vampires

Review: City of Ashes, Cassandra Clare

City of AshesCity of Ashes (Goodreads)
Author:   Cassandra Clare

Rating: ★★★★☆

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

Details

Series: The Mortal Instruments #2
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
Pages: 453

Paper copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukBarnes & Noble • Bookworld (ePub)

Please note: This review is for the second in the Mortal Instruments series and so contains spoilers for the first book, City of Bones. You may wish to read my review of that book instead!


Review

It’s been quite a while since I read City of Bones, but after I saw the film recently I was keen to get back into Jace, Clary and Simon’s world to see what happens next. I didn’t think the movie was done very well, but that’s another story I’ll rant about another time…

At the end of City of Bones, (spoiler incoming) View Spoiler ». There’s no time to clean up the mess before Alec and Isabelle’s mother, Maryse turns up with the Shadowhunter Inquisitor, charged with finding out what is going on. Meanwhile, “Downworlder” children are being murdered in New York City and the Shadowhunters must find out who is behind it before they strike again.

In my City of Bones review, I mentioned I was disappointed by the cheesy one-liners that are everywhere in the dialogue (and I mean, everywhere). In City of Ashes the cheesiness is still there, but I think after having seen the movie and got used to the slightly toungue-in-cheek nature of Cassie Clare’s storytelling style, I’ll admit I didn’t find it quite so annoying.

There are still some annoying things about the characters in this story, mind you. Jace, for one, was just so whiny and brooding all the time. I mean, he does have quite a lot to be brooding about, but he’s always so grumpy, I’m not really sure what Clary sees in him! (my blogging buddy Philippa is going to kill me at this point, she loves Jace! Sorry!).

I did, however, enjoy the development in almost all the characters in this story – Simon’s transformation, the development of Clary’s powers, and the fact that we’re never quite sure which side Jace is actually on until the very end. Also, there is an almost exquisite awkwardness about Clary and Jace’s relationship. I’m going to hide this behind spoilers because really, if you haven’t read City of Bones, you don’t want to know yet! If you’re in a feed reader, click through to see the spoiler.

View Spoiler »

This series is written in such an engaging style – I struggled to put it down at all. I thought the storyline was a little thin, but it was the character interaction that kept me turning the pages all the way through.

Despite most of the plot threads being tidied away, City of Ashes ends on such a cliffhanger that I am almost having to jump right into the next book immediately!

Fans of YA Urban Fantasy, what are you waiting for? The Shadowhunters’ world is waiting for you.

The Mortal Instruments

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare City of Ashes City of Glass
 cityoffallenangels  cityoflostsouls

#6: City of Heavenly Fire

TBP May 2014

Review: Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness

Shadow of NightShadow of Night (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Deborah Harkness (website)

Rating: ★★★½☆

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Details

Series: All Souls Trilogy #2
Genre: Historical paranormal romance
Published: Viking, July 2012
Pages: 584
My copy: the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Please note: This is my review for the second book in this series, and so contains spoilers for the first, A Discovery of Witches. You may wish to read my review for that book instead!


Review

The story of Shadow of Night begins as soon as A Discovery of Witches ended. It has been quite a while since I read the first book and there’s not much in the way of re-setting the scene, so it took a while to get back into Diana and Matthew’s story.

Diana Bishop is a scholar and historian, and is also from a long line of witches. Her magic is different to that of other witches, however – spellbound by her parents as a child before their murder, she has only recently released her power but cannot control it. On top of this dangerous inability to control her powers, she has angered the ruling Congregation by falling in love with a vampire, Matthew Clairmont – a relationship which is forbidden under the covenant binding witches, vampires and demons.

Fearing they are in danger, Diana and Matthew use Diana’s timewalking ability to travel back to 1590, where they are fortunate enough to encounter members of Matthew’s household and family who accept them as time travellers and help them to fit into society. They must find a witch willing to help Diana discover and control her powers, as well as try to locate the mysterious manuscript “Ashmole 782”, which must be kept from falling into the wrong hands.

As with A Discovery of Witches, there was soooo much detail. The detail in the first book was overwhelming at times, but in Shadow of Night, it actually works really well. Diana is discovering the strange new world of the 1590s and even though she has studied that period for a long time, actually being there totally overwhelms her. The detail with which this new world is described is amazing, and the characters of the School of Night, the gathering of witches in London and the individuals like Queen Elizabeth herself are colourful and make the story very enjoyable to read. We don’t quite get to meet Will Shakespeare but there are plenty of other personalities to mingle with.

It took me a long time to read this book for some reason, and I suspect it may be the level of detail that made it a slow read – having to take in every scene and determine what was going on. I wanted so much to love Shadow of Night, and I did love the portrayal of Elizabethan England and Prague, but there were a few things about the story itself that really bothered me and made me enjoy the story less than it probably deserves.

I still love Matthew, even with his melodramatics and brooding rages – such a romantic! I still rather dislike Diana as having a shallow emotional range. There are some quite heart-wrenching events through this story, and she comes through them with a brief mention of being upset but recovers very quickly and gets on with things. I know, some people are really like that, but I thought the story could have been a lot more emotional, both in happy and tragic times.

Apart from the problems I had with Diana’s character there were a few things in the story itself that I found slightly annoyed me. Diana and Matthew are told not to try to change anything in the past, as it could seriously affect the future, but as soon as they arrive they start trying to save witches under trial and affecting other decisions and events. Matthew also seems sure that Diana is keeping secrets from him, for no good reason that I could see. I was slightly confused with the whole time travel mechanics – the Matthew of the past just mysteriously ceased to exist for a year while the “future” Matthew is there, and then after they leave he just pops back into place into a world where quite a lot has happened. It felt like a slightly clumsy way of dealing with being in a time he was in previously.

The story itself moves at quite a pedestrian pace, at least until close to the end when everything comes to a head and it was difficult to put the book down. I just wasn’t as gripped by the story as I wanted to be, especially since I was enjoying reading about life in London and Prague as well as the magic that Diana was learning about.

If you enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, you’ll also enjoy this next instalment in the series. Just be ready for a truckload of details!

Warnings: Sexual situations, torture and some violence

The All Souls Trilogy

Viking cover Shadow of Night Book 3 to be released later in 2013

 

 

What did others think of Shadow of Night?

  • “Anybody else ready to hop a plane to Oxford? I really want to see if there are any more Matthews prowling between the library stacks.” – Sue @ Bookish Temptations
  • “(The All Souls Trilogy) has elements that will appeal to a large audience; history, witchcraft, vampires, daemons, time-travel and romance.” – The Caffienated Book Reviewer
  • “Shadow of Night is a stunning follow-up to ‘Discovery’ – an intelligent and enchanting romp through a world that is inherently supernatural and alien, and yet recognisably factual in its construction of authentic historical figures operating in a tangibly real Tudor setting.” – Lancashire Evening Post

Review: The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure Julie KagawaTitle: The Eternity Cure (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Julie Kagawa (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Details

Series: Blood of Eden #2
Genre: Young adult Paranormal/Dystopian Science fiction/Horror
Published: Harlequin Teen, 30 April 2013.
Pages: 446
My copy: the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBarnes & Noble

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2

Please note, this is my review for the second book in the Blood of Eden series and so contains spoilers for the first book. You may wish to read my review of The Immortal Rules instead!


Review

After the rollercoaster ride that was The Immortal Rules, I was keen to get stuck into The Eternity Cure. I was delighted to discover that, although a little slow at the beginning while things were re-capped, this second instalment gripped me just as much as the first!

Allison Sekemoto has delivered her friends to safety, but as a vampire, she is not welcome with them. She resumes her search for her mentor, Kanin, following her sense of his presence as her sire. She knows he is being held captive and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren, but instead of being led to Kanin, she discovers her sibling, Jackal – the leader of the Raider city her human friends had been held captive in not long ago. It seems he and Allison might be after the same goal in the short term, but is it safe to trust him?

Even though the subject matter in this story is often quite dark and violent, there is just enough light-hearted humour to bring the story out of being a depressing read. The first few chapters contain quite a lot of re-cap from the first book, so it felt a little slow to someone like me who only just read the first book, but once the action got going, it was all go, go, go. The journey into and back out of New Covington was nail-bitingly suspenseful and there were just enough twists to keep me guessing all the way to the end. And wow, what an ending! The third book cannot come fast enough!

When Allie first meets back up with Jackal, I was a bit confused. I didn’t remember him playing a very large role in the first book – apart from being a heartless bastard, that is. In any case, he was an interesting and enigmatic addition to the new storyline, and even by the end we have no idea whether he is trustworthy or not. Such a well-written character, and I enjoyed his snark, even if I wanted to slap him more than a few times! Zeke, also, is quite different in this book – harder and more kick-arse. As the only human through a lot of the story he does a great job at making sure none of the vampires push him around, even if they could rip out his throat at any moment.

The one thing that slightly disappointed me about this book was the romantic aspect. I know, I know, it’s young adult, there has to be some romance, and after the scene at the end (no spoilers) it is necessary to a certain degree (my heart! *clutches*), but hear me out. After Zeke appears back on the scene, he knows that Allie is a vampire and that she is now working with Jackal, but he forgives her way too quickly, in my opinion. The rebuilding of their relationship could have been drawn out until the very end of the book in exquisite agony for each of them, but no. I’m trying not to give too much of anything away here, so I’ll just say that the romantic elements of this particular book didn’t work for me.

The Eternity Cure is a much darker book than The Immortal Rules in a lot of ways, but still brilliantly written and full of edge-of-the-seat suspense all the way through. I would highly recommend this series to any dark urban fantasy enthusiasts.

Warnings: Graphic violence.

Blood of Eden series

immortalrules The Eternity Cure Julie Kagawa

What did others think of The Eternity Cure?

  • “Even better than the first book! Fast pacing and high action combine for a gripping, edge of your seat read!” – Auntie Spinelli Reads
  • “It is Jackal – Allison’s blood brother and old enemy – that truly makes an impression in this instalment. He is cocky, presumptuous, unpredictable, and, more than anything, a brilliant source of dark humour and entertainment.” – Realm of Fiction
  • “…I don’t know that I’ve ever read a vampire story — especially from the point-of-view of the vampire — that I’ve loved more.  And I’ve read a lot of good ones.  Trust me.” – The Starry-Eyed Revue

Review: The Immortal Rules, Julie Kagawa

The Immortal RulesTitle: The Immortal Rules (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Julie Kagawa (website)  

Rating: ★★★★★

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.

Details

Series: Blood of Eden #1
Genre: Young adult Paranormal/Dystopian Science fiction/Horror (Vampires and Zombies, oh my!)
Published: Harlequin Teen, April 2012. Paperback March 26, 2013.
Pages: 485
My copy: the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository 
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1

Review

I heard so many amazing things about this book around its original publication date in 2012, but avoided it because, well… vampires. I really wish I had picked it up though – I ended up loving it as much as everyone else seemed to!

At some point in the near future, a deadly disease wipes out most of the human population of earth. The vampires were not susceptible to the disease, and barricaded themselves within certain cities, keeping some humans nearby as a food source in exchange for relative safety. In trying to create a cure for the disease, the rabids were created – mindless zombies who roam the world outside the cities, killing any living creature in their path.

Allison (known as Allie) lives in the fringe of the city where everyday survival is a struggle for those who choose to remain unregistered as “blood donors” by the vampires. One fateful night, Allie and her group are attacked and killed by rabids. Allie, however, doesn’t stay dead. She is “rescued” by a vampire – turned into the very thing that she hates.

Allie spends much of the story trying to come to terms with the fact that she is now dead, no longer human, and a blood-craving monster. I really admired her strength, but also her vulnerability as she mourns the life she left behind, even if it wasn’t much of a life. Her journey out of the city and towards the fabled city of Eden is very tense – at any moment she could be discovered or attacked, or get a whiff of blood and lose her self-control. The pacing is just right and I couldn’t put the book down – in fact it kept me reading well into the night with a torch while I was camping over the Easter weekend!

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole business with the religious group at first. I was slightly annoyed that religion had come into it, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense for someone like Jeb to have such a single-minded purpose. I must admit I thought Zeke was a bit too much of a warm fuzzy romantic interest rather than a real leader, but he does improve by the end. I hope Allison manages to run into him again before long.

Vampire society, while briefly introduced to Allie by Kanin during her training, doesn’t play any part in this part of the story. The fact that we see barely any other vampires and that Kanin disappears from the picture so quickly made it painfully obvious that this is just the first part of a much larger story. I’ll be interested to see how he comes back into things.

I would highly recommend The Immortal Rules for anyone who likes the sound of a gritty dystopian, with vampires and zombies who are slightly different from the current norm. The second book in this series, The Eternity Cure, is due for release at the start of May and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it!

Warnings: Graphic violence including towards children.

Blood of Eden series

The Immortal Rules The Eternity Cure

What did others think of The Immortal Rules?

  • “If you swore never to pick up a vampire book again, this book is worth breaking that promise over.” – Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales
  • “Allison is actually a kick-ass heroine set to rival the likes of Buffy and whilst I didn’t see her as more than a regurgitated Katniss at first, she soon proved to be a hell of a lot more.” – Once Upon A Time
  • “The Immortal Rules is anything but traditional, and most importantly it is GOOD. (And by good I mean awesome to the point where I had trouble doing my job because I kept telling myself to read “just one more page” on my Kindle app.)” – Nina on Goodreads

Review: The Water Witch, Carol Goodman

The Water WitchTitle: Water Witch (Goodreads)
Author:  Carol Goodman (or her pseudonym, Juliet Dark)

Rating: ★★★★☆

“You have only to call my name to bring me back”, he whispered, his breath hot in my ear. “You have only to love me to make me human”.

Callie McFay is the guardian of the last gateway between the world of Faerie and mankind. Seduced by a powerful incubus demon, she has succeeded in banishing Liam to the Borderlands but he still haunts her dreams, tempting her with the knowledge of how to bring him back. But loving an incubus usually ends in death for a human. For her own sake Callie must learn to control her desires and ensure Liam remains trapped for all eternity in his watery prison.

Only there is a more dangerous creature than Liam in the Borderlands. The Water Witch is also looking for a way back…

Details

Series: Fairwick Chronicles #2
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Published: Ebury Press, September 2012 (will be published February 13, 2013 in the USA by Ballantine – Random House)
Pages: 339
My Copy: The publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com (pre-order) • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Please note: This review is for the second book in this series, so contains spoilers for the first book, Incubus/The Demon Lover. You may wish to go and read my review of that book instead!

Review

Note: The Water Witch was published in the US under Carol Goodman’s pseudonym, Juliet Dark. 

Callie McFay is a doorkeeper – the only one who can open the last remaining door to Faerie in the woods near Fairwick. The society of witches called the Grove have decided that the door is too dangerous to remain open – it has been letting in all manner of creatures including the Incubus who attacked Callie a few months previously. They want it shut, for ever. Callie and the supernatural creatures who call Fairwick home do not agree and decide to do everything within their power to keep the door open.

US cover

US cover

Meanwhile, despite her best intentions, Callie is still desperately missing her Incubus lover, Liam. She travels to faerie and meets up with him there, but when she returns she starts having strange dreams again. Could Liam be back?

Water Witch is an enjoyable sequel to Incubus. We get to see the development of Callie’s powers, but the romantic aspects of the story that were in the forefront of Incubus are not so important in Water Witch. In fact, Callie has less actual sex with anyone and has more imaginary dream sex again. Also she falls for no less than three separate men over the course of this book. I’m starting to think Callie is… how can I put this delicately? Impressionable, perhaps?

The story is once again smart and quite funny at times. The secondary characters really develop well and bring out their interesting personalities.

One of the main problems I had with Incubus was that the story consisted of a few exciting events, interspersed with boring college life. Water Witch has none of that – in fact the entire story plays out within the space of a few weeks during the college vacation, so this book is free to contain pretty much all action. And it does!

Callie’s poor Incubus doesn’t get much of a go in this book, although there is some raunchy action early on in the story. Without giving anything away, Callie really frustrated me with her inability to see the obvious right in front of her. The second half of the story was really quite predictable and I found it a shame. Once again, we’re left on a cliffhanger so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next!

Warnings: Graphic sexual content.

What did others think of Water Witch?

  • “It was an entertaining read, but very high on the cheese factor.” – The Book Stop
  • “I desperately wanted to know what would happen on each page. I was also hoping a heavy branch would fall on Callie’s grandmother.” – Fangs, Wands & Fairy Dust
  • “Callie Callie Callie… what are we going to do with you?? She seems to be a lovely girl, but someone you just want to smack upside the head for all the lousy decisions she makes!” – Book Chick City

Review: Incubus, Carol Goodman

incubusTitle: Incubus (Goodreads) or The Demon Lover in the US
Author:  Carol Goodman (or her pseudonym, Juliet Dark)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dr. Callie McFay travels to the small college town of Fairwick in New York State for a job interview. Despite it being her second choice she finds herself talked into accepting a job offer from the Folklore Department to teach a class on demons and vampires. She also finds herself drawn to an old house in the woods where Gothic novelist Dahlia LaMotte used to live and buys it on a whim, despite the seeming reluctance of the estate agent to sell it to her.

But on the night of her job interview, she had a very vivid erotic dream about a man made out of shadows and moonlight, and this dream becomes a regular occurrence when she moves into her new home. Callie starts to feel like a heroine in one of the gothic novels she teaches as slowly it dawns on her that things at the college – and in her home – are not what they seem. She learns that her house is supposed to be haunted by LaMotte’s former lover and her new – and rather strange – colleagues tell her an unfamiliar fairy tale about an incubus-demon with a human past who was enchanted by a fairy queen…

Details

Series: Fairwick Chronicles #1
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Published: Ebury Press, July 2011
Pages: 466

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

Note: Incubus was published in the US as The Demon Lover, under Carol Goodman’s pseudonym, Juliet Dark. It is called Incubus in the UK and Australia.

This is where all stories start, on the edge of a dark wood…

I started reading this book thinking it was a YA paranormal romance (perhaps based on the look of the cover?) – but from the first chapter it certainly is not! There are some quite erotic scenes all the way through, so be warned!

US Cover

US Cover

Callie has had erotic dreams featuring a shadowy stranger since she was a teenager, but since coming to live in the town of Fairwick, a few hours drive from New York City, she’s been having more of them. Her supposedly haunted house is not all that it seems and the woods in the back yard are home to some strange and dangerous creatures. Then, Callie discovers there is also more to the staff and students at Fairwick College than meets the eye. Callie’s struggles now include a strange presence in her house plus fitting into supernatural society, not to mention the freezing weather.

The premise and folklore of this story are very well-designed and those who love Celtic mythology should enjoy the many references to fairies and other creatures. It reminded me somewhat of Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches in its paranormal society and academia, and the sexy parts were quite True Blood. The writing was lovely to read and contains plenty of references not just to literary classics but also to modern pop culture.

Unfortunately, the plot did not flow well. Callie seems to flit here and there, does this thing, then she does that. There are a series of exciting events that happen every now and then, but the rest is filled with rather drab day-to-day college happenings.  I felt that quite a lot could have been removed without damaging the story, especially in the first half of the book. I was slightly baffled when Liam turned up, but it didn’t take me long to work out what was happening and after that the rest was quite predictable.

Callie didn’t seem like such a strong heroine and she doesn’t get much of a chance to try out her magical abilities, but I actually really liked Liam and I hope that the second book will bring more from him! I also enjoyed reading about the town of Fairwick and the staff and students of the college – the extra characters were the saving grace of this story, especially Ralph!

Despite the things I didn’t like about the story, I’ll read the second book in the series, The Water Witch – I’m very curious to find out what happens next.

Warnings: Graphic sexual content.

What did others think of Incubus?

  • “Steamy and nuanced, but ultimately a fairly predictable entrance into the already overcrowded paranormal romance genre.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “If only it were just about the incubus, the story would’ve progressed and ended faster, but no; I was surprised toencounter a whole assortment of paranormal and magical creatures…” – 4 stars – My Library in the Making
  • “Such as the Gothic romances Callie references, this novel is rich in atmospheric prose and mystery. As a book lover and avid reader and hoarder of books, I can’t say how much I loved Callie’s constant references to literature and her talk of how many books she owned.” – 6/10 – All the Books I Can Read

Review: A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches (Goodreads)

Author:  Deborah Harkness (@DebHarkness)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Details

Series: All Souls Trilogy #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Published: Headline, February 2011 (originally published by Viking in Feb 2011)
Pages (paperback): 594

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Diana Bishop pushed aside her magical abilities when her powerful parents were killed when she was just a child. Years later, she has become a scholar in Alchemy and early sciences without the help of magic, but when she finds a mysterious enchanted manuscript in the Bodleian Library, all sorts of things start to go wrong. First it’s the vampire and geneticist, Matthew Clairmont, who starts following her around. But when other witches and daemons start following her as well, Diana knows she has to find out what is going on.

Wow, where to begin with this book? It’s been a while since I’ve read anything so long and it took me a whole week to get through it.

Viking cover

I’m a little torn with my rating – on one hand, I really loved the world that Deborah Harkness has created, with its witches, vampires and daemons living amongst the ordinary humans with the (unfortunately a little Twilight-esque) Congregation keeping tabs on them all.

On the other hand, there were things about the book that disappointed me. One was the length. At just shy of 600 pages and with rather small text, I would have expected more to actually happen in the story. As it is, we get a blow by blow description of Matthew and Diana sitting around in various houses, reading, drinking tea or wine, and eating. Diana sleeps quite a lot. Every outfit that Diana wears is described. I just felt that there were big sections that could have been left out in order to make the pace a little faster.

There’s so much character development in this book that by the end the main characters were like old friends, and I was more than a bit in love with Matthew. Who wouldn’t want a gorgeous, intelligent French vampire around to protect you all the time, even if he is pretty pushy and likes keeping fairly major secrets. Diana, I didn’t like so much. She showed plenty of emotion when the bad things were happening but I had an overall feeling that she was a bit ungrateful. Matthew wants to take her off to France in a private jet? Alright then, whatever. Buys her expensive riding gear so she can take over his stables? Okay, but these shoes are too tight, I can’t get them on. She may be rich herself from her scholarly work (that’s never really revealed) but perhaps a little thanks might be in order? Perhaps a bit of girly excitement? I know I’d be over the moon with gratitude if someone let me play around in their library of ancient texts, and I am in no way a historian.

Okay, this review is starting to sound like I didn’t enjoy the book – honestly, I really did. I kept finding the time to get through it and when the action scenes did happen it was almost impossible to put down. Likewise for the romantic parts – very swoony. I especially loved the settings of Oxford and the castle in France – both very atmospheric settings, but also the house that Sarah and Emily and the ghosts live in. Gorgeous! I also thought it was neat, although slightly off-putting, that Matthew has met nearly every famous personality in Europe in the last thousand years or so. I really enjoyed thinking about what these people might really have been like to meet.

This is a very intelligent book, rich with history and scientific theories of past and present, but also with healthy helpings of humour, action and romance. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the second in the trilogy, A Shadow of Night, which was released back in July.

Warnings: Sexual situations, horror themes.

 

What did others think of A Discovery of Witches?

  • “Academia meets magic! The world is full of research musty books and cutting edge research as well as a richly told world of magic and secrets.” – 4/5 – Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  • “There’s a little something for everyone: magic, history, science, ethics, mystery, romance, action… you get the picture.” – 4.5/5 – Sarah of Sarah Says Read
  • “There was just way too much detail about Dianna’s job in alchemy, and about Dianna going through old manuscripts, and about Dianna talking a lot about history and discussing why she doesn’t use her powers. ” – 2/5 – Mindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

 

Tour: The Day of First Sun, Sheryl Steines: Excerpt and Competition

Welcome to The Day of First Sun Whirlwind Tour!

Please enjoy this excerpt from the urban fantasy novel, The Day of First Sun. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
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Day of First Sun, Sheryl Steines

Sturtagaard chose not to speak, though it was he who had called for the meeting. They both checked their watches and realized they had been sitting across from him for ten minutes, watching him sniff the air. If he wanted to play this, they would play along at least for a little while longer, though both were tired of the leering. As the vampire sniffed again, Cham finally figured out why.

“You know, you called us. We really don’t have anything to say to you, so if you’re just playing games, we’re happy to leave. I’ve got other, more important things to do than watch you
sniff and leer,” Cham finally said, and stood up.

Sturtagaard smiled as he watched Cham open the door because he much preferred dealing with Annie, but when she stood up, too, he realized he’d overplayed his hand.

“If I talk, my employer will have me staked. I’d like some assurance that you won’t do the same,” he said rather quickly, before they left.

They turned and looked at him, both rolling their eyes.

“I’ll have you staked if you don’t talk,” replied Cham, as he stood by the door.

“You’re out of options if you ever hope to get out of here again,” Annie said calmly, focusing on his face.

Sturtagaard squirmed a little in his seat, as Annie’s expression was somewhat disquieting and unemotional. He looked at Cham, whose face was expressionless, and then back to Annie,
who hadn’t moved a muscle. The vampire sighed.

“You heard right. I was hired to create a zombie army to overthrow the Wizard Council,” Sturtagaard said. His voice remained steady and calm with resignation.

“Who wants to overthrow the Council?” asked Cham, his hand still clutching the door.

“My employer. I’ve told you, I don’t know who he is. I always dealt with his associate. He’d show up, leave notes, or send others with messages. I’ve never contacted him.” He looked from
one to the other, but they both remained stony and detached. “Come on, now. I can’t give you information I don’t have.” Sturtagaard was charming.

Annie rolled her eyes again. “You really don’t have any idea who the employer is?” she asked with sarcasm.

“Really, I don’t,” he said.

“So you’re building an army of the dead. How long did you have to get this done?” Annie took out her phone and pulled out her calendar.

“He wanted it ready for September first.”

Annie looked up with a grimace, and Cham looked surprised. She didn’t need to mark the date on her calendar or research its significance, though neither could figure out why a zombie army had to be created for that day, the Day of First Sun. It was a very powerful and ancient day for good magic.

“So, your employer wants an army of the dead on that day? Why?” Cham asked in a flat, emotionless voice.

“He’s a black wizard. What do you think he wants? He wants to overthrow the Council, take over the world, practice magic in the open. You know, the typical magical fantasy.” Sturtagaard
grinned because he believed that would benefit the entire supernatural world.

“Wipe the smirk off your face, Sturtagaard. Having free reign won’t be as good as you think, with all the angry mobs, torches, and stakes through the heart.”

Annie smirked at Cham, who shook his head and laughed. He waited to compose himself before looking back at the vampire.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Day of First Sun eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes do any (or all!) of these things:

  1. Purchase your copy of The Day of First Sun for just 99 cents – Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event – a list of the events can be found on the tour page at Novel Publicity

Help my blog win:

The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to
VOTE FOR ME.

About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Review: The Forever Girl, Rebecca Hamilton

Title: The Forever Girl (Goodreads)

Author:   Rebecca Hamilton (@InkMuse)

Rating: 

Series: Forever Girl book 1 (of ?)

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Published: Immortal Ink Publishing, January 2012

Pages: 354

Paper copies: Amazon.com

E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk

Sophia lives in a small town where her Wiccan practices are disapproved of by the local church. Research into her family’s history leads her towards finding out about the voices in her mind, but also leads her into a dark world where the vampiric Cruor rule. Can she trust the mysterious Charles after her friends turn away from her?

Review

I was given this copy of The Forever Girl by the Author herself in a Twitter giveaway. Paranormal romance isn’t usually my favourite but I was so glad I went ahead and read it. This story is dark yet gripping – I had a hard time putting it down.

Early on in the story I couldn’t help but compare it to Twilight a little: Girl meets mysterious, gorgeous boy who says “You shouldn’t get attached to me, it’s too dangerous”, she says “OMG, get me some of that” and he protects her from the Vampire powers-that-be (I don’t mean that as a slight on Twilight, by the way. I rather enjoyed the books when I read them – up until Breaking Dawn, anyway).

As the story moved forward, twists and turns made sure that I never knew what to expect next. The story was fast-paced and exciting and the Wiccan rituals and history of the Cruor and other elementals were fascinating.

Sophia was a great character – she was so strong and determined, but I felt so sorry for her by the end! She tries her hardest and faces each new challenge in a very believeable and engaging way. Charles, on the other hand, I did not connect well with. Apart from seeming a little too perfect, he drove me (and Sophia) mad with his hot/cold attitude – one minute telling her to stay away and acting all stand-offish and the next moment, whispering sweet nothings in her ear. I wanted to slap him! The romantic scenes were well put together though and fit in well with the events in the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Forever Girl. It’s a fantastic debut from Rebecca Hamilton, and I’ll look forward to the release of book two, Her Sweetest Downfall, later this year.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Not if you don’t want them to have nasty nightmares! Also, language and adult content.

Challenges: I read this book as part of the Immortal Reading Challenge – Vampires.

Review: City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Goodreads)

Author:   Cassandra Clare

Rating: 

Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 of 4 (5 & 6 planned)
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
Pages: 512 (paperback)

Paper copies (paperback): Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk • Diesel Ebooks

Clary Fray has just witnessed a murder in a nightclub, committed by three teenagers that only she can see. Things only get more strange as her mother disappears, she is attacked by a demon, and she and her best friend Simon are drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters.

Review

Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Faeries – The Mortal Instruments has it all. This is not, however, another Twilight clone. City of Bones begins what promises to be a great story of good against evil, tolerance against bigotry, falling in love with the wrong people and learning that all the stories are true.

City of Bones came well-recommended to me and I was looking forward to seeing whether all the hype was deserved. As I read the first few chapters of this book though, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Here were Clary and Simon, ordinary teenagers. They meet a trio of mysterious, tattooed youths who seem very free with information about their secret world.

As more and more details about the Shadow World are revealed, I couldn’t help but cringe at the dialogue even though it was quite funny at times. Pretty much everything Simon says in the whole book is a chucklesome one-liner, and the other characters engage in witty repartee even in the most dramatic of situations. Teenagers, at least the ones I know, just don’t talk like that. I just felt a little like such an epic story deserved characters who took the whole thing a little more seriously.

Despite their dialogue, I did become quite fond of the characters as the book went on. Clary, despite being blind as a bat when it comes to relationships, was a sweet character. She did seem to spend rather a lot of time looking at Jace’s muscles – but who wouldn’t, right? The obligatory love-polygon (it’s more than a triangle!) aspect was well written and left me wanting to read the next book to tie up the loose relationship ends.

The second half of the book was action-packed and left me unable to put it down – I nearly missed my station on the train a few times this week! I loved the Shadow World that Cassandra Clare has created. The storyline (in the first book, anyway) was quite reminiscent of the Harry Potter series – I was unsurprised to find out later that Cassie Clare had previously written Harry Potter fanfiction and has supposedly used some of that material in City of Bones. I’m hoping that the story will take on some more unique elements in the rest of the series.

City of Bones was an entertaining and exciting read. Read this book if you loved Harry Potter and if you’re a Young Adult fantasy fan.

Read it to your little ‘uns? Not really. There’s no swearing or naughty bits, but it’s really a story for bigger ‘uns.

Challenges: City of Bones fits neatly into the Immortal Challenge in several categories, but I’ll slot it into Werewolves since my Angels/Demons section is looking pretty full.

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