Category Archives: Winnings

Books I have won in draws

In My Letterbox (8): Sunday 03 June 2012

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Welcome to a combined
In My Letterbox and In My Inbox

Just the three books this week, hence the combined IML and IMI.  I’m looking forward to getting to each one of these 🙂

The Book I won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Alaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson
Alaskan HeartsAlaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson

Former Alaskan sled-dog musher Ben Grayson is still grieving the tragic loss of his dog team. So much that he put the reins—and his dreams—away.

Now a photographer, Ben’s covering the Gold Rush Trail sled-dog race. He’s surprised his heart isn’t more guarded around lovely journalist Clementine Phillips—until he learns that Clementine plans to handle a sled-dog team herself. Ben can’t bear the thought of Clementine in danger.

So he comes up with a compromise—one to keep her close…forever.

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A bit of summer escapism…to the cold and snow of an Alaskan winter – just right for for a wet English summer!!

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The Book gifted by Goldratt UK:

1. Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt

Critical ChainCritical Chain by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Powerful yet simple techniques to solve project management’s toughest problems. This book teaches companies to drastically cut project development times resulting in early completion within budget and without compromising quality or specifications. Project managers and your teams will benefit from Goldratt’s techniques of how to remain focused on the few critical areas and how to prevent your attention from being divided among all of the how to prevent your attention from being divided among all of the projects tasks and resources. Especially useful for dealing with one of the most difficult and pressing management challenges: developing highly innovative new products.
About the Author: One of the world s most sought after business leaders author and educator, Dr. Eli Goldratt. Eli Goldratt had been described by Fortune Magazine as a guru to industry and by Business Week as a genius. His charismatic, stimulating, yet sometimes unconventional style has captured the attention of audiences throughout the world. Eli is a true thinker who provokes others to think.
Eli Goldratt is the creator of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and is the author of 8 books, including the business best sellers The Goal, It’s Not Luck, and Critical Chain. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints is used by thousands of companies, and is taught in hundreds of colleges, universities, and business schools. His books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 23 languages. Goldratt’s fascinating work as an author, educator and business pioneer had resulted in the promulgation of TOC into many facets of society and has transformed management thinking throughout the world.

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I read The Goal about 20 years ago when my boyfriend had it as part of a course. I recently read a couple of other of Eli Goldratt’s books that I picked up at a table top sale. Goldratt UK is giving away copies of The Goal and Critical Chain to interested parties, via their website. I’m delighted to have received this and am looking forward to reading it.

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The Book gifted by the author for her 30th birthday!

1. Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Coffee at Little AngelsCoffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Phillip, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Caleb, Maxine, Grant, Melanie and Josh grew up in a small town where they spent their high school years together as an inseparable clique. But high school has ended, and they are all living their own “grown up” lives, each under the impression that their group has basically come to an end. When Phillip dies in a hit and run accident, Kaitlyn summons the others to all come back home, forcing a reunion that no one is particularly interested in partaking in.

Coffee at Little Angels follows how each character deals with the death of a childhood friend while at the same time dealing with their own ignored demons after years of separation. Events unfold as the group tries to rekindle the friendship they once shared to honour the memory of a friend they will never see again

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I found this limited free giveaway on Amazon through an event on Goodreads…I’m looking forward to discovering a new-to-me author.

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That’s it for this week. I’m working on the next installment of IMI listing my Amazon downloads and I have some more Netgalley books to tell you about in a future IMM.

I hope you all have a pile of lovely books on your lists – leave a link in your comment and I’ll pop over and have a look 🙂

In My Letterbox (6): Sunday 20 May 2012

Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

I’ve been a very lucky girl again this week with four First Reads books arriving In My Letterbox.  I’m enjoying very much being part of The Story Siren’s weekly meme (click on the picture above for more details).

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Haunted Grove and other stories by Tim Jeffreys


The Haunted Grove & other storiesThe Haunted Grove & other stories by Tim Jeffreys

“The Haunted Grove by Tim Jeffreys – a collection of nine tales of terror – has something for everyone. There are short shorts and long shorts, with storylines from the straightforward to the surreal. Themes range from the near-SF tone of “Three Winters”, through the mental powers of “The Thought She Blurted Out” to the magic of the title story. As a showcase of the author’s versatility, this collection serves its purpose well.” Review from The Horrorzine

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Perhaps summer (?!) is the best time to read these horror stories – when it’s NOT dark and the wind isn’t howling around the doors….

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2. Bone Machine by C. N. James

Bone MachineBone Machine by C.N. James

The Libra Robotics and Cybernetics Corporation robots have done the impossible. War, poverty, and slavery are nearly extinct. Worldwide employment is at an all time high. And the new workers’ paradigm: a four to six hour work day. The robots take care of the rest, acting as a personal substitute—like a clone, with all of your skills and abilities. Nearly everyone can spend time with family, pursue artistic and athletic ventures, become entrepreneurs—or anything else they’d like to do. Everyone except those working for Libra Corp.

Grayson Cornel doesn’t sleep much anymore. His life is in shambles. His father is teetering on death. He was recently promoted by Libra Corp, but his predecessor, Zoe Asher is wanted for murder and is now targeting him. On top of that, his first assignment in his new position has ended in disaster.

The last of the world’s sweatshops in Haiti had finally placed an order for Libra Corp robots, and it was Grayson’s job to make sure that the order was filled. But when the robots arrived, something went horribly wrong. They disappeared, leaving only dead bodies in their wake. No Libra Corp robot had ever killed anyone before, so Grayson is sent to Haiti to figure out what went wrong.

What he discovers begins to unravel a dark secret Libra Corp has been keeping from the public. Something so shocking that Grayson risks ending utopia to put a stop to it.

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I am so pleased I won this book 😀 It’s going to be quite high on my “read and review now” list…when I get that written!

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3. Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Alice Parker's Metamorphosis (Book 1 of the New Adventure Series for Children)Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Feisty thirteen-year-old Alice Parker knows something isn’t right. Aches and pains have started, she hardly sleeps and her craving for fruit is out of control. Suddenly she is top of the class in every subject. Feeling at odds with the world and being bullied by the ‘coven’ at school, Alice can’t take much more. Only when she collapses and experiences a life-changing transformation does she learn why she is different. But with this new identity comes responsibility and Alice isn’t convinced she can rise to the challenge. She just wants to be normal! The fact is she’s anything but.

Forgotten tales of a magical society are catapulted into the daily life of strong, memorable female characters who readers will grow to love. An intriguing blend of realism, suspense and fantasy, a must-read for girls of 7+.

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This sounds so intriguing! I may have to get a copy for my niece 😉

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4. Catastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird

Catastrophically ConsequentialCatastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird

This prequel-sequel to “Hideous Exuberance” incorporates non-linear plots; comical rants and disturbing inner monologues; stream of consciousness dream sequences; psychedelic, surrealistic scenarios and time-traveling characters. Revel in the chaotic confusion of sociopathic celebrities, suburban swingers, suicidal trust fund girls, decadent jet setters, D-list standup comics, medieval princesses, sinister passive-aggressive jokers, “Evilangelists”, and a host of other lost souls and disreputable, vindictive losers, as they search in vain for metaphysical clarity.

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I’ve read the first story and my thought was “Bizarre…in a good way”.  I’ve read a few other reviews and they reinforce the idea that I should leave the concept of normality behind when I read this.

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My TBR list is getting longer! I have made a May Resolution to finish off all my lists:

  1. Free Kindle Books
  2. Owned Unread physical books (that haven’t been in an IML)
  3. Books Read But Not Yet Reviewed
  4. NetGalley ebooks received
  5. Short Term Reading List

and then to get reviewing my backlog of read books!  Watch out for the lists in future IMM slots, while I try to refrain from buying new books and downloading free ebooks!!!

Happy reading to all – may the books you crave find their way to your letter box!  Be sure to leave a link in your comment – I will visit and, software permitting <sigh>, leave a comment.

Unfaithfully Yours: review

Unfaithfully YoursUnfaithfully Yours by Joanne Clancy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Four scorned women, one adulterous man and the price he has to pay for their revenge. “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned/ Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” By William Congreve in The Mourning Bride of 1697.

Shona Morgan is in love with a married man. She finally realises that her married lover, Mark McNamara, is never going to leave his wife for her. Heartbroken, she resolves to break up with him and try to move on with her life.

Jackie Fitzpatrick seems to have it all; a loving husband and two beautiful children. However, she can’t escape the sneaking feeling that there’s more to life and embarks on an illicit affair, but at what cost?.

Penelope Garrett has had enough of being treated badly by the men in her life and is determined to seek revenge when her latest boyfriend lets her down..

Rebecca McNamara thinks she has the perfect marriage but when she discovers her husband’s dark secrets her idyllic life comes crashing down around her..

Four scorned women, one adulterous man and the price he has to pay for their revenge. Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned..

View all my Goodreads reviews

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Unfaithfully Yours is a romance with a difference – or maybe that should be an anti-romance! There are definite shades of First Wives’ Club about this charmingly told tale of four women and their unlikely alliance to take their revenge on the man who has cheated them all.

The main aspect that would have improved the book for me was for the book to have a better sense of place. I know the book is set in Dublin, because we are told this; it is one of the things that attracted me to read Unfaithfully Yours. I have become fond of Dublin through Maeve Binchy’s descriptions and I was hoping to learn more about this vibrant city. I was disappointed because, to be honest, the book could have been set anywhere.

I didn’t feel Jackie’s apparently sudden urge to “join the fun” was adequately explained given her speech in the opening scene. Shona was a drama queen, but a well drawn drama queen! Had she been my little sister, I think I’d have shaken her rather earlier in the book! Penelope was a shallow character, who seemed to abandon Brianna, but showed some loyalty to Shona in the later part of the book. Brianna seemed to be the only reasonably balanced character in the book, but she was shunted off and not used to full effect. I thought that, during her conversations with Jackie, she might make the connection with “Penelope’s photographer”, but things didn’t develop that way.

The final section of the book seemed rush – in contrast to the first half where things didn’t feel as they were moving very much. I realise that the reader is deliberately not part of the planning in order to build suspense, but I felt that the ploy failed in its mission to build tension. Perhaps if the reader saw the unfolding of the revenge more from Mark’s point of view, with a few clues and pointers, this might be more effective in creating suspense and building tension.

The mistresses redeemed themselves somewhat by aiding Rebecca, the wronged, and by this point pregnant, wife in a public humiliation of Mark and subsequent locking him out of his house. I would have liked to know more about what happened to the women, especially Rebecca, and felt the book ended very abruptly.

These points for me turned what could have been a brilliant book into an average book. The bones of the plot are well thought out and the twists are elegantly placed. It is unfortunate that the execution doesn’t match up to the promise. Unfaithfully Yours is still a good read and has been, and I’m sure will be, enjoyed by many.

I thank Joanne Clancy for sending me this ebook to read

I’m claiming this book as No. 17/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
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In My Letterbox (4): Sunday 06 May 2012

Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

Once again, I have been very restrained this week and have not been out and bought any more books.  I really must pass on some of my large collection before I bring too many more into my crowded house – or else maybe I should move into a library!  If I get a choice, then I’d want to live in the one at Killerton House in Devon, it really is beautiful and peaceful.

On that dream, here are the books that dropped through my letterbox this past week….

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. A Vampire Dominion by V M K Fewings

A Vampire's DominionA Vampire’s Dominion by V.M.K. Fewings

Vampires Jadeon and Orpheus have a few things in common. They both hate each other. They’ve both killed each other.

And they both just woke up in the same body.

When a vampiric reincarnation goes tragically wrong, two immortals find themselves ever-meshing into the newly-formed William. To make matters worse, someone is poisoning London’s vampires and no immortal is safe.

William’s struggle to come to terms with his identity and maintain his survival leads him to the beautiful and intelligent Inspector Ingrid Jansen, a woman who not only awakens his heart but may also help him save the city.

Embarking on a perilous adventure, William and Ingrid struggle to decipher ancient clues while staying one step ahead of the pursuing Stone Masters. Scouring the city from the aristocratic heights of its regal facade to the darkest deviancy of its corrupted core, they search for a way to reverse his catastrophe—and save all vampires from a growing threat far worse than the Stone Lords ever were.

Rising straight from the ashes of the shocking ending of A Vampire’s Reckoning, V.M.K. Fewings brings faithful fans back to The Stone Masters Vampire Series right where they left off, while guiding new readers into the embrace of London’s nightwalkers.

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I am developing a taste for vampire books and so was delighted to win A Vampire Dominion in Goodreads First Reads competition.  I’m looking forward to reading this.  VMK included a lovely note with the book – with the envelope complete with a monogrammed seal.

2. Doll Parts by Wayne Simmons

Doll PartsDoll Parts by Wayne Simmons

Roughly 99% of Belfast’s population suddenly dropped dead.

Some have risen again, and a horde of the beautiful undead is descending upon the city, wreaking bloody vengeance on the few left alive.

An unlikely group of survivors flee the carnage, heading for the city’s main airport. But their refuge there may quickly come to an end as the living dead close in to besiege the living.

Doll Parts is the sequel to cult zombie-horror novel, Drop Dead Gorgeous.

PREVIEWS:

‘Doll Parts is a verbal gut-punch, viciously beautiful in its delivery. Simmons takes the femme fatale to a whole new level in this remorseless look at a world gone to hell’ (Sarah Elliot, Pop Culture Monster)

‘Brilliant, bloody and beautiful’ (Garry Charles, Shock Horror Magazine)

‘One of the best new horror writers of the decade. Wayne Simmons takes everything you fear and exploits it with no apologies’ (James Melzer, author of Escape)

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I have been a very lucky girl – this is another of my Goodreads First Reads wins.  It will be interesting to see what I think of this book – I prefer my zombies more in the Shaun of the Dead style…

3. Snakes by Travis Heermann

SnakesSnakes by Travis Heermann

The easiest path usually leads straight into a minefield.

Eddie, a young, pretty single mom, is trying to do the right thing by her three-year-old daughter. She really is. With no education, no job, and a string of loser boyfriends behind her, she faces hard decisions every day. Gas for the car, or food for Joy? She’s already been forced to move back into her mother’s decrepit old trailer in Shady Acres Trailer Court in rural Arkansas. Should she get a normal job working long hours for minimum wage, or should she put on her stiletto heels, bikini bra and micro-skirt and go back to exotic dancing so she can bring home fistfuls of cash for a few hours’ work? When she catches her daughter playing with handfuls of baby copperhead snakes behind the trailer, the choice gets a lot easier: get out of there by the quickest means possible. But at what cost? And is that strange man the devil or her knight in shining armor?

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I read this book on the day it arrived – you can read my review here

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There we go, three more widely varying books for me to get my teeth into…and I’m looking forward to it!

Snakes by Travis Heermann: review

SnakesSnakes by Travis Heermann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eddie, a young, pretty single mom, is trying to do the right thing by her three-year-old daughter. She really is. With no education, no job, and a string of loser boyfriends behind her, she faces hard decisions every day. Gas for the car, or food for Joy? She’s already been forced to move back into her mother’s decrepit old trailer in Shady Acres Trailer Court in rural Arkansas. Should she get a normal job working long hours for minimum wage, or should she put on her stiletto heels, bikini bra and micro-skirt and go back to exotic dancing so she can bring home fistfuls of cash for a few hours’ work? When she catches her daughter playing with handfuls of baby copperhead snakes behind the trailer, the choice gets a lot easier: get out of there by the quickest means possible. But at what cost? And is that strange man the devil or her knight in shining armor?

View all my Goodreads reviews

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars…although I don’t think “like” is quite the right word. The book is very well written and packs a massive punch in just 30 pages. In that short space, I felt I got to know – and like – Eddie. From the blurb, I thought I would enjoy this book. The ending, for me, came out of nowhere…and wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It was very cleverly, eloquently and vividly written…and left me feeling most uncomfortable and with questions about what happens next to Joy.

I’m finding trying to write my thoughts on this book without giving away the plot is difficult! I was disappointed at the way the story turned out: I felt that Eddie was too harshly judged and that the ending was unfair to her. Much of what happened around the snakes seemed to to manipulate her actions towards the ending.

In summary: excellent, accomplished wordsmithing, but a disturbing story. For me to have be so caught up in just 30 pages shows just how superb a writer Travis Heermann is. If you like dark, you’ll like this story.

Thank you to Travis for choosing me as a winner in the First Reads Giveaway.

I’m claiming this book as No. 16/150 in the Goodreads 2012 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.

View all my Goodreads reviews

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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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In My Letterbox: Sunday 29th April 2012

Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

This week I have fewer books to report, mostly because I’m trying not to fill my house with books that will take me years to get round to reading! I have won some more books at Goodreads First Reads (yay! I love those guys – a big UP to all at Goodreads and all the lovely authors and publishers who give away copies of their books.).  Two of these arrived in the post this week.

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
The Serpent Sea (Books of the Raksura #2)The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells

Moon, once a solitary wanderer, has become consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Together, they travel with their people on a pair of flying ships in hopes of finding a new home for their colony. Moon finally feels like he’s found a tribe where he belongs. But when the travelers reach the ancestral home of Indigo Cloud, shrouded within the trunk of a mountain-sized tree, they discover a blight infecting its core. Nearby they find the remains of the invaders who may be responsible, as well as evidence of a devastating theft. This discovery sends Moon and the hunters of Indigo Cloud on a quest for the heartstone of the tree — a quest that will lead them far away, across the Serpent Sea.

I like fantasy stories and have read them in some form or another since I was small. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

2. Tallis by M. C. Rae

TallisTallis by M.C. Rae

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.

As I said, I like fantasy books, so this is a good win for me. I had a quick look when it arrived – and it’s an ARC…my very first ARC 🙂

Because it is an ARC (at least I guess that’s the reason), my cover is the same as that shown on Goodreads as that used on the Kindle edition, the picture with the grey background. I chose to put the published book picture here so that anyone looking for it in the shops will know what to seek!

GIFT FROM AUTHOR:

1. Misfortune Cookie by Michele Goran

Misfortune CookieMisfortune Cookie by Michele Gorman

“Following your heart will pay off in the near future”

The fortune cookie had spoken, affirming Hannah’s decision to move to Hong Kong to be with her boyfriend. She’s no stranger to rash decisions – after all she moved from the US to London on a dare, and that worked out, didn’t it? Ever the optimist, she’s determined to make a success of her move, no matter what anybody says.

Unfortunately, anybody seems to be everybody and her life isn’t going exactly to plan.

Sure, she’s found a career in fashion that she loves, her best friend Stacy moved to be with her, and they’re exploring the weird and wonderful in Hong Kong. It’s her love life that’s not quite living up to expectations. It isn’t easy having a relationship with a boyfriend who’s been posted to a job in another country. Particularly one who seems a bit too cosy with his new boss.

When things also start going wrong at work, Hannah begins to think her friends and family were right. Has she made the worst mistake of her life?

Strictly speaking, this should be in IMM or IMI, since it’s an electronic book. However, as it is a gift from the author, I thought more prominence was appropriate.

I have started reading it already…and am over halfway through! Watch out for the review 🙂

I hope everyone enjoyed World Book Day on Monday 23rd April 2012. Did anyone receive one of the books that were being given away? In the UK, the books had a Shakespeare sonnet printed in the front. There are two reasons for this: April 23rd is (traditionally) Shakespeare’s birthday and as the Olympics are being held in London this year, Shakespeare is featuring heavily in the Cultural Olympiad.

In My Letterbox: Sunday 22 April 2012

I am aware that I have been rather lax in writing reviews and posting here on my blog in the last month or so. My excuse is that I have been reading compulsively and to the exclusion of most other non-essential things!

I decided that I need to do something about that and to get myself back on track. This first In My Letterbox post is the beginning of this process. First, let me explain the title…

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 that when I tell you all about my physical books, I shall entitle the post In My Letterbox (IML); when posting about NetGalley books, In My Mailbox (IMM); and when I list the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download, I shall call it In My Inbox (IMI)!

Having got that off my chest:

Welcome to My First
In My Letterbox!!

These are the physical books I acquired on Thursday 12 April. There are a few other physical books in my house I have not yet read; I may list them in a future On My Bookshelf (OMB) post.

I thought I’d list the books and provide covers, blurb and links to the Goodreads entries. Let me know if you think the format works.

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks

The First Rule of Ten: Book One of the Dharma Detective SeriesThe First Rule of Ten: Book One of the Dharma Detective Series 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.

I am really pleased to have won this book – I was really hoping I would as I just loved the ideas sparked by the blurb. I had a long wait to get my paws on it, as the Post Office first returned it undelivered! Thankfully, the publisher resent it after double checking my address and it arrived safely on April 12 🙂

2. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops

Salsa InvertebraxaSalsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops

Shortlisted for Best Graphic Novel 2012 by the Aurealis Awards, Salsa Invertebraxa is a storybook unlike any other, an Alice in Wonderland for insects, set in an imaginary world as two tiny companions set out on an odyssey of discovery. With one antenna listening out for vast armies competing for dominance on the forest floor, the two friends encounter strange new species of insect among surreal gardens of terrestrial delights. At nightfall, their mischief takes on a mysterious and foreboding turn as they attempt to steal eggs from monstrous super-predators, disturbing the fragile tranquillity of this bizarre Eden.

After an incubation of 15 years, Mozchops has exquisitely crafted over 200 paintings to tell this story of a beautiful and dangerous world.

Salsa Invertebraxa is currently only available from the publisher’s website. Go to http://www.pecksniffpress.com/orderin… for details.

I entered this draw because it looked interesting – and boy was I blown away when the book arrived! I read it that night (April 12 again) after eating my evening meal. The review will be posted shortly!

3. Little Girls: A Short Story Novella by Elton Loud

Little Girls: A Short Story NovellaLittle Girls: A Short Story Novella by Elton Loud

“It had been a little over two days since fifteen-year-old Shanice had seen real sunlight, or another person. Despondent, she sat silent on the basement floor, her jeans soiled with the red sediment from the brick walls that lined the damp basement.”

The place is Oakland. The year is 2004.

Little Girls: A Short Story Novella is a collection of linked short stories that focus on a group of characters whose connection to each other is the sex trade in the Oakland Bay Area. More than a collection about prostitutes or prostitution, Little Girls examines the complexities of the human condition, cutting across generations of family to reveal the people, places and history that have formed their identities, and motivations.

Mistakes will be made. Lessons will be ignored. Consequences will be deserved. Each story is unique, and will grab and hold the reader from the first line.

To read samples, please visit www.littlegirlsnovel.com

The blurb for this book indicated that it has a somewhat challenging subject matter; I thought this would be good after my recent diet of literary fluff (wait till I catch up with the outstanding reviews!), so I’m glad I’ve won this one. This also arrived on April 12.

Books  bought new on Thursday 12 April:

1. My Grammar and I by Caroline Taggart

My Grammar And I (Or Should That Be 'Me'?)

My Grammar And I by Caroline Taggart

Can you tell when a sentence contains more clichés than you’ve had hot dinners?  Is a preposition necessarily a bad thing to end a sentence with?  Are to able to immediately spot a split infinitive?

Whether your schooling in English grammar amounted to ‘a verb is a doing word and an noun is a naming word’, or whether you simply want to brush up your existing skills, this wittily observed book is guaranteed to enlighten and entertain.

I love grammar, for me it’s the framework on which any language hangs. It makes sense of what could otherwise be ambiguous collections of words. I had a quick look at this book in the shop and decided that it is well laid out and with clear explanations. Perfect for the next time someone tells me I’m wrong!

2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual EnlightenmentThe Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Ekhart Tolle’s message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle’s clear writing, supportive voice and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who’s ever wondered what exactly “living in the now” means. Foremost, Tolle is a world-class teacher, able to explain complicated concepts in concrete language. More importantly, within a chapter of reading this book, readers are already holding the world in a different container–more conscious of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of their ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.

Tolle packs a lot of information and inspirational ideas into The Power of Now. (Topics include the source of Chi, enlightened relationships, creative use of the mind, impermanence and the cycle of life.) Thankfully, he’s added markers that symbolise “break time”. This is when readers should close the book and mull over what they just read. As a result, The Power of Now reads like the highly acclaimed A Course in Miracles–a spiritual guidebook that has the potential to inspire just as many study groups and change just as many lives for the better. —Gail Hudson

I liked the title and I thought the back cover blurb sounded interesting – a summary of a number of other books on the subject. A quick flick inside showed very small print…

The Goodreads reviews were mixed; we’ll see with which ones I agree!

Books I bought at the hospital …

… while waiting to have my bloods checked (the money goes to the BBC Children in Need Charity)

1. Of Love and Life, a Readers’ Digest paperback

Of love & life: Constance / Starburst / Garden SpellsOf love & life: Constance / Starburst / Garden Spells by Rosie Thomas

This volume contains abridged versions of the following books:

Constance by Rosie Thomas

All her life Constance has had a rocky relationship with her deaf sister Jeanette – not helped when they both fall in love with the same man. But now, after years of silence, Jeanette is dying and it’s the last chance, for both of them, to shed the baggage of the past. A very thought-provoking read.

Starburst by Robin Pilcher

As the entertainers prepare for the Edinburgh Festival, all are hoping to find stardom. Among them are a first-time comedienne, a film maker and a concert violinist, each of whom will face the biggest challenge of their career. A wonderful story combining intrigue, passion and suspense with a truely dramatic finale.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Everyone in Bascom, North Carolina, knows that the Waverley women have unusual talents that make them special. Even their house, with it’s mysterious garden, is strange. But behind the local legends are two very real sisters trying to make a life for themselves even as they find love in the least likely places.

I’d not seen an RD paperback before. I picked this one up because I saw “Pilcher” as one of the authors…it was only when I got home I realised it wasn’t Rosamund! Never mind, it looks good!

2. Lost Souls by Dean Koontz

Lost Souls (Frankenstein, #4)Lost Souls by Dean Koontz

The master storyteller creates a bold new legend in a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time.

Dr Frankenstein lives on, seemingly indestructible, more sinister than ever. Terrifyingly, with each new incarnation the technology he can use to build a new human race – which he will control – is vastly improved.

His first monster, Deucalion, has spent two hundred years trying to kill his evil creator. When the new Frankenstein clone, Victor Helios, starts work on some grotesque new creations, financed by an enigmatic billionaire, Deucalion is drawn to a small Montana town.

A spectacularly advanced race of monsters is about to be released on the world. Even if Deucalion can bring Helios down, it may be too late…

It’s by Dean Koontz. Need I say more??

3. Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Fear the WorstFear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Suppose you come to pick up your daughter from her job – and find that no one has heard of her and she’s never worked there. If she hasn’t been working all day, what has she been doing?

Tim Blake’s teenage daughter Sydney is staying with him while she works a summer job at a hotel. But when one day she fails to arrive home from her shift and the staff at the hotel say they have no Sydney Blake working there, he beings to see his life going into freefall.

What could have made her step out of her life without leaving a trace? Only one thing convinces Tim that the worse hasn’t already happened – the fact that some very scary people seem just as eager as he is to find her.

The question is: who’s going to find her first?

I liked the cover first (it’s blue…what can I say? I like blue) and it reminded my of The Bridges of Madison County. The blurb told it me it’s a mystery/thriller, so I bought it.

So there we go, there are the physical books which came into my life just under a fortnight ago. Of these, the First Reads books are top of my list for reading and review. Now I need to get the NetGalley and ebooks listed!

(Did I mention that all of these books arrived in my mucky little paws on Thursday 12 April 2012?? 😉 )

If you liked this IML post, why not check out the IMM meme? It started with The Story Siren: click on the picture….

The Daisy Chain: a Review

This is the second book I won at Goodreads.  I read it immediately after finishing Pirates and before finishing The Witch of Portobello.  I read it in one sitting!

The Daisy ChainThe Daisy Chain by Erica Goros

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The essence of the story in this book is one I enjoyed reading and I liked the periodic reveals as the story progressed. The descriptions of places were evocative and the characters were believable and lovable – not in a sentimental way, it’s just that I cared about them – or not, as was appropriate.

The introduction Erica included has several inspirational and thought provoking comments, especially about how we remember events to suit our own reality. As I was a lucky competition winner, Erica also sent me a personal wish in my copy. May we all have a 2012 full of fabulous stories. 🙂

I read the entire book in about 3 hours (I’m like that).

Now you’re wondering why, if I liked it so much, I only gave it three stars. I blame the editor. There were quite a number of typographical and grammatical errors. For someone who speed reads by visualising, these really detract from the experience as they remind that I’m reading rather than experiencing, which makes it feel like an effort rather than an escape.

I also found the layout distracting…perhaps sectioning the book into “Parts” would help the reader? I found it was more like a stream of consciousness. But then, I’m an engineer, so structure and reports are what I’m used to and on reflection perhaps Erica’s format works well with the story by bringing the reader closer to the main character. I am after all, just sharing my personal opinion, and not claiming to know the “right” way!

Many of the paragraphs are one or two sentences. I’ve found that a lot of modern books do this and I find it distracting – I think it looks wrong on the page (another of my personal opinions!).

In summary, this is a book well worth reading. I find scenes have come back to me since finishing, provoking further thought. I think it could be a fantastic book after the attentions of a skilled editor and a dedicated proof-reader. I shall be on the look-out for more of Erica’s work, in my usual serendipitous way 🙂

I’m claiming this book as No. 8/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
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Pirates: The Orgone Chronicles, Book 2 by Nobilis Reed

Oh there are so many things to do…!!!

I have read 10 or so books this year already, but not had time to write reviews (or even log them!).  However, I won two books on Goodreads recently and, having finished the first of these, felt obligated to write a review!

Here it is: it’s spoiler-free!!

Pirates: The Orgone Chronicles, Book TwoPirates: The Orgone Chronicles, Book Two by Nobilis Reed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First off, I’m going to try to avoid spoilers – reviews that summarise the book annoy me!

I thought the book was well written – it’s nice to find something grammatically and eloquently written.

I liked the size – larger than the standard paperback up with which I grew (LOL). I was less emamoured of the typeface, but that’s a really personal thing! Oh! the paper – really nice – soft and strong and far enough off-white and matt enough to avoid glare.

The basis of the story is good, but I found the plot moved very slowly through the book – much of the book was taken up with descriptions of the couplings that happen frequently as this provides power in this universe. Had I read the first book in the series, Scouts, I might have understood this physical (in both sense of the word) law before finding the first such scene on, appropriately, page sechs. I found the descriptions a tad mechanical and not especially…umm…exciting. Having said that, it was gratifying to find that satisfaction for the female characters was most important!

The central characters are quite well drawn, although some of the supporting characters are less so (but maybe they’ll come to the fore in later books). At the end of the book, I wanted to know what happened next (there is a third book – Hunters) but felt that too little had happened in this book – it felt like an installment rather than a complete book even after 238 pages.

All in all an entertaining 6 or so hours and a series I would have been very enthusiastic about when I discovered sci fi at 13/14 (I’m a fair bit older than that now!). Quality work.

I’m claiming this book as No. 6/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and No. 2 in the Second in Series Reading challenge.
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