Thursday, 28 March 2013

Review - Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

Add on Goodreads

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Amazon
Amazon UK

Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, a prequel to the Mortal Instruments series set in Victorian London. Tessa Gray arrives in England from America expecting to meet her older brother, but instead she is taken prisoner by the sinister Dark Sisters, who awaken a power she never knew she had inside her: the ability to change her form into any other person. Escaping her prison, Tessa is forced to take refuge with the demon-hunting Shadowhunters, and encounters the hidden supernatural world beneath London. But it is the two boys she meets there who may be the real danger: the handsome and enigmatic Will, who is hostile to everyone; and Jem, gentle and kind but hiding a terrible secret. The two best friends may be opposites but both offer Tessa something she never knew she was missing – and she finds herself developing feelings for each of them that she doesn’t understand. Meanwhile, a sinister organisation is manufacturing automatons which, when combined with demon energies, could form an army to take down the Shadowhunters…

I absolutely love this series. Cassandra Clare brings the world of Victorian England vividly to life, and the characters are just as charismatic as the central crowd of the Mortal Instruments. Tessa is simultaneously strong-willed and vulnerable, and although her ability to change into others makes her uncertain of her own identity, she is determined to find out what happened to her brother. Will and Jem are opposites but have a strong bond. There is a cast of great supporting characters, including the reluctant Shadowhunter Jessamine; the hapless Henry and his long-suffering wife Charlotte, who runs the Institute; and the characters of Magnus Bane and Camilla make a welcome reappearance. I enjoyed trying to piece together the details connecting this series to The Mortal Instruments, but this is also an excellent story in its own right. I love the steampunk element, and I think it works really well with the supernatural background of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders: they fit just as well into 19th century Britain as into 21st century New York. With engaging characters, an unpredictable plot, and the first non-annoying love triangle I’ve encountered in a long while, this is a fantastic start to the series!

Rating: *****

Monday, 25 March 2013

Cover Reveal - Fall of Sky City by S. M. Blooding

Fall of Sky City
By S.M. Blooding
Book 1 in the 
Devices of War Trilogy

Previously titled, The Hands of Tarot, this exciting NA steampunk fantasy, is being re-released with a brand new title and cover! 
Cover design by Ravven


Gorgeous right?! Leave a comment and tell us what you think!
Below is the synopsis and a special excerpt, just for you!
Don't forget to keep scrolling for a very awesome GIVEAWAY :D

In a world governed by the opposing forces of the mystical House of Tarot and the tribal Great Families, Synn is caught in the crossfire.  He witnesses the slaughter of innocent people, and the devastating murder of his father. This act awakens his Mark of power, a Mark greater than any the world has seen in a very long time.

Queen Nix thought she won a great prize when she destroyed Synn’s father, the leader of the strongest Great Families. She had no idea she’d be doubly blessed by capturing his son. However, before Synn can become her treasured weapon, before she can use him to bring the rest of the world to its knees, she must break him and bind his soul to hers.

She does her job with brutal brilliance. Synn’s mind is broken and his soul is seared to hers in an unbreakable bond.

That doesn’t stop him from wanting to be free. She may have broken his mind and claimed his soul, but he will find a way to destroy her.
Experience a world of ships that sail the clouds and cites buried beneath the ocean, and survive the fiery battle brought forth by those who control the forces of nature!

** SUPER JUICY EXCERPT BELOW **

I woke freezing, my teeth chattering.
I tried to sit up, but my head was pounding so hard, it made me nauseous.
“Lay back,” a soft voice murmured, gentle hands pressing down on my bare shoulders. “Be at ease. You are safe now, Synn Primus.”
I shook my head, falling back onto the soft pillows. My back felt like fire where the pillows touched it. “Not—” It was so hard to speak. My tongue felt thick. “Not my name.”
“Yes it is, you goose.” Something was draped over me.
I let out a startled yell and threw it off. Everywhere it touched burned.
It was draped over me again. This time the hands pressed it down on my shoulders, keeping it in place. “You have been Marked by the House of Wands, so you now bear our name. You are a Primus, Synn. Welcome.”
My whole world stopped as my mind caught up.
I’d lost my father. He was—
I closed my eyes and fell back.
Dead.
I’d watched so many others burned to death, their children made to look on as those they loved were lost.
And now? I’d lost my life to the Hands?
No. I shook my head and rose. No. “No. This can’t be.”
She pushed me back. “How else do you explain it?” A warm thumb ran over my brow. “You survived the fire, Synn.” She pulled the blanket away, a cool finger running over where I burned. “And how do you explain this? This is your Mark, Synn, the thing you have been waiting for your entire life.”
I remained quiet, concentrating on breathing.
“What I witnessed was a Marking. Aren’t you the least bit excited?”
My father’s strong, rigid face swam before my eyes, so fierce and powerful as the fire rose to claim him, writhing with the pain of it. A sob seeped from my chest. “Not like this.”
I was gathered in her arms. She held me close as she rocked me. She crooned a song I’d never heard. I wasn’t paying attention. I was overwhelmed with what I had lost; my family, my home, my self.
The pounding in my head lessened as the woman held me close, easing my pain. Visuals started registering. The red silk of the cover. The black leather of her bodice. Her long, dark hair.
“Nix.” My voice was a bare croak.
She pulled away slightly, staring into my face. She’d removed the odd crown with the spinning birds.
I didn’t have the energy to fight her. My eyes fell closed in a long blink. I opened them, even though I didn’t want to, my gaze falling to the ruby spider resting on her chest.
“Do not fear, young Primus,” she said, her full lips curved in a careful smile. “I am your family now. You will want for nothing.”
I rocked where I sat, my legs sprawled. “Why?” I barely had the energy to whisper. “Why?”
“Why what, Primus?”
“Why did you attack us?”
“You attacked first.”
“I went for a sword to save—” I paused, breathing, blinking back the tears. “—innocent lives. You killed them for no reason.”
“They would not submit.”
I stared at her in exhausted incredulity. “Did you give them the chance?”
She cupped my face and peered at me sincerely. “I do not want empty devotion. I want only to be loved and cherished.”
“And so you scare children into fearing you.”
“Fear can turn to love.” Her smile was sweet. “You will see.”
“No.”
She flinched and pulled back. “Do you want to see?” She didn’t give me a chance to say no or yes. She pulled away the cover, her eyes dropping to my chest. “Your Mark, Primus.” She reached out with her diamond claw.
I stared in wonder. Rivers of fire coursed in a fine web of lines and runes under my skin. I twisted to see my back, but failed.
“It’s the same there. Have you ever seen so powerful a Mark as this?”
I shook my head. No. I hadn’t. I touched the lines with a ginger hand. They were sensitive and hot to the touch, leaving the rest of me chilled to the core.
Her fingertips joined mine, her long nails gleaming red in the soft yellow light. “But what can one expect from the house of El’Asim and Ino?”
I jerked, staring at her in surprise.
She threw her head back and laughed. “But of course. Why didn’t I see this before? The two most power Families allying themselves through marriage. Oh, yes.” Her eyes were filled with greed, her teeth bared in a smile that was more of a sneer.
She looked ready to eat me.
“Do you have brothers? Sisters? Any who are younger than you, unmarked?”
I stared at her in disgust and wonder. “No.”
Her pink tongue ran along her teeth as she dropped her chin and peered at me through her long, thick lashes. “It doesn’t matter. You are mine.”
I straightened my back and stared at her, gritting my teeth with all the will I had left. “Never.”
A smile slithered into place along her lips. “We shall see.” She pulled away and gestured, sashaying to a door I hadn’t noticed before.
Something heavy slammed against my head.
I fought to remain conscious.
But lost.

** GIVEAWAY **

(A BIG THANK YOU to SM Blooding for hosting this giveaway!)
Enter using the Rafflecopter below! 
ONE lucky winner will receive a $15 AMAZON GC! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** About the Author **

SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, Ms. Bird, the Chicken and SistaPITA. It's quite the zoo. She’s taken a break from the piano, which Ms, Bird is quite happy about, and now knows more than one word in Arabic. Basically, she can say hello, good-bye, give it to me, and hurry up!
She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.

Find out more about her at:


She’s also an investigator with a local Paranormal Group:



Saturday, 23 March 2013

Review - Through Dead Eyes by Chris Priestley


Through Dead Eyes
Goodreads description: Alex joins his father on a business trip to Amsterdam. During the day he hangs out with the daughter of a family friend. They visit the usual sights but also coffee shops and flea markets off the beaten track. At one of these markets Alex spots an ancient-looking mask. Before he knows what he's doing he buys it. Later, in his hotel room, he feels compelled to put the mask on. Alex is sucked into a parallel Amsterdam, one from centuries before which begins to reveal the dark past of both the building he is staying in and the little girl who once lived there . . . edging stealthily towards the terrible twist.


I was lucky enough to hear Chris Priestley talk about Gothic literature at Lancaster Litfest, and it was there that I discovered his work. When I saw the creepy cover of his latest book, Through Dead Eyes, I decided to request it from Netgalley. Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for giving me the chance to review it!

When Alex accompanies his dad on a business trip to Amsterdam, he doesn’t expect much, least of all the company of an attractive older girl, his dad’s friend’s daughter Angelien. When exploring the local market, he feels drawn to a peculiar old mask, which gives him a creepy feeling. But when he sees an old painting in the museum of someone wearing that very same mask, he finds himself drawn into a dark mystery surrounding the mask, the painting, and its painter and subjects.

But the truth is more terrifying than he could have imagined: the mask gives him the ability to see through the eyes of a girl who could see the dead.

This was a very atmospheric and subtle horror story. The setting of Amsterdam is very well described, and Alex is a likeable protagonist, an ordinary teenager who is going through a rough patch. I didn’t like Angelien much - I think she was a bit cruel to Alex - but she’s a convincing character. The pace remains fast and the mystery engaging, even though the action is slow to build. The spooky moments worked really well – I’ll definitely be avoiding buying strange masks from markets in future! Though this is tame compared to say, Stephen King’s novels, it’s a great read for young adults and even though the final twist was a little predictable, the plot remains gripping and interesting. If you’re looking for a quick, spooky read, I’d recommend checking this out!

Rating: ***1/2*

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Launch Post - The Debt Collector by Susan Kaye Quinn


The Debt Collector by Susan Kaye Quinn

From the author of the bestselling Mindjack series comes a new future-noir serial, The Debt Collector. The first episode, Delirium, launches today (3/20).

What’s your life worth on the open market?
A debt collector can tell you precisely.
Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat, jackboots, and the black marks on his soul that every debt collector carries. He’s just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja’s sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane… until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn’t what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone—a dark pit he’s not sure he’ll be able to climb out of again.

Contains mature content and themes. For YA-appropriate thrills, see Susan’s Mindjack series.

Delirium is approximately 12,000 words or 48 pages and is one of nine episodes in the first season of The Debt Collector serial. This dark and gritty future-noir is about a world where your life-worth is tabulated on the open market and going into debt risks a lot more than your credit rating. You can find out more about the series at the Debt Collector website and facebook page. The Debt Collector newsletter is a special list just for episode releases.

Early Praise
 “The street-smart science of LOOPER meets the cold, just-the-facts voice of DOUBLE INDEMNITY in this edgy, future-noir thriller that will have you holding your breath, looking over your shoulder, and begging for more.” —Leigh Talbert Moore, author of The Truth About Faking, The Truth About Letting Go, and Rouge
“Do you owe more than your life is worth? No worries. A more deserving person than you can benefit from that excess life—and someone else will get paid with it. Enter the Debt Collector.” —Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and The Eighth Day (HarperCollins 2014)
The first three episodes of Debt Collector will be released a week apart, starting Wednesday 3/20. The remaining episodes will release every two weeks. Delirium can be found on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iTunes, Kobo. Or add it to your TBR on Goodreads.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA SF Mindjack series. Debt Collector is her more grown-up SF. Her steampunk fantasy romance is temporarily on hold while she madly writes episodes to keep Lirium happy. Plus she needs to leave time to play on Facebook. Susan has a lot of degrees in engineering, which come in handy when dreaming up dangerous mind powers, future dystopias, and slightly plausible steampunk inventions. Mostly she sits around in her pajamas in awe that she gets make stuff up full-time. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest



There's a fun Blogfest happening on Alex Cavanaugh's blog today, and it's all about our top ten favourite movies! Just for fun, I've decided to include my list! I always have difficulty with this as I don't own a lot of movies I like on DVD, and I have a tendency to get blank-mind syndrome whenever asked what my favourite anything is - even books! But here are ten films I've loved in recent years:


10. The Hunger Games - Had to include this one because they did such a good job of adapting the book and I could honestly find no faults with it! (Plus I'm extremely excited about Catching Fire - I hope it's as good!)


9. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark - One of those films I can watch over and over. Love it.


8. The Lion King - Come on, I had to include a Disney film somewhere! This one's one of my favourites, and it's a definite classic.


7. Monsters, Inc - Love it. I still need to get the DVD!


6. Star Wars (original trilogy)- Best sci-fi films of all time. The prequel trilogy, not so much. And I shudder to think what Disney are doing with them...


5. The Nightmare Before Christmas - Tim Burton is a genius, but this is probably my all-time favourite of his films. :)


4. Pirates of the Caribbean - The first is the best, and awesome. Enough said.


3. The Harry Potter films - enough said. Yes, I did get annoyed that some things from the books (especially films 4-6) weren't included, but these were excellent adaptations, and I thought the last two were fantastic. Some day I will have a marathon of all eight in one night! 


2. Toy Story 3 - Best animated film ever!


1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy - I've seen these films too many times to count, and they never get old. Plus they're eternally quotable. Although thanks to a certain Youtube video, I am no longer able to take the 'They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard' line seriously... :P


Sorry, had to do it. :P

Other films that probably should have made the list are Pan's Labyrinth, The Matrix, X-Men and a lot more Disney films!



On a totally unrelated note, all of Curiosity Quills Press (my new publishers!!!!)'s titles are currently on sale in celebration of St Patrick's Day! For the next week, most of their titles are 99c (or £1 on Amazon UK), so be sure to check out the list!





Other than that, all is well in Writerland, although as I'm also writing my dissertation and a 4000-word essay at the same time, I don't have as much time as I'd like - which causes me never-ending frustration as I'm really inspired at the moment! I'm currently working through the last major edit of Darkworld Book 2 (I did most of the editing as I went along as my inner OCD Grammar Queen was in overdrive!) and I've also made a start on Book  3 of the series. Pity inspiration always coincides with Deadline/Revision Hell!

Still, gotta keep writing! :)