Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Fear was a heavy hand at my back, panic was a breath on my neck."

Donners of the DeadDonners of the Dead by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If asked to describe Donners of the Dead in three words, these would be them: Unique, Intense and strange.

Allow me to specify how much each word encompasses my thoughts regarding Donners of the Dead:

Unique: this story is set in the Old West in 1851, and told from Eve's POV. She is 18 years old. Her father is aboriginal and her mother isn't, thus, she combines her unique traits inherited from both. She has good abilities to track, complemented with hunches and very good instincts. She carries her mixed heritage and she lives with her mother, uncle, aunt, cousin and a friendly helper at her uncle's ranch.

I'm not a very keen fan of the history of the colonization of North America. Furthermore, I keep a healthy distance towards historic colonial settlements and pioneers. Is not for lack of interest in history (I am a sociocultural anthropologist), but these events are really not my cup of tea. As such, I was a tiny bit reluctant to read this story. However, let me tell you how gladly wrong I was. It was strange and awesome. The fact that this was full of tidbits of historical events with the promise of zombies, made it one of a kind for me.

Also, the little shotgun drawings that break each section of the text, did an excellent job in setting that creepy mood:

Intense: In this book you get little dwelling time to adjust to its pace, as it starts with a very unsettling scene with a horse, and carries you non-stop in a chilling (both literary and figuratively) cold quest for uncovering a mysterious disappearance.
The relationships between most characters are powerful. They fall between disdainful, compassionate, violent, untrustable, greedy, maddened, hopeful and caring. These emotions are carefully packed and ready to take off on each paragraph. Obviously, I really really really enjoyed certain Texas Ranger's enthusiasm towards our Eve. What can I say? I'm a complete sucker for sexy-swoony-times.

Strange: It's dark, mysterious and very freaky. You've got this remote setting where you know something horrible happened. You can almost taste the uneasiness inside this story's pages. My little reading heart was close to combustion once I started, as I was unable to stop. I read this book in one day. A fantastic way to devote 8 hours of your day. It's was so creepy!
I'm unsure if I'll be able to have egg-soup anytime soon...

This book caught me off guard and I'm so glad it did!

In sum, this book is good for anyone wanting to spend some time in the Old West's 19th century with a very frightening mystery, a very unique heroine and a very sexy Texas Ranger.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

body ink - book inspired

Mhhh I'm getting that ink bug again.... What better thing to carry than your own personal book!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My sucker-punched soul

Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #4)Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


^^^ initial reaction after finishing....

Current status: -_-

The past weekend I devoured book #3 & #4 of the Chicagoland vampire series.

I'm emotionally drained. This series is definitely one of my favourite vampire Urban Fantasies, as it caters to all the needs of my greedy reading obsessions:

1) A beautifully described setting, Chicago: haven't been there but I'm dreaming of walking its streets and sampling most of the food that Merit (our main character) loves. This book pays homage to this urban conglomerate with style.

2) Impeccable writing. English is my second language, thus I always appreciate when books teach me fancy new words. I'm both flummoxed and discombobulated by this series. [See what I did there?]

3) Vampires Mon amour! This House system where a Master has control & takes care of the vampires it created, is wonderful. It combines all the paranormal stuff I like with a hint if drama, politics and sexual tension. Brilliant!

4) Food. Lots and lots and lots of it! Surprising enough for a vampire themed story, where you asume that blood is the main course.

Last night I went to bed seething. The poor husband had to calm the beast this book created, with patient soothing words. After a 15 mins rant of me telling him why I was so agitated he smartly remarked:

"Basically, you didn't see it coming? Well, that's good, right? Isn't this why we love A Game of Thrones? Because is ruthless and unexpected?"

Silently, I had to agree.

Chloe Neill, you are a smart ruthless author. My consolation, I already have in my greedy hands Drink Deep(book #5).

Off to salvaging my sucker-punched soul.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Godstones and coconut scones

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have an undying love for high fantasy, naturally, the trilogy 'Fire and Thorns' feeds directly into this sentiment. There are few series that have me speechless and this one ..... Oh weeee, *clap-clap* my respect. I sit in awe after finishing this book trying to find any words that sum up how much I enjoyed it. So far, instalment #2, the 'Crown of Embers' was as good (and much more) than the first one.

Elisa has to face the aftermath of the events from book #1 in Brisadulce. Her queendom is tainted by the knowledge that the Invernos are still looming and she feels a bit lost. This is vague, I know, but I wish to spoil as little as possible.

If you haven't started this series, I encourage you to do so. If not for the high fantasy, with its beautiful scenes, strong characters and crafty plot; then, for the richness of the meals it describes. Here are a few examples of mouthwatering dishes served in this book:

Honey-coconut scones, shredded chicken, corn tortillas (pollo pibil), sticky date pops, meat pies, pistachios, goat cheese omelet with diced scallions and red peppers, salted meat, coconut milk with honey and cinnamon ... and the infamous jerboa soup that got me very curious.

Who wouldn't want to sit down an enjoy with Elisa all these delicious meals?

I volunteer!!

But while I find her in the next book, The Bitter Kingdom, I'll try to make her favourite dish: coconut scones

Here is a recipe I found from the Food Network

Total Time: 40 min
Prep: 23 min
Cook: 17 min
Yield: 20
Level: Easy

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 cups shredded coconut
3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 cups pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup confectioners' sugar


For the Scones:
Make the scones: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and shredded coconut in a bowl. Beat in the butter with a mixer on low speed, then raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is in coarse crumbles.

Whisk the coconut milk, eggs and coconut extract in another bowl, then stir into theflour mixture until just combined. Stir in the pecans; do not overmix.

Scoop 2-to-3-inch mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (a large ice cream scoop works well for this). Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes.

For the Glaze:
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk the coconut milk, coconut and vanilla extracts and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl until smooth, adding more sugar as needed to thicken. Drizzle over the scones while still slightly warm.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

'Demons can sense you like catnip'

Most Wanted: A fantasy romance (The Shadow Blade series, #1)Most Wanted: A fantasy romance by E.L Friel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'He had a body to die for. Well, not to die for, because no man was worth dying for'

This pretty much sums up the roller-coaster of action pack (and so very sexy) events that unfold through the book 'Most Wanted'.

I randomly picked up this book after I saw a great twitter recommendation and review from Shaheen (speculatef on Twitter). After a quick checklist: sexy demon slayer, powerful kickass heroine, vampires and lots of hot sexy promises, handsome half naked guy on the cover; I was sold on this book and used that handy evil 1-click-buying option for Kindle.

It's written from two POV's. We get acquainted with Ariel McQueen, a very strong minded skilled bounty hunter. She has a very tortured and complicated life. My heart both ached and cheered for her! Reading what's in her head was fun.

Then, we cozy up with mister I-am-noble-sexy-and-demon-hunter, Jax Slayer. A pretty much badass name. His POV is just so enjoyable! I was delighted with his prowess as a fighter (both wen facing a vampire and a fierce Ariel) and of course his sexy manoeuvres. Mhhh this book has a lot of pages devoted to very carefully describing each sexual encounter between these two, and let me tell you ...*soaking face in cold water* it was good!

This book was short, but delivered what it promised. I really look forward to read more adventures (and sexy-times) between these two.

I'll just finish off with this funny catchphrase that talks a lot about Ariel and her sense of humour: 'demons can sense you like catnip'.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Necromancer's way

Shadows of AsphodelShadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was prepared to have a Saturday full of errands and husband-time, when I innocently decided to start 'Shadows of Asphodel'. I had this book in my TBR list for some time, as I had contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that made it possible.

Suddenly, 9 hours and 7 minutes afterwards I have been rendered speechless. It's been a while since I sat down and devoured a book from start to finish! And this is impossible to stop!!! I's addictive!! My whole day was well spent savouring every single word written in this book! I want more, and I want it now!! I would happily fund again another Kickstarter campaign in order to have more of Ardis and Wendel.

Let me start by telling you why this book made my day:

It felt real!!!

I know, it's a dieselpunk world... It has magic, a (hot as hell) necromancer and a magic sword, alongside some zeppelins. But wow. The worldbuilding of this story is flawlessly crafted, the characters are solid and the plot is very fast paced. I predicted some 'revelations' that were nicely hinted, but in the overall scheme, it was glorious and epic.

I have read books that touch upon. alternate history with hints of fantasy, and Shadows of Asphodel will definitely go into my top favourite ones. I also enjoy reading a lot from indie authors and I believe Karen Kincy nailed beautifully. This book deserves to be read more.... I might go back and re-read those hot scenes... They are just swoon-worthy!

Now, I'll just go to bed and dream of blood-magic and smoke daggers.

I'm sort of grateful Shadows of Asphodel still doesn't have a sequel out, I do need to get some stuff done tomorrow!

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Army of Me

Horde (Razorland, #3)Horde by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tips for reading Horde:

1) Find the song 'Army of Me' by Björk. Play it while reading its lyrics. Start reading (this way you'll have a fun song to relate when Deuce kicks ass).

2) Embrace the story about the wizard in the cupboard and rejoice on how subtle Ann Aguirre brings our present, into this fictional future. Yes, this was Harry Potter!

3) Have a box of tissues ready.

4) Try to avoid reading before you sleep. You may be haunted by nightmares... The descriptions are so real (and gory).

5) Make sure you'll not be interrupted by the last half of it, once you hit the chapter called 'Pledge', you'll be bound to finish!

6) You'll learn where Fade's father comes from ;)

7) Find a fresh box of tissues just for the Epilogue.

8) Declare your undying fealty to Ann Aguirre and her awesomeness by putting the 'Razorland Trilogy' on a shiny pedestal in your library (even if it's an electronic one).

9) Eat some cherries!

As you can imagine by the above list, Horde was everything I hoped for 10x more. I can't believe I waited this much to dive into it.

I'll save you precious time that you can devote to reading. Here are the lyrics for Björk's 'Army of Me':

"stand up
you've got to manage
i won't sympathize

and if you complain once more
you'll meet an army of me

you're allright
there's nothing wrong
self-sufficience please!
and get to work

and if you complain once more
you'll meet an army of me

you're on your own now
we won't save you
your rescue-squad
is too exhausted

and if you complain once more
you'll meet an army of me"

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Review: Taste of Darkness

Taste of Darkness (Healer, #3)Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me quite a while to remember all the events and characters present in the previous books. I had to go back quite a few times to find what certain place, character and event meant, to refresh my mind while reading this last book of the Healer series. I would definitely recommend that you have the previous books fresh in your head so you'll have a most enjoyable experience.
Otherwise, this was good! I really felt it did a good job in taking us to all the cool places and events Maria V Snyder built for this series!
We start immediately after Kerrick dissapears. Avry is struggling to find him. And complicated stuff happens: How to win a war against an undead army?
We navigate through this book with different POV's of Avry and Kerrick, switching back and forth in key little cliffhangers; a writting style that is familiar to most of Maria's books.

That huge amount of secondary and supporting characters play interesting roles within this book. For example Flea shines with his character development of finding and embracing his powers. I kind of felt that Ryne was a douche and I quite never understood why he behaved the way he did with Avry. I'm being vague, of course, cause I won't spoil much, however, let me be clear: prince Ryne, you're a nasty condescending man (er, fictional character).

My favourite adventure in this book was the visit to the Monastery Of Chinksa Made to find Melina. Koodos for creating such a vivid description of events!!!

There are things that felt unresolved. But in overall, I think I had my mind satisfied with this finale.

Count me in for any future book, story, novella Maria publishes!!

The publishers, generously provided me this ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Harlequin MIRA.

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