Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Fairy Tale for the Newages...

Liesl and Po – Lauren Oliver
Hachette – Available NOW!

Adorable, beautiful, hopeful, gritty, enchanting and simply ineffable – are some of the words I would use to describe this new offering from Lauren, I mean seriously is there a genre this girl can’t do??

Liesl and Po is the story of a brave little girl who after losing her Dad is locked in the attic by her evil stepmother. Enter a curious ghost (gender unknown) and his(?) shadowy pet sidekick (creature unknown) who befriends liesl, in the best manner that a ghost can and tells her that her father is on ‘the other side’ and cannot rest and ‘move on’ until he gets home.

So Liesl with Po in tow sets out on a grand adventure to deliver and scatter her beloved father’s ashes under the willow tree of their old home, during her journey she encounters Will an Alchemist’s apprentice (and possibly the most adorable character I have ever had the privilege to read) and together they dodge the authority and various baddies that are out to catch them for separate yet nefarious reasons and make allies in the most peculiar of places.

Make no mistake this is a proper Fairy Tale in the vein of Dickens or Hans Christian Anderson and I loved it to pieces! It’s a fantastic tale for Children (and adults) of all ages and I will certainly be keeping it safe to read to mine.

Australian Cover Art - The best Magic of all!

Monday, 12 September 2011

House of Comarré Book 1

Blood Rights - Kristen Painter
Little, Brown - Available NOW in all good bookstores!

A brilliant debut fantasy series that's off the charts awesome!

With a brand new twist on the Vampire/feeder relationship where ‘noble’ Vampires can purchase the bloodrights for feeding on delectable ComarrĂ© – humans who have been bred through the ages to serve and satisfy the Vampire thirst.

The story centres around one such renegade Comar Chrysabelle and her very reluctant patron/protector vamp Malkom who has more than enough of his own problems, eternally cursed – twice, for instance.

There is also a whole host of colourful characters and other demonic creatures to keep things interesting as well as some really evil bad guys that seem to revel in the beauty of pain (albeit someone else’s).
This story has all of my favourite features in a good vamp fantasy – interesting plotline, black humour, hot chicks trained in weaponry and lots of lust, however a little less angst and some more action would be great....perhaps in book 2, we shall see.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Dreaming of Italy

Fragment of Dreams – Phillipa Fioretti
Hachette – Available now in all good bookstores!
This feisty romance novel is set in equal parts on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and steamy Italy so when I planned my holiday to Milan this year there was no question as to which book I would begin my holiday with!
The parallels between my life and this novel were uncanny and I was drawn whole heartedly into both the familiarity and the unfolding adventure of this charming tale.
The story follows Lily, owner of an antiquarian bookstore and a schnauzer named Otto living in Paddington (I know, my dream life right?) and her adoring Russian boyfriend William who has just been offered a dream job in Rome with an old friend and associate as an antiques consultant helping people complete their personal collections (seriously I want their lives!).
Lily is planning to move to Italy with William once he is settled and she organised when a timely visit from her sister Poppy with a letter found from estranged family members begins a series of events that will see William (falsely?) accused of antique theft and Lily fighting for her love amongst devious intentions, a flirty tawney Italian and the misguided opinions of others planting seeds of doubt and mistrust for them both.
This was a fun and enjoyable read with well defined characters, gorgeous fashion details and an interesting plot line – perfecto for my holiday frame of mind and the beauty is I haven’t yet read Phillipa’s first novel “Book of Love” so I can enjoy the company of Lily again when I need her.
Grazie Phillipa for such a perfectly timed book!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Hot off the press!

Finally the new cover art for Wolfsbane and Nightshade, which I'm sure you'll agree is quite the improvement! Stay tuned for my review on Wolfsbane coming soon

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tales of Woe Part II

America Pacifica - Anna North
Hachette - Little, Brown
Available : August 2011

It just so happens that I have read two post apocalyptic stories in a row and while their tales of woe are similar the overall message has been quite different....

The first, in Steven's world was due to a super/natural disaster opposed to Anna's self imposed version where the world has been thrown into an Ice Age caused by human abuse of the environment - Global cooling rather than warming. I must say I find this idea far more frightening than the prior, as it represents a future we could share.

The story is told from the perspective of 18 yr old Darcy Pern but make no mistake this is NOT a YA title as the themes are quite confronting including prostitution, drug use, suicide and poverty to name a few. Darcy and her Mum share a very close and sheltered relationship which is quite beautiful in its own personal way, living close to the outskirts of the poor and depressing island civilisation called America Pacifica where most bar an elite few must struggle for survival with low level jobs and meagre food supplies consisting almost entirely of reconstituted Jellyfish and seaweed.

The main theme and one that I found most interesting was the greed of humanity and our inability to adapt and move with nature, instead clinging to the things that are familiar and comfortable - keeping them from creating a society where the majority could be happy and provided for rather than the few.

This is a gritty debut novel that despite the violence, sadness and all together hopelessness I experienced reading it I couldn't put it down. There is also the untapped story of those who were left or chose to stay on the mainland to adapt to the new subzero climate - I hope that story comes soon....

Tales of Woe part I

The Broken Ones - Steven M Irwin 
Hachette - Little, Brown
Available: September 2011

When I first started reading this as a blind proof my initial thoughts were: This is disturbing on a deep and residual level.... however as disturbing as the events were I still didn't feel like putting it down, and that I think says something - it could be that I am one sick individual or (and I'm hoping this is the case) that Steven's writing is beautifully crafted and his main character Detective Oscar Mariani's journey is completely compelling.

This is an almost post apocalyptic tale set in Queensland Australia near the present day and three years after an event called Grey Wednesday - a day that changed the world forever, with a reversing of the magnetic fields in the polar ice caps wreaking havoc on the seasons and digital devices slowly halting industry, produce growth and descending the world into chaos. Apart from all of this (as if it wasn't bad enough) there is the unwelcome appearance of ghosts, your own personal ghost to be exact that 'haunts' you for all your waking hours driving some into desperation and despair. This is where Oscar appears - part of a division created to investigate the truth in spectre related killings "My ghost made me do it..." 

The world that Steven paints is bleak, dirty, chaotic and smelly. The plot line is anything but predictable as Oscar follows one morsel of a clue to the next in a seemingly unrelated series of events and finds something so much deeper than I was expecting and ends with a warmth that I thought impossible in the start.

This is a book that haunts and stays with you for days after reading, get into it - you wont be disappointed!  

Sunday, 15 May 2011

I wanna be part of the Pack

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Hachette - Atom
Available: NOW

"I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden"

From the opening line there is never any doubt about the strength and conviction of our lead character Calla, an Alpha female and the next in line to be pack leader.

We enter into a mysterious world of Magicians, Keepers and packs of Shapeshifting wolves who are solely responsible for protecting the Keepers and their places of power - but what I loved most about this storyline was that it didn't give everything away immediately, it let you come to speed with the scenario as the story progressed and took you deeper and deeper as the layers became more varied and the lines ever more blurred. 

I relished having such a fierce and independent voice to enjoy and was just as torn as she was between her call to duty or fighting for the freedom to follow her heart. On the one hand she is destined to join with Ren the leader of the opposing pack, uniting the Nightshades and the Banes and creating a brand new pack to ensure the future of all...on the other hand there is Shay, a new guy in town who is determined to shake up the status quo and take Calla for himself!

The group dynamics in and between the two packs is brilliant and the reluctant joining after years of competing is at times quite comical. 

Spoiler beware: the ending is a huge cliff hanger and leaves you with far more questions than answers but the good news is that book 2 is coming in August so those of you who haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet won't have to wait and will also benefit from the great new cover art!

Cover art above is the Australian original (left) but I prefer the one on the right so thought i would include it too, I will post the new art as soon as it becomes available.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A Love affair with India

Tiger's Curse  - Colleen Houck
Hachette - Hodder
Release date: June 2011

Let me start by saying that I have never been enamoured with India so, a story that is set in large part in India didn’t really thrill me to pieces... I also must admit that the main reason I picked up this particular story was due to the gorgeous cover and those piercing eyes of the Tiger (yes I have been known to judge a book by its cover, sorry). That said, I came to find the storyline inventive and exploring the myths and legends of India’s past gave me a glimpse into the beauty of the Indian countryside (they do a lot of trekking!), the people and in particular the faith.
Now to the storyline: Our adventure kicks off when we meet Kelsey Hayes a self described ‘average’ young woman who has just graduated from high school and looking for a summer job before a start at college. We also learn that Kelsey is in the care of a lovely couple who are her guardians having lost both of her parents in a car accident and her grandmother a few years previous.
Enter a two week stint at the Circus that just rolled into town, here she meets Dhiren the circus's mild mannered white tiger, Kelsey starts to work closely with ‘Ren’ providing his meals and watching as he is trained, naturally her fascination is this awesome animal grows and she finds herself spending all her free time providing him with company while she chats and reads to him. As her time at the circus is winding down the owner is approached by a well mannered Indian man Mr Kadam who wishes to purchase the tiger for a large sum with the hope to release him in a Tiger Reserve in India owned by his wealthy boss. He also requests that Kelsey accompany Ren to smooth his transition (all expenses paid of course) as his trainer Mr Davies cannot leave the circus for such a large stint of time. Naturally she agrees and I spent the next few chapters waiting for the proverbial penny to drop, and drop it does....
It turns out that Ren is in fact an immortal prince from a time long past that was trapped in the body of a tiger, only able to change back to human form for 24 minutes in each day and Kelsey holds his only chance of breaking the curse and returning him to human form for good. While Kelsey struggles to coincide her tiger with the charming man he keeps turning into and her resulting (and not at all one sided) emotions they must also do battle with ancient forces hell bent on keeping Ren trapped as a tiger forever.
Colleen originally self published this as an e-book on Amazon where it was understandably snapped up by many avid YA readers after which she was approached to publish. You can certainly feel that this is a debut novel with the story starting out something like a diary entry, however as the story grows so does she as she finds her feet. I am positive book 2 and beyond will see her flourish and I will certainly be picking up them up!
Tiger's Quest (Book 2) Also available June 2011.  

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Immortality at a Price

Immortal Beloved – Cate Tiernan
Hachette - Available NOW

I vastly enjoyed this and the new twist on the immortal theme, where immortals are born rather than 'made'.

I loved the depth and breadth of the past that was divulged by the main character Nastasya (Nasty to her friends) some of it dating back 400 years to her immortal childhood and adolescence - it really gave you a sense of time and place and the vastness that it means to be immortal, a concept that is often skipped over in many other books of the genre.

I was cheering for Nasty during her quest of personal discovery and reveled in the rawness of her character, the story follows seemingly mundane activities but still manages to keep you highly interested and turning pages at pace (this is another one I finished in 3 or so days).

I can’t wait to see what happens in book two, especially where her Viking nemesis turned love interest is concerned… and it just so happens that I have the manuscript in my hot little hands *glee* - dont worry, i'll let you know how it goes :)

Amber x

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Crime for Me

Bleed for Me – Michael Robotham
Hachette - Available now

Michael personally requested I read this and when you get a request from an author to read one of his books you can’t very well decline!

Having not read a crime novel before I was apprehensive at best, however my fears were quickly dispelled by Joe O'Loughlin a psychologist turned uni professor and our main character who felt self assured and dependable – I knew with him holding my hand we could make it through the inevitable on-coming trauma...

Set in a gorgeous little country town in the UK just outside of Bath, the story sets off introducing you to Joe and his moral code while at the hearing of an ex-patient, it then goes on to show you the wreck Joe's life has become after being diagnosed with Parkinsons and his resulting separation from his wife and two little girls.  

The story heats up when Joe's eldest daughter's, best friend Sienna Hegarty turns up at their family home covered in blood and then runs off into the night prompting Joe to find her and involving him with the unfolding mystery of her father's gruesome murder. His investigation leads him to the girls High school drama teacher Gordon Ellis who openly admits to encouraging his students to fall in love with him and by extension the subject he teaches - is this the case of an inspirational teacher or a self involved and sick individual?

It was a brilliant book with lovable and loathable characters in equal measures and a plot line that will keep you guessing till the end!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Love and Death in Paris

Die For Me - Amy Plum
Hachette - Little, Brown
Release Date: May 2011

Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality. - Emily Dickinson

From  the quote on the first page, this is an immensely enjoyable read and luckily enough - soon to be series!!

Set in gorgeous present day Paris we follow the story of 16 yr old Kate who, after the tragic death of both of her parents in a car accident has just been relocated with her sister Georgia to live with her grandparents in Paris. 
Kate is struggling to deal with the loss of her parents and by extension the life she knew but, having spent many family holidays in Paris is able to take comfort in the streets, galleries and museums she once shared with her Mum which are all beautifully described as she whiles away her summer holidays before her start at a new school and return to 'reality'.

Enter the mysterious Vincent, with a new and interesting take on the undead he introduces Kate to the world of Revenants - once mortals who have died in the process of saving others and were blessed (or cursed depending on how you look at it) to continue to die selflessly in the stead of others for all eternity.

The difference with this love story is having felt and not yet fully recovered from the aching pain of loosing a loved one, Kate struggles with her feelings for Vincent and isn't sure she can withstand the morbid requirements of his job description - wether or not she manages to overcome these demons from her past i will leave to you to find out....

Thursday, 7 April 2011

My first foray as a Reviewer...

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
Hachette - Hodder 
Release date: Oct 2012

I am exceptionally lucky to be able to start you off on such amazing footing, unfortunately for everyone else this wont be available until October however I'm sure you will hear plenty about it before then!
So here goes...

Let me begin by saying that this is unlike anything else I have ever read and as such I wont bother making any comparisons. 
It's delicious and intoxicating and capable of making you resent anything that comes between you and your devouring of Karou's story. Best described as an epic fantasy adventure filled with myths and mysteries, Angels and Demons, star-crossed love and deadly betrayal where two worlds are joined but remain separate, and war is waged by two opposing sides of the same coin - the only victor, the beast of war itself .

Laini writes with whimsical imagination as she introduces our main character the mysterious blue haired Karou - orphaned daughter to a handful of human/beast melds called Chimera, who exist solely it would seem within the walls of a shop that barters in teeth and located in a place that is only known to her as 'Elsewhere' . I yearned along with Karou to know her past and the reason for her 'hollowness' as I'm sure you will too and without giving too much away, was intrigued by the revelations that followed.

I can hardly wait to be enveloped in the next instalment of this amazing tale!

And so it Begins...

Hello and welcome to my FIRST EVER Blog!

After requests from friends, family and fellow readers for my low down on whats hot and new I have decided to create this Blog to make life a little easier (in theory) for me and others...not to mention this way I may actually get around to writing the reviews I'm supposed to be writing...

I hope everyone finds it interesting and useful and I apologise in advance if at any time I sound like a twat :)

All the best,