Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book review: Wicked as They Come by Delilah Dawson

In today’s mini reviews feature, I share my brief thoughts on Deliliah S. Dawson’s  Wicked as They Come.

Source: Purchased a copy of the book through Raru.co.za. 

Summary: Goodreads
Publication date: 27 Mar 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang.

He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. 

(It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.)
 
If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….

Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense.

They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They're also very good kissers.)

 But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy?

Could she stay in Sang forever?

What I thought of the book:

Look, I’m not going to lie. While I certainly fell in love with the synopsis of the book, a huge part of me bought this book because of the cover.

I mean, just look at that beautiful man, right? In fact, I’ll give you a moment…

*waits*

Of course, I just had to pay for my momentary weakness because I read up until page 94 and just couldn’t finish the rest.

There is no doubt in my mind that Delililah Lawson is an incredibly awesome writer. In fact, despite me not finishing this book, I’m definitely planning to read more of her work. I mean with the concept that she’s come up with, how could I not want to?

Think gypsy vampire, add a travelling circus that employs both  human and mechanical clockwork creatures, and shake things up by including a young nurse who gets to time travel and experience this and so much more.

There was no way that this book couldn’t be anything but a winner in my eyes. Except, somehow it just failed to live up to my expectations.

You see, the problem for me though is that with some steampunk fantasy novels, I often find that so much time and dedication is spent on creating a believable, eccentric and off-the-beaten-path kind of  setting, that character development tends to suffer for it.

Unfortunately, this has been my experience with Wicked as they Come. Bohemian settings, intricately detailed descriptions of clockwork creatures there were aplenty, but the characters and character chemistry? Felt rather flat to me.

And because I got bored with the characters and their story as a result of this flatness, I also lost interest in the setting and eventually the story itself. A pity because I think this would have been an otherwise awesome book.

But, don’t let me dissuade you – there are plenty of people I’ve seen who love this book.

I guess it just wasn’t meant to be loved by me.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book talk: Your favourite underrated fantasy novels + ACOTAR & Queen of Shadows Winners

So I’ve been meaning to do this post for some time now, but life, as you know, has a way of interrupting and as a result, this post had to take a bit of a backseat.

But without further ado, it’s time to announce the winners of the A Court of Thorns or Queen of Shadows (depending on the reader’s choice).

In the last post, I asked you to recommend a fantasy novel that you think more people should know about.  I’ve gotten some great responses in return and thought I’d share them in this post, along with the winner details.

In no particular order, here are the novels that, based on your recs, I’ll definitely be checking out:


Tracy: Man of his word by Dave Duncan. Not given good press but it is a good read.

Yun-A:  This is hard but I would have to say Elizabeth C. Bunce's Star Crossed series. It's a set in a fantasy world, much like Throne of Glass and the world is amazing.

Nicc209: This is hard... I'd say the Healer series by Maria V. Snyder, the first book being Touch Of Power. I never see them in store, only online! But they're very good books!

Maria: I vote for The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness! ♥ Deborah is a history professor and the history parts are so good!

Monique: I vote for Chime by Franny Billingsley. It's gorgeously written and has a wonderful romance.

 I think more people should know about this book because it is far better than a lot mainstream Fantasy and is also a great read for those who feel intimidated by thicker fantasy novels. It would make a great movie too. Read Chime!

Naafia: Well, this is a hard choice, isn't it? After staring at my bookshelf and scratching my head for a good long while, I have finally come to a decision.

The most severely underrated fantasy novel there is out there is ...Enna Burning by Shannon Hale! I think that more people deserve to know about this lovely book for the simple reason that everyone deserves a great read.

It's such an excellent book because of Hale's effortless way of weaving a wonderful world with her words; and because it's different in a good way—none of your usual boring or expected fantasy themes here!

Oh, and one more reason: there are at least, like, FIVE potential book boyfriends in it. Need I say any more?

Munira: The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill! The main character is a warrior-princess of note, the romance is sweet and believable and it involves talking snow-leopards, vampires and werewolves who are actually scary and a warlock.

It's undeniably the most underrated YA fantasy series of all time. The second and third books (it's a trilogy) feature diverse characters and it's full of humour.

The first book is called The Cry of the Icemark and you should definitely check it out! It's pretty easy to find at any library since it was published in the early 2000s. :)

Definitely some titles I’ve never heard of and ones I’m keen on trying. Feel free to keep recommending your favourite underrated fantasy novels in the comments section below.

Which leaves me with one more thing to do. Congratulations to the following 3 winners:

The winners of the signed copies of A Court of Thorns and Roses are:

Munira &  Tracy

The winner of a copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses or Queen of Shadows (depending on the choice) is:

Naafia

Congratulations everyone! Please contact me at tammybell78(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize. To the international winner please include your choice of book that you’d like me to order for you. 

You’ll have 72 hours in which to contact me, thereafter which I’ll select new winners if you haven’t claimed your prize.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book spotlight: Walk on Earth a Stranger + win a set of The Girl of Fire and Thorns series

www.rockstarbooktours.com

In today’s book spotlight - with thanks to Rock star book tours - it’s an absolute delight to feature Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger!

Happy book birthday Rae! I don’t know about you, but when I first came across this book, I immediately fell in love with the title.

Never mind that I had no clue what it was about, as someone who’s always been a sucker for flowy, pretty and intriguing titles, this one hit the “you need to find out what I’m all about and read me” button instantaneously.

While I haven’t had the chance to read the book as of yet (purchasing my copy this Friday because: PAY DAY!), I’ve heard nothing but positive things about it thus far.

Today’s spotlight features a US only giveaway, but fear not international friends – I’m planning on doing a giveaway for this in the forthcoming weeks.

In the meantime, here’s all the info you need about Walk on Earth a Stranger. Once again, happy book birthday Rae! Hope you’re celebrating with gold-dusted cupcakes!

About The Book:


Title: WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER
Author: Rae Carson
Pub. Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 448

The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson.

A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. 

The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. 


Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research. 

Read chapter 1 of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER annotated by Rae Carson HERE!

About Rae:
Rae Carson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.Her next book, Walk On Earth A Stranger, will be available September 22, 2015. She lives in Arizona with her husband.

Connect with Rae Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a set of the 3 GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS series (in paperback format). US Only.


Ends on September 30th at Midnight EST!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book review: What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott

In today’s mini reviews feature, I share my brief thoughts Kieran Scott’s What Waits in the Woods, which was published earlier this year.

Source: Copy of the book purchased via Raru.co.za 

Book synopsis from: Goodreads
Publication date: 31 Mar 2015
Publisher: Point
 
It's a beautiful, sunny day. Callie Velasquez holds hands with her boyfriend Jeremy as they follow Callie's new BFFs Penelope and Lissa up the trail.

The four friends are embarking on a camping trip -- a trip that immediately goes awry.

They lose their way on the trail, and encounter a charismatic stranger with questionable motives.

 And when Callie stumbles upon a dead body, it becomes clear that the danger that lies in the woods is deadlier than she could have ever imagined.
 
Tensions mount and friendships are tested as these teenagers try to survive the most sinister of circumstances.

What I thought of the book:

So, What Waits in the Woods is my first Kieran Scott book and one that I, overall, found to be a compulsive read. 

In fact, despite finding the main character rather annoying (as in feel-sorry-for-myself, pampered-princess annoying), I soon warmed up to her when it became clear that, in order to survive, she would need to find her inner strength, courage, resilience and most importantly, the willpower to survive.

The friendship dynamic explored in this book, added with the fact that Jeremy, Callie’s boyfriend was not supposed to be part of the girls-only camping trip added an intense, uneasy and interesting aspect to the story. 

I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice to say that What Waits in the Woods proved to be a novel punctuated with plenty of strained, overwrought moments made even more unbearable by the arrival of a stranger.

 The inclusion of using an urban legend as part of the story’s device added an extra level of creepiness to the book. In fact, I can totally see another story on its own based on this as a plotline (Oh please say you will, Kieran? That would be so awesome).

Regarding the culprit, it actually didn’t take me long to figure out whom the perpetrator in the story was, but that didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this read.

In fact, if you read closely, it’s not hard to suss out the whodunit in this story, but the beauty of this is that Kieran writes the characters and story in such a way that you can’t help but second guess yourself until at least three quarters of the way in.

I thought this was very well done.

What I’m a bit on the fence with though, is the issue of how the mental health condition mentioned and brought up, was dealt with. The way it is portrayed, kind of left me feeling like people with this specific condition were being demonised. 

The reasoning behind the character in question’s motives left me struggling to suspend my disbelief and had me feeling cheated. 

And even if it wasn’t the author’s intention to portray it in the way that it comes across, I felt as if there could have been more empathy applied to the situation, and not for the mental health condition to be used as an excuse to commit a crime.

There is enough of a stigma surrounding people who are suffering from various conditions who are made to feel ashamed of it and the portrayal in this book isn’t something I’d label as being helpful.

But, that said, the book certainly isn’t an altogether bad read.

Perhaps it may be that I’m reading too much into this since I do have family members with the same condition who have shown no violent tendencies in all of the time we’ve been around this person. 

It is hard not to show a little defensiveness when it comes to seeing how certain characters with illnesses are portrayed, so I’d be willing to grant that my experience and opinion of the book could also have been influenced by that.

What I can say for certain, is that, in spite of my issues with this book, I will definitely be looking out for more books from Kieran - that’s for sure.

Give it a read – who knows, you may end up enjoying this far more than I did.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book spotlight and giveaway: Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins



I’m ridiculously about the book that I, thanks to Rockstar Book tours, am featuring in today’s spotlight post.

 I’ve been a fan of Wendy Higgins since I’ve first read Sweet Evil, and in today’s post, I’ve not only been given the opportunity to be part of the book blast, but also to share a link to a recap of the entire series (Sweet Temptation is the fourth book in the Sweet Evil series and it tells the story of the series from Kai’s point of view), a giveaway (US only – sorry international and fellow SA lovelies) and more info about Wendy.

So, without further ado, behold the fabulousness of Sweet Temptation.

About The Book:

Title: SWEET TEMPTATION
Author: Wendy Higgins
Pub. Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 485
Format: Paperback, eBook, audiobook

Bad boy Kaidan Rowe has never wanted for anything—money, popularity, musical talent…hot girls—but seducing them is part of his duty as a Nephilim, slave to the demon Dukes.

As the son of the Duke of Lust, Kaidan has learned his father’s ways, becoming a master of passion, a manipulator of chemistry. Disobeying his father would mean certain death. Thankfully for Kaidan, he’s good at his job. And he enjoys it.

Until he meets Anna Whitt—sweet, smart, feisty, and inexplicably good—the one girl seemingly immune to his charms. The daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, she has a certain power over him, one that makes him wish for more than he could ever deserve.

Determined to save all the Neph from their dark lives as the influencers of sin, Anna joins forces with Kaidan to overcome the demons’ oppressive ways. In the light of her affections, Kaidan must undergo his toughest test of all, a battle of the heart.

Sensual and swoon worthy, this companion volume to the acclaimed Sweet Evil series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, told from the perspective of the irresistibly sexy and mysterious Kaidan Rowe, gives readers revealing insights into his struggle, his intense connection to Anna, and most of all, the true emotions that drive him.

Author Note:
Sweet Temptation will encompass the entire trilogy in a condensed version, beginning with Kai's life before he met Anna, and taking readers through the epilogue of Sweet Reckoning. Sweet Temptation is a companion novel, not meant to be a stand alone story.

It will definitely be a richer experience for those who have read the original trilogy.


Can't remember what happened in the previous books? Epic reads have compiled an epic (sorry, couldn't resist that one) recap for you. Head on over here, but be warned - there are spoilers!

Go HERE to read an excerpt from SWEET TEMPTATION!

Also check out Wendy's PINTEREST board for KAI!


About Wendy Higgins:

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me.

She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford.

Writing Young Adult (YA) stories gives her the opportunity to delve into the ambiguities of those pivotal, daunting, and exciting years before adulthood.


Connect with the author:

Giveaway Details:

1 Paperback of SWEET TEMPTATION and a signed bookplate and bookmarks. US Only.


Ends on September 18th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Giveaway: Win 1 of 3 copies of A Court of Thorns and Roses or win a copy of Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (Open internationally)

Hi fellow book lovelies

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog.

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks (I’ve had a very good reason – which I’ll elaborate more on sometime in the future), but know that I haven’t forgotten about the ACOTAR giveaway.

If you have yet to get yourself a copy of this amazing read (my review will be up in the next week or so), you’re in luck because today I’m going to give you the opportunity to win a copy of the book.

Two of the three copies will go to a South African reader and the third one will go to a reader based in any country the Book Depository ships to.

International lovelies – to sweeten the deal, I’m actually going to give you the option to choose between ACOTAR and Queen of Shadows.

Rules:

Here’s what you need to do:

Simply leave a comment below or tweet me (@Tammy24_7)  with a response to the following question:

Which fantasy novel do you think is severely underrated and why do you think more people should know about it?


Competition closes 17 September and you get two bonus entries if you tweet  or share the competition anywhere.