kandrith was a brilliant read and was very difficult to put down.  It will be tough to wait for the next book to come out to find out what happens next!

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Absolutely not! Contains some grisly deaths, graphic adult scenes, rape and torture.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Review: The Forever Girl, Rebecca Hamilton

Title: The Forever Girl (Goodreads)

Author:   Rebecca Hamilton (@InkMuse)

Rating: 

Series: Forever Girl book 1 (of ?)

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Published: Immortal Ink Publishing, January 2012

Pages: 354

Paper copies: Amazon.com

E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk

Sophia lives in a small town where her Wiccan practices are disapproved of by the local church. Research into her family’s history leads her towards finding out about the voices in her mind, but also leads her into a dark world where the vampiric Cruor rule. Can she trust the mysterious Charles after her friends turn away from her?

Review

I was given this copy of The Forever Girl by the Author herself in a Twitter giveaway. Paranormal romance isn’t usually my favourite but I was so glad I went ahead and read it. This story is dark yet gripping – I had a hard time putting it down.

Early on in the story I couldn’t help but compare it to Twilight a little: Girl meets mysterious, gorgeous boy who says “You shouldn’t get attached to me, it’s too dangerous”, she says “OMG, get me some of that” and he protects her from the Vampire powers-that-be (I don’t mean that as a slight on Twilight, by the way. I rather enjoyed the books when I read them – up until Breaking Dawn, anyway).

As the story moved forward, twists and turns made sure that I never knew what to expect next. The story was fast-paced and exciting and the Wiccan rituals and history of the Cruor and other elementals were fascinating.

Sophia was a great character – she was so strong and determined, but I felt so sorry for her by the end! She tries her hardest and faces each new challenge in a very believeable and engaging way. Charles, on the other hand, I did not connect well with. Apart from seeming a little too perfect, he drove me (and Sophia) mad with his hot/cold attitude – one minute telling her to stay away and acting all stand-offish and the next moment, whispering sweet nothings in her ear. I wanted to slap him! The romantic scenes were well put together though and fit in well with the events in the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Forever Girl. It’s a fantastic debut from Rebecca Hamilton, and I’ll look forward to the release of book two, Her Sweetest Downfall, later this year.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Not if you don’t want them to have nasty nightmares! Also, language and adult content.

Challenges: I read this book as part of the Immortal Reading Challenge – Vampires.

6 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Review: How To Be A Pirate, Cressida Cowell

Title: How To Be A Pirate (Goodreads)

Author:   Cressida Cowell

Rating: 

Series: How To Train Your Dragon Book 2 of 9

Genre: Childrens Fantasy

Published: Little, Brown and Co, 2004

Pages: 211

.

Paper copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Book Depository

Not available as an e-book.

Hiccup is a Viking and a member of the Hooligan tribe. When Hiccup and his fellow classmates and their pet dragons are taking part in Pirate Training, a huge storm wrecks their ship and washes them, and a strange coffin onto the shore. Could this coffin hold the treasure of the legendary Grimbeard the Ghastly, the greatest pirate who ever struck Terror into the Inner Isles?

Review

You may have seen the movie version of the first book in the series, How to Train Your Dragon. I borrowed this second book in the series, thinking it would continue the story on from the end of the movie.  In fact, the movie version was changed quite a bit from the original story. The vikings don’t ride the dragons as they are way too small. Hiccup speaks to Toothless (who really doesn’t have any teeth) in Dragonese. The characters names are there but the characters themselves seem quite different.

That aside, How to Be a Pirate is a very cute story. Almost every page has a little sketch illustration from the author that littlies are sure to love. While the movie version of How To Train Your Dragon was a more grown-up story of adults trying to protect their homes and families, the adult vikings in the books are much more silly and cartoonish, with plenty of fart jokes in there with the adventure.

I must hunt down the other books in the series (this copy came from the library) – I have a little boy who I am sure is going to love these in a few years time.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Yes, they will love it!

2 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Equipment: Kindle Wi-fi

I love real books – real paper, the smell of a new book and admiring the collection on my shelves. I’m one of those people who like books to be kept looking as new as possible and cringe when I find a crease down the spine.

When I first met an e-reader, it was while we were travelling. At the time I remember thinking it a weird idea to have a device entirely devoted to books, but I could see the attraction for travel purposes so that you didn’t have to carry a bookshelf around with you.

Fast-forward two years and I asked for a Kindle for Christmas to help me on my commute to and from work. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a real book and always will, but the Kindle will take some beating for transport convenience. Plus, e-books are so much easier to come by and generally cheaper!

Has having an e-reader changed the way you read? Or if you don’t have one, why not? Curious minds want to know!

 

Kindle

Mine is a Kindle Wi-fi. I didn’t think it was worth getting the 3G version since I was unlikely to suddenly need a book while away from home. The lack of keyboard can be a little fiddly while trying to type out the name of a book in the kindle store search, but I don’t do that very often. The screen looks almost like a printed page – there’s no backlighting like on a phone or iPad which reduces eye strain, but does mean you need light to read by.

 

Skin

I got my Kindle a vinyl skin to protect it a little bit. The skin peels onto the outside of the Kindle like a screen protector and comes off again without leaving residue. There are a huge range of these skins available on Amazon, not just for this Kindle but for Kindle Fire and Keyboard.

I originally had the front panel on as well, but I found it distracted me while I was reading so I removed it.

 

Case

My Kindle sleeps in a BUILT neoprene case with a soft furry lining, so that its protected in my handbag or laptop bag. I’m very happy with the slim design and it looks great, too!

6 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Review: City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Goodreads)

Author:   Cassandra Clare

Rating: 

Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 of 4 (5 & 6 planned)
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
Pages: 512 (paperback)

Paper copies (paperback): Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk • Diesel Ebooks

Clary Fray has just witnessed a murder in a nightclub, committed by three teenagers that only she can see. Things only get more strange as her mother disappears, she is attacked by a demon, and she and her best friend Simon are drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters.

Review

Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Faeries – The Mortal Instruments has it all. This is not, however, another Twilight clone. City of Bones begins what promises to be a great story of good against evil, tolerance against bigotry, falling in love with the wrong people and learning that all the stories are true.

City of Bones came well-recommended to me and I was looking forward to seeing whether all the hype was deserved. As I read the first few chapters of this book though, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Here were Clary and Simon, ordinary teenagers. They meet a trio of mysterious, tattooed youths who seem very free with information about their secret world.

As more and more details about the Shadow World are revealed, I couldn’t help but cringe at the dialogue even though it was quite funny at times. Pretty much everything Simon says in the whole book is a chucklesome one-liner, and the other characters engage in witty repartee even in the most dramatic of situations. Teenagers, at least the ones I know, just don’t talk like that. I just felt a little like such an epic story deserved characters who took the whole thing a little more seriously.

Despite their dialogue, I did become quite fond of the characters as the book went on. Clary, despite being blind as a bat when it comes to relationships, was a sweet character. She did seem to spend rather a lot of time looking at Jace’s muscles – but who wouldn’t, right? The obligatory love-polygon (it’s more than a triangle!) aspect was well written and left me wanting to read the next book to tie up the loose relationship ends.

The second half of the book was action-packed and left me unable to put it down – I nearly missed my station on the train a few times this week! I loved the Shadow World that Cassandra Clare has created. The storyline (in the first book, anyway) was quite reminiscent of the Harry Potter series – I was unsurprised to find out later that Cassie Clare had previously written Harry Potter fanfiction and has supposedly used some of that material in City of Bones. I’m hoping that the story will take on some more unique elements in the rest of the series.

City of Bones was an entertaining and exciting read. Read this book if you loved Harry Potter and if you’re a Young Adult fantasy fan.

Read it to your little ‘uns? Not really. There’s no swearing or naughty bits, but it’s really a story for bigger ‘uns.

Challenges: City of Bones fits neatly into the Immortal Challenge in several categories, but I’ll slot it into Werewolves since my Angels/Demons section is looking pretty full.

4 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Goodreads)

Author:   Laini Taylor

Rating:

Series: Book 1 of 3 (planned and unnamed)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Published: Hachette Book Group, 2011

Pages: 418
Paper copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukEbooks.com

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.”

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Review

I was a bit wary picking this book up since it has been hyped beyond any other book recently released. Thankfully, Daughter of Smoke and Bone delivers. I started reading it a couple of days before I was due to do some travelling for work and thank goodness I did – it gave me a few uninterrupted hours of reading time during which I couldn’t bear to put the Kindle down.

I’ve intentionally left this review fairly vague to avoid spoilers, and also because it had been a while since I read any reviews or descriptions of this book before I started reading it which ended up working really well – the story starts slowly, revealing piece by piece of Karou’s lives in Prague and “Elsewhere”.

I loved this book! The action was fast-paced and exciting, the story of love and hope of peace between warring races is sweet and lovely, and the romantic scenes were rather swoon-worthy. Karou is a strong, but vulnerable heroine. I felt the love-at-first-sight introduction of Akiva was a little overdone at first, but later the reasons unfolded and it made more sense. I shall say no more in the interest of avoiding spoilers!

I loved the descriptions of places in our world, especially Prague. I only visited the city for one day but I certainly remember the twisting passageways and odd little shops tucked away in the old town area. What a brilliant setting for a fantasy tale!

The worlds and events described in this book are so detailed that I felt I was almost seeing the action taking place before me. I was so pleased to discover that the rights to make Daughter of Smoke and Bone into a film have been acquired by Universal Studios – I thought a couple of times while reading that the story could make a beautiful and unique movie, and I really hope they will do just that.

The story shifts between Karou and Akiva’s points of view, and also jumps backwards and forwards in time to tell different parts of the characters’ histories. I found this a little off-putting at times, especially as they are just getting into exciting events and suddenly we are in a flashback to a much earlier time. The flashbacks are rarely more than one chapter so we get back to the action quickly, but I felt they disrupted the flow of the story a little.

The ending left me open-mouthed and desperate to know more. The second book in the series will be called Days of Blood and Starlight and is due for release in September 2012. I cannot wait.

Challenge: I read this book as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, hosted by Book’d Out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Review: Snuff, Terry Pratchett

Title: Snuff (Goodreads)

Author:   Terry Pratchett

Rating: 

Series: Discworld, No 39

Genre: YA/Adult Fantasy

Published: Doubleday, 2011

Pages: 378

Paper copies (hardback): Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository

E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk • Ebooks.com

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all…

Review

The National Year of Reading theme for February is Laugh, and if there’s one Fantasy author who makes me laugh, it’s Terry Pratchett.

I’ve loved reading each book in the Discworld series as they’ve been released for a long time now. I love the world that Pratchett has built over the years, populated with its many varieties of people and creatures and reflecting the real world in a slighty wonky mirror. I usually find that the stories begin fairly quietly, then become harder and harder to put down – the type of stories that cause me to miss my stop on the train, or stay awake reading until I realise that it’s suddenly two am and I have to be up in a few hours.

Snuff is no exception, almost making me rather late for work a couple of times, although in this case the most exciting part is a fair way before the end of the story and the rest sort of comes in bites of action.  This installment in the story of the Discworld is about murder, slavery and prejudice with a tip of the hat to Jane Austen. There are some pretty dark goings-on such as torture, loss of children and sacrifice that aren’t directly dealt with in the story, but we see the aftermath.

In general, I’m not a fan of the Commander Vimes books. The stories about the City Watch are great, don’t get me wrong (plus I think I have a bit of a thing for Captain Carrot), but Vimes occasionally comes across as being a bit too self-important, for all his supposed hatred of his titles. He always seems to know exactly what’s happening before it happens. While that may make him a good copper, it tends to annoy me for no particularly good reason.

That said, I do enjoy the stories he is usually a part of, involving other races and their acceptance into Ankh-Morpork society. I also love Lady Sybil and little Sam and I think they should be in more stories!

While Snuff was not my favourite Discworld book, it is still a very exciting and funny read. Get yourself a copy and have a Laugh this month.

~~

On a related note, here’s my Discworld shelf. A shiny gold star goes to anyone who can tell me if I’m missing any!

5 Comments

Filed under Reviews