The Hunter &The Hunted by Kelley Armstrong – Book Review

This pair of short stories is a small appetiser for the main event – the release of the final book in the Women of the Otherworld series – 13.

The Hunter and the Hunted by Kelley Armstrong .
Summary courtesy of Amazon:  From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong comes two Otherworld short stories that take readers on an exhilarating honeymoon chase with werewolves Elena and Clay, and a mysterious mission through the afterlife with dark witch-turned-angel, Eve Levine.

13 has to be the book I have been most looking forward to being released in my book worm years. As a self confessed fan girl of the Women of the Otherworld series I am happy to pick anything related to the series, and in this case it is a pair of bite sized short stories.

Stalked

Summary: It was supposed to be a quiet honeymoon. But when the happy couple just happen to be werewolves, ‘quiet’ is not an option.
Clay and Elena are trying their best to enjoy a traditional romantic getaway. But secretly, they’re both bored with drifting round St Louis, pretending to be a normal couple. So when Clay realises a non-pack werewolf is stalking Elena, he leaps at the chance to pursue his rival and teach him a very hard lesson. The trouble is, Clay’s plan involves deceiving Elena, which is not a good idea . . .
Originally part of an anthology of supernatural romance stories, Stalked is the perfect introduction to Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series and an exhilarating, action-packed interlude for fans.

Clay & Elena have to be my favourite character couple from the series so anything that is about them I am pretty much guaranteed to enjoy. Having said that, this is not a fantastic example of their story. I can’t help but think, that without having read any of the other books this might be a thrilling read. The plot is short, well written and fast paced. But as a regular reader this doesn’t really add anything to the series. Nothing new is learnt, no real new characters are introduced and my favourite characters related to them are barely mentioned.

Off-Duty Angel

Dark witch and part-time angel Eve Levine is desperate for a little entertainment. With her lover Kristof away on business, things are so quiet in the afterlife Eve’s even ready to volunteer for an extra week’s worth of angel corps duty, just to pass the time. Luckily something even better comes up: a real celestial bounty-hunter mission. But when the trail leads her to the British Museum and a mysterious, secret dimension, a pleasant diversion turns into something much more intriguing – and dangerous . . . Packed with suspense and surprising twists, Off-Duty Angelreveals fascinating new insights into a beloved series character.

I really enjoyed this short story. The plot was original and there was considerable amount of character development. Eve really is a kick ass character and I really warmed to her in this episode. I would have purchased for just this one short.

13 Preview
Last books in series tend to be action packed. Deathly Hallows. Breaking Dawn. 13 looks to be no different in that respect. I was positively shocked by some of the gore and really intrigued to read the rest of the book now. I just really hope that with all this action it doesn’t loose the romance (sex), character development and the domestic scenes I really enjoy. My biggest gripe with this preview though was its formatting. I can only assume with its conversion to a Kindle readable format something went wrong, resulting in a series of small but annoying spacing errors. This aside this really is just a taster and I can wait for the next book!

Overall this was not a dissapointment, but just not the best I have read by Armstrong. Just today I received my email confirmation that my copy of 13 has been shipped, and this short story collection has in no way affected the anticipation and excitement I have for this final book, be it good or bad.

6/10

Look out for my review of 13 coming in the next few days!

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

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Hunt for the Phoenix by Emma & Christopher Byford – Book Reivew

I came across this book through Twitter. But before I knew it, It had stolen my heart and I couldn’t stop reading until the last page.

[Scroll down to the bottom of my review to read added comments by my friend Ross Phillips.] 

Summary courtesy of AmazonA tale of redemption and duty – Mana Seraph is host to the Spirit of the Phoenix; a creature entwined within her being that is far from human understanding. 

This ghastly process was carried out by the tyrannical Empire of Fusion. However, Mana was not fused with the entire Spirit as a daring escape interrupted the procedure. Offered sanctuary in the forests of Pheo, by a tribe who worship the Phoenix, their survival is now synonymous with her own. 

Fusion retaliates by giving their General, Qwuiff Lavation, the means to hunt her down across the lands of Airone. Soon, Qwuiff starts eradicating any nation who stands in their way, not just for the Empire but for his own glory as well. 

Protected by the Pheo Tribe and her vigilant Guardians, Mana is bound to the servitude of the people. Hidden in the treetops somewhere on Airone, the tribal village had done well to elude those searching for it. 

It isn’t until a failed kidnapping on Pheo brings the entire situation into focus. Blooded and broken, a mercenary employed by Fusion is captured. He reveals himself as Dark, an Angel, once sword of the Holy Sorceress and fallen far from his heavenly duty. Shocked at the depth of corruption by Fusion, Mana encourages Dark to redeem himself and serve by her side as a Guardian to fight against the Empire once and for all.

Reluctantly accepting this proposition, Dark embarks on a path of redemption. This will not only position him against the Fusion Empire but will also inch Mana further towards an uncertain future. 

This is the first book in the Fusion Series which I stumbled across via Twitter when I followed one of the authors and was enticed to download it. Whilst on a long train journey to Plymouth I decided to pick it up and give it ago. The only reason I knew the journey was long because I woke up out of a dream world when I arrived at my station and noticed five hours has passed. The characters Dark and Mana along with the rest of the Pheo tribe had stolen my heart and drew me into their world. I couldn’t quite put my finger on where it sat between pure fictional time and place and reality, but the very nature of fallen angels and spirit host fitted right into my genre at the start.

Mana & Dark as illustrated by Kathleen Dent

This book is co-authored by Emma & Chris Byford, and I learnt whilst reading the Byford’s blog about The Fusion Series that the character of Mana is the literary child of Emma, whilst the character of Dark has been developed over time by Chris. This creates a unique and interesting reading experience that is truly great to read. The mysterious past of Dark twinned with the growing relationships between the main characters is made better only by a gripping narrative that left me wanting more. Mana’s struggle with the spirit of the Phoenix within her reminds me of all the best bits I loved from The Host, whilst being infinitely better.

The differing writing styles of both the authors also works very well with the juxtaposition between violent battle scenes and tender moments between father and daughter working really well. Having said this, there does appear to be some unnecessary characters, namely Wyld that I can only assume will hold larger parts in the next books.
The narrative which is at times can be very serious does not lack some humour, my all time favourite quote from the book having to be: “Look at him. So uptight I bet you could break walnuts between his ass cheeks”! Love it!
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one that I read at every opportunity (with one comical moment at breakfast nearly leaving a bite mark out of my Kindle as it was confused with toast) and I think that it can only mean one thing:
5/5

You can download this book to your Kindle here currently just £2.56 – a good price for a great read. I just picked up a copy of the Dark Entity short stories also from the Fusion Series, so check back for a review on these soon!

Thanks as always for reading,
Love Rie x

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After sharing this review and recommending it to a my friend Ross, a fellow book worm, he devoured it whole in one night! He has very kindly offered to share a his thoughts on the book, as a male reader and from a different perspective. This does contain a mild spoiler, but nothing that will ruin the book!

I know this book was written by 2 different authors, at first I thought that you would have Christopher Byford witing the parts from the male perspective and Emma Byford doing the female parts but I dont think this is the case as its a book which is clearly in two halves.

The first half I REALLY enjoyed, the war between the alliance of smaller nations againts the all consuming, technologically advanced, militaristic empire of fusion was mostly a background to the relationship of almost mutual dependence of the lead two characters, with Dark seeing Mana as some sort of opportunaity for redemption (although he doesn’t quite know how) and Mana seeing Dark as a slice of freedom in her ‘bird cage’ world.  

In stark contrast the second half seems to bear very little resemblance to the first half, with the plot separating into a (not fantasticly well done) war story and the political inner workings of the Fusion empire whenever the story flits back to Mana. There also seems to come a number of inconsistencies, huge plot holes and places where I just cannot understand the reasoning behind what some characters do/dont do. 


Also the introduction of some of the ‘new’ characters was almost completly unnecessary (namely Wyld and Leylan). 


. . . and im still not really convinced by the ending . . .  


So there we are, if I had to rate it id give it a 6/10 

I wish I could share more of Ross & I’s discussion around this book, however there is far to many spoilers that I have already had to edit out so not to spoil it for the rest of you. I think you will all agree that Ross is a fantastic writer, and has put my book rambles to shame! I hope to be inviting him to do a few more book reviews in the future and you will give him warm welcome.

Thanks for reading, again,

Rie & Ross x


The Host by Stephenie Meyer – Book Review

I must confess. I started reading this books with negative preconceptions about its quality. Downloaded on a whim from an Amazon gift card it has been on my list of books that I should read, as it was from the author of the infamous Twilight series. Yet my best friend, Sam Crossley, had warned me this is the only book he hasn’t finish. But, me being me it just made me want to read it more! So I pushed it up to the top of my reading pile, with his warning ringing in my ears.
Summary courtesy of Amazon: Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining “wild” humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie’s thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer’s mind with visions of the man Melanie loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.


On first impressions this science fiction book appeared to have potential for an interesting series of books, never mind just one, but I soon discovered why it often became unfinished. This book is too long. I made a comment on Twitter about how I was struggling and with a comment from my old English teacher I stuck at it and was rewarded in sorts.
This was a pure emotional rollercoaster. In my last post I commented how I am an emotional soul (no pun intended) but this had me in a steady stream of tears falling down my cheeks while finishing the final chapters last night.
The romance this book promised to be was easily the least interesting part. An impossible love triangle and the power of all consuming love… blah blah blah. It was too similar to the Twilight series in this respect, with Wanda hopelessly doomed to be the next Bella. Although the endings are very different the themes of the conclusions are almost identical which left me wanting more, or just something different from Meyer.
Overall this book had the foundations to be something so much more, but I did manage to finish this roller coaster ride of emotions, and I think by the end I began to enjoy it.
3/5 


Thank you as always for reading,
Love Rie x

My First Ever Vlog and Book Review of South of the Border West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

I have been thinking about venturing into the world of vlogging for a while now. I use YouTube like TV whilst I am at university and have become particularly fond of some of my favourite beauty gurus vlogs of late. 
I just didn’t really know how this would tie into my love of reading, and this blog until I came across a vlog posted on Girl Who Reads. She was just talking about what she had been doing recently and what books she had been reading, and suddenly it clicked.
So I charged up my camera, and after just a few takes and some editing I had created my first book review vlog. I still have a long way to go in the quality of the filming, sound and content department, but I really hope I can use this as another tool to share my love of authors, books and reading. 
So finally, what the video was all about: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.
Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com: Growing up in the suburbs of post-war Japan, it seemed to Hajime that everyone but him had brothers and sisters. His sole companion was Shimamoto, also an only child. Together they spent long afternoons listening to her father’s record collection. But when his family moved away, the two lost touch. Now Hajime is in his thirties. After a decade of drifting he has found happiness with his loving wife and two daughters, and success running a jazz bar. Then Shimamoto reappears. She is beautiful, intense, enveloped in mystery. Hajime is catapulted into the past, putting at risk all he has in the present.
My friend Laura raves about Murakami, her favourite author, and recommended that I took a look at some of his books. He is know for using a pinch of surrealism and fantasy in his novels, which sounds like something I would love to read. She lent me this book, which is the only one she had with her, with the warning it is a bit different to his other works, but still well worth a read. 
It is a relatively small book, only 213 pages but is superbly written. The beauty is in the little details. This quote in particular I really liked:

“Her hand, which up till then had laid on the back of the sofa, she now placed on her knee. I stared vacantly at her fingers tracing the plaid pattern of her skirt. There was something mysterious about it, as if invisbly thread emanating from her fingertips spun together an entirely new concept of time.” (pg: 15)

If I am honest, this isn’t a book I would choose to read, but I am really grateful that I have had an introduction to a fantastic author. There is a lot of buzz about him online, and some of his other books sound a lot more my style. 
You can watch my video about it here:
Regretfully I have to give this book only a 3/5 
Thanks for reading [& watching],
Love Rie x

Dead Reckoning – Review

As promised here is my review for Dead Reckoning – the latest’s book in the Sookie Stackhouse series (more formerly known as True Blood) by Charlaine Harris. Those of you that have been reading this blog over the last couple of weeks know that I was greatly anticipating the release of this book after reading the rest of the books in quick succession late last year.

**I have tried to include no spoilers, however I may have given hints to events happening in the book when talking about characters emotions and my predictions of their future.**

Sookie’s life is getting increasingly difficult in this instalment, leaving her to reflect on life before she discovered the supernatural world. Despite danger from all around she has time to indulge in human activities such as baby showers and repetitive cleaning of her house. I jumped into mundane areas of other books (such as my childhood favourite Harry Potter, with chapters such as being in Ron house and creating Dumbledore’s Army being some of my most read), but here they seemed like spacers for the limited new revelations in this book.

Sookie and Eric
(I believe in the televised version of Dead to the World)
Long gone are the assumptions that Sookie is a naive young woman in the bedroom. A blend of romance, attraction and sex is present as always, with suitors jumping into her bed or queuing at the doors when they learn of Sookie and Eric’s problems. The love I built for Eric in Dead to the World seems to be slowly crumbling with revelations in the political aspects of their relationship, as well as a development in their blood bond causing fissures. 


I believe that in the next book we may even see Sookie looking elsewhere from comfort, in the form of another supernatural lover.

I wonder if becoming a vampire has changed the
way he performs?
We also learn a little more about Sookie’s powers; however I was disappointed as they felt mere reinforcements of information we knew already. Other than the dramatic climax of Bubba’s concert to the vamps, there is very little action or new information given to us about how the series is going to be concluded. Don’t get me wrong, I am a great lover of the 10 book series so far, but soon enough Harris will run out of things to say and this needs to come to a conclusion.

After greatly anticipating this book as a development I was disappointed with the presentation of muted revaluations of information we already knew. I feel a lot more could have been done with this book to make it more interesting and exciting (I’m still up for Sookie being sucked into the Fairy world for a book!).


3/5

Please let me know if you have read this book, and what you think. Do you watch True Blood of television? Let me know what you think. Comment up people and get involved.
Thank you for reading,
Love Rie xx