Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Throne of Glass Novellas: Julia J Mass: Review



You love Throne of Glass? Yeah, sure you do. Then answer these few questions . . . Who is Celaena Sardothien really? How did she become Adarlan’s greatest assassin at only sixteen? Who betrayed her, sentencing her to nine lives’ worth of labour in the Salt Mines of Endovier? To answers these you need to read the four eBook novellas that precede Throne of Glass. (Review of Throne of Glass here)

In reality, these four thrilling stories could have been edited into one longish novel as they flow seamlessly into each other. Although we see glimpses of Celaena's early life and training with Arobynn Hamel, the king of the Assassins, that is not the main focus. These books recount the how and the why of her betrayal and capture. The story starts with the event that changed Celaena’s life forever.

The Assassin and the Pirate King (review)

Celaena and Sam free two hundred slaves from Rolfe, the Pirate King. Unfortunately, Arobynn was going to profit from the sale of those wretched people and he had his heart set on the cash. He never forgives Celaena and Sam for that act of mercy. Celaena’s life spiralled from there.

 The Assassin and the Desert Goodreads

As punishment, Arobynn sends her to the Silent Assassins in the Red Desert. But instead of humbling the incorrigible Celaena, she wins the head assassin’s favour. (And charms his gorgeous son!) At the end of her training, the leader sends her home richer, more arrogant, and even angrier with Arobynn than when she left. That did little to restore their relationship.

 The Assassin and the Underworld Goodreads

It did however lead to a touching love story with Sam. They defiantly leave the Assassin's Keep, breaking away from Arobynn. Trust me, the title of this book is no exaggeration. After Maas dragged us through the underbelly of Adarlan society, I felt I needed a bath. But, like all her books, there is virtually no bad language and no sex. It's the environment Celaena and Sam live in that is so awful.

The Assassin and the Empire (Goodreads)

Celaena's and Sam’s rebellion led to the death knell of her relationship with Arobynn – a man who doesn’t like sharing his ‘belongings’. I won’t tell you what happened to Sam, but it was a defining moment for Celaena. We see her at her best – and her worst. Her betrayal and capture follow soon after. Although I knew it was coming, my heart was pounding and my hands sweating as the noose pulled tight. For real! I’m that invested in these characters. 

These novellas are quick reads but so worthwhile if you love the series. And if you are planning on reading Throne of Glass for the first time, I would suggest you read these first. It will make it that much more fun.

All told, I give these four novellas a combined 4.5 brilliant stars. Now it’s a long wait until August 2013 when book two - Crown of Midnight - comes out. I will definitely be pre-ordering. What about you?


Cheers
Gwynneth

Friday, 29 March 2013

Frivolous Friday: 29 March


Two of the world's major religions are celebrating this weekend. In Christian homes - like mine - we are remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Jewish homes families are recounting the story of their ancestors exodus from slavery in Egypt. It therefore seems appropriate to wish everyone a blessed weekend, filled with love, compassion, forgiveness and kindness. And may the Easter Bunny not pass you by!

Happy Friday everyone.

Cheers
Gwynneth

Feature and Follow: 29 March


Thanks to Parajunkee & Alison Can Read for this enlightening meme! I love making new cyber-friends, so please feel free to follow me anyway you choose and I will happily return the favour.

The question we're asked today is:

Q: Tell us about the most emotional scene you've ever read in a book - and how did you react?

 

I remember when I was a teenager how books manipulated my emotions. Some made me delirious with happiness, others filled me with fury, often shaping my beliefs on society. And then there were the ones that had me sobbing like a baby. Three really stick in my mind: The Outsiders by TE Hinton, Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks and The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks. I'm really aging myself here. 

 

As an adult, I can think of two book series that really grilled me emotionally. The first is Harry Potter. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of Dobby and Sirius dying. I think the final battle between Harry and Voldie as one of the best book triumphs I've read. I get goosebumps every time I think about it.

 

The other series is The Hunger Games. The concept behind the books fills me with disgust and rage because I can actually envisage a society doing just that to their kids. It's not beyond the realms of possibility - think of the Romans, part of Collins's inspiration for the series. They sent many children to die in their arenas.

 

That's me. What about you? Leave a link and I'll pop over and visit.

cheers

Gwynneth 

 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Kick-Butt Characters Blog Hop Winners


We have some WINNERS!!

Thank you to everyone who entered my stop on the Kick-Butt Characters Blog Hop giveaway. I really appreciate your interest. Welcome also to my new followers. I promise to do my best to keep you entertained and informed with interesting book reviews and other book trivia! And your comments are always appreciated, so don't be shy.

Now to the winners. Congratulations to Himitsume and Alexis who have each won a copy of either Throne of Glass or FrostFire. I have emailed you both and you have thirty six hours to claim your prize. If I don't hear from you, I will have to pick two new winners. I hope you both love the book of your choice.

Cheers
Gwynneth





Blue Hearts of Mars by Nicole Grotepas: Review

I saw this book yesterday on a few blog I follow, fell in love with the cover and immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle. I then jumped it to the head of my reading queue. I'm so glad I did. I love sci-fi and this didn't disappoint.

Retta lives on Mars, which has been inhabited by humans for two hundred and fifty years. The first colonies were build by Androids. But instead of the machines being dismantled after the building was done, they became more complex, replicating humans in almost every way. They now look so similar that it's almost impossible to tell them apart. Androids think, feel, have souls, procreate and love - just like humans do. But, like all draconian societies driven by prejudice, it's forbidden by law for humans and Androids to marry, even though they live side-by-side in their domed cities. Even being friends is frowned upon.

Of course, something as silly as that does not stop Retta and Hemingway - a super hot, sexy Android - from falling in love. Their relationship catapults them into a rebellion against the government. What follows is an action-packed, fast-paced adventure with a sweet love story.

Nicole Grotepas is not scared to explore some interesting concepts about intelligence, the soul, and humanity. A lot of her views resonate with me. But don't think this is a heavy philosophical book. It's not. It's a quick, fun read with a well-devised plot, interesting characters and amazing world-building.

The book is narrated by Retta and I enjoyed being in her head. She's a fiery eighteen-year-old who can't be kept down by hate or prejudice - even when it comes from her own family. I especially liked Hemingway. He reveals himself to be tough and forthright, but also gentle and protective when it comes to the human girl he loves.

Initially the love between Retta and Hemingway seemed a bit insta, and there's the usual amount of teenage angst one finds in many young adult reads. Happily, their love developed into something credible that I believe will last. One of the things I really liked was the involvement of both Hemingway's and Retta's families. That's very refreshing for a young adult read where absentee parents are usually the norm.

Although I enjoyed the book, there were a few things that bugged me enough to knock off half a star. It's two hundred and fifty years since these people arrived here, but Retta still refers to celebrities, fashion icons and culture from twenty-first-century Earth! It kept ripping me out of Nicole Grotepas's very credible Mars world-building. Surely, after all this time, they'd have there own culture?

In one part of the book they're being chased by very determined government officials. Their images are being flashed to every citizen on Mars. This added greatly to the tension. But as soon as it no longer suited the plot, all their pursuers vanished and no one recognized them. Hmm. That doesn't work for me. But these two things are definitely minor niggles that shouldn't stop you reading this fun book.

All in all I give it three and a half shining Mars moons.

cheers
Gwynneth

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

WWW: 27 March


I love this meme because it gives me a chance to find new books and to see what's hot. Thank you therefore to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting. As usual she asks three questions:

1. What have you finished reading?
2. What are you currently reading?
3. What are you planning on reading?



What have I just finished reading?


Days of Blood and Starlight was INCREDIBLE. I know, that's equivalent to shouting, but that's exactly what I'm doing. Epic, sweeping, heart-breaking and gut-wrenching are words that spring to mind. If you haven't read this series then you are depriving yourself. Big time. My review will follow soon.

I was going to read Unwind this past week, but Erin, my daughter, is still busy with it. (I think she's reading it in small doses because it's so freaking scary!) So instead I dived into the remaining three novellas in the Throne of Glass series by Julia J. Maas.



Sorry about the images, but the pics on Goodreads are pretty terrible too. The books titles are:
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld
The Assassin and the Empire

I loved these stories which give a perfect background to Celaena Sardothien, kick-butt heroine of the the Throne of Glass series. If you have not yet read Throne of Glass, I would strongly recommend that you read these first. It will add so much to your enjoyment of the book. My review of these novellas will be coming soon. And if you don't have a copy of Throne of Glass, you can enter my giveaway here to win a copy.

What am I reading now?


Disemblance is a YA techno-thriller which Shanae Branham gave me to review. I will be posting an author's interview with her soon.

What am I reading next?

I still want to read Unwind, but in the meantime, I think I'll read Seraphina because I adore dragons and this has been in my bookshelf for a while.


That's my week. What about you? Leave a comment and a link and I'll visit you.

cheers
Gwynneth

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Cover Love: Daughter of the Flames: Zoe Marriott

I loved Daughter of the Flames. (See review here) It's an amazing book, and although not as well-known as some of the other books I've featured in my Cover Love posts, I had to show you these two very different covers.

If you didn't know, I doubt you'd figure that these two designs cover the identical book.

My preferred cover. Pity I don't own it!

This is the cover sold in South Africa


Both are UK versions. I haven't seen a US version so I assume the UK cover is sold in the States. What surprises me again is how often the UK publishers - in this case Walker Books - change their designs.

I have the bottom cover and I don't think it represents the book at all. In fact, all it says is that the heroine has dark skin. She also has another distinguishing feature - a terrible scar - which is also not depicted. To me the cover is meaningless. It does not speak fantasy, adventure, love, gripping plot, and intriguing world-building - all elements in abundance in this awesome story. Altogether a disappointing design effort.

I would much rather own the first cover. What about you?

cheers
Gwynneth

PS: Don't forget to check out my Kick-Butt Giveaway. See side bar for details.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott: Review


Because I loved FrostFire, I immediately looked for other books by Zoe Marriott. I found Daughter of the Flames, the first book in the Ruan series. It’s a poignant, heart-wrenching story that takes us through war, betrayal, racial hatred, and finally, love.

Zira was orphaned when the Sedorne invaded her country, Ruan. For ten years she’s been hiding, training to be a warrior priestess. That’s until she recklessly – but nobly – rushes to the aid of Lord Sorin, the Sedorne ruler of her district, when he’s attacked in the market place. This single act changes Zira’s life. King Abheron, who had paid the assassins, is none too pleased when Sorin survives. Zira and Sorin are thrust together in a fight to free Ruan from Abheron’s brutal reign and to restore the rightful queen to the throne. (I’ll leave it to you to figure who that queen might be!) To her credit, Zira and her sword proved more than capable of taking on that war. She is a girl who can definitely kick-butt if she has too. But she also has a vulnerability that is very appealing.

I loved this book. The characters are so real and, for the most part, likeable. The exception of course is Mad King Abheron. He’s a great bad guy. A complex man with twisted, but very believable motives, he’s one of the best villains I’ve met in ages – perhaps since The Darkling in Smoke and Bone.

The relationship between Zira and Sorin is anything but predictable. For her, he’s a Sedorne – the enemy – whom she hates. But as the blurb on the cover asks: What if your true love was your deadliest enemy? Zoe Marriott develops this love so sensitively. It was a joy watching it unfold.

As for the world building . . . I could smell the dust in the streets and taste the prawns frying in the marketplace. Ruan is as real as my own back garden.

I give Daughter of the Flame five stars. I will definitely be reading it again.


Cheers

Gwynneth

PS: Don't forget to enter my Kick-Butt Blog Hop giveaway in which you can stand a chance to win a copy of FrostFire by Zoe Marriott or Throne of Glass by Julie J. Maas

Friday, 22 March 2013

Kick-Butt Characters Blog Hop



Kick, Slice, Snarl

What would life be without badass characters in books? Boring. Yeah, you got it. That's why I'm celebrating kick-butt books by joining the Kick-Butt Characters Blog Hop hosted by Good Choice Reading and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

For the next week I'll be featuring some of my favourite badass characters. And that's not all. Not only do you get to read my scintillating reviews (yah for modesty), but TWO of my readers stand a chance to WIN a paperback copy of either:

  

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, (review)

OR


FrostFire by Zoe Marriott (review).  


All you have to do is click on the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more fun and chances to win, don't forget to check out the other blogs on the hop.

Cheers
Gwynneth
 



Frivolous Friday: 22 March

It's Friday, so it's time to be Frivolous. 

As you know, I love kick-butt characters - especially heroines. That's why I'm doing the Kick-Butt Character Giveaway Hop hosted by Cathy at  I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. (My post goes up this evening)

But because I wouldn't really like living in a world where people will kill you as quick as look at you, I've posted a few quotes that sum up my true beliefs on peace and life. Enjoy.



  

  

  



Have a happy weekend. I know I plan to.

cheers
Gwynneth
As usual, I'm sure Elisa has something interesting going on with her Frivolous Friday. Check her out.

Feature and Follow: 22 March

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Thanks to Parajunkee & Alison Can Read for this meme.

This is my opportunity to make new friends, so don't be shy. But, as usual, please only follow me if you like my blog and really want to come back. Don't forget to leave your link and I'll return the favour.

The question for today is: What is your guilty pleasure as far as reading? Is it a genre, or is it a certain type of book? 

To be honest, I don't have a 'guilty pleasure'. I know I sound boring, but reading is my pleasure so I avoid things that make me feel guilty. By that I mean steamy romance and erotica. I also don't go in for gratuitous violence. I'm actually very selective, which is why I read Young Adult. I get all thrills and spills I need without the guilt.

And you?

cheers
Gwynneth

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cover Love: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a bit obsessed with book covers, especially comparisons between the UK and American artwork. So, living up to that reputation, I thought I'd share some very different Daughter of Smoke and Bone covers with you.

This is the US version we're all so familiar with. To be honest, I still wonder at the connection to feathers. I kept looking for it, but maybe I'm just being obtuse . . .  Anyone who can help me here, please leave a note in the comments section.

US Version

Although the US cover is striking, it's not the one I have in my bookshelf. I have the UK version published in 2011. It looks like this:


UK version published in 2011

More feathers? And I still don't get it. Maybe teeth just wouldn't have looked so good. Can you picture it? Karou on the front cover dragging elephant tusks along the Paris metro . . . But I digress.

Although the feathers look iridescent in this pic, in real life the cover is actually very dull. I wonder if I would have bought it if I hadn't read reviews? I'm not sure.

Maybe the UK publisher decided the cover wasn't so great either, because in 2012 they changed it to:

UK cover 2012

Apart from the hand on the door, this does not even hint at fantasy. This could be the cover of any book set in Europe. You know the kind I mean: mystery behind the red door stuff.

So given a choice, I think I would have bought the US cover. What about you? Which do you prefer?

Cheers
Gwynn

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

WWW: 20 March



Yet another reading week gone. The speed at which 2013 is flitting by is enough to make me weep. But instead I'd rather do a WWW hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading As usual she asks three questions:
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next? 


At the moment I'm reading:


Days of Blood and Starlight is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. As the first book ended on such a cliffhanger, I had no choice but to dive immediately into this one. Happily I had it one my bookshelf. So far so good.

What have I finished reading:


I had mixed feeling about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. See my review here. But in the end, I really enjoyed it. The concept is truly awesome, the characters rich, and the ending a compelling cliffhanger!


What am I reading next?


I've read a lot of fantasy lately and am now in the mood for a dystopian. I thought I'd give Unwind a bash. My daughter Erin showed me the book trailer and my blood turned to ice. For those who won't check the Goodreads link (Yes, sometimes I don't either :) have a read here: 

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. 

Sounds so gruesome. Can't wait to read it.

So that's me. What about you? Leave a link and I'll definitely visit.

cheers
Gwynneth


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: Review


Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone was like scaling high peaks and scrambling down deep valleys. It started on a total high as we’re introduced to Karou and her double life. 

She spends part of her time as a normal seventeen-year-old girl attending art school in Prague. The rest is devoted to the thankless task of collecting teeth for Brimstone, the chimaera who has raised her from birth. Karou has no idea what he does with the teeth, or why his secret shop is as a portal to just about anywhere in the world where teeth are traded for wishes. But she’s getting mighty curious, partly because she has never felt complete. Something has always been missing from her life. She hopes that understanding what Brimstone does will answer deeper questions.

The action in this part of the book threads through the streets of Prague, to the Paris metro, then onto the souks of Marrakesh – cities I’ve always longed to visit. Laini Taylor’s descriptions brought them alive, adding to the wonder of the book. As I was reading, I kept thinking five stars, oh yes, definitely five stars. 

Then we met Akiva, a seraph fighting to destroy Karou’s secret world. The seraphs and the chimaera – who live in a hidden, but parallel world to Earth - have been at war for a thousand years. Akiva is a soldier, come to destroy Brimstone’s shop and all his chimaera assistants – Karou’s only family.

Sorry to say, but his arrival crashed my wings. I plummeted – along with the story  - into the  doldrums. The valley I was talking about. Don’t get me wrong, Akiva is a fully fleshed out angel, beautiful to boot, with an interesting character and mysterious mission. I liked him a lot. So the doldrums weren’t his fault. 

It was the insta-love – or, should I rather say, lust - between him and Karou that I found so disappointing. Although sworn enemies, all they could think about was how hot the other one was and how much they were attracted to each other – for no obvious reason other than the aforementioned hotness. That was not my only gripe. Occasionally I struggled with the POV. It's written from both their POVs, although occasionally it slips into omniscient, and it was not always obvious whose head I was in. That spoilt the flow. The book also contains quite a bit of blasphemy and that also began to bug me. At this point, I was thinking three stars. If it’s lucky.

The turning came when Akiva took the brave step of opening the door to Karou’s past. The story took off again, carrying me straight back up that mountain. I still think their love is a classic case of the insta variety, but I could not turn the pages fast enough. All the mysteries that had kept me hanging in during the boring bit started making sense. I was stunned by the scope and imagination behind Taylor’s world. It is truly unique. 

Karou finds out more than she could ever want to know, seriously endangering their love. If ever there were starcrossed lovers, it's these two. But it is for Akiva that my heart aches. He did not deserve the ending of book one. Not even close. I’m so worried about him that I’m about to dive into book two  - Days of Blood and Starlight - to see how he fares. Thankfully I have it waiting on my bookshelf.

So, did I enjoy Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Definitely. Would I recommend it? Yes.  Number of stars: after much thought I’ve settled on four. A good compromise, I think for a book both amazing and disappointing at the same time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers

Gwynneth

Monday, 18 March 2013

FrostFire by Zoe Marriott: Review


FrostFire was one of the best books I’ve read all year, and it was such an unexpected treat. I was trawling through my daughter’s bookshelf and spotted this lovely looking cover. I picked it up on impulse and didn’t put it down until I had closed it the next morning.

Frost is cursed to share her soul with a ravening wolf. The problem is compounded because no one but her and her mother know the wolf exists. Everyone else thinks she’s possessed by a devil. Superstitious hatred drives the people in the many villages where they’ve lived to violence. Unfortunately, violence awakes the wolf. Every time Frost is hurt, she goes mad, leaving a trail of bodies behind her. When her mother dies, she sets off alone to the temple of the Goddess in the Fire whom she hopes will cure her. (It’s the same temple and goddess as in Daughter of the Flames. This is the second book in this series, but it works just as well as a standalone.)

Instead of finding the temple, she meets Luca and Arian, the leaders of a band of soldiers responsible for flushing out the bandits who have occupied the shrine. Luca offers to help Frost control what he calls her ‘battle rage’. He appoints Arian to train her as a soldier. What unfolds is a beautiful adventure filled with love, loyalty, betrayal, and despair - with the ultimate prize of hope and honour at the end.

Frost is a fascinating mix of courage and fear. She can take on any danger without flinching, but the constant threat of the wolf keeps her cautious, almost submissive and naïve. That changes utterly by the end of the book.

Luca is an enchanting man whom one cannot help but love – as Frost very quickly discovers. Little does she know, he loves her to. But it is Arian, Luca’s friend, a man as tortured and wounded as Frost, who publically seems to win her affection. So yes, this book does have a bit of a love triangle, but it’s solved in the most unexpected (and tragic) way.

Although romance plays a part, this book offers so much more. The plot is clever and the characters are vivid. And the all-important world building? Ruan, where the action takes place, is so real I could taste the spiced chickpeas, hear the singing around the campfire and see the Goddess in the flames.

The day I finished reading it, I bought my own copy, which now has a place of honour on my bookshelf. I know I will be reading it again and again. I give this book a galaxy of stars.

Cheers
Gwynneth
PS. Luca is good competition for Perry (Under the Never Sky) as my book boyfriend!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Mistwood by Leah Cypess: Review


Mistwood is the first in Leah Cypess’s Mistwood series. After reading Nightspell (Review here), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, so I downloaded it onto my Kindle. 

At the time I noticed that it only had 3.56 stars on Goodreads. That surprised me because it has a great premise. Isabel is a shifter who can take any shape needed to fulfil her main and only purpose – to protect the prince or king from harm, even at the cost of her own life. It’s been years since her services were required so she's somewhat surprised when Prince Rokan comes to her forest – Mistwood – to claim her allegiance. He wants her as a bodyguard to protect him from an unknown assassin.

That is the simple outline, but trust me, this story has more twists and turns than a spiral staircase. Everyone, including Prince Rokan, is keeping secrets from Isabel. Slowly she begins to unravel all the plots and subterfuges – only to discover something horrific and life changing about herself.

Isabel is a fascinating character and Rokan – as untrustworthy as he is - grew on me too. The book is beautifully written. Leah Cypess is most certainly a talented writer. But in the end, I realised why Mistwood had only 3.56 stars on Goodreads. I did not like – or expect – the ending. All strength to Leah Cypess though, she kept me guessing until the last page. But still, I didn’t like how it all turned out. Maybe you’ll feel differently, so I still recommend Mistwood to anyone who loves a high fantasy adventure/mystery with a paranormal twist. Even though I only give it three stars, I will definitely be reading it again. I enjoyed it that much.

cheers
Gwynneth

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Moving to Blolovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This is just a quick post to tell my (few!) GFC followers that I'm doing the mad migrate Bloglovin. I saw it on a blog I follow (in fact on a LOT of blogs I follow) and decide it's the way to go. I'll be removing the GFC option, so if you still want to be part of my world, please follow me on:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thank you. And to think I've just done a Feature and Follow Friday! Crazy hey? Some people just can't be helped.

cheers
Gwynneth

Nightspell by Leah Cypress: Review


Nightspell wins first prize for originality! This story swept me away into a kingdom where ghosts linger amongst the living. Together they reside in a castle that parties all night and sleeps by day. That, of course, is when the inhabitants – both living and dead – aren’t intriguing against each other. That skulduggery often leads to murder – the reason there are so many ghosts in Ghostland Kingdom. The dead are supposed to return just long enough to kill their killers, but, unfortunately, most of them enjoy their half-life too much, seeing it as an opportunity to terrorise the living and party to their hearts’ content!

Darrie’s sister Carrie was trapped here as a child. Now Darrie has a chance to save Carrie if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. From the moment Darrie arrives in Ghostland she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Even her little sister has changed in ways she could not have believe possible.
  
 This book was such fun, keeping me riveted from the beginning to the end. I loved the characters – especially Cassie. Darrie was a tough-as-nails warrior too. But most of all I fancied Prince Kestin. Even though he’s dead, he still managed to command the page, leaving me with a lasting impression of his latent ‘hotness’ and intelligence. Too bad he’s a ghost. (Yes, I know. I’m very shallow)

But the thing that really grabbed me about Nightspell was the world building. Leah Cypress’s writing is beautifully evocative. The flagstones were hard and cold under my feet as I followed the characters and their convoluted adventure around the castle. I was so sad to leave and really hope she writes a sequel. I just cannot believe there’s no hope for that tortured prince! In fact, that was my only complain about this book. The ending was inconclusive, leaving me to think that she is planning a sequel.

This is definitely a book I wish I had written. How much more praise can I possibly give it? If it hadn’t been for the ending I would have given it five stars, but I will settle for four star-studded ghosts.  

Cheers
Gwynneth

Friday, 15 March 2013

Frivolous Friday

Yah! It's Friday again! Happy weekend everyone.

This week I want to introduce you to my brother, Tom. He is a fifty-six year old lunatic who's riding through Africa on a bicycle in aid of Rhino conservation. (Hence the red rhino horn on the front of his bike) As well as writing a book, he's also making an adventure travel documentary with my husband Andrew. Here's a link to a trailer on Youtube.

My crazy brother Tom

Tom set off from Cape Town, South Africa, at the end of November last year. This week he crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere. He is now about to enter Kenya. Incredible! He often rides more than a hundred miles a day!

He sleeps most nights under the stars. Has braved raging storms, lions, rioting crowds, angry beggars, illness and fatigue. My greatest heart-stopping moment came when he messaged, saying he was trapped on a rickety ferry in the middle of Lake Victoria. A storm had whipped up eight foot waves and the wind was throwing the boat around so much that his bike - all 65 kilograms of it - was being tossed around like a paper cup! Then the messages stopped along with my heart. Hours later I heard  he was safe, finally rescued by another boat. Still he peddles on relentlessly.

These are some of the pictures I've stolen (with permission!) off his blog Itsalongway

He causes a stir where ever he goes, often being chased down by begging kids.

A very typical African scene, I'm afraid. As you can see, the roads are often bad (usually) and they drive like maniacs.

The sand was so thick that he couldn't ride. He ended up pushing his 25 pound bike for days.

I think he's amazing. A real hero.

cheers
Gwynneth

PS. As always, just a gentle reminder about Elisa's Frivolous Friday at: http://lostinsidethecovers.wordpress.com

Feature and Follow: 15 March


Welcome to my Feature and Follow hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. I will be doing this meme every Friday as well as my usual Frivolous Friday feature. Now that I've got some posts up and a bit of an identity going, it's time to grow this baby of mine :) I hope my new visitors like what they find.

So, the question this week is: Activity! Hopefully warm weather for most of us is here soon…so tell us about your favorite outdoor reading spot. Or take a picture.

Firstly, I  live in the southern hemisphere, so we've had about as much hot weather as I can stand. I'm a winter person and I can't wait for the lashing rain, driving wind and icy cold that will - hopefully - embrace us in May. Still, I have a favourite reading spot for all weathers . . . Enjoy the pic!

My bath: my favourite reading spot

Nothing thrills me more than lying in the bath reading. I've lost count of the number of times I've taken a new book to the bath, read through the night (lying in cold water because I've drained the geyser) and finally closed the last page in time to wake the kids for school. Nuts, I know. I even take my Kindle to the bath with me. I've never dropped a book into the bath, so why should I drop my Kindle? Posting that on the internet is probably tempting fate! 

I can't wait to visit you all and see what crazy things you do. Please feel free to comment and to follow me if you like my blog. I will return the favour.

cheeers
Gwynneth

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: Review



Oh yeah! Talk about a rollicking good read. The beautiful, self-centred, and thoroughly lethal Celaena Sardothien bursts into life with a bang in this novella.

She and her arch nemesis Sam are sent to take delivery of a consignment of slaves from Rolfe, the Pirate Lord. For those who’ve know the series, it’s the same Sam Celaena talks about in Throne of Glass. Review here

Unfortunately, Celaena and Sam are assassins with a conscience. While murdering corrupt politicians and cheating spouses is quite acceptable to them, traffic in humans isn’t. Of course, Rolfe and his pirates see things quite differently. This leads to a page-turning adventure filled with brawls, skulduggery and suspense. Wonderful. I just love it.

Both Celaena and Sam are delightful heroes. In this book they do not get along, although there’s the occassional spark of what could happen if they just quit fighting each other . . . I’m looking forward to pursuing their relationship in the other three novellas in this series.

I really am in love with Celaena. She’s my favourite badass girl. But she’s also so human – so vulnerable - reminding me of my own daughters with her love of reading, parties and beautiful clothes. She's just sharpened with an unsurpassed ability to kill anyone who gets in her way. (Thankfully, my girls have stopped short of murder - although given how they squabble with each other, I sometimes wonder . . .)

Over the next few months I will be reading and reviewing the other three novellas in this series. In the meantime, if you loved Throne of Glass then The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is a must read. I give it four shiny stars.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

WWW: 13 March



Thanks to MizB at Should Be Reading for this meme. As usual she asks three questions:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?


I'm between books at the moment, but I'm about to start reading: 
 

Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been on my shelf for ages, and now its time has come. I'm excited for it. Just as an aside, the cover on my book looks nothing like this beauty. But that's the subject of another post!

 
I've just finished reading:


The Prince was good fun read. If you liked The Selection then this novella is a must for you. I just loved The Assassin and the Pirate Lord (the first book in the Throne of Glass series). It's a rollicking adventure in which Celaena proves her humanity and beats up some pirates at the same time. Way to go girl! My review will be posted tomorrow. And then I ripped my way through Roar and Liv. Amazing. But I've spent enough time this week praising this series so I won't say another word. :)

So that's me. What about you?

Cheers 
Gwynneth

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Cover Love: Under the Never Sky series

No discussion on the Under The Never Sky series could ever be complete without a look at the book covers the various publishers have used to sell us Veronica Rossi's world.

So let's start with Under The Never Sky - the first book in the series.

The hideous thing on the left is the artwork the UK publishers chose to inflict on us. Trust me, if I had seen that book in the bookshop, I would never have bought it. It was only because I'm a book blogger who trawls other blogs that I knew that Under The Never Sky is amazing. I saw a video trailer of the story and immediately downloaded the book onto my Kindle. Then I had to have a hard copy, and this horrible pink thing is what my bookseller offered me. Sigh.

Still, it came home with me and now occupies a prime spot in my bookshelf. But I can't help comparing it to the American version on the right. What was the designer thinking? Which would you prefer to own?

UK version
American version

Then on to book two: Through The Ever Night 

I think the UK publishers had learned the error of their ways when they released this because they tried a little harder. But still, the cover misses by a mile. Aria was done in book one so why would we
want her when we could have Perry? Look how hot he is!

Also, there is no description on the UK cover. Those critical words: A World Torn Apart. A Love Under Siege are missing. The cover tells us absolutely nothing. Would someone who didn't know the series actually buy the UK book? Again, I have to admit that I wouldn't have.


American Version
UK version




















Poor Veronica Rossi. Authors have little or no control over their covers, so she must be pulling her hair out at what the UK publisher have done to incredible world. I'm sure there must be some kind of petition we readers can sign to demand better book covers!

I'd love to know your thoughts.

Cheers
Gwynneth

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