Wednesday, 30 June 2010

DEAD IN THE FAMILY by Charlaine Harris


If you think your family relationships are complicated, think again: you haven't seen anything like the ones in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton.

In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.


This is the latest Sookie Stackhouse book, and it's filled with the usual awesomeness that I've come to expect from this series. :)

The title is absolulety perfect, because Sookie faces a lot of family issues in this book. And surprisingly, Jason doesn't add to her problems. He actually comes across a lot more mature than he usually does. He's in a stable relationship with a respectable woman, and even manages to help Sookie when she needs him the most.

However, dealing with Claude moving in with her (fae cousin) isn't as easy. Not when she's still getting over the wounds that a faerie attack had on her. Spending time with five-year-old Hunter (another cousin--Hadley's son) and trying to help him deal with the same problem she suffered while growing up is a challenge. Being able to read people's minds isn't an easy thing for an adult, and it can be downright impossible for a child. Still, she's determined to keep his ability a secret from everyone and help as much as she can.

Oh, and let's not forget how hard things get when Eric's maker storms into town with his other 'son', ready to wreak havoc in Bon Temps and Sookie's life. Tara's expecting her first child, and receives great news about it from an unlikely source. And the Long Tooth pack is going through some turmoil that requires Sookie's help. She also goes out of her way to find Bill's 'sister' to help him heal from the silver poisoning that's taking too long to heal.

Dead in the Family is an interesting and exciting addition to the Sookie Stackhouse series. It seems like poor Sookie is destined to suffer one ordeal after another, while trying to help as much as she can. But like always, I loved it. I always enjoy spending time inside her head, with her friends, and insane family situations.

I absolutely love the cover, too. Isn't it cool to have the stars of the TV show, True Blood, on the cover of a Sookie Stackhouse novel? Yes, it most definitely is. :)

Dead in the Family: Sookie #10, June 2010, ISBN 978-057-508933-4, Gollancz Paperback

Sunday, 27 June 2010

ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, woeking for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind. Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps together, side by side, to the reckless passion that consumed them. But having a price on her head - wanted: dead or half-alive - means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever...and Bones won't let her get away again.

Well, this is the second book in the Night Huntress series. After reading the first (fantastic) book, I didn't think this series could get any better. Or more kick-ass. But I was wrong on both counts. The second book only takes the overall story to a whole new level of urban fantasy goodness.

Four years after Cat walked away from the very alluring Bones, she's become a Special Agent and is still using every trick that Bones taught her. Not only does she lead a trained team of very capable humans, but she's also started dating again. Well, until Bones steps back into the picture. I loved the way he ends up turning up in her life again. Absolutely loved it!

Add to the mix that someone is trying to kill her, and there's no way Cat can keep her distance from Bones. Especially not when there's vampire politics lurking in the shadows. Besides, they make an awesome couple. ;)

One Foot in the Grave is an awesome, and very well written book. It's got a bit of everything that makes this genre so addictive--the right combination of kick-ass action, mystery, emotion, intoxicating love, and a sexiness that literally drips off the page.

Yeah, if you're an urban fantasy fan, this is a series that you should totally check out.
You won't regret it!

One Foot in the Grave: Night Huntress #2, June 2010, ISBN 978-057-509378-2, Gollancz Paperback

Saturday, 26 June 2010

TALL, DARK AND HUNGRY by Lynsay Sands


When Terri flew from England to New York to help plan her cousin Kate's wedding, she didn't know what she expected - but it certainly wasn't the Argeneaus. Her new in-laws may seem a little strange, with the sometimes-chipper sometimes-brooding writer Lucern - Kate's fiancee - and Vincent, the wacky stage actor (she couldn't imagine Broadway casting a hungrier looking all singing, all dancing Dracula), but having just discovered how expensive New York hotels can be, suddenly their offer of accomodation looks much more attractive. And then there's Bastien. Even taller, darker and hungrier looking than the other two, just looking into his eyes is enough to make Terri admit she's falling for him. Surely she can put up with the Argeneau's odd habits for a few days - to stay in their luxurious penthouse apartment, with the lovely Bastien - if it lets her avoid New York's blood-sucking hotel prices!

This is the third book in the Argeneau Vampire series, about a family of vampires who live in Canada. Although, this book takes place in New York.

I was looking forward to Bastien's story, and it didn't disappoint. In the other books, when his brothers were finding love, Bastien seemed too self-involved in his own life, devoted to his business, and totally in control of everything. I didn't think he had the time to fall in love with anyone. But that all changes when he meets Kate's cousin, Terri.

Terri has decided to come to New York a few weeks before Kate's and Lucern's wedding, so she can help Kate with last-minute preparations. Instead, she finds herself dealing with almost every vital detail of it. You see, Kate has to rush to a conventation across the country because the editor that was supposed to go had an accident. So Terri ends up staying with Bastien. As well as a few other, odd characters thrown in--the injured editor who can't stay in his apartment and needs help getting around, as well as Bastien's vampire cousin, who can't help but drink blood.

Now, the bachelor who is used to being alone has a full house, and doesn't know the first thing about taking care of a bunch of humans, while trying to keep his cousin from biting them. The amount of fun that follows had me in stitches. With so much funny stuff going on, it was nice to see the attraction building up between Terri and Bastien. From pretty early on, it was obvious that they were meant to be together, and their romance is very sweet. Even if some personal experiences and fears almost manage to get in the way of true happiness.

Tall, Dark and Hungry is another fun-filled installment to this series, with some very familiar faces, as well as a bunch of new ones. It was a lovely book. I had a lot of fun with it!

Tall, Dark and Hungry: Argeneau Vampire #3, May 2010, ISBN 978-057-509384-3, Gollancz Paperback

Monday, 21 June 2010

Phew!

Hey! How's everyone doing today?

Y'know, I didn't realise that several days had passed since the last time I popped in. :/ That's been happening a bit too much, lately. But I'm kinda swamped with stuff at the moment.

As you know, I've been rewriting a Sci-Fi novella. It's going a bit slow, to be honest. But that's okay, I'm not going to rush it. I've hit page 78/129 and the word count's very close to 43k, but it's not a true indication of progress. I keep going back and forwards, as well as adding an extra POV while I'm at it.

It's very exciting, but very involved. Still, it's worth it. While I've been working on this one, I've pretty much come up with the plot for the second installment. Which is pretty cool. This story is certainly not a traditional romance, that's for sure. :)

Anyway. I had to put it aside for a few days, though. I got the second round of edits for SHADE OF GREY on Friday, and got stuck into them. I got through 240pgs in just over 24 hours, so that was pretty good. Except I was mentally exhausted and found it hard to keep my eyes open on Saturday night. Still, I managed to watch the Socceroos match.

I reckon the referees are either blind, or have something against the Aussie side. Seriously, how could Kewell get a red card? It's ridiculous! Not impressed.

Oh, and if you'd like to know what we've been watching lately, you can check it out here. Lots of anime watching. I *heart* anime.

Okay. Time to get ready to head out. I can't believe it's raining today. The sky was so clear yesterday. WTF?

See ya!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Blogging at night, that's a little different...

Yesterday, we received a really cute Alphonse plush for my daughter. It was a surprise, and she loved it. In case you're wondering who Alphonse Elric is, he's the picture I've posted today. :) He's a character from Full Metal Alchemist. An absolutely awesome show.

Anyway. I'm supposed to be watching the State of Origin match on TV, but it's really annoying me at the moment. The NSW side is playing like crap, and since that's the team I'm going for, you can understand why I feel this way. lol.

I didn't get a chance to pop in earlier because I spent most of the day working on the revision I mentioned yesterday. As of the end of today's session, I reached page 67/122. The word count's also climbed to 41,415, which is pretty cool.

The coolest thing about reworking this novella is that I'm having a great time with it. This afternoon, I grabbed a notebook and was scribbling about it, and managed to work out that Alex's story will probably end up being a quartet. I've got a loose outline of the main plot for each story. Uh, that means a few paragraphs for each possible installment. lol.

Okay, I think it's time to start thinking about getting some sleep. I've been tossing and turning a lot during the last week. Not sure why, though. Well, good night!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Major reading fail!

Yeah. I tried to read over the long weekend, but couldn't concentrate.

I just couldn't get my story out of my head. And that means that I can't concentrate on anyone else's, which is actually not a good thing, since I've got books I need to read and review. :/

Anway, how was your weekend? Mine was awesome. It's a shame about the Socceroos losing to Germany. But unlike so many people, I've still got faith in them. I think it's awesome that they made it to the World Cup at all. That's a great achievement. I'll be watching their next match this weekend.

Okay. So I mentioned that one of my stories is consuming my brain, right? But it's not a new story. I haven't thrown myself into a first draft yet. It's funny, because I was trying to figure out why that is... and finally came to the conclusion that because I've started edits on SHADE OF GREY, I really don't want to get stuck into anything new until I'm finished up with that. Of course, that didn't stop me from getting into something else.

During this year, I've started to accumulate a few uncontracted stories. Last week, I grabbed a notebook and listed them. There's a few there. Some I'm not going to do anything with, others I'd like to resubmit somewhere else, and a few will even end up being offered as free reads on my website. Actually, I've already got one ready to go for next month. But there are also a few that could become so much more. And that's how I got stuck into this story. I was originally just going to get it ready to submit, but made the mistake of reading the first chapter. Before I knew it, I was finishing up the second chapter, and had made a whole bunch of changes.

Afterward, I couldn't shake the main character, or the story. So I gave into what I was trying to ignore: this story has the potential to become a novel-sized tale. I'm not talking 70k, I'm talking 50k. The original word count was 32k, and after I've finished revising the first 41 pages, it's gone up to 38,553. And I'm not beefing it up, I'm actually rewriting a whole lot of it. Deleting stuff that I don't want there, changing character names, appearances, adding a new POV, extending and clarifying the shadow POV I don't think needs to be a mystery. Things like that.

I'm actually having a lot of fun doing this, and the story feels better already. A lot stronger, deeper. I'm very excited about it. So, that's how I got stuck into this latest project of mine. It wasn't planned, but I'm determined to follow it through to the end. When you wake up with new snippets in your head, things you can't wait to add, that's a fantastic thing!

Well, see ya!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Good Morning!

Phew! It's been a crazy few weeks. Did you miss my daily posting? I bet you didn't even realise I wasn't here. ;)

Anyway. I hope you enjoyed reading all my BOUNDLESS guest spots. They were all a lot of fun, and I'd like to say a huge 'Thank you' to everyone who hosted my guest blogs and interviews. I had a blast talking about Alyce, her dilemma, the other characters, and her world. Fun stuff!

If you missed any of them, or would just like to read them now, you can find all the links HERE. :)

Oh, and speaking of BOUNDLESS, it's now available in paperback at Amazon. Yay! It's not up at The Book Depository yet, but should be sometime soon.

Well, I've been busy trying to keep up with all of the above, as well as tidying up a few things that I let slip during my long few months of revision. I'm mostly caught up, but I haven't come up with a plan for the next few months. That's definitely something I need to look at because there are so many projects that I want to finish up, and/or revise...

I'm also taking part in Kaz's Summer Camp over on LJ. And these are my goals. The Camp takes place between June 1st and August 31st, and we check in every Tuesday. It's an awesome idea, and I know it's going to be fun. Besides, who doesn't want to attend summer camp in the middle of winter? ;)

Well, this week has been a little mixed, but I spent a chunk of it getting through the first round of edits for my upcoming, SHADE OF GREY novel. It was cool to catch up with Gypsy and Calvin, plus delve into all that UFO/Grey alien stuff. I enjoyed it so much that yesterday, I decided to pull out the notes I have for the next two books (it's a trilogy with a different heroine & hero in each installment) and added a bunch of stuff.

The second installment is actually already written--the first draft, anyway. So I might have to squeeze in the revision cycle sometime soon, so I can sub it. And the third installment is still all notes and fragments inside my head. But I think that if I take note of everything, I can make this my NaNoWriMo novel for 2010.

Anyway, that's enough thinking out loud for now. We've got a long weekend here, so that'll be fun. Three full days of hubby, daughter, kitty, and me finding fun things to do. I'll also like to read this. Yay.

Have a great one!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

It's my first time blogging at...


It's so exciting!

So, what's your favourite season? I'm chatting about not liking winter much, but still keeping the good vibes. :)

Have a great day!

Monday, 7 June 2010

SCARRED by Julia Hoban


Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it - Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.

Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself. And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow's secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she's created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship.

This is one of those books that as soon as I read the blurb, I was intrigued. I know it's been out in the U.S. for a while now, under the name of WILLOW, so I couldn't pass up the chance to read and review it. :)

Willow is seventeen, but instead of facing the normal problems that other teenagers around her face, she's lost in a much darker place. Seven months ago, her parents died in a car accident. She was the one driving during a horrible rainy night. Now, she's living with her brother and his wife, as well as their baby daughter. She goes to school like every other kid her age, she works at the University library because her brother was able to get her the job, and she attends high school. She seems normal on the surface.

Until you dig a little deeper and notice that she doesn't hang out with other kids. That she doesn't really speak to her brother. That she keeps falling behind on her schoolwork, and that she always wears long sleeves. There's a reason for that. Willow is a cutter. She cuts herself to feel the pain of the blade piercing her skin. She cuts herself in order to feel something other than numb. She cuts herself because she can't express her grief and guilt any other way. She's so convinced that her brother hates her for killing their parents that she refers to herself as a murderer.

Willow lives a very unhappy life of isolation and self-hurt. She doesn't think she deserves any better than that. Why should she laugh and enjoy life when she took her parents' life away? But that all changes when she meets the shy and very nice, Guy. He stumbles on her secret. At first, all she wants to do is make sure that he doesn't tell her brother. And Guy keeps his word, instead telling her to call him when she feels the need to cut.

This is how their friendship begins and blossoms into something very special. The more time she spends with Guy, the more Willow finds herself trusting him in every sense of the word. After all, no one else knows her deep, dark secret--what she does to herself when it gets so bad that the sharp end of a blade is the only thing able to shut out the noise of her horrible memories. She's as exposed as she could ever be to anyone else. And slowly, Guy helps her step out of the darkness she's surrounded herself in and into something a little brighter.

Scarred is an amazing story. It's a beautiful book that deals with some very dark subject matter. Yet, Julia Hoban is able to portray Willow's pain and Guy's need to save her in such an honest and caring way, that you can't help but fall in love with this book. Willow and Guy's joined journey is bittersweet, but so hopeful. I found every character's journey to be heartbreaking, but so wonderful and inspiring. It was also lovely to see that although all of Willow's negative feelings slowly melt away to something a lot safer, it's not a quick-fix. She can't just magically stop doing what's helped her bear the strains of everyday life for so long.

I think that this is a book everyone should have on their TBR pile.

Scarred, May 2010, ISBN 978-074-994232-8, Piatkus Fiction Paperback

ARCHANGEL'S KISS by Nalini Singh


Welcome to a dark new world where lethal, beautiful archangels hold sway over immortals and mortals both, with the Guild Hunters caught in between, tasked with retrieving those vampires who break their contracts with their angelic masters. Elena Deveraux is a Guild Hunter. She was hired to do the impossible - to hunt down a rogue Archangel - and she suceeded where none had believed she could. But in the process, she fell in love. And not just with anyone: with the Archangel Raphael. It a love that's as powerful as it is terrifying and dangerous. But the world won't stand still while Elena and Raphael enjoy their new-found love. Vampires and angels still go rogue and it's still Elena's job to hunt them down and return them to their angelic masters. For all that she is exceptional, Elena isn't invulnerable - and the more obvious her talents become, the bigger a target she could find herself...
***Before I start, I just want to mention that there will be spoilers in this review. If I'm going to talk about this book, there's no way to get around it.***
Well, this is the second book in the Guild Hunter series. Unfortunately, it took me a little longer to read than I intended. It had nothing to do with the actual book, because I liked it from the moment I started to read it. I was just distracted by my own writing. But as soon as I was done, I got back into it and finished it very quickly.
After the events of ANGELS' BLOOD, Elena's life has changed drastically. She's no longer just a hunter. Actually, she's no longer human. When she came close to death, Raphael did whatever it took to save her. Which means he made her into an angel, and so she finds herself in a place she didn't even know existed. A place called the Refuge, where only angels reside. A place where she slowly starts to learn about the history of angels, their politics, and how to adapt to being an angel herself.
Except, now that she's here, the Refuge doesn't seem so safe. She might be an angel and have the wings to prove it, but she doesn't even know how to fly yet. And she's caught the attention of others--some who are willing to do whatever it takes to destroy her. As well as an archangel so ancient that no one knows what a ball in Elena's honour will mean.
Although at first this book doesn't seem as action-packed as the first one, the pace of the story is still very impressive. It hooked me in right away, and I couldn't wait to see how Elena's life would change now that she'd evolved. Being in the Refuge also gives Elena and Raphael a chance to get to know each other, a chance to find out each other's hidden secrets, and allow their mutual connection and passion to thrive. Of course, there are plenty of problems thrown in their way.
I was also intrigued by Elena's backstory, so it was great to see all the pieces fall into place. The images of guilt, horror, and sadness that she's carried and kept hidden about the day her sisters and mother died, all come out here. And the twist in the end that relates directly to the vampire who ruined her happy family life was the icing on the cake.

Archangel's Kiss is an excellent book. A book that takes the reader to a place we've never imagined possible, yet had a chance to experience very vividly with the words Nalini weaved so beautifully. I know I said this in my last review, but I love her writing style. Nalini's got a lovely narrative style, and I know that I'll be reading more of her work in the future.
But for now, I really enjoyed this book!
Archangel's Kiss: Guild Hunter #2, May 2010, ISBN 978-057-509574-8, Gollancz Paperback

 
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