This Week in Books 26.09.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next.

It’s that time of the week again. I’ve had a busy but good week so far; not too bad reading wise either. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

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NOW:  I’ve literally JUST finished  I Do Not Trust You (see below) so I’m technically not reading anything, but will be starting Kill Creek by Scott Thomas later today.

THEN: I Do Not Trust You was great! It’s a YA adventure/action/fantasy about a ridiculously smart archaeology enthusiast who has to team up with a worshipper of the god Horus to save her father and stop the god Set rising again. It’s not as far fetched as it sounds, and the detailed mythology in it really appealed to me. My review will be up soon. 

NEXT: After Kill Creek I actually don’t know but it will be another horror because it’s almost October already (howwwww)!!

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This meme was originally started by Breaking the Spine. It’s where we choose one upcoming release that we just can’t wait for!

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The Disasters // M.K England //  December 18th 2018 // HarperCollins // Goodreads

 

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and i’ll come take a look.

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Lazy Saturday Review: The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin #MiniReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

icedragonTitle: The Ice Dragon
Author: George RR Martin
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 128 pages
Publication Details: December 4th 2014 by Harper Voyager
Genre(s): Children’s; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads 

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From ancient times the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child — and the ice dragon who loved her — could save her world from utter destruction. 

Review

This is a beautifully illustrated book (Luis Royo) from the Game of Thrones author. It’s a charming, short tale suitable for children and adults alike. I enjoyed it a lot.

Protagonist Adara was both adorable and strong and I loved that she was a sort of Winter princess, and the only one who can help defeat the dragons destroying the land. Full of rich mythology and folklore, this a much more accessible George RR Martin for those like me who are intimidated about starting the GoT books.

The illustrations are what really make this book special, and I think it would make a lovely gift. Especially for Christmas, with its celebration of Winter. Worth a read for sure.

unicorn rating 4

 

Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski #HorrorOctober2016 #BookReview

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Just as you thought Horror October was done and dusted…no it really is. But here’s a review I didn’t get to publish in time. Some may say I saved the best til last…

a5Title: Hunter of the Dead
Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Series: N/A
Format: ePub, 314 pages
Publication Details:  August 15th 2016 by Sinister Grin Press
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads // Amazon

 

Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

Review

Hunter of the Dead is one epic vampire novel. If you’re looking for sparkly, over-possessive pretty boy vampires then you should probably just move along. But if you’re looking for a vamped-up Game of Thrones with The Red Wedding-level of bloodshed then you’ve come to the right place.

Hunter of the Dead has a large cast of characters and an intricately woven plot built upon a well thought-out mythos. There are warring vampire houses, each with their own version of vampire royalty, and human vampire hunters called Inquisitors. But the hunter himself is a whole other entity. A boogeyman. A thing of legends that no one quite believes. Until seemingly indestructible immortals start being…well, destroyed.

Caught up in the middle of this are two unlikely heroes, Carter and Nico. Gas station attendees turned vampire hunter and apprentice, the dynamic duo banter their way through the brewing war and attempt to find out the truth behind the one thing that both vampires and Inquisitors are equally as afraid of – The Hunter of the Dead.

This book had everything I could want in a vampire story. Blood, guts, bants and even a splash of romance in there too. The vampires themselves were diabolical yet alluring, and the plot was paced well despite its scope of epic proportions.

I did have some issues getting into the story to begin with though. The mixture of a vast array of characters and a jumping timeline would usually have me tearing my hair out, but after a chapter or two it really seemed to work. It certainly gave the book more mystery and depth.

But the one thing I did find frustrating was that a few of the characters were called by two or three different names – first name, surname and even a nickname –  so until I got to know the characters better it was really hard to understand who was who sometimes.

And while we’re talking about names, I spotted a few familiar ones in there. Whatever you do, don’t befriend Kozeniewski or he’ll steal your name for a character only to rip out their (YOUR) heart or make you live out the rest of your days with only half a face. Fellow horror writers beware!

Overall, this is not your average vampire novel. It’s not really your average anything. But whatever it is, it’s all wrapped up in Kozeniewski’s trademark tongue-in-cheek horror bow that I’ve come to know and love.

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Hunter of the Dead is available now in both paperback & digital versions.

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking

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Title: Frostfire
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #1
Edition: Kindle, 300 pages
Publication Details: January 1st 2015 by Tor UK
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

Review


I’m pretty dubious about starting new series these days because I’m so bloody rubbish at keeping up or finishing them. To be honest, I only bought this one because I was approved for a copy of book two on Netgalley, which I requested based solely on the cover alone. They’re very pretty!

Frostfire was my first foray into Hocking’s world of the Trylle, well, it was my foray into Amanda Hocking’s work full stop, and I was impressed with some elements, but disappointed with others.

Bryn is a tracker whose job it is to track down changelings and bring them back to the Kanin tribes. Her lifelong dream is to be promoted into the royal guard and therefore feels like she has a lot to prove, and tries to do everything to the best of her ability.

However, certain things keep getting in her way. Firstly, her growing attraction to Ridley her boss, and then there’s her mixed feelings for Konstantin who she used to have a major crush on until he attacked her father. Now Konstantin has started kidnapping changelings, but even though it appears obvious that he is the source of all that’s going on, Bryn isn’t so sure. Are old feelings resurfacing and impairing her judgement, or is there more to Konstantin and the kidnappings than everyone believes?

Either way, unless Bryn can find the missing changelings or prove that she’s right about Konstantin, any hopes of her dream job, or her people’s faith in her are in jeopardy.

I’m really torn with this book. On one hand, I think Hocking did a good job of bringing this world that was completely new to me (trolls!) to life, but on the other I felt like there was a bit too much telling rather than showing. I was having to learn too much in too short a time. As a result, I found the pace quite slow and was hankering for less talk and more action.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of there being two potential love interests. I’ve read that Hocking’s books are quite love-triangle-heavy but that she claimed that there wouldn’t be one in Frostfire. Well, there pretty much is! Bryn and Ridley’s relationship is quite cute and had potential, but it’s obvious throughout that if Konstantin and Bryn got it on instead it would be hawwwwwt. That’s clearly the direction it’s going in, non?

Other the than pacing issues, I enjoyed Hocking’s writing a lot. I didn’t particularly think much of the troll element, as they didn’t seem to resemble what I thought of as trolls, but I kind of liked that. It’s a whole new mythology to me and I’m interested to see where it goes.

As a stand alone, Frostfire doesn’t work at all, but if you think of it as an introduction, it has potential. I look forward to finding out if it can live up to it.

unicorn rating 3

Frostfire is available now, and book #2, Ice Kissed, is released May 5th

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

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Title: Ice Massacre
Author: Tiana Warner
Series: Ice Massacre #1
Edition: Paperback, 375 pages
Publication Details: September 18th 2014 by Rogue Cannon Publishing
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Amazon
Xpresso Book Tours

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.

For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

I really enjoy stories that are rooted in mythology, and I haven’t read any based on mermaids so I was excited for this one.

Ice Massacre is centred around Meela who is just about to leave for the annual mermaid Massacre. She has been trained to be a warrior who will travel out to sea with nineteen other girls to fight the mermaids that have plagued Eriana Kwai for years.

The mermaids are beautiful and seductive, and use this seduction to enthral and kill men who come into contact with them. The Ice Massacre was once a man’s job, but this time it is girls that have been trained to kill in the hopes that the mermaid’s powers of seduction won’t work on them the same way, giving them an advantage.

I really enjoyed this book. It was completely action-packed. It started at a good pace and maintained it almost all the way through.

I liked that from the start we know Meela has a childhood secret that she keeps from her friends, and we then go back to when she was 10 years old to find out what it was.

It was a time when Meela had befriended a mermaid her own age, called Lysi. Lysi wasn’t evil like everyone said mermaids were. She was kind and fun, and Meela saw her in secret most days. Also at this time, Meela’s brother had still not returned from the previous year’s massacre, causing a lot of tension and sadness in their family.

This backstory was intriguing and suspenseful, and set up the present-day story well. I felt like I knew and understood Meela very early on, and I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to her and Lysi’s friendship. But one thing was for sure – it was obviously not going to end well.

There were so many great moments in this book. I loved how vicious the mermaids were, and that Warner didn’t shy away from graphic violence, just as the title suggests. But it is also a great coming of age story. Meela must come to terms with her past, conquer her enemies, and learn how to trust again.

I think a lot of people will find something to relate to in this book, just as long as you can stomach the bloody massacre. I couldn’t get enough…and I get the feeling there is room for a sequel…

unicorn rating 4

Once Upon a Time: Join the Quest!

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Yesterday I came across a new challenge on the lovely Lynn’s blog, and while I have done pretty rubbish in the challenges I set myself at the start of the year, I’m signing up.

But it’s OK, because Once Upon a Time uses the term ‘challenge’ pretty loosely and you can sign up just for ‘The Journey’….

Once Upon a Time is brought to us by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings, and is in its 8th year. It’s ‘a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum.’ It runs from March 21st to June 21st and you can sign up for minimal participation (1 book) in ‘The Journey’ or five other quests. Check out the original post on Stainless Steel Droppings for more info or to sign up.

I’m going for Quest the Third because I’ve been wanting to reread some Shakespeare for some time, and this is the perfect encouragement.

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Fulfill the requirements for The Journey or Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream OR a viewing of one of the many theatrical versions of the play.

So I’ll be doing The Journey (1 book min.) – even though I have quite a few books that would fall into these categories on my TBR list – because I just don’t want to commit to more given my bad start to the year where other challenges are concerned, and reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June. Fun!

Be one of us…

Friday Feature: 5 Reasons Why Vampire Show Moonlight Was Ahead of its Time.

Before there was Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, CBS delivered a short-lived Paranormal Romance series called Moonlight. Anyone remember it? Nah, thought not.

I don’t know what the reception of the show was like in the US but over here in the UK Moonlight was a bit of a non-starter. I’m pretty sure we just got it as a bit of an afterthought to fill a slot on one of the lesser-known Sky channels. I don’t even remember what it was on, or how I discovered it. But I loved it. Sorry, LOVE it.

Moonlight follows private investigator Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin), who was turned into a vampire by his bride Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon) on the couple’s wedding night fifty-five years earlier. In the present day, he struggles with his attraction to a mortal woman, Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), his friendship with Josef Kostan (Jason Dohring), and his dealings with other vampires in Los Angeles.

A few weekends ago I had a proper Moonlight binge and watched the whole series. Every time I get to the last episode it makes me sad…it was totally cut off in its prime, managing only 16 episodes before it was cancelled. Which led me to wonder why it never took off…..

Obviously, it was just ahead of its time! Here’s why:

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1. Moonlight arrived in 2007 which was just two years after Twilight was published. It was a year before Meyer’s novel was adapted which was really the catalyst in rejuvenating the Vampire genre, and paranormal romance (on screen) on the whole. If Moonlight had been released after the tween world went crazy for hot immortals then who knows what could have happened.

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2. Alex O’Loughlin was relatively unknown when the series began. He’s since gained fame and acclaim for his role in the reboot of Hawaii 5-0. Having a big name in the lead role could have worked wonders. Not that I’d change it, Alex O’Loughlin is awesome. And by awesome, I mean hot.

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3. Original storylines are hard to come by, especially when it comes to Vampire or paranormal shows. Ideas are lifted from both myth and literature, using them and re-using them to create all of those cliches we are so used to these days. So it’s no surprise that some of the themes seen in Moonlight have cropped up again in newer, more popular series. The use of Vampire blood as a euphoric drug for one. In Moonlight, a case leads Mick and Beth to Lola (guest star Holly Valance), a night-club owner and vampire who is killing her own for blood which she harvests into a drug called Black Crystal to sell to humans, making them feel powerful and sexy. This idea has cropped up recently and most substantially in True Blood* (2008) where Vamp Blood (V) is heavily used as a metaphor for drug abuse.

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4. In another episode, Beth hires Mick to protect the survivor of serial killer ‘Shepherd’ who gets the death penalty. In a Manson family type storyline the killer’s loyal cult following is blamed for carrying on the killings, when in fact Shepherd turns out to be a vampire. Sound a bit familiar, minus the vampires? Recent hit The Following starring Kevin Bacon perhaps? See, waaaaaaaaay ahead of its time.

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5. And lastly, Doppelganger folklore has been showing up more frequently in paranormal literature and TV shows in the last few years. In Moonlight, Mick’s ex-wife Coraline who he killed decades before returns in the shape of Shannyn Sossamon (A Knights Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights) and he believes her to be a doppleganger. A few years later The Vampire Diaries*, premiered in 2009 centered around the story of Elena, the doppleganger of her soon-to-be vampire boyfriend’s ex. Got that?

*Yes I know L.J Smith’s Vampire diaries series and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books were released before Moonlight, but we’re talking about TV shows here people. Keep up!