Tag: urban fantasy books

April Book Haul

I recently discovered https://thebookshop.ie/ thanks to Books and Charms so this is where all of my money will probably be going from now on. The Bookshop.ie sells second-hands from as little as 50c (but mostly about €2) and they are based in Ireland so shipping is nice and fast for me AND if you spend €20 shipping is free. So of course I picked up a few books.

A Place of Stones by Deirdre Purcell Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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A Place of Stones by Deirdre Purcell

An instant bestseller in Ireland and England, here is “an unputdownable story of Irish life and love” (Maeve Binchy). Molly new nothing of her real past. For all she knew, she was a true-blue Irishwoman. When she traveled to America as a rising star of the screen, she fell in love with an irresistible American, not knowing that their love could only lead to a nightmare, and the truth of who Molly really was.

Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits-talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren’t usually dangerous; they just like to talk…a lot.

The undead are another matter.

Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she’s forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection.

The undead senators won’t help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire-and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay…

Embrace the Night by Karen Chance

Recently named the world’s chief clairvoyant, Cassandra Palmer still has a thorn in her side. As long as Cassie and a certain master vampire – the sizzling-hot Mircea – are magically bound to each other, her life will never be her own …

The spell that binds them can only be broken with an incantation found in the Codex Merlini, an ancient grimoire. The Codex’s location has been lost in the present day, so Cassie will have to seek it out in the only place it can still be found – the past.

But Cassie soon realizes the Codex has been lost for a reason. The book is rumored to contain dangerous spells, and retrieving it may help Cassie to deal with Mircea, but it could also endanger the world…

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton

My name is Meredith Gentry, but of course it’s not my real name. I dare not even whisper my true name after dark for fear that one hushed word will travel over the night winds to the soft ear of my aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness. She wants me dead. I don’t even know why…

I fled the high court of Faerie three years ago and have been in hiding ever since. As Merry Gentry, I am a private investigator for the Grey Detective Agency: Supernatural Problems, Magical Solutions. My magical skills, scorned at the courts of Faerie, are valued in the human world. Even by human standards, my magic isn’t flashy, which is fine by me. Flashy attracts attention and I can’t afford that.

Rumour has it that I am dead. Not quite. I am Princess Meredith NicEssus. To speak that name after dark is to call down a knock upon your door from a hand that can kill you with a touch. I have been careful, but not careful enough. The shadows have found me, and they are going to take me back home, one way or another.

So the running is over. But the fighting has just begun…

Rich, sensual, brimming with dangerous magic, A Kiss of Shadows is a dazzling tour-de-force where folklore, fantasy and erotically charged adventure collide.

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark Elaine Howlin Book Blog 2
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No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

In this next installment in the Immortals After Dark SeriesUSA Today Bestselling author Kresley Cole delivers a scorching tale about a forbidding vampire who lives in the shadows and the beautiful assassin who hunts him there. 

A vampire soldier weary of life…

Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire—a nightmare in his mind—against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.

A valkyrie assassin dispatched to destroy him…

When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow—accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever she encounters Sebastian, her feelings—particularly lust—emerge multiplied. For the first time, she’s unable to complete a kill.

Competitors in a legendary hunt…

The prize of the month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, and Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity—as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world—to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when forced to choose between the vampire she’s falling for and reuniting her family, how can Kaderin live without either?

Everybody Matters by Mary Robinson Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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Everybody Matters: A Memoir by Mary Robinson

One of the most inspiring women of our age, Mary Robinson has spent her life in pursuit of a fairer world, becoming a powerful and influential voice for human rights around the globe. Displaying a gift for storytelling and remembrance, Robinson reveals, in Everybody Matters, what lies behind the vision, strength, and determination that made her path to prominence as compelling as any of her achievements.

Born in 1944 into a deeply Catholic family-the only girl among five childrenshe was poised to become a nun before finding her own true voice.Ever since, she has challenged convention in pursuit of fairness-whether in the Church, in government and politics, or in her own family.

As an activist lawyer, she won landmark cases advancing the causes of women and marginalized people against the prejudices of the day, and in her twenty years in the Irish Senate she promoted progressive legislation, including the legalizing of contraception. She shocked the political system by winning election as Irelands first woman president in l990, redefining the role and putting Ireland firmly on the international stage. Her role as UN high commissioner for human rights, beginning in 1997, was to prove an even bigger challenge; she won acclaim for bringing attention to victims worldwide but was often frustrated both by the bureaucracy and by the willingness to compromise on principle, which reveal the deep and inherent barriers to changing the status quo. Now back in Ireland and heading her Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, she has found the independence she needs to work effectively on behalf of the millions of poor around the world most affected by climate change.

Told with the same calm conviction and modest pride that has guided her life, Everybody Matters will inspire anyone who reads it with the belief that each of us can, in our own way, help to change the world for the better. 

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous — but love is more dangerous still 

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Friendless and hunted, Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn ever deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated by — and torn between — two best friends and quickly realizes that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare Elaine Howlin Book Blog
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Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough Elaine Howlin Book Blog
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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of this century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O’Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.

The central figures in this enthralling story are the indomitable Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, the stunningly handsome and ambitious priest Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph’s course moves him a long way indeed, from a remote Outback parish to the halls of the Vatican; and Meggie’s except for a brief and miserable marriage elsewhere, is fixed to the Drogheda that is part of her bones – but distance does not dim their feelings though it shapes their lives.

Wonderful characters people this book; strong and gentle, Paddy, hiding a private memory; dutiful Fiona, holding back love because it once betrayed her, violent, tormented Frank, and the other hardworking Cleary sons who give the boundless lands of Drogheda the energy and devotion most men save for women; Meggie; Ralph; and Meggie’s children, Justine and Dane. And the land itself; stark, relentless in its demands, brilliant in its flowering, prey to gigantic cycles of drought and flood, rich when nature is bountiful, surreal like no other place on earth.

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Now I have so many books to read I shouldn’t need to buy any more for the next few months… but we all know that won’t happen.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire Review

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)Title: Rosemary and Rue
 
Author: Seanan McGuire
 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
 
Series: October Daye #1
 
Goodreads Rating: 3.75/5
 
 

Synopsis: October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowlin_ & @elaine_reads_romance

 

What I thought about the book:

This series is based on fairies such as the Tuatha Dé Danann (the narrator pronounced Tuatha as “tootha” and drove me crazy!!!!) which I grew up with and just loved having them feature in modern adult stories.

Toby (October) is a fae halfling or changeling who works as a knight and has to constantly prove her worth and strength to full-blooded fae. The ongoing plot of the series centres around her life in this position, she has many experiences and undergoes many changes.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

5 Books of the Dead for Dia De Los Muertos

Dia De Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that is actually two days honouring the dead. The first day celebrates infants and children and the second celebrates adults who have passed away.

In honour of the Day of the Dead here are some of my favourite books where the dead are not quite so inanimate.

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A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1)A Hidden Fire – Elizabeth Hunter

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mysterious manuscript he’s hunted for over five hundred years. He never expected a young student librarian could be the key to unlock its secrets, nor could he have predicted the danger she would attract. 

Now he and Beatrice De Novo follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, though the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation hundreds of years in the making.

The day itself makes an appearance in this urban fantasy book.

Get the book: Amazon

““Do you know much about Dia de los Muertos?” Beatrice asked as they walked.
He shook his head. “Not much. I haven’t spent a great deal of time in Latin America.” He knew plenty, of course, but he preferred to hear her explanation.
“It’s not usually celebrated until November second, but the art center hosts a family fair on Halloween so parents have an option other than trick-or-treating for the kids.” Beatrice smiled at a pair of small children in skeleton costumes with flowers in their hair as they rushed past on the way to the carnival games.”


My Life as a White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie, #1)My Life as a White Trash Zombie – Diana Rowland

Angel Crawford is a loser.

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she’s a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who’s been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn’t have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there’s a job waiting for her at the parish morgue—and that it’s an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.

Before she knows it she’s dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey—just when she’s hungriest!

Angel’s going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn’t, she’s dead meat.

Literally. 

Highly entertaining zombie series.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository


Pet SemataryPet Sematary – Stephen King

Sometimes dead is better….

When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son — and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.

But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth — more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.

King at his finest.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository


Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)Halfway to the Grave – Jeaniene Frost

Flirting with the Grave…

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

Very raunchy but still fits the urban fantasy bill.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository


The Lesser DeadThe Lesser Dead – Christopher Buehlman

The secret is, vampires are real and I am one.

The secret is, I’m stealing from you what is most truly yours and I’m not sorry—

New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.

The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.

Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.

And neither are the rest of us.

One of the best vampire books I’ve read.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository

Mexican dia de los muertos skull background Free Vector

Synopsis from Goodreads.

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Review

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)Title: One Fell Sweep

Author: Ilona Andrews

Genre: Science Fiction Urban Fantasy

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3

Goodreads Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Bookstagram photo Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram: @elainehowlin_

What I thought about the book:

Loved it!

This series is fantastic! Each book has been a 5 star read for me (fingers crossed for book 4) . One Fell Sweep picks up a few days after Sweep in Peace. Dina is dealing with what she discovered in the previous book when she receives a message from her sister to rescue her from a very dangerous planet.

We get some great character interactions and developments in this one and  some spaceship travel which was one of the things holding it back from feeling more like science fiction to me. Spaceships mean science fiction! The fantasy and sci-fi blend doesn’t suffer for this though.

With the Inn under siege and Dina protecting her guest, sometimes to her detriment, there are plenty of tense situations and action scenes. The love triangle (that I never felt was a love triangle really but a lot of people seem to) is resolved in a great way. I just love the ending so much!!!

It’s just great! A breath of fresh air in genre fiction.

“Yes, the princess you were expecting put on her armor and left to kill the dragon. So sorry.”
― Ilona AndrewsOne Fell Sweep

My Rating: 5 star review

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

The Innkeeper Chronicles

Clean SweepSweep in PeaceOne Fell Sweep


Synopsis and book covers from Goodreads. Photo from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

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July Wrap Up

The Love Story of W.B. Yeats and Maud GonneGuilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #2)Circus of the Damned (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #3)The Lunatic Cafe (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #4)Bloody Bones (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #5)The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #6)The End of the AffairBurnt Offerings (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #7)

The Love Story Of W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne by Margery Brady Elaine Howlin Books Blog bookstagram photo
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Books Read

The Love Story of W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne

The Love Story of W.B. Yeats & Maud Gonne by Margery Brady ★★★★☆

This was very interesting but it does focus more on Maud than on Yeats. She seems to have lived a more interesting life with her determination to see Ireland free. It’s more a chronicling of events than a story but I did discover a lot about these people I wasn’t aware of.

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★☆

Oh Anita, how awesome your early books were!! This book was voted Castle Dracula’s book of the month for July so I reread it with the group. I disliked the later books so much I had almost forgotten just how good the first few in the series were. Since this is a first in a series there is some world building though not much because the world isn’t that elaborate. We also get a lot of character introductions. It’s a great book if you were a fan of Buffy but want something more adult. It does show it’s 90’s-ness now but it’s still very enjoyable.

Anita is a vampire hunter and animator which is someone who raises the recently dead as a zombie usually for legal reasons such as finalising a will. She’s also a preternatural expert consulting with the police on murder cases where a beastie is believed to have done the deed. So she’s a busy gal!

The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #2)

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★★

I enjoyed rereading book 1 so much I decided to keep going with the series. This book fleshes out the world more and we get to know the characters a lot better. I felt the Big Bad in this one had potential to be a bigger character but it didn’t work out that way.

Circus of the Damned (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #3)

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★☆

Book 3. The series has gained momentum here and things really start to heat up.

The Lunatic Cafe (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #4)

The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★★

Book 4. One of my favourites in the series. A really enticing plot and not too much relationship drama yet.

Bloody Bones (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #5)

Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★☆

Book 5. Excellent addition to the series but again I felt the Big Bad was hyped up a lot then too easily defeated.

The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #6)

The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★☆

Book 6. This book is the first turning point for the series I think. The books start to focus more on Anita’s romantic relationships from here and so much drama!

The End of the Affair 

The End of The Affair by Graham Greene ★★★★☆

This turned out to be a lot more than a story about an affair. It’s more about people finding their religious identity and beliefs and dealing with loss, jealousy, and what it means to love someone.

Burnt Offerings (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #7)

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★☆

Things are starting to get annoying now but we’re not quite there yet. We still have a pretty interesting story but we’re sinking really into the vampire world and I always thought Anita’s abilities were more interesting and had more potential for inventive storylines.

Currently Reading

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I’m very slow with reading this. I’m enjoying it but it’s not the kind of book that I feel an urgency to read. There’s no ‘oh my gosh, what will happen next’ feeling.

Her Name Was Rose Her Name Was Rose by Clare Allen

I received an ARC of this from NetGalley and have just started it. Very interesting so far.

Shadowed Souls Shadowed Souls Edited by Jim Butcher

Short story anthology with stories by Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire and Tanya Huff. I probably won’t read them all because I’m not familiar with all of the series that the stories are part of.

BookTubeAThon TBR

BookTubeAThon runs from July 30th – August 5th this year. Check out my announcement post.

The Surface BreaksThe Last UnicornThe Great GatsbyThe Bloody ChamberThe Second SexBlue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #8)Obsidian Butterfly (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #9)

What was your favourite read in July?