Tuesday 31 August 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - the Shadow Queen

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from a book I'm rereading:

Vae spun around and whapped Ranon in the face with her tail. *Theran? Theran! go fetch the Queen.* "Yeah, Theran," Ranon said, stepping back to avoid being whapped in the face again. "Go fetch."
(page 107, The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop)

Sunday 29 August 2010

The Enemy - Book Review

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

What is it about:
They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?

What did I think of it:
Although the inflicted in this book aren't true zombies as they're still alive and not undead they're close eough to zombies to make this a zombie book in my opinion. And it's a great read! There's plenty of action, thrills and zombie mayhem and I must confess that it's quite gory at times for a book that's aimed at young teens. Aside from the action there's a very decent storyline about how the kids interact with each other and how each kid has his/her own way to deal with what's happening, making some of them heroes and other jerks. Too bad we all know what happens to most heroes, but it does make for some intense scenes. The one thing that bugged me about this book is how the children refer to the infected adults as 'mothers' and 'fathers'. Seen as how the adults are in fact crazed monsters out for human flesh I don't think that any kid would still see them as something so safe as a parent and would chose such a nice name for them.

Why should you read it:
It's an action packed zombie story!

Saturday 28 August 2010

Captive Spirit - Book Review

Captive Spirit by Liz Fichera (e-book)

What is it about:
Sonoran Desert. Dawn of the sixteenth century.
Aiyana isn't like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn't realize her friend has a secret wish of his own...
When Aiyana's father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana's on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she'll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

What did I think of it:
I must confess I wasn't too impressed by the start of the story which felt unnecessarily complicated in my opinion, but once Aiyana gets kidnapped by the Spanish raiders the story picks up and soon I was caught up in Aiyana's hardships. The story is for Young Adults, but older readers will enjoy it as well I think. I especially like all the details about the life of Aiyana's people and of the other people she encounters on her forced journey. It could have been a bit longer in my opinion though and in particular some of the obstacles in Aiyana's path could have been dragged out a bit more to create more tension. That being said: It was an enjoyable read.

Why should you read it:
If you like Historical Native American stories you will most probably like this book.

* I got this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley

Friday 27 August 2010

Once Bitten, Twice Dead - Book Review

Once Bitten, Twice Dead by Bianca D'Arc

What is it about:
When police officer Sarah Petit investigates a disturbance in an abandoned building, she expects to find a few underage drinkers. Instead, she's attacked by creatures straight out of a horror movie. Waking a week later in a hospital, Sarah is visited by Special Forces soldier Captain Xavier Beauvoir. The zombies who attacked Sarah are the result of military research gone terrifyingly wrong, and Sarah's immunity to the virus makes her the perfect person to help Xavier eradicate them. But his smooth Cajun accent, whiskey-colored eyes, and dizzying kiss are risky to her in a very different way.

Sarah attracts danger like a magnet--and the smart, fearless cop attracts Xavier too, instilling a bone-deep need that's undermining his steady fa├žade. Enlisting her aid is a necessary gamble, but vicious undead creatures are not the only enemy they face. And the only way to keep each other safe is to trust in an instant connection that could be their greatest strength--or the perfect way to destroy them both. . .

What did I think of it:
This book is a Paranormal Romance and usually I leave those to Voodoo Bride, but this one had zombies so I had to read it! And I can tell you it was a very satisfying read. The romance and action is nicely balanced and the zombies are my favourite kind: hungry for human flesh! There could have been a bit more zombie mayhem I thought (ok, I admit: it will be a strange day when I do not think so), but all in all the zombie storyline and the zombie action were cool and well written. Voodoo Bride really enjoyed the romantic storyline which was pretty smutty, but in a good way according to her so this was a great read for both of us. I will certainly read the next book in this series when it's released.

Why should you read it:
It's a great read for zombie fans and Paranormal Romance lovers.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Thornspell - Book Review

Thornspell by Helen Lowe

What is it about:
Prince Sigismund has grown up hearing fantastical stories about enchantments and faie spells, basilisks and dragons, knights errant and heroic quests. He'd love for them to be true — he's been sheltered in a country castle for most of his life and longs for adventure — but they are just stories. Or are they?
From the day that a mysterious lady in a fine carriage speaks to him through the castle gates, Sigismund's world starts to shift. He begins to dream of a girl wrapped, trapped, in thorns. He dreams of a palace, utterly still, waiting. He dreams of a man in red armor, riding a red horse — and then suddenly that man arrives at the castle!

Sigismund is about to learn that sometimes dreams are true. That the world is both more magical and more dangerous than he imagined. And that the heroic quest he imagined for himself as a boy . . . begins now.

What did I think of it:
As some may have guessed from the description this book is based on the fairy tale 'The Sleeping Beauty'. But if you expect a re-telling then you're wrong! This is a very original story and a great one at that. Lowe uses the basics of the fairy tale, but weaves an intriguing and action filled tale that is all her own. Sigismund is a very likable character and there are some very cool other characters as well. It's a YA book and more focused on action than romance, but I think I can safely say older readers will enjoy this story as well, especially those who like fairy tales.

Why should you read it:
If you like fantasy and fairy tales you will like this book.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

60 Followers Giveaway!

My blog hit 60 followers yesterday!

That needs to be celebrated ofcourse, so I decided to do a small giveaway!

I'm giving away a copy of Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams.
(Not this particular copy in the picture btw, that's mine and mine only and I'll defend it with my life (yes, it's that good I think), but I will buy the lucky winner his/her own shiny new copy.)

So now for some rules ofcourse:
- You must be a follower of Pearls Cast before a McPig
(and note that if you're not a follower yet, you can ofcourse become a follower, but please do not become a follower just so you can win free stuff. Become a follower because you actually like my blog.)
- You must leave a comment to let me know you want to enter and please leave a way for me to contact you.
- You can enter until september 11th, I will pick a winner on september 12th.

Well, that's it!
And this giveaway is international!

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Once Bitten, Twice Dead

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sarah could see the deformed, blood-stained faces as they neared. Bite marks showed where they had been savaged, and bits of dead flesh hung off their skulls in places like something out of a Halloween horror show.
(page 127, Once Bitten, Twice Dead by Bianca D'Arc)

Monday 23 August 2010

Ghost of a Chance - Book Review

Ghost of a Chance (Ghost Finders #1) by Simon R. Green

What is it about:
The Carnacki Institute exists to "Do Something" about Ghosts-and agents JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer will either lay them to rest, send them packing, or kick their nasty ectoplasmic arses with extreme prejudice.

What did I think of it:
Overall I liked this story. It's a fast read, the characters are interesting, the whole ghost hunting thing intriguing and the story build-up is well done. Still there were a few things that bugged me. One was the character interaction: it felt forced and unnatural from time to time with some reactions suddenly coming out of the blue. Second was the plot, which wasn't bad - it's even quite ok - but it felt a bit too large for me, practically screaming DOOM! For me it could have been more subtle which would have made the story more suspenseful for me. I think I'll wait for book two before giving my final verdict on this series though, my points of critique aside it was a very entertaining read.

Why should you read it:
If you like Ghost Hunter stories this is your book.

Sunday 22 August 2010

Word and Question poem

Enbrethiliel organised another W&Q and I tried a senryu this time.

My word: Drums
My question: Who's at the door?

(picture was taken to accompany this poem and is entirely set-up just as the poem is. Yes: I know what you're thinking Demented Wench!)

Drums pounding loudly
Who's at the door so early?
My mistake: Hangover

Saturday 21 August 2010

Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits award

What is this?
Me in a pinstripe suit?

I got the Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits award from vvB32 and decided to dress up for the occasion.

Thanks vvB! I feel strange indeed.

What is it about:

Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits award

This award is based on the release of Cate Gardner's short story collection, Strange Men in Pinstriped Suits. The book is available for pre-order and at a discount of $1.99 off of the cover price. To help celebrate this release, Cate and Strange Publications have a contest with two prize packages to choose from.

The 'Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits' award is given to only the strangest of folk, and as the recipient of such you are deemed very strange indeed.


Now you must go forth and celebrate the strangeness of friends (and strangers - strangers are always allowed) by nominating blogs run by strange folk. *Beware, some people don't like you to refer to them as strange…Try to avoid them if possible.

Some rules:

1. Add the logo of the award to your blog post.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (don't mess with strange people).
3. Nominate seven other blogs telling us why you think the recipient is strange enough to deserve the award.
4. Leave a message for those nominated on their blogs.
5. And, if you email catephoenix(at)gmail(dot)com and tell her you've received the award for your strangeness, she'll enter you in the biggest kick-ass Strange Men competition ever. Details over at strangemeninpinstripesuits.com (click on the award link on the home page)

Hmmm..... 7 strange friends. Do I have 7 strange friends?

Let's see:
- Enbrethiliel of Shredded Cheddar (Naming your blog Shredded Cheddar is a cool kind of strange I think!)
- Beanie Mouse (He doesn't even have to dress to look like he wears a pinstripe suit)
- Hammie (Does being a hamster or having big teeth make you a strange man?)
- Demented Wench (When she hears I gave her this Award she'll get creative with a wooden spoon, I think that qualifies her as strange.)
- Gini Koch (She writes about aliens!)
- Eve from Through Eve's Looking-Glass (She's on a bit of a blog vacation, but she's beautifully strange no matter what)
- Leaving number 7 open as you never know when you need a legitimate reason to call someone strange.

ps: those awarded are free to ignore their strangeness and/or the award

Thursday 19 August 2010

Hunted by the Others - Book Review

Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines

What is it about:
Shiarra Waynest’s detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm—if it doesn’t kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York’s most powerful vampires.

As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend—a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing—and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren’t always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil—whether she likes it or not…

What did I think of it:
I love this book. It's well written, has a great, fast-paced storyline and tons of cool characters. I really like the world Haines created, which, even though comparable with lots of other Urban Fantasy worlds, is still unique by small details Haines added to it. Shiarra is a character I can relate to: she has her fears and doubts about herself and the people/creatures around her, but where in some books these fears are often unrealistic or not explained, Haines gives enough background and insight in Shiarra's mind that you share her fears which for me lead to a deeper involvement in the story. Which leads me to the one negative thing I could say about this book: I'm eager for more, but the release of book 2 - Taken by the Others (January 2011)- is much too far away in my opinion!

Why should you read it:
This is a must read to fans of Urban Fantasy

Wednesday 18 August 2010

The Sevenfold Spell - Early Book Review

The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt (e-book, novella)

What is it about:
Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying "good" fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia's prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation-which plays right into the evil fairy's diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she's willing to make?

What did I think of it:
An original take on the Sleeping Beauty Fairy Tale. The above description may give you the idea this story focuses on the building of the new spinning wheel, but that's not true. Far more it is a tale about Talia and how she must adjust to a whole different sort of life than she thought she would live. Her choices aren't easy and not always smart, but her strenght of will and her kind nature are what make you feel for her and make you wish she will get as much a happy end (if not more so) as the Sleeping Beauty. All in all a refreshing and nice read.

Why should you read it:
If you like fairy tale retellings with something extra this is your story.

* I got this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley
It will be released 09/27/2010

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Hunted by the Others

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"So what're you going to do about this business deal you can't refuse? Tell him to shove those papers where the moon don't shine?" I looked down at the now-crinkled and slightly sweat-stained papers I still had clenched in one hand. Funny thing was, the Were's words had given me some hope. And an idea.
(page 95, Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines)

Monday 16 August 2010

Wind Warrior - a Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Wind Warrior by Cynthia Roberts

What is it about:
Leslie Michaels is a visionary, and only those close to her know of her special gift and the visions that come when her mind and body surrender to sleep. Fate has a way of righting many wrongs, and for Leslie it is a destiny that changes her life dramatically. But not before she is forced to flee into the wilderness to escape a murderous trapper bent on claiming her for his very own. Faith and a strong will to survive are her only companions, until she encounters Winnokin, the handsome Seneca war chief who first came to her in her dreams. Not only does he prove to be her rescuer and protector, he teaches her that tragedy can breed happiness and the passion to live and love deeply once again.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
A pleasant, romantic read. I had hoped there would be more storylines besides the main (romance) storyline, but apart from some recurring obstacles that not even for once make you doubt the outcome there wasn't anything more to the story. Especially the special gift from Leslie could have been exploited more to give the story a bit extra in my opinion. Those points of critique aside this is a well written, nice lovestory and I enjoyed reading about the Seneca way of life.

Why should you read it:
If you like Native American Historical Romances this is your book.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Night Child - Book Review

Night Child (OSI, book 1) by Jes Battis

What is it about:
Tess Corday, Occult Special Investigator for Vancouver’s Mystical Crime Lab, is used to seeing dead vampires. But there’s nothing ordinary about this case. Not the lab results on the cause of death. Not the teenage girl living at the address found in the vamp’s pocket, who may well be in thrall to a demon. And certainly not Lucian Agrado, the necromancer who is liaison to the vampire community. Agrado is supposed to be part of the solution, but Tess suspects he might be part of the problem.

Soon she finds herself in the middle of a paranormal conspiracy that will change her life forever—and possibly end it.

What did I think of it:
This was a very bumpy read. The characters were intriguing and cool, the writing varied from very well written to chaotic at times and then there was the story.... What to say about that. Well, it was a very decent story and I loved reading it, until the moment when all the pieces fell together and to me just didn't fit. It's hard to say why I thought so without giving away the plot, but the whole story wouldn't have happened in my opinion if Battis had let the characters act according to their nature instead of letting them do things so the story could take place. Now don't get me wrong: it was a very enjoyable read and I will most certainly read other books in this series if I come across them, if only for the characters, but I do hope Battis' plots will improve.

Why should you read it:
It's an enjoyable UF novel with cool characters.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Play Fling - a Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Play Fling by Amber Scott

What is it about:
Face Your Target... Brooke Munkle didn't leave a lukewarm marriage just to flounce into the first hot bed. Too young, too hot, Elliott Jovovich has no business distracting her from starting over. If only he'd get out of her fantasies. Maybe if she keeps things simple, she can allow herself one naughty indulgence. After all, who will know? Pull The String... Elliott sees through Brooke's stiff facade. Underneath her struggle to hold it all together, a vibrant, wanton woman is waiting to be freed. To win her heart, he'll play by her rules, which would be a a lot easier if her hostile best friend didn't fight so dirty. Sure, he has ammo of his own, but what he knows could hurt Brooke. Steady. Aim. Release... Millie Match isn't sure what she did to deserve this matchmaking hell. The sneaking around, the spying, compatibility issues, chemistry crises. Her target, Brooke, is keeping secrets. Elliott is definitely Mr. Wrong. And if Millie doesn't make true love magic now, she'll lose the one thing in this punishment worth fighting for.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
First I have to confess I almost never read contemporary romances. In fact I got this prejudice that contemporary romances are boring. But having read Scott's novella 'The Best Revenge' which was a great read and hearing about the unusual concept in 'Play Fling' of a cupid trying to match two people, I was eager to try it.

And let me tell you: It is a delightful read and makes me reconsider my policy of staying away from contemporary romances. Scott's writing style is best described as vibrant. The characters in Play Fling feel alive and most are likeable even when some of them are clearly making the wrong choices. Miss (Millie) Match does her name proud: her matchmaking attempts lead to some weird and funny situations, but as it is a romance you do not have to fear the outcome ofcourse. All in all I loved this book and I will most certainly read the next Millie book once it's released.

Why should you read it:
It's a great romantic read.

Friday 13 August 2010

Dreams Made Flesh - Book Review

Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop

What is it about:
Set in the realm of The Black Jewels trilogy, this collection features four brand-new revelatory stories of Jaenelle and her kindred.

What did I think of it:
The short stories in this book are best read only if you read the original Black Jewels Trilogy as they fill in some of the blanks. I must say these stories are a lot less gritty and dark than the trilogy (except for one), but I found three of them a joy to read and was happy to find out more about some of the things that were only hinted at in the trilogy. Bishop's writing is excellent and rich as always.

Here's an overview of the stories:

Weaver of Dreams
This story is about the creation of the Jewels and although I loved the richly written text I found the story a bit boring I must confess.

The Prince of Ebon Rih
This story is about how Lucivar finds love.
I really like this one and was glad it was included as I thought Lucivar's marriage was glossed over very hastily in the Trilogy.

This is the only dark and disturbing story of the four, but I loved it. It gives more insight in Saetan and why he became who and what he is.

Kaeleer's Heart
This is the story about what happens just after the end of the original Trilogy and centers on Jaenelle and Daemon. A great read.

Why should you read it:
If you read and loved The Black Jewels trilogy you will love this book

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Hunger - Early Book Review

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

What is it about:
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she's been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
A wildly original approach to the issue of eating disorders, Hunger is about the struggle to find balance in a world of extremes, and uses fantastic tropes to explore a difficult topic that touches the lives of many teens.

What did I think of it:
This story is well written and original, but I had one major problem with this book: Lisabeth is a character that is very hard to like. I was interested in the story, but caught myself not being interested in Lisabeth as a person. And when you like the character of Death more than the lead character of a book there's something up I think (unless you're reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman). All in all I think Morse Kessler should have taken a bit more time to let you get to know Lisabeth and to make you like her as that would have improved my enjoyment in this otherwise intriguing book.

Why should you read it:
It's about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!

* I got this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley
It will be available around 10/18/2010

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Night Child

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Was she actually complimenting me? I was embroiled in a murder investigation, being stalked by the same demons that I was supposed to be trailing, and now she was giving me a good recommendation?
(page 71, Night Child (an OSI novel) by Jes Battis)

Monday 9 August 2010

Burning Up - Book Review

Burning Up by Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, and Meljean Brook

What is it about:
Nalini Singh returns to the world of her Psy-Changeling series as a woman in lethal danger finds an unlikely protector-and lover.

Angela Knight pairs a vampire warrior and his seductive captor in a battle against demonic predators.

Virginia Kantra continues the haunting tales of the Children of the Sea in her story of a wounded soldier rescued by an enigmatic young woman.

Meljean Brook launches a bold new steampunk series about a woman who strikes a provocative-and terrifying-bargain for freedom.

What did I think of it:
You'll find my review of the story Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook here

As I said in my review of Brook's story, this anthology is about hot paranormal romance, so all of the stories have romance as the main storyline, one doing a better job at it than the other. I'll give a short overview of my thoughts about each story.

Whisper of Sin by Nalini Singh
I really liked this one. It was well written, had cool secondary characters and the romance and action had a nice balance for a short story like this. I will certainly check out other books in this series.

Blood and Roses by Angela Knight
This story was ok, but could have been better. The romance was more smut than romance and felt very rushed and unnatural. I liked the world building for as far as it was shown, but didn't care much for the story.

Shifting Sea by Virginia Kantra
My least favourite of the stories in this anthology. It was too much romance, too little other storylines in my opinion. I also thought the characters lacked originality and there was little depth to the story.

All in all, a decent anthology with Here There Be Monsters being my absolute favourite, but taken my love for Steampunk and pirates into account that doesn't come as a big surprise.

Why should you read it:
Lovers of paranormal romance will love this anthology

* I won this book at vvB32 Reads

Sunday 8 August 2010

Locus Focus - Menzoberranzan

Locus Focus is a meme hosted every Saturday by Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar. "We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others." Visit her blog and link up!

Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, is a fictional city-state in the world of the Forgotten Realms, a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting. It is located in the Upper Northdark, about two miles below the Surbrin Vale, between the Moonwood and the Frost Hills. It is famed as the birthplace of Drizzt Do'Urden, the protagonist of several series of best-selling novels by noted fantasy author R. A. Salvatore. (taken from wikipedia)

There are several things I love about Menzoberranzan.

The first is that the houses of the city are build in the stalactites and stalagmites in large caves deep underground. In real life and without use of magic this is probably something that could never be done, so it immediately creates this magical world for me even without knowing anything else about this city. Just with this fact alone there's so much world building, I think that's an amazing feat.

And then there's the society of Menzoberranzan.
The city is ruled by ruthless females, worshipping a spider Goddess named Lolth. Their lust for power divides the city, several large families (named Houses) struggle for power with each other. This creates a society that looks strong on the outside, but which is eaten from within and it lends itself for lots of political intrigue and backstabbing.

And as this city isn't just used in novels, but is created especially for the use of roleplay, this setting doesn't just stay in books, but can be used, enjoyed and shaped by every roleplayer who wants to and in this way you can add your own story to the magic that is Menzoberranzan.

Word and Question Poem

Because of me moving house and everything I totally forgot writing a poem for the Word & Question game over at Shredded Cheddar.
Luckily Enbrethiliel reminded me as I had a really cool question.

So here's my poem (and it rhymes this time too):

The sun was shining bright
Not a cloud in sight

So we wanted to go on a trip
By car or bicycle or maybe on a ship

Where to go, what to do
Something fun for me and you

Let’s go to a farm, I said
We’ll bring lemonade and bread

Feed the ducks and milk a cow
It will be great, let’s go now

I know a farm, you cried
Great, lead the way, I replied

So on our way we went
With food, drinks and even a tent

But after a trip with lots of sunshine
We were suddenly stopped by a canine

And a guard with a big gun
If I’d had the courage I would have run

What are you doing on Parchman Farm?
The guard said
Leave here quickly or you might end up dead

So we ran on home, barely escaping harm
Next time I get to pick the farm!


Word: Sunshine
Question: What are you doing on Parchman Farm?

Friday 6 August 2010

Here There be Monsters - Short Story Review

Here There be Monsters by Meljean Brook (from the Anthology Burning Up)

What is it about:
Two years ago, blacksmith Ivy, desperate to flee London, purchased her overseas passage by agreeing to spend the voyage in the bed of the pirate captain, Mad Machen. Saved at the last minute by his rival, Ivy scraped out a new life in Fool’s Cove…until Mad Machen finds her, forces her to accept a job that will create a monster, and reminds her that she still owes him the price of a journey…

What did I think of it:
This Steampunk story is part of an anthology that's all about hot paranormal romance, so not too surprisingly the focus of the story is a romance, which is quite intense and worth reading all by itself. That being said: for a short story there's some amazing world building and Brook paints a Steampunk setting that has me excited and hungry for more. There's even mention of zombies, although unfortunately enough it's just a mention, but as this story is a set up for a series I think we can expect the zombies to make a real appearance in future stories. I really like how the characters in this story are affected by the Steampunk influences around them both physically and mentally and I must say I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series - The Iron Duke - to learn more about this cool and intriguing world and the characters that populate it.

Why should you read it:
Steampunk and Pirates! Need I say more?

* I won this book at vvB32 Reads and this review is entered in vvB's Iron Seas Challenge

(expect a review of the other stories in this anthology soon)

Thursday 5 August 2010

Legacies - Book Review

Legacies (Shadow Grail #1) by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

What is it about:
Who—or what—is stalking the students at Oakhurst Academy?
In the wake of the accident that killed her family, Spirit White is spirited away to Oakhurst Academy, a combination school and orphanage in the middle of Montana. There she learns she is a legacy—not only to the school, which her parents also attended, but to magic.
All the students at Oakhurst have magical powers, and although Spirit’s hasn’t manifested itself yet, the administrators insist she has one. Spirit isn’t sure she cares. Devastated by the loss of her family, she finds comfort with a group of friends: Burke Hallows, Lachlann Spears, Muirin Shae, and Adelaide Lake.
But something strange is going on at Oakhurst. Students start disappearing under mysterious circumstances, and the school seems to be trying to cover it up. Spirit and her friends must find out what’s happening—before one of them becomes the next victim…

What did I think of it:
A very decent start of a promising YA series. There are some easy fixes here and there and lots of teen gullibility, but I've learned to accept the latter in YA fiction and know probably too much about occult matters to be fooled by the first. That being said: Even though the 'normal teen finds out she/he has magic powers and gets to go to a magic school' has been done many times by now, this is an original story and I really liked the diversity in characters which lead to interesting interactions. One point that might be perceived as negative by some: The story does end with lots of things still unresolved. It has me looking forward impatiently to the next installment anyway.

Why should you read it:
It's a suspenseful and promising start of a new YA series

Wednesday 4 August 2010

The Drained Brains Caper - Early Book Review

The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency #1) by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Tyler Page

What is it about:
Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom's pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there's one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day.
Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn't fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That's weird.
Megan is determined to dig into Stepford's secrets, but soon she's in way too deep. Raf may be the only human being she knows who can help. But with zombified students, very mad scientists, and the school psychiatrist on their trail, they're going to need a whole lot more help.
We did say that Chicagoland is weird...

What did I think of it:
This is a comic meant for ages 9-14, which is clear from the straightforward storyline, but it's certainly funny enough that it's entertaining for older age groups too. I really liked Megan, she's a quirky character and shares my love for Haiku. I did have a small problem with the drawing style. In some things it resembles Manga, but in others it is very lifelike and that didn't fit together in my opinion. Megan's head for example is drawn in a Manga style and I would have expected a small (unrealistic) body to go with it, but instead the body had normal human proportions which made it feel weird for me.

Why should you read it:
If you like reading Manga-like comics you might enjoy this.

The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency #1) will be released on September 1st

* I got this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Legacies

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Listening to him talk was like listening to a Shakespeare play. Only creepier. She wished he'd stop pacing around. It was making her nervous.
(Page 78, 'Legacies - a Shadow Grail Novel' by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill)

Henry VIII: Wolfman - Admitting Defeat

Henry VIII: Wolfman by A.E. Moorat

What is it about:
Henry VIII was the best and bloodiest King ever to have sat on the throne of England. This fast-paced, exciting, gory, inventive and just plain gross retelling of his reign will bring to light the real man behind the myth. When it came to his size, Henry VIII was known for being larger-than-life, with a fearsome temper and bloodthirsty reputation to match; more beast than human, some might say...Be dragged kicking and screaming back 500 years into Tudor England...

Why didn't I finish it:
I have to admit defeat! I read and loved Moorat's previous book 'Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter', so I was sure I'd like this book about Henry VIII being a werewolf too. Moorat's writing style is funny, most of his characters interesting at the least, but Henry VIII: Wolfman had one major flaw for me: there were too many different storylines and characters criss-crossing all over the place and I lost track of the story and characters. I might try to get back to this book some point in the future, but for now I just can't get myself to continue.

Why should you read it:
If multiple storylines and lead characters do not disturb you and you love werewolves and history, this might be your book.

Sunday 1 August 2010

The Black Jewels Trilogy - Book Review

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

What is it about:
Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Realm readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, the Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But the Queen is still young, still open to influence - and corruption.
Whoever controls the Queen controls the Darkness. Three men - sworn enemies - know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love - and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining

What did I think of it:
This is fantasy at its best! Bishop paints a dark and nasty world and intriguing lead characters who have been tainted by this darkness, but luckily never taken over completely. It does make the characters act ruthless and brutal from time to time, but Bishop writes so well you can understand why her characters act like they do and I couldn't help but cheer them on.
Bishops writing is both pleasant and rich, she succeeds in having me hooked to a story even when explaining history and stuff like that, which in other books usually has me losing interest. One negative thing: When it comes to magic Bishop created a system with jewel ranks and this sometimes confused me and had me turning back to the explanation in the front of the book to figure out what jewel was more powerful.

This trilogy is also available in three separate books: 'Daughter of the Blood', 'Heir to the Shadows' and 'Queen of the Darkness', but I can tell you you will want to have all three books close as the first two end at points that would have left me frustrated if I hadn't been able to read on.

Why should you read it:
Dark Fantasy, superior writing, intriguing, ruthless characters!
What more could you want?