Thursday, 30 June 2011

Early Review: Prince of Thorns - Mark Lawrence

Series: The Broken Empire 1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 384
To be Published: August 4th 2011 Harper Voyager
Review by Mikael

"Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse."

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him. 

............................................

Brother Jorg, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, will be King by fifteen. Emperor by 21, probably. But at the moment he is a road bandit, rapist, butcher, torturer. And he is the hero of the book Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence. 

You get heroes of all kind in fantasy literature – heroes with varying degree of skill, powers and motivation. The good guys are pure of heart and clean of face. Then we have the anti-heroes, the unwilling heroes who have the hero-hood thrust upon them, but they always come through, and finally show their heart of gold. 

Brother Jorg is at the far end of that scale, you might say. He is a stone cold bastard, thirteen year of age, killed more men than the plague. But ok – the land is riddled with war; the feuds between the little kingdoms have been going on for decades, centuries. If he can become the Emperor, at least there will be no more war. 

Prince of Thorns is the first book of a trilogy, where we will follow Jorg’s path. The set is an alternate Europe (with magic, ghosts and monstrosities), refreshing it its simplicity. The focus is entirely on Jorg. His stubbornness and lack of fear is legendary – he survives against overwhelming odds by a mixture of intelligence, brutality, dirty tricks, cunning, necromancy, etc. 

What do I think about it? If you can get through the initial revulsion in the first dozens of pages (where the author really grinds your nose into the feces of brutality and immorality, to get your mind on the right track) it’s a wonderful book! A page turner, I personally read it in one sitting. Ok, you may learn that Jorg has had a rough childhood to motivate his deeds, but that doesn’t really matter. It is refreshing to just be able to follow the machinations of an artful bastard, winning against all odds. Just don’t expect much romance and love – there is a hint, but no more. 

Conclusion:
Extremely different! But refreshingly so. I will read the other two books, that’s a promise. 

Rating:
Recommended, for some 

Cover:
Extreme evil – sets the scene for things to come

 PS from Blodeuedd, he said that he is giving it a really strong 4


----
Now let me introduce you to today's guest reviewer:
 
My name is Mikael and I like fantasy. 



(*applauds*, great introduction, lol, my own fault, I told him he could write it that short *headdesk* But what more, he is from Finland like I am. And I begged him to read this book and review it since I must confess I hit a spot in the book and could read no more. But after this awesome review I will read the book one day. Because the writing was great but I just have to get past one upsetting thing in the beginning).

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Book review: The Way of Kings Part 2 - Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Stormlight archives, book 1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 544
Published: UK Gollancz June 2011
Released in two volumes due to size of book. 

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike.It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain.  Wars were fought for them, and won by them. One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity. Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war. 

My thoughts:
This is then part 2 of book 1. I reviewed part 1 a few days ago. The book is over a 1000 pages long so this paperback release was published as two parts. 

I liked part 1 and it helped build the world. Part 2 was excellent. At times it had me almost biting my nails when it got really intense. I did not feel like looking at the end because I wanted to savor every moment even if it meant reading for hours until my eyes were bleeding. Yes you get the point, I did not want to put down this book. It really helped making Sanderson one of my fav fantasy authors.

I have said it before and I will say it anything, he is a master worldbuilder. And at the end of the book he shook the foundations of everything I thought I knew. I gasped for air and could not believe what I just read. It was so good, just read the book and we will talk.

Kaladin, oh poor Kaladin, he still carry bridges for the army. They are nothing more than cannon fodder. They die like flies but he is a shining beacon. He helps his men survive and he will help his crew escape. He is a true leader and hero, and I love him to pieces. His story is the best and it also have me aching since his fate is so cruel, but he does not give up. Dalinar then, he becomes more and more intriguing. He has these visions of times long gone and everyone thinks he is insane. I do wonder why things are happening to him. Kaladin's power I have figured out but Dalinar, oh yes I wonder about that old bear. The third big character is Shallan, I found a new respect for her too. She does redeem herself at the end of this book. She too sees things, all around her, but why? Something is happening to all 3 of them that will change this world. Since the end seems to be coming, the bad guys are coming back.

This was a great start to this fantasy series. It has everything, politics, magic, war, great characters, questions and a world created so well.

Conclusion:
I recommend this to all fantasy fans. Do not get scared by the size of the book, when you well get started you will not be able to put it down. Amazing start and I can't wait for book 2 and more of this great story. Hurry up and go and read it.

Rating:
Recommened

Cover:
Meh

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Review: Before Versailles - Karleen Koen

A novel of Louis XIV
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 400
Published: June 28th 2011 Crown

Before Versailles is the luscious, sweeping story of the young Louis XIV in his first year as king of France. Told in the alternating perspectives of the young king and his first love, the woman who would become his mistress, Karleen Koen's newest weaves a portrait of court and country in turmoil with the legends of this colorful period in history, including that of the mysterious man in the iron mask.

My thoughts:
The book is in a way not written from one POV. Sure Louise de Valliere is the main character for most of it but there is always someone else taking  her is his turn to say something, or to think something. It feels not like you follow one person but like you are some sort of ghost jumping around trying to see what is going on.

The book also takes place during a few months in 1661. Lois XIV is madly in love with his sister in law Henriette and they have a relationship. Her husband Phillippe is angry, but then he has former lovers too, male ones. Viscount Nicholas who takes care of the finances is spying on everyone and he will soon be thrown into jail. Louise comes to the court, all innocent and sweet and tries to hide the affair between the king and his sister in law. And then Louise and Louis fall in love. Lots more affairs going on and someone are sending the king notes questioning who his father is. That is what is going on in this book. It is a young court since the king is only 22. Everyone is happy and flirting with each other.

There is also another part of the book. The author takes in the story about the iron mask and makes Louise find out more about this. A nice little plot that goes well with everything. Especially since it brings light on the relationship between the Queen Mother and Mazarin.

I felt sorry for poor Louise when I later had a look at her fate. She loved the king and he just threw her to the side when he was finished with her. The book may end all happily but she was certainly not the last mistress he had. Especially horrible was how she was used as a decoy when he found a new woman. The power of kings. Still in this book he is a young king and in love. You can't fault him for that, and neither Louise who is young and impressionable.

Sometimes I did wonder if it was the way it was written that never made me totally fall for the book. I never seemed to get a hold of anyone. They slipped through my fingers.

Conclusion:
This is a book for historical fiction fans out there, and especially those who enjoy the period.

Rating:
Nice

Cover:
Meh


-----------------
I am guestreviewing over at Ex Libris
The picture book, Honestly red Riding hood was rotten :)



Come say hello and see everything she has in stored for this event



Monday, 27 June 2011

Review: Wicked Games - Jill Myles

Genre: Contemporary romance
Pages: Ebook, 140
Published: 2011

Abby Lewis never pictured herself on the survival game show, Endurance Island. She’s just not the ‘survival’ type. But when her boss offers her a spot on the show and the opportunity of a lifetime, she packs her bags and heads to the tropics to be a contestant. Once in the game, it’s clear that Abby’s in over her head. The game itself is full of competitive, aggressive people, and no one’s more aggressive than sexy, delicious – and arrogant – Dean Woodall. Sure he’s clever, strong, good at challenges, and has a body that makes her mouth water. He also hates Abby just as much as she hates him. That’s fine with Abby; she’ll just ignore the jerk. But the rules of Endurance Island are working against them. Abby and Dean are teamed up – alone – on the beach. It’s either work together, or go home. Stuck with no one else’s company but their own, they learn they do make a good team after all.

My thoughts:
I did watch one season of Survivor. This was the first ever Survivor that Swedish tv showed. But I did not like the backstabbing and it was boring. But as a book, oh it works marvellous as a story.

Abby is sent to be a part of a gameshow and she notices at once that she does not look like the rest. The playboy bunny with big fake boobs or the walking stick. But then she is doing it for a bookdeal. And what is there not to like about Abby, she is snarky and normal. She is not letting her new team-mate Dean get the upper hand. Dean, oh he is athletic and gorgeous and he wonders why she keeps frowning at him. Not love at first sight, it is more dislike that turns into attraction and then love when they find out more about each other.

The show goes on for 2 months so it is not like the fall instantly in love, no it takes a while (ok not that long but then they do spend every waking moment together). And when it does happen the better. They were just too stubborn to see it before those fools.

And since this is about a game there will be backstabbing, heartache and then one final HEA.

Conclusion:
I really enjoyed this short novella and I kept reading fast to see when they would get it on. A lovely story in a different setting.

Rating:
Liked it

Cover:
Nice

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Review: The Way of Kings Part 1 - Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Stormlight archive 1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 608
Published: May 2011 Gollancz

According to mythology mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. But then the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms. And the Voidbringers followed . They came against man ten thousand times. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, mankind finally won.  Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world is at war with itself. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne. On a world scoured down to the rock by terrifying hurricanes that blow through every few days is a young spearman ,forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn't understand and doesn't really want to fight.

My thoughts:
The publisher published the paperback in 2 books since this is one HUGE book. And it was much nicer reading it like this, instead of holding a 1000 page brick.

This book, how to describe it? So much is going on and if I would say anything negative about it it would be that is just is too well imagined. There is a lot to keep track of and know. I have read anything fantasy to be used to it but sure sometimes I wished there would be some more explanations at the back of the book. I like to look things up. Don't get scared now, at least he did not introduce a 1000 different characters like some authors do.

The book was mostly about 3 characters. Kaladin who was my favourite and his parts where the ones I wanted to skip forward to and read. He is a soldier and then a slave fighting a war that does not make sense. He is honourable and wants to protect his men, and I fell at once. Then there is Shallan  is a woman and women on this world are the scholars. Men are the soldiers and do not even know how to write (loved that, so interesting). She was, well I guess I liked her, she had goals of her own and spent time studying in a city far away from battles and such. But in the end I do not have any particular feelings for her or her teacher Josnah. The last one is Dalinar, a prince fighting in the war, and he has these strange visions. I can see things getting interesting there and I kept hoping he would run into Kaladin and buy that poor man. Then there was a few authors too, like the assassin who kills the king in the first chapter. So yes there is a lot of things going on, I could not begin to explain since this series will go on for 10 books or so I have heard....a lot more will happen.

Sanderson is quite the master when he builds truly complex systems of magic. They just have to be read about to understand. And the world is fascinating, a world of rocks, almost no soil and winds that sweep across the world and kill those not inside. He is a master world builder.

What more to say, great book. It is about a war and revenge, and finding new means to get more power. War, I like it, mystical pasts, magic and a fight for something that I do not know why about yet. And yes I really liked Kaladin's parts.

Conclusion:
This is fantasy when it is at its best. When I finished I wanted more at once. I think this is the start to a great new epic series and I will continue to read, and so should all of you :)

Rating:
Recommended

Cover:
Bleh



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Friday, 24 June 2011

3 short Reviews: More Jill Myles Novellas

I am doing a 3 in 1 today since all these are so short.

Foreplay by Jill Myles
Series: The Succubus Diaries 0
Genre: Paranormal romance
Pages: Ebook 9
Published: 2010

How did Jackie Brighton get turned into a succubus? She can’t remember – all she knows is that she woke up in a Dumpster. This short story tells the tale of that night, and sheds a little light on her masters’ motivations..
 
 My thoughts:
I can't say a lot about this story since it is only 9 pages long. But you get to see how she became a succubus. And how Zane seems to have reasons for the change and how Noah just falls in the trap. And a bit of Jackie how she was before.

All in all a nice short story to red before book 1. Or afterwards if you want to. You will get a few answers and it is just fun to read more about these characters in the end.  And it just makes me Team Zane even more (but then I am always on that team). He is the best.

So if you are wondering how Jackie woke up in a dumpster with bigger boobs then read this book
.



Zane's Tale
A succubus Diaries Short
Pages: Ebook 12
Published: 2010

Zane has a few changes in his life...but is the vampire happy with his choices? Or does he regret the path he has chosen and the succubus he has left behind? 

My thoughts:
Be still my heart, this novella was only 12 pages or so but it still packed enough for my heart to break over Zane. I love him, Team Zane!

This story takes place between book 2 and 3 and he has given up Jackie but in this we see how tormented he is because he had to give her up. And deep his love for her is. It is quite heartbreaking and it makes me love him all the more (and think Noah is so boring and that she should dump him). A short tale but an insight into Zane's heart that you do not want to miss. So one last time, Team Zane, wohoo! I sure hope they get together soon again.

And of course this one should not be read before book 2 because then you will miss why he left her.


Note:
These two can be bought on their own or together with Slave to Her Desires (reviewed that one last week. Together they form a nice little Succu-Bundle. 

 .......................................

 And now to something that has nothing to do with Succubi.


Shimmerlight by Jill Myles
Genre: Paranormal romance, time-travel
Pages: 40, ebook
Published: 2011

Chloe Sorenson's just started a brand new job at Ms. Muffet's art gallery. However, no one told her that the latest auction piece - a sculpture of a handsome Roman soldier - comes to life. Think it's hard to explain to your boss why you're fondling a statue? Try explaining to the statue why you're holding his, uh, fig leaf. Chloe never thought that touching the statue would turn him into a sexy, aroused man, but she's not saying no to this delicious Roman soldier. The curse requires that she touch him at all times? Such a hardship... But there's a problem in their lust-fueled relationship; she's falling dangerously in love with a guy that cursed to be hard as a rock - literally - unless she can somehow free him. And the statue of Titus just went up for auction. If she doesn't do something, he's going to be out of her life and trapped for all eternity...

My thoughts:
This story is a companion novel to Mirrorlight. They are both perfect to read as stand alone though. The only thing that connects them is a mysterious woman named Muffin and time-travelling.

In this one Chloe works for mysterious Muffin building a website at night. And then she finds a statue and fondles it, lol, yes she admires it and wonders what is under that leaf. And then he comes to life. You can figure out what the do next. Because this is one hot and short novella. They have fun with each other all while she tries to figure out how this can continue. He is a statue from another era. No happy ending in store for them. At least this is what she thinks because in the end this is romance and we all know they will live happily ever after. How is the question.

Conclusion:
Short and really hot is what this lovestory has in store for you. A perfect short read for a lazy summerday.

...............

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Review: Shadow's Son - Jon Sprunk + I am being interviewed ->

Series: Shadow Saga 1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 280
Published: 2010

In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won't be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir's hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son . . .

My thoughts:
This was the start to a new fantasy series and I was soon caught up in the intrigues. I even wanted to look at the end, but I managed to keep myself in check. But I tell you, it was hard!

Caim is an assassin. Yes he kills for money and he does not have a problem with it. Up until he saves a young woman who thinks he killed her father. Poor Caim is in the middle of a big plot and everyone is gunning for him. What can I say, I have a weak spot for thieves and assassins in fantasy books. And Caim is a good man when it comes down to it. He is just driven by revenge and he has lived a harsh life. Of course I liked him at once.

Other characters are Josey, the daughter of a murdered nobleman and Caim's friend Kit who no one else can see and who hovers around like a ghost. She was a bit of a comedic relief in a way as they bickered. Then we have the bad guys and I will not say more other than the bad guys are really evil. And I want to go and kick some ass. *gives the bad guys the evil eye*

Intrigues, I liked that. What was going on? Who wanted who dead? And then when I knew the plot, could Josey and Caim get out of it alive? It came to the point where I no longer could put the book down.

It did not end with a cliffhanger but with a nice enough ending and yes with questions. Like the shadows he can command.

Conclusion:
A good solid start to this series. I will read book 2, and I am very glad that I have book 2 ready since I want more. 

Rating:
Recommended

Cover:
Nice, I like hoods, lol 

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Simcha over at SFF Chat is celebrating her blogaversary and I am being interviewed :D So come on over and say hello (she got a contest too in another post ;) And she is so nice and has excellent taste in books 


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Review: Island Heat - Jill Myles

PhotobucketGenre: Paranormal romance
Pages: Ebook novella, 140
Published: 2011

On a business trip to Bermuda, realtor Diana Holcomb's small plane goes down over the ocean, a victim of the infamous Bermuda Triangle.

Diana wakes up to find herself on a deserted island...that really isn't all that deserted. First, a gigantic dinosaur tries to eat her. Then she's captured by cavemen, and just when things are looking their worst, she's rescued by none other than a gorgeous man with the body of an Adonis and the jungle skills of Tarzan. Salvador's been stranded on the island for a very, very long time without a woman. A very, very long time. And now that he has Diana, he intends to claim her for his own... 


My thoughts:
This is one crazy book but what could you expect from the Bermuda Triangle. Diana is taking her groping client to Bermuda to find him a house, well that was the plan. The only thing she wants to do is earn money by selling a big house to him. She is smart, single and soon to be stranded on a desert island...almost deserted that is.

Oh yes this island has a T-Rex with a taste for human flesh, creepy caveman who wants to drag her by the hair to their cave and have their way with her and more. That doesn't sound like a perfect island but there is more. A hunky conquistador who does not speak English and wears only a loincloth. All Salvador wants is some company and she would be the one.

For a short novella a lot happens. Running from dinosaurs, running from cavemen, finding out about the island, and of course falling in lust with Salvador.

Conclusion:
It was a fun and short read. It was not an island I would like to visit, but the more fun it was then to read about it.

Rating:
Nice

Cover:
Meh

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Review: Destiny's Star - Beth Vaughan

Series: Star 3
Genre: Fantasy romance
Pages: 336
Published: UK Gollancz June 2011

Bethral, a beautiful warrior, and Ezren, a quick-witted storyteller, are confronted with a civil war and a tribe or warriors with their own code of honor and their own rules of pleasure and partnership. To stay alive they must learn new customs, confront their enemies, and conceal Ezren's fiery power.

My thoughts:
This is book 3 but you can read it as a standalone novel. I read book 2 two years ago and I had forgotten some things but thanks to the book I was soon up to speed on things. Because each of these books are about a new woman. I actually read book 2 first, then book 1 and then this one (you know how it is.) Also to be noted is that yes this is the series by Elizabeth Vaughan but she is published as Beth Vaughan in the UK.

Bethral is in love with Ezren and he is on love with her. But neither thinks they stand a chance and therefore they do not make a move. Bethral is your typical warrior woman, strong, tough and she can take on any man. Ezren is a storyteller, not a warrior. They are in a way like night and day. He thinks she pities him, and she thinks he wants someone soft. Oh people in love are fools. 

Magic brings them to the land of Bethral's mother. The books known from Vaughan's War series. And they also tie in to those books since the civil war no going on got started in the War books. I do like this land of nomadic warriors because it is just so weird. Like how men and women need to have 5 babies each before they can commit to anyone and they are also very free in their sexual life. She has done well with creating this rich world and as two strangers with very different ideas they are certainly out of place.

The book is also about adventure as they try to find a way back home and escape those who want to kill Ezren for the magic he holds. They meet new friends, learn about a new culture and since this is about romance too they fall in love.

Conclusion:
A good fantasy romance. There is love, magic, action and a strange new land in this conclusion to a great series.

Rating:
Nice

Cover:
Meh

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Review: Seven Nights to Forever - Evangeline Collins

Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 336
Published: 2010

Destitute after her father's death, Rose Marlowe has debts to settle and a younger brother to support. But she also possesses a matchless beauty-one that could command quite a price. Now, every month, Rose spends one week at a decadent London brothel, where she's become a sought-after prize.

Then one night she meets a wealthy merchant. Handsome, kind and compassionate, with a lonely soul that matches her own, James Archer is not her typical client. Falling in love with a client, never mind a married one, is unthinkable. Yet Rose can't help but lose herself as one night becomes seven-and seven nights leads to a chance at forever.

My thoughts:
I was very curious about this book when I saw it around, but truth be told I was not sure if I would like it. I mean she is a prostitute, but I listened and tried it. Totally worth it.

There was just something about the book. There was this sadness and lingering hope. They both wanted to be loved but life had not dealt them that card. The writing was good and I was soon lost in the book and did not want to put it down. A wonderful romance in a different setting.

Rose is a whore, there is no other way to put it. She sells her body for 7 days/month. She fetches a good prize since she is beautiful and mysterious. There is the whole point to why I wondered about if I would enjoy the book but I did. She does not care for her job but she needs money. There is no image of a happy prostitute and she knows it is dangerous and that she is damaged goods. I felt for her and I wanted her to be happy, and even though this is a romance I wondered how the author would make it happen.

James is unhappy. He married a well-born wife so his sister could get a foot into the society world and land a title. They have merchant money and we all know that is not old and good money. His wife is a total bitch who sleeps around and hates him. Still he does not want to be unfaithful but his steps lead him to a brothel. Poor unhappy man. He was just so gentle and sweet. These two fall in love and it is wonderful. But Rose does not want to be kept and be with a married man. As you can see, the HEA is far away (but it comes, I mean this is a romance after all.)

I liked the writing, it flowed well and I liked the two characters. Sure it nagged me a bit that Rose just did not tell her brother to stop wasting money. She was too nice (even if he did not know they were poor and what she did). And of course James' wife was a bit too evil in her bitchy ways, but a book like this needs an uberbitch.

The best thing was closing the book. I had a big smile on my grin and I do think I went "awwww sweet" :D

Conclusion: 
A great historical romance with erotic touches. I recommend this book cos it was sure hard to put the book down when I started it. I will definitely be reaidng more books by her.

Rating:
Recommended

Cover:
Ok

Saturday, 18 June 2011

2 in 1 Review: Bevelstoke 1 and 3 - Julia Quinn

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever
Series: Bevelstoke 1
Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 373
Published: 2007

2 March 1810 . . .Today, I fell in love.
At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her—until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever. But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day—while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier—and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers . . . 

My thoughts:
I will try to write a short one. But it is so hard! Though I will try. And yes I did read book 2 before this one. Do not be shocked now (looking at someone stating with an M ;). But they are stand alone historical romances so you do not have to read in order.

This book was just sweet and lovely. Again a book that is just how I like my HR. The heroine is Miranda who is not as pretty as her best friend but then again she has been in love with her best friend’s brother for 10 years so what does she care about other men ;) Miranda was smart and funny. All in all a great girl. Her best friend Olivia likewise (but then I already read and loved her book). Our hero is Turner who is not like he used to be. He had a bitch of a wife who cheated on him and the poor guy is jaded. And yes he does take his time to fall for her and tell her what he feels, but he was in pain and he was afraid. I can live with that because I always knew he would realize she was his everything.

Conclusion:
This book is witty and cute. There is one scene where he threw a scone at her and that just made me laugh. It is certainly a HR I would recommend to others and it sure is an author I want to read more books by. Cute cover too.



Ten things I love about you
Series: Bevelstoke 3
Pages: 377
Published: 2010

Annabel Winslow is in a pickle. Having newly arrived in London for her first season and being in possession of a voluptuous figure, is being openly courted the the Earl of Newbury, who is at least 75 and a nasty brute to boot. Annabel does not want to marry him, of course, but feels that she has no choice since her father has recently died and left the whole family, includeing Annabel's mother her 7 siblings, almost destitute. Then, while attending a party in the countryside, Annabel met Sebastien Grey, the Earl of Newbury's nephew. And suddenly she found herself not only courted by the lecherous uncle, but also the charming young nephew. Should she follow her heart so that she can be with the one she loves, or should she marry the loathsome earl just so she can put food on the table for her family and make sure that her brothers get to stay in school? 

My thoughts: 
I will try to make it short again. For some reason I did not like this as much as book 1. Book 2 I did like, though not the last 100 pages. In this one it was the other way around in a way. I did enjoy the book and it was cute. But I just felt that it picked up more at the end. 

Annabel was nice enough and I understood her. Her family back home was not getting any help from her grandparents so therefore she had to marry a creepy old guy. What I grew a bit tired of was everyone speaking about how big her boobs and hips were. Ok I understood it the first time around. The guy needed kids but does it need mentioning every time? Sebastian then, well I actually did not like him that much in book 2. In this one I liked him a bit more since I saw he was tormented from the war and he writes books, I love that. Still he sure fell fast and she did ask something in the beginning that was a bit..oh why am i complaining? That is how HR is. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book a great deal.

Conclusion:
The book was funny and cute. It was still worth reading and I enjoyed it. I read it fast and it was nice to get lost for a few hours. A good book to read this summer. And the cover is cute I guess.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Interview and Contest: Sue Moorcroft - Love & Freedom

 Today I welcome Sue Moorcroft to my blog. She is the author of Love & Freedom, and at the bottom of this interview you can win the book.

Welcome to Mur-y-Castell!


 Tell us something about yourself, so we can get to know you better…

I don’t know where I come from. Or, at least, I never know how to answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’ because I was born in Germany, left at six weeks old, went to Cyprus, Malta, England and Malta again before returning to England at the age of eight. But then I settled in England and have been boringly here ever since.

I’m a writer and a creative writing tutor. My first love is the writing of my novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes, but I also write short stories, serials, articles, courses and writing ‘how to’. I’m the head judge for Writers’ Forum and write two of their columns. I did used to have a proper job, in a bank, but it’s waaaay back in the past and now I earn a living writing/tutoring/judging. Precarious but fun.

I’m a Formula 1-aholic and have a column at www.girlracer.co.uk. I have some magical memories of scuba diving but haven’t felt the urge to dive for a while; I’m learning to play the piano in a desultory way.
Fun fact: there’s a reference to Formula 1 in each of my Choc Lit novels.


Your latest release is called Love & Freedom; can you tell me what it is about?
Honor Sontag leaves her home in west Connecticut and travels to Brighton, England to search for the mother who left her as a baby. She loves Eastingdean, near Brighton, where she rents a bungalow from Clarissa Mayfair. Clarissa’s “little” brother is 6’4” mysterious Martyn Mayfair who doesn’t seem to have a proper job but does have a stalker. Honor goes to work for the stalker, which is unfortunate, and finds herself drawn into several eccentric English lives, including Ru, the stalker’s fourteen-year-old son, and Frog, Ru’s bully. Ru really needs somebody, so I’m glad it’s Honor, because she’s lion-hearted. Martyn Mayfair is fascinated by Honor – but she’s exactly the kind of woman he’s sworn off. So he has to find a way past that. The action also travels to Connecticut for a few chapters because when people get in trouble, they go home. And Honor gets in trouble …


If this book became a movie, who would you see in the leading roles?
Martyn Mayfair would be played by Jared Leto when Jared has long hair brushed forward, and stubble. Not a beard. This is an important distinction, as I hate beards! Nobody with a beard, in my books, ever does well. Honor could be played by the fabulous Julianna Moore – but she’d have to get her hair crimped and be a lighter auburn. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. It’s a good cause.


Could you tell me about a little about all the other books you have written?
My first published book was Uphill All the Way (Transita) but I’d written Starting Over and All That Mullarkey before Uphill. The market didn’t seem quite right for them at the time, although they went into acquisition meetings (ie fell at the final hurdle). But then I found Choc Lit and they publish exactly what I love to write most, and they wanted Starting Over and All That Mullarkey. A book called Family Matters had gone to Robert Hale, meantime, but only in hardback, so I rewrote it as Want to Know a Secret? for Choc Lit. I love my Choc Lit books.

Starting Over is about Tess, who is someone who simply moves on when the going gets tough. She moves to a village in Cambridgeshire – she’s an illustrator so has a portable career – and runs into (literally, ie car crash) Ratty (Miles Rattenbury). She’s been dumped by email by Olly, who she thought she was going to marry, so she’s looking for somewhere to settle down and make friends. Of course, she gets herself in a whole new mess but the crux of the book is whether she’s found something worth sticking around for. By the time she realises that she has, Ratty is … well, you need to read the book. I was in love with Ratty for such a long time – but I’m afraid I was unfaithful to him with Justin from All That Mullarkey. The book begins with the writing being on the wall for Cleo’s marriage – it says, ‘This marriage is over. Love Gav’, and it’s on the bedroom wall – and her having a drunken one night stand with Justin, in reaction.  It’s an awkward spot from which to try and save her marriage but she finds that her marriage is founded on a big fat lie, anyway.

Want to Know a Secret? is slightly different in that I throw Diane into a bad situation and make her react to it. She discovers her husband, Gareth, has been living a double life, and it’s not the kind of double life some men are famous for. The theme of the book is: which is most important, money or family? Diane has no money. James, who has a relationship to Gareth that’s too convoluted to go into here, has lots of money but, also, an alcoholic wife and a fragile, self-harming daughter. Then something happens between James and Diane in the back of his Mercedes, which sort of changes everything. But sort of doesn’t.

I’ve also written a writing ‘how to’ book for Accent Press, it’s called Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction and brings together my experience in writing romantic fiction, my skills as a tutor and my contacts through being a long-term member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine from your books?
I can never answer this question. I love them all. They’re different but equal. Except I love the heroes more than the heroines – or differently, anyway.

What’s coming next from you?
I’m writing a book with a working title of Dream a Little Dream. It’s about Liza, who is the sister of Cleo, from All That Mullarkey. She was far too naughty and sparky to leave as a secondary character, so I rescued her. Unfortunately, she’s had an awful life experience, since All That Mullarkey days. She’s currently butting heads with Dominic, who has had to leave his career as an air traffic control officer as he has been diagnosed with narcolepsy. His marriage has gone down the drain, too, so he’s looking to kind of reinvent himself. It’s an interesting combination!

Any advice for aspiring writers?
I always say two things:
i)    persist. I truly believe that the name for a writer who doesn’t give up is ‘published’. I got some real knockbacks but I didn’t give up and here I am.
ii)    educate yourself. Don’t fall for the line about writers being born and not made. It’s dismissive of our art. Artists, dancers, actors, they all go through years and years of rigorous training and mentoring so it’s unreasonable to suppose that writers don’t to learn their craft. How you choose to learn is up to you. There are courses, classes, books, conferences, forums, talks, magazines … Learn your craft and keep your ear to the ground for market news. Good luck!

Giveaway
1 copy of Love & Freedom
1. Open to all (yes that means international, the whole world)
2. Ends June 27th
3. Just enter or to make it fun
Ask a question, comment on the interview or tell me what you would think about Jared in the role 
(I would love it btw ;)


Love & Freedom was published by Choc Lit on 1 June 2011. You can buy it now or read the first two chapters. And you can listen to a recording of the FREE prequel chapter here.

Check out her website www.suemoorcroft.com and her blog at http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/ for news and writing tips. You’re welcome to befriend Sue on Facebook or Follow her on Twitter.


 ---------------------------
(psssst: My Flash Fic for the week)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Review: Love & Freedom - Sue Moorcroft

Genre: Contemporary romantic fiction
Pages: 319
Published: June 1st 2011 Choc-Lit

New start, new love. That's what Honor Sontag needs after her life falls apart, leaving her reputation in tatters and her head all over the place. So she flees her native America and heads for Brighton, England. Honor's hoping for a much-deserved break and the chance to find the mother who abandoned her as a baby. What she gets is an entanglement with a mysterious male whose family seems to have a finger in every pot in town. Martyn Mayfair has sworn off women with strings attached, but is irresistibly drawn to Honor, the American who keeps popping up in his life. All he wants is an uncomplicated relationship built on honesty, but Honor's past threatens to undermine everything. Then secrets about her mother start to spill out ... Honor has to make an agonising choice. Will she live up to her dutiful name and please others? Or will she choose freedom?

My thoughts:
Should I say it again? Ok I will. I like  Moorcroft's books because they feel so real and at the same time they are sweet and romantic. And they are so British, you have to love that feeling you get how you just want to go in live in the novel.

To the story then. Honor leaves Connecticut because of troubles. I am not going to tell you what since we do not know it at once, but I do understand why she wanted to leave everything behind and start new. She is also looking for her mother who she has never known. Those two things are the troubles in her life. She has had her share of hard times but she still has a positive outlook on life and I really liked her for that. She has a good degree but she is willing to work as anything (except as what she know). Sure she could have told certain people certain things but life is not easy and she acted like anyone would act. To the man then, Martyn, and now I do not want to say more so not to spoil things. Let's just say he is really hunky, he does have a wandering eye (in the past that is) cos he has been hurt so he keeps things casual. But when these two meet they become friends since they are thrown into each other's lives at times. The attraction is there and building but neither wants to act. That is what I like about her books, people take things slow, they talk, they laugh and they fall in love.

And it's England, they eat fish and chips, drink tea and say English things (which of course Honor does not understand what they mean but I have no trouble with. Used to that.) There is just something about a good British novel.

So yes it is a novel about finding your freedom and falling in love. About meeting new friends and doing what you want to do instead of what other people want you to do. And last yes there is drama too, this drama comes in form of a big jerk whose ass I wanted to kick. But you can't let jerks hold you down and no one can hold Honor down any more. 

Conclusion:
This was a lovely story that I read through fast. I was very interested in finding out who her mum was and what happened back home, and of course when she and Martyn would get together. It was sweet, uplifting and real. Moorcroft has not disappointed me so far and I hope she will write many more wonderful novels.

I do recommend her novels. They are not contemporary romance and not quite fiction but a lovely middle thing in my eye.

Rating:
Good

Cover:
Nice

Come back tomorrow cos I am having Sue over for an interview and giving away a copy of this book. And yes worldwide contest this time :D

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin

Series: The Inheritance trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 398
Published: 2010

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.


My thoughts:
This will again be a hard book to review. Why is it that the good ones are always the hardest ones to review?

There was just something about this book. At times I felt like I should be confused by the writing, by the characters or by how it was narrated, but I never was. I was swept away in a dream and experienced this book as the tale it was. It is being narrated by Yeine as she looks back on what has happened and it just feels so good. The writing is flawless and the tone is just right for this kind of book. It is also different on other levels as I usually go for epic quest kind of fantasy. This one takes place during a short period of time. There are a lot of questions regarding her mother’s death and why she left her place as heir to the throne, questions about the Gods that are imprisoned and used as toys for the high and mighty, and questions about why Yeine is there. Politics, love and mysteries is what this book is about.

The book is a part of a trilogy but there is an ending in this book as the next book will be about someone else. I did wonder how there could be an ending as everything pointed to her death. There are two cousins who want the throne, her grandfather does not like her and she spends time with the Enefadeh. That is the Gods who are slaves. You just have to read and find out.

The world, I wanted more. And what I liked the most was the Gods. One rules now after he killed his sister and made the rest slaves to the ruling king. It was horrible. They who once were mighty now have to do everything they are told. And some people are not nice at all. I felt sorry for them; even though I knew they were deadly. Fascinating tale of the gods. 

 I realized that did no even talk that much about the characters because I was so in love with it all. But I should not forget the cast, Yeine who was so strong and would not back down. And the Gods, like the Nightlord, oh he was dark, horrible and wonderful and the same time. Sieh, the god who is a child, the trickster who was so fun and many more that made the book what it is.

C
onclusion:
There you have it. A great fantasy story that was not like any I have read before. In this world of plenty she delivers a fresh story. I highly recommend it and I will certainly read more by this wonderful author. I could not put the book down and I had to keep on reading. 

Rating: 
Go and read it 

Cover:
Ok 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: Alien in the Family - Gini Koch

Series: Katherine "Kitty" Katt 3
Genre: Sci.fi romance
Pages: 457
Published: April 2011

Super-Being Exterminator Kitty Katt and the Alpha Centaurian she loves, Jeff Martini, should be finalizing their wedding plans. But that was before she discovers Jeff is in line to become Emperor back on his home world. Kitty knows she is everything a royal family wouldn't approve of, and is bracing herself for the worst. As it turns out, the royal family is just the beginning. Especially when extraterrestrial Amazonian terrorists are determined to start and end Kitty and Jeff's nuptial festivities with a bang.


My thoughts:
I adore this funny series. Everything about it is utterly silly and amazing. Maybe I should just write a review why I like the series instead of going in to "analyse" (not that I truly do that either;).
You know what, that sounds like an excellent idea.

Reason why you should read Alien in the Family.

1. Jeff Martini.
He is just so so, awww hug attack! Yes he is really jealous and he really wants her. But I love him even when he thinks she flirts with someone else. The poor guy has a lot of emotional trauma since he is an empathy and can feel everything.

2. Kitty
She is funny, sassy and just everything. She says the strangest things, she does the strangest things. She became a commander of the airborne just cos she is so freaking cool. The aliens love her and I would love to have her as my bff.

3. Reader
Kitty would totally run away with him if he was straight. Sadly he is not and therefore they are best friends and he is lovely and funny.

4. Poofs
In this book you meet poofs. What they are, well on the cover you can see something scary. One of the scary things are the poofs I think. So adorable and scary pets.

5. Funny!
I have mentioned it before but this series is just so funny. There is one scene that had my giggling. I will not tell you what happened but it was hysterical. Kitty is the best.

6. Christopher
I have to mention him too. Jeff's cousin and sometimes I am a tiny bit team Christopher too. If she only could get them both. And he glares! I love this glares. I think the only one I did not like was Chuckie, back off Chuckie. Kitty is only for aliens.

Conclusion:
There you have it. This series is funny, cute, there is romance, danger, freaky aliens and you will never sit there and say "I have seen that". Nope it is fresh and weird.

Rating:
I recommend it. So read it


Cover:
Perfect :D The aliens, Kitty, the cat, lizard and dogpeople and a poof

Monday, 13 June 2011

Review: Succubi Like it Hot - Jill Myles + two Myles novellas

Series: The Succubi Diaries 2
Genre: Paranormal romance
Pages: 338
Published: 2010

With a hot new figure, her dream job as an archaeologist, and two gorgeous boyfriends to scratch her seductive Itch — an angel and a vampire — Jackie Brighton is totally getting the hang of life as a succubus. Then she accidentally knocks the pizza guy unconscious with her touch. Great — she's cursed. After striking a deal to get the curse lifted by a crafty demon, Jackie and her best friend Remy take a road trip to deliver a cryptic message to the nation's oldest succubus. Unfortunately, neither of her jealous lovers is talking to Jackie right now, and due to the curse, she's desperate to get her Itch scratched very soon. Their journey gets weirder with every mile — demonic possession, a charming stalker, a cryptic warning — and when they get to New Orleans, Jackie discovers a dangerous catch to her supernatural bargain. Someone wants her dead — again. Can a brainy vixen in a miniskirt outsmart the forces of evil?

My thoughts:
Where to start, these are just so funny! I am not a big PNR fan in a way, I mean the genre is good and I enjoy books but I seldom truly fall for a book. But then there are the exceptions and Jill Myles is one of those.

Jackie is her new succubus self. Hot but with that darn itch, but luckily she has her vampire master Zane and her Serim master Noah to service her. I adore Jackie, she is funny and who can blame her if she can't choose between two gorgeous men! Sorry Noah but I am all team Zane. Noah is ok, sweet and angelic (since he used to be one), and he does love her. But Zane, oh Zane, a girl have to love the wicked vampire. It's the law ;) How I wish she could keep them both. But sadly they are at each other's throat in this one and want her to choose. Which is silly since then the other one can just tell her come here. Since they made her, they are her masters and the have to do everything they tell her to do. Now that sounds pretty kinky, luckily these two love her.

This book is all about the roadtrip. She fights with her men and cos of a curse that could leave her starving to death in the middle of an orgy she has to go to New Orleans and find a way to lift it. With her she has Remy, the best pornstar bff a girl can want. And it's a recipe for disaster as they meet horny men, see the curse go crazy, there will even be death and danger, and Jochaim will make a appearance in Remy (now that sounds bad again. He is this fallen angel whose presence she has inside of her, long story, read book 1.)

And the best thing is that it's so freaking funny. I smiled and laughed and suddenly I was at page 200. I have no idea where the time went. The pages just fly by.

Conclusion:
This is truly a PNR series I can recommend. Go ahead and read it, oh and yes, it's pretty passionate too at times ;)

Rating:
Do read it

Cover:
Hottie!


Next up are two novellas. I read early versions so I can't say what truly happens in the finished ones but the bigger picture is there :=)

Slave to Her Desires by Jill Myles, a Succubus Novella
Paranormal romance
ebook, novella 36k

Immortality is not always a blessing. Turned into a succubus against her will, Olivia Rhodes has lived the past 120 years as a slave to her cruel and vindictive vampire master. She's escaped him, but he's closing in fast. Her only hope? The fallen angel that abandoned her when she was turned, David Thornton. But David's not the cold-hearted monster she's always thought he was...nor did he abandon her. And when Olivia's hatred of David turns to desire, will her need for revenge against her vampire master destroy the one beautiful thing in her life, or will she find a way to make David love her despite the creature she's become? (Note: While this novella is set in the world of the Succubus Diaries, it is not necessary to read the series to enjoy the novella.)

It was darker than the Succubi diaries, but it fitted because her vampire master was a sadistic bastard. But her angel master, him I did like. He was all sweet and a bit clueless of the times they now lived in.


All in all this was a good novella set in the same universe, but with a darker tone, but still having that humour that makes them so good.



Mirrorlight by Jill Myles
Ebook, novella (19k)
Paranormal romance
When Cora Grames is abandoned in England at a haunted castle, she feels very sorry for herself…until she sees the sexy man in the mirror that only appears to her. And when she finds out that she can touch him, he suddenly becomes more than a fantasy. But how can she fight for a man that doesn’t exist in her time? 

This was a hot short read. Cora falls for a man in a mirror. One sexy guy and they try to talk to each other, which do not work. So they try to touch. Oh my, now that is one sexy mirror. Trust me, never seen a mirror like that.

And Cora tries to find out what happened to her mystery man. Fun and hot are the words for this one.

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