Thursday, 31 January 2013

Archangel's Kiss, by Nalini Singh


Title: Archangel's Kiss
Author: Nalini Singh
Format: Paperback
Length: 323 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Add this: Goodreads
Buy this: Paperback |Ebook

Ok, this review contains spoilers, as I am writing it presuming that you have read the first book in the series, Angel's Blood. If you haven't, I highly recommend it, and my review is available here.

So, Archangel's Kiss starts off immediately after the events of Angel's Blood; Elena (a Vampire Hunter) has woken up after being in a coma for a year, to discover that she has turned into an Angel by Raphael. This makes her a bit of a novelty, as typically Angels are born, not made. Elena is Raphael's one weakness, and now she needs to learn how to survive as a baby immortal, and, (the part she is looking forward to most) learn how to fly. In theory she is in the safest place possible for her, The Sanctuary, where baby Angel's are raised, and no human has ever set foot. But, Angels and Vampires are being attacked, and various factions of Angel's are being set against each other, as an unknown Angel begins making a power-play, so as to take their place in the Cadre of Ten. 

Then, to raise the pressure even more, Raphael and Elena receive an invite to a ball thrown in Elena's honour by Lijuan, another of the Archangels- to attend would be a trap, and to not attend would be a fatal sign of weakness. Lijuan is the most ancient of the immortals, and her powers have evolved to have influence over the dead. Plus, she is totally psychotic with no remaining humanity.

I really love this series of books; as I may have mentioned in my review of Angel's Blood, I swoon over Raphael, and Elena is a kick-ass protagonist. I found it really interesting how their relationship is a personal power struggle- Raphael is used to being master of all, and Elena knows she has to fight to retain her personality and independence, and not be lost in the strength of the relationship.

The story is packed full of things going on, and the politics of the Angels, Vampires and the Cadre of Ten is complex and well developed by Singh. There is plenty of sexual chemistry and banter throughout the book- as well as the exemplary world building, these are two strengths of Nalini Singh's writing. Fantastic stuff. 8.0 stars.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Top Off Tuesday #12- Walking Disaster

Top off Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Amanda from On a Book Bender, Christi from Smitten with Reading and Felicia from Geeky Blogger's Book Blog. Every Tuesday, participants post their favourite book covers featuring partially dressed hunks. I heartily approve of this practice, and so am joining in!



This week's top off cover is Walking Disaster, by Jamie McGuire! This is the prize for the competition starting Friday, so I thought we would have a theme this week!
Walking Disaster is Travis' POV.

How much is too much to love?

Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. Just when he thought he was invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Jamie McGuire's New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster Abby had her say. Now it's time to see the story through Travis's eyes.



As ever, comments are very welcome. Enjoy!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Game Review- Anno 1404

Having been in a reading slump for the last few days, I decided to dig out some PC games that I hadn't played in a while, and zone out of the real world for a few hours. First choice was Anno 1404, a world building game that I have owned for a few years, but only pull out every few months. Let me tell you, there is a reason for this: Anno 1404 is addictive. It has the ability to block out the real world for hours at a time- a characteristic that I value in books much more than games. A book will end after a few hundred pages, and that is the natural point at which to return to the real world, even if it is just to get some sleep or do the laundry. This game, however, has no foreseeable end-point. Yes, there is a goal, or several, to each scenario or challenge, but the time it takes to achieve them is sometimes bordering on ridiculous, especially as, by the end stages of some of the challenges, it is more a test of patience rather than a test of economic smarts. I may have actually come to resent this game, and my unwanted addiction to it. 

Like I said, Anno 1404 is a world-building game, which has a primary focus of building an 'occidental' town of increasing size, supplying its occupants with goods to fulfill their desires, and expanding into the 'Orient'. Goods can be traded using, typically enough, gold, but certain items and favours (as well as loans) can be gained through the use of honour; a secondary currency earned through completing tasks and quests, and as your towns expand. 
The storyline in the Campaign is interesting, provides lots of diverse challenges and requires different tactics to succeed at each level. It also has three different difficulty levels, and acts as the tutorial for the game. Once each of the levels has been completed, it can be replayed on its own at any time, and at any level- this is good if you want to focus on certain types of challenge. 

The layout of the game lends itself to those seeking gameplay based upon economic challenge and a vaguely capitalist venture. Tactics involving war and dominance over the AI competitors can be utilised. However, I found that these are much more difficult, not as satisfying, and to be really successful, the attacks need to be make after establishing a strong economic base to support your growing army units. The focus on trade utilises trade shipping routes, moving items between your own islands and buying and selling goods so as to fulfill the needs of the 7 groups of residents: beggars, peasants, citizens, patricians, noblemen, nomads and envoys. Their happiness allows the towns expansion, which in turn unlocks more buildings, and more desires to be filled. These residents are also the source of tax income, helping to keep your funds up.

The graphics are beautiful, and highly adjustable to suit the graphic capabilities of your PC. Each individual element, such as clouds, waves and water quality and reflections in the water, can be turned off, or set to a low or high level. When I am at the waiting stage of any game (usually waiting for supplies to be stockpiled), I find it incredibly relaxing to make the camera follow a ship on a long shipping route, zoomed in, using the postcard mode (that relocates the camera from an aerial perspective to looking as if one were on the ground), and just watch the things that it passes. The attention to detail here is really rather superb; it is possible to watch people walking about the town centres, workers rolling barrels between storage buildings and various industrial buildings, and see wild animals roaming the as-yet-untamed parts of islands.

The number of bugs in the game is quite noticeable- some of the challenges are occasionally provided in German, despite the English language settings, and some are missing entirely; this however, detracts only slightly from the gaming experience. 

Overall, despite my resentment for the time the game takes to play well, I really do love this game. It requires forethought and planning, as well as the ability to multi-task to play it successfully, and I always find the later stages of the game challenging (despite the waiting for resources), especially in coordinating forty odd ships between 12 islands in order to feed and clothe 10,000 rather demanding residents. It is fun as well; the characters the game provides, both as opponents and those who will assist you, are well developed, with various catchphrases that are alternatively amusing and aggravating. 7.5/10

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Discussion Post/ Random Rant- Would you be Divergent?

So the other day I posted my review of Divergent by Veronica Roth, in which I commented that "Its kind of interesting to consider what faction I would choose, both if I were Tris, or based on me personally". So, here is my follow up post.

For those of you who haven't read Divergent; 1) shame on you, push it to the top of your reading pile immediately! and 2) here is a break-down of the five factions.



Abnegation is the faction that values selflessness- every action should be determined by the consideration of others. They wear grey, don't celebrate birthdays, spend their time volunteering, and the political leaders are sourced from this faction, because they are incorruptible.

Erudite values intelligence- they have a constant thirst for knowledge, and wear blue. Career choices include occupations such as inventors and scientists.

The Dauntless value bravery- they are considered reckless by the other factions. They all wear black, and are all tattooed and pierced. Their main job is security, protecting the city from dangers both outside and in.

Amity are the peaceful faction; they are seen as laid back, and shown as both counsellors and farmers in the book. They all wear yellow clothing.

Members of the Candor faction are recognisable by their black suits and white ties; they see the truth as black and white, and dress to reflect that. To those in other factions, Candor members may seem tactless and frank, but their honesty means they make excellent (and trustworthy) lawyers.

Finally there are the factionless- those who fail their initiation into a faction, and are therefore rejected by that faction and wider society. They work doing the menial jobs that no one else wants to do, and get food and clothing in return.


So, if you were sixteen, in the choosing ceremony, and had to pick one of these five factions to join, which one would you choose? You have to live your life and dictate every decision based upon the rules of your chosen faction, and associate primarily with people who share those beliefs and mindset. Erm, no pressure.

I know which factions I wouldn't choose immediately. Amity is a definite no-no- I'm too much of a stress-head, and yellow is not a good colour on me at all. I definitely wouldn't pick Abnegation either- being considerate of others over yourself all the time must be exhausting! I found Tris' constant guilt that she wasn't selfless enough tiring, and that was only for a few pages!
I see truth as a matter of perspective/objectivity, i.e. in shades of grey, so that's Candour out as an option. Which leaves me with Dauntless and Erudite to choose from. This is where I am split. My innate geekisms, addiction to reading, curiosity (also known as being a nosy person), and the fact that the other day I was lamenting about how much I miss university, all point towards Erudite. But there is another part of me that really wants to be considered a member of the Dauntless faction: not that I have much proof of those qualities- I think that I am Erudite, and want to become more Dauntless. What would you choose? Would you take the risk to prove what you can be, like Tris did, or would you pick the safer option? Obviously it seems better to be Divergent, but that is an innate thing rather than a choice a person can make.

Yup, so that was my random rambling for today. Philosophical and whatnot, wasn't it? Let me know in the comments what you would be and why?

Friday, 25 January 2013

666 Park Avenue, by Gabriella Pierce

Title: 666 Park Avenue
Author: Gabriella Pierce
Format: Paperback
Length: 294 pages
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Chick-Lit Romance of Everythingness
Source: Sent by Publisher
Add this: Goodreads
Buy this: Paperback |Ebook

So about a week ago there I come home to find a note saying that I had a package waiting at the post office for me as the package had been too large to post. Like all girls, I love a large package (of books! Take your mind out of the gutter... *sniggers*), and so I trekked off to the post office in the snow to collect said large package, which turned out to contain this...

I've said in the genre bit above that this is a "Contemporary Paranormal Chick-Lit Romance of Everythingness". I stick by that- the book could easily fit into each category, and there is no clear primary genre it belongs to. This could have failed miserably, but I think in this case it works. By having parts that are clearly romance orientated, and some that are chick-lit-esque, it makes Jane's experience of New York feel much more grounded, despite being about to marry into a family of socialites from New York's High Society, as well as the witch storyline (both quite surreal elements). 

So we meet Jane shopping for a dress in Paris, before her date with Malcolm Doran, the super rich American hunk who has swept her off her feet in a whirlwind romance. One proposal later, and an unexpected death in the family, along with the bomb drop of Jane finding out that she is a witch and therefore probably in danger, and she has moved to New York with Malcolm. Enter borderline-psychopathic mother-in-law from hell, and its all socialite drama, family secrets and witchcraft type stuff. 

Now Jane is nice, but a bit thick, and very trusting. All of these coincidences happen to her and around her, combined with a warning from her Grandma, and yet she is quite happily oblivious to the glaringly obvious truth throughout the first half of the book. Maybe they were only glaringly obvious to me because I had read the book blurb? Anyway, she uses blind faith far too much. I'm just glad that she begins to stand on her own two feet by the end of the book. The love interests in the book didn't do much for me; Malcolm was too sickeningly "perfect" and I didn't trust him as far as I could throw him, whereas Jane's connection to Harris seemed to be all about the magic- I would have liked to see more between them than just a mystical spark. Lynne is the perfect mother-in-law from hell- so much so that I actually took pleasure in disliking her. 

Overall, I liked this book much more than I had expected too. After a slow start, it develops into a pretty good book, which has left me eager to read the two sequels. 6.5 stars.

Things I'm loving #10


Because, sometimes, I do things other than read....

This week I am loving....

Pitch Perfect.

This has become a massive addiction over the past few days. I saw the film in the cinema before Christmas, and again last week at a friends house. The two guys I watched it with went to the aquarium with me the other day, and most of the day was filled with all three of us randomly breaking into partial renditions of the songs from the film, as well as some of the more choice quotes. This is fine for them- they both have beautiful singing voices. Me, not so much. I therefore apologise to everyone who was within hearing distance of me, any time over the past week.

And yes, I am listening to the soundtrack right now. And singing along, badly.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Top Off Tuesday #11- The Wolf Within


Top off Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Amanda from On a Book Bender, Christi from Smitten with Reading and Felicia from Geeky Blogger's Book Blog. Every Tuesday, participants post their favourite book covers featuring partially dressed hunks. I heartily approve of this practice, and so am joining in!








The Wolf Within, by Cynthia Eden.

FBI Special Agent Duncan McGuire spends his days--and his nights--tracking real-life monsters. Most humans aren't aware of the vampires and werewolves that walk among them. They don't realize the danger that they face, but Duncan knows about the horror that waits in the darkness. He hunts the monsters, and he protects the innocent. Duncan just never expects to become a monster. But after a brutal werewolf attack, Duncan begins to change...and soon he will be one of the very beasts that he has hunted. 

Dr. Holly Young is supposed to help Duncan during his transition. It's her job to keep him sane so that Duncan can continue working with the FBI's Para Unit. But as Duncan's beast grows stronger, the passion that she and Duncan have held carefully in check pushes to the surface. The desire that is raging between them could be a very dangerous thing...because Holly isn't exactly human, not any longer.

As the monsters circle in, determined to take out all of the agents working at the Para Unit, Holly and Duncan will have to use their own supernatural strengths in order to survive. But as they give up more of their humanity and embrace the beasts within them both, they realize that the passion between them isn't safe, it isn't controllable, and their dark need may just be an obsession that could destroy them both. 

Author's Note: THE WOLF WITHIN is an adult paranormal romance. It contains werewolves, vampires, adult language, sexy times, and lots of danger. Please consider yourself warned. THE WOLF WITHIN contains approximately 60,000 words.

As usual, let me know your thoughts on the rather steamy cover. This one made me laugh, not just because of the loltastic tag line, but also those "scratches". Sex injury, maybe?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

'Betrayed', and 'Chosen', by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title: Betrayed; Chosen
Author: P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Vampire
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Yes this is super naughty of me, but I don't like writing reviews of books that I wasn't that keen on, (unless I am in a bad mood and I feel the need to be really scathing in my assessment of its lack of awesome). So, here are two reviews stacked together. The House of Night Series as a whole is, in my opinion, devoid of awesome. My review for the first in the series, Marked, is available here. I did mention before that when I finished Marked, I did go on to read Betrayed, and then Chosen straight away. At the time I wanted to. The Cast family writing duo have an innate talent for ending books with no loose ends tied up, whilst also posing more questions that are most likely not going to be answered. But.... just in case they might be answered, you read on, ever hopeful. Lose all hope now, and give up, and please, I entreat you, go and pick up any other long-running vampire based series of books. I am hearing great things about the Night Huntress books- try them maybe?

So, the things that bug me? Zoey Redbird. Repeatedly. 
This girl's attention span is a faulty compass, swinging wildly between the many boys who like her instead of actually focusing on the clusterfuck of shenanigans going on in the House of Night. House of Night is the wrong name for it. House of Perpetual and Ever Escalating Drama That Totally Overshadows ALL OF THE EVIL PLOTS. I know it doesn't have the same ring to it, but deal with it, I'm ranting here.

Many of the other things that annoy me? Try all the same things as in the first book. The writing, the dialogue, the hypocritical judging of people and what constitutes being a slut and the questionable validity of Zoey's friends as three dimensional characters. These are all covered in my review of Marked, so I won't go back into repetitive details too much. 

Also, as the plot goes on, and you get through the books, the details all start to blur together. The events of each one overlap slightly, bringing in new settings at a mid point in one book, but it being the main location in the next book. When writing this review, I had to wikipedia the plot of these books, just to sort out where each book began and ended. I would like to think that if the series was good enough, the books would stand out individually in my head, rather than the mush that they are presently. It doesn't help that at each stage there are elements of the storyline that are unresolved, and almost forgotten in the main body of the plot, before being re-raised again by Zoey's closing or opening words of "OMG, what the hell is going on in my life? And how will I handle all of these boyfriends?"

Luckily there are some mildly redeeming features; Aphrodite totally comes into her own as reluctant co-conspirator and later begrudging friend- I kind of wish the books were about her instead actually. Ok, she is the only redeeming factor in these two books. The plots would be quite good I suppose if the constant boyfriend drama wasn't constantly in the way. I mean, there are dead humans turning up, and dead but undead vampires, key characters dying, as well as the whole Neferet not being all peaches and cream perfection.  But the constant boyfriend drama IS constantly in the way, and as such... I decree 3.5 stars apiece. And yes, I know that this is the vaguest review I have ever written in terms of plot spoilers... but its all mush.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Review: Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: Paperback
Length: 487 pages
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
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Buy this: Paperback |Ebook

In case you missed it, this was my initial reaction to Divergent... "OMG. Wow, my head has just imploded from the unexpected love that I now hold for this book. Honestly did not expect to like it this much."

So yes, I did kinda like it a lot, when I didn't really expect to. Foolish move- pick up a book that ranked incredibly highly in the goodreads.com readers' choice awards, that has been read by what seems like everyone in the blogging community, and loved by all of them, and then expect to dislike it, because dystopian type books generally aren't my cup of tea.

Anyway. Plot and stuff going on etc... Tris lives in a post-apocalyptic city where the population are divided into 5 factions, each of which value a different quality. Everyone's behaviour, clothing and even career paths are determined by the faction in which they reside. There is only one chance to change factions, when at the age of 16, everyone takes the aptitude test to discover which faction their personalities swing towards, before they choose their faction.

Tris is told by her examiner that the results are inconclusive- she shows traits applicable to three of the factions; Abnegation (who value selflessness), Dauntless (who value bravery) and Erudite (who value intelligence). As she shows an affinity for more than one faction, she is Divergent; those who are found to be divergent are usually disposed of "accidentally" by the leadership, and so the examiner covers up her results for her, and advises Beatrice to keep her status a secret at all costs. Tris chooses to become Dauntless, leaving her parents behind in Abnegation, and embracing a new future for herself, and the hardest challenge she has ever faced. The rest of the book is a mixture of Tris training to become Dauntless, and trying to get through the initiation process, which involves both physical and mental training to combat fear, whilst trying to hide her Divergent nature, as well as uncovering the big bad plot (which I won't detail, because of spoilers).

Ah, there are so many things to say about this book, and so many ways to look at it. Its kind of interesting to consider what faction I would choose, both if I were Tris, or based on me personally (I think I can sense a potential discussion post...). From whatever angle you look at Divergent I think it handles a load of issues really well, especially about identity, but without being preachy. Oh, look at me, analysing stuff. I think the whole future post apocalyptic world aspect is handled quite well- the way the factions are explained fits neatly into the telling of the story, and doesn't slow down the story progression- in fact, the factions and their dynamics, and the whole fabric of this future society feeds directly into the story. There is just the right balance of explaining the current situation, without adding in extraneous historical background that would sooth the complaints of nit pickers but would detract from the story.

I mean, the writing is not the most spectacular (although, by the writing gods, I swear I have read much worse). But the plot is interesting, and there is a lot of stuff packed in. The pace is also pretty good- I read it in a little under 24 hours because I was always intrigued by the progression of the story. I am also sooo glad that Veronica Roth didn't feel the need to set up a love triangle. Four (silly name, but I can deal with that) as a character is well rounded and impressive enough that there was no need to sneak in another love interest to cause an emotional clash.
Plus, tattoos. The only reason this book took me a whole 24 hours to read was because I kept stopping to look at tattoos on the internets.

Basically, I could write a whole bloody essay on this book. Essentially, I really liked it. If you choose to venture out into the sea of Dystopian novels, then this is the vessel you should hop on board. 8.5 stars.
Yuck, did I just use a boat metaphor? Won't happen again guys!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Teaser Tuesday #21


This is a post for Teaser Tuesday, which is where I randomly pick a page of the book I'm reading at the moment, and share with all you lovelies two sentences off that page, with no spoilers allowed. This is a weekly event, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The button is supplied by the lovely Kylee of Babbling of a Bookaholic. 





This week I'm reading Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire. I have read this before, but I am embracing re-readings of books I love, including this one. My review is available here!

p. 73. 
I leaned into Adam's ear. "I've got two on Travis," I said.
Adam's eyebrows shot up as he watched me pull two Benjamins from my pocket. He held out his palm, and I slapped the bills into his hand.
"You're not the Goody Two-shoes I thought you were." he said, giving me the once-over.



As usual,  I'd love to know your thoughts. 

See you next week!

Top Off Tuesday #10- Eye of The Beholder

Top off Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Amanda from On a Book Bender, Christi from Smitten with Reading and Felicia from Geeky Blogger's Book Blog. Every Tuesday, participants post their favourite book covers featuring partially dressed hunks. I heartily approve of this practice, and so am joining in!

Eye of The Beholder, by Dana Marie Bell
Justice isn’t blind anymore.

True Destiny, Book 2
Travis Yardley-Rudiger deliberately stayed away from Jamie Grimm, desperate not to pull her into the petty war of wills between him and her grandfather, Oliver Grimm. Unfortunately the reemergence of Baldur and Loki and their claiming of Jamie’s sister Jordan put her squarely in Grimm’s sights. Her torture at Grimm’s hands left Travis determined to claim and protect the woman he’s loved for years—but first he has to find a way to break the news that Travis is actually Tyr.
Jamie keeps seeing the weirdest things. Flames in her sister’s eyes, for instance…even Travis’s entire body glowing. Then there are the recurring nightmares she just can’t shake. One thing is certain: Travis’s usual standoffish attitude has done an abrupt one-eighty. He’s even gone so far as to move with her into her sister’s condo while she convalesces. And when he reveals who—and what—he is, Jamie is left to wonder what the Norse God of Justice could possibly want with a crazy redhead with severe family issues.
As far as he’s concerned, it will be Travis’s pleasure to show her…

Warning: This book contains explicit sex, graphic language, a real blond god and a woman with reasons to have trust issues.



As usual, let me know your thoughts on the rather steamy cover.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bout of Books 6.0 Updates

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
Sooo.... This is my updates post for Bout of Books 6.0. I'll be updating this throughout the week and what not. My goals are available here. Enjoy!


UPDATES

Monday
Number of books I've read today: 1
Number of Pages read today: 66% (ebook I had already started)
Total number of books I've read: 1
Books: A Cut-throat Business, by Jenna Bennett

Thoughts: I've been ill for a few days now, and all sleepy, miserable and grumpy because of it. I've been struggling to get back to this book for a while, so I was glad to finish it, but also glad to see that it was actually better than I thought it was going to be.



Tuesday
Number of books I've read today: 0
Number of Pages read today: 228+ 8
Total number of books I've read: 1
Books: Wait For Me, by Elisabeth Naughton; Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Thoughts: Read a lot this morning, then popped off to the library, and ended up coming back with Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Yet again I have gone off-list for Bout of Books!!! I have some sort of job fair thing to go to tomorrow, so I don't expect much reading will get done. But I can hope.

Wednesday

Number of books I've read today: 2
Number of Pages read today: 17 + 479
Total number of books I've read: 3
Books: Wait For Me, by Elisabeth Naughton; Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Thoughts: Divergent.... OMG... WOW. My head has just imploded from the unexpected total love I now hold for this book. Honestly did not expect to like it this much. And finished Wait for Me, as well, which I liked the plot, but there was something that annoyed me (and I'm too tired to figure out what). Maybe it just paled in comparison to Divergent. So far kicking ass on my aims for the weeks reading, so YAY!


Thursday

Number of books I've read today: 0
Number of Pages read today: 41
Total number of books I've read: 3
Books: Archangel's Kiss, by Nalini Singh

Thoughts: Oh my gosh, you guys!! My Vampires in popular culture challenge was running today (and still is here, feel free to add your comments still), and you guys have just been so amazingly enthusiastic. I did attempt to make some book spine poetry for the other challenge being run today, but I only have a few books here in London at the moment, and my head has no reason or rhyme, and so failed in monstrous proportions.
I also went to a job interview, and took a 2 hour nap, before applying for a load of random jobs (interrupted occasionally by me reading all your fantastic comments), and so reading time has been sparse today. But tomorrow is looking gooood. I have also allocated a load of time for replying to comments tomorrow, and stalking everyone else participating in the readathon, as well as writing some reviews before I forget how good all these books are.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Number of books I've read today: 0
Number of Pages read today:141 + 71
Total number of pages I've read:
Books: Archangel's Kiss, by Nalini Singh, Her Heart for the asking, by Lisa Mondello.

Thoughts: Very busy fews days with job applications and social life etc, but some reading got done. Again, like Bout of Books 5.0 I have managed to slow down by the end of the week and end up reading slightly less than my aims. My final total is more like 3 and two halves, so I'm totally going to count that as four books. My total page count is 1170 pages which I thought was pretty good. It is definitely more than I would read in a standard week anyway. How did everyone else do?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Bout of Books 6.0 Challenge- Vampires in Popular Fiction!!!!!!

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
Yay, its Challenge Time!!! *dances*

Ok... I lurve me some vampires. Not just in books, but films and tv shows too... nothing like some retro Buffy the Vampire Slayer to make your day brighter.

So I was thinking a while back, as one casually does, if I had to pick, who would be my favourite vampire, and why? And then I fretted about it for a while and I made a list (this was really bugging me) because I just couldn't decide, and then Amanda and Kelly put out the call for Bout of Books 6.0 Challenges... And I thought "Yes!! You guys, you lovely readathon readers of many books, can answer for me!!" I'm pointing at you, yes, you, right now btw. 

So, WHO are your favourite vampires? And WHY?? 
I want everyone to name one guy vamp and one lady vamp (and the books/series they are from, just so everyone knows), and explain why they have a place in your heart as your super most favourite vampires everrr. You will win bonus points for creativity of your explanations. "I love him" isn't a good enough explanation for me, I'm afraid. And remember, no one is wrong if they can explain their answer, but you can be more right than other people.

And then tomorrow I'll take a looksy at your answers and try to amalgamate them all together into some kind of ultimately popular vampire thing, based on mass opinion and the hilarity of answers. No prizes, I'm afraid, other than the knowledge that you made your vampy love known to all the world.... ha, that was dramatic... I'll rephrase... to some of the Bout of Books 6.0 participants.

And.... go!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Teaser Tuesday #20


This is a post for Teaser Tuesday, which is where I randomly pick a page of the book I'm reading at the moment, and share with all you lovelies two sentences off that page, with no spoilers allowed. This is a weekly event, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The button is supplied by the lovely Kylee of Babbling of a Bookaholic. 





This week I'm reading Shadowmagic, by John Lenahan.

79%
The Leprechauns were a bit in awe of us, so they pretty much kept to themselves. I rode abreast with Araf- and you know how chatty he is. 



As usual,  I'd love to know your thoughts. 

See you next week!

Top off Tuesday #9- Caressed by A Crimson Moon

Top off Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Amanda from On a Book Bender, Christi from Smitten with Reading and Felicia from Geeky Blogger's Book Blog. Every Tuesday, participants post their favourite book covers featuring partially dressed hunks. I heartily approve of this practice, and so am joining in!


Caressed by A Crimson Moon, by Amanda J. Greene.

Consumed by madness and tormented by dark memories of blood and death, Hadrian Lucretius, King of the Validus Clan, has returned after living in self-imposed exile for nearly three hundred and fifty years.
To maintain peace with the vampires, Eva Maldonado is offered as a sacrifice to the crazed vampire king by her father, the alpha of the Silveria Shifter Pack. Hadrian’s reputation is both legendary and lethal; he is ruthless, bloodthirsty, lusty, and soulless. When Eva arrives at the ancient fortress high in the Carpathian Mountains, she is shocked to find a ravaged man with dark burning eyes filled with loneliness and dangerous desire.
Would she be his lover…or his prey? His saviour…or his victim? Would Hadrian lure her into madness or would their perilous passion be their redemption?

Caressed by A Crimson Moon is the third novel in the Rulers of Darkness Series, and is to be released on the 25th of January. As usual, let me know your thoughts on the rather steamy cover.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Angel's Blood, by Nalini Singh


Title: Angel's Blood
Author: Nalini Singh
Format: Paperback
Length: 339 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Add this: Goodreads
Buy this: Paperback |Ebook


MMMM, Raphael. *fangirls out, hand actions et al.* *swoons*


Yes, I have another completely fangirl-esque fictional character crush. He's an Angel. Well, actually an Archangel, complete with ridiculous good looks, immortality, power, requisite heavily muscled body, wings, and a doubtable moral character. Just perfect.


Anyway, enough about me fan-girling. This book... just... gah! I need more words. *checks thesaurus* I want to say superb, but I am aware of how British I sound... oh, wait, I AM British... Yup, I'm going to stick with my original decision then... Angel's Blood is bloomin' superb! Now sit down with a pot of tea whilst I tell you all about it.

Elena hunts vampires for a living. (At this point of the synopsis I may have remarked "Don't we all?" which was accompanied by a mildly sarcastic rolling of the eyes.) Vampires are made by Angels in return for a contractually binding 100 years of servitude, and Elena hunts down and returns those naughty scallywag vamps who renege on their promises of servitude and try to escape. I say try, as she is hunter-born, and so has a sixth sense for tracking vamps, and so the poor little (blood)suckers stand no chance. Elena gets summoned to Angel Towers, to meet Raphael, Archangel and general head honcho Angel of the USA, who recruits Elena to track down another Archangel, Uram, who has gone just a teensy bit feral/mental/psychopathic. Elena and Raphael have to work together to track down Uram as the death-toll rises swiftly. The problem for Elena is, this is her most difficult mission yet, on several fronts; Archangels are almost impossible to kill, which makes her easy psychopath prey; If Uram doesn't kill her, then Raphael might, as he has a reputation to be ruthless in handing out punishments (and it doesn't help that Elena keeps pissing him off); and the kicker- Raphael has identified Elena as his next lover- which she is finding increasingly hard to resist. 


"You scare the shit out of me at times, but I want to dance with you anyway." 
-Elena to Raphael  

Sooo, yes... This book is full of the sexual chemistry, to the point where it is nearly dripping from the pages. Thankfully not literally. The world that Singh has created is fresh and original, and fantastically well thought out. Every character is interesting and well formed, even if they are just there for a few lines. Elena is an amazing character who manages to guide the reader through the etiquette and social order of a world inhabited by Angels and Vampires, without pausing the story. She is strong enough to hold her own, in both verbal and physical fights, and has absolutely no sense of self-preservation, which makes the threat to her come from many angles. Add in that her relationship with Raphael goes beyond just sexual attraction- afterall, she is the only one who makes Raphael "a little bit human". Its all just *gesticulates vaguely*... so so good. Exquisite. Splendiferous. My words fail me to explain the extent to which this book makes me happy. 

Promise me you will read it! Nalini Singh has a majestic way with words that, when combined with the constant banter between various characters, literally had me smiling as I read it. 9.0 stars.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Discussion Post/ Random Rant- Should Romance be the central focus of a book

So the other day I was picking my books for the upcoming Bout of Books 6.0 Readathon and I came across Beautiful Disaster, which I read last August, and reviewed last September. So, checking out my old review (for a refresh of what I thought at the time) and this one bit got me thinking...

"Normally I'm not too keen on this type of focus, where the main focus is the relationship, but Abby and Travis' relationship is so all-consuming that the book almost HAS to be told in this way, and so it works."

So basically, it has had me wondering, is there an ideal balance of plot to romance? Which one should be the driving force in a novel? What do people prefer?
In Beautiful Disaster, the driving force is definitely the relationship between Travis and Abby, and the events that happen in the book are the result of their relationship. The opening scene is them meeting- there is no chapter preceding their relationship, and so, the book is defined by their relationship. 

And then there is the type of book I prefer, in which something of a plot type nature happens, and then some sort of love interest is introduced, usually as a result of the plot type event. 


In Naked in Death, Eve Dallas meets Roarke, her future husband, because he is a suspect in the murder investigation that she is leading. Solving the murder is the first priority, and the romance second.

In Undead and Unwed, Betsy Taylor gets run over by a car and turned into the Vampire Queen of Prophesy, which is how she meets the delectable Eric. Defeating the friendly neighbourhood psychopathic vampire leader is first priority, and the romance second. 

Just a few examples there off the top of my head. Now as far as I am concerned, the chemistry between two people has to be pretty damn good to warrant their relationship being the main bulk of a book. I can't really think of any books that manage to pull it off as well as Beautiful Disaster. So, I know what I expect from a book (most of the time, as sometimes it is good to mix things up)- a strong plot line, that means the introduction of a love interest who doesn't dominate the story, but who still manages to hold their own. 
I suppose the question is, what do you guys think? What do you want from your romance novels? Pure all-consuming romance, or romance squeezed into real life?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Bout of Books 6.0 Goals

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
Yes, it is finally time for Bout of Books 6.0...


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books 6.0 team

TIME DEVOTED TO READING

I will be reading as much as possible, as I am gainfully unemployed- *cough* that is totally a concept... my unemployed status is utilised to make a profitable use of all my spare time... anyway...

MY GOALS
In the last Bout of Books I read nearly 3 books, but my progress was hampered by numerous factors, including working several 12 hour shifts through the read-a-thon week.
So this time my goals are...

  • To read at least 4 books
  • To get more involved in the Bout of Books Community, via twitter and people's various blogs.
  • To review all of the books read over the next fortnight.
Don't forget that I am running a challenge (more like a lovely chat/opinion giving) about everyone's favourite vampires on the 10th, so remember to stop by and share!



BOOKS TO READ

Ebooks
The Book Waitress, by Deena Remiel
Dinner With A Vampire, by Abigail Gibbs

Books
Archangel's Kiss, by Nalini Singh
Throne of Jade, by Naomi Novik
Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire

Arcs
The Death of Lyndon Wilder and The Consequences Thereof, by E. A. Dineley

Also remember that I am the Queen of Literary Indecision- This list of books can and most likely will change.


Wishing everyone the best of luck!! I shall be hopping around various blogs to yay people along in encouragement during the read-a-thon!



Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Teaser tuesday #19


This is a post for Teaser Tuesday, which is where I randomly pick a page of the book I'm reading at the moment, and share with all you lovelies two sentences off that page, with no spoilers allowed. This is a weekly event, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The button is supplied by the lovely Kylee of Babbling of a Bookaholic. 
 This week I'm reading Tainted by Temptation by Katy Madison. It's a gothic romance about a governess, Velvet Campbell,  and her employer, Lucian Pendar. Its currently a free ebook available on Amazon.

8%
Governesses didn't grab the master of the house. She never wanted to give the impression that she condoned physical contact.

 As usual,  I'd love to know your thoughts. 
See you next week!

Top off Tuesday #8 - Harm's Hunger

Top off Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Amanda from On a Book Bender, Christi from Smitten with Reading and Felicia from Geeky Blogger's Book Blog. Every Tuesday, participants post their favourite book covers featuring partially dressed hunks. I heartily approve of this practice, and so am joining in!



In order to meet her Great Aunt Sally's will's stipulation to 'handle the sale personally,' Jena Hudson visits Texas to finalize the sale of her aunt's ranch to her neighbor, Harmon Steele. What Jena didn't expect was to fall for the rugged, sexy cowboy.
Harm might find Jena to be the most sensual creature he's ever met, but he won't let her sultry body be more than a satisfying distraction. He learned a long time ago, happy-ever-afters are best left for childhood fantasies. So, what's a girl to do when she finds out the man of her fantasies doesn't believe in a happy ending? Given the right set of circumstances, she'll create one for him.
Note: HARM'S HUNGER is an ~18,000 word novella. This is the first story in the Bad in Boots series.

Well Happy New Year to you all! May your year be full of topless men, and your new year's hangovers be minimal. Perverse comments are, as ever, encouraged.

Things that this year has taught me...

This year has been a massive learning curve for me; here is a selection of the random things I have found out.

The book blogging community are a bunch of lovely folks. Nuts. But lovely.
That I should listen to the niggling doubts in my head/trust my instincts more often.
That I am stronger than I thought.
That I am a facebook addict. I have a problem, and I am trying to replace this with a twitter addiction instead.
That the Yolo lifestyle is far too much effort to maintain.
That trying to fit all my possessions into a suitcase and a rucksack is a bold and stupid idea, that is totally unachievable.
That I am quite happy to leave all the clutter and crap I thought I needed behind.
That trusting people is hard, especially when you don't know what to expect from them.
That stress is caused by individual people, as much as the situations I find myself in.
That I ought to believe the nice things that people say.
That the Mayans just got bored of writing their calendar, and didn't actually predict the end of the world.
That real friendships can be picked up right where you left off, even if there is a big break in the middle.
That my friends all think that they are pimps.
That my Dad worries about me.
That I am much better at having fun now than I used to be.
That I love taking pictures.
That my mum believes in me (God only knows why).
That I have some truly amazing friends.
That I hate being pitied.
That Jake, Nick and Abbie have a really comfy sofa.
That I can find something to love in any job.
That Tumblr is amazing.
That my perception of myself is terrible; I frequently underestimate myself.
That perceptive (relative) strangers give the best advice
That 16 year old me had much better music taste than 21 year old me. 22 year old me is trying to rectify this, and has begun a musical re-education.
That drunk me says some stupid things, is fairly slow, and can't hold a meaningful discussion where my actual views are put across and actually understood.
That I regret the things that I didn't say more than anything I have said or done.
That cheap noodles have been highly affected by inflation rates.
That I can do 24 shots in one night.
That I really shouldn't do 24 shots in one night.