Book Chick City - Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 REVIEW: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:01 +0000 House of the Rising SunI have heard good things about Kristen Painter’s writing in the last few years, having had her House of Comarré series recommended to me multiple times (unfortunately that is still somewhere in the mile-high TBR mountain). Naturally, I jumped all over this book when it was released – and not just because of its gorgeous cover, it’s so pretty! Don’t be deceived by the woman on the cover though, we’re led through this tale of murder, mystery and romance by a distinctly male voice. It’s a great start to the series, I must say.

Set in New Orleans in 2068, the book follows part-fae Augustine as he returns to New Orleans after breaking one of the city’s laws regarding humans. Whilst at home, he stays with the woman who had taken care of him since his own mother callously threw him out as a teenager. Olivia is a kind and generous woman who can do no wrong in Augustine’s eyes, but her own daughter, Harlow, is refusing to speak to her until she can get answers regarding her biological father – something Olivia refuses to give, for good reason as it turns out. This unlikely duo meets by accident at first where a passion ignites, and as they are at a masked party neither recognises the other for who they truly are.

Everything comes crashing down when Olivia is attacked by vampires in the city, vampires who shouldn’t have been able to get into New Orleans in the first place – vampires that were there for Augustine. Vowing revenge, Augustine takes up the mantle of the city’s Guardian, a position he has previously refused, and uses all the resources at his disposal he tries to trace the vampires and the man that let them in. Not everyone is happy with their new Guardian, however, and threats seem to surround Augustine. Surviving long enough to take his revenge will be difficult, but surviving Harlow proves to be impossible.

I love Augustine, and he’s a great lead character. I’m not a massive fan of male leads but his voice is one I really connected with and he’s certainly not had an easy past. His mother, despite being part-fae herself, hated the fae parts of Augustine, his grey-tinged skin, his horns (which she kept filed down to hide under his hair), and most especially his ability to possess others – even when he used it to prevent her from being raped. At the start, Auggie appears shallow and a bit of a player, as he’s flippant about important issues and very guarded, but when we see him around Olivia he opens up into a completely different person. Augustine is a powerful fae and the dangers of the Guardian post don’t faze him, even though recently there hasn’t been a Guardian who has lived longer than 3 years. Despite originally taking up the Guardian position as a means to find the men responsible for the attack on Olivia, he takes the responsibility that it entails very seriously and you can feel the love of New Orleans flowing through Augustine. He is the reason I am going to read City of Eternal Night when it’s released, and I hope he remains the same bad-ass with a heart of gold.

I do wonder if the warmth I feel for Augustine stems from the fact that for the first ¾ of the book I really did not like Harlow’s character whatsoever. She’s whiny and seems spoilt and indulged by her wealthy mother. I understand her stance on wanting answers about her father, but to completely dismiss the one parent who has always been there and stood by you over that seems silly. And then to have the nerve to return home only because she’s in trouble and needs money after spurning her mother for years! When Olivia is attacked, what does she do? Does she support the man who is trying to get justice? Nope, she makes life even more difficult for him and at one stage is really bitchy towards him. Harlow tries to get Augustine to give her his half of Olivia’s estate, which would allow her to sell the house Augustine and Olivia called home just to get her the money she needs. Harlow’s priority is Harlow and I hate that in a character. Urgh, this woman is so frustrating, I did not like her at all. Admittedly, some of these issues hit close to home with me so I may be overreacting, and I suppose she does grow up a lot as the story goes on, but that doesn’t mean I like her!

All in all the book is a good, fast paced read with the perfect blend of fantasy, romance and mystery. It has a dark Gothic feel to it which I love and I truly believe it has the potential to evolve in to one of the best Urban Fantasy series out there. My feelings about Harlow aside, I did enjoy House of the Rising Sun and will be on the lookout for book two in this series, as well as digging through my TBR pile to find the House of Comarré series – I have it somewhere around here…

Rating: 3.5 stars

House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter
(Crescent City #1)
Urban Fantasy
Orbit Books (13 May 2014)
Paperback: 403 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: PaperbackKindle

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Eight Things To Do When You’re Locked In Waterstones Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:00:47 +0000 Thoughtful Ramblings

Eight Things To Do When You’re Locked in Waterstones

So Twitter has been talking about the Texan man who got accidentally locked in Waterstones in Trafalgar Square after it had shut for two hours when the staff didn’t realise he was in there. It even made the BBC News. When I heard about it, I thought how much I would love to be in a book store all by myself, I also talked to a few people about it on our Facebook page. So here are eight things you could do to entertain yourself while locked in a bookstore over night :-).

1. Read, read, read and oh my goodness read!

I actually can’t think of anything more delightful than a giant bookstore all to myself. I would happily and contentedly hide away in a cosy corner and read as many delightful books as I could possibly manage :-).

2. Did anyone say cake?

Now, most bookstores have a a coffee shop in-store, you would obviously need sustenance to help you read through the night. Cake, coffee, hot chocolate mmmmm….

3. Build a book fort

I saw somebody tweet this idea and it made me smile, you could totally build an awesome book castle fort, maybe around the cash desk to make the staff’s day a bit more interesting the next day?

4. Re-categorise their entire catalogue

Think of the fun you could have re-categorising every section. Even creating new categories to put books in *evil laugh*?

5. Build a pyre!

Ok, perhaps not the most sensible thing when you’re locked in and all, but all the books you think should never have been published into one happy little bonfire, you need to keep warm after all? ;-)

6. Create the biggest to read pile

Create a giant stack of all the books you’ve ever wanted to buy. Surely you’d be owed a few freebies after being accidentally locked in?

7. Create a book snow angel

Seriously, create a big pile and roll around in the loveliness, enjoying the fabulous new book smell!

8. Scare yourself silly

One horror section, one person alone in a dark bookstore… Just saying!

What would you do if you got accidentally locked in a book store?

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REVIEW: The Rapture by Liz Jensen Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:00:24 +0000 The RaptureIf you knew the world was about to reach its end, what would you do? This is the monumental dilemma faced by the protagonists of The Rapture by Liz Jensen.

For the last five years, the planet has been experiencing changing weather conditions – most noticeably that England is now hot all the time, a definite change from the continuous rainfall we’re all used to. Thrown into the mix of these weather patterns are the increasing probabilities of natural disasters such as storms, tsunamis and earthquakes – and a sixteen-year-old girl who claims she can predict them all. This girl is Bethany Krall, a convicted murderer serving time in a secure psychiatric facility for minors.

Her therapist is our protagonist, Gabrielle Fox, who has been relocated to the facility following a car accident which has left her paralysed from the waist down. She is now confined to a wheelchair and struggling to overcome her own psychological issues related to her recovery and the tragic circumstances of her accident. Getting this job was a stroke of luck as she thought she might never be able to work again, but she soon gets more than she bargained for when she meets Bethany.

Bethany is insane, having brutally murdered her mother and showing no sign of remorse or cooperation with her therapists. They have resorted to ECT, which seems to be working but also induces visions in the teenager’s mind. She sees disasters before they happen, even knowing the exact dates that catastrophes will occur. Of course, her therapists all think she’s mad and that this is mere coincidence, but what if she’s right? Taking her information to a new-found physicist friend, Frazer Melville, Gabrielle begins to question her own sanity and belief in Bethany, as well as feeling an attraction to Frazer that conflicts with her status as a wheelchair user, as she feels sure that she will never find love again.

With the book only being set a tentative five years in the future, I loved how this book could indeed give a glimpse of the future – albeit a bleak one. It made Gabrielle’s dilemma even more problematic, as the disasters Bethany foresees are all natural, with nothing to be done to save the nations that will be affected. Even news of the impending apocalypse is difficult to articulate to the world at large, as who would believe the ramblings of an insane teenager and her paraplegic therapist? It was the lack of belief in their claims that makes the reader ask the same questions about Bethany, about whether she really can predict these events or if everything is just coincidence.

As a protagonist, I found Gabrielle to be highly engaging and unique, as it is rare to come across a novel with a wheelchair user as the main character. The insight into her condition and the way she was treated was really an eye-opener for me, as she has a lot of personal issues to overcome throughout the novel which mostly seem rooted to her paralysis. Primarily, the author deals with how she feels as a woman, or the lack of womanhood, as she no longer feels sexy or attractive and doubts she will ever have sex again or experience that level of closeness with another person. When she finds friendship and more with Frazer, she is overcome by her own emotional response and the further difficulty she faces in getting him to share her belief in Bethany.

For a deranged teenager, Bethany is surprisingly relatable and detestable all at the same time. When we first meet her she is psychotic and spiteful, making fun of Gabrielle’s condition and threatening her with the removal of her wheelchair. She also serves to make not just Gabrielle but Frazer uncomfortable with her perceptions, as she claims to know intimate details about their lives that they have never mentioned in her presence before. As the novel moves along and you get to learn more about why Bethany killed her mother and ended up this way, there is a kind of understanding of her character that lends certain sympathy. Despite this, Jensen cleverly keeps us on our toes by maintaining her unpredictability, making sure that we never know her quite as well as we might think.

I really enjoyed seeing Gabrielle’s relationships with both Frazer and Bethany develop, as in doing so she discovers more about herself and her place in the ever-changing world. As a dystopian novel, this book suitably builds up the fear and real threat of the apocalypse, creating an image of what might happen when it hits. I think for me, the biggest question was whether you’d believe someone on television telling you the world is about to end and to get somewhere safe. The book thus blurs the boundaries between sanity and insanity in a theosophical fashion, really inviting reader engagement with the plot.

The only thing that let this book down for me was perhaps an individual problem with the book, as it failed to hook me within the first few chapters. It took a while before I had truly connected with the characters and the plot of the book, as to begin with it felt like a hard read that requires a lot of engagement to appreciate it fully. Nevertheless, if you love dystopian fiction with a contemporary twist, this book is definitely one to keep you sated and get you thinking about the bigger picture in the world.


Although this book took me a while to get into, once I’d started I found the story to be a compelling and gripping read. It really gets you thinking about what might await the world in future, especially in the wake of global warming. Having Bethany predict the disasters was an intriguing way of setting up the plot and, although she is highly disturbed, you slowly grow to appreciate her insanity and can never anticipate what she might do next. I thought this was an interesting and unique read, highly recommended to those who love dystopian fiction.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Rapture by Liz Jensen
Bloomsbury (4 Jan 2010)
Paperback: 352 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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REVIEW: Dead End by Shirley Wells Fri, 03 Oct 2014 09:00:23 +0000 Dead End by Shirley Wells cover

I always look forward to reading the next book in the Dylan Scott Mystery Series, but this time, Dead End by Shirley Wells provided even more than the usual thrill.

In a storyline that was subtly foreshadowed at the end of the last book, Dylan Scott has begun receiving death threats over the phone, claiming that he will get what’s coming to him. Having built up a long list of enemies in his days on the force and as a private investigator, Dylan has no idea where to begin until he learns of the release of Leonard King, who he caught during a drugs bust several years previous. Lenny is nowhere near as dangerous as his partner-in-crime, Max, but he remains safely behind bars and couldn’t possibly be involved, could he?

Then there’s a conman by the alias of Brad Goodenough who was seducing a wealthy man’s daughter with the aim of making off with her money. Having exposed him for the liar he is, Dylan is surprised to see him crop up again near his office and begins to wonder if he could be involved with the threats in some way. On top of all this is the desire to keep the messages secret from his wife, Bev, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing intensive treatment.

With all this action surrounding Dylan, I was surprised to find the plot was interspersed with chapters from the point of view of Jimmy, a highly disturbed individual who was kidnapping men and murdering their families. These chapters are chilling and engaging, as the kidnappings are carried out in several stages over the course of the book, maintaining a high level of suspense and intrigue. As this happens completely separate to Dylan’s investigations, for the majority of the novel I had no idea how their paths would cross, or even if they would, but all I will say is that Wells weaves an absolute shocker of a finale.

I think I enjoyed the fact that this book wasn’t set in Dawson’s Clough, as even though the Lancashire town has been a special place throughout the series, it isn’t Dylan’s home. With these threats being so personal, it made the prospect of crime seem closer and more real, especially with the troubles being faced by the Scott family. I was sucked in to the separate plots of Jimmy and Dylan, with their separation giving a sense of urgency to the plot, as if both are racing against each other to reach a certain destination, even if we don’t know what that might be.

As always, one of my favourite things about this series is getting inside the mind of Dylan Scott, who always seems to pull a solution or a lead out of the bag at the last minute. He becomes embroiled in solving both the Lenny King case and the Goodenough con, whilst at the same time worrying about Bev. It was his worry for his wife that gave his character further depth in this instalment, as he is desperate not to face the extent of her condition and continues to hope for a miraculous cure. All he can think is that she is too young and fit to be facing the big ‘c’, and seeks solace in his investigations to avoid facing the truth.

Being completely unaware of how the storylines would interact, I became increasingly engaged with the twisted perspective of Jimmy, as we are given an insight into his home life and his murderous tendencies. He ignores his sons, thinking they are too soft, and cannot stand his wife’s ‘nagging’ – even though she only asks him where he keeps disappearing to. Having just been discharged from the army, it is clear that he still has psychological issues to resolve, but it remains unclear for the most part what his victims have to do with his end plan.

Considering how this novel ends, I have no idea where the Dylan Scott Mystery series will go from here, but only hope it will continue to go from strength to strength. Each of the characters lives is thrown into disarray by the end, and I certainly hadn’t seen this particular ending coming. It was so well written that I barely noticed the pages flying by until I had reached the final page, and I can’t wait to see where Dylan’s life will go from there. The Dylan Scott Mystery series has me firmly in its thrall, and I don’t want it to end any time soon.


By far one of the most standout books of the series, Dead End had me on the edge of my seat and dying to know what would happen to everyone’s favourite detective, Dylan Scott. I really had no idea who his mystery caller was, or how the two storylines would intertwine, but the ending was well worth the wait. There is the added tension of Bev’s ongoing cancer diagnosis, which adds a whole other level to Dylan’s emotional stresses, culminating in an ending which may well leave you gasping in shock.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Dead End by Shirley Wells
(A Dylan Scott Mystery #7)
Mystery & Detective
Carina Press (7 July 2014)
Ebook: 268 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Kindle || Amazon US: Kindle

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NEW SERIES ALERT: Desert Dogs by Cara McKenna / Rock Kiss by Nalini Singh Thu, 02 Oct 2014 09:00:56 +0000 NEW SERIES ALERT

Lay it Down by Cara McKenna (Desert Dogs #1)

Signet Eclipse (5 August 2014)
Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK || Amazon US

Lay It Down

Backbreaking days, wild nights, and the hard hum of steel between your thighs…

That’s a life well lived, according to the Desert Dogs—four friends who call Fortuity, Nevada, their badlands home.

Vince Grossier is the self-crowned outlaw king around here. But when Fortuity’s slick new mayor invites a casino development to town, greed isn’t far behind—and it claims Vince’s good friend as its first casualty. With the law turning a blind eye to the mysterious death, Vince must seek his own brand of justice. The pretty photographer hired by the developers might be the key to uncovering the truth. And she’s a temptation too good to pass up.

Finally free of a controlling ex, Kim Paget’s not looking to be taken for a ride—not on the back of some tattooed roughneck’s bike and definitely not in his bed. But when she uncovers evidence supporting Vince’s suspicions of murder, Kim must entrust her safety to a man whose body threatens danger of a whole different kind.

Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh (Rock Kiss #1)

Self-Published (9 September 2014)
Website || Goodreads

Rock Addiction - Nalini Singh

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

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100 BOOKS IN A YEAR 2014: Open Thread for October Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:00:25 +0000 100 Books in a Year Banner

Welcome to the open thread for October’s 100 Books in a Year reading challenge. Please feel free to discuss the books you’re reading, or have read, throughout October and/or link your reviews in the comments so others can take a look. This is a great way to find new books and authors!

I will list here what I manage to read throughout the month as I go along:

So if you’ve read or are reading a book in October that you love/d, or not as the case may be, tell us about it. We would love to know, so get chatting!

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REVIEW: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:00:10 +0000 Fool Moon by Jim Butcher coverAfter reading the first book in The Dresden Files series last year, I decided to jump back in and read Fool Moon by Jim Butcher.

Following the events of the last book, Special Investigations officer, Murphy, has been reluctant to call in Harry Dresden as a consultant, feeling that she can no longer trust him. He repeatedly keeps secrets from her, and in her line of work she needs to know every intricate detail of a case to close it. This time around, when the killings continue to rise, she has no choice but to ask Dresden for his particular brand of expertise.

As the only wizard private investigator around, Harry is quick to notice the abnormalities with the latest crime scene. With the murders occurring at each full moon and some suspicious paw prints found by the body, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that werewolves are responsible. Upon further research into wolf transformation, Harry discovers that there are several ways of becoming a wolf, and that they might be dealing with the most dangerous kind, a loup-garou.

On top of the trouble of locating the wolves, Harry must deal with his personal dramas in the form of his relationships with both Murphy and Susan. He is faced with the task of rebuilding his bridges with the police, as he is placed under suspicion and scrutiny as a result of his withholding information. As for Susan, his sort of girlfriend, he is never sure if she is merely after a story to make her career or actually cares about him. Harry also has the added problem of Chicago’s latest gangster, John Marcone, whose masterful watch over organised crime has led him to seek the possible employ of a wizard for protection.

Although not the strongest of plotlines, this novel repeatedly places Harry Dresden in mortal danger, all in the pursuit of information and the moral good. Whether he has Murphy’s backing or not, he is determined to put an end to the wolfish crimes and regain her trust. There is somewhat of a subtle sexual tension running between the pair, and despite his connection with Susan I cannot help but feel that there will eventually be a spark of romance. I found that I was more interested in Harry’s relationships with the other characters than with the plot, as at times the search for the wolves seemed drawn out or exaggerated, especially as there appeared to be multiple culprits.

I think part of my problem with this book also resided with Harry Dresden as the first-person narrator. The action sequences are impeccably described, but it is the internal monologues which tended to drag and become repetitive. There were only so many times I could hear him describe himself as ‘chivalrous’ or ‘heroic’ in his attempts to save others, especially as he has a dubious attitude towards women and their abilities to protect themselves. I think part of the problem is the exaggerated attempts to make Harry appear macho and masculine, when all I really wanted to read about was how his magic and power were being used.

Whereas Harry’s voice and role is the dominating feature of the book, I found myself longing to know what other characters might have been thinking and feeling, as there are few indications of other’s responses to the action. It seemed to be one fight after another, albeit written well, but this left little time to digest what had happened before jumping straight into another confrontation. I think more could have been done to make the wolves more intimidating, instead of leaving a few unanswered questions about certain characters.

On the whole, I did enjoy this book and found that the life of Harry Dresden is becoming more action-packed and complicated. I can’t wait to see where the story will progress from here, even though I have my issues with him as a narrator. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of other characters, and I have a feeling that this novel is not the last time we’ll encounter the gangster Marcone. I wouldn’t say that there were cliffhangers in this book, but I think there are enough hints (some about Dresden’s parentage) to keep you hooked for the sequel.


This novel pits Harry Dresden up against all manner of werewolves, and explores the transformation process in great depth and detail. I enjoyed the quantity of action scenes, but did find myself becoming a little frustrated with Harry as the sole narrator. I also would have liked more development of characters such as Murphy and Susan, but there were hints thrown in about Harry’s parentage that I can’t wait to explore.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
(The Dresden Files #2)
Urban Fantasy
Orbit (5 May 2011)
Paperback: 368 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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REVIEW: A Dance in Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington Fri, 26 Sep 2014 09:00:45 +0000 A Dance in Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington cover

Warning: Contains spoilers for book one

After the climactic ending to book one, vampire Karl and his newly-turned love, Charlotte, are living happily at the beginning of A Dance in Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington.

Alas, this is not to last for long, as Kristian’s death has upset the Crystal Ring, awakening the vampires he had placed there for the punishment of eternal sleep. One of these vampires is Katerina, Karl’s ex-lover and his closest companion before Charlotte came along. She has been sleeping for forty years, and awakening has left her weak and starving for blood. Karl feels obligated to help her recover to full health, but Charlotte begins to feel excluded from their close bond, becoming further removed from Karl as all his time is devoted to Katti.

Instead, Charlotte seeks solace in the theatre, becoming enamoured of ballet sensation, Violette Lenoir. Her talent can bring any character to life, pouring out her emotion into the audience and capturing Charlotte’s undivided attention. Finding herself in love with the ballerina’s persona, Charlotte begins to grow closer to Violette, infiltrating the dancer’s defences and falling deeper under her spell. This not a romantic love, but one of kindred spirits, and one which Karl struggles to understand or condone, as he is sure it will end in disaster for Charlotte.

On top of all these personal dilemmas, two human brothers, Lancelyn and Benedict, have grown to possess occult powers which allow them to penetrate the Crystal Ring, a realm thought only visible to vampires. Benedict uses his power to draw the newly-awakened vampires to him, which happens to include Andreas, the final member of Karl and Katerina’s beloved trio. Somehow Benedict has the power to control Andreas, making him unable to feed without his permission. There is a long-standing sibling rivalry between him and Lancelyn, with both vying to prove who is more powerful.

Each of these plotlines continues throughout the book, often clashing or interacting with each other as the plot builds to its final conclusion. I was unsure what to make of the story, as for the most part I felt like I was drifting, as I had no idea where the plot was heading or whether all these details were relevant. I thought that it was a bit much to mix together so many different types of jealousy and betrayal, especially as there is a thread of ‘why are we here’ and ‘is there really a God’ flowing throughout the whole book.

I liked that Charlotte’s basic character hadn’t changed in this book, as she is still just as caring and contemplative about her life as before, refusing to take victims without caring for them first. Her love for Karl is obvious, as she is pained whenever they are apart, but at the same time she cannot resist the pull of Violette, even though she doesn’t understand why. I was unsure what to make of her infatuation, as at first I didn’t empathise with her at all and grew frustrated at her obsession. All does become clear by the end, but I think more could have been done to evoke sympathy or understanding with Charlotte.

As for Karl, I felt like his character had completely changed since book one and I found myself growing to dislike him, as he couldn’t see anything wrong in caring for Katerina over Charlotte, and dismissed her feelings as if they were nothing. He is always claiming that their love is strong and powerful and will endure, but I felt like he’d almost thrown Charlotte away to Violette, and didn’t put up a fight for her at all. His worries seemed to eclipse caring for Charlotte, always pursuing his own goals and answers without even considering how she might feel about him putting himself in continual danger.

However, I did enjoy exploring the new characters we are introduced to, particularly Katerina and Andreas. Their relationship with each other and with Karl is complex to say the least, as there seems to be jealousy on both sides and a difficulty to adjust to modern times. Having been asleep for so long, they both have a lot to catch up on, which Katti finds hard to accept, especially when it comes to Karl. She was hoping for a reunion of their trio, and it takes her a while to see that Karl has moved on. Contrastingly, Andreas seems laid back, prepared to go with the flow and see where his allegiance with Benedict takes him. He is not necessarily happy about being controlled, but nevertheless he is a deep character who still has a lot left to be explored.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t captivate me as much as the first one, as I really struggled to get into the plot and couldn’t see what the writer was trying to build up to. I think some of the plotlines were too conflicting and confusing, with some taking too long to come to fruition. At over 500 pages, this is a long book to commit to and I had to keep putting it down and leaving it for a while before coming back to it. It is not the easiest of reads, although it is well-detailed and does have a satisfactory conclusion. If you like more drawn-out plots, then this series will definitely suit you better.


Although I didn’t enjoy this as much as book one, this instalment to the series continues to weave together an intricately detailed plot which seems to anticipate a dramatic climax. For the most part I had no idea what the plot was leading up to, which made the book a hard read and difficult to get into. Although a well-crafted series, this is not an easy book to immerse your self in for long periods of time.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

A Dance in Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington
(Blood Wine #2)
Paranormal Romance
Titan Books (25 Oct 2013)
Paperback: 505 pages

Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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NEW SERIES ALERT: Riverbend by Molly McLain / Veilers by Robin Bielman Thu, 25 Sep 2014 09:00:44 +0000

Can’t Shake You by Molly McLain

Self-Published (2 March 2014)
Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK || Amazon US

Can't Shake You

Lovers to friends to lovers…could it get any more complicated?

One thing Carissa Brandt knows: spontaneity always get her in trouble. Still, she’s gone and jumped head first into an impulsive summer renovation project with her fingers crossed. When her contractor turns out to be a cheat, it seems her only lifeline is the proffered hand of Josh Hudson—the sexy Marine who left her aching for more than their single night together three years ago.

Josh has two hard and fast rules: never mix business with pleasure and don’t look twice at women his friends have dated, much less loved. It makes life in a small town simple—or it would, if he wasn’t harboring a secret with the potential to destroy his good name and the reputation of a woman he can’t get out of his head.

When Carissa finds herself in a bind, Josh’s integrity—both personal and professional—won’t let her fail. Will working together finally extinguish the attraction lingering between them? Or will the smoldering embers of their passionate rendezvous ignite all over again and set aflame the friendships they cherish the most?

Veiled Target by Robin Bielman

Samhain Publishing (22 July 2014)
Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK || Amazon US

Veiled Target

Tracking down Veilers—non humans—is only a sideline for Tess Damon. Vengeance for her fiancé’s murder is her reason for living. But with two botched jobs on her record, if she fails to eliminate her next mark, she’s dead. She’s not afraid to die, but not before she gets even. Too bad fate has a really bad sense of humor.

Hugh Langston, a wolfen half shifter, lives to keep both humans and his pack safe. But when rogue humans kidnap his apprentice, his rescue mission is compromised by a hot-as-hell, kick-ass woman who makes him think only one thing: mine.

Tess tries to ignore her feelings, but temptation trips her up. Especially when Hugh figures out he’s her next target and forces her into an inconvenient alliance that tests all the laws against their attraction. Now, with the line between good and evil getting blurrier by the minute, it becomes clear Tess’s only hope of living to see another day—and finding a murderer—lies with the one man she’s supposed to kill.

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5 STAR GUEST REVIEW: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness Wed, 24 Sep 2014 09:00:07 +0000 The Book of Life - Deborah HarknessIt has been a long wait for fans of the All Souls Trilogy but the story of Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont reaches its conclusion in The Book of Life – and I’m happy to report that this final instalment does not disappoint.

Having returned from their time-walk to Elizabethan London, Diana and Matthew are reunited with their extended family but also find themselves back within reach of their enemies on the Congregation.

Diana may understand more about her powers but she is still struggling to control them as well as trying to conceal her status as a weaver. Can she find anyone to help her now the witches of the past are lost to her?

Meanwhile Matthew has to contend with the conflicting demands of family politics, the Knights of Lazarus and a final, ferocious, figure from his past.

All of the key characters from the first two novels reappear (even some of those who don’t really belong in the twenty-first century, which is a nice touch) and several new characters are introduced, with Hugh’s former partner Fernando fast becoming one of my favourites along with the ever-reliable Gallowglass and the unflappable Ysabeau.

Harkness’s fascination with science also plays a central role once again as Diana’s friend Chris Roberts works alongside Matthew to try and uncover the mysteries that lie within the blood of creatures while the elusive Book of Life finally gives up its secrets with dramatic personal consequences for Diana.

As the action moves between France, America and Italy the reader is drawn into the world of hidden power, intrigue and danger that characterises the de Clairmont family. Will the Covenant stand? Will the family survive their final confrontation with the Congregation and are creatures heading towards extinction after all?


Although this trilogy can be challenging at times, taking in a large cast of characters, some complex scientific ideas and multiple time periods, it thoroughly repays the reader’s careful attention. The lead characters are both immensely compelling and the world that Harkness creates is both believable and fascinating. The All Souls series is a beautiful examination of love versus fear, the destructive power of secrets, the way that difference challenges the status quo and the importance of self-acceptance. It has earned a permanent place on my shelf of favourite reads.

Guest Review by Claire Maycock

Rating: 5 Stars

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
(All Souls Trilogy #3)
Paranormal Romance
Headline (July 2014)
Hardcover: 580 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Hardback / Kindle || Amazon US: Hardback / Kindle

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REVIEW: Deadly Shadows by Shirley Wells Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:00:21 +0000 Deadly Shadows by Shirley Wells

On beginning book six in the Dylan Scott Mystery series, I knew Deadly Shadows by Shirley Wells would return us to the dreary town of Dawson’s Clough, but I hadn’t expected an undercover operation.

Having been dismissed from the police force before becoming a private investigator, Dylan Scott had been working undercover as David ‘Davey’ Young, and was associated with the ruthless Joe Child. Child is known to the police and to Dylan as a dodgy character, who always seems to have an alibi when his enemies turn up dead. There is little doubt that he is behind such atrocious killings, but without proof there is nothing the police can do.

However, having supposedly reformed his character, Joe is now running a refuge in Dawson’s Clough which is based on Christian morals and helps to feed the homeless. The centre is known to have taken in two young girls, Caroline and Farrah, who are now missing with no leads to their whereabouts. At a loss for evidence, the police reluctantly send Dylan into the refuge under his previous guise of Davey Young, in the hopes that he can find some evidence without arousing suspicion. If Child gets a hint that Davey isn’t all he seems, it will be Dylan’s life on the line.

There are few clues to be found around the refuge, but Dylan knows all is not as it seems when it comes to Child’s miraculous conversion to Christian faith. There is a supposedly deaf and dumb gardener, Kennedy, who seems to know more than he lets on, and Child’s wife, Doll, who keeps sneaking off to meet ‘friends’ in town. On top of all that is Dylan’s home life, as his work undercover prevents him from contacting his wife, Bev, who is worrying about her health. Having developed abdominal pain, Bev has been undergoing tests that may or not be cancerous, giving Dylan further stress at his inability to be at her side.

Once again, Shirley Wells weaves an interesting and cleverly constructed mystery, as I truly had no idea what had happened to the missing girls, or whether Joe Child would finally meet his rightful end. I really enjoyed the added element of Dylan being undercover, as for the first few chapters only Davey Young had been introduced, and I was wondering where Dylan was. Needless to say, I enjoyed the twist at the end of the story, as it builds to an incredibly dramatic conclusion with some much unexpected revelations.

I found that there were even more dimensions to Dylan’s character in this book, as we got to see him tested to his limits as he went undercover, taking extra precautions to avoid detection. It also gave an insight into how he would have acted during his police days, a time which is always skirted over due to his bitterness at being dismissed. He also seemed more caring for his family in this book, a trait which has often put me at odds with him. His concern for Bev was more profound towards the end of the story, but he was still concerned about all the time he was missing with his wife and children.

Added to this were the chapters from Bev’s perspective, as we get to see her growing fears for her health and her constant worry for her children. She has a bad feeling about the blood tests and ultrasounds the health centre want to send her for, and just knows it will have bad results. She isn’t sleeping and is desperate for Dylan to come home and comfort her, despite knowing how important this job is to him. I really enjoyed getting more of an insight into her character, as she was largely in the background in previous instalments.

I think this sixth take was one of the best in the series so far, as the story was so well-crafted that there were clues and red herrings coming from all directions. I was desperate to know what had happened to Caroline and Farrah, which was made more distressing due to the segments from Farrah’s father’s perspective. Wells manages to give us an insight from all parties involved, including Joe Child, yet still succeeds in withholding the most vital pieces of information until the conclusion. There were also hints of the next mystery to come, as Dylan and family begin to receive disturbing phone calls that contain threats to Dylan’s life…


This was another standout instalment in the Dylan Scott Mystery series, as we are taken back to his roots as a policeman and get to see another side to his investigative skills. Being undercover was refreshing, and added a new dimension of suspense and fear for his identity being uncovered. I also enjoyed the combination of Bev’s perspective and her fears for her health, as it grounds the plot more and makes Dylan seem more human.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Deadly Shadows by Shirley Wells
(A Dylan Scott Mystery #6)
Mystery & Detective
Carina Press (7 Oct 2013)
Ebook: 212 pages

Goodreads || Amazon UK: Kindle || Amazon US: Kindle

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REVIEW: God’s War by Kameron Hurley Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:00:56 +0000 God's War by Kameron Hurley cover

Beginning the Bel Dame Apocrypha series is God’s War by Kameron Hurley, a new dystopian fantasy series set amidst a never-ending war.

The book begins with heroine, Nyx, having just sold her womb on the black market to earn enough money to get to her assassination target. She is a bel dame, an assassin who kills those who are contaminated and a risk to entire villages and towns. To make sure her targets are dead and the bodies no longer contagious, Nyx has to cut off the heads of her victims, making her deadly and amoral in the process. Added to this is the ongoing war between the districts of Nasheen and Chenja, which has resulted too many casualties for both sides and shows little sign of ending.

At the novel’s beginning, Nyx’s mission goes wrong and earns her a one-way trip to prison, being released a few years later. Dismissed from the bel dame sisterhood, she has formed her own team of bounty hunters and earns her living bringing in targets dead or alive. When she receives an unexpected message from the Nasheenian queen, Nyx is given a target that could potentially end the war, competing against several other bounty hunters. This mission could regain her status as a bel dame, which she is desperate to return to for the prestige of the sisterhood.

Nyx is self-centred in her desire to carry out the assassination, having little care for the crew she has put together and worked with for the last few years. She has a shape-shifter, Khos, with whom she rarely sees eye-to-eye; a ruthless mercenary; a comms technician with too much family loyalty; and Rhys, a Chenjan magician of mediocre ability. As a Chenjan, Rhys is subject to racial abuse wherever they go and prays several times a day. He is the polar opposite of Nyx’s godless behaviour, often keeping her grounded on their mission and providing a firm moral compass.

As the search for their target leads them across the border into more dangerous territory, the action in this book descends into increasing bouts of violence, often quite graphic. Any injury suffered by Nyx or the team can be repaired by the magicians (loss of limbs and organs can be replaced, etc.), with the only irreparable action seemingly being the removal of ones head. I thought that some of these action scenes made the plot more exciting and fast-paced, but at the same time the book became more like a sequence of action scenes with little plot linking them together.

When it came to the protagonist, I found it very difficult to empathise with Nyx, as she was entirely amoral and sexually ambiguous throughout. She would sleep with both men and women to get what she wanted, which most often was her next target. Although she does seem to care for Rhys, I felt that she had little empathy for the rest of her team, and thought that she owned them rather than worked with them. I understood that she was a hard nut and had been bred to be that way, but at the same time she didn’t really soften during the course of the book, and instead didn’t seem to progress as a character.

Instead, it was Rhys who stole the limelight, with several chapters being from his perspective. He was more caring about the welfare of the team than anyone else, as well as dealing with his personal issues and keeping his own secrets. We know little about why he left Chenja, but I highly respected the way he dealt with the racist taunts that followed him, and his devotion to his god and his morals. He made it clear from the outset that he would not resort to killing for Nyx, and instead tries to subtly guide her to the right path, regardless of whether or not she listens to him.

In terms of the plot, I thought that the bounty hunt took a bit of a backseat at times, as there was always another battle looming on the horizon. It also wasn’t made clear why the target was so important to stopping the war, as I felt like we were only given vague reasons or half-truths. These weren’t big enough questions to have me reaching for the next book, as I found that this story didn’t really pull me in at all. It was a difficult read, especially as the opening chapters are very confusing in terms of world building. The reader is thrown straight into this warring environment with little explanation of who or what Nasheen and Chenja are, left to puzzle out the meaning for yourself to some extent.

I would have liked better foundations for this story to be built on, as it seemed to dive too much into the action scenes and not enough into the explanations. There wasn’t an even balance to keep the plot moving, so I struggled very much to associate with the characters or to care about certain demises. The ending is left open for a sequel, but I think it also ends suitably enough that you won’t be desperate for the second instalment. I think that there was a great concept here that got a little lost amidst the fighting, but I think a little more description would make book two worth a read.


I found this book very confusing to begin with, as it throws you straight into the world with little build-up. As a result, I found it difficult to connect with the characters or to understand where they were coming from, but this became easier as the plot moved on. The book seemed to move from fight to fight, so I would hope for a little more character development in the second instalment.

Rating: 3 Stars

God’s War by Kameron Hurley
(Bel Dame Apocrypha #1)

Dystopian, Fantasy
Del Rey UK (2 May 2013)
Ebook: 432 pages

Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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