Cassandra Khaw – Bearly a Lady

Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month.

Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks. Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to?

Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague.

What’s a werebear to do?

Cassandra Khaw’s Bearly a Lady is the 3rd publication in the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative. It looked amazing and the blurb —with its Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones meets Teenwolf vibe with bonus Fae — made it sound like it would be just too much fun! And the blurb absolutely delivered. This book reminded me so much of the late nineties/early oughts chick lit I loved and provided me with the same happy feelings at the end of the book that they did. And like many of the books I loved at the time, Bearly a Lady hides some crunch amid the fluff.  Read More …

A Quartet of Shorts

reviewamnestyMy huge plan to catch myself up on reviews during my vacation has gone hopelessly awry, in fact I think I’m even more behind now than I was when I started. Partially that’s because life, but it was also because I read a number of shorter works when we were travelling and they sort of added up. So I bundled a number of them and I present you with a quartet of shorts!  Read More …

Zen Cho – The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo & The Terracotta Bride

zencho-perilouslifeofjadeyeoFor writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr — until she pillories London’s best-known author in a scathing review. Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome, and more intrigued than annoyed. But if Jade succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom — and her best chance for love. 

Zen Cho’s novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo isn’t actually an SFF story. In fact, it is a romance told through diary entries. And it is delightful! Set in 1920s London, our main character is a young  Malaysian woman who went to university in Britain and now is trying to make it as a writer. One of her gigs is writing reviews, so that immediately created a connection obviously, but Jade is wonderful in lots of ways. She’s funny, snarky, independent and prepared to defend her independence fiercely.  Read More …

Review Amnesty: YA Edition

reviewamnestyMy second post in my Review Amnesty series is all about YA. What is a review amnesty you might wonder? Well, it is a phrase I coined for the books that stacked up in a review back log when I had my blogging hiatus last year. They became a stumbling block to getting back into the swing of things, so I decided to give myself an out and call a review amnesty, meaning I’d only review the books with the most basic of reviews, so I could share my thoughts without having to reread the books, some of which I’d read over six months ago. So, two down, one to come!  Read More …

Jennifer E. Smith – The Geography of You and Me

jenniferesmith-thegeographyofyouandmeOwen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking…

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can’t shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can’t, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy – and pain – of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

Having enjoyed Jennifer E. Smith’s previous books The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like tremendously, when I got the chance to request The Geography of You and Me for review I jumped on it. And Smith’s third YA offering doesn’t disappoint. With an easy writing style and some quirky playing with chapter lengths, The Geography of You and Me offers a charming exploration of love at (almost) first sight, but also of two young people trying to find their feet in the world independent of their families.  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: YA January-March

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a permanent part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the first one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Read More …

Jennifer E. Smith – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

jenniferesmith-thestatisticalprobabilityofloveatfirstsightWho would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn’t forgotten the book. Or if there hadn’t been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn’t fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she’d run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else – the weather over the Atlantic or a fault with the plane?

Hadley isn’t sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it’s the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver…

Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

One of my favourite YA novels last year was Jennifer E. Smith’s This is What Happy Looks Like. It was the perfect read for a blue day, which had me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. So when I saw Smith’s previous YA novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight as a Read Now title on Netgalley I jumped on it. And it was every bit as good and as fun as I expected it to be. It also hit me right in the feels as I connected quite strongly to Hadley’s feelings about her dad, as it reminded me of my own relationship with my dad at her age.  Read More …

Rebecca Mascull – The Visitors

rebeccamascull-thevisitorsAdeliza Golding is a deafblind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father’s hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, whom she has christened the Visitors. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.

Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie’s beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.

One of my biggest fears is losing my sight. The thought of losing my vision and the ability to read and to watch my girls freaks me out even to contemplate. So when I read the above cover copy for Rebecca Mascull’s debut novel The Visitors, I was immediately captured by the visual of this little girl completely cut off from sight and sound and I wondered how Mascull would portray her and let her tell her story, as from glancing at the first few pages I’d seen the book was told in Liza’s first-person perspective. The answer to that question is beautifully. I found Liza’s story haunting and evocative and if it hadn’t been for the pesky need for sleep and the fact that I have two toddlers running around, I would have finished this book in one sitting.  Read More …

Jacqueline Koyanagi – Ascension

jacquelinekoyanagi-ascensionAlana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

Whenever Jacqueline Koyanagi’s debut Ascension is talked about, the first thing that comes up is the fact that it has lots of elements so sorely lacking from a lot of genre fiction – LGBT people, people of colour, people with disabilities – united in its female protagonist. This raised expectations highs for the story, expectations that the book certainly met. I had a lot of fun with this book. Alana is a great protagonist and I loved the themes of love and acceptance, both of others and yourself that Konayagi wove through the narrative. In addition, there is a seriously steamy romance, which I really loved.  Read More …

Helen Maryles Shankman – The Color of Light [Blog Tour]

helenmarylesshankman-thecoloroflightAt the American Academy of Classical Art, popular opinion has it that the school’s handsome and mysterious founder, Raphael Sinclair, is a vampire. It is a rumor Rafe does nothing to dispel.

Scholarship student Tessa Moss has long dreamed of the chance to study at Rafe’s Academy. But she is floundering amidst the ups and downs of a relationship with egotistical art star Lucian Swain.

Then, one of Tessa’s sketches catches Rafe’s attention: a drawing of a young woman in 1930s clothing who is covering the eyes of a child. The suitcase at her feet says Wizotsky. Sofia Wizotsky, the love of Rafe’s life, was lost during the Holocaust. Or was she? Rafe suspects Tessa may be the key to discovering what really happened.

As Rafe finds excuses to interact with Tessa, they quickly discover they cannot deny their growing attraction to one another. It is an attraction forbidden by the Academy Board and disapproved of by anyone familiar with Rafe’s playboy reputation and Tessa’s softhearted innocence. But what if fate has other plans for Tessa and Rafe? What if they break all rules to succumb to a passion that defies history?

Helen Maryles Shankman’s The Color of Light wasn’t what I’d expected it to be and yet it was an intriguing read. When I first read the blurb above, I’d expected there to be quite a large historical component to the book. An expectation that was proven wrong; in fact only about a sixth of the book could be classified as purely historical – if one disregards the supernatural presence of vampires, that is – the rest of it is set in its own contemporary setting of 1992. This leaves us with a supernatural romance set at an art school in New York with a historical gloss to its narrative and honestly, this isn’t the sort of book I’d normally pick up. But I certainly don’t regret reading The Color of LightRead More …