Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reading Challenges 2012

I have decided to challenge myself to read more this year. It's one of the main reasons that I started this book blog and I have found that lots of other bloggers out there like to challenge themselves too.

I have joined two challenges so far:

First Challenge

This is the first one that I joined and I am going to try and read 100 books in a year, I'm already behind but hopefully I can pick up the pace once I get my ereader.



 Book Chick City's
100 Books In A Year Reading Challenge 2012!

Challenge Details
Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012

Rules: Read 100+ books in 2012 (any genre)

You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

You can join at anytime. All books read in 2012 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.
At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews.

Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.

Only fiction, no non-fiction.

This challenge can crossover to other challenges.
Second Challenge

The other challenge that I joined is to read 26 books all starting with a different letter of the alphabet. I chose this one because it sounded really interesting and it might challenge me to read some things that I would not otherwise consider.

Expanding your horizons can only be a good thing.



 
Babies, Books and Signs's
A-Z Challenge 2012

 
Technical Stuff
This challenge will run from January 1st, 2012 until December 31st, 2012.

You can join anytime.

So there are two different ways you can set up your own A-Z challenge.

A - Make a list now of 26 books, picking one for each letter of the alphabet. For example: A - Atonement B- Black Beauty C - The Count of Monte Cristo D - Dances with Dragons etc.

OR

B - Make a list on your blog from A-Z. Throughout the year, as you go along, add the books you are reading to the list. Hope that by the end of the year you have read one book for each letter. Towards the end of the year, you can check and see which letters you are missing and find books to fit.

You can find out more information on each of these challenges by clicking the picture and visiting the blog sites.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (Review by kiwigirlreads)


Fate and the world of Faerie have not been kind to changeling, October ‘Toby’ Daye. While chasing down the people who kidnapped her liege’s wife and daughter Toby was turned into a fish and has spent the last fourteen years living in a Koi pond.

Finally free of the enchantment Toby wakes to find the world has moved on – her friends, family, home and job have all been lost to her. Understandably Toby has had enough of 'Faerie'; she chooses to avoid it and is living a ‘normal’ life in the human world, working a dead-end job and getting by as best she can.

However as much as she tries Toby is far from normal, she is half Fae, and when an old friend is murdered horrifically, Toby is unwillingly pulled back into the world she tried to leave. Bound by a dying curse, Toby must find the killer or be destroyed herself. Toby’s investigation will bring her to old acquaintances, both good and bad and new ones who have yet to be determined.

Before too long Toby’s life is in peril and she will have to dig deep inside to find the strength to trust again and the will to put everything on the line to find the truth and survive it.

What I thought:

Rosemary and Rue is a well crafted, whimsical and witty murder mystery, it’s also an interesting story that will keep you guessing right up to the very end. The story is well written and along with the main murder mystery there are elements of political intrigue, loves, hates and jealousies that are woven seamlessly into the plot. The author uses lots of faerie folklore and puts her own spin on it where needed, she seems knowledgeable about her subject and I have no issues with authors using traditional ideas and making them suit the needs of their story.

This novel has some solid world building going on, there are lots of places and characters that need to be described. The story is set in San Francisco but in a world where the faerie realm is hidden right alongside the human one. I think the author has done well to put the two together and make them work in harmony; you get a real sense of the city and of that fact that goblins and faeries might be lurking right around the corner.

Toby is an interesting albeit flawed character; she is strong, courageous, and capable but also full of anger, regret and self doubt. She has been hurt in the past and is emotionally shut off. She resents being forced to do something that she probably would have done anyway and knows that although she cannot find the killer alone there are not many people that she can fully trust.

As a mortal changeling Toby does not have much power nor much of a standing in Faerie Society. I liked that she knows her limitations and deals with it in a matter of fact way. It means that she has to rely on other things like her wits and her friends to help her. I enjoyed that Toby did not have much power as it made a bit of a change from your usual uber-powerful heroines.

Toby’s world is populated by many other characters, mainly from European folklore but there is also some from further afield. There are some great characters that Toby renews her friendships with or meets along the way .The supporting cast is big but well written and there are some great characters and dynamics that it will be interesting to watch develop over the next few books.

There were a few small things that detract from the overall flow of the book but most of this we can put down to the fact that this is Seanan McGuire’s first novel. In saying that it was pretty minimal, so don’t let it put you off.

One thing that you will find is that there is a lot of world building and descriptions compared to the amount of action. This makes the pacing of the story a bit slow at the beginning; it picks up toward the middle and is non-stop action from then on. You can see why this is necessary because it’s a new world and you have to establish the many rules and inhabitants. I think that as long as you can understand that it’s a necessity then the rest of the book will win you over.

Another thing is that sometimes it seems like Toby is just reacting to all of the events that keep happening to her, the many attempts on her life means that she also spends a lot of her time injured, recovering from injury or trying to avoid getting injured. I would have liked to see a bit more of the investigation side of things, she is supposed to be a private investigator so this could have been much more prominent in the story.

Something I did like is that although there are some romantic hints it is very much an action driven urban fantasy book. It had just enough keep me intrigued but not overwhelmed and it made sure that the mystery was the main focus of the story.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

I really liked this first novel from Seanan McGuire, I found it fresh, funny, action packed and intriguing. It is a debut novel so you might find that it has some flaws but I believe that the overall story more than makes up for any of these. October Daye is great new heroine for the Urban Fantasy realm and there were just enough questions left dangling to leave you wanting more.

If you are looking for something new, mad about Fairies or just sick of the same old Urban Fantasy with Vampires and Werewolves then this book is for you. This one was published in 2009 and there are four more in the series that have been published since.

Toby Daye Series: 1. Rosemary and Rue, 2. A Local Habitation, 3. An Artificial Night, 4. Late Eclipses, 5. One Salt Sea

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Friday, February 24, 2012


Cover Reveal: Taste by Kate Evangelista


At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud

Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Release Date: Fall 2012



This is my very first cover reveal. Thanks to Kate Evangelista who requested it and wrote what looks like will be an interesting book. I will admit that I am someone who frequently judges books by their covers, I know its wrong but its a hard habit to break. When I am looking for something new to read I always look at the covers first and decide if its even worth checking out the synopsis. I think you will all agree that the cover to 'Taste' is beautiful so if this sounds like your kind of book then make sure you put it on your 'to read' list.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dead of Light by Chaz Brenchley (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Dead of Light Plot Overview:

Possessing no talent of his own in a family that values power over all else, Ben Macallan, has always been an outsider.

The Macallan clan is a large, prominent and ‘powerful’ family who have a strange and ruthless stranglehold on the city. Their powers come from the night and they use them mercilessly to control their territory. Ben is the black sheep of the family and wants nothing to do with them or their power. It has not been easy to distance himself, but now at university he has finally begun to make a life for himself outside their sphere of influence.

Ben’s new life comes crashing to an end when someone starts picking off members of his family and killing them brutally in a manner that echoes their own family’s power. Ben soon realises that the killer is targeting the weakest members of the family and with no power of his own, Ben is the weakest of them all.

Ben finds that the ties that bind are stronger than he ever knew. He must put the past behind him to confront his family and take responsibility for his life or he and those he loves may not have a future.

What I thought:

Dead of Light is a unique and interesting story with a lot of depth. The publisher lists it as horror (and I will say some of the death scenes are not for the faint of heart) but it is also so much more. It’s about identity and family and has a great murder mystery plot to keep you interested right up to the end. You will find yourself drawn into this dark and disturbing world right alongside Ben.

The character of Ben is complex and relatable, sometimes annoying and insecure, but overall you can see his development throughout the novel as he grows up and discovers himself. The supporting characters are strong and well written and help to round out the story.

The plot and writing are both top notch, the story is fast paced and exciting with lots of action and a bit of magic sprinkled in for your enjoyment. What I liked is that the story does not rely on magic or hit you over the head with it. The magic in the story builds slowly along with the suspense and becomes just another great story element used to tell this tale of Ben and the Macallan family. This means that even if you are not a usual fan of the genre you might find that this book is worth checking out, however if you like your mysteries firmly rooted in the mundane this book would not be for you.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

This was the first book of Chaz Brenchleys’ that I read and I have since gone on to read lots of his other novels. Some of his other work is vastly different but I have never been disappointed, the writing is always amazing and he has some brilliant stories to tell. If you have not read Chaz Brenchley then what are you waiting for, he is a very talented writer, and if you have then you know what I am talking about.

Light Series: 1. Dead of Light, 2. Light Errant

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kobo Touch Ereader

So I just purchased myself a new ereader - I am getting the 'Kobo Touch Ereader' in black. I decided to buy this one online in New Zealand. I am having it sent to my Mom and then she is going to post it to me here in Korea.  Yay, this should make my reading a bit easier (sometimes its hard to find the books you want here) and hopefully I will be able to get books quicker also. I do buy online and really you cannot complain about the time it takes, it's usually only a couple of weeks.  However when you really want to start reading something it can be a pain.

Anyway I will update you on how I like it when it finally gets here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Small Note on Reviews


So I have been reading a lot of reviews recently to see what sort of things people include in them and also what other people thought of the same books that I have read. This is mostly on Amazon and a few other blog and review sites.

One thing that I would like to point out especially when reviewing stuff like Urban Fantasy is that these are not the next great thing in literature nor do I think their authors are aiming them to be (sorry if you are). Sure they are really great but its entertainment people, not Shakespeare.
I think that people should review the books for what they are, not what they think they should be which is what I will be doing.

Also I don't really know a whole lot about writing, I'm a reader rather than a writer but I know what I like and don't like. I will mainly be focusing on the storyline, characters and action. I will try my best to convey my feelings on the book as best I can.

Anyway, thats all for now.
Happy Reading

Nightlife by Rob Thurman (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Nightlife (Cal Leandros, Book 1) Plot Overview:

Cal and Niko Leandros are brothers on the run from monsters who want Cal for reasons unknown. The monsters, named ‘Grendels’ by Cal and Niko, are horrific and deadly; they are an ancient and completely alien race who have pursued Cal (and subsequently his brother and self-appointed caretaker Niko) for three years.

Finally in New York City, the past finally catches up with the brothers and they are forced to make a stand. With a colourful cast of supporting characters - Georgina, the teenage psychic, Robin Goodfellow, a puck masquerading as a used car salesman, and Promise, the Upper East Side vampire; Nightlife is a fun, fast and action packed ride.

Nightlife is the first book in Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series.

What I thought:

Another review of an older book, this one was published in 2006 but it is the first in a series. The others are listed below if you want to check them out; I might also review them later. I really enjoyed Nightlife and have since read the next four in the series with number six on my ‘to read’ list.

The novel is written from Cal’s point of view and has a fast pace and lots of action which I really enjoyed. There are some great characters and the humor is most often dark and sarcastic just the way I like it. Its slick, easy to read and reasonably short (great if you are looking for some light reading), once you start reading it’s hard to put down.

Rob Thurman has completely rewritten the world of the supernatural and I say – more power to you. It’s hard to make something your own when you try stick to the rules. That’s what fiction is all about. One thing to mention, the first book does end on a cliffhanger so be prepared to read more than one.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

The writing, plot and characters in Nightlife are all spot on. The story is dark but it’s not too gory nor is it sexually explicit. It’s fun, exciting and full of wisecracking characters.

Cal Leandros Books: 1. Nightlife, 2. Moonshine, 3. Madhouse, 4. Deathwish, 5. Roadkill, 6. Blackout

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Benighted (aka Bareback) by Kit Whitfield (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Benighted Plot Overview:

In a world where 99% of the population changes into ravaging beasts (lunes) on the full moon - being human (bareback) is a liability. The small human percentage of the population in this world are an ill-treated minority who are perceived as disabled for their inability to transform like ‘normal people’.

Lola Galley is a bareback who works for the Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activities (DORLA). DORLA, the only real job avenue for barebacks, is charged with policing the lunes, especially during the full moon when a mandatory curfew is enforced to maintain order.

One night while out ‘Dogcatching’, chasing down prowling lunes who are breaking curfew, a friend and colleague has his hand bitten off and is then subsequently murdered. Lola starts to look for answers but her search will uncover more than she ever bargained for as she faces her own feelings as a member of a subjugated minority and delves into the very secret that divides the world she lives in.

What I thought:

I read this book many years ago (it was published in 2006) but wanted to review it here because I really enjoyed it.

Benighted has a unique take on the traditional werewolf story that is both interesting and thought provoking. This is not just some grisly paranormal story about humans and werewolf fighting it out; it’s a crime story and a mystery story and it also has a strong message about what it means to be different.

It is dark and gritty and the characters are complex and not always likable. The things that Lola has experienced as a bareback are at times horrific but there is also light in her relationship with her nephew. It’s a book that would be hard to classify; although the main premise is about a world of werewolves the story is not just about that and we don’t’ actually see a lot of the werewolves in their animal form.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

This is Kit Whitfields first book and at times the writing can become a bit over extended and long however in saying that I still really enjoyed the book. There are a few minor plot holes (try not to think about it too much) but in the end it's a unique and interesting story well worth the read

I would recommend this to anyone looking for something a bit different to read, not just to people who are interested in paranormal themed books.

Rating:  ☆☆☆☆

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Books

So I thought that I might start off by reviewing some of the books that I have read over the last few years. This way I can get started as soon as I have some time and don't have to wait until I have finished what I am reading now. If I am reading a series I will start with the first book in the series (even if it was a while ago) and perhaps make a note of the other ones I have read, this way if you are looking for something new to read you can see from the very beginning rather than half way through. I have been reading a lot of young adult stuff at the moment as I don't really have much time on my hands. These books are good because they are usually a bit shorter, also the content is usually pretty light which is nice when you just need a break.


I live in Suwon, South Korea so it is sometimes a bit hard to get English books. There are places that sell them and you can buy online but I don't have as many as I do at home with access to the library. I did have an ereader but it was a few years old and has now died. I'm looking to buy a new one but there are so many to choose from I am having trouble narrowing down which one I want. It also has to be available in either South Korea or New Zealand so I can actually purchase it.


I know there are many people out there who think ereaders are not equal to books and I could not agree more, I love having the real thing and regularly collect the ones I like even if I read them at the library. I like to think of myself as a collector. However I do think there is a place for ereaders, I love technology too and they are great for reading on the go. I like to take books with me but they are heavy and often get damaged in your handbag so to have a compact device that you can have loads of books on really appeals to me.


In conclusion I don't think that these devices will replace books but I do think they are a nice tool for an avid reader.

Introduction

Hi, my name is Amy and I have started this blog to try and kick start my reading habits for this year.  I have become a bit lazy in the past couple of years and my reading has declined in favour of TV. I want to be able to keep track of what I have been reading, what I liked and did not like and share with you all what I find out. I read a wide range of books, really whatever catches my eye, I do however favor the fantasy genre in all its forms. For the past ten years or so since college I have been reading a lot of what has become know as Urban Fantasy.  Some of that blurs into Paranormal Romance and it is often hard to make a distinction but I usually divide it up by whether or not the romance is driving the action or if the romance is just a byproduct of the action. I have come to prefer the more action driven Urban Fantasy as they usually have a better storyline but I do read some of the romance ones. 


I will say right here and now I have not read Twilight and I will probably never read these books, I have picked up the first one and just really don't think it's for me. I have however watched the movies and although not really impressed its one of those opinion things. I have too many friends to count that are fans so I am not going to judge. I think that there are many better quality young adult Urban Fantasy books available to the discerning reader.


I do read many other genres also so I may review the odd book that is outside the Fantasy and Science Fiction realm. I like Action and Adventure, Thrillers and Crime and some Auto-biographies especially ones about people who have worked with animals.