Category Archives: First in Series 2012

Books read towards the First in Series 2012 Reading Challenge

A Note

A quick note to my readers to say that I will be returning soon. A few things happened in RL in September that meant blogging had to take a back seat. I have been reading, so I have no shortage of material for review. 😉

Thank you for your patience!

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke: review

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

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How good is The Assassin’s Curse? It’s so good I read it in a day!

The Assassin’s Curse is an otherworld fantasy story that can hold its own with the best of the genre. The Assassin’s Curse has about it the feel of Robin Hobb – although this instalment is shorter than one of a Robin Hobb trilogy, however, I suspect that there will be four or five books in this series (if you read The Assassin’s Curse, let me know if you agree!). Since I really want to know what happens next and how Ananna and Naji deal with the challenges they’ve been given, I shall be keeping a watch on Strange Chemistry’s blog for the next in series, although since The Assassin’s Curse isn’t released until October 2012, I suspect I will have a bit of a wait!

The story begins with our heroine running away from her betrothing ceremony – and I can’t say I blame her. Thus begin her adventures and her meeting with the eponymous assassin. One of the things that I particularly liked was that  it has a strong female lead. It’s funny how fantasy books much more often have strong, independent female leads than a number of other genres. Perhaps that’s why I’ve read fantasy (and Sci-Fi) books since I was a girl. One of my favourite authors was Andre Norton; Ms Clarke is most definitely in Ms Norton’s league.

The adventures the pair of unwilling co-travellers share follow logically from one to another, although there were a few points when I felt there was a tad too much running around without purpose and without Ananna and Naji growing further. I think there may have been some over-exuberant editing or revising around the storm sequence, since the plot progression got a little mushy around there. For me, a veteran of many sail-era naval novels, the lack of detail in, and slightly inaccurate, telling of the actions on board ship (I am being intentionally vague to avoid giving any of the story away) was a minor irritation – a very minor one. I would have liked more details about the Isles of the Sky – my mental pictures there was rather sketchy.

The telling of the developing relationship between Ananna and Naji is mostly well done – and I enjoyed that it is not too much of a formulaic romance. All of the characters are well drawn and believable. I hope we meet the wizard again – he is a character with much potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Assassin’s Curse and found the standard of world building by Ms Clarke to be well executed. I would have liked a little more detail on the various peoples and their cultures & religions to be worked into the tale. Had the book been somewhat longer, this and the other additions I have mentioned could have been included. The key to adding these details is to do it as part of the story and not for the author to tell the reader directly. I suspect that the publishers, Strange Chemistry, have a standrd format in which they publish and that the books they publish are edited to this format. I hope that as time goes by, they are able to offer a range of book formats (i.e. lengths).

I really liked the cover…the script’s font and the skyline are reminiscent of ancient Arabia and get the reader in the right frame of mind for the world they are about to visit.

I think this is a debut novel for Cassandra Rose Clarke and I have great hopes for her future books.

I thank Strange Chemistry for my opportunity to read The Assassin’s Curse, as a NetGalley ARC for kindle. I also thank them for introducing me to a new (to me) author. Details of the release dates for The Assassin’s Curse can be found in my WOW post.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. 121/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 6 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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I particularly liked was that

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings: review

PoltergeeksPoltergeeks by Sean Cummings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.

In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.

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Poltergeeks is a YA witch-themed fantasy novel that will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages. It is a fast-paced and absorbing. book I really didn’t want to put Poltergeeks down, but I had to do that in order to sleep.

Sean Cummings spins a fabulous yarn, with vivid descriptions of the phenomena and battles. The various relationships are described in realistic terms; I felt that all of them rang true and were consistent throughout the book. I’m very impressed at how well this middle-aged Blackburn Rovers fan got inside a 15-year-old girl’s head. Or should I be worried…LOL…seriously, whilst reading Poltergeeks I imagined a female author, the “voice” was that good.

There are a few really clichéd phrases uttered by the characters, along with some pretty cringeworthy phrases, but somehow they fit. Marcus is a stereotypical geek, and is bullied by a stereotypical jock, but I found I was able to ignore those formulaic bits. The witchy parts of the book are well worked out, and consistent. The story itself is internally consistent: it is set in the Calgary of the here and now – how wonderful to have a book set outside the US! There’s nothing wrong with the US, it’s just nice to be treated to a different locale – and takes the view that magic is all around us but most people don’t notice it. Witches are charged with keeping the rest of humanity safe from the “bad guys”. These two aspects – normal everyday and magical – are expertly woven together. Since Julie, our heroine, has been kept in the dark about many magical society details for most of her life, we learn about the rich details of the society with her. This kept the book interesting; I wanted to know more, I made guesses based on the clues received so far and was not bored when we got to the explanations because they happened as part of the story, either as direct speech or as part of the action rather than large passages of exposition directly from the author to the reader.

Poltergeeks absolutely races along, sometimes leaving the reader almost out of breath; there are few points where the reader thinks “Ah! I can put the book down knowing all are safe for a bit”. I admit that partway through, I worked out who – but I didn’t see the why. This looping interweaving sleight-of-hand part of the book was wonderfully woven.

In addition to discovering a new (to me) author, I’ve also discovered a new imprint: Strange Chemistry, who have some fantastic books coming out over the next six months – keep your eyes open for them: check out my WoW posts for details. Details of the release dates of Poltergeeks are also given on the website.

Thank you Sean for an excellent read. Thank you Strange Chemistry for approving me to receive a NetGalley ARC of Poltergeeks. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to subsequent books.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. 120/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 5 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay: review

The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks

Tenzing Norbu (“Ten” for short)–ex-monk and soon-to-be ex-cop–is a protagonist unique to our times. In “The First Rule of Ten,” the first installment in a three-book detective series, readers meet this spiritual warrior who is singularly equipped, if not occasionally ill-equipped, as he takes on his first case as a private investigator in Los Angeles.

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I sent out a request to the Universe that I might be allow to win this book – and it was with much gratitude that I received this book as a First Reads prize.

I really wanted to read The First Rule of Ten when it arrived but practised a little delayed gratification as I completed some overdue reviews and read some author-gifted books I had agreed to review. Then finally, I could wait no longer. Once I started the book, I found it difficult to put down and after a couple of restrained sessions, I polished off the majority of the book in four hours one Saturday morning.

The First Rule of Ten is superbly written, peopled with detailed, well-drawn characters and has a multi-layered ‘who is the puppeteer pulling the strings?’ plot that moves along at a clip but without leaving the reader behind.

The whole concept of a Buddhist ex-monk (the term ex-Buddhist monk didn’t ring true to me, since Ten is clearly still a Buddhist at heart) who becomes an LAPD cop was so intriguing – and the explanation of his journey from one to another is gradually uncovered and expanded throughout the book. It is a delightful and realistic reveal that would happen if you actually met Ten. He is a warm and compassionate human being, who although flawed (aren’t we all?!) is aware, thanks to his monk’s training, of how these flaws are made manifest., He therefore works to guard against many of them, whilst accepting and acknowledging others, such as his love of his car.

The reader is able to learn from Ten, but the lessons are those of observation and never stray into that annoying realm where authors, via their characters, preaches at the reader. Instead, here the lessons are laid out in front of us and, like those presented by life, it is for us to choose to learn from them. It is well, in this situation, to remember, as we learn from the book, the First Rule of Ten: Don’t ignore the tickle …

This is an excellent book on all front and I am grateful to have read it. I thank the authors for making the book available through First Reads and the universe/random winner generator for picking me!

I’m claiming this book as No. 84/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge;  and No.4 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
[Links in right hand sidebar]

Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens: review

Horses of the Sun (Outback Riders, #1)Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sunhaven Downs, a drought ravaged cattle station in outback Australia, is the home of Dane, Lani and Matthew Winter, three young outback riders whose lives revolve around their horses. When their city cousin, Amy King, comes to live with them for a year and declares she hates horses, they know their year will be ruined. What they don’t know is that Amy has a secret – a secret she is desperate to keep from her outback family, something that will ultimately save their lives on the night the drought breaks.

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I read this delightful book in an afternoon. I thought it was well written, although the “she didn’t realise that she would need this when disater struck” comments at the end of each of the early chapters were a little annoying. The plot moved along nicely with most of the actions staying within the bounds of reality. I found some of the “epilogue” actions a little unlikely, but hey, it all felt good!

I enjoyed reading this book although it is aimed mostly at the 10-14 year old market.  It is well written, with a clear plot and good characterisation.  The plot is outside the ordinary but is close enough to most people’s “real life” that it will be understood by the target audience (and they’ll all want to be Amy!).

Some of the episodes involve high drama and some difficult subjects.  These are dealt with in a straight-forward yet senstive manner.

I was particularly impressed with Leanne’s portrayal of Amy’s emotional life.  I thought Any’s reactions to events was very realistic and typical for her character.

The language of the book does not patronise its readers, and yet explains all the important parts to those who may not be familiar with them.  This is a delicate balancing act well executed.

This is exactly to sort of book I devoured as a child and I’m sure will be loved by today’s children.  It took me back to my chidhood when I hunted for new books in the “Brumby” series at my local library.  I think I may have one or two copies (bought in the library sales) stowed away in my childhood book boxes.  I may have to dig them out and read them again!

I may be persuaded to lend my copy of Horses of the Sun to my horse-mad neices! I shall look out for more books by Leanne.

I received this book after winning a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks Leanne.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 3 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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In My Mailbox (9): Sunday 10 June 2012

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Welcome to
In My Mailbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Hello there! Welcome back to my blog and to an IMM that contains two author gift eBooks and a virtual pile of Kindle books that I’ve bought from Amazon.  If you’ve read, or are planning to read, any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

Enjoy the browse – I hope you find something to pique your interest.

eBOOKS won on AUTHOR’S Private competitions for REVIEW:

1. Cameron Nation by David Carraturo

Cameron Nation: Going All-In to Save His CountryCameron Nation: Going All-In to Save His Country by David Carraturo

Frustrated with the current political climate self-made billionaire, Chris Cameron retires from a successful hedge fund to focus on philanthropic endeavors. With the notoriety received after he competes in the World Series of Poker to raise money for his newest charities, the Tea Party member is introduced to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. A driven, charismatic, and brilliant leader by nature, Cameron soon finds himself invited into the elite world of professional politics.

When Chris is asked to be the running mate on the GOP ticket, he leaps at the opportunity. The duo is elected and with the assistance of a super-majority Republican-controlled Congress they quickly implement a far-reaching agenda to restore the United States to its rightful place atop the geopolitical stage.

Cameron Nation tells the story of how a street smart kid from the suburbs of New York City leverages a deep understanding of economic theory, the business world and the capital markets combined with the savvy of an experienced poker player to provide overwhelming strategic support and gain the trust of the new president and the growing conservative movement.

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I’ve entered a few competitions to win this one, so I was really pleased when I won David’s Goodreads competition for one of twenty e-copies of the book.  Looking forward to reading this one – and aiming to get the review out before the end of the month!!

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2. Colombus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo

Columbus Avenue BoysColumbus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo

Salvatore Esposito, Anthony Albanese, and Christopher Cameron—the Columbus Avenue Boys—are somewhat related, as they share lineage back to before the turn of century. Having grown up together in a small community north of New York City, each became successful in his own right. Chris moved to Dallas to be a portfolio manager with a financial firm while Sal and Tony earn their living the hard way—by being enforcers and major earners for the mob.

Tony’s grandfather, Pops Scala, tells them a horrific secret from the Scalamarri Family past: twelve members of their family were massacred at the hands of Bugsy Siegel and his ruthless gang from Murder Inc. in 1935. Pops was the sole witness and lone survivor, and he was more than happy to pull the trigger and end Bugsy’s murderous life.

Now fifty years later, Pops convinces the Columbus Avenue Boys they must leave the underworld life for good. Since one cannot just give two weeks’ notice to the Gambino crime family, the three blood brothers devise a plan to infiltrate the inner workings of the Mafia in the 1990s to avenge the massacre in their family tree.

Columbus Avenue Boys chronicles the Scalamarri family tree throughout the twentieth century and presents a historical perspective of the life and struggles of an Italian immigrant family as well as that of America’s organized crime.

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As with Cameron Nation, I’ve entered several competitions to win this book – and was one of the first five to respond to David’s Goodreads competition!  Now all I need to do is win a copy of Cameron’s Court and I’ll be able to review the set 🙂  Again, I’m aiming to have the review posted before the end of the month. 

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eBooks (kindle) bought from amazon

1. The Flute Keeper’s Voyage (The Flute Keeper Saga #2) by Ashley Setzer

The Flute Keeper's Voyage (The Flute Keeper Saga, #2)The Flute Keeper’s Voyage by Ashley Setzer

Just as she’s settling into her new life in Faylinn, Emma Wren stands accused of causing a horrible curse that drains Ivywild castle and all the Fay living in it of their magic and vitality. Faced with banishment back to the human world, Emma becomes a fugitive and convinces the ever contrary Lev Hartwig to help her clear her name by curing the curse. The journey for the cure takes them to the high seas, where they must match wits with a wily Hobgoblin captain and her crew of pipe-smoking Gremlins, one very hairy cook, and a doctor with a split personality.
With the Fay army on her trail and a traitor racing her to reach the cure first, Emma is pushed to the limits of her burgeoning power. Though she treks across oceans, forests, deserts, and into the heart of a ghost city, she never walks the path alone. Friends old and new are on hand to help with bar brawls, flying serpents, and other travel hazards. When an evil greater than the curse is uncovered, Emma’s journey becomes a battle to save not just her home, but her friends as well.

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I decided the the 77p Amazon were asking for this book was worth it (LOL) since Book 1 was free and the reviews make me think I’ll want to read the set.

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2. The Flute Keeper’s Training (The Flute Keeper Saga #3) by Ashley Setzer

The Flute Keeper's Training (The Flute Keeper Saga, #3) The Flute Keeper’s Training (The Flute Keeper Saga, #3) by Ashley Setzer

Princess Chloe’s sixteenth birthday is looming near, but an attack by a strange, half-mechanical monster leaves Emma little time to bother with the upcoming birthday ball—that is, until a certain handsome, blonde guest shows up early and sweeps both girls off their feet. The rivalry tests Emma’s loyalty to her best friend, as well as her devotion to her new job as a priestess trainee. To make matters worse, Lev Hartwig appears to be shunning her in favor of late night meetings with another girl. Ivywild castle is bursting with secrets and it is up to Emma to decide who she can trust and who the real monsters are before it’s too late.

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As with Book 2, this was on offer at 77p, so I’m set for plenty of time with the Flute Keeper.  I’m not sure when I’ll get to read these…there are so many other books in my TBR list, some with deadlines!

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3. Never Forgotten (DCI Victor Moyes) by Peter Kirby

Set in the 1960’s this is the sixth in the series of stories covering DCI Victor Moyes’s attempts to contain the criminals operating in and around the fictional town of Abberford. Victor was what you would call a plodder refusing to give up on the cases he was involved in and relying to a certain extent on his second in command DS Victoria Morgan to come up with the ideas that would eventually bring the criminals to book.

As well as being involved in the work place they were also involved in their private lives their interest in dancing being the common denominator. They also used each other emotionally to satisfy their needs by spending passionate nights of love making although love was not involved…only their animal instincts.

This story covers the abduction of a girl held captive for seven years and repeated sexually and physically abused by her captor over this period of time and how she is eventually discovered

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I like detective stories, and at £1.02, I decided that I would buy this one too!

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4. Winter’s Destiny by Nancy Allan

Winter's DestinyWinter’s Destiny by Nancy Allan

She’s an architect, a wife, and a mother, but the quiet life ends suddenly for Amy Johnson. Alone, with a fall gale howling around the rafters, she turns to see a woman’s rain-streaked face staring at her through the dark window.

The face is identical to her own!

Instantly, Amy’s life crumbles. Her husband leaves, her only child disappears, and something sinister surrounds her and those she loves. Amy is catapulted into a world she knows nothing about–a place where a killer rules, where answers stay buried, where time ticks dangerously by, where her life is in constant peril, and worse, where her son, Jamie is hidden.

To find her child, she must find her look-alike, and that dislodges a killer who hunts her relentlessly. Sheriff Dallas Wayburne’s investigation parallels Amy’s, and their combined efforts draw them together when time is critical and when their relationship adds yet another dimension to Amy’s stressful life.

They finally track down the powerful, destructive man behind the scenes, learn the identity of Amy’s look-alike, and unravel a puzzle decades in the making. As time runs out, Amy struggles to save her son while fighting both a dangerous man and the perils of the treacherous Oregon coast.

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I didn’t win this on the Goodreads Giveaways, so when I spotted it at £1.92, I decided to go for it!

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5. Paradox – The Angels Are Here by Patti Roberts

Paradox: The Angels Are Here (Paradox, #1)Paradox: The Angels Are Here by Patti Roberts

Paradox Series: Spanning over centuries to the present day, this is a story about love, loss, and betrayal.

My name is Juliette. Nine hundred years ago, I died. Today, I am alive…

The Ancient World – This is not a story about Vampires. However, we are talking about a predatory being that existed long before the word Vampire was ever whispered… the real monsters behind the legendary Vampire myths that reigned in Ancient times. They were a race of Fallen Angels called Grigorians.

The New World – Grace is a little girl struggling to understand the catastrophic events that are forcing their way into her otherwise seemingly normal, if not sometimes, strange world. Haunting visions and untimely deaths of others are a constant reminder that life and death are only a heartbeat away.

Grace finds herself trapped in a nightmare, consumed by paralyzing loss and overwhelming grief as she painfully witnesses her mother slowly being torn away from her.

A journey crossing Two Worlds. One Ancient – One New. How do the heartbreaking visions experienced by a little girl fit into this Ancient World of Angels, Myth & Legend?

Grace’s story will indeed break your heart and leave you asking… Who, When, Where? WHAT!

Book 2 in the Paradox Series – Progeny Of Innocence. Will evil strike again? You can bet your soul on it!

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Book 2 was on the free offer, and at 99p, I thought I’d risk getting Book 1! 😉 This looks like a promising series.

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6. Firecracker by Charles R. Verhey

Firecracker Firecracker by Charles R. Verhey

Firecracker is a fun contemporary fantasy thriller about a young woman named Aideen Cassidy, who has to be careful with her emotions because when she explodes, things literally explode! Being a pyrokinetic – able to start fires with her mind – isn’t an easy thing to live with, especially when trying to find work in the modern world. Luck or fate lands her a job with a group of eccentric psychics who use their gifts to help local authorities with difficult cases. They can see the future, sense feelings, read minds – useful traits. All Aideen can do is blow things up. But there’ something special about her that has caught the attention of the most powerful psychic in the world, and there are secrets about the organization even the psychics don’t know. Plans have been put into motion, secrets are unraveling, lives are in danger, and the group soon find themselves caught in a conspiracy of shadowy monsters, government spies, and ancient legends that date back 600 years.

All Aideen wanted was to fit in. Now the lives of all her new friends must rely on her talents for fiery destruction.

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I thought this was on the free list, so when I checked my order I was a bit surprised to find this cost me £3.23.  This wasn’t the only one in this order where this happens…guess I’ll have to be a bit more careful and double check before I hit the “Buy” button… 😀

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7. Chocolate Aftertaste by Liz Grace Davis

Chocolate AftertasteChocolate Aftertaste by Liz Grace Davis

At her pre-wedding dinner, Nora Darkin, the daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur, discovers her fiancé is not the man she thought he was. As her father hoists his glass to toast them, she makes an announcement: there will be no wedding to her father’s right-hand man.

Due to the fresh rift driven between her and her father, Nora escapes to the quaint town of Dreara. Determined to live her life her own way, she makes new friends and pursues her lifelong desire of becoming a chef. Ethan Danes, a neighbour with his own broken heart, helps soothe hers.

Just as Nora discovers what it means to be happy, and she begins to fall in love with Ethan, a woman from his past re-enters his life…

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At £1.95, I’m not so upset at not noticing this wasn’t on the freebie list.

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8. Immortal Coil (A Dragon Spirit Novel, Book 1) by C.I. Black

Immortal CoilImmortal Coil by C.I. Black

Two souls. One Body. Sharing is not an option…

Terrible news has turned Anaea Salis’s life upside down. There’s nothing she can do to make it right and the stranger who stops to talk to her can’t help. But when that stranger, Hunter, an ancient dragon spirit, is viciously attacked and forced to transfer his spirit into her body, Anaea’s life takes a new terrifying twist.

Hunter should have known by now not to get involved with human affairs, but there was something about the woman that drew him to her and he just couldn’t help himself. Trapped in her body all he wants is to get out, except whoever is trying to kill him is now after her.

Their only hope of survival… plunge into the deadly world of dragons.

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This is another one where I didn’t spot that it wasn’t a freebie.  Even when I thought it was a freebie, I was in two minds about downloading it, so finding I’d paid £4.47 for it was a bit of a downer!  Let’s hope that when I read it, I decide it was worth it!

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9. Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

Wicked GameWicked Game by Matt Johnson

A policeman is killed in a bomb blast, a second is gunned down in his own driveway. The Wicked Game has started.

Former SAS and now Royalty protection officer Robert Finlay has had enough of the job’s not-so-glamorous demands and opts to transfer to a local police station. But Fate has plans for Finlay – both of the murdered policemen are former Army colleagues.

Finlay doesn’t see himself as the hero type – just a survivor. A ‘Wicked Game’, where he is the target, is about to test his skills to the limit.

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This was £1.99.  I can’t remember if I knew that before I bought it, but I suspect not.  Still, it sounds like something I’ll enjoy, so I’m not too annoyed with myself.

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So there we go: two more books won and intended for review; five books bought intentionally and four books I thought were free but weren’t.  A lesson learned.  Quite a fun-filled week on the book acquisition front!!

Next week’s IMM will be a look at some of the NetGalley books for which I’ve been approved, so the following week’s IML will look at new arrivals over the two weeks between now and then – I know it will be an IML as I bought four books at a charity stall yesterday and I’ve been told a book is in the post and winging its way to my sticky paws from Canada 🙂 Come back in two weeks to find out what all these are!

Leave a link to your IMM post, or blog in general, and I’ll pop over and say hello.  I hope there is something here that is new to you and that it has inspired you to go on a book hunt.  Whatever you’re reading in the coming week – enjoy and share the love 😀

Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes: review

Hal SpacejockHal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth edition. Slightly revised and polished in August 2011, then released on Kindle and Smashwords.
“Better than Red Dwarf” – Tom Holt
Hal Spacejock, an incompetent accident-prone pilot, is given one last chance to save his ship. An ageing robot is trusted with a midnight landing in a deserted field. And a desperate businessman is prepared to sacrifice both of them to get what he wants…
Combining relentless action with non-stop laughs, Hal Spacejock explodes onto the science fiction scene with the subtlety of a meteor strike and the hushed reverence of a used car salesman.

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I think that this book is trying to be The Stainless Steel Rat, but is not written well enough. The descriptions need to be richer, but not much longer, so that the reader can see the locations and people in their mind’s-eye. These were altogether too sketchy, which was a great shame as several of the characters were worthy of more attention. When reading Hal Spacejock, all I can see are the words on the page; I don’t like reading like this, I prefer to have the images play across my imagination like a film.

The set up and plot are well thought out, it is the execution of the writing that I feel is lacking.

As the story continues, however, the individual vignettes become increasingly predictable – without an increase in humour. I felt that the characters Clyde and Albion could have been used with more effect – we started to get to know them and then they disappeared!

All in all, an enjoyable read and I will probably read more of the series if I come across them.

I downloaded Hal Spacejock for free from Amazon

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. tbr/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; No. 10 in the Why Buy the Cow? Reading challenge; and No. 2 in the First in Series Reading challenge.
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Twined by A. L. Collins: review

TwinedTwined by A.L. Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Avalin Marsh is used to disappointment. When her mother murdered a woman in the kitchen of her home on her eleventh birthday, Avalin decided that the people in your life were only there to let you down. She built up walls over the years making a mental fortress impervious to disappointment, heartache and sadness. However it also isolated her from others, making her bitter… and lonely.

When her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the murder, Avalin began to see and experience things that she couldn’t explain. She thought she could handle these episodes by pushing them back into her mind. Until the day she sees one of her classmates morph into a monster right in front of her eyes. Pushed to the brink of paranoia, Avalin truly believes she’s insane. Then a mysterious man named Albert comes into her life. She’s wary of his motives yet for some reason finds herself drawn to him even though they’ve never met. What’s even more inexplicable is that Albert knows who Avalin is. She’s the daughter of the famous Abigail Marsh. Her mother.

Now the two of them will need to put their differences aside and trust one another. If Avalin can’t let her guard down long enough to let Albert in, then there might be dire and far reaching consequences in store for them.

It turns out Avalin Marsh isn’t as crazy as she thought.

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I enjoyed the premise of the book: where in order to survive, the Twined – a species of beings who look like humans but have various powers – must bond with a human so the two are twined together. I imagine them twined like morning glory and honeysuckle or the wools in a Fair Isle jumper; together forever and impossible to untangle.

The writing style was a little basic for the most part, but I think that it is just right to hit the YA market. I had to remember that this is a YA book, written by a young author. The plot moves at a good pace throughout the book. Since the story is told from Avalin’s point of view, we are as confused as she is about what is going on, a technique which works well. Avalin’s behaviour vacillates between behaving in a very un-girl-like way, saying things girls don’t generally say, and complaining about how limited and friendless her life has been since her mother was incarcerated. There are some bright spots when she shows courage and quick thinking.

I felt that the way she dropped and excluded those few friends she had at the beginning of the book was a bad move. They already know she’s a bit strange and would cope with this ‘next step’ of strangeness.

I did not like the ending – it was way to abrupt, and so obviously a cliffhanger for the next book. It felt more like the ending to an episode of a TV serial, with the set-up for the start of next week’s episode, than the ending of a book. In my opinion, a book (or TV programme) is better when it leaves threads dangling, ready to be resolved in the next instalment, rather than a blatant, stop-in-the-middle-of-a-scene cliffhanger.

This has the honour of being the first kindle book I paid money to get. Whilst I quite enjoyed the book, I had some irritations about some of the words used:

“Exhume” means to dig up a previously interred body…I think the author meant “exuded” whenever “exhumed” was used – I have never heard of an object exhuming energy… 😉 And what on earth is a tonsil stone????

There are a few non sequiturs and plot holes, but overall this was an enjoyable read – a dead cert to be popular with the YA crowd.

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I’m claiming this book as No. tbc/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge;  and No. 2 in the First in Series Reading challenge.
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Tallis: review

TallisTallis by M.C. Rae

Kindle and ARC Cover

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Empire of Andresium is threatened by the corruption of the immortals, ancient beings given the gift of eternal life after the death of the last reigning empress. A prophecy speaks of their eventual downfall at the hands of one of their own, however. Tallis is known by most simply as “The Loren,” and seeks to avoid her destiny while trying herself to remain untainted by the decaying morals and indifference to the fates of men that plague her kind. As the events of the prophecy begin to unfold, Tallis finds herself conflicted between upholding her dedication to justice, and falling victim to the ramifications of following the desires of her own heart.

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Overall I enjoyed this book and would really like to read the rest of the series.  One thing I particularly enjoyed was that the narrator did not try to explain the book’s universe in terms of ours.  The reader was assumed to be of the universe, and explanations were given with an amount of pre-knowledge assumed.  I really enjoy this kind of story telling as it makes me feel part, albeit an initially ill-educated one, of the world.

The language used in Tallis is beautiful.  I described it as “archaic” in my Goodreads updates as I couldn’t think of a better description.  I want to be clear that I think this is a good thing.  In some ways it makes the reading of the book a little more conscious…I found I was noticing the language and writing style almost as much as I was absorbing the story.  I particularly enjoy beautiful, well-used language and I relished this excellent example of its use.  My only concern would be that “the youth of today” (I’m not really that old!) won’t have the patience to perserve long enough with this style to develop a love and appreciation for it.  That would be a loss for them, and I hope that my lack of faith in them is misplaced!

In one of my updates, I queried the use of “Come again” as being out of context.  M. C. was kind enough to respond to tell me that this phrase is an Olde English phrase, seen in the US as something only stuffy, overly proper people say.  I explained my comment was because it’s a rather lazy slang phrase in the UK these days…not well thought of and with slight rude overtones – if I used it to someone they might well bristle.  It is really strange how a language can evolve so differently in two places when the contact is so great!

I did find the book quite slow to start, something I thought odd in a 58 page novella.  However, the story did move along before I got to the midpoint and completed this episode at a point that invites a continuation.

If I have any comments for change, it’s that I felt the characters to be a little fuzzy – I didn’t get to feel that I knew them particularly and therefore wasn’t deeply invested emotionally.  Some of the more descriptive passages I felt lacked something; they were more “tell” than “show” – I think show works better for a reader than tell because it flows more naturally and prevents the author interposing themselves between the characters and the reader.

As I said, I shall be on the look out for the next book in the series…I want to know if Tallis works out the solution to her conundrum…and if it’s the same solution I can see! LOL 🙂

I have shown two cover artworks because the ARC I received has the grey cover on the right, whilst the Goodreads page has the red cover on the left, which I presume is the one people will see in the shops/on Amazon.

I’m claiming this book as No. 15/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and No. 1 in the First in Series Reading challenge.
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