Wednesday 27 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins. Here's the synopsis:

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Now, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that I absolutely LOVED Hex Hall and its sequel Demonglass (although I believe I still need to put the review up for Demonglass which is a bit of blogger failure on my part). Therefore, I am VERY excited and also a little sad to see how it all ends in the final book of the series. I have to say that this is one of the funnest, entertaining series' I've ever read, it doesn't take itself too seriously but at the same time, it's a bloody good read :) If you haven't started these books yet, do yourself a favour and go and get Hex Hall and by the time you've finished that and Demonglass, Spellbound will be here. For everyone else, we're in for a bit of a wait as Spellbound is published on 13th March, 2012. I don't know about you but I'll be dreaming of Archer until then...

Sunday 24 July 2011

The Poison Diaries Review

The Poison Diaries has always called to me. I’ve seen it so many times in the book store and for whatever reason, have resisted its charms. Finally, I could take it no longer and bought the book knowing almost nothing about the plot. In fact, sometimes I think it is better to wait to read a book after you’ve bought it so that you can forget all the things you’ve already learned about it. Anyway, I digress. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book but I can tell you that it was very entertaining and very easy to read - I finished it in 2 hours. Here’s the synopsis:

“Jessamine has spent her whole life in a cottage close to her father's apothecary garden, surrounded by medicinal plants and herbs that could kill her -- although her father has never allowed her into the most dangerous part of the grounds... the poison garden. And so she's never had reason to be afraid -- until now. Because now a newcomer has come to live with the family, a quiet but strangely attractive orphan boy named Weed. Though Weed doesn't say much in words, he has an instant talent for the apothecary's trade, seeming to possess a close bond with the plants of the garden. Soon, he and Jessamine also share a close bond. But little does Jessamine know that passion can be just as poisonous as the deadliest plants in the garden...”

I have to admit that whilst I love plants, flowers and gardens, I definitely do not have a green thumb. I can kill house plants quicker than anyone I know and not from neglect or anything sinister. I actually don’t know the reason which makes me a little sad, but I do admire anyone who can turn their hand to this kind of thing. My grandma used to know the names of every plant and flower we came across whilst walking across the fields together and I have never forgotten this. I think my love for all things green (even if I can’t look after them) helped me to enjoy this book and I absolutely loved the concept. I had no idea this was a historical novel and that the setting is very real. The Poison Diaries is based on a concept by the Duchess of Northumberland who actually resides within Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. In case you didn’t know, this is the castle used as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. The Duchess has a particular fondness for gardens and even has a real life poison garden which is probably where the idea came from although it was Maryrose Wood who penned the novel. The idea that plants can kill and cure is not new but I find it fascinating nonetheless and I really enjoyed how this came across in the book.

My favourite character was of course Weed who is the poor orphan boy that comes to live with Jessamine and her father. He has a lot of closely guarded secrets that he dare not share for fear of being labelled a freak. Eventually though, he is forced to explain his strange behaviour and face the fact that he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for love. Whilst we got to know Weed as he is now throughout the book, I would really have liked to explore his history and where he came from. Are there others like him? Hopefully we will get to find out in future books.

Jessamine was sweet and we got a hint of her character when she stood up to her father who has to be one of the worst parents I’ve ever read about. He is solely focused on his potions to heal the sick which sounds noble in itself but this one track mindedness turns sinister and is going to cost him more than he could ever imagine.

The Poison Diaries is a refreshing read in a beautiful, real life setting. The concept of the book is fascinating and one I thoroughly enjoyed. All I can say is thank goodness there will be a sequel, entitled "Nightshade" and this is published in September, 2011.

The Poison Diaries was actually published back in 2006 but rebranded and the newest edition was printed in May 2010. To find out more about Maryrose Wood, click here and to find out more about The Poison Diaries, click here to access an interactive website. You can actually visit Alnwick Castle and the poison garden which you can find out about here.

As some of you may or not know, I recently won a poetry competition and the prize is an overnight stay in the castle and a visit to the poison garden itself! I’m terribly excited about this and hope to let you all know what happened after the event next week. If you’re interested, here is my poem:

Poisonous By Nature

You, who grow from the seeds of the earth,
Weaving your way through the ground you give birth
To a life that brings death to both man and beast,
An unstoppable force once your power is released.

But what if your poison could kill AND could cure,
In the smallest of doses, your death would ensure
That life could go on and with your last breath,
You’d know that you died the most glorious death.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Everneath by Brodi Ashton. Here's the synopsis:

"Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's... "

Oooooh, I do like the sound of this book and the cover is GORGEOUS! I was very lucky to meet Brodi in New York during the time when BEA was going on and she is lovely. I only wish she had ARC's with her at the time *sob* Everneath is published on 3rd January, 2012. To find out more about Brodi, click here.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Shadows on the Moon WINNER

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post for the Shadows on the Moon Blog Tour. If you missed it and subsequently missed out on seeing one of the most beautiful book trailers I have ever seen, then go take a look here.

As you will recall, there was a contest at the end to win a special prize pack consisting of the book itself (with a signed bookplate) and some Japanese inspired goodies, some of which are signed by Zoe. I have consulted with my good yet impartial friend and the winner is....


I have contacted Iridessa and she now has 48 hours to claim her prize. In the unlikely event that I do not hear from her, then I will choose another winner.
Thank you to Walker Books for providing the prizes.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is A Million Suns by Beth Revis. I was so desperate to have this as my choice this week that I've gone ahead with it anyway despite there being NO SYNOPSIS released at present. Apparently, it's a secret! *shouts* C'mon Beth, GIVE IT US...PLEASE...WE BEG YOU!!!!!!!! So basically, I absolutely loved Across the Universe which I reviewed here and I cannot wait to read the sequel which should be released in January, 2012. Loving the cover too :)

Thursday 7 July 2011

Shadows on the Moon Review

Love comes like storm clouds
Fleeing from the wind and casts
Shadows on the Moon.

It’s always nerve racking when you’ve become good friends with an author but you haven’t read their books yet. Then one day, you *DO* read and review one of their books and if I’m honest then I will admit to feeling slightly nervous about reading Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott but having read it, I can see that I need not have been as it was EPIC. EPIC I tell you.

At 461 pages, it’s not a quick read but you know what? I didn’t want it to be a quick read and I don’t feel like it’s intended to be that way, it should be savoured slowly like a cold, juicy ice lolly on a scorching hot summer day. Here’s the synopsis:

"On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before."

Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.

Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity. Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.

And nothing will stop her. Not even love.”

Set in a fantastical Japan, for me Shadows on the Moon is written in the same vein as Memoirs of a Geisha. I could imagine the rich scenery and smell the cherry blossoms whilst reading and I did have a craving for Japanese food at one point! Zoe’s love and passion for all things Japanese really shone through her writing and it’s clear that the amount of research she has done is immense. I absolutely loved being part of that world and was quite mournful when I finished the book and had to come back to my own world.

What I really *loved* about the story was that absolutely everything had meaning – from the names of the characters to the colours of the kimono’s and the rituals acted out. Yes, it was symbolism but it seems to me that it is also very much a part of the Japanese culture and I enjoyed learning about that as much as I enjoyed the story.

Shadows on the Moon was inspired by the Cinderella story and is supposed to be a fresh take on the classic fairytale. I have to say that not once did I think of Cinderella or make any comparisons. I think this story stands well enough on its own and had I not found out about the Cinderella inspiration, I would not have guessed.

Our “Cinderella” in Shadows on the Moon is Suzume, the main protagonist who takes us on her journey. Suzume is a character that grows from a playful teenage girl into a strong willed and determined young woman who is able to weave shadows and manipulate them at the drop of a hat. I absolutely loved the concept of shadow weaving and how it can be used to mask yourself from the world. Just like a costume or disguise, Suzume is able to reinvent herself whenever she chooses (or it is required) and this is a skill she comes to rely on throughout the book. Enter the dark and mysterious Otieno from a foreign land who is quite different to Suzume but at heart, they are the same. He is a man full of honour and duty and has a heart full of love for no one but Suzume. I loved the way that he always saw right through any of her magic and loved her no matter what she was and what she looked like.

Shadows on the Moon is an epic tale of betrayal, vengeance, love and self discovery. Please God someone make this into a Sunday afternoon movie or a 7 part drama series. This beautiful story needs to be brought to life on the screen.

Shadows on the Moon is published on 7th July, 2011. To find out more about Zoe and her books (The Swan Kingdom, Daughter of the Flames) , click here. You should also check out her awesome blog here which is highly informative and entertaining :) TO WIN a copy of the book and some other awesome prizes, please click here.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Shadows on the Moon Blog Tour

I am very pleased to be part of the Shadows on the Moon Blog Tour which makes its stop on my blog today. In case you haven't heard of this book, Shadows on the Moon is a gorgeous read written by Zoe Marriott and is published on 7th July. I hope you'll come back and check out my review on release date but for now, here is an extract from the book...

It was the wrong thing to do. I knew it, even as instinct moved me. My brain screamed at me to be still, but my legs reacted before I gave them leave, pushing me out from under the table and turning me to the door. I had no choice. He would follow. I knew it. Terayama-san was a hunter, and from the moment he had seen me on the other side of that screen, I was his prey. He would chase me. He would catch me. He would never stop until I was dead. He was shouting, telling Mai to stay in the room. I cleared the doorway and was halfway down the corridor before he had finished speaking. The corridor was dark; the lamps had not yet been lit. My sock-clad feet made no sound on the tatami mats, but my long sleeves flapped with the movement of my arms, making a noise like the frantic beating of birds’ wings. The outer screen to my mother’s rooms slammed shut behind me, and footfalls thundered across the floor. It was like being in a dream, except that I was sweating, my heart jumping with fear. No nightmare had ever terrified me like this. I rounded the corner and flung myself into an alcove, tucking my body into the gap between the wall and a tall arrangement of spiny black branches and white flowers. I reached for the threads of an illusion – a familiar one – of shadows and nothingness. Frantically I wrapped it around myself, weaving it so thickly that my own vision went dim and grey. It was clumsy, but I did not have time to pick it apart and begin again. Terayama-san came into view, his posture tense and ready, leaning forward as if in anticipation. He was not holding a weapon. Not yet. There at the corner, not a full arm’s reach from me, he stopped. His eyes searched the corridor ahead and then he turned back to look behind him. “I know you’re here. Come out.”

Ooooooooh, and you know what? If you click here you can read EVEN MORE! And if that doesn't satisfy you and you're still hungering for more then I have a contest for YOU. You can win a very special prize pack consisting of a Japanese fan, Shadows on the Moon magnets and a postcard, all signed by Zoe. And you know what? Let's throw in a copy of the book with a signed bookplate. Trust me, you want this prize.

Because I'm kind to you and I like to keep things simple, all you have to do is watch the trailer and leave me a comment with your name and your e mail address. It's UK only but if you're an international person and can get the prize sent to a UK address then feel free to enter. The deadline is 14th July and I wish you all the best of luck! The winner will be chosen at random using some sort of high tech random winner picking device :)

The blog tour is still going on and tomorrow (release day) it will be at Zoe's blog which you can access here. To catch up on the rest of the posts (in case you missed some) here is the schedule...

Aaaaaaaaaaand last but not least, I present to you one of the most beautiful book trailers I have EVER seen and if this doesn't make you want to read the book, then I don't know what will!

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. Here is the Goodreads description:

"Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—nicknamed The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms eventually will. In this dystopia, even the very air she breathes could kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild, dangerous—a savage. He’s also her only hope.

Perry needs Aria, too. She alone holds the key to his redemption. And their unlikely alliance will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Debut author Veronica Rossi is accumulating fans from all over the globe—the book has already sold to more than twenty countries. It’s not surprising that foreign rights for this title have been flying off the shelf. It’s a tantalizing romance in any language

Okay, firstly you have NO IDEA how long I have been waiting for news about this book. I remember reading about it twenty lifetimes ago in Publisher's Weekly and the buzz EVEN THEN was pretty fantastic. So I was ecstatic last week when the cover was finally released! I cannot wait to read this book as it sounds right up my street - a dystopian romance? YES PLEASE! And the cover? Well, let's just say that it was worth the wait! Speaking of which, the book is published in February 2012 so not much longer to wait for it :)

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Original Sin Review

With a title like Original Sin, you’d expect this book to sizzle like a fried egg on a car bonnet during a Texas Summer AND YOU’D BE RIGHT. Let’s just say that sex is abundant and not always between the people you would expect *gasp* *shock* *horror*. The heat is most definitely ON and I loved every minute of it.

Really I should start by saying hands down that this is absolutely one of my FAVOURITE book series ever and out of all my literary boyfriends (and there are many) Luc tops the bill. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would EVER fall for a demon but then I guess the thought probably crossed Frannie’s mind at some point too! I absolutely LOVED Personal Demons and could not wait to get my hands on Original Sin. Because Lisa Desrochers is not only a fantastic author but also an awesome lady, she sent me a galley of Original Sin and despite an overwhelming TBR pile, I just couldn’t stay away from it (such is the alluring power of Luc). I felt like Personal Demons was more Luc’s story but Original Sin is definitely Frannie’s. If for some weird reason you haven’t read the first book Personal Demons (what the hell? GET TO IT), then I would HIGHLY suggest you do before reading this review. Still with me? Excellent! Now before we go any further, here’s the synopsis:

“Luc Cain was born and raised in Hell, but he isn’t feeling as demonic as usual lately—thanks to Frannie Cavanaugh and the unique power she never realized she had. But you can’t desert Hell without consequences, and suddenly Frannie and Luc find themselves targeted by the same demons who used to be Luc’s allies.

Left with few options, Frannie and Luc accept the protection of Heaven and one of its most powerful angels, Gabe. Unfortunately, Luc isn’t the only one affected by Frannie, and it isn’t long before Gabe realizes that being around her is too…tempting. Rather than risk losing his wings, he leaves Frannie and Luc under the protection of her recently-acquired guardian angel.

Which would be fine, but Gabe is barely out the door before an assortment of demons appears—and they’re not leaving without dragging Luc back to Hell with them. Hell won’t give up and Heaven won’t give in. Frannie’s guardian exercises all the power he has to keep them away, but the demons are willing to hurt anyone close to Frannie in order to get what they want. It will take everything she has and then some to stay out of Hell’s grasp.

And not everyone will get out of it alive.”

I read Original Sin on the plane to and from BEA. Yes, I dragged it to the US even though I knew I was going to come home with tons of books and would have to carefully consider weight restrictions AND even though I knew that I was going to be able to pick up a copy at BEA. *THAT’S* how much I wanted to read it. I was incredibly lucky to meet Lisa at BEA who signed my books *squeee* and we ended up having a drink in the cafeteria, talking about books and writing. She was a good girl though and wouldn’t give me any juicy info about the third book, even the title which was formerly known as Hellbent.

Let me tell you that Original Sin was just as good as Personal Demons although in Original Sin, I think that Gabe is more appealing somehow. Maybe it’s the whole “resisting temptation” persona but I liked him a lot more this time around. He wasn’t around all that much and his absence left a hole big enough for us to still constantly think about him so in a way, he was always around. And in a way, he is. He’s an angel after all so I’m sure he was watching ;)

Speaking of angels, if I ever had the chance to speak to Matt, me and him would be exchanging some stern words. Matt is of course Frannie’s twin brother who was sent back to earth as Frannie’s guardian angel. His job is to protect her but let’s not forget that he is also a teenage boy and is introduced to a potential love interest. If I say the words GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME BOY I think that is sufficient explanation. Lili is the girl in question and she is Luc’s new neighbour. Obviously, she knows nothing about Luc or Frannie or even Matt and although she comes across as a lonely figure, little do we know that she is hiding secrets of her own.

Taylor is still causing her own unique brand of trouble which finally comes to a head and Frannie is learning more about how to use her abilities. There’s also a few revelations along the way and the ending? OMG THE ENDING!!!!!!!! I’m guessing I don’t need to tell you how much I want to read the next book?

Original Sin is published in the US on 5th July, 2011. WE STILL NEED A UK PUBLISHER!!!!! To find out more about Lisa and her books, please click here to visit her website. Also, click here to visit her awesome blog.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Blood Magic Review

I’ve been following Tessa Gratton’s writing for what seems like a long time now and so I was pleased as punch when I found out that her debut novel BLOOD MAGIC was finally being published. Over the past months, I have seen all sorts of teasers from Tessa including her actually acting out the first chapter. For those of you that don’t know, this consists of ONE LINE of text. Yes, Tessa Gratton is a tease and also a somewhat evil woman but we’ll come on to that part later. Having just finished reading the book however, I can tell you that it was worth waiting for. I thought the first chapter was fantastic, a really strong opening that had me hooked from the beginning. From then on, it seemed to slow down a bit but picked up again halfway through the book and I’m glad I kept on reading otherwise I would have missed out on a fantastic story. Here’s the synopsis:

“It starts off simply.

Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...

Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.

The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

Tessa Gratton's intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.”

Now let me tell you that I am a nurse and as such, I am used to blood. Even without being a nurse, I have sliced my fingers on sharp instruments so many times, I’ve lost count. I remember one particular incident as a child when I wanted to see how sharp a knife was so I sliced into my left thumb. When I felt the sting as my skin split open and the red stuff gush out, I guess I got my answer to that question. It was this incident that made me feel a little uncomfortable about Silla WILLINGLY cutting herself so that she could use her own blood for magic as every time it was described, I relived that incident over and over. I reaaaaally don’t like the stinging feeling of the skin splitting or the soreness afterwards as it heals. SLOWLY in my case.

Anyway, if that was the worst I had to deal with then so be it. But then came the dead kittens...and then the dead bunnies. EVIL, evil woman. But at least it wasn’t a person though, right? *makes a face* Nope, I’m not going there so you’ll just have to read the book and find out what happens for yourself.

What I loved about Blood Magic is that I’ve read a lot of paranormal YA books full of witches and magic and all things supernatural but I’d never read about BLOOD Magic before. I always associated that with black magic and that of the crazy witch from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. It might sound a little Occult like and I guess in some ways, it is but we learn that Silla’s father is a good man who only ever used the magic for good. As in everything, there are some that would use it for their own purposes, and become so intoxicated with the power it gives them that they cannot see what they have turned into. Enter Josephine Darly, an ambitious young woman who learns of Blood Magic through her beloved Philip. We are privy to her diary entries over the years as the chapters alternate between Silla and Josephine. I really liked this concept and how the more I progressed through the book, the more it felt like Josephine was getting closer and closer.

I have to say though that my favourite character was Reese and I think part of this is because I always wanted a protective older brother of my own. Of course the other reason is obviously because Reese is hot LOL.

Tessa’s writing is rich in description and it was nice to see the multiple nods to Shakespeare which is so Tessa. It’s also quite nice to finally understand why the book cover is covered in birds or crows to be more precise and this is explained quite nicely. I really enjoyed the symbolism and metaphors within the book that I can’t say too much about as I don’t want to spoil it but the birds do represent something and the message was fully understood.

Blood Magic was a very enjoyable read and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens in subsequent books. I would REALLY like to see a particular character return and I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for this.

Thank you to Random House for sending me an ARC to read and review. Blood Magic was published on 24th May, 2011 in the US and UK. The Blood Keeper (a stand-alone companion novel to Blood Magic) will be published in summer, 2012. To find out more about Tessa and her books, click here to visit her website.