“The Library of Shadows” by Mikkel Birkegaard

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard starts with the strange death of bookshop owner Luca Campelli. His son, Jon, who hasn’t seen his father since he was fostered after the suicide of his mother twenty years ago, inherits the shop, but is immediately drawn into the secret society of people who can affect your thoughts and feelings when you read or when they read to you, and somebody is trying to destroy them, his father having been their latest victim, and is soon in a fight for his own life.

When I bought this book a few years ago, it was purely based Continue reading

“666 Charing Cross Road” by Paul Magrs

An author I discovered through Doctor Who is Paul Magrs. I read a couple of his Brenda and Effie books last year, and thoroughly enjoyed them, and have had him on my wishlist ever since. When choosing my recent new book purchases, I couldn’t resist trying his latest novel 666 Charing Cross Road. Shelley works in an obscure Manhattan art gallery, and for her first exhibition as a curator, Women and Madness she finds the oddly strange sculpture, The Scottish Bride, in storage in the basement of the museum and it proves a crowd attracting exhibit. Meanwhile, her aunt Liza (who reads books for a living!) loves supernatural and paranormal fantasy books, but bored with all the specialist shops only selling new authors, she is delighted when her new friend Jack stumbles upon an advert for the antiquarian bookshop at 666 Charing Cross Road. When they send her an unusual tome she never ordered, Liza finds it unsettling and repellent, and Shelley’s boyfriend Daniel takes it off her hands, and sets in motion a chain of horrifying events, which will change all their lives.

An absolutely cracking book! Magrs British humour mixed in to a pan Atlantic story of supernatural powers and creatures, with believable characters who you want to spend time with, and generally a fantastic romp of a story. By far my favourite character has to be Aunt Liza, not only because she has the perfect job – reading books! – but she’s delightfully eccentric, quick witted and with a wicked tongue, she also has an unknown past which reveals itself gradually as the story progresses.

There is a small amount of sexual content and occasional violent scenes, but none are too graphic, and are essential to the story with nothing gratuitous.

Although I think this is intended to be a stand alone novel, I wonder if we’ll see some of the characters in different stories or even appear in some of his other series of books in the future. I, for one, would definitely love to read more with Liza in the future.

“Never The Bride” by Paul Magrs

Date finished: 6th June 2011

I’d been on the lookout for Never The Bride by Paul Magrs for a while, as it’s the first in a series of books which I’d kept coming across the third or fourth book in a bookshop and would be really interested, only to find out they didn’t have the first book.

Brenda has finally settled down to spend her twilight years running a B&B in Whitby. Her best friend and next door neighbour, Effie, is a pensioner who runs a bric-a-brac shop, and the two of them often get together to go for tea at the local theme hotel where every day is Christmas. One day, one of the waitresses at the hotel spends a chunk of her savings getting a make over at a new, but rather strange, beauty salon in town and seems to look twenty years younger, Brenda and Effie are curious and decide to find out more. With Brenda as the narrator, we find out more about her own story as well as solving the mystery of the devilish beauty shop, the missing elves and just why Whitby seems to be the inspiration for the original vampire tale.

I loved how there are three or four mysteries within the book, and as the story goes on, the hints at Brenda’s history gradually reveal themselves and you learn all about where she has come from. I know Paul Magrs from his Doctor Who books, and I’d been wanting to read this for a while, and I’m so glad I now have, as you get a very British sense of humour mixed in with the fantasy of the story and characters, and it’s all in a very ordinary setting, just like the best Doctor Who stories.

A supernatural, comic mystery set in the usually sedate resort with an elderly cast of characters and a charming and quirky heroine, this was a cracking start to a series I know I’m going to love, and I can’t wait to make a start on book two!

“Ghost Town” by Rachel Caine

This is the latest in the Morganville Vampire series. Claire Danvers has moved to Morganville to attend college there, but has ended up an unwillingly embroiled in the vampire politics of the local community. As the series has gone on, Claire’s fate has become almost inevitably entwined with the Founder of Morganville. The vampires in this series are for the most part, every bit as menacing and dangerous as their kind should be, making for a spine tingling thriller of a plot.

I’ve loved every one of this series of YA books, they’re funny and exciting, and there is a genuine sense of peril for the characters up against the strained relationships between the humans and vampires. A quick, easy read, I know, but the pages just whizz by as I get caught up in Claire’s story. I wondered how Caine would continue the series as the first six or seven books had a cliffhanger to take you on to the next book each time, and the last couple of books have had an uneasy conclusion but didn’t leave you on the edge of your seat exclaiming, “You can’t leave it there!!!!”, but I have liked how she’s developed what’s happening in Morganville. This one doesn’t leave you on tenterhooks as such, but it does leave you feeling you know what the next book will be about, but not how she’ll deal with it.

“Captivate” by Carrie Jones

[SPOILER ALERT for the previous book in the series Need]

Captivate is the second book in this YA supernatural series about pixies and shape shifters. In the first book Need, teenager Zara is having a tough time after witnessing the death of her beloved stepfather and moves in with her grandmother to try and move on with her life. A mystery involving teenage boys going missing leads Zara to find out that she is the daughter of a Pixie king. She also learns that pixies are not the only supernatural creatures in the world, but shapeshifters in the form of wolves, bears, eagles and tigers exist as well. At the beginning of this second instalment, Zara and her friends are holding her father and his pixies in captivity, but this means her fathers kingdom is weak, and it’s not long before the arrival of another pixie king looking to take over the territory. Zara must find a way to keep herself and her friends safe from the war that is brewing in this supernatural tale.

I have to admit, after I read the first book in the series, I thought I probably wouldn’t bother with any more, but I ended up choosing it as the free book in a 3 for 2 offer. It was okay, but nothing more. The author did surprise me with the direction she took with Zara’s story, as I thought it would be exactly the suspense of how to keep her from the action she ends up taking that would keep the series going, so now I’m sort of intrigued to see the next instalment as well. Having said that, I’ve read a lot of books in this genre since the accursed Twilight saga got it claws (or should that be fangs) into me, and this series ranks very low down on my favourites. There is a third book out now, and a fourth planned, and although I am mildly interested in following it up, I’m not going to be rushing out to buy it at the moment.

The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare

The three books, City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass make up the Mortal Instruments trilogy and I think they really warrant reading all three fairly close together and immerse yourself in the world that Cassandra Clare has created.

The world itself is the world we know, but there is a hidden side to it. Our way into the story is through Clary, and New York teenager and her best friend Simon, who after witnessing a murder, suddenly find out about the world of demons, angels, vampires and werewolves. The mundanes (humans) in the story are oblivious to this hidden world that exists all around them, but for some reason, Clary starts to be able to see through the glamour, and is drawn to the mysterious Jace.

I enjoyed reading these books, there were interesting characters and the secrecy of the Shadowhunters in the mundane society made the adventure seem all the more exciting. The epic nature of their quest makes for a thrilling adventure, and I loved that each of the characters has their own part to play and their own story which contributes to making them feel real and alive.

I loved the relationship between Jace and Clary, and had sort of guessed how it would be resolved, just not sure of the exact details, and I lost my heart to Simon with all the things that happened to him throughout the story.

However, I did find the concept of Idris and Alicante a bit confusing – was it part of our world or a different one altogether? Maybe I missed something in the explanation of it, but I didn’t really understand how it worked.

Now, this is a very strange observation I know, but there was an episode of a Victoria Wood television series about 20 years ago called “We’d Quite Like To Apologise…” about getting stuck in an airport waiting for a flight for a holiday to Alicante in Spain, and the association with that was so strong for me, that I couldn’t help but smirk at the reference each time Alicante was mentioned. Was the Alicante in Idris supposed to be the same Alicante in the real world of Spain? I’m sure this wouldn’t bother anyone else who read the books, but unfortunately, it just took me out of the story occasionally.

On the whole though, a very satisfying series of books, and I’ve recently heard that another two books have been commissioned by the publishers, but I haven’t seen any more details, so it will be interesting to see where she takes the story. I’m also looking forward to the prequels, the first one due out in a few weeks time, called Clockwork Angels.

“Waking The Witch” by Kelley Armstrong

Waking The Witch is young witch Savannah’s first full length story, and follows her as she decides to cover her first solo investigation unbeknownst to Paige and Lucas who are enjoying a well deserved holiday. I loved how Armstrong shows Savannah trying to prove that she has conquered her hot-headed, impetuous nature and act like a mature, experienced investigator, all the while making some mistakes and some enemies along the way.

Lots of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes, the story of the case is pacy enough to keep you turning the pages leading to an almost Scooby Doo style reveal at the end, something I certainly hadn’t seen coming, and it is left with the promise of more Savannah stories to come.

I’ve never been disappointed by a Kelley Armstrong book yet, and this was no exception. A worthy addition to the Women of the Otherworld series.