Monday, 30 April 2012

Women of the Otherworld Series Challenge #2

Today I am taking part in a series challenge as hosted by Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf. Each month the challenge is to re-read a book in the Women of the Otherworld series and write a related blog post and enter the link on the site. I didn't find out about this until earlier this month, so unfortunately I missed out it taking part in last months re-read of Bitten. But this month is all about the second book in the series Stolen!

I have told the story of how I stumbled upon the Women of the Otherworld series many times now, so I will not repeat it again. But this being the second book in the series was the second book I read of Armstrong's and cemented my love for her writing style. 

Summary Courtesy of Goodreads: "When a young witch tells Elena that a group of humans are kidnapping supernaturals, Elena ignores the warning. After all, everyone knows there’s no such thing as witches. As for the thought of other ‘supernaturals’, well, she’d just rather not dwell on the possibility. Soon, however, she’s confronted with the truth about her world, when she’s kidnapped and thrown into a cell-block with witches, sorcerers, half-demons and other werewolves. As Elena soon discovers, dealing with her fellow captives is the least of her worries. In this prison, the real monsters carry the keys."
I first read Stolen a few years ago now and remember loving being introduced to a stream of new characters. Bitten was fantastic at describing the duplicity of the werewolves lives and I fell easily fell in love with each member of the pack. Stolen moves on from this effortlessly to introduce many different supernatural races. From central characters to the smallest of parts, Armstrong ensures they are well rounded without making the narrative to clunky. Elena in particular is such a strong female lead who is determined to both fight her way out but has the compassion to want to save others. She is not too proud of a little help from lover Clay and the rest of the pack making her a truly fantastic protagonist. 

Yet it wasn't until a read around the series on Kelley Armstrong's website and some of her free online fiction that I realised the place this books holds in the series. The first book in the series, Bitten, was originally written as a stand alone book. When approached to make a series Armstrong felt that writing so many books just around the werewolves would soon get repetitive and boring for readers so decided to use Stolen to introduce new characters for the rest of the series. I have read some reviews saying that this is a downfall of this book, but I couldn't disagree more. Knowing this I couldn't help but enjoy it even more when I re-read this book as I came to appreciate Armstrong's skill and style in writing in constantly new and well rounded characters and building a relationship between each one and the reader. 

Overall I love this book.But when it comes to rating it I have to take the rest of the series into consideration. This is not the best book in the series, and in that sense I don't feel I can rank it full marks. Because of this I rate it:


Have you read this book? What did you think? Also part of the Series Challenge, please post the link to your post here so I can check it out!

If you haven't read this book already - you must! You can pick it up on Amazon from as little as £4.99 for Kindle. I have also seen these kicking around in second hand books shops and charity shops now as they get a bit older so keep your eyes peeled for a bargain! 

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - Book Review

When I had finished the first Hunger Games book I was gushing my love for it. I gave a glowing review for both the book and the the movie and couldn't help telling anyone who cared to listen that they needed to read this book. But part of me wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the second book. I knew of course I would read it soon, but because I enjoyed the first one so much, I didn't think that the second book, Catching Fire, could ever live up to it. And it didn't. But it wasn't half bad either!

***Spoiler alert!! I try as always not to give away ANY spoilers for a book, but with a series this is particularly difficult. If you haven't read the first book, please go ahead and read the review first and then the book before coming back to this one. I don't want to give away anything that might spoil it for you! ***

***Second note, if you haven't read this book yet I do give away one piece of information that could be considered a spoiler, but is in the description of the book. It is something I think will make you want to read the book even more. Read this review under your own discretion***

Summary courtesy of Amazon:  Katniss survived the Hunger Games. Now the Capitol wants revenge. It's payback time, and her chance of survival is even slimmer than ever...

Like the first book, the opening chapters are back in District 12 and could be considered a little slow. A lot happens and things change dramatically after the end of the Games but nothing that is essential in my eyes to the narrative. The awkward love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale does develop better than I expected but I am left more confused than Katniss appears to be as the second book closes around her love life!

The second half of the book though was fantastic. As we return to the Hunger Games arena our favourite capitol characters return along with some new ones that build fantastic relationships and add to the narrative. The new arena is so complex and exciting that I was left again reading in a frenzy. There is something about the building rebellion in the districts and the new dramas within the arena that makes for fantastic reading. I was setting my alarm an hour early just so I could cram in another hours reading before I got started with my day, it was like an addiction.

The concluding events to this second book are well worth the slightly tedious start. The cliff hanger of a final sentence left me dying to read the next book. However I was left with a slightly sour note. Katniss' character developed scarily out of control in the final chapter and the result was not nice. I have heard a lot about her character in the final book and I couldn't help but agree with the rumors she turns from a strong female lead we all want to look up to into someone that is imperfect, selfish and some what unlikable. Haymitch on the other triumphs yet again to become a character I truly adore, along with the selflessness of Peeta they restore my faith in Collins character development.

This all taken into consideration it is difficult to score this book. I gave the first book in the series 10/10 and although it wasn't as good as the first, it still had me reading like a mad woman and consumed my life for the four days it took me to read. I think it will have to be:


Have you read this book? What did you think it compared to the first one? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

Monday, 23 April 2012

Musing Mondays

Although I have only been away from my bloggy for only a few days, I feel like I am neglecting it! Reading in general has been difficult of late and I felt the need to do this real short tag (a.k.a meme) post to let you guys know I am still alive and what I am up to!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading, this weeks musing is:
Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?

For me, it is university work. I am coming up to finishing my degree in just over a month now and although I am excited about jumping into the world outside of education and getting myself onto the job market, I still have a lot of work to do to get there! As I type this blog, I have an essay open and in much need of finishing off. I have loved university, I have been lucky enough to find a course that has been small but perfectly formed and jammed packed full of interesting units. However alongside a mounting to do list of assignments, a dissertation and a shed load of reading, my fictional reading can sometimes be left out.

My boyfriend is also often a distraction. Although we don't live far apart at all, conflicting working schedules mean we don't get to see each other very much. And although he is very understanding of my reading habits, nothing gives him the hump more than me jumping into bed early just to whip my Kindle out and pretty much ignore him.

Finally it is blogging. Someone once said to me if I spent just half the time I spend reading and writing about books I like reading, I could get an awful lot more of them read! But to me part of the joy of reading is talking about and sharing how you interpreted them, and I wouldn't give it up for all the reading time in the world.

Despite all this, every night I will read (even if some nights it is just 10 minutes) and have been known to wake up an hour early to fit in a couple of chapters. Just this morning I was awake at 8am just to set my alarm for 9am and climb back into bed with a cuppa and my Kindle, bliss :)

I would love know what you think about my Monday Musing, and what is your biggest interruption to reading? If you have a bloggy like me, please feel free to leave the link in the comments, but if not please just place you musings in the comments instead.

Thank you as always for reading,

Love Rie x

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Short Story Review: Kelley Armstrong Free Fiction!!

Regular readers will know I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong's writing. I discovered her adult fantasy series "Women of the Otherworld" in a Waterstones many years ago, when a short read of the back cover made me purchase it for my good friend Sam. Just weeks later he had purchased the rest of the series and we were reading it with a frenzy! The books are all a perfect length and effortless reads with a tantalising adult edge that doesn't over power a superb fantasy narrative.

But as everybody who calls them self a reader will tell you, the worst part about reading a series is having to wait for the next instalment. But Armstrong has given us something else to enjoy between her books for over a decade. On her website, she offers a total of 12 short stories, that act as companions to her adult series, as well as her YA series Darkness Rising & Darkest Powers as well as detective series Nadia Stafford.

I have been meaning for a while to do a review of these fab little bit sized fiction for super fans like myself, and newcomers a like. I will split this in to two posts, and review the first six now, and the next six another time.

At 21 pages this short is longer than some of the other offerings on her site. But this is written superbly for newcomers to the series. The things you learn within this addition to the series about Talia and her son Adam, who is having problems with a 'heated' temper could be considered a very small spoiler. However I think the ending to this would make anyone want to read on. I have to say, having read all of them this is still my favourite of the collection, as an addition to the Women of the Otherworld series.

This short is from Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising series. Originally published in a short series collection (Eternal Kiss) it follows another patient from the Edison group. I read this a number of weeks ago now, and it hasn't made a lasting impression, but having said that I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about reading the series as an introduction of Armstrong's YA writting style.

This is another short from the Women of the Otherworld series, which is set just before Frost Bitten. If you haven't yet read Broken I would save this short for after as it contains a pretty massive spoiler. On written for the fans of the series and a real bite sized treat at only 5 pages!

This is the longest of the shorts on the website, but also one of the best. Another great one for newcomers to the series, this novella is described as:
"Nick wakes up next to a stranger. Nothing new for Nick…except that this woman’s dead. He’s sure he’s being framed. With the rest of the Pack busy, he’s determined to handle this on his own."
Anyone who is familiar with the character of Nick will really enjoy this, one of my favourite werewolves who is not a Danver.

Case of the Half Demon Spy
This short surrounds Paige and Adam as children, trying to listen into a council meeting. Another one for the fans I think, as it really adds to the series and changed my opinion of some characters for the better.

Truth & Consequences

This was where Armstrong first created the character of Elena. In terms of chronology it is set before Bitten, the first book in the Women of the Otherworld series, and a real gem. Must read of the collection for fans and new comers to the series alike.

I hope anyone looking to read these shorts will find this intresting. I will repeat these are all free on Kelley Armstrongs website to download as PDF's so what are you waiting for?

Fancy checking out the books in the series, here are some of my favs :)

Have you read any of these shorts, let me know what is your favourite in the comments! Know a book or series I might like, please let me know as well, I am always on the hunt for new reads :)

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Teaser Tuesdays!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme (a.k.a: tag post), hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
Anyone can play along! Just grab your current read, open to a random page and share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page. Be careful not to include spoilers, you don't want to give too much away and spoil it for others. Share the title and author of the book so that people who like the teasers can check it out!
Click here to find out more.
My teasers:
" 'That the women in the Lower Caverns fly with dragonriders? Lessa pursed her lips angrily. 'No. I wasn't told.' Nor did it help Lessa's mood to see the pity and regret in Manora's eyes." 
 Dragonflight (1# The Dragon Book series) by Anne McCaffery page 124.

I would love to read your Teaser Tuesday's, so please place the link to your in the comments below. If you don't have a blog please just place your teasers in the comments.

Thanks, as always, for popping along and reading my little bloggy,

Love Rie x

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday Finds

This post is inspired from Should Be Reading's blog on all the books you have found this week, but I am going to do this post every couple of weeks to let you guys know some of the great books I have found or been recommended.

After a nice lunch with my fellow book worms Sam Crossley & Ross Phillips I came back with 11 books to read, and my list has been building over the last couple of weeks so I will jump into my new Friday Finds!

The First Chronicle of Pern: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey 
(and the another 9 books from the series). Lent to me by Mr Ross Phillips I ditched all other reading a picked up this book on Tuesday evening and have been storming through it. A lot more difficult to read than some of the YA I have been reading of late, but this has a fantastic style and I am really getting in to it!

One Day by David Nicholls 
Lent to me by Mr Sam Crossley, he has been banging on about this book for months. I have very little knowledge about it, with only what I can gain from the romantic comedy style comments on the back. But Sam has very good taste in books so I will have to trust him!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
I had heard about this book in numerous places, and finally decided I needed to find out just why it is so popular. With nearly all 5 star reviews on Goodreads it felt this a challenge I needed to read. I have borrowed this from my younger brother's girlfriend so will be tackling this book soon, and lets hope it lives up to all the hype!

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowan 
First of all I must bask in the beauty that is this books cover. I had seen it on a number of blogs, but after   seeing it on Paper Book Princess I gave in and added to the TBP (to be purchased) list, as it is not even released yet! The teenage YA theme holds promises of a different sort of romance with vampire, angel and demonic themes that send me in an almost frenzy!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis 

This is another beautiful cover, and a science fiction narrative that sounds right up my street. I first heard about this from Grazing Pages (who I have huge book worm respect for and has given me a number of book suggestions from her YouTube videos and blog posts) and added it straight to the TBP pile. I wish I had a glitch in my bank account that it didn't charge me for my Amazon purchases, because this would be the first one I would purchase if money was no object!

A Game of Thrones (complete collection so far) by George R.R.Martin
After watching the first few episodes with Sam of this series I am really enjoying it. But these are BIG books, it would take me weeks to trawl through these - maybe one day I will tackle them, but atm I am content with watching the TV series.

That is all for this weeks tag! Next week I will be doing Teaser Tuesday, where I give you a couple of "quotes" and a mini review of the book I'm reading at the time!

Thanks as always for reading :) If you have done a Friday Finds please put your link in the comments as would love to hear what you have found this week. No blog? A list will suffice :D

Love Rie x

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Marked (House of the Night #1) by P.C. & Kristin Cast - Book Review

I first mentioned this series in My Top 10 Books I Have Always Wanted To Read, But Never Got Round To, and I am slowly making my way down the list. I had a copy of Marked on my Kindle, and decided it was better late than never to get into this series.

Short summary courtesy of GoodreadsThe House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.

This book starts off as any over YA fantasy fiction, a dysfunctional family, difficult school life & a big change - Zoey was 'Marked'. This character is a little more 'popular' than the average protagonist, going out with the most popular boy in the school, but she is the same 16 year old wannabe that had me rolling my eyes.

Having said this, the concept of this book is really interesting. The first chapters felt very similar to Twilight, but it soon merged into a far more original and intriguing world. The House of the Night school defiantly feels a little like Hogwarts, with it unusual lessons and flamboyant teachers, just with vampires which is spelt Vampyers in the book. It worked really well, pulling in contemporary references of the real world, including anecdotes about  celebrities that the protagonist did and didn't like in a way that set this book as a fantasy based in the real world.  

The writing style works well, the Mother and Daughter writing team must be difficult to master, but it results in an easy to read and engaging prose that both paints an amazing picture and lets you inside the 16 year girls mind (with a series of comments in brackets adding Zoey's thoughts along the way).

The character stereotypes were a little predictable, and even although this is going to be a ten book series I can guess where it is going already. But this is part of the appeal for YA books, and I found myself wanting to whip out the Kindle at any opportunity to devour another chapter. 

My biggest grudge has to be the formatting of this eBook. I am not sure how they converted it from paperback onto the Kindle store, or if it is just my font size on the Kindle (which is smaller than the default) but someone needs to sort out the formatting! Line breaks happened at random, chapters started and finished on the same page and other major errors which at times were not just annoying but distracting from the content.

This is a great little read, and when I finished it I was almost sad to see it end, but the 10 book series does intimidate me. The £5 price tag on each of these books is a little pricey considering the size of the series, and this does put me off reading more and getting hooked! This is one to borrow from your library or a friend, and maybe not one to read on your Kindle!

Overall I give the book a generous:


Have you read this book &/or series? What did you think? Will you be checking it out?

Love Rie x

Monday, 9 April 2012

Bookish Wonders #1

Bookish Wonders is a new series of posts I am going to be writing about books funny enough. As a little break from reviews I want to talk to you guys about the different things we love about books, for their cover art, how they make us think, feel or even change how we see the world. 

My first Bookish Wonder is all about where you read a book, and if a perfect sunny afternoon reading makes a better book than a wet weekend.

One glorious morning, my best friend and I sat on The Hoe in Plymouth, which is a beautiful grassy field which over looks the sea with the rest of town behind you, and set to reading our Kindles laid out on a blanket. At the time I was reading 'Hunt for the Phoenix' by the Byfords, and gave it a glowing review. I loved the books twists and turns and fantastic story telling, and although it had its faults I gave it full marks. But how was where I read this book and the memories I had attached to it affected my perception?

Keri Arthur, on the other hand, and the first book in her Dark Angel series: Darkness Unbound is the hardest review I have ever given a book. I read it in late January, as a relief from a pile of uni work and a truly stressed student budget after Christmas. I read it in my dull university bedroom, on my own at night, after night, until I finished it. Nothing remarkable. Nothing new. And very little done well. Yet if I had read this book on The Hoe, in Plymouth on a beautiful day would I have felt differently?

I think what is most important is where the book takes you. The best books you will read will transport you from where you lay, sit or stand and into their world. Books that when the house falls down around you, you fail to notice. This book for me has to be a book by Kelley Armstrong, that I haven't actually reviewed - Broken. I didn't stop until I finished this familiar yet surprisingly new book around my (still) favourite fictional couple, Clay & Elena. I have found it so difficult to review these books as so much in a series can be spoilers for the earlier books. However I think even without the other books in the series this stands out to be one of those reads that made me feel scared when they were scared, happy when they were happy, and 'fun' when they where having fun ;)! Sat here now, I cannot remember where I read it - in my opinion a sign of a truly fantastic book.

I want to know where did you read your favourite book? Do you remember? Do you think where you read a book matters?

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

Friday, 6 April 2012

Puzzlebook - Review

I have a review of something a bit different for you all today. A huge book worm you won't often find me doing anything else on my Kindle other than reading a book. But when I heard about Puzzlebook's on your Kindle I had to take a look.

Summary courtesy of Amazon This is Volume 2 of the Top Rated Puzzlebook series from America. In this brand-new puzzle collection you will find 101 pictorial, hand-crafted puzzle quizzes.
My puzzle book of choice was 101 Puzzle Quizzes by The Grabarchuck Family, an interactive puzzle book in colour, with you guessed it, 101 different puzzles. This delightful collection of brain teasers gets you to use your visual, spacial, counting, geometry and searching skills to solve the puzzles that get gradually harder.

Some of you might have noticed the catch already, I am the proud owner of the keyboard-less kindle which is in black and white, not the best for playing colour interactive puzzle books! The interface can also be a little be difficult to use on the actual Kindle device, with me taking a while to realise using the usual page turning buttons on the side of the Kindle taking you to the next puzzle, or answer depending where you are located. The puzzles lead you back and forward throughout the 'book' (a term than I use very loosely) as you follow links to the next puzzle. Navigating using the 5 way controller and the back button is possible, but my no means easy.

My recommendation instead is to download the Kindle app for your computer! Free to download and super easy to use it brings this puzzlebook to life. When I first got this set up on my little notebook whilst sat in the living room at home, the whole family had to get involved in every puzzle resulting in a lot of finger counting, voting and 'YEESSSS' 'Oh yeahs' and 'DOH's' at the outcomes.

Despite some logistical problems navigating back and forward between the puzzles, once you have got the hang of the controls (probably a lot quicker than me) this is a great bit of fun to kill some time. Taking a long train or car journey with some restless passengers? I think this has some great potential to make the time whiz by!

And with a wet Easter weekend forecast this might be a great way to spend some time with the family, and not just the kids (my brother of 19 even seemed to enjoy it!). There is also a special edition 20 Easter Puzzle Quizzes priced at only 77p great for some rainy day fun.

I rate it 7/10!

You can pick up your copy of 101 Puzzle Quizzes from Amazon for just £1.94.

Don't have a copy of the PC Kindle app, you can download it for free here, and for Mac here.

Happy Puzzling,

Love Rie x

This book was kindly gifted to me for review consideration, but all opinions are as always my own.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

WWW - What are you reading Wednesday!

I saw this post last week on Should be Reading's blog and wanted to join in this week. You can play along with this little 'tag' (a.k.a meme) style post by just answering the following three (3) questions
  1.  What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you will read next?
I think I am going to do one of these 'tag' style posts a week, I have seen some good ones for Tuesday's and Friday's too. So let me know what you think and if you want to see more of them.

So lets get going!!

What am I currently reading?
I have been reading The Hobbit now for well over a month. It is one of the books I mentioned in one of my previous posts about books I have never got round to reading along with the rest of the The Lord of the Rings series, and was recommended to read this one first. I have to say I am enjoying it, Bilbo Baggins is adorable (in a Hobbit sort of way), and I know its considered a classic now, but I just can't commit to reading it. It is so different to the other more YA fantasy I have been reading, so I have been flicking back and forth reading a few pages here and there every few days. I also started this week Marked from the House of the Night series by P.C & Kristen Cast. I am only 7% (chapter 3) through on my Kindle as I type this post but I am already enjoying it. I even read a sneaky chapter whilst I was eating my breakfast this morning, which is when I can tell I am enjoying a book. Its a slightly different concept to the other YA Vampire (which is spelt Vampyres in this book), with the whole concept of being marked sounds like an interesting read!

What did you recently finish reading?
Over the weekend I work in my local Garden Centre, so don't have as much time to read as I would like. But as I was in between books (other than The Hobbit) I decided to read a few short stories which I could read in my tea or lunch breaks. This weekends entertainment was some of Kelley Armstrong's free online fiction which she gives away on her website. These accompany her adult fantasy series Women of the Otherworld, and her YA series Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising, and I read six just this weekend. I particularly enjoyed Checkmate, Case of the Half Demon Spy and Framed. However I warn those of you that have not read some or all of the series these shorts do contain spoilers to some of the later books. I am planning on doing a post about these soon so watch this space!

What do you think you will read next?
There is loads of books that I want to purchase which I have heard about recently, but I also have a very long TBR collection on my Kindle that I will be tackling first. It is a toss up between The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson or the second book in the Hunger Games series Catching Fire . Decisions, decisions!

Let me know what you are reading at the moment in the comments below, and what you think I should be reading next!

Thanks as always for reading,

Love Rie x

Monday, 2 April 2012

Impulse Control by Susan Bischoff - Book Review

I discovered this book for free while doing one of my regular Amazon free download trawls. When I mentioned it in one of my Spotted blog posts I commented that it sounded similar to one of the YA series by Kelley Armstrong and I was defiantly intrigued. One night when I was tired with long novels and struggling on what to read I chose this short story and was in for a little treat!

Summary Courtesy of AmazonIn the world of the Talent Chronicles, kids born with supernatural powers are taken from their families and forced into government research facilities called State Schools. At one such school, a dangerous experiment has killed two young inmates and threatens others. Ethan, a shape-shifter, is reluctantly recruited by his best friend Karen, a telepath, and Elle, the unique Talent he has a crush on, to thwart the faculty's plans. If they’re caught they face Detention, and Detention at a State School has a whole different meaning.

I must first reiterate that this is not strictly a book. Advertised as a short story, it is only 12,000 words long and I easily devoured it in one evening. It is drawn from Bischoff's series the Talent Chronicles, a YA supernatural series that focuses on 'talents', people born with supernatural powers. Feared by society they are destined to a life of hiding their abilities or institutionalised under the preconception they will be taught how to control their powers, but in reality are little more than lab rats.

Immediatly when reading the description I likened them to the Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong, which I loved as an easy to read YA fantasy series, and was excited to find something similar. I was not disappointed by this short taster into this series but fear it may be targeted even younger than imagined. The titles of the second book 'Heroes before Curfew' saying a lot. This being said I did really enjoy getting drawn into the pubescent mind of young supernatural's, the pure escapism proving much more enjoyable than some more complex adult reads. The characters promised to be well developed and likeable whilst engaging in a action filled narrative with just the right amount of awkward romance. Ethan promises to be a perfect substitute for troubled Derek from the Darkest Powers series, in a way that is teasingly familiar.

I can't say this book offers something new or revolutionary but it is a taster to a series I want to read more of. The first book in the series, Hush Money priced at just 77p has been downloaded and added on to my Kindle's TBR folder, so watch this space for the review!

Overall I rate this a 7/10.

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x