Saturday, 26 April 2014

India Black by Carol K. Carr

“It is amazing what a woman can do if only she ignores what men tell her she can’t.” - India Black.

As soon as I started this book, I knew I would love it. Narrated by Ms Black, we are drawn into wintry Victorian London where she is kept busy managing her brothel Lotus House. Chaos ensues when a regular customer, who also happens to be a government official, dies of a heart attack in her establishment. 

In her attempt to get rid of the body and avoid the attentions of the police, she ends up getting caught up with more government official instead. It transpires that top secret information has been stolen whilst under her roof, and so India has no choice but to help get it back.

She teams up with a handsome British agent known as French, who she finds equally alluring and annoying. Her involvement becomes deeper and deeper and she becomes caught in a web of politics, spies and assassins that sees her on her way to becoming a madam of espionage. 

From the moment India Black began her tale, I fell in love with her character. Sassy, sarcastic and clever, she suffers no fools and always likes to have the last word. Her flirtatious banter and interaction with the mysterious French is pleasurable to read and I can’t wait to see what further books have in store for them. 

There are plenty of interesting characters sprinkled throughout and I loved how each has their own agenda which is not always apparent. There is lots of rich historical detail, political undertones, romance, crime and adventure, spun together by witty prose with saucy undertones. This story is cheeky in parts without being vulgar, and the level of sex (quite low) suited the overall manner of the story.

I really enjoyed this Madam of Espionage debut and I already have a copy of the second book, India Black and the Widow of Windsor, which I can’t wait to get stuck into. For a light hearted and naughty yet thrilling read, you should definitely give India Black a try. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Unwoven by Jack Croxall

It was back in March 2013 (seems so long ago!) when I first read and reviewed Tethers by Jack Croxall, the first installment of his YA trilogy. 

In Tethers we are introduced to teenagers Esther and Karl who, after discovering a mysterious journal, are thrust into an adventure that sends them far from home; learning to fight, uncovering hidden gifts and battling villains. 

Unwoven is set eighteen months later, back in their quiet home town, and Karl and Esther are not talking to each other any longer. On the night that Esther’s sister is throwing her engagement party, trouble rides into the quiet town and what follows throws the teenagers back together; one in pursuit of an ongoing mystery and one on the hunt for revenge. 

Their adventure takes them riding across the country and sailing overseas, trying to piece together a riddle from a dead man. The adventure ahead of them seems even more challenging than the last, and equally even more dangerous. I was hooked into this book even more than the first one. 

For me, Tethers set up the characters and the premise, and Unwoven is action packed and thrilling. Esther is still my favourite character; she has all the elements of a kick-ass, feisty heroine that I adore in a female lead. I felt Karl took a bit more of a back seat in this story, although maybe he’ll come into his own in the last book....! 

I thought the first book was had a lot of steampunk elements, as well as historical. I found Unwoven to be a much more historical themed book, making the tale more traditional and grounded. The characters are all well developed; I like that the good guys are honest and brave, and the villains are wonderfully dastardly! 

Full of action and intrigue, I raced through Unwoven and it will definitely leave you in anticipation for the last book! A great read for YA and historical readers.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Beautiful Day Giveaway

I recently reviewed Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony and I really enjoyed this heartfelt tale. It tells of Rachel, who’s struggling to manage her home life after the breakdown of her marriage, with her new job at a care home for adults. She becomes the key worker for Phillip, a man with severe learning difficulties who has just lost the only person in the world who ever cared for him. Thrown in together at the deep end, Rachel and Phillip both have a journey ahead of them to find their happiness in life. This book exceeded all my expectations and was a true pleasure to read. 

I’m very happy to be able to offer you the chance to win a copy of this wonderful book! There are two ways to enter (you can do both!) which are as follows:
  •       Follow me on Twitter (@booksbutterfly) and retweet any post that mentions Beautiful Day (feel free to retweet all of them if you want!)


Must have completed both parts on Twitter or Facebook to be in with a chance. Open internationally! Entries close at 6pm on Monday 21st April. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Tuesday 22nd April.

Good luck!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony

I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I’m ashamed to say I did with this one. I took one look at the pretty, colourful, nature-tastic facade and decided it would be a standard chick-lit; a flowery romance strung together over 300-odd pages. 

When I finally got round to starting Beautiful Day I cursed myself for not reading it sooner. It really wasn't what I expected and I couldn't put it down.

Rachel Bidewell is still coming to terms with the end of her marriage and is juggling the responsibilities of her household (three young children and a moody au pair) with her new job at Clifton Avenue care home. She becomes the key worker for Phillip, a man with learning difficulties who has just lost the only person in the world who cared for him. 

When Rachel and Phillip meet for the first time, she knows she has her work cut out, but she is determined to help Phillip progress and catch up on the years he has lost. All the while, she is coping with the demands of family life and she finds herself in her own dark days. Both Rachel and Phillip have a journey ahead of them, and the unlikely pairing may help them find their own happiness. 

I loved the character of Rachel. I've yet to experience marriage and having children of my own, but I felt like I was right there with her; despairing when she despaired and happy with her at her triumphs. Beautiful Day is powered by substantial and loveable characters that you can’t help but get emotionally involved with. 

This book is heart wrenching at times; the theme of adult mental health and the trials and tribulations of broken family life run strong throughout the story, making it realistic and engaging to read. The prose is naturally funny; taking you on a rollercoaster of highs and lows as Rachel and Phillip’s entwined tales take shape. 

This is a fantastic debut novel and I was sad when I got to the end. Emotionally fraught, yet uplifting and hopeful, Beautiful Day is a worthwhile read that will move you to laughter and to tears page after page.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

Having enjoyed Tanya Huff’s work before, I was very happy to be offered another supernatural series from this popular Canadian author. I really loved the Blood Books series as a teenager and back in January, I reviewed the first in fantastic werewolf-mage series, The Silvered, which I really can’t recommend enough. 

From the beginning we are introduced to the hectic world of the Gale family; a collection of meddling aunties and rebellious siblings and cousins who are all magically linked. Having been recently unemployed, twenty-four year old Alysha Gale is unexpectedly bequeathed a junk shop by her grandmother and jumps at the change to escape from her interfering relatives. 

When she arrives, she finds that her troubles are only just beginning, what with dragons circling the city, an egotistical sorcerer throwing his weight around and a haggard leprechaun she is desperate to save. As well as the supernatural sidelines, this is Allie’s time to grow up, develop her powers and carve a place for herself in the world, both magically and personally.

I’m sad to say that I really struggled to get into this book. There are a lot of characters and I kind of found the incestuous nature of the Gale family a bit disturbing. I also found like there seemed to be a lot left unexplained. There are lots of references to rituals and other family related things but I didn’t see how some things were connected and I felt like maybe there should have been a previous book to this one with a bit more meet-the-Gales content! 

However there are some good points too and I don’t want to write a purely negative review, as the book does warrant more than that. Alysha Gale is a wily heroine. She’s not my favourite character but I did end up routing for her, despite her occasional poor decision making! I like that even though sometimes not very well informed, Tanya Huff has created an original world for this urban fantasy and defined new rules for sorcerers, fey folk and other supernatural characters. I loved the idea of Dragon Lords; how can anything with dragons not be cool? 

I think as the start to a series, this was a bit hit and miss for me, especially as I enjoyed Tanya Huff’s other books so much. I already have the second in the series, The Wild Ways, which I will definitely try, just to see if I get into more now I know the main characters. 

If you like Kelley Armstrong or Kim Harrison, then this may be your type of thing. If anyone else has read this book, I would love to know your opinion, whether you agree with me or not!