Book Chick City - Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews http://www.bookchickcity.com Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Sat, 01 Nov 2014 01:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 100 BOOKS IN A YEAR 2014: Open Thread for November http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/11/100-books-in-a-year-2014-open-thread-for-november.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/11/100-books-in-a-year-2014-open-thread-for-november.html#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 01:00:24 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=56249 100 Books in a Year Banner

Welcome to the open thread for November’s 100 Books in a Year reading challenge. Please feel free to discuss the books you’re reading, or have read, throughout November 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 November 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: Hide and Seek by Amy Bird http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-hide-and-seek-by-amy-bird.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-hide-and-seek-by-amy-bird.html#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58979 Hide and Seek by Amy BirdIn a thriller that follows similar trends to Gone Girl, Hide and Seek by Amy Bird evaluates the dynamics between a couple about to have their first child and the secret that could tear their world apart.

The book opens with Will and Ellie Spears attending their 20-week scan for their first child, and discovering that they are expecting a boy. What follows is a trip to Will’s parents’ house to give them the happy news, in which Ellie decides to ask probing questions of her parents-in-law. She has a particular distaste for her mother-in-law, Gillian, who is furiously overprotective of her son and interferes in their lives at every opportunity she gets.

Ellie takes a kind of pleasure from revealing what she knows, as she brandishes an old CD by a pianist named Max Reigate, who has a striking resemblance to Will. Gillian’s shocked reaction to the CD seems to tell Ellie that her presumptions about his parentage are true, but Gillian refuses to acknowledge anything and instead kindly turfs them out of her house. Will struggles to accept Ellie’s theories, instead busying himself with his work researching blood clots on the brain.

However, once the seed of doubt has been planted there are soon many more secrets waiting to crawl out of the woodwork, pitting Ellie and Gillian against each other in protecting Will’s best interests. Tensions between husband and wife also increase, as Will becomes more closed off whilst Ellie continues to keep secrets as her investigation leads her further and further towards the truth. This novel really explores whether the truth does set you free, or whether some secrets are better off remaining hidden.

I really enjoyed seeing the plot of this novel unfold, but from reading the synopsis I was expecting a lot more secrets than I found. I think I wanted there to be something more sinister lurking in the past than there was, with more drama set to unfold. It wasn’t that I wanted Will and Ellie to split up but, despite there being a lot of tension between them, there was never really an argument to relieve the tension or to spark off more questions. It would have given a bit more dynamic to their relationship, as the story is told from both their perspectives so there isn’t much unity in their portrayal.

It was this disunity that made the book problematic for me, as I never felt like Will and Ellie were a unit, but separate individuals entirely. The main issue was that I took an instant dislike to Ellie’s perspective, as she is immediately made out to be manipulative and cunning, intentionally holding back details of Will’s past until she can make the maximum impact possible. I grew to like her slightly more as the book went on, but her role in the story mainly revolves around the antagonism between her and Gillian, and the tricky promise is forced to make at the birth of her first son.

Will, on the other hand, was easier to associate with from the start, but slowly grew more and more detached throughout the story. He became obsessed with Max Reigate and his music, which led to keeping secrets from Ellie that spiralled into further problems. By the end of the book he had a lot of his own issues to resolve, but I found that I could still appreciate his character and wanted to know how he would cope after certain revelations. I think the only problem I had with him was his relationship with Ellie, as there are times when he genuinely cares for her and others where he clearly states he is only doing things to keep her happy and off his case.

Overall, this book was gripping with some great revelations that I hadn’t anticipated and characters that are hard to read. There are some moments that get you thinking about what the truth really means, and whether little white lies are okay if there’s good reason. The plot has a good pace, and some of the characters might surprise you when you learn what lengths they are prepared to go to in order to keep their secrets safe. There were a couple of secrets yet to be explored by the end of the book, but nothing major, leaving you with the sense that Will and Ellie have much to explain if they are to raise their baby safely.

Verdict

A great psychological thriller, this book had many twists and turns but was missing that certain spark to draw me fully into the plot. I found it hard to associate with a lot of the characters, as Ellie is made out to be manipulative from the beginning and yet is supposedly acting out of love by the end. I was expecting the big secret to be more sinister than it was, but I did like the repercussions faced by all involved when Will finally finds out the truth and is left to rebuild his life.

Rating: 3.5 Stars


Hide and Seek by Amy Bird
Thriller
Carina UK (2 Oct 2014)
Ebook: 261 pages

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

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NEW SERIES ALERT: Deadeye by William C. Dietz http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/new-series-alert-deadeye-by-william-c-dietz.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/new-series-alert-deadeye-by-william-c-dietz.html#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:32 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58933

Deadeye by William C. Dietz (The Mutant Files #1)

Ace (27 Jan 2015)
Website || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter


Deadeye

In the year 2038, an act of bioengineered terrorism decimated humanity. Those who survived were either completely unaffected or developed horrible mutations. Across the globe, nations are now divided between areas populated by “norms” and lands run by “mutants”…
 
Detective Cassandra Lee of Los Angeles’s Special Investigative Section has built a fierce reputation taking down some of the city’s most notorious criminals. But the serial cop killer known as Bonebreaker—who murdered Lee’s father—is still at large. Officially, she’s too personally involved to work on the Bonebreaker case. Unofficially, she’s going to hunt him to the ends of the earth.
 
In the meantime, duty calls when the daughter of Bishop Screed, head of the Church of Human Purity, is kidnapped by mutants and taken into the red zone to be used for breeding. Assigned to rescue her, Lee must trust her new partner—mutant lawman Deputy Ras Omo—to guide her not only through the unfamiliar territory but through the prejudicial divisions between mutants and norms…

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REVIEW: The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-the-uncertain-places-by-lisa-goldstein.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-the-uncertain-places-by-lisa-goldstein.html#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:00:51 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58791 The Uncertain Places by Lisa GoldsteinA fantasy novel that mixes fairytale and reality, The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein is the story of one man who finds himself involved with a family cursed for generations.

Berkeley student, Will Taylor, is introduced to the Feierabend sisters by his best friend, Ben, who is dating Maddie Feierabend. The family are mysterious and successful, blessed with a good luck and posterity that has lasted for generations – their family vineyard even profited during the Prohibition, avoiding prosecution for bootlegging. When introduced to Maddie’s sisters, Livvy and Rose, Will takes an instant shine to Livvy, determined to date her.

He succeeds in gaining Livvy’s affection, with the pair quickly falling love and Will even beginning to share in some of the family’s luck. However, the luck of the Feierabend family comes at a price, as one child out of each generation is chosen to fall asleep for seven years in payment to the queen of the other realm. Of course, the one chosen this time around is Livvy, and Will desperately attempts to free her from the otherworld and break the family bargain.

In doing so, Will risks jeopardising their good fortune for love, in the hopes that Livvy won’t hold it against him when she wakes up. He must delve deeply into the supernatural magic behind the bondmaid promise, but soon learns that breaking a bargain with the other realm is more difficult than it looks, as they will do anything to keep the Feierabends in their clutches.

I found this book to be a slow burner, as it takes a while before it really gets going enough to draw you in. The opening of the novel is more about establishing the relationship between Will and Livvy and his introduction to the weird and wonderful world of the Feierabends. However, as the plot continued I found that I enjoyed the book more and more, as it explores the history of the family and how the bondmaid agreement was first formed. It is also interesting to see the effects on the family when a bondmaid is taken, as during the seven years they do not age and struggle to readjust to their changed world.

As a main character, Will was relatable and steadfast, always prioritising the needs of others over his own. His desire to save Livvy is his strongest drive, and it was admirable to watch his efforts as he tries everything he can think of. I thought that he was the most likable character of the book, as some of the Feierabends appear superficial at first glance, accepting the bondmaid deal if it means good luck. At times Will can be a little too preoccupied with what’s ‘good’, and I would have liked to see a little more recklessness from him.

There isn’t too much to say about the other characters in the book, as they are hardly featured on in comparison to Will. We get the impression of how caring and affectionate Livvy is and how self-obsessed Maddie can be, but we see very little of Rose or the other Feierabends until the end of the book. I would have liked a little more involvement from the other characters, especially as they each have their part to play towards the end and it would have increased the feeling of empathy.

I really enjoyed seeing the interactions between the otherworld and the real world, but I think a little more explanation would have been necessary to fully appreciate what was happening. At times it was like jumping from one bizarre scenario to another, so a little more world building would have been nice. Aside from this though, I really enjoyed the book and would be interested to read more by Lisa Goldstein in the future.

Verdict

A fantasy novel inspired by folklore and fairytale, this novel was interesting to read once the bondmaid legend had been established. It took a while to get going, but I warmed to the characters and thought the plot was tied up well. Although there were some instances that were drawn out and confused the plot more than necessary, I nevertheless found this to be an intriguing read and unlike anything I had read before.

Rating: 3.5 Stars


The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein
Fantasy
Tachyon Publications (15 June 2011)
Paperback: 237 pages

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

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REVIEW: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-night-broken-by-patricia-briggs.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-night-broken-by-patricia-briggs.html#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:00:08 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=59009 image

I love the Mercy Thompson series. Night Broken might be the book eight, but the writing is still crisp, the action thrilling and even though Mercy is now married, the romance is as engaging as it’s ever been. The love between Adam and Mercy is awesome, they are what true love is all about.

I said in my review of Frost Burned (book seven), that it was better than River Marked (book six) and Night Broken continues in this vane, it is in back on par with earlier books in the series. The writing wrapped around me like a cosy and well loved blanket.

The story begins with a random call from Adam’s ex wife Christy, in trouble and in need of help. Adam being ever the gallant and Christy being the mother of his daughter he cannot say no. Inevitably, Mercy takes it on with dignity and ends up being sucked into the middle of the chaos.

The villain comes in the shape of a volcanic God. Well, Adam and Mercy aren’t ones to turn down a challenge now are they?! Which gives us some great crazy, fire-tastic action scenes. Briggs never fails to deliver these and as always they are page-turningly gripping.

What works well in the book, is that you have the big villain and then you have Adam’s ex-wife. Who, while not a villain, creates a focus in the book for the reader to love to hate. You might have disliked her from a distance before, but get ready to hate her. I mean seriously, want the woman to die an evil and nasty death kind of hate. All I can say is believe in Mercy ;-).

Favourite characters return, got to love Coyote! I’m always a fan of Warren and Kyle and also Honey’s character appears to be developing really interestingly too. Get ready to meet a new distant-ish relative of Mercy’s, who I hope we haven’t seen the last of.

Briggs manages to create believably in nearly every book a situation where while you believe that ok, she surely wouldn’t quite do it to the series, but…. the feeling that either or Adam or Mercy might not quite survive the next big villain. The love, the desperation and the how are they going to do it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

What would I have improved? Honestly? Very little. Maybe a teensy longer ending. A little more conclusion around some of the characters. But, it’s not like I’m not going to buy and read the next book, so I guess I’ll find out soon enough!

The overriding long series story arc is also growing. The exclusion of the Fae, their place in society, where will the werewolves sit in this? Then of course there’s the vampires. In addition there is also the inter pack politics and Mercy’s role in the pack. Briggs is developing this nicely as the series continues and I, a series long fan cannot predict where it’s going to go. There are open storylines with Mercy and the vampires and Mercy and the Fae which are concluded enough to keep us happy, but not quite enough to leave us fully satisfied.

Verdict

Love this series! The Mercy Thompson series is why I love urban fantasy so much. Patricia Briggs is a great writer and she continues to show us why so many readers keep coming back. Mercy is one tough coyote shifting heroine and Night Broken is another super addition to an excellent series.

Rating: 4.5 Stars


Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
(Mercy Thompson #8)
Urban Fantasy
Orbit (11 March 2014)
Ebook: 352 pages

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

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Weekly Roundup – 26th October 2014 http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/weekly-roundup-26th-october-2014.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/weekly-roundup-26th-october-2014.html#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 22:00:06 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=59063 Weekly Roundup Banner

Hi Guys! Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s the low down on what happened at BCC this week…


FEATURES & REVIEWS



LAURA’S ROUNDUP


Shifting Shadows

Phew, it’s been a while since I’ve done a roundup! About 5 months at a guess! My new daughter has been keeping me busy,  but I have really missed reading and blogging. I’m hoping to have a bit more time to get back into the swing of things.

I’ve read a few books in my absence, not as many as I would have liked. My favourites have been Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh, Play and Lead by Kylie Scott and Night Broken by Patricia Briggs. I would heartily recommend all of them.

I am currently reading Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs which is a compilations of short stories from the Mercy Thompson world. Some stories are better than others, but so far I have enjoyed all of them.


BOBBY’S ROUNDUP


AshesHi, all! It’s been a while. Although I’ve been suffering a lot from reading slumps recently, I’ve made a concerted effort to read which seems to be paying off. Most recently I finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which I had never been particularly bothered about reading but am really glad I did. I also recently read Owned by Fate by Tessa Bailey and can’t wait for the second in the series, Exposed by Fate, to be released on the 27th.

I’ve now started Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick which is a good read to get me into the Halloween mood and is really gripping although I haven’t been scared yet. On the off chance that it doesn’t manage to frighten me, I’ve bought a couple more Halloween-friendly reads from Amazon so I know what I’ll be doing next Friday!

I hope you all have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween for next week!


HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?


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REVIEW: The Darkness of Shadows by Chris Little http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-the-darkness-of-shadows-by-chris-little.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-the-darkness-of-shadows-by-chris-little.html#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:00:13 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58678 The Darkness of Shadows by Chris LittleThe basic premise for The Darkness of Shadows by Chris Little is that protagonist Natalie is out to murder her father.

This is how the book begins, throwing us straight into the action without knowing who, what or why, even leaving a description of Natalie until a later chapter. It is a while before we learn that she walks with a cane, and longer before we are told that this down to a knee injury from years previous. However, getting back to the issue at hand, she is determined to kill her father, who dominated her life for so long and made her live in misery at his hands.

However, when she comes face to face with him for the first time, she is too shaken to pull the trigger on her gun, allowing him to get the better of her and put her in hospital in a critical condition. She is saved by her best friend, Val, who vows to help her in the pursuit of her father, having been a close family friend for years and seen some of the damage he has caused to Natalie. With him threatening to hurt her close friends, Natalie is more determined than ever to put an end to the man who made her life hell for so long.

After their plot is established, the plot starts to get a touch more crazy as magic and the supernatural are weaved into the story. Natalie’s father is supposedly a Necromancer, able to raise the dead, whilst there are also Healers and Protectors featured throughout the novel. Her father wants to finish what he started with Natalie, as the scars he etched onto her back form the beginning of an ancient ritual which will wreak havoc on the world as she knows it…

Summing up this novel has proved difficult for me, as it was a fairly short and quick read, with a complex plot crammed into the short space. That said, the plot only seemed complicated because of the lack of description and definition of the supernatural that the author wanted to create. The magical elements were not properly introduced until at least a quarter of the way through if not more, making it difficult to view the novel as an urban fantasy. Until this point, I thought I was dealing with a teenage, angst-ridden heroine and her daddy issues, despite Natalie supposedly being in her thirties.

She is not the most forthright of heroines, especially considering how many times she gets injured or in trouble. I think her knee injury and cane are used as an excuse more than anything else, as she constantly reiterates how she is not as agile as everyone else and cannot handle the same situations. She was laced with self-deprecation and little confidence, which did not make her a particularly intriguing heroine to read. I thought she was closed off, which was understandable given her upbringing, but as a reader I thought we could have been given the bigger picture much sooner, even if she was distanced from other characters.

It was her relationship with Val that was a saving grace for this book, as Val is bright and bubbly and makes a difference to whatever scene she’s in. She protects Natalie no matter what, and they share a very close, sister-like bond of loyalty and dependability. I liked how they both tried to protect each other from the evil father figure, but despite this they still didn’t appear to be a threat. When the final confrontation comes, they are like two little girls scared of shadows rather than strong, competent women.

As much as I enjoyed the writing at times, there were other instances when too much bad humour was used in an attempt to lighten the mood. For example, there are jokes about small people being asked which of the seven dwarves they are, and the book even opens with such a joke. I understand humour being used in the real world to diffuse tension, but at the start of a book I’d rather be drawn straight into the plot rather than a one-liner. It made this into a novel that I could take or leave, as it was perfectly readable, I just had problems with the characters and plot. If the supernatural had been introduced earlier, or characters explained more fully, then I think I would have enjoyed this tale a lot more. The book is left open for a sequel, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series.

Verdict

To be honest, this was one of those books that I could take or leave dependent on my mood, as I found it hard to follow in places and the characters were difficult to associate with. There was very little scene setting to establish the normal lives of Natalie and Val before the supernatural kicked in, and I found that they acted a lot younger than they were supposed to be. The relationships linking characters are exploited to the maximum, with so many betrayals that they become commonplace rather than shocking.

Rating: 2.5 Stars


The Darkness of Shadows by Chris Little
Urban Fantasy
Rogue Gargoyle Books (2 Aug 2013)
Ebook: 202 pages

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

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NEW SERIES ALERT: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/new-series-alert-the-beautiful-ashes-by-jeaniene-frost.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/new-series-alert-the-beautiful-ashes-by-jeaniene-frost.html#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:00:24 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58996 NEW SERIES ALERT


The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost (Broken Destiny #1)

Harlequin (26 August 2014)
Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK || Amazon US


The Beautiful Ashes

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn’t mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn’t: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

 


 

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Rebecca’s Coveted Releases & TBR for October http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/rebeccas-coveted-releases-tbr-for-october.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/rebeccas-coveted-releases-tbr-for-october.html#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:07 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58942 Hello and welcome to a new monthly feature here on BCC. Each month I will be sharing a selection of releases I’m most looking forward to, as well as giving you all an insight into what is on my TBR pile for that month. I’d love to hear if you’re anticipating the same titles as I am!


COVETED OCTOBER RELEASES


The most exciting books I’m hoping to get my hands on this month are:

1. The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler SzarlanA mysterious sounding book to get you ready for Halloween, The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan sounds like a chilling thriller that will feature secrets, magic and mystery. In your typical haunted house setting, an old house sits surrounded by forest and Reve Dyer hopes that this will be the place to keep her children safe. However, a mysterious figure has haunted Reve for over a decade and now she knows that they are on her trail once more. Hawley, the town where the magic of her ancestors reigns, might be the answer to all of her problems, if only she can unlock the secret of the Hawley Book of the Dead. This book sounds like a perfect read for the Halloween season, with a suitably creepy setting and the promise of ancestral magic to create a good grounding for a mystery.

Release date: 23rd October, Cornerstone

2. I’ll Be Watching You by Beverly Barton

I'll Be Watching You by Beverly BartonThis might not be a horror novel, but a dose of real life crime can be just as thrilling for a Halloween fright-fest. I’ll Be Watching You by Beverly Barton takes stalking to the next level, as Ella has been receiving a series of hand-delivered letters that promise vengeance, and that someone is coming for her sooner or later. She is left scared for her life, desperate to put an end to this nightmare and discover just who is sending her these letters. In her despair, she joins forces with a man who has his own demons to battle, and who should come with his own danger warning. Just reading the description of this book, I’m desperate to know who is stalking Ella and why, as I can’t resist a good crime novel! I also want to know more about this male hero who has his own secrets, so I can’t wait to get stuck in to this title.

Release date: 9th October, Avon

3. Hide and Seek by Amy Bird

Hide and Seek by Amy BirdMy mystery and thriller title this month comes from Hide and Seek by Amy Bird, published by Carina UK. Will and Ellie Spears have built the perfect life together, as happy as it is possible to be in a marriage. However, one day something is let slip, a discovery is made and their perfect lives come crashing down around them. Acceptance gives way to a frantic and obsessive search for answers, with the revelation that families lie, people keep secrets and the truth can be the most dangerous of all. This psychological suspense begs the question of whether the truth is really worth risking everything for, and I can’t wait to find out what big secrets are contained within the pages. The cover looks particularly interesting with the domino effect, and I can only imagine that these secrets are going to spiral out of control on their own roller coaster ride…

Release date: 2nd October, Carina UK

4. The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper

The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona HarperThis past month I have been indulging myself in a host of Christmas romance novels and am now feeling rather festive. I’m looking forward to continuing my reading trend with The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper, a suitable accompaniment to the impending task of Christmas shopping! The main character, Nicole Harrison, works as a proposal planner and helps to stage YouTube worth marriage proposals for her clients. This time around she is hired by the girlfriend of Alex Black, a man who she once shared a steamy New Year’s kiss with and hasn’t been able to forget since. If she lets herself fall for his charms her reputation and business could be ruined, not to mention the heartache for Alex’s girlfriend. I like that she spends all her time making plans for other couples, and can’t wait to see what Nicole will do when faced with something that is beyond planning. Is Alex really the love she’s looking for?

Release date: 3rd October, Harlequin Mills & Boon


OCTOBER’S TBR


The books that I’m hoping to read throughout October from my ever increasing TBR pile are:

1. The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich

The Time Roads by Beth BernobichI’ve been absent from the steampunk genre for the past couple of months, so I’m very much looking forward to delving straight back in with The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich. Set in the powerful empire of Éire, a nation many now look to for stability and reassurance, this book follows three different characters who each sound intriguing and strong in their own ways. First there is the Queen of Éire, Áine Lasairíona Devereaux, who balances Court politics whilst pursuing the Crown’s goal of furthering scientific discovery, forced to choose between her heart and duty to her country. Then there is the mysterious Síomón Madóc, who is trying to discover who is murdering Éire’s mathematicians and whose answer lies in the future – if only he could there. Finally, we have Aidrean Ó Deághaidh, a spymaster who goes to the kingdom of Montenegro to investigate rumours of unrest but is plagued by visions of a different timeline. It definitely sounds like this novel as a complex plotline, but I’m looking forward to unraveling the mystery of Éire and delving into each of these characters’ lives.

2. Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery

Yours for Christmas by Susan MalleryAfter reading Christmas on 4th Street last month, I’ve decided to dive into another Christmas novella by Susan Mallery, Yours for Christmas. This time around the story is about former NFL player, Kenny Scott, who has recently moved to Fool’s Gold seeking the quiet life. He shares a connection with single mother, Bailey Voss, but refuses to let himself get too close to her after his past losses. However, he can barely stay away from Bailey and her daughter, with the Christmas season approaching and bringing them even closer together when they volunteer to run a toy drive. I enjoy reading about couples like this, where both have a reason not to get too close and yet find themselves falling in love anyway. I can’t wait to get stuck in to this title, as I really enjoyed my previous visit to the Fool’s Gold series.

3. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

The Winter Palace by Eva StachniakThis book has been sitting on my TBR pile since last Christmas, so I think it’s about time I was able to read it! The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak is the story of the girl who would become Russia’s Catherine the Great, and begins with Polish orphan, Varvara, arriving at the glittering palace of Empress Elizabeth in St. Petersburg. She is taught in arts ranging from lock-picking to love-making, learning to stay silent and listen. Then Sophie arrives, a young princess from Prussia who is a prospective bride for the Empress’ heir. Instead of spying on her, Varvara becomes her friend and confidante, helping her to navigate the world of court without causing upset. However, Sophie is destined to become the notorious Catherine the Great and her ambition will stop at nothing to get what she wants…

4. Double Jeopardy by Linda Wisdom

Double Jeopardy by Linda WisdomThis was on my Coveted Releases list last month, so I’m keen to get reading Double Jeopardy by Linda Wisdom. A romantic suspense novel all about stalking, this book takes the dashing Assistant District Attorney, Josh Brandon, and throws him together with the newest addition to the town, Lauren Hunter. Lauren is the new Medical Examiner and attractive to boot, making her a prime target for Josh’s affections. However, he has been plagued by a mystery woman for the past few months, and seeing him with other women is starting to make her increasingly angry. Lauren is no different, and soon becomes his stalker’s newest target. Can he discover her identity in time to protect both Lauren and himself? I can’t wait to find out!

5. Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie JohnsonI still can’t resist a good Christmas read in preparation for our annual SmeXmas event here at BCC, so this month I’m diving into Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson. Christmas Eve should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life, as she was set to get married at a remote Scottish castle to the handsome man of her dreams. However, just hours before the ceremony she catches her husband-to-be with his hands up her bridesmaid’s skirt! Fleeing in the middle of a blizzard, Leah ends up at the nearest cottage she can find and falls into the arms of the handsome man inside. When Rob Cavelli finds a gorgeous bride on his doorstep, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his home for Christmas. This book sounds a bit different to typical Christmas romance novels, so I can’t wait to get reading.

I hope you’ve enjoyed me sharing my Monthly Releases and TBR, what releases do you plan to get your hands on in October?

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REVIEW: House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-house-of-the-rising-sun-by-kristen-painter.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-house-of-the-rising-sun-by-kristen-painter.html#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:01 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58407 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 http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/eight-things-to-do-when-youre-locked-in-waterstones.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/eight-things-to-do-when-youre-locked-in-waterstones.html#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:00:47 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=59020 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 http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-the-rapture-by-liz-jensen.html http://www.bookchickcity.com/2014/10/review-the-rapture-by-liz-jensen.html#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:00:24 +0000 http://www.bookchickcity.com/?p=58665 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.

Verdict

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
Thriller
Bloomsbury (4 Jan 2010)
Paperback: 352 pages

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

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