Friday, 4 July 2014

Sword: Allie's War, Book Three by J C Andreski.

The world is dying. Everyone feels it, and yet, no one knows.
They said that when the end was near, a Bridge would come, and lead them out of the darkness of that dying world. Allie Taylor's life was relatively normal... Until Revik showed up. And told her she was that Bridge. Book Description

Well, I'm finally getting to grips with this world. I've read the prequel novella and books one and two, and rather than trying to understand the concepts of sharing light, constructs, other dimensions etc I'm just accepting them as Fact. It’s made it easier for me, I’ve stopped trying to work out the how’s and the whys, and gone with the flow of the story. It’s an incredibly complex world and I’m not convinced that it’s all one side good the other bad – just as in conventional wars I guess. It’s a real battlefield though and Allie has picked her side. Revik taught her everything, but he's altered by the events of the last book where it was thought he'd died, but in fact the explosion and effects have changed him, uniting parts of him ( it’s that multiple split persona stuff again) that were thought dead and changing his views. (I’d say to which side but there's been so much to and fro and talking about sides that I’m not sure I’m right....) Allie sees his leading the other side as bringing forward an all-out war, he wants that and she doesn't. He still loves her, she's still hoping for the man she knew to come back, even though the Seers have told her that's not possible. Still, all the things so far that have happened to her she'd have not thought possible, so she won't give up. While the Seers are hiding her, desperate to stop Revik from getting her, she has time to think, and decides that maybe if she can get close to him she can change his viewpoint, get him back from the brainwashed Revik he seems to have become.

When he eventually finds her she agrees to stay for six months with him, and he agrees to allow her to leave at the end if that's what she wants. There she finds that he's not quite been the all-out murderer he's been portrayed, and that his targets are carefully chosen to protect innocents. The problem for me is, as in real life, not all sides are all good, and some that should be working for good are in fact just abusing people and lining their own pockets. Allie sees some of this and sympathies with Reviks views. Still, she needs to remember to work on him, not change her own views. It’s great to see them back together – their romance is the key to this series for me, its so intense when they are together, but they seem to be beset by numerous, almost insurmountable, problems and once again things go awry :(
It’s another riveting read, complex, long and full of all sorts of drama, action, events, and people. We meet up with some old friends and enemies, and meet some new ones, in particular I feel the leader of the Lao Hu, Voi Pai is someone to be careful of. She gives off an air of deception, seems like someone who would happily deal with highest bidder and have no problem turning sides. I loved the Beijing setting, the way the mix of fiction and real places were melded together, and I’ve noticed that throughout, that the melding of real history and places with fiction brings scenes alive and makes them feel as if they are real events happening. I'm desperate for Allie and Revik to be together – they feel so right, and of course the Prophecies say they should be together. I got a bit confused over the events with Balidor, and what Allie's motivations were. I thought it was for one reason, then it seems there were others …..still, there's lots more books to come :) so it'll come clear at some point. As with the rest I don't spend too much time on the whys and hows but just accept things as fact, and hope it’s going to come clear as I read further. Lots of it has so far :) Its priced at £3.08 for 432 pages so a lovely long book to really get your teeth into and wallow in.
Stars: Four and a half. A fabulous series.

    Reviewed by Midnight Ruby

 You may purchase this book here : DarkissReads Bookstore

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Blood Stone by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Nial orders Calum Garrett to get close to Hollywood producer Kate Lindenstream. Garrett reluctantly complies for he has held himself apart from humans for centuries. Kate doesn't fall into Garrett's arms, either. She already has someone for that. Roman Xerus—whom Kate knows as Adrian—and Garrett go way back to the sixteenth century Scottish highlands, but they parted bitterly two hundred years ago.
With Roman's support, Kate battles Garrett in wills and business as he methodically forces himself into her life. However, on the closed-in movie set in the Californian desert, Garrett's calm, orderly world crumbles for Garrett is drawn to Kate. He has begins to experience real, human feelings.

Kate doesn't cooperate in the chess game Nial orchestrates, despite being unaware of the strategies swirling around her film set. Demanding and expecting only the best for her movie, Kate's agenda forces Roman and Garrett to work together to protect her and keep the humans around her ignorant of the Pro Libertatus, the anonymous and all-powerful vampire group who nearly killed Nial, Sebastian and Winter, and shield Kate from the excesses of the League for Humanity. But could Roman really be with the Pro Libertatus?

There's hidden intentions everywhere, and centuries of repressed feelings, along with at least two different groups that mean them harm. Then there's the rumours that Kate has found the mythical Blood Stone, the key to unlocking vampire history and lifting their curse. Who is Kate, really? Because once Garrett begins to notice, things about Kate don't quite add up, either...

I've read several of Tracy's novels now – they all feature some very steamy, sensual scenes. Its some time since I read Blood Knot, the first in this series but it quickly came back when I started this one. We meet winter, Niall and Sebastian again, along with some new people who have a place in the coming vampire disclosure problems. Reading this book actually clarified some of the problems I had with the first – I understand Nial's problems and concerns much better after getting into this book. Once again there are some superb sensual love scenes, some great characters, plots and counter plots, danger and secrets all wrapped up in Tracy’s typical quality writing. Its an involved novel, not a light-hearted quick read, but one where you get fully immersed in another world, and feel as if you're there in it. I did have trouble initially with the fact that Winter et al all had different names as they were working in disguise trying to see who Nial's plots would flush out – and it brought forward more than they anticipated.

I love the way Tracy's people feel so real, that the world she created feels like one I could be involved in, and most of all the way she takes people who don't like each other at all, and yet she takes them on a journey that ends with them being lovers. Once again I could see this happening, and yet can't pinpoint a moment when I saw the change of feelings occur. There's a lot to her characters too -they have problems with their pasts, and the effects that has on their present, there's hidden secrets with all of them – and some good ones I certainly didn't see coming. It all leads to a fascinating and engrossing read, with spicy, sexy, sensual ménage scenes. Take note of that warning if this offends you! For me Tracy does these in a way that's erotic but not cringe-making. Often I’m reading what should be erotic scenes and they just become really eurghh....I feel embarrassed reading them as they seem so contrived, but never with Tracy though – her scenes fit the plots and characters perfectly and are well written.

I'm keen to get onto book three now :) and find out what else is in store...This book is priced at £3.21 for a huge 424 pages – I love these longer books, they're my favourite as they have scope for plots and characters to be made very realistic, and at this price this is a bargain.

Stars: five, cracking read.

Reviewed by Midnight Ruby

You may purchase "Blood Stone' here : DarkissReads bookstore

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

Selected for the Radio 2 Book Club. He has a face you love. A voice you trust. To survive you must kill him. The rules of survival are handed from mother to daughter. Inherited, like the curse that has stalked Hannah and her family across centuries. He changes his appearance at will, speaks with a stolen voice and hides behind the face of a beloved, waiting to strike. Generation after generation, he has destroyed them. And all they could do was to run. Until now. Now, it is time for Hannah to turn and fight. Book Description

I'm not a great thriller reader, but do love anything connected to the supernatural and this novel spans both genres. I loved Deborah Harness All Souls Trilogy, (and hopefully book three is out soon) and was hoping for something along those lines. The historical aspect is similar in that it spans time from present to historical, but the romance was missing and for me that made a huge difference. I'm a sap (blush) and some romance – even if fleeting – keeps me reading. I enjoyed this book but wasn't riveted. I kept putting it down and picking it up, whereas a good book keeps me hooked til its ended, and even though this is a massive tome that wouldn't stop me if I was really gripped. I read several hours daily so could have done it in one big sitting, two at most. I found the constant hopping back and forth from past to present really difficult at first, as I did the foreign terms – I had to keep looking them up on my phone just to work out what the author meant by it. A glossary would help :)

 I finally got “into” the book from about a third in, but if it hadn't have been a review book I'd have abandoned it by then. That's a shame because clearly the author has worked hard to create something very different, and I can't say there's anything I really disliked, but it just didn't reel me in and make me want to keep it on me at all times to sneak in a few pages between cooking tea, stuff like that. My Other Half laughs because when I’m in the grip of a good book I take it everywhere with me, even when I’m using my mobility scooter ( I only have one leg) to go round the garden it'll be propped up in front so I can continue reading, but this one- well, I kept putting it down and picking up others, then found it hard to recall where I was in the story and needing to backtrack as it was so complex.

It’s beautifully written and the supernatural aspect is very different to that we usually find in novels, and that's a refreshing change. It must be hard to come up with something new and original like this. The descriptive parts too were very well fleshed out, and I felt I was there in the scene with the characters. For me where it fell down was that I just didn't integrate with the people, I didn't really care about what happened to them. I have no problem suspending belief if it’s presented in a realistic way, and that's done well in this book, but the lack of any kind of romantic theme running through linking past to present just made it not work for me. That’s personal of course, and I'm sure those who like thrillers unencumbered by romantic elements will love this book. We all want different things from our reading and that's good – means we get a fabulous diversity of books.

Overall – a well written book, fabulous length ( I love longer books and am disappointed at the current trend for ones that are really novellas), great plots that link up well, beautifully descriptive, bringing reader into the scene and was the characters that didn't quite work for me. I didn't really worry too much about what happened to them – I guess that’s where my need for romance comes in, I want to really get emotive about people in books, and a romance adds to that feel.

 Priced at £7.49 for kindle, £9.59 hardback, £6.60 paperback it’s not cheap, but it is a massive tome with 406 pages for hardback version (the paperback worked out to something like 650-700!) so if it’s the sort you enjoy its worth buying because it has enough detail to keep you reading it over and over without being bored by the story. I'm sure like the best books with lots of information you'll find things you missed first time round on subsequent reads.

Stars: just a three from me for the reasons I've explained – it’s a great book but not for me. I'm sure it’s a five for those who like nonromantic thrillers.

Reviewed by Midnight Ruby 

 You may purchase "The Sting Diaries" here : DarkissReads Bookstore

Sunday, 8 June 2014

FORGED by Jacquelyn Frank

 When Katrina Haynes discovers a large man lying wounded in the snow, she fears he is at death’s door. But as Kat tends to his injuries, she quickly realizes that they’re the least of her worries. With an irresistible Scottish brogue and a strange ability to harden his chiseled body like a statue, the stranger awakens a desire she is unable to resist—and a fascination about the intriguing world he exists in.
 As a proud Gargoyle, Ahnvil must safeguard the Nightwalker to whom he’s sworn fealty. But as this bewitching woman nurses him back to health, arousing an almost uncontrollable hunger within him, he is possessed with the fierce impulse to protect her as well. And he will have to shield her—for by coming to his rescue, Kat has placed herself in the middle of a supernatural war . . . and exposed herself to dark, powerful magic. As human and Gargoyle forge an unbreakable bond, Kat will discover that despite his intimidating strength and size, one thing Ahnvil does not possess is a heart of stone.

I read a Jaquelyn Frank novels a couple of years back but didn't gel with it. Seeing that she's a bestselling author and not wanting to miss out on some good reads I decided it was time to try another of her books. Forged as the first in a new series sounded good one to read, I thought. I soon discovered though that I’d misread – and it’s actually the fourth in the bad! It wasn't difficult to pick up though even though it's a very different world she's created, where there are lots of different types of supernatural although few humans know of them.
Gargoyles – they often get a bad press, described as being overly beast-like. Jacquelyn's are like that too, but it’s clear they also have a strong humanity about them and are in control of the beast side. Ahnvil has escaped capture, needs to return to his home with other supernaturals and his Touchstone – the stone that keeps him from being permanently stone - ASAP. He's badly injured though and luckily for him Kat finds him and tends to him. Through a series of events she accompanies him back to his home and the others.

Ahnvil – he was a good, honest and loyal man, strong, sexy as hell but... irresistible brogue?? Well, his constant use of “doona” wasn't irresistible to me but very irritating. Its not the first time I’ve seen it written/used to describe a Scots accent but it grates..I know a few Scots but I’ve never heard one say “doona” and it actually irritated me so much it detracted from what he was saying. Sadly it’s a word he uses very often :( Apart from that though he was a good lead, strong, sexy and very Alpha. I understood Kat's reactions to his alpha control issues, I think most independent women would feel the same. Kat's had to become dependent on herself as she has a skin condition that limits her daytime activities, so she's become quite a loner and doesn't take kindly to Ahnvil's over protectiveness even though she understands it.

Overall it’s an interesting story, clearly some of the plot carries on from earlier books, but the main one of introducing Kat and Ahnvil wraps up nicely. There's the usual supernatural activities, fights, spells, travel through supernatural means plus of course the idea of created Gargoyles that need their Touchstone to stay human. It was a fun read, but not one I’d re read and confirms that for me Jacquelyn is an excellent and very popular author but not one whose novels really appeal to me. Horses for courses again and everyone wanting different reads thankfully.

The names...I have to comment. Ahnvil- really? And there's another character called Ihron...reminds me too much of the BDB novels and the awful names there – I still haven't got to reading them, put off by the twee play on words...but that's me :) and probably why I'm a reader not a writer.

Stars: three and a half.

Reviewed by Midnight Ruby

You may purchase "Forged" here : DarkissReads Book Store

Check out the book trailer for "Forged" 

Dark Confluence ('The Darkening': A Contemporary Dark Fantasy trilogy) by Rosemary Firth

The small Queensland country town of Emerald Hills is under siege by paranormal forces!

Jen McDonald faces a quandary. Traumatized by a car accident after seeing a mysterious, dark-shrouded figure on the road, Jen believes she may be losing her mind. Maybe there is instead a far more malign reason for the mysterious and frightening goings-on in Emerald Hills. Perhaps the enigmatic and otherworldly Fionn has the answers she needs?

As the mystery unfolds before her, Jen begins to feel trapped, not only between warring factions of the supernatural Faeries, but also by her desire for one of them. She does not want to be a heroine, but it is possible that her newly discovered and special gift will force her to be the town's defender.

Dark Confluence is the first book in “The Darkening” series by Rosemary Firth. It is our first glimpse of the world that Rosemary has created.  In the center of this world is Jen McDonald, who finds herself drawn into the world of the Fae and lands smack dab in the middle of an otherworldly war and children who have gone missing. With her own abilities starting to service she is terrified of what is to come she has to choose to become the hero or allow the darkness to take over.

This book is listed under the genre of both ‘Dark Fantasy & Horror” which as I read I wasn't sure that the Horror genre was a good fit, but as the book progressed there was an underlying aspect of horror that snuck up on me slowly. This book reminded me a bit of “FaerieTale” by Raymond Feist, without the grittiness. However, the author was able to get me to a place of uneasiness because I didn't know what was “lurking” beneath the shadows.

One of the things that really jumped out at me was the main character, Jen was not some young woman coming into her hidden talents, but a much older woman who has lived life and has real life experiences. She wasn't drop dead gorgeous, have men lusting after her, or a kick ass fighter she was normal.  This hooked me right away, I could sense her vulnerability as things she didn't understand where happening around her. Jen learned quickly that she had to get past her walls that she built to overcome the disappointments and heartbreaks in life. And accept that she is the only one that can help save the town.

The author surrounds Jen with a cast of supporting characters that really bring the story to life, Finnon being one that stands out.  A man of the fae he slips in and out of the realms trying to restore balance by helping Jen. The two develop a relationship that is sweet, but at the same time made me feel uneasy, for I kept imagining Pan coming out of the forest to seduce Jen and then leave her with heartbreak.  Though most of the story is told from Jen’s point of view, the author slips in and out between different supporting characters all closing in on the “source” of the disturbance in the town. This gave me a broader understanding of the story and just added to the buildup as the book reached its ending.

The book is well written, and the story line flowed nicely, though a bit slow in the beginning as I mentioned above, it isn't until you get to the end that the author was building the suspense and fear slowly. The descriptions of how the “Fae” were encroaching on the town left me nervous and uptight. The Fog alone gave me the creeps, and had me wondering what creatures lurk in the fog that surrounds my own town!  Rosemary Firth is a wonderful writer and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

This book is an easy and short read, but worth it and currently FREE on Amazon Kindle you can’t go wrong. With that said I give this book 4 Stars!

            Reviewed by Rayven

 You may purchase "Dark Confluence"  here : DarkissReads Bookstore

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Raytara – Judgement of the Stars by Elke Schuster.

The roles are changing: Bright may not be bright after all when the past catches up with dark sins. But dark isn’t supposed to be the equivalent of bad, or is it? Livia has been an Arash for five months when her perfect life starts to crumble around her. A second Arash family, led by the fierce Philomena, harboring a century-old hatred against Randolph, threatens to destroy them all, while Ruth spills Livia’s best kept secret, wrecking her love affair. Philomena, out for revenge, infiltrates her followers into Randolph’s family, but will everyone fall for the ruse? In the course of events Livia discovers her amazing inexplicable powers but will she be strong enough to save Randolph, who hides more secrets than anyone could guess, from Raytara, the judgment of the stars? Will her best friend Natalie finally find true love in the most unexpected of persons and can Livia save her own love after all? Book Description.

I loved Shadow Hunt, the first in this four book series so was really pleased to get this one for review. Like the first book its action right from the start. We heard briefly of another Arash family in the last book, they really come to the fore here. Its seems this other family have a real hatred of Randolph, head of this family and have been planning revenge on him for a very long time. This places all the family in danger, though its Randolph and Livia that are the main targets. There are lots of secrets, and as they slowly get revealed more and more dangers threaten the once happy family, setting them against one another. Can they get past all these problems and be a happy tight knit group once more, or is the damage permanent?

I love this world, it’s very different from the usual supernatural books, and I really enjoy meeting the characters within it. It’s an interesting mix, and very cleverly put together to provide maximum entertainment for the reader. Thankfully although the series is linked so far each book is complete in itself, with suggestions as to what happen in next one but no awful, horrible, hateful, frustrating cliffhanger endings! I loathe those....Anyway, Livia is learning more about her new world and discovering some unexpected powers. She needs to learn to control them but at the same time she also has a huge, heartbreaking problem. Ruth has spilled her secret about what happened when she and Cassius were briefly apart, and he is distraught at what he learns, and wants nothing to do with her. I love this sort of drama, if a romance is all happy-happy it seems so boring :) so a bit of heartbreak – and this lasts ages in the book – adds so much more to the story and balances out the sweetness. Given time he'd probably be reasonable and think clearly about how confused Livia was at the time especially if he knew what Ruth had told her, but the problems facing the family need his attention right now and he can't take that time. He won't speak to Livia, can she get him to listen and persuade him it was a mistake, and will he let her back into his heart? There's lots of new people to get to know here too, from the new family to the mysterious Rose living in an island off Italy, along with secrets that come out, tumbling one after another and compounding all the difficulties for everyone, problems within both families, mysteries and then the fierce and threatening Raytara being convened. Livia needs all her wits if she's to stay on top of her problems and help her family.

Once again its a fast paced story, full of romance, heartbreak, mysteries and secrets. I didn't envisage half of what happened, Elke certainly kept me guessing about which way the story would go! And that's the sort of reading I like best, stuff that's unpredictable, that keeps me wondering what's going to happen. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series :) esp with that tantalizing glimpse at the end...and its one I’ll definitely keep for re reading. 

Priced at £262/$4.24 for 247 pages its excellent value, being a complex and riveting read that will engage the reader for hours.

Stars: well, five of course!

Reviewed by Midnight Ruby

You may purchase "Raytara" here :DarkissReads Bookstore

Monday, 7 April 2014

Dark Spirit (Spirit Wild Series 2) by Kate Douglas

 Romy Sarika has spent much of her life suffering at the hands of a sadistic cult leader. Twenty years earlier she watched him kill her mother, and now she awaits the same fate. But when the self-proclaimed prophet orders Romy killed, the wolf part of her rises up and for the first time she shifts. Managing to save herself, she leaves death and chaos in her wake.

Alone in the woods and badly injured, Romy is found by Jace Wolf and Gabe Cheval, two powerful and striking Chanku who help her heal and simultaneously unleash sensual desires in her that are as new and intense as her wolf-like abilities. But just as Romy’s opening herself to this new erotic world and the passionate connections she’s forming with both men, danger is closing in.

Bent on revenge and driven by bloodlust, cult members are pursuing the trio. Discovery could mean not just Romy’s death but destruction of the Chanku way of life. With their lives at stake and the Chanku race in jeopardy, the three must fight to save themselves and the future of their proud race. Book description

I really enjoyed the first in this series, Dark Wolf, so was excited to see this up for review. Its a continuation of the series, this time focusing on Chanku pack members and lovers Jace and Gabe. They find Romy in the woods escaping from the horrific life she's had in the religious cult into which she was born. She's near to death, but they manage to save her, and need to help her keep free from the cult members who are out to find and kill her. She knows nothing about Chanku, and has only just realized she can shift to wolf. The men explain to her how she's also Chanku, and offer for her to come back to their pack with them, but to accompany them while they finish their annual wild wolf survey first.

Romy learns so much about herself, not least that the Chanku are a very sexual group, and both healing and shifting create a strong sexual urge that's perfectly natural. They form a close connection with Romy, both sexual and friendly, and Jace feels sure she's his Mate, though he's treading slowly as she's been through so much, and had such a lot of new information thrust at her.

Meeting the two isn't the end of the danger for Romy, the cult members hate shifters and are determined to kill her, and are tracking her, Jace and Gabe with a view to capturing or killing them all. Even though hunting wolves is forbidden on the land they're on, that hasn't stopped them from shooting a wild wolf, and they seem to feel that they are above any law, quoting God as their excuse.

As with book one I really enjoyed this, but with one big, huge, massive stumbling block though. Once again there was some hot and steamy sex scenes both m/f, m/m, and m/f/m so only read if these won't offend you. It’s a good story surrounding the sex scenes too, and I like the way it joins on to the first book, shedding further light on the Chanku and their origins and what they plan to do now humans know about them.

Now for that stumbling block :( I get that there are religious cults that abuse women and children, and I’ve no problem with fiction including that – what I did find hard to take was the fact that Romy was so very, very young when her abuse took place. I'm not saying we should ignore things like this, that's wrong and it’s up to everyone to stand out against it where they can but – I don't like extremes of it cropping up in my fiction. I don't want sanitized, restricted fiction, but there has to be some stop lines and this is one for me. Romy's age when it started was mentioned again, and again, and again and each time it made me feel very uncomfortable even though its fiction. I'm sure this won't bother many people, but for me it was a real factor in bringing down the overall enjoyment of an excellent story. If she'd been 12 or so I could have coped – that's still wrong of course, but I’d have been able to accept it as part of the story more easily. Younger than that just made me feel very uneasy about its inclusion in the story. It's excellent value at £1.86 for 234 pages.

Stars: three and a half. Without that stumbling block I’d have given this four and a half so bear that in mind if you feel differently to me about issues like that.

Reviewed by Midnight Ruby 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. Book description.

I bought this book back in March 2011, totally by mistake... I very rarely buy hardbacks, and certainly not from an author new to me, but I am SO GLAD I made this error as it's still one of my top reads of all time. Then came the kindle – ironically in April 11, Him Indoors kept pushing me to get one, fed up of piles of dusty books....I love it. (am on kindle no three now..) I’ve long wanted to replace my favorite reads with kindle editions, as I find print books really hard to read now due to eye problems. So when I saw this for review I had to request it :) I did a quick review after I’d bought it in mar 11, but that was before my blog/reviewer hobby got started...

So, re reading it brought me back into that fabulous world of shadowy creatures, puzzles to be solved, fabulous characters and houses that have a mind of their own....

Diana is a powerful witch but refuses to train in or use her magic, except for a few occasions, repairing washing machine for example and preventing damage to neighbors flat...then she's researching in the Bodleian one day and can't quite reach the book she needs. It’s getting late, no one is around so she calls for it with magic. Then gets a massive shock when she sees/feels it's spelled, and she's been able to open it. She takes a brief look before returning it, worried about the consequences. Her opening it hasn't gone unnoticed though, it’s a book thought to be lost for hundreds of years, and witches, vampires and daemons all want to get to it, so they start trailing Diana round thinking she'll recall it. Then danger begins from those impatient to stop another group getting their hands on it. Vampire Matthew is curious, he's known about the book, but like others unsure if it was real or not. When he sees Diana recall it he's curious, watches her closely the next few days, and gradually finds himself drawn to her, despite the rules forbidding creatures mixing with each other, and witches and vampires having a long held hatred and mistrust. He protects Diana several times, and gradually she starts to trust him and they fall in love. They decide the only way to stop the danger is to find the book, but when she tries to request it again its gone....lost again supposedly.

Diana is great, I understood her stance on magic, but as she grows more powerful with her magic taking over and causing problems, it’s clear she needs help. Matthew is very old, hundreds of years, so he's seen and done much, and yet he's a very quiet, unassuming vampire on the surface, though his reputation is fearsome. I loved him right from the start, somehow he's so gentlemanly outwardly, but the vampire traits show through, and we see he's so much more than he seems. He's not afraid for himself, but when it comes to his family – and now to Diana – he's incredibly protective, and will take any measures necessary to protect them, even killing should it be needed, and he won't have second thoughts about it. Its that blend of kindness, protectiveness and ruthlessness that makes him so fascinating to me. He's also been researching into gene research among other things, as all the Creatures populations are declining, with births being more and scarce. It’s rumored the missing book holds information on this, and also how to kill vampires, so the vampires are of course very keen not to let others get it.

As always there are good and bad in all segments of creature, and there are some creel and fearsome witches and vampires out to capture Diana, and through her the book. Her parents were killed many years before, and she discovers that their death was not as innocent as she thought, and that humans were not behind it as she'd believed. The search for the book takes them from UK to France and back, and then to Diana's home; along the journey meeting Matthews family, and Diana's aunts who brought her up. There are many other interesting people that join them along the way, and some incredible dangerous ones too, and as Matthew feels more and more protective of Diana, unusual for a vampire and witch, they discover they have feelings for each other and their love story begins. Though the book is mainly their story, and the search for the missing tome, its a fabulous read, introducing some incredible characters, magical – in both ways – story-lines, and of course The House. That's where Diana was brought up and her aunts still live, and it’s an amazing building having a life of its own, adding on rooms and furniture when it thinks visitors coming, and hiding and revealing all manner of things.

It’s not a quick read, took me two-three days - and I read quickly - as it’s so intense and packed with detail. Its 608 pages on kindle for £3.99, and I feel it’s a real bargain and it's one I will (and have) re read over and over. I'm going to re-read the second book which I have in hardback (but may buy kindle version instead, so much easier for me to read on kindle) prior to release of the final part of the trilogy this summer. I'm so looking forward to how the story ends :) It amazes me just how much detail and information Deborah has managed to get into this book, without it becoming at any time dull, boring, an info dump, as so often happens. My brain can only cope with so much before shouting “enough now” and that didn't happen once in this novel (or in book two). She's a really talented author to be able to do this, and still create such a readable, riveting and complex story IMO.

Stars: Five, one that is in my top all time reads.

                                    Reviewed by Midnight Ruby

 You may purchase " A Discovery of Witches" here : DarkissReads Bookstore

Arash: Vol 1. Shadow Hunt by Elke Schuster

You may have met one without even noticing. You may have kissed one and been disappointed that he or she never called you. They may have been Arash. Livia is the black sheep of her family, self-conscious and underachieving. That is, until she meets her new friends: the exuberant Natalie, her brother Rupert, the sculptor, intelligent librarian Will, stunning interior designer Ruth, and arrogant horse breeder Cassius. The group of mismatched friends makes Livia feel as if she may fit in somewhere for the first time in her life. Then she begins to suspect that her so-called friends are not who they claim to be. They hold a secret that could change Livia’s life forever. Will her great love for one of them survive the challenges of becoming an immortal Arash? Will Livia herself manage to survive? Book Description.

I love fantasy books especially those with a romantic element. Of course the genre is swamped with vampires and shape-shifters so something new is always a treat. Elke gives us the Arash, beings who begin as humans and become Arash through careful selection – no bloodsucking and biting involved! Just those who fit certain criteria. Once Arash they can live among humans unnoticed if they are careful not to be seen, and are almost immortal. They can be killed by other Arash but I'm not certain if humans can kill them, certainly there don't seem to be hunters as is usual with vampires and shape-shifters.

This book involves a group of six Arash, who call themselves family and are in close contact. Their selection procedures have shown another suitable candidate is around and they search for him or her. Natalie, the youngest one, befriends Livia thinking she may be the person they seek. Livia has an unhappy background, her mother killed herself when she was a baby and her stepmother and stepsister don't really feel like family. Livia always feels inferior and slightly isolated from both family and her few friends. She is drawn in by Natalie instantly, they seem to get on so well and she can't help liking the vivacious and friendly girl, and the story goes on from there.

It’s a fabulous group of “people” Elke has created, and they have their own very strict rules and laws about how they can behave to each other, and to humans to keep themselves hidden. I really love the concept, it’s fresh and unusual, something different in the well-worn fantasy genre. Elke people are so well drawn they feel real and I immediately felt that I was among them and understood them as real characters, I empathized with poor Livia for feeling at odds with her family and was upset over her relationship breakup – dumped by face-book, sadly this is becoming a modern concept :( Natalie, well who couldn't like her, and her family, the delicious Rupert – attractive but in some ways a bit of a flake, a fence-sitter, then there's Will, he's special, super intelligent and so kind to everyone. Ruth – super-bitch in some ways, she's very anti Natalie and out to prevent her joining the family if she can but in ways that won't be attributed to her, and then Cassius. I loved him from the start, he seems outwardly quite cold but I suspect much of it is self-protective. Of course there's the two others Randolph and Augustus (think that's the names) – we don't see so much of them, they seem to be the “older” generation and though the whole family meet often this book is centered around the younger group mainly. All have their odd quirks but feel real, not cardboard characters but people you could chat to, enjoy a drink or meal with.

The story starts with Livia in some kind of mental institution and I had the horrible feeling it was going to end that way too :( and be one of those “it was all a dream” creations. I hate those, I feel cheated by that as a plot so I was really really glad to be proved wrong. We then meet Livia just before she's contacted by Natalie and slowly the story unfolds. My heart was up sometimes and other times down, as the way Elke writes had me feeling emotions along with the characters, what they felt I felt and I was hoping for things to turn out a certain way. The beginning scenes shows context later in the book and I understood what was happening then and how it fitted the plot.

It’s great that although this is vol one and a scene setter it has a real plot and story-lines, and ends what I call Properly, not a horrible cliffhanger ending but one that ties up neatly although clearly hints at next book. There's a sample of how the next book starts at the end, and that and the content of this one certainly has me drooling with anticipation for what looks to be a fantastic series. Elke, I hope you write quickly as I need more NOW!! :)

Well written and edited and at £3.35 for 288 pages it’s a bargain and definitely one that bears reading over again. One for my keeper files.

Stars: full five, I simply loved this book and devoured it in one long sitting (I am a quick reader and it is the main way I pass the day...). Roll on book two- please :)

                 Reviewed by Midnight Ruby

You may purchase "Arash :Vol 1. here : DarkissReads Bookstore

Monday, 20 January 2014

An Artist's Eye by Clive S. Johnson

Clive S. Johnson
Book 5 of the Dica Series. 
On the day Prescinda leaves the fishing village of Grayden, and her marriage to a man she’s never loved, her return to the old family home of Blisteraising Farm is interrupted. A surprise visit by Nephril brings with it a strange request that he seems reluctant to explain. 
“I know thou hath heard talk of a distant city,” was how he broached it, which seemed more benign than his last request that she "scare someone almost to death". This time she was asked to help Falmeard spy out a rare sight, but one which could very well foretell the end of the realm of Dica, and thereby of existence itself. 
There begins a most strange journey that turns into a race to a discovery that should never have been possible. What finally comes to light places Dica and its people in their true perspective, and reveals an enemy within, an enemy they must defeat. 
But even if Prescinda and her friends succeed, has Dica already been taken too far awry for the damage to be undone? Can they find a way to bring the realm back onto the path to a safe new future, and so keep true to the artist’s eye? Book Description

Mr Johnson forwarded me an advance copy to give an honest review. This I have done, and its as good a review as I have given before for other Titles in the Dica Series. I was surprised in some ways, as there are only a few Authors that have been as consistent as this, and what more could the Dica world offer? Well I was very pleasantly surprised.

The characters are as good as ever, well described, with individual personalities which keep surprising. As with all of the previous books, the writing just leaps off the page, the intricate story addictive, characters both old and new absorbing. This story shows areas of Dica previously undiscovered to us the reader, and some that I would never have thought of. It’s as though a microscope has been used to show layers previously not thought of, and to great effect. I find it hard to say anything that I haven't said before, so just to say highly recommended, a series that should be a must to read, and I look forward to whatever springs from this Authors imagination.

                  Reviewed by Cardmon 

You may purchase " An Artist's Eye " here : DarkissReads Bookstore