My Catchphrases

Friday, 26 February 2010

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Every winter, she watches him but every summer, he disappears. Sam leads two lives. In winter, he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack. In summer, he has a few precious months to be human ...until the cold makes him shift back again. When Grace and Sam finally meet, they realize they can't bear to be apart. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human - or risk losing himself, and Grace, for ever.

Oh My Gosh, I am afraid I am going to gush again. This book was just so AWESOME. I have read a few books since finishing this one and I can still remember it and how it made me feel. AWESOME!
OK, now to try to explain succinctly why I loved this book so much.

Firstly it is written in first person narrative with alternating perspectives of the male and female protagonists. Allowing the reader  to see both viewpoints working together seamlessly. The characters draw you in from the very first page. The only person I really did not like was Olivia and even that was resolved at the end of the book.

The writing is both touching and humorous. My heart ached for Sam, I just wanted to keep him warm. As his character develops you really get a sense of how he became the person he is. Dealing with a myriad of awful events from a really young age, and over analyzing his every move. Just thinking about the story still sets my heart aching.

The descriptions of the seasons was beautiful and the way in which people look can be compared to seasons was ingenious. I think I would be an autumn as I have red hair (although it is not my natural colour) but with greeny/blue eyes.

What season would you be and why?

All  the characters are well developed, lots of background information is given throughout the story so you are not left pondering the intricacies of the plot. You can just lose yourself completely in the imagery and details.

I hope I have made a clear point as to why I love this book and am keeping it on my bookshelf. A most highly recommended paranormal romance. I can't wait for the sequel Linger.
Just to give you added excitement it is going to be made into a movie.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Magaret Stohl

Synopsis from Amazon:
In Ethan Wate's hometown there lies the darkest of secrets ...There is a girl. Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head. Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes. There is a curse. On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it's been promised. And no one can stop it. In the end, there is a grave. Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided. Ethan never even saw it coming.

Firstly, I have to say I had a slight giggle to myself about the green eyes and black hair (I should really start a list to see how many paranormal protagonists we can find with green eyes and/or black hair).

The first person narrative is written from the perspective of the male protagonist (Ethan) something I did find hard to relate to being a girl and having three girls myself (J has to get in touch with his feminine side in our house or shut the door to watch sport).

There is dramatic tension almost from the first page. The background descriptions of the characters and the setting were fantastic and really fed my technicolor imagination.

The use of the Gothic convention of nesting (a story within a story) was deployed with great efficiency adding significance to the main plot.

There is clever use of the history of the civil war intertwining the story, although I can appreciate the detail and depth it added to the story it is probably easier to relate to if you are American and studied the Civil War. The references to To Kill a Mockingbird were intriguing and have certainly inspired me to read it.
I found  the description of Ethan's aunts an ingenious parallel to the mythical fates or even the witches in Macbeth.

The references to religion and voodoo were extraordinary and well written, the cross-over element between religions was enlightening. Although, I found the classification of all paranormal/supernatural beings as Casters was too much of a generalisation for me, I appreciate that all things contain good and bad elements, the yin and yang if you will, but I like my neat little categories Vampire, Witch, Shifter, etc but that is just a personal preference.

The Gothic imagery was fantastic, I especially liked the description of the libraries (I wonder why!). The use of Latin and Welsh (yeah! WELSH) was just fantastic (not that I am biased because I am Welsh).
The action is tightly packed towards the end of the book and the ending is a cliff-hanger.

However, there were some elements that bothered me, I found the relationship between Ethan and Lena to be very intense considering their ages (15 & 16) perhaps it is just he mother coming out in me as I do not think I would be very happy if one of my daughters was in such an intense relationship at that age. I guess the point is that soul mates/reincarnation has no age limits. I also found Amma's changing attitude to Lena to be a bit confusing.

On the whole an enjoyable paranormal romance/thriller with some terrific quotes.
This one made me laugh and I can picture any 6 year old doing it:
like I was 6 years old and had eaten all the dry jello mix out of the pantry
This one makes you think:
Darkness, real darkness, was something more than just a lack of light.
Lastly and more personal, this is how I feel about my mothers funeral where I had no say in how or where she was buried:
I still can't think about her being there. It doesn't make sense. Why would you stick someone you love down in a lonely old hole in the dirt? Where its cold, and dirty, and full of bugs. That cant be how it ends, after everything, after everything she was.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Review: Betrayals by Lili St Crow

The second novel in the Strange Angels series picks up with Dru neatly tucked away in a Schola that's more like a prison than a secret training facility. Except for one tiny detail ...she's the only girl in the place and is totally surrounded by tons of cute boys. But a traitor in the Order wants Dru dead and she can't trust anyone except for Graves. Too bad he's being kept busy with a new crew of wulfen teens and doesn't have time for her. As she learns the truth about who she can and can't trust, Dru's only hope may be to save herself - although the one gift that makes her special is draining away, and she doesn't know how to get it back. Will Dru survive long enough to find out who is really after her? Or is she destined for the same fate as her murdered parents?

I really, really wanted some answers in the second installment of Strange Angels (review HERE) , did I get them, disappointingly NO!

There is a lot of repetition throughout this book, it rehashes the events of the first book quite a bit, making it really unnecessary to read the first book, (in my opinion) it is quite easy to pick up the threads of the plot and storyline with the constant references back to previous occurrences.

The only character  that seemed to develop within this book was that of Graves, I felt he really matured as a character without losing his depth. I found Chris to have had a complete personality change, which was disconcerting, confusing and sometimes creepy (or am I missing the point and that is how he is supposed to be portrayed) and I really did not understand the need for the Russian quotes. Nothing is referred to within the book as to why Chris has started to speak in Russian.

Again there is a lot of action scenes, but I did feel this was just dragging the story out rather than building the tension in the plot.

I  do think that the basic storyline is excellent I just wish more of the plot was revealed rather than the repetition. On the whole I was left irritated that the second installment of Strange Angels has left me with more questions and not answered any from the previous book. I know I am going to have to keep reading the series just to get my answers but I cant honestly say that I am excited about it.

Sorry and it is only my opinion, like I said I think the basic storyline is terrific.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

An extraordinary faerie tale of magic and mystery, romance and danger, described by Stephenie Meyer as 'a remarkable debut'. Laurel is an ordinary fifteen-year-old high school girl. But something incredible is happening to her. She is changing. Now Laurel is about to discover that a deep and powerful magic holds the key to her destiny.
In  this enchanting tale of magic, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew  about faeries will be changed forever.

Beautifully written debut novel.
Aimed at tweens rather than YA but it still contains some adult sexual themes.
An unusual and creative  take on a faerie story. Lovely nature imagery which worked wonders with my technicolour imagination.
Clever use of science to reinforce the plot - it might even encourage tweens to study science ;)
Ingenious linking of Shakespearean characters with mythological characters added an extra dimension to the storyline.
A heart wrenching ending that lingers in your imagination long after closing the book. A truly enchanting story.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Big Big Big Competition

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Review: My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey

Synopsis from Amazon:
The Blake's are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer.

A lively, entertaining read written from the perspective of the female protagonists. The storyline is well written with lots of interesting background information given adding depth and dimension to the story.

The story kept giving me flashes of Romeo & Juliet with the whole star crossed lovers theme.

The characters were well developed, I particularly liked Lucy and related to her well, she even has one of the best quotes I have read:

bravado was a karmic debt I had to work through....basically saying I'd been mouthy and obnoxious for several lifetimes now.

I really could not put this book down and read it in one day, it had everything action, romance, intrigue, double-cross and plot twists.

A highly recommended read for those who like paranormal romance (the male protagonists are hot, hot, hot). I cant wait for the next installment of the Drake Chronicles.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Synopsis from Amazon:
Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken.....
For 17 year old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel grey eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her.
Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie's enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the gate stands open but once a year.
This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening...something wondrous and strange. And Kelley's eyes a re opening not just to the Faerie that surround her but to the heritage that awaits her.
Now Kelley must navigate deadly Faerie treachery - and her growing feelings for Sonny - in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance.
Wondrous Strange is a richly layered tale of love between faerie and mortal, betrayal between kings and queens, and magic...between author and reader.


Wow, after a synopsis like that how can anyone resist reading it.

I really enjoyed this story and can pretty much sum it up in one sentence (although I will embellish) this story provides a fantasy world to lose yourself in.

It is very similar to Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr in respect of the build up of the Faerie courts however, Wondrous Strange concentrates more on the interaction of the courts with the seasons than Wicked Lovely and there is not as much interaction between the mortal realm and the Faery realm. There is also a parallel with the element of the Wild Hunt in both stories.

The characters are well balanced and their interactions believable. The story is beautifully written with enchanting & ethereal imagery. Shakespeare quotes and references abound, reinforcing the storyline, adding depth and dimension to the plot. Adding to my education via osmosis again! The plot twists are built up slowly and are believable, although I would not say the twists were predictable neither were they completely unexpected.

Although this book is part of a series it can be read as a stand alone story.

In conclusion, an entertaining story, an escape from reality, a fantasy world to lose yourself in. Enjoy.   

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St Crow

Synopsis from Amazon:
Dru Anderson: Night Hunter. Knife Wielder. Heart Breaker. Dru can sense evil, which helps when she and her Dad are tracking down ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional reanimated corpse. It's a dangerous life, but it's the only one she knows. Then Dru's dad turns up dead and she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deadly game where every move she makes could be her last. Dru is more special than she realizes - and whatever killed her dad could be coming for her next. Can Dru stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections? Find out in the heart-stopping first book in a thrilling series.

Written in first person narrative in what I can only describe as 'common' language and phrasing, which I did feel lowered the intelligence of the story but can easily be attributed to a 16/17 year old girl. Mild use of bad language which although fits in with the characters is not really necessary for the storyline.

The actually layout of the book is very visual with the start of each chapter having black misty swirls at the top of the page, making it look sinister and instilling a feeling of dread.

The story starts with a shocking twist that draws the reader right into the plot. The idea of an alternate world inhabited by monsters/vampire/werewolves/etc living side by side the human world brought to mind Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and The Night World Series by L.J.Smith, I actually think at one point there is a reference to the Night World in the plot. We are drawn into the protagonists (Dru) world where she is trying to maintain a normal facade when her life is anything but.

The writing is very descriptive with lots of dramatic tension and some gory imagery. The description of the weather in particular actually made me feel cold. There are lots of references to snakes (not good if you have a snake phobia like me added together with my technicolour imagination) I could actually feel my skin crawling at the descriptions, which I guess is the point.

The characters were well developed and interesting, there 'secrets' have yet to be fully revealed so there is plenty of scope to develop them further in Betrayals. Reminiscent of The Twilight Saga with the love triangle element. I am actually taking bets with myself at the moment to see if one of the main characters will have green eyes. The relationship between the characters is believable and easy to relate to (especially that of the friendship between Dru and Graves).

Although the action is fast paced very little of the plot is revealed. There is a major cliffhanger ending; although some plot questions are answered there are a lot more left to be revealed (hopefully) in the next book, Betrayals. 

In conclusion, a good read if you like paranormal romance and lots of fast paced action and dramatic tension but be warned you will be left with a lot of unanswered questions and definitely have to read Betrayals to get more of the answers (great marketing strategy). Not for those looking for a stand alone story, this is definitely a series.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Review: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Synopsis from Amazon:
Growing up in the town of Sleepy Hollow, the mystery and intrigue over Washington Irving's classic legend are all part of daily life for sixteen-year-old Abbey. But when her best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Abbey's world is suddenly turned upside down. While everyone is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead, Abbey refuses to believe that she is really gone. And when Abbey meets the gorgeous, but mysterious, Caspian at Kristen's memorial she starts to feel like she has something to hold on to for the first time since Kristen's disappearance. But when Abbey finds a diary hidden in Kristen's bedroom, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her disappearance or even her death? Hurt and angry at Kristen's betrayal, Abbey turns to Caspian for support...and uncovers a frightening truth about him that threatens both their emerging love and her sanity...

An intriguing reworking of a classic ghost story.

The plot was built up very slowly, and seemed to hold a story within a story. On one hand you had the story of Abbey's friends mysterious death and hidden secrets. On the other you have the mysterious boy (Caspian) and old couple (Nikolas & Katy) Abbey meets in a Graveyard. The plot twists are well written and believable.

The descriptions are wonderful, I especially liked the references to the aromatherapy oils (being a trained aromatherapist as one of my myriad of jobs) I could almost smell the scents in the air.

The characters were well rounded and their personalities and actions were believable, even with the twists to the tale. However, I did find that I could not completely relate to the female protagonist (Abbey) mainly due to the fact that I cannot possibly think of wandering around a cemetery as something to do for fun! I also felt that the schools reaction to the death of one of its pupils was rather odd.
There are quotes for Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the start of the chapters, although they do reinforce the storyline I couldn't help but picture the gore-fest that was the movie Sleepy Hollow starring Johnny Depp (remember I do not like gore being of the squeamish variety) so these did nothing to enhance the story for me, in fact I think it detracted from the actual beauty of  the story with these vivid gory pictures popping into my technicolour imagination. Not that the author would be aware of my linking the 2 things together in my head!

Although I did enjoy the story as a whole, the plot has left me with a lot of unanswered questions on both of the intertwining story-lines. I was slightly disappointed with the ending as I felt I was left hanging with all of these questions and no way of reconciling them. I am hoping the next book The Haunted will tie up some of these points for me. 

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Synopsis from Amazon:

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours? 17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross ...only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart. Some angels are destined to fall...

As much as I want to just gush about this book I will endeavour to keep myself in check and write a succinct review as to exactly why I enjoyed this book so much.

The story starts with a mystery, page turning suspense and intrigue. The reader is automatically drawn into the female protagonists life, thoughts and feelings from the outset. The characters are well written and their interaction was completely believable and often humorous. My heart was pounding with the passion and longing that Luce (the main character) felt.

The descriptions were detailed and brought vivid pictures to my imagination. I actually had chills at the description of the shadows (no plot spoilers here).

My love of Classic Literature references was fully satisfied with the use of Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Inferno both of which reinforced the main storyline and also added an extra dimension of plot. Religious references abound, the description of a snake passing while Luce bit into an apple was a stroke of genius.

Clever plot teasers are placed  throughout the book, making this a book that you can read time & time again and still find new things. This for me brings it right up there with The Twilight Saga as it to has all these little plot teasers that you do not necessarily pick up on the first reading. Dramatic ending has really left me gasping for more.

I adore the thought of eternal soul mates and the great battle of good versus evil. I was able to lose myself completely in this story. A sign of good descriptive writing.

For me this book has it all romance, suspense, intrigue and surprising plot twists. I rank it alongside The Twilight Saga (Vampires), The Wicked Lovely Series (Faeries) and now Fallen (Angels).
In conclusion a terrific book for those that like supernatural romance and losing themselves in fantasy. I sincerely hope this review was not too gushing, or if it was that I had valid points to make about why I am gushing.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Review: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Synopsis from Amazon:
Classified Ads: wanted personal assistant to Her Royal Highness. Duties: whatever is asked, without hesitation, including but not limited to secretarial/administrative, household, defense, blood donation, driving, companionship, prey disposal, and love slavery. At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight. Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, demoted to human guise as the princess' personal assistant, has his work cut out for him with the Master's Death Day gala fast approaching. Can Zachary save his girl's soul and redeem himself before all hell arrives, quite literally, on their castle's doorstep? In alternating points of view, vampire Miranda and angel Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous-and often darkly hilarious-love story for the ages.

Written in first person narrative (which I adore) with alternating perspectives of the male & female protagonists, gives an excellent (and often very funny) insight into their thoughts, feelings and actions. Often completely at odds with what the other person is thinking/doing. Lovely references to the classics - eg Dickens and Shakespeare - for some reason I love references to classics in books, I think it reinforces the story and shows how well read these authors are. I like to think that I am becoming better educated in the classics due to these references, it inspires me to read the classics (admit it you read Wuthering Heights after reading the Twilight Saga - I did). Or even that I can become better educated by simply reading these references (wishful thinking - better educated by process of osmosis).
Terrific story line containing Vampires and Angels (what more could you ask for). Very fast paced action, sometimes I had to re-read a page just to clarify the intricacies of the plot. There was only one thing that spoilt it for me, and that was the amount of gory imagery used; being of the squeamish variety (I faint at the sight of blood) plus I have a vivid technicolor imagination, this aspect just did not work for me but it did not detract from the plot either.
The book contains one of the best quotes I have ever heard:
I'm almost positive that no-one has ever actually died from humiliation
So, in conclusion a good, fast paced, action filled read. I am looking forward to reading Tantalize and then seeing how the protagonists from these books cross over in Blessed . Also looking forward to less disturbing descriptions ;)

Monday, 1 February 2010


I have found some terrific competitions on blogs, however I am having a rather large sulk that most of them are only open to US & Canada (sob,sob)
Check out for a chance to win copies of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, STUPID CUPID, and A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL? (I sooo want these but am not eligible even though I wrote a cool poem :)
My Poem:
Roses are Red
Kisses can be too
I like to read in bed
These books would help me through
There are 3 chances to win, just follow the links on Kristina Springer's Blog (link above)

Anyone want to campaign on my behalf.....let asamum

eBooks versus Real Books

I have been thinking about this topic for awhile, especially after a very kind friend sent me a load of ebooks. It was something I was mulling over in my head to post at a time when it all made sense to me.
However due to the events of the weekend with the Amazon/Macmillan disagreement. I thought I would just have a ramble and hope it makes sense.
As you may have heard Amazon removed all the buy buttons from Macmillan books over a pricing issue ie Amazon pricing all Kindle ebooks at $9.99 (this can work out cheaper than buying hardback versions of newly published books) This is also to encourage people to buy the Kindle ereader (a cunning plan). Scott Westerfield, Author of Leviathan, wrote a highly entertaining piece on his blog that will inform you as to the debate far better than I can.

Yes, I do find it highly amusing & ironic that I am an amazon affiliate (to feel raise funds for the book addiction) and yet we are talking about Amazons cunning marketing strategy. I believe Amazon have now reinstated the buy buttons on Macmillan books but please feel free to make sure this is accurate information. Also I wanted to add a link to the Kindle ereader on amazon just to show the product all the fuss was over but it has disappeared (where has it gone?!!!)
Anyway, having gone off at a tangent again, back to the main line of my ramble:

Which Do You Prefer eBooks of Real Books?

For me is has to be real books. I just love them, even though they take up so much space. I love the look of the covers, the feel of the pages and even the smell of new books. eBooks although space saving and mostly cheaper than real books just don't bring out the same feeling in me as a real book. I find looking at a screen to read does little to activate my imagination (I have a very vivid imagination by  the way, something we will be looking at in greater detail with the reviews I have coming up) yet as soon as I pick up a book I lose myself completely (and isn't that what reading is supposed to be about).
I know some people don't have a lot of choice; like my friend in Morocco who is unable to actually find books pulished in english there so she has to rely on ebooks. Also with a growing number of free ebooks available as well as free ereader downloads, it is a cheaper option than buying books. I know a lot of people are going to jump on their soapboxes about borrowing books from the library (another upcoming ramble) but some people just do not have access to a library or if your local library is anything like mine, they do not cater for your taste in books.
So there you have my ramble and my passion for real books. Please let me know your preferences about ebooks versus real books and any comments you would like to make about the amazon/macmillan disagreement.
After reading the extremely humorous piece by John Scalzi last night I just had to add a link to his blog  about the entire amazon/macmillan debacle (strong language used)
Also due to the large corner of the market Amazon holds I have added the Book Depository as an option.
More on the Amazon debacle 3/2
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs all images form the Very Own World kit by Irene Alexeeva