Sunday, 15 March 2015

Maya & Filippo Show Aloha by Alinka Rutkowska (March 2015)

This is a beautiful picture book that teaches children a little bit about Hawaii and the meaning of aloha.

This book is part of a series where Maya and Filippo travel around the world and learn about different places. The pictures are bright and fun and the language used is simple enough to appeal to young children. This would be a nice book to add to any child's collection, especially those who are inquisitive about the world and those who have an adventurous spirit.

This book is free to download from Amazon for a limited time only.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Endless Evil (Alex Gray #1) by Amanda Feyerbend

Endless Evil

Peaceful life in a small Georgia county is shattered when women’s bodies begin turning up on the side of the highway; the women raped and then strangled to death. At first Detective Alex Gray does not realize these cases are related, but then Megan Crawford survives. Suspected of being an accomplice to a string of rapes in the past, Megan falls under suspicion again. Is she the key to solving this case, or is she part of the deception? With no evidence and no leads Alex must try everything he can to stop this killing spree, even if it means involving the one person who may be hiding secrets of her own. 

A riveting read. This novel had me engrossed all day. I couldn't put it down. 
The romantic element takes second stage to the suspense and mystery and I thought this was the correct tone to take due to the subject matter and it leant credibility to the relationship between Megan and Alex.

Both of the protagonists have pasts that could come back to haunt them and so the door is wide open for subsequent titles in the series. 

I'll definitely be adding the rest of the series to my TBR list. 

The Miss Mirren Mission by Jenny Holiday (Entangled Publishing March 2015)

The Miss Mirren Mission

To society, the Earl of Blackstone cuts a mysterious figure. He is eligible, withdrawn, and endlessly fascinating. Yet as an integral part of London’s underground spy ring intent on defeating Napoleon, Blackstone has no mistress but the cause.
Miss Emily Mirren is considered “unbiddable” by the ton. She wields a fierce intellect, which she channels into her own secret cause—writing an abolitionist newspaper column under a male pseudonym.When Emily’s aims clash with Blackstone’s, they stray into a dangerous game of attraction and subterfuge, and secrets are the going currency. And in order to complete the most important mission of his career, Blackstone must thwart Emily, even if it breaks both their hearts. 

One of my favourite genres, historical, romantic mystery. This is Jenny Holiday's first foray into the genre and I would definitely read more of the same by the author. There was plenty of intrigue to keep the story flowing. The background to the characters was very interesting and it added a sense of credibility to their blossoming friendship.
The characters meet during a house party but neither are there for romance. They have their own agendas to pursue. The Earl of Blackstone is a spy and determined to catch his nemesis Le Cafard or 'The Cockroach.'
Emily is digging up evidence of slave trading against her former guardian Mr. Manning and to reunite with her long lost childhood friend, Billy. When their agendas clash Blackstone must betray Emily in order to catch his prey.
It wasn't too difficult to guess the identity of Le Cafard but it didn't matter. I enjoyed reading the story unfold and how Blackstone and Emily resolved things in the end. 
I'd recommend this book for fans of the genre.

Untrue Colors by Veronica Forand (Entangled Publishing 2015)

Untrue Colors (Entangled Select Suspense)

'She's on the run...
Brilliant art appraiser Alex Northrop's ex used stolen art to fund his nefarious activities. Now he wants her dead. But it isn't just herself she's worried about - if he discovers who she really is, he'll kill her family.

Professor Henry Chilton is shocked to find a beautiful stranger passed out in his bed, and even more so when the she reveals a priceless painting is a forgery - the painting he'd planned to use to fund a woman's shelter. She's mysterious and frightened, and he is determined to discover why.

Alex's knowledge of art is undeniable--just as Henry's attraction to her is irresistible. But in order to help him recover the real painting, Alex isn't just risking exposure...she's risking her life.'

A romantic thriller with just the right mix of romance and suspense. 
The protagonists, although very likeable and engaging, are cliché 'romantic fiction' characters.
On the run from an ex boyfriend, Alex is beautiful and super intelligent. She speaks multiple languages and is an art expert with the ability to detect forgeries even though she has had no formal training. She comes from a wealthy and politically connected American family and, wanting to escape her domineering father, changes her name after running away to Europe.

Henry is a professor, a rich Earl with a big castle and country estate which he is turning into a women's shelter. He is also a formal member of the SBS, the special forces unit of the British naval service and has a half brother who is a member of MI6. 
Luckily for Alex, it is Henry's dinner party she gate crashes after escaping another attempt on her life by her ex. 

Henry has used a family heirloom as collateral security to help fund his women's shelter and is shocked when Alex informs him that his piece of art is a fake. He is determined to get the original back and offers Alex a place to stay in exchange for her help. Unwittingly, this puts Alex back in the middle of the dangerous underworld of stolen art and arms deals in which Luc, her ex boyfriend, is heavily involved. Alex has to dodge Luc and his henchmen but it is only a matter of time before her past catches up to her and she has no choice but to sacrifice herself in order to save those she loves.

The suspense element in 'Untrue Colors' was cleverly done. The villains were quite evil and Alex had a lot to contend with when she was under their control. There was a certain sense of doom when Luc got hold of Alex, as it was clear that her experience would be a whole lot more than simply being tied up or locked away waiting for the hero to come to the rescue. 
Alex is a more gutsy character than that. She has to think on her feet and take chances in order to escape her ordeal, even if it means dying in the process.

Henry was a sweet kind of a character; a very American view of an English gentleman more suited to a historical romance, but nonetheless enjoyable as a romantic figure and I enjoyed the growing friendship and romance between the pair. Henry's brother, Simon, also cuts a fine and mysterious figure. His character is darker and more cynical in nature than Henry's but he is there for his brother and Alex when they need him.
I really hope Simon gets his own story next. With his alpha persona and MI6 background, a sequel is sure to be as charged with intrigue and excitement as 'Untrue Colors.'

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Graced by Amanda Pillar (Momentum 2015)


An exciting and completely new take on a saturated genre. The 'graced' i.e. humans, with eye colour other than brown, have special paranormal abilities of which vampires are completely unaware and a secret the 'graced'  want to keep safe.  One vampire, Dante, is obsessed in finding out what these differences mean and why it is that only brown eyed humans can be turned into vampires successfully.   All of his previous experiments died very quickly but he has a feeling that Elle and her hazel eyes hold the key, she just has to survive the transformation.  Elle is a city guard and hates werewolves and vampires with a passion. However, she loves her special little sister and will do anything to keep her safe. This includes taking a job as personal assistant to Dante in order to spy on him and figure out why he has been killing blue and green eyed girls. Another complication ensues when she meets Clay, the were, and can't quite fight her growing attraction to him.

This is an exciting story with a good mix of paranormal and romance. The relationship between Dante and Anton was unexpected as I was anticipating the cliché love triangle between the were, human and vampire. But the author spun the story in a different direction. 

I confess that I was confused as to when and where this story was taking place. It could have been explained better.  The author alludes to a historical setting with the characters using carriages, carts and a reliance on coal but none of those things are described in detail.   We are given to believe that the world has come through an age of science and advancement which has all been lost due to the ravages of war. As a result, society has reverted to a class system similar to that of pre 20th century Britain, but without the social customs and restrictions associated with those times.   I didn't find the era convincing as there wasn't enough historical elements in it for it to ring true and it had no bearing on the story or plot.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Valentine Circle ( A Silas de San Michel Mystery #1) by Reinaldo DelValle

               The Valentine Circle (A Silas de San Michel Mystery)                                     

                                              'Boston, Winter of 1885.

A string of kidnappings plagues the snow-laden city of Boston while a murderer runs amok hunting and killing the unborn babies of they city’s social elite.
A powerful group called the Valentine Society controls the city’s police department, and the people of Boston’s last hope for justice lies in the hands of a man who mysteriously washes ashore from a distant foreign land, battered and bruised.

To complicate matters, he doesn’t remember who he is or where he’s from...
Just a week after he is found unconscious aboard a cargo ship, Officer Silas de San Michel is thrust into a mysterious case dealing with the vicious killings of pregnant teenage girls. But what he doesn't know is that these young girls belong to the secret Valentine Society, an elite group of Boston socialites that have corrupted the city's top officials, unashamedly operating above the law.

With the help of his boss, the highly intelligent Inspector Belloc, and his lovely assistant, the boisterous and spirited Miss Posy Chapman, Silas embarks on a journey that takes him inside a secret world of rules and privileges, of oppressive parents and mischievous alliances.
           Weighed down by the sickness of memory loss, Silas struggles to maintain his sanity as he begins to discover the darkness plaguing his own sordid past, a darkness that ultimately brings him to the brink of becoming that which he hunts, a serial killer who was raised and trained by an insidious organization known only as The Factory.'
As soon as I read the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it! I am so glad I did. 
Superbly dark, mysterious and suspenseful. I was glued to this book for a full weekend. It is cleverly written and is set up nicely to extend it into a series.

With kidnappings, murders, beatings etc the author is certainly not afraid to let terrible things happen to his characters but at the same time it allows for some nasty, karma induced comeuppance for the villains. The darkness in the novel is balanced out with some comedic elements namely the banter between Silas and Posy. 
The myriad layers of mystery surrounding Silas only deepens as the story unfolds. We are only privy to glimpses of his past, as is Silas in the moments he experiences flash backs. Silas is a great character. I love the mystery surrounding him, and with his special ninja style skills, he is a force to be reckoned with. 

Posy is another favourite character. She may get herself into some sticky situations and get a knocked about a bit but she is no damsel in distress. She always comes back fighting and is not afraid to put herself in harms way to protect her friends.
It will be interesting to see how Silas and Posy's relationship develops but I hope the author keeps the 'will they/won't they' suspense going. Their little arguments and jealousies make good reading.

I am excited about this series and will certainly be reading 'The Charleston Rose' when it comes out.