Friday, 6 December 2013
Publisher: Del Rey
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: October 10th, 2013
Krakow, 1585 Summoned by the King of Poland to help save his dying niece, Edward Kelley and his master, alchemist and scholar Dr John Dee, discover a dark secret at the heart of The Countess Bathory's malady. But perhaps the cure will prove more terrifying than the alternative...
England, 2013 Jackdaw Hammond lives in the shadows, a practitioner and purveyor of occult materials. But when she learns of a young woman found dead on a train, her body covered in arcane symbols, there's no escaping the attention of police consultant Felix Guichard. Together they must solve a mystery centuries in the making, or die trying.
The Secrets of Life and Death is a fantastic adult book that, I think, falls into several genres. I'd say it's fantasy mixed with horror, kind of like American Horror Story: Coven. That's what it reminded me of, thanks to its adult tone and heavy use of sorcery and magic. I was glued to my Kindle while reading it and couldn't wait for everything to be explained and fall into place.
This book takes place in two two time frames: the Poland in the 1500s and England now. It's intricate and sometimes complicated, but always addictive and very clever. Once I got used to the time jumps at the start of each chapter - alternating between the two centuries - I soon got into a rhythm of seeing a story from two different sets of characters. The parts in the past are quite sinister, dark in tone and explain a lot of the backstory. The 2013 story continues that which was set in motion long ago, bringing it to a contemporary setting and involving a whole host of fascinating characters.
I'm finding it somewhat difficult to talk about The Secrets of Life and Death without spoiling anything; it's one of those books that makes me want to talk to someone about everything that happens and what it means for each person involved. I think I can safely say that this book relies very heavily on the supernatural and the occult and what happens when the two collide. The results are often horrific, but always interesting and right up my horror-loving street.
This is a book I probably wouldn't have picked up had I not received it for review, so I'm really thankful for that because it's one of my recent favourites! It's intelligent and intricately plotted, and I loved the historical aspect of it. I think it deserves a re-read just to fully appreciate all the elements of mystery, to see everything unfolding again. I really recommend this one and I'm looking forward to seeing what Rebecca Alexander writes next!
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: August 15th, 2013
And some things are worth fighting for… Avery knows she should stay away from Cam Hamilton: he might be the hottest guy on campus but she really doesn’t need that sort of drama right now. Love is best left in the past – along with her troubles. But sometimes, the last thing that you want is just the thing you need…
I'd had this book sat on my Kindle for a while before I read it. I was a bit apprehensive to get stuck in because of a couple of well-reviewed NA novels that I hadn't enjoyed as much as everyone else seemed to. I like my NA to be intelligent and compelling, not just as shocking as possible, which I'm glad to say perfectly describes Wait for You. I was hooked right from the start and was really rather annoyed that I had to put it down to go to work!
If you're a reader familiar with other New Adult books, you'll know that they do tend to be quite similar. There are certain tropes that appear in almost every title: usually characters have a hidden past or secrets they can't reveal, deceased parents, a broken family or other such flaws. Wait for You has a couple of these, but I didn't mind at all. I loved Avery and Cam so much that I would have read and accepted anything that happened to them, although I should mention that Avery's past is of a mature variety. So, not for younger readers.
Avery is a great main protagonist, likeable and easy to relate to even though she's harbouring secrets and struggling to overcome certain things that have happened in her life. She moved away to escape all that and attend a college far away, which is where she first meets Cam. Cam is, of course, unbelievably beautiful and gorgeous and EVERY girl wants to jump his bones because he's utter perfection. I glossed over this because, really, how many guys do you actually meet like this in real life? The answer is not many. I was more concerned with his sparkling personality than his looks, which J. Lynn luckily did focus on more after the initial meeting. Cam is cocky and sure of himself, but he too is keeping secrets. Ultimately he's caring, kind and the sort of guy your mum would approve of. He treats Avery with the utmost respect and helps her come to terms with her past, which is always a plus point when it comes to NA.
J. Lynn's writing also surprised me, and I was addicted within a couple of chapters. I've never read any of her books written as Jennifer L. Armentrout, but now I think I probably should. Her dialogue is realistic for the most part, and her characters don't get into many unbelievable situations. Also, she's basically created a near-perfect man in Cam, which I'm sure has led many a reader to swoon uncontrollably.
I know there's another novel in this series, Trust in Me, that tells the events of Wait for You from Cam's POV. I may read it one day, just to see his side of things, though I don't know whether I want to leave this book and their story as it is. Wait for You is a strong NA novel on par with the high standards of Cora Carmack and Tammara Webber. It's an addictive read with flawed, down to earth characters and a plot that is all too real. I look forward to reading more by this author, and I hope any NA readers out there will give this one a try if you haven't done so already.
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.
What I Thought Was True
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
* Published by: Dial (US)
* Format: Hardcover / eBook (US)
* Release Date: April 15th, 2014 (US)
* On Amazon: here
* On Amazon: here
Summary from Goodreads:
Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.
I looooved Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door, and I'm so excited for What I Thought Was True. Her first book was one of the best contemporary YA books I've ever read, and I'm seriously considering a re-read (which I don't do very often). I hope this one lives up to all my expectations! *fingers crossed*
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Today I'm excited to be the UK part of Rhiannon Hart's cover reveal for Blood Phantom and Blood Queen. Aren't they lovely?! And so cool how they fit together. Hope you like them as much as I do!
- Release date: December 9th, 2013.
- Prequel to Blood Queen.
Life in tatters and far from home, Rodden Lothskorn struggles to cope with the harming menace and his own harming nature. When an offer of marriage reaches his friend, Prince Amis, Rodden discovers that the bride’s inhospitable homeland might contain one part of the harming poison he would dearly like to get his hands on. But if summoned northwards, will Princess Lilith bring something – or someone – he dreads most with her? Locked in a years-long struggle with the Lharmellins, Rodden senses the battle is only now about to begin.
Blood Phantom is a short story of Lharmell and a prequel to Blood Song.
- Release date: April 15th, 2014.
- Third book in the Lharmell series.
I'm extra excited about my blog today because I have a guest post from the super cool Lindsey Kelk, whose new book, I Heart Christmas, was published in England a couple of weeks ago. She's one of the funniest adult authors around and constantly amuses me on Twitter (follow her at @LindseyKelk but be warned: she used colourful language sometimes). I've always been fascinated with differences between the UK and US and, seeing as Lindsey now lives in New York, I thought it'd be fun for her to write about Christmas differences between the two.
Thanks Lindsey, and I hope you guys enjoy reading this as much as I did!
Christmas in New York
I’ve been in NYC for four and a half years and spent Christmas there twice. In all honesty, the first time I stayed, I was really panicky. I’m a total Christmasaholic and was worried that being away from my family and all my traditions (I have so many, it’s basically OCD – Obsessive Christmas Disorder) that it wouldn’t be the same. Happily, I had my friends, I had a ton of English chocolate and we got three and a half feet of snow on Boxing Day so I was happy as Larry. Actually, I used have a landlord in Brooklyn called Larry and he never seemed that happy. So I was happier than Larry.
There’s no end of wonderful things to do in New York over the holidays – go skating in Central Park, see the biggest Christmas tree on earth at Rockefeller Centre, watch the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, enjoy the store windows on Fifth Avenue and indulge in the best Christmas shopping on earth. And of course there’s nothing you can’t eat. Nothing. Personally, I don’t think there’s a better time of year to visit my favourite city on the earth. Everyone is a bit happier and a bit cheerier, even if they don’t celebrate Christmas themselves. And as a Brit, I know that sounds kind of insane but New York is home to people from every culture, every nationality and every religion on the planet. Lots of my friends are Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas but they still love the holidays and appreciate the shift in the city’s happiness meter. And to be honest, half the thrill of doing Christmas in New York is taking the alt-city option. Want Chinese food delivered for your tea? You’ve got it. Fancy popping to the pictures on Christmas Day? Most of the big winter movies open on the 25th so you can do exactly that. You can bunker down for three days with the family anywhere you like but where else can you get a deep fried turkey delivered to your door and then take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry to clear away the post-lunch fug?
The most difficult thing for me about Christmas in America, is how long it takes to kick in. I am a Christmasaholic and cannot wait to get my tree up. In the UK, we have the season of goodwill shoved down our throats from the middle of October but in the US, it takes longer to appear. In theory, this makes it all the more special once it arrives but in reality, it just gives you considerably less time to eat seasonal treats and pretend you don’t want to visit santa’s grotto, even though you’re 33. Cough. Admittedly, all the autumnal US holidays are ace. Christmas is dramatically held up by Halloween (amazing) and then by its Turkey Twin, Thanksgiving (yum) before it’s finally time to put up your Christmas tree. Seriously, no Christmas until the last Saturday of November. Can you imagine being denied the Coca Cola ‘Holidays Are Coming’ ad until December first? Thank god I’ve got all of November in the UK this year – best of both worlds...
The most traumatic thing for everyone else alive is that Americans, on the whole, only get ONE DAY OFF. Seriously. They don’t even know what Boxing Day is. Clearly, this is a travesty and I’m doing my best to turn it around but until Obama recognises the need to sit on the settee, eating pork pie and turkey sandwiches while watching James Bond films, I don’t think they’ll ever really get anywhere as a country…
Monday, 2 December 2013
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: October 20th, 2013
Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe's No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she's relocating in movie-star style—crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn't for the fact that she's bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride (Dad's specialization: human mating rituals—need Nessa say more?). Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that's five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles—star of stage and screen. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa's favorite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Watch! As Holly Isles, world-famous actress, confides in Nessa over mocktails. Listen! As Nessa coaches Holly in the amazing "Nessa's Lesson's in Love"—the ultimate man-catching rules to finding true and lasting lurv. See! Nessa fall for Holly's too-cute nephew, Marc. . . and Cover your eyes! As it all goes terribly, horribly, embarrassingly wrong. There's no doubting it. This is going to be one pitchy crossing.
Diamonds are a Teen's Best Friend is a book I never knew existed until only a few weeks ago. Written by Australian author Allison Rushby, it's a fun read for tweens and teens and is a feel-good caper well worth reading.
As may be apparent from the title, Diamonds are a Teen's Best Friend features an almost fourteen-year-old main character who might just be Marilyn Monroe's biggest fan. Nessa Joanna Mulholland has seen Marilyn's movies hundreds of times, can quote all her lines and has no problem believing her life mirrors the plot of one of Marilyn's screenplays. Nessa is a fun person to get to know throughout the book, even though she can be rash, impulsive and a tad eccentric. She means well, though, even when she's almost destroying a would-be relationship!
This first book in the Living Blond trilogy takes place on a cruise ship as Nessa and her dad are relocating to France. It's an unusual setting for a teen book but one that works well nonetheless; it allows characters to be confined with each other for extended periods of time, leading Nessa to concoct many a questionable plan in the meantime. When Nessa meets Holly Isles, thirty-something TV and film star, her life takes a turn for the dramatic and what follows is a mad few weeks!
Allison Rushby writes with a very conversational style, making the book easy to read and enjoy. I think teens will appreciate everything Nessa's going through as she grows up right before her cringeworthy dad's eyes, fielding embarrassing moment left right and centre. There's even a little bit of romance in Nessa's life, though she soon learns that love isn't all plain sailing. Existing fans of Cathy Hopkins and Cathy Cassidy will appreciate Nessa's story and I'm sure it would do well here in the UK. A great addition to fiction for tween girls!
Sunday, 1 December 2013
In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and any links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!
Thanks to all publishers who sent me lovely books to review this week
- Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters
- The Rock n Roll Diaries: Making It by Jamie Scallion
- The Blue Lady by Eleanor Hawken
- The Grey Girl by Eleanor Hawken
- Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton
For review - Netgalley:
- I Found You by Jane Lark
- Sound Bites by Rachel K Burke
- Horror! by Kim Newman and James Marriott
Bought - Kindle:
- Fractured by Dani Atkins
- The (Im)Perfect Girlfriend by Lucy-Anne Holmes
- 50 Ways to Find a Lover by Lucy-Anne Holmes
Happy reading, everyone. Have a great week!