Sunday, April 29, 2012

A little more British


Being a British book blogger, I'm quite interested in bringing some more British feeling to the blog. You'll have noticed that most of the time, it's the UK cover of a book that I post alongside my reviews, and I'm participating in the 'British Books Challenge' this year to read & review 12 books by British authors. At The Overflowing Library, Kirsty & some of her fellow bloggers have come up with a new feature to share new books we've received, which will be called 'Letterbox Love'. You see, we don't have 'mailboxes' or even 'mail' here - instead, it's post, which is delivered to a postbox or letterbox.
I think this sounds like a fun feature, something a little more British. You can read the post about it on The Overflowing Library here.

I don't have any new books this week to participate, but in future, you can expect to see my Letterbox Love posts sometime over the weekend when I have new books to talk about!

~Ailsa

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: Dark Parties by Sara Grant


Title: Dark Parties
Author: Sara Grant
Publisher: Indigo (UK)
Release Date: December 2011 (UK)
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Review copy from publisher

Description from back cover: Every tiny act of defiance adds up. Maybe this one snowflake can start an avalanche.

Neva keeps a list of The Missing - people like her grandmother who have vanished. The people that everyone else pretends never existed. In a world isolated by the Protectosphere - a dome which protects, but also imprisons - Neva and her friends dream of freedom. But a forbidden party leads to complications. Suddenly, Neva's falling for her best friend's boyfriend, uncovering secrets and lies that threaten to destroy her world - and learning the horrifying truth about what happens to The Missing

My thoughts: I'm not normally very interested in dystopian novels. They just don't appeal to me for a variety of reasons. But when people started talking about 'Dark Parties' by Sara Grant I thought it sounded different, and I'm very glad I gave it a shot. I was lucky enough to get a copy for review, and it kept me entertained on a couple of long journeys.

The story starts with Neva and her friend Sanna holding a 'dark party' with their friends. In a city which never really gets totally dark, they get tape and cushions to block out every scrap of light in the room. Then the girls tell everyone their real plan: they want to do something to tell their oppressive government that they don't want to listen to it any more, and they are fed up of the constant propaganda praising the protectosphere. The first hitch: Neva's father works for the government, and all their employees must be beyond reproof. Any one of the people who are in on the plan could decide to snitch on them, and of course, someone does. Neva is questioned by the police, and only just escapes.

From then on, Neva walks a narrow line between passing the government's scrutiny, and continuing to search for the truth of what's going on, and what happens to the people who go missing. Of course, falling for Sanna's boyfriend, Braydon, is not helping things, and as you can guess, that leads to problems between the two girls. Sara Grant creates a believable new future where a couple of generations after people move in to the Protectosphere, problems of inbreeding, lack of resources, and food shortages are starting to plague the population. Neva and her friends are in the middle of it, declared adults now that they're 16, and being encouraged to take up government appointed jobs and start having children. I found it a very interesting situation to read about and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book.

Some of the plot twists were very unexpected, others not so much - I guessed what might be happening to the missing women a long time before Neva figures it out, and although she's kept ignorant to many things by the government, I think it should have occurred to her sooner what was going on. In the last few chapters though I could barely stand turning the page - just as I thought things were going to be ok, something went wrong, then it got better, then something worse happened! I really wasn't sure by the end how things were going to turn out.

This was a really enjoyable page-turner, and maybe I'll be brave enough to try some more dystopians soon. With 'Dark Parties' Sara Grant takes readers to a world where one person might just be able to start a revolution against an overly controlling government whose protectiveness is out of control. Can't wait to read the next book in this series and see what happens next! 8 out of 10.

~Ailsa

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Lessons After Dark, by Isabel Cooper


Title: Lessons After Dark
Author: Isabel Cooper
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Publication date: 1st April 2012
Source: review copy from publisher via NetGalley

Description: For years, Gareth St. John put his supernatural talent for healing in service to the British Army. Now he’s the doctor at a very unusual new school that helps people with special “talents” learn how to hone their abilities. Olivia Brightmore became a fake medium to support herself after her husband died, but she never expected to discover real magic as the school’s newest teacher. Olivia tries to keep the handsome doctor at arm’s length, but she can’t resist the urge to get under his skin.


He’s no proper gentleman, but she’s no honest woman.

My thoughts: I had no idea from the description that this story took place in a historical setting, but luckily I had no problem with it. It's set in one of my favourite time periods - late 1800s England. Olivia turns up at the school not really sure what to expect, but knowing she doesn't really have much choice in her current circumstances, and that it could be the lifeline she needs to a respectable, more stable life.

Whatever else it might be, her new job certainly isn't normal, as Olivia spends her first afternoon coaxing a young girl down from the ceiling, where she's floated to and got stuck. Unfortunately while she impresses the pupils and the couple who run the little 'school', Olivia's early meetings with Gareth don't go very well, and he is convinced she's a fraud because of her previous job.

As the story unfolds, Gareth and Olivia gradually come to trust each other, and despite wanting to shake each of them a couple of times, their relationship was realistic as it developed and they worked through things both individually together. It was really interesting to see the various magical abilities that the children had, too. The world building was very believable, and although there are some magical elements, they are carefully fitted in to the world of the late 1800s, kept quiet for the most part.

Although this is the second book in the series, it was fine to pick up without having read the first one. I really enjoyed it, and I will definitely look for the other books in the series as they are written. I would definitely recommend this book, and I give it 8 out of 10.


~Ailsa

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (22/3)


Hi everyone, welcome to another In My Mailbox! IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, and is a way for people to share the books they got each week.

I have a couple of ebooks to talk about this week, so no video.

First, after seeing some good reviews for Shelley Laurenston's new book I decided to check out the first book in the series, 'The Mane Event' and as it was only a couple of pounds on amazon and I needed cheering up.
 
Description: Mace Llewellyn. Brendon Shaw. Two tall, gorgeous, sexy alpha heroes who are 100% male--with a little something extra. Lion-shifters, to be exact, who can unleash every woman's animal side and still look good--make that spectacular--in a suit. . .and even better out of it. . .
NYPD cop Desiree "Dez" MacDermot knows she's changed a lot since she palled around with her childhood buddy, Mace. But it's fair to say that Mace has changed even more. It isn't just those too-sexy gold eyes, or the six-four, built-like-a-Navy Seal body. It's something in the way he sniffs her neck and purrs, making her entire body tingle. . . Meanwhile, for Tennessean Ronnie Lee Reed, New York City is the place where any girl--even one who runs with a Pack--can redefine herself. First order of business: find a mate, settle down, and stop using men for sex. Even big, gorgeous, lion shifter men like Brendon Shaw. But she needn't worry, because now that Brendon's set his sights on her, the predator in him is ready to pounce and never let go. . .


Then I got a couple of books to review from Avon:
Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase (released June 26th, book 2 in the Dressmakers Series)



A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot's beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society's fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop's advantage requires every iota of Sophy's manipulative skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rakes like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can't keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy's clothes.


But when Longmore's sister, Noirot's wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can't let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly . . .

& 'A Night Like This' by Julia Quinn (released May 29th):

Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is...
But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge— in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy— no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.
Daniel Smythe-Smith Might be in mortal danger...
But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending...

What books did you get this week? Let me know in the comments!

~Ailsa

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy (Almost) Birthday To Me!



Photo found here.
In honor of my birthday, I'm giving away presents! Seems odd, doesn't it? Oh well! It's fun.

Between midnight tonight and midnight on May 11th, you will be able to enter a contest to win one of two prizes. First prize will be a custom designed necklace made by me. Second place will be a custom designed bracelet. Hopefully sometime before then I'll have enough designs made to set up an etsy or an artfire shop so you'll be able to look at some of the things I've made to get an idea of what you'd like me to create for you should you win. In the meantime, enter away! Most of the entries are one time only, but posting once a day on Facebook and Twitter get you extra entries! Also, because this is a special month and a special contest, the contest will be open internationally!

One of the entries asks for a blog comment, a comment specifically answering the question, if money were no object, what would you want for your birthday this year?

My answer? Four back-to-back cruises on the Holland America line that would take me around the entire world in about a year.

A girl can dream, right? :)

Good luck!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book review: Heart Signs, by Cari Quinn


Title: Heart Signs
Author: Cari Quinn
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: February 2012
Genre: Romance
Source: From author for review

Description: Rory Fowler has taken Sam Miller's billboard orders for the last two years, but they aren't to advertise, they're love notes to his wife. Sam's most recent billboard about his wife's passing hits Rory hard. When she calls Sam to offer condolences, it sets off an unexpected chain of events that ends with Rory in Sam's apartment —and his arms.

Reading Sam's love letters tugs Rory into the romance between him and his estranged, now-deceased, wife. Their lives soon intertwine so completely that Rory wonders how she'll ever forget the man who makes poetry out of emotions she's fought to dismiss. And plays her body even more skillfully than he writes love notes.

Consumed by guilt and grief, Sam is shocked by the feelings Rory arouses in him, sexually and otherwise. Now he's not thinking about yesterday as much as he's looking forward to tomorrow. He's just not sure if he's capable of moving on... or if the woman who helped him find the will to really live again will be by his side.

My thoughts: I've read, I think 4 Cari Quinn stories now, including this one, and have really enjoyed them all. This story starts with Rory driving past the most recent billboard sign that Sam's commissioned, and unlike previous times, she wasn't the one who took the booking, so hasn't seen it until now. The fact that it's a memorial for Sam's wife, Dani, really affects Rory, even though she's never met either of them.

The two arrange to meet, but on the way, Rory ends up bumping his car, and they head back to his house to sort out the bump before either of them admits to who they are. Sparks fly almost immediately, and although they get a little carried away, it's not going to work between them right then. Sam hasn't been with a woman for a long time, not since he and his deceased wife separated, and it's going to take a lot to help him work through his feelings for her.

I love the way the relationship between these two develops. Although they feel very attracted to each other, things go slowly. They spend a lot of time just talking to each other, often over the phone, getting to know each other very well. I really liked the fact that it wasn't an 'instant love' thing. Gradually as they share more about themselves they become closer and closer.

I kind of felt like the ending was a bit abrupt, in that I looked up from reading to realise there were about 20 pages left, when I felt like there should be more, but actually it was a fulfilling ending, and I like the direction the two characters are heading. The love letters from Sam to Dani are very touching, and I found myself in tears a few times while reading.

This is a sweet, believable romance from Cari Quinn, who I'm adding to my list of 'favourite contemporary romance writers'. As with her previous stories, it shows a couple in a believable romance with some lovely steamy scenes. I give this one 7 stars.

~Ailsa

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Winners of the Big Birthday Giveaway!


I finished term a couple of weeks ago and just got back from my holiday with the family, so now it's time to announce the winners of the Big Birthday Giveaway. I've also read some good books in the last couple of weeks, so there will be a lot of reviews coming in the next few weeks.

I assigned a number to everyone who entered, including their extra entries, then put the numbers into random.org

The winner of the 'Dante Valentine' series by Lilith Saintcrow is:

Beks/Just Another Teenage Bookworm

The winner of 'Undead and Unemployed' by Mary Janice Davidson is:

Discincentive

The winner of 'Evernight' by Claudia Gray is:

Anaisa

Congratulations, winners! I've tried to contact you via email, please get in touch with me at ailsa.floyd@yahoo.com and let me know your addresses so I can send the books. You have 1 week to claim your prize.

If you missed out this time, I'll be running another giveaway before the end of the month, so keep an eye on the blog!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giveaway closed!


The Big Birthday Giveaway is now closed. I'm going to tally up the entries in the next couple of days, and draw the winners for each prize. Winners will be announced here on the blog, and if an email address has been left I will also contact winners that way.

There will be another giveaway soon, so keep your eye on the blog for that!

~Ailsa

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In My Mailbox (1/4)


It's April already! And it's Sunday again, so time for another IMM.
I got some really cool books this week, so check out the video:


Thanks to the following:
Moonlight Gleam for her giveaway
Usborne Publishing for 'The Other Life'
Red House Children's Books for 'Seraphina'

I'm still super busy with uni work this week, but I hope I can get a couple of reviews up sometime, and after Friday I am DONE (yay!) so there will be reviews aplenty as I catch up. I'll draw the winners for the giveaway when I have a moment to collate all the bonus entries, and let the winners know asap. So keep an eye open to see if you've won!

What did you get in your mailboxes this week? Any thoughts on the books I've got?

~Ailsa
 

Term of Use

If you would like us to review your book, do an interview or host a guest blog, you can contact Ailsa at: ailsa.floyd@yahoo.com or Emily Cross at:emilycross09@gmail.com

We are happy to review any genre of books - get in touch and we can chat.

The Book Bundle Copyright © 2009 Flower Garden is Designed by Ipietoon for Tadpole's Notez Flower Image by Dapino