T5W: Books Featuring Vampires

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here). This week’s topic is Books Featuring Vampires (in honour of it being October). Pretty self explanatory.

  1. Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan – Probably the first and best series of books about vampires I read, this is a truly fantastic story about a boy forced to fake his own death and learn how to live as a vampire. Cirque_du_freak
  2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – The most obvious choice possible, but I really did enjoy this series. The writing was terrible, the characters were awful, and the general love-triangle fuelled teen-angst was truly dreadful, but I loved it anyway. 41865.jpg
  3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – Another very obvious YA fantasy to pick, but it turns out I’ve actually read very few books featuring vampires. Although there are quite a few vampires in this one, Simon is obviously the main one and the best. 256683
  4. The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – This was a really epic fantasy adventure, featuring mostly immortal beings who feed off human blood (vampires). The Vamps in this book also carry some elfish characteristics and are very sassy and cool. 29758013
  5. The Evil Seed by Joanne Harris – In a nice change of pace, the vampires in this book are vicious and cruel, and don’t fall in love with humans. 11383768
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Blog Tour: Trust Me by Zosia Wand

Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Trust Me by Zosia Wand blog tour. Many thanks to Head of Zeus for having me – I hope you like my review, and I’m also fortunate enough to be able to provide you with an extract from the book. Enjoy!


trustme.pngLizzie is a 27-year-old, with a 53-year-old boyfriend (Jonty) who has a 17-year-old son (Sam). Their family dynamic is unusual, but it works. Until Sam starts to act strangely. Lizzie is doing everything she can to keep their little family together, but everyone else thinks she’s to blame. How can she fix this when she doesn’t understand how it broke?

Although this book falls quite comfortably into the thriller category, it’s actually more of a family-drama and let me tell you, I was HOOKED. Lizzie is a great character. She’s relatable and real, and it was very easy to sympathise while her whole world fell apart around her. Jonty was the only real anomaly in the story because he was just generally an arse and I didn’t get why Lizzie was with him (I was actually rooting for the inappropriate Lizzie/Sam relationship, which I’m not sure we’re meant to). And then Rebecca. Just, ugh. Read the book and you’ll get it.

I really loved the way this book was written. The story unfolded kind of slowly, but this added a lot of depth and reality to it, and really built the tension. It was an easy and engaging read, full of excitement, confusion and drama. I would recommend Trust Me as a good introduction to the thriller genre, for those who don’t want something too intense or violent.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon


Extract:

Sam works quickly, methodically, concentrating, eyes squinting, forehead lined. He’s competent. Masculine and adult. No longer a boy. I like watching him. The graceful sweep of his limbs, these strong, confident movements. Jonty lets him take the helm and he rests his hand on what I now know is the tiller, which somehow steers us. His faded blue T-shirt is billowing below his buoyancy aid, offering glimpses of a taut stomach above the waistband of the shorts I teased him about this morning. Feeling the cling of damp denim against my flesh, I can see the sense now.

This is Sam’s environment: the lake, the mountains, the wind. He could be one of those beautiful young men from that other world, gliding into a continental marina, ready to disembark for an evening of cocktails with a pretty girl.

It was Sam who suggested we take the boat out today, swallowing the last of his tea and taking the stairs two at a time to gather the kit. I grabbed the coolbag and threw in anything that might lend itself to a picnic, because I knew once we got to the lake we’d be here until sundown. Days like this can be rare. We might be lucky and have weeks of sun right through spring and summer, but that’s the thing about Cumbria, you can never predict the weather. If the sun is out and it’s at all possible, everyone drops what they’re doing and heads for the lake. The weather forces even the most reticent to be spontaneous because it rains a lot in the Lake District. I knew that before I moved here and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but what I didn’t know is what happens when the clouds part and the sun breaks through. It’s like someone has picked up a paintbrush and splattered the world with colour. Indigo lake reflecting the sky, mountains of lavender and mauve, grey blue slate. Today the first early buds are appearing on fragile branches; in a matter of weeks there will be green on green added to this palette, khaki through to lime, the purple hum of bluebells between. Our slice of paradise.

Sam’s body stiffens. He straightens up. I follow his gaze. Ahead of us the sky looks darker. There’s a menacing grey cast across everything.

Jonty laughs. ‘We’ll be fine!’ But he’s on his feet, taking the tiller from Sam, preparing for something.

The shining mirror of the lake has shattered, offering a broken reflection of the sky. The surface of the water is changing in texture, becoming rougher, matt. I shiver, suddenly chilled. ‘What’s happening?’

Sam is focused on Jonty. ‘We should reef, Dad. That wind from the valley is strong.’

Jonty laughs. He’s in his element, the wind on his face, his body alert, but Sam is nervous.

‘We should reef the sails while we’re still calm.’

‘We’ll be fine.’

I can hear the familiar edge to his voice and ask, ‘What’s reefing?’ to distract them from one another.

Sam explains. ‘We reduce the sail. It gives a smaller surface area and makes it easier to cope with the wind.’

‘Reefing’s for wimps!’ Jonty fixes his eyes ahead. ‘Let’s show you some proper sailing!’

My gut clenches. I want to say something, but I’m in a foreign place, without the experience or the words.

Sam gives me a reassuring nod, but he looks worried. ‘Just do what I say.’

I take comfort from the fact that there are other boats braving the wind, and half a dozen windsurfers riding the gusts like giant butterflies flexing their wings, but as we get closer I notice the boats ahead of us are leaning over, their masts conspicuously tilting away from the wind. They seem to be lowering their sails. I look back at Sam.

‘It’s all right. He knows the lake. If it gets too much we’ll turn around.’ But I can hear the anxiety in his voice. He guides me down to the front end. ‘We need to distribute our weight evenly across the boat.’

Stumbling, I fall against him as we pitch to and fro. He lowers me on to the bench along one side and sits opposite. Goosebumps pepper my arms, my hands are trembling. As the boat shifts this way and that, Sam leans back and then forward, following the rhythm, using his body to steady us.

‘What’s happening?’ I’m trying to understand. To prepare.

‘The air flow is more turbulent up this end of the lake. It’s disturbed by the landscape as it rolls over Torver Common – the contours of the ground, buildings, trees.’ Water sprays over the side of the boat as we pitch alarmingly to one side. Cold seeps through the seat of my jeans. Sam leans back to compensate and has to shout over the rush of the wind. ‘The further up the lake it goes, the more agitated it gets.’

‘Should I rock backwards and forwards like you?’

He shakes his head, leaning towards me, but Jonty barks, ‘Sit still! I’ll keep the boat steady.’

‘I’m just—’

‘I know how to sail a boat!’


Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

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Susurrus – B. Morris Allen

35514180Susurrus is the story of an orphaned girl who wants nothing more than magic and a home. But when the magic doesn’t do what she wants and instead kills the people she loves, Iskra turns her back on the possibility of love. Unable to find a place for herself and yet forced to continue living, Iskra travels all over the world learning magic and living multiples lives, all of which ultimately end in misery.

No evil sorceress is born evil.

I found this book a bit long and miserable, but with an overall good story. It is well written and descriptive, with some fun and exciting parts to temper the general misery. It is certainly not a happy read, but each new life Iskra leads is interesting and unique. Each life acts as a different section of the book, making it very easy to read in chunks, which is good because it would be a difficult book to get through in one or two sittings. Some parts are more fun to read than others (my favourite is her time with Tana and Snuggles), but all do add an important layer to the story.

There are a lot of different characters throughout the story, but Iskra is the only constant and most of the other characters are quite forgettable and unimportant. Iskra herself is a difficult character, because as the story progresses she becomes more self-centred and less likeable. Although this is a significant feature of the plot, it did make the book less enjoyable as it went on because I had no sympathy or connection with the main character. I particularly struggled with the way she blamed magic for all the unhappiness in her life, when actually the cause was usually her own selfishness or simple bad luck.

If Iskra had been more likeable during the start of the book, I may have got on better with it when she becomes more closed off. As it is, I would much rather to have gotten to know more about characters like Neris the peddler. Also, there was a weird amount of sex in the story. The sex is not graphic, detailed, or even particularly unnecessary, and it all fits into the story in different ways, but it was unexpected and just something to be aware of.

Overall, Susurrus is quite an average fantasy adventure. A solid, middling, 3*.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Fatal Masquerade – Vivian Conroy

Welcome to my stop on Vivian Conroy’s blog tour! Here’s my spoiler-free and 100% honest review of Fatal Masquerade, Book #4 in the Lady Alkmene Mystery series. I hope you enjoy reading, and make sure you check out the other stops on the tour! (And read the book!)XEcnkdDE


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When Lady Alkmene Callender and Jake Dubois attend a glamourous masked ball, the last thing they expect is to end up involved in the murder of a servant. As the one who finds the body, Lady Alkmene herself is under suspicion and, following the arrest of an innocent young maid, Alkmene and Dubois are determined to do everything in their power to catch the real murderer and save an innocent life.

The twenties have never been so dangerous…

I already loved the Lady Alkmene mysteries since reading Book #1, and Fatal Masquerade does not disappoint. The glitz and glamour of the 1920’s upper class, combined with the Agatha Christie style cosy mystery is a winning combination.

I absolutely adore the fashion and glamour, and what better way to showcase it than a ball? The descriptions of Alkmene’s (and others’) outfits are beautiful and easy to picture, but aren’t too long or boring to read. The general atmosphere is also brilliant for a cosy detective novel: mysterious and a little bit dark, but not gloomy or distressing at all.

Alkmene and Dubois are both likeable leads (I’m becoming quite desperate for a romance to happen there too). The rest of the characters range from sweet and helpless, to smarmy and detestable, but that doesn’t make it easy to guess who the real culprit is.

The one and only thing I didn’t like about this book was the relationship between Alkmene and Denise. Alkmene refers to Denise as her best friend, and seems to really value the friendship, but Denise is awful to her. She makes snide remarks about Alkmene’s friendship with Dubois and doesn’t seem to appreciate her presence at all. This was a little bit confusing because why are they such great friends if they don’t get on? (It was very easy to get past this, though).

Full of secrets and red-herrings, Fatal Masquerade is a fun, light and yet brilliantly detailed murder mystery. Perfect for snuggling up under a blanket in front of a fire.

I received a copy of this book from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

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T5W: Books Featuring Witches

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here). This week’s topic is Books Featuring Witches. This can be books about witches, where a witch is the main character, or any book that happens to feature a witch at all.

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – I really need to stop including this book in every list but I love it so much and it does feature one of the best literary witches: Agnes Nutter. It’s a fun and creative story featuring angels, demons, satanic nuns, and of course, the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch. 12067
  2. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – Pratchett was always fantastic at witches, and my favourite was Tiffany Aching, the 9-year-old witch who comes with a collection of hilarious, strange, blue men in kilts. 833420
  3. Beastly by Alex Flinn – This retelling of Beauty and the Beast features a sassy and vengeful witch (the one who places the curse on Alex Flinn’s ‘beast’), Kendra. She’s only a very minor character in this book, but I believe this has actually developed into a series called the Kendra Chronicles. 544891
  4. The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown – Okay, so this book doesn’t actually feature any witches of the magical/paranormal kind. It is actually about the sister of a man who claims to be a witchfinder and contains some real, historical of what happened to women accused of being witches in 1640’s England. It is a harrowing but truly fascinating read. 32860254
  5. The Halfway Witchy series by Terry Maggert – This witchy series follows the life of Carlie McEwan as she fights to protect her beloved town of Halfway. It features vampires, Vikings, ghosts, and a multitude of other supernatural beings and is a fun and easy romp. Oh, and there are waffles. 25827242