Saturday, 30 October 2010

Winner of Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend!

I was really glad to see such a huge interest in Wolf Signs, unfortunately there can only be one winner, 


#11 Joder!


Congratulations! I will shortly send you an e-mail please respond within 48 hours or I will have to draw another winner.

Don't forget that you can still enter my Spooktacular Giveaway which ends tomorrow, so hurry and enter now! :-) 

And you can win Venom by Jennifer Estep, the giveaway ends on November 1!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Book Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead


Title: Shadow Kiss (Book #3 in the Vampire Academy series)
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: 13 November 2008
Publisher: Razorbill Publishing
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Razorbill Publishing, Amazon, Book Depository US, Book Depository UK, Kindle Store


Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Rose Hathaway knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa-the last Dragomir princess-must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken...

But since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling right. Something dark has begun to grow in her mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy's iron gates. And now that Lissa and Rose's sworn enemy, Victor Dashkov, is on trial for his freedom, tensions in the Moroi world are higher than ever.

Lying to Lissa about Dimitri is one thing but suddenly there's way more than friendship at stake. The immortal undead are on the prowl, and they want vengeance for the lives that Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmare, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most..but will her choice mean that only one can survive?

My Thoughts: Shadow Kiss is the 3rd book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, and even though Richelle Mead gives a quick summary of everything that has taken place in the first two books, you just have to read those to fully appreciate Shadow Kiss.

The choice of title is perfect: once you have finished reading the 3rd book you'll understand exactly why this title fits perfectly and how it describes the story.

Shadow Kiss is the most intense novel of the series so far: the emotional intensity and depth Richelle Mead makes Rose explore are extraordinary.

In my opinion Shadow Kiss was the best book in the series (so far): the plot was layered and I enjoyed that there were several storylines, the characters who got "screentime" really made the most of it (Adrian is a fantastic new, funny and original character) though I would have liked to see even more Christian/Rose scenes (I have a feeling these two are so similar they should become great friends). The relationship between Dimitri and Rose evolves and I loved the intensity of Dimitri's feelings, something we got more and more glimpses of all through this 3rd book.

One of the major concepts aside (that Rose is becoming crazy and that's why she's seeing ghosts), it was nice to see Rose so grounded and maturely trying to process her hardships. Rose has come a long way since the 1st book, she has matured and grown emotionally so much, and seeing how Shadow Kiss ended, I bet she still has a long way to go...

I very much enjoyed how in Shadow Kiss Richelle Mead spent some time on vampire politics and exploring different ideas about reform. Rose did some (self) examination of guardians and dhampirs and her own role and life within the system she has known, and was good to see her question some of the things/facts she grew up with. And finally Lissa managed to redeem herself after the big disappointment and anger she caused to me in Frostbite. :-) Even though she wasn't a character I was particularly interested in, in Shadow Kiss Richelle Mead spent more time developing Lissa's character and showing us tidbits of her personality, thoughts and feelings, and I have to say, I found her interesting!

When trying to choose which character I particularly liked, I discovered that I have many favourite characters: I loved reading every scene Christian was in, especially his bantering with Rose, that was a high of the novel; then there is Adrian, another extremely entertaining character, whose flirting with Rose I was always looking forward to, just loved reading Rose's sarcastic dry comments to his chivalrous, charming ones :-D Even though I'm all for Dimitri, I would like to see more of Adrian as I think he is a very exciting and complex character, and I would love if Richelle Mead explored him in more deatil.

Then there is of course Dimitri. Strong, powerful, solid rock to Rose Dimitri, who is opening up more and accepting his love for Rose. The conclusion of Rose and Dimitri's love was beautiful. At the end of Shadow Kiss I had the exact same feeling I had when seeing the last episodes of Season 2 of Buffy. The heartache, the sorrow and the resignation to surmount the pain just for a little more. My heart broke to see Rose having to go through another devastating grief so soon after *he who shall not be named for spoiler reasons*!

What I enjoyed the most in Shadow Kiss was the emotional intensity: Rose's fears about not being able to handle the side effects of Lissa's magic, her guilt over Mason, her growing love for Dimitri and then the ultimate heartbreak and devastation (which I'm sure Richelle Mead will still be able to up in the next book) were wonderfully done, it took the reader on an overwhelming emotional journey.

Shadow Kiss was an addictive read, not only I gobbled it up in 2 days, but I lived and breathed with the characters.

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Writing: 8/10
Cover: 8/10


The BookDepository
















I'm participating in the Vampire Academy re-reading challenge at Vampire Book Club, if you'd like to join us, click here:

Vampire Academy Re-Read Challenge

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Spotlight on Urban Fantasy: Guest post by author Sonya Bateman


Today I have the great pleasure of welcoming a fantastic new author I discovered this year, and who managed to shoot to the top of my Favourite Authors List with her debut novel: Master of None. The title must sound familiar to the regular readers because I have been raving about Master of None everywhere ever since I read it in May, and believe me, it is truly amazing! But I'll stop with my praises now, go and read my review of Master of None, which was posted yesterday.

And now time to cede the scene to my illustrous guest, please give a warm welcome to the brilliant Sonya Bateman!!!

Master of None

Why the Djinn will Take Over the World
by Sonya Bateman

As an urban fantasy author with an unusual premise, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked it, “Why do you write about genies instead of vampires or werewolves or demons?” To be honest, the only concrete reason I’ve given so far is “because I like them.”

Now, though, I’ve put some serious thought into the question, and I believe I’ve arrived at a definitive conclusion. It’s because the djinn totally rule.

Allow me to give you a breakdown of the advantages of a djinn over your standard urban fantasy races, and I think you’ll eventually agree with me.*


Physical Attraction

Ever since Anne Rice, vampires have been sexy, beautiful, and sometimes sparkly. Then you have your rugged outdoorsy werewolves, oozing alpha-ness all over the place. Demons, once feared for their horns, cloven feet and ability to cause unspeakable terror, learned to take on human forms and exude sex appeal -- after all, they were angels once.

The djinn get to combine all these things. They have the sexy, rugged (often very grumpy) human forms, they can cause unspeakable terror if they want to, and they’re also shifters. And they aren’t limited to wolves. Some djinn are also hawks, foxes, polar bears, and even crocodiles.

(Sure, there’s the snake djinn too, but we won’t mention the snakes. Snakes are evil.)


Supernatural Prowess

Vampires live forever and don’t age. They’re strong, they’re fast, and if you hold still long enough, they can probably hypnotize you. But they have a hell of a trade-off -- vampires will never get to enjoy a day at the beach. They’ve got this pesky habit of bursting into flames (or sparkling) when exposed to sunlight. Werewolves? Also strong and fast. And they can be wolves, too. Unfortunately, most weres can’t control the transformation -- not such a great perk during, say, a night with your lover, when you accidentally try to tear her throat out. Oops. And demons...well, at the end of the day, they live in Hell.

And then there are the djinn. Strong, fast, virtually immortal, but that’s not all! They slice, they dice, they open tin cans...

Wait. That’s Ginsu knives.

So the djinn are strong, fast, virtually immortal, and they have Magic Powers(tm)! That’s the one. They can be invisible, turn objects into other objects, heal, and fly. Some of them have mind control abilities. Some can hold their breath for a really long time. And they can transform any time they want -- as long as they have enough magic left. Yes, even the mighty djinn have limits. But not as many as vampires.


Motivational Intrigue

What do vampires want? Blood. They like it, they love it, they want some more of it. Sure, some vamps angst over the necessity of drinking the red stuff to survive, but blood often figures into the majority of their (un)life decisions. Also, they’re dead. When it comes to werewolves, they’re often looking for a mate -- their one twue wuv. That drive kind of gets in the way of little things like survival. And demons? The usual -- spread evil, set fires, destroy the world.

The djinn aren’t bound by any single driving force. Their motivations are as complex and varied as humans. They might want more power, or just better steak dinners. They could desire great love, or sweet revenge. They may want to save the world, or control it. With a djinn, you never can tell.

And they don’t do that wish-granting thing. So you can forget enslavement as a motivator.


Relative Destructibility

Got a vampire infestation? Grab yourselves some stakes, garlic, holy water, or just shove one out into the sunlight, and they’re toast. Or they’re extra-glittery. Either way, they’re finished. Wary of werewolves? Load up your handgun with silver bullets. Bang, splat, dead. Demons driving you to drink? Find the right spell book, and the fiend slinks back to Hell.

But if a djinn darkens your doorstep, there isn’t a lot that you, a mere mortal, can do about it. The only way to kill a djinn is to destroy the tether that binds him (or her) to our realm. To do that, you need blood, a spell -- and magic of your own. So if you don’t have magic, you’ve got a djinn for your whole life. However long that might last.

No worries, though. They can’t kill humans. And for every djinn in the human realm, there’s another that wants him (or her) destroyed. Eventually they’ll take care of themselves. If we’re lucky.

Let’s hope we are.

------------------------

*The author of this post has nothing but respect and love for all vampires, werewolves, and demons. No supernatural entities were harmed in the writing of this post. Please don’t send any vampires, werewolves, or demons to my house to prove their superiority to the djinn. If they say they’re superior, I’ll agree.


For more information about Sonya and her novels, visit her official author's site.

You can buy Master of None at the Book Depository US, the Book Depository UK, Amazon or the Kindle store.
















Thank you Sonya!

And you dear readers what do you think? What is your take on the vampire hype? Or are you a die hard vamp fan and don't think vampires could ever be "overdone"? Or are you open to new supernatural creatures? Which species do you think haven't been explored yet and you can't wait to read a book about them? And lastly, do you agree with Sonya that djinns are pretty awesome? :-D

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Book Review: Master of None by Sonya Bateman

 

 
Master of NoneTitle: Master of None
Author: Sonya Bateman
Number of pages: 384 pages
Release Date: 30 March 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: review copy received from publisher
Purchasing info: Goodreads, Author's website, Book Depository US, Book Depository UK, Amazon, Kindle store

Grade: 5 stars!


Novellus perfectus!


2010 Top Read!

Goodreads appetizer: ONE UNLUCKY THIEF. ONE UNLIKELY GENIE. ONE VERY ODD COUPLE.

Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.

Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.

At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price...

My thoughts: Though the blurb sounded interesting, when I picked up Master of None I wasn't prepared to what an amazing novel it would be. I gobbled it up in a few days and remained excited about the story for weeks (I still get enthusiastic whenever I just think about it).

Master of None is Sonya Bateman's debut novel, and seeing the way she started her writing carrier, let me tell you we are in for a ride!

First of all I was blown away by the fresh and completely original approach she took in an urban fantasy novel: 1) the protagonist of the novel is a MAN! Can't remember the last time (or if I ever) came across a male narrator in UF books... 2) the supernatural creatures in Master of None are genies...er sorry djinns! Not vampires, not angels but djinns! The huge-blue-Aladdin kind of genies (if Ian heard me, I'd be in trouble...) (well except that the genies here aren't that nice but rather bloodthirsty and quite violent, but they are equally funny)!

Second of all, besides the exciting and original plot she created, Sonya Bateman's writing style is divine! It is laugh out loud funny yet descriptive, full of evocative details, yet is an exciting, fast paced pageturner managing all the while to keep the readers' attention all through the 384 pages of the novel and provide fantastic entertainment. While I read Master of None I was transported into Gavyn and Ian's world, Sonya Bateman is incredibly gifted, she has a way with words!

The characterization in Master of None is fantastic: Gavyn, Ian and the supporting characters step off the pages, they seem more than mere characters in a novel. Each one of them is individual in its own way, and Sonya created something brilliant with the relationship between Gavyn and Ian! I was constantly amazed at how perfetly Sonya Bateman as a female author could portray Gavyn. It is tricky when the story is told from the first person, but even more so when the narrator is of the different sex. Well Sonya Bateman not only pulled it off, she excelled at it! Both Gavyn and Ian are amazing characters: while Gavyn's dry humour and self deprecating comments made him a lovable and fun character, with Ian it was his rudely sarcastic and his dry, biting comments which made me crack up at every second sentence, he was such a unique breath of fresh air in the usually gloomy UF universe. 

Though I've tried ever since I read it in May, I can't praise Master of None enough. Not only is it a brilliantly entertaining book, it is also a very high quality piece of literature.

Verdict: Master of None has its permanent place in my 2010 Top Reads List, and if you want to read an original, unique, laugh out loud funny, brilliant urban fantasy novel, pick up Master of None, you'll be in for a treat!!

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Cover: 10/10


Thankfully Master of None is the 1st book in a series, book #2 (Master and Apprentice) will be out in April 2011! Spring can't come soon enough! :-D

The BookDepository
 

Monday, 25 October 2010

Spotlight on Urban Fantasy: Guest post by author Jennifer Estep + GIVEAWAY!


Today I would like to welcome Jennifer Estep at Ex Libris, who is not only the terrific author of the Elemental Assassin series (Spider's Bite, Web of Lies and Venom) but is an incredibly friendly and gracious guest too. So please give it up for Jennifer, and scroll down for the giveaway! ;-)



Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Stella for having me on the blog today. Thanks so much, Stella!


Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.


The first two books in the series are Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, was released on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.


Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, Book 2)Venom (Elemental Assassin, Book 3)


I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.


So today I thought I would talk a little bit about my writing process. I have to admit something – I’m a total panster. I don’t do storyboards, I don’t long character bios, I don’t plot out the whole novel. Usually, if I have an idea for a book, I just sit down and start writing it. Why? Well, it’s just what works for me.

For me, it usually starts with a “what if” idea. What if there was an assassin who was double-crossed? What if the assassin’s mentor was murdered? How would she react? How would she go about getting her revenge? Those are some of the ideas that led me to write Spider’s Bite.

Once I get that first glimmer of an idea, I’ll think about the characters for a while and really try to get their voices and personalities fixed in my mind. After that, I think about some of the big turning points in the book – the things that will get the action going in the first place and keep it going for 300 or 400 pages. And then, I strap on my wrist brace, fire up the computer, and start writing.

I usually write 2,000 or 3,000 words a day until I have a rough draft of about 50,000 words or more. Don’t get me wrong – the first draft is by no means a good one. I’ve been known to write sentences like “And then stuff happens” or “And then Gin kills somebody” in my first drafts. LOL.

But the first draft lets me see if my idea is big enough to merit a whole book or if perhaps I need to rethink my general plot. After I read through the first draft, I know what areas to fix. Then, I can go back in the subsequent drafts and put in all the descriptions and emotions and foreshadowing and nuances. By the time I’m done with my second draft, I’m usually up to about 80,000 or 90,000 words. After that, it’s a matter of really polishing and fine-tuning everything in the subsequent drafts until the book is the best that I can make it – and something that readers will hopefully enjoy.

So there you have it – a little bit about my writing process. Scary, isn’t it? ;-)

What about you guys? For you writers out there, are you plotters or pansters? For you readers, what are some of your favorite urban fantasy and paranormal romance books?


Thank you very much Jennifer for that glimpse into your writing method, I always love to get to know more about the "behind the scenes" of the novel and how it came to life :-)

For more information on Jennifer, visist her official Author's site or blog.

You can buy the Elemental Assassin series at the Book Depository US, the Book Depository UK, Amazon, or the Kindle Strore.

Jennifer has generously offered 1 copy of Venom (Book #3 in the Elemental Assassin series) to one lucky US/Canadian commentator.

Giveaway Rules:

Leave a meaningful comment/question to Jennifer
Leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you won

Giveaway is open to US/Canada residents and ends on November 1

Spotlight on Urban Fantasy: Spooktacular GIVEAWAY!


Halloween is fast approaching and what better way to celebrate and have fun than with a giveaway? So it's time for a fantastic Halloween giveaway hop!

The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is organized by Inspired Kathy from I am a Reader Not a Writer, thanks for the fantastic event Kathy!

After you have entered my giveaway don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaways at the other participating blogs, you'll find their links in the list below.



Since in October I'm shining the spotlight on everything urban fantasy here at Ex Libris, you have the chance to win your pick of the following UF novels:

A Rush of Wings: Book One of The Maker's Song


Inked


Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville, Book 7)


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Giveaway is open worldwide!
Ends on Sunday 31 October 2010
All you have to do is fill out the form below to be entered.

Extra entries:

You don't have to be a follower of Ex Libris, but if you are, you'll get +5 extra entries.

Edited to add: If you want you can get some more extra entries: just leave a comment on any of the author guest posts during the Spotlight on Urban Fantasy weeks: (you can do this well after submitting the form until the giveaway closes)

Jess Haines (posted Friday 22 October)
Jennifer Estep (posted Monday 25 October)
Sonya Bateman (will be posted Thursday 28 October)

You'll get +2 extra entries for the comment you make on any of these 3 guest posts, just please LEAVE A COMMENT on this giveaway post and tell me where you commented (you can get a max of +6 extra entries for commenting)


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Giveaway: Win a copy of Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend!

Wolf Signs
Robyn Maxwell doesn’t care that her brother has to cancel out on their backcountry ski trip. She can do it alone. The fact she’s deaf doesn’t make her survival skills any weaker. The chance to get away from it all and relax in the Yukon wilderness is just what she’s been craving.

Meeting wilderness guide Keil at the cabin starts cravings of another kind. Keil’s one hot hunk of ripped, tasty male. Now she has to deal with raging hormones as well as strange questions about wolves and mates and challenges to the death.

Keil was trying for a nice reflective retreat before challenging for the Alpha position of his Alaskan pack. He wasn’t planning on meeting the woman destined to be his mate, or finding out she’s not aware she has the genes of a wolf.

Between dealing with his accident-prone younger brother, a deaf mate with an attitude and an impending duel to the death, his week—and his bed—is suddenly full.

Far from the relaxing getaway any of them had in mind...

Thanks to Vivian Arend's generosity a lucky commentator will win an ebok copy of Wolf Signs! 

All you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address before Friday October 29.

Giveaway is open worldwide, and ends on Friday October 29, winner will be contacted and announced on October 30!

This contest is a part of Moira Rogers' & Vivian Arend's Fall Frenzy Event. For your chance to win books, gift certificates, ereaders and more, visit http://www.moirarogers.com/contests/


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Spotlight on Urban Fantasy: Some of the best UF series!


Today I would like to share with you some of the best urban fantasy series I've read and which are some of my favourites.

The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

Dime Store Magic Industrial MagicHaunted

As I've already told you, Bitten was the 3rd paranormal/UF novel I have ever read and fell in love instantly not only with the fantastic world Kelley Armstrong has created but also with her brilliant writing style. To this day The Women of the Otherworld series is one of my favourite series, it has everything: interesting characters, exciting plot, fantastic sarcastic humour and brilliant writing style. I'm so happy this is such a long series and still going strong for long! :-) 

The series in order:



The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2)Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3)Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, Book 4)

Another fantastic UF series, just like Kelley Armstrong's books, the Kate Daniels series has bitingly sarcastic bantering dialogues, a wonderful heroine and a swoonworthy hero, the chemistry between whom is smoldering!

The series in order:


The Disillusionists trilogy by Carolyn Crane

Mind Games (The Disillusionists Trilogy: Book 1)  Double Cross (The Disillusionists Trilogy: Book 2)
 Mind Games         Double Cross

Wow! Another series about which I can only speak in superlatives! The Disillusionists series is one of my favourite discoveries in 2010. Not only is the universe Carolyn Crane created incredibly original and innovative, each one of her characters is unique and interesting (and those who have read Mind Games know what I'm talking about when I simply say: Packard or Otto? Not an easy choice! :-p). A must read for any UF fans!

The series in order:



Anya Kalinczyk series by Laura Bickle

Embers   Sparks
Embers                  Sparks

Laura Bickle's evocative descriptions are extraordinary and the UF universe she built is very original (the heroine is no vampire, werewolf, fairy or angel, no she is a "lantern"). Anya's universe is darker than the usual and maybe because of that, the athmosphere is more intense and deeper. An amazing journey, and you just have to meet Sparky! ;-) 

The series in order:




Which urban fantasy series would you recommend?

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