28 Sep 2018

Blog Tour Extract / Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

A smart, haunting tale of psychological suspense from the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Turn of Mind.

Jane loses everything when her teenage daughter is killed in a senseless accident. Jane is devastated, but sometime later, she makes one tiny stab at a new life: she moves from San Francisco to the tiny seaside town of Half Moon Bay. She is inconsolable, and yet, as the months go by, she is able to cobble together some version of a job, of friends, of the possibility of peace.

And then, children begin to disappear. And soon, Jane sees her own pain reflected in all the parents in the town. She wonders if she will be able to live through the aching loss, the fear all around her. But as the disappearances continue, she begins to see that what her neighbors are wondering is if it is Jane herself who has unleashed the horror of loss.

Half Moon Bay is a chilling story about a mother haunted by her past. As Stewart O’Nan said about Turn of Mind—this novel “blindfolds the reader and spins her around.”


My review of this story will follow soon....
 
EXTRACT


A police car, she can see as it comes into focus. Its lights flashing. White with black geometric markings. And another. And another. A dark figure approaches, grows darker and more substantial as it gets closer.
May I help you, ma’am? When did she turn from a miss into a ma’am? The shift has been imperceptible. Yet it has happened. Maiden, mother, crone. She is no longer either of the first two, so that leaves the final stage. At thirty-nine, her red hair glints gray in direct light.
What’s going on? Jane asks. Even her voice is muffled by the fog.
The figure comes closer. It is wearing a hat, a uniform with a badge on it. It is male, as she should have known from the voice. But somehow that surprises her. What did she expect? Something not quite of this earth. A hobgoblin. Bugbear. But this man seems solid, human. A policeman. The bearer of bad news.
It’s a search party. You live near here?
A silly question. No one lives near Mavericks. To reach it, you have to wind your way through the acres of rusting warehouses and grounded boats Jane has just navigated.
Over there. Jane motions with her head in the general direction of her cottage.
You know the McCreadys, then?
Just the name, Jane says. She tries to conjure up faces, fails.
They live up on the hill. He points into the darkness.
Oh. That explains it. Hill people. They’re different. In another life, Jane would have been one of them. They live in the new houses clinging precipitously to the steep hill above Princeton-by-the-Sea. The ornate ones painted to look like Victorians from the last century.
With balconies no one stepped onto, lounge chairs no one sat in. Hill people were the prosperous professionals: the doctors and lawyers and engineers who commuted every day over the hill to Silicon Valley. Another world from here, the San Mateo coast. Although it’s a small community, Jane isn’t on speaking terms with any of the people who live up the hill. Most of them belong to a different species altogether, with their business suits and BMWs that roar off at 7:00 a.m. to make it over Route 92 to Sunnyvale or Milpitas by the start of the workday. Programmers and project managers. Financial analysts, accountants. Men and women who spend more time on the road than at home. People capable of organizing their thoughts into logical code, Gantt charts of responsibility, and numbers that add up. Ambiguity banished from their lives during the day. Then back here, to the rolling sea and amorphous fog. A strange existence. It takes a certain kind of person to juggle the contrasts. Jane knows she sounds scornful, but really she is envious. They have found balance.
What about the McCreadys?
 Their little girl, Heidi. She’s wandered away.
Jane considers. Why are you looking here? she asks. It seems an implausible place and time.
This was her favorite spot. She’d been here with her parents this afternoon. The little girl lost her magic pebble. They thought she might have come back to look for it.
Jane considers. Magic pebbles. It hurts to remember. Magic string, magic pencils, even magic bugs. Jane had fixed up a cardboard box to contain the spiders and the roly-polies Angela captured from under the porch, but they all skittered away through the cracks. Jane’s heart breaking to see Angela’s tears of irrevocable loss. A child’s grief, never to be trivialized.
How old was she? Jane asks.
Five.
Angela didn’t speak until she was five. Jane and Rick had taught her sign language and communicated with their hands. Eat. More? All gone. Then, suddenly, out came everything in full sentences. Angela had kept it all inside until she burst. She learned that from Jane.
A long way to walk for a five-year-old, Jane says.
A missing girl. Police. This will end badly. Such things always end badly.








Continue reading Blog Tour Extract / Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

23 Sep 2018

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Series Review / Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman

*****  CONTAINS SPOILERS  *****

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.


Published:     2016
Publisher:  Walker Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1-10, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

Now this was another set of short stories that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to pick up or not.  As I have mentioned in my review of The Bane Chronicles, short stories and novellas can be a bit of a hit or miss with me.  More often than not, I find that these types of stories, as part of a series or trilogy, can often be unnecessary.  Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, for me, is an essential read for those reading the entire Shadowhunters series right from The Mortal Instruments, through the Infernal Devices and to the Dark Artifices trilogy.   I read and would certainly recommend reading it after reading the Mortal Instruments series, particularly after The City of Heavenly Fire and after reading The Bane Chronicles.  I found that this was the best time in the entire Shadowhunter world to delve into learning more about the character of Simon, which this series of short stories concentrates on.  For me, this was a must read also because of the fact that I absolutely adore Simon.  He is one of my most favourite characters in this world, so far.  

I won't go through each individual story in this review because, to be honest, I loved each and every one of them.  With each story, I learnt more and more about Simon, his past and follow his struggles as he comes to terms with what he has been through.  He certainly has a lot to think about and deal with since he no longer is a vampire.  We also have the added surprise of seeing Magnus and Alec at the Academy in the last story with a new addition that was certainly a surprise for everyone!

A must read for those who are reading the Shadowhunter world books and for those who adores the character Simon!















Continue reading Series Review / Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman

13 Sep 2018

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Series / Book Review - The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson



Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.

This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material.




Published:     2014
Publisher:  Walker Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1-11, Bane Chronicles

Source:  Owned



MY REVIEWS (may contain spoilers)
(My reviews in orange below)

IN SUMMARY: I loved this series of novellas.  Normally, for me, I don't tend to pick up novellas as the ones I have attempted to pick up before with other series they haven't really added much to the story and I just lost interest.  But, this series of novellas is something different.  Not only does it add more to the story of the Shadowhunter world but it fills in some of the blanks and answers a lot of questions I had when I finished City of Heavenly Fire.  As Magnus Bane is one of my favourite characters in this world, I thoroughly enjoyed following him throughout his past and present.  This series of novellas gives great back story to some of the Shadowhunter world before  the Mortal Instruments series, fills in some blacks from the series and adds more depth to certain characters that were in the Mortal Instruments series and may be yet to come in further books...
  
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Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices know that Magnus Bane is banned from Peru—and now they can find out why. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’s Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.


Now this series of short stories/novellas I was really excited to start reading.  I cannot tell you how much I adore Magnus Bane.  Funny, witty and very smart.  What more could you ask for in a main character?!?  Peru was something that was mentioned briefly in a previous Mortal Instruments novel and I did wonder whether that would be picked up here.  In this story, it explains various incidents in Peru with, of course, only one that led to Magnus not being able to return to Peru.  This story, for me, sums up his character, personality and morals.  A very entertaining read.  

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Magnus Bane has a royal role in the French Revolution—if the angry mobs don’t spoil his spells. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

While in France, immortal warlock Magnus Bane finds himself attempting to rescue the royal family from the horrors of the French Revolution—after being roped into this mess by a most attractive count. Naturally, the daring escape calls for invisible air balloons…


For me, this one was not one of the more interesting stories in this book.  Yes, there were a lot of twists and turns and a very surprising twist and even though it was set and beautifully written in Paris I just, honestly speaking, did not really find a lot interesting about this story.   Yes it had a great plot with really interesting characters, but the first story in this book was a lot better than this one for me. 

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Magnus Bane leverages his alliances with Downworlders and Shadowhunters on a venture to Victorian London. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

When immortal warlock Magnus Bane attends preliminary peace talks between the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders in Victorian London, he is charmed by two very different people: the vampire Camille Belcourt and the young Shadowhunter, Edmund Herondale. Will winning hearts mean choosing sides?


Now this is why I picked up this series of stories.  Not only are we following the magnificent Magnus Bane but we also see more of a background of how he knows Camile Belcourt and Edmund Herondale and learn a bit more of the history of the Shadowhunters before the Mortal Instruments series.    Loved this one.    


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In Edwardian London, Magnus Bane discovers old friends and new enemies—including the son of his former comrade Will Herondale. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

Magnus thought he would never return to London, but he is lured by a handsome offer from Tatiana Blackthorn, whose plans—involving her beautiful young ward—are far more sinister than Magnus even suspects. In London at the turn of the century, Magnus finds old friends, and meets a very surprising young man . . . the sixteen-year-old James Herondale.


Yet again, this is one of those stories that I was dying to learn more of from little bits and pieces that were woven into the Mortal Instruments series.  For reasons I won't explain because of spoilers, the Herondale family come into contact with Magnus on a lot of occasions and here we see, yet again, another Herondale. Where you hear of a Herondale in a story, you know it is going to be good.      

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 In 1920s Manhattan, Magnus Bane hobnobs with the elite at a glamorous Jazz Age hotspot.

The immortal Magnus Bane is making the most of his time in the Roaring Twenties: He's settled into New York society and is thriving among the fashionable jazz set. And there is nowhere better to see and be seen than the glamorous Hotel Dumort, a glittering new addition to the Manhattan landscape. But a different type of glamour may be at play...


Yet again this is another story I hoped I would learn more about.  Hotel Dumort which was once a very nice hotel but turns into something else completely.   Although I had wished that this would have had a bit more happening in the story, I found it interesting and gave a lot of background to the history of Hotel Dumort.  
 


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 A Manhattan teen—Raphael Santiago—is missing, and Magnus Bane must track him down before it’s too late.

In 1950s New York City, a distraught mother hires Magnus Bane to find her missing son, Raphael. But even if he can be found, is Raphael beyond saving?


Another character that I adore just as much as Magnus, Raphael Santiago.  This is another story that I hoped that I would learn more about.  Raphael has such a great personality it was certainly entertaining to follow his story in this one.   A lot of back story in this one that fills in and gives explanation for certain personality traits that we see in the Mortal Instruments series...






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Magnus Bane watches the once-glamorous Hotel Dumort become something else altogether in 1970s New York City.

Fifty years after the Jazz Age rise of the Hotel Dumort, immortal warlock Magnus Bane knows the Manhattan landmark is on the decline. The once-beautiful Hotel Dumort has fallen into a decayed thing, a ruin, as dead as a place can be. But the vampires don't mind...

We are back again to learn a bit more about Hotel Dumort.  I liked this story a lot better than the previous one in this book.   A lot of action in this one and we certainly see a lot more background to the vampires story.      Although not one of my most favourite stories in this book, I certainly found it intriguing to learn more about the vampire 'community. 




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Magnus Bane may or may not be dating Alec Lightwood, but he definitely needs to find him the perfect birthday present.

Set in the time between City of Ashes and City of Glass, warlock Magnus Bane is determined to find the best birthday present possible for Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter he may or may not be dating. And he’s also got to deal with the demon he’s conjured up for a very irritating client...

LOVED THIS ONE!  Again, this was a story I was hoping to see more of.  One of my most favourite couples so far in this world and I was so happy to see more of them and how they are getting on.   On the one hand we have seen in past stories the Magnus who is the warlock, the Magnus who can come in and save the day but now in this story we are seeing Magnus the sweet 'boyfriend' of Alec.     



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Magnus meets Valentine in battle as the Circle attacks the Downworlders of New York City.

In the time of the Uprising, Valentine’s Circle goes after Downworlders in New York...and the Shadowhunters of the Institute must decide whether to join him, or fight with Magnus and his kind. This is the first time Magnus sees Jocelyn, Luke, and Stephen—but not the last. It is not long before Jocelyn seeks him out...


Finally, a story that shows what happened with Valentine and his Circle way before the Mortal Instruments series began.   Apart from the stories with Magnus and Alec, this one is one of my favourites.  This is a great one to read if you want to learn more about the background of Valentine and all the main older characters such as Jocelyn, Luke and Stephen etc.  This story certainly does fill in a few holes  and answer a few of the questions I had about Valentine and his circle.        

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 Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood might fall in love—but first they have a first date.

When Magnus Bane, warlock, meets Alec Lightwood, Shadowhunter, sparks fly. And what happens on their first date lights a flame...


Oh yes, another story with Magnus and Alec.  Just when I thought this relationship could not get any better. This was such a cute story following Magnus and Alec dating.  A great little story filled with such a cute romantic story.









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The voice mail of Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, in the days following a certain incident in City of Lost Souls.

This was fantastic.  I wasn't sure what I was getting into just reading the heading but it all made sense once I started reading.  This is one that you should definitely read after you have finished The Mortal Instruments series.  From memory, I believe this relates to something that happens at the end of City of Lost Souls.  I have to admit that I did have a good giggle when reading this one.  A great story to finish the book with.  







Continue reading Series / Book Review - The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

11 Sep 2018

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Series Review / Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare


When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...


Published:     Series began in 2007
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 6, Mortal Instruments
Source:  Owned




MY REVIEW

Now this was a fun series to read!   I have started this series before, many moons ago, but never got around to continuing with it.  What I liked the most about this series has to be the world building.  As the story goes on from one book to the other, the world just gets bigger and bigger.  Now I have not yet picked up The Shadowhunder's Codex but I have picked up most of the rules with this world, with the Shadowhunters and Downworlders etc.  I was really surprised by a certain plot line that involved Clary and two other individuals which I think crossed a certain moral line but it was very interesting to see that moral line played out.   

That said, there were a couple of things I was not too fond of with this series.  One thing I would have wished there was was more of a cliff hanger ending to each novel.  Yes, they are open ended, leads to the next story and always left me wanting to keep reading but there was never, for me, a shock ending or a shock twist in the story that made me stand up and really pay attention.  The other thing was Clary.  She is meant to be the main character, the one that you want to wish wins the day but I really didn't.  She came across as a stereotypical bad teenager from a bad movie - whiny and always doing what she wants, not thinking about the consequences and irrespective of what anyone else asks her to go.  Yes, that may work out for the best in some cases but I just found this really irritating.  

Despite the couple of problems I had with the series, I took it for what it is just a bit of fun to read and enjoyed it for what it was.  I have to say that there were two characters in this series that really made it for me and that has to be Magnus Bane and Simon, Clary's best friend.  Magnus with his amazingly addictive personality and Simon with his loyalty and flexibility given all the different plot lines he appears in.


Continue reading Series Review / Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

10 Sep 2018

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Blog Tour Book Extract / You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke


Spine-tingling, chilling, and utterly compulsive, YOU LET ME IN is the stunning new novel from Richard & Judy Book Club author, Lucy Clarke
 
Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .

I’M IN YOUR HOUSE
 
There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.

I’M IN YOUR HEAD
 
Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.

AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET
 
As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…


MY REVIEW OF THIS NOVEL WILL BE COMING SOON...

GET THIS BOOK NOW, AT THE TIME OF POSTING THIS EBOOK IS 99P.  Click Here


EXTRACT


Pushing open the front door, I’m immediately aware that the air smells different. Something earthy and damp, mixed with the residue of someone else’s cooking.
The wind sucks the door shut, slamming it behind me with a startling clang.
Then silence.
No one to call out to. No one to greet me.
I drop my handbag onto the oak settle beside a pile of neatly stacked post. I glance at the bill resting on top, then look away. I slip off my shoes and walk barefoot into the kitchen.
Sea and sky fill the windows. Even at dusk the light is incredible. Two gulls wheel carelessly on the breeze, and beneath them the sea churns. This is why I fell in love with the house, which was originally a rundown fisherman’s cottage that hadn’t been modernised since the sixties.
I read somewhere that the beauty of a sea view is that it’s always changing, no two days are the same. I remember thinking the statement was pretentious – but actually, it’s true.
Pulling my gaze from the water, I scan the kitchen. The long stretch of granite surface is clean and empty. A note is tucked beneath the corner of a terracotta basil pot. In my sister’s handwriting, I read:
Welcome home! All went well with the Airbnb. Pop over for a glass of wine when you’re settled. Fiona x
I missed her. And Drake. I’ll go over tomorrow, suggest a beach walk, or a pub lunch somewhere with a play area so Drake can roam.
Right now, all I have the energy for is taking a long bath with my book.
I reach into the cupboard for a glass, and as I draw it towards the tap, a movement by my fingertips causes me to drop it, the tumbler smashing into the sink. A thick-legged house spider scurries from the broken pieces to take up a crouching position in the plug hole.
I shiver. There’s just something about the way spiders move – the jerkiness of all those articulated legs. With a sigh, I resign myself to the new task of removing the spider from the house. Catching it in a spare glass, I head for the front door.
The flagstones are freezing as I climb down the steps barefoot, then wince as I pick my way across the gravel to the far end of the driveway. This bugger isn’t getting back in. I set down the glass, then nudge it over with my toe, before hopping back. The spider remains motionless for a few moments. Then, with a flurry of black legs, it scuttles away.




Continue reading Blog Tour Book Extract / You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke