Fallen by Lauren Kate – Book Review

Guest post by Ross Phillips: “Like genuine Picasso in a vat of wallpaper paste.”

Fallen by Lauren Kate: ‘When Lucinda Price was sent to Sword and Cross Reform School, she knew it would be hard, but she had no idea what lay in store for her. She never went looking for trouble, but it finds her–in the form of true love, death, murder, passion. Can she survive long enough to learn why she’s always been haunted, why disaster seems to follow her around… can she survive at all?’

Right well this is gonna be a difficult one for me, these books are very very easy to completely ruin if anything is inadvertently given away, so now I’ve got to tell you what I like and what I didn’t in such a way as to give absolutely no hint whatsoever to the plot hmmm here goes . . .

This series follows the adventures of Lucinda Price (commonly refered to as Luce) as she starts at a reform school after her involvement in a mysterious accident in her last school. Luce is a very ‘passive’ character who comes across as being somewhat dragged through the narrative rather than driving it. She also suffers a distinct lack of personality through most of the first book and although she gradually develops more of one through the series those looking for a strong female lead will probably have to settle for some of the supporting characters like Arriane.

In contrast to to Luce the supporting cast is much more vivid with each having a definite personality and place within the plot with no one character feeling superfluous.

In terms of plot there is a lot in this series I like, with plot elements which I really approve of, fresh ways at looking at old ideas and twists which took even me by surprise this series has a lot going for it and like Luce herself has great potential, but sadly all that potential feels squandered, crushed under a barrage of cliche that makes the romance (which is meant to be the driving force behind the plot) feel purile.

I can’t help but think this series would have been better off aimed at a more mature audience. It feels like the author started out writing a full-fat dark fantasy romance (to which all the ideas and elements lend themselves perfectly) but then decided to ‘cash-in’ on the current Twilight inspired trend of trashy, teeny paranormal romance.

Like genuine Picasso in a vat of wallpaper paste.

4/10

Love Ross & Rie x

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – Book Review

Aside

The gritty story of Pagford lacks the Hogwarts magic in Rowling’s first published adult book.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling: When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

Thanks to J.K.Rowling’s celebrity status and more than a little hype about this adult offering from the author of Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy can be seen in book shops and supermarkets everywhere. For those looking for some more of the Potter magic you are looking in the wrong place.

This gritty narrative is told via a diverse selection of characters, with no real main protagonist. Instead the sleepy village of Pagford reveals its secrets from the point of view from overweight cafe owners to acne ridden teenagers. Introduced to drug addicts, sex in bushes and various forms of child abuse Rowling does everything she can to make sure this book is as different from Hogwarts is it can be.

The narrative flows well, with Rowling’s effortless story telling style being used to good effect. Yet it was punctuated by superfluous thesaurus raping that left me using the Kindle’s dictionary more than I would like to find out what she was going on about. One or two introductions to new words is what I expect from a book aimed at adults (and a reader who rarely ventures from YA) but it left me feeling more than a little but stupid at times, and could have been toned down a little so that it was more accessible to all.

With the age-old fight of what to do with the needy, whilst the rich are left to squabble about ‘higher’ council matters being displayed in a pleasant tongue-in-cheek way. I enjoyed the effortless flaunting of stereotypes  (think Hot Fuzz in a book, with less guns… actually no guns) in the setting of a pretty little village and council estate attachment, the blemish in Pagford’s facade.

As the book draws to a close, I was shocked by more than one of its twists and turns. Drawing a tear to my eye, and causing me to cringe in disgust as grown adults squabble like children, and the younger generation doing everything they can to add fuel to the fire. Yet I was left feeling very little happened. No epic battles or huge revelations, and very little character development over the dozens of names. To call it disappointing is all little extreme, it just missed a bit of magic!

I give it a:

7/10

The most expensive eBook I have ever purchased (at £11.99) I struggle to recommend this book to those who use e-readers. My suggestion would be to pick this up on offer in your local supermarket, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

Breaking the Devil’s Heart by H. A. Goodman – Book Review

An original fantasy concept that promised a lot, but failed to deliver.

 Summary: Breaking the Devil’s Heart is a rollercoaster afterlife experience that tests a young couple’s love, their grasp on reality, and the essence of human nature. What happens when Stewart and Layla tour Hell’s Marketing Department and Stock Exchange? What happens when their relationship is tested by Satan? This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read, or ever thought the afterlife might be like… look into an alternate world, a new afterlife, and a profound journey inside the human conscience.

When I was sent this book to review, I was warned that it was “a bit wild, out of the ordinary story” and it defiantly delivered on that promise. This original and highly creative production of heaven, hell and the dimensions in between was something that appealed to my fantasy radar.

I did at times enjoy Goodman’s concept of Hell being run as a ‘company’ to reek havoc on people’s lives. Eternal punishment on damned souls was having to meet impossible sales targets. The reward for doing well was a short break to torture another soul for fun. I can only assume a representation of the author’s opinion of the corporate world as a former Financial Advisor.

The ‘formula’ these pinstripe suit clad demons was considerably less clear. Possibly due to the intolerably long chapters that appeared to cover very little ground, the concept never really clicked. Inter-mingled with sickening romance scenes between protagonist Stewart and his life long love I failed to grasp what Goodman was trying to say.

The writing style was often very awkward and difficult to read. Stewart’s train of thought was erratic at times,  and painfully slow at others making it hard to pace as a reader. I have been assured by other reviews the dialogue improves in the second half of the book, yet I failed to pass the half way point.

It is very rare that I fail to finish a book, but after 150 pages I still felt as in the dark as the first chapter. It felt more like an opinion piece on corporate culture and human nature as a whole badly wrapped up as a fantasy novel.

This book does have some saving graces. I did enjoy the quotes that headed each chapter. Angels, Observers and Demons and their dynamics within the after life was an interesting concept, and learning how Stewart came to be within the afterlife, and his noble decision to become an Observer was a sad, but creatively told tale.

What the story really lacked, that would have made me read on was a solid explanation. A clearer description of what the ‘formula’ was and what Stewart was trying to achieve would have left me possibly wanting to read on to find out how he does it.

I have to give this book just a

3/10

Yet this book has been branded by many as an creative, original and intelligent book that possibly I do not have the brain power to process. At just 77p on Amazon I urge anyone with a Kindle to check it out and form your own opinions, but really cant endorse it being worth the £15 for the hardback!

If you have read this book I would love to know you thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

This book was sent to be to review, to open a blog tour organised by Illuminated Tours. You can check out the tour schedule, and what other book bloggers thought of the book here.

Flight by Alyssa Rose Ivy – Book Review & Author Interview

The title of this book only hints to the treasures that lie within. Fans of YA fantasy will love this!

Sometimes you just have to take flight.

A summer in New Orleans is exactly what Allie needs before starting college. Accepting her dad’s invitation to work at his hotel offers an escape from her ex-boyfriend and the chance to spend the summer with her best friend. Meeting a guy is the last thing on her mind—until she sees Levi. 

Unable to resist the infuriating yet alluring Levi, Allie finds herself at the center of a supernatural society and forced to decide between following the path she has always trusted or saving a city that might just save her. 


I have been lucky enough to be invited to be part of the AToMR tour of Flight by Alyssa Rose Ivy. This first book in the Crescent Chronicals was sent to me to read and review, which you can read below.

However I was a little cheeky and asked if Alyssa would be willing to do a short interview about the book as well on my stop of the tour, to which she agreed! So before the review I thought I would share what she has to say about the book!

~~~

Alyssa Rose Ivy

Author Interiview


You have written other YA novels. What makes this book stand apart?

Alyssa: Flight is a bit of a departure from my Afterglow Trilogy. One of the biggest differences is that Flight is a more mature YA, and has edgier content. Another difference is that the paranormal society in Flight exists completely within our own world, where as The Afterglow Trilogy has a more epic fantasy aspect to it.


What was the most difficult part about writing this story?

Alyssa: The most difficult part of writing Flight was deciding what about New Orleans to include. I love the city and it holds tons of memories for me, so it took some effort to decide what places to include in Flight and which ones to save for later books in the Crescent Chronicles. 
What part was the most fun to write?

Alyssa: I went to college in New Orleans, so writing Flight was an experience in nostalgia. I had a lot of fun reminiscing about college and remembering just how many cool parts of New Orleans there are. 

What is you favourite scene in the book?

Alyssa: My favorite scene is when Allie first discovers who Levi really is. I love her reaction, and it’s fun to finally reveal what he’s been hiding. 
What do you want readers to take away from this book that they might miss? 

Although Flight is a fun paranormal romance, I hope readers pick up on of the more realistic experiences that Allie and her friends experience as they make the transition from high school to college.
~~~

Book Review 

The title and cover of this book I feel tell you a lot. Flight certainly promises some sort of air travel, and the rather attractive young couple on the cover promise some romance. But I never learn not to judge a book by its cover. This does have all of the above, but it also has something more. Something much more!

I can’t really say its nothing I haven’t read before. The young lover with an attitude problem (Levi), insecure protagonist with family problems (Allie) and the new best friend (Hayley) all work really well together to make this a well written YA paranormal romance. But the introduction of a completely new supernatural race, and the teasing glimpses of the rest of the supernatural world in New Orleans promise to make this a series to keep an eye on. 
I started and finished this book in just three nights. Although the build up to the supernatural element of the book was slow, with the first third dedicated to introducing us to the characters and New Orleans. But when it got going, I flew (as always… pun intended) through the pages lapping up each new dimension to this new fantasy world. 
There were some unnecessary characters and plot items that, I feel, took up too many pages in the opening chapters to then be of little or no importance later on. The main example being best friend Jess, who lit the opening chapters with her vivacious personality and behaviour, yet dwindled into nothing before the book really got going.

The ‘will-she-wont-she’ bad boy romance did feel a little cliché to start with, but I urge you all to stick with it to the final pages for a great little twist that left me stunned!

Overall, I started this book with too many preconceptions of just another YA paranormal romance, to have all my expectations smashed and replaced with something a lot more gritty, well written and enjoyable.

I give it an 8/10.

At just £1.97 for Kindle download, this has to be worth a look (if you are in the U.S. you can download it for $3.11). I will defiantly be checking out the next book in the series!

~~~
As this is a book blog tour, there is also some other fab blogs getting involved, each offering something a bit different. Also writing a review today is Tee over at A Diary of a Book Addict, make sure to pop other to her blog and see what she makes of it.
Thanks for reading,
Love Rie x

Secrets by Dawn Kirby – Book Reivew

A gem for fans of the supernatural fantasy genre, whilst bringing something new to the table. Secrets has everything you could want and more besides!

Secrets by Dawn Kirby – 1st book in the Serenity series.
Summary: It is said that the truth will set you free, but for Leah it kills.


Leah always knew she was different. From her extreme light sensitivity, to her ability to read people by their auric scent, she kept these differences secret.


Not even Mia, Leah’s mother, knew the fullness of her daughter’s differences, but she held even greater secrets to Leah’s past – the truth about her father and Leah’s conception. 


With the escape of an old foe, Mia is too late to reveal to her daughter 

the truth before Judith can exact her revenge in a wash of blood and death.

Thrown into a world unheard of, Leah discovers that she is not alone in keeping her secrets. That there are people from her parent’s past who would die to protect her.If she only knew why.

Raine, placed as her protector, hides deadly secrets of his own. Drawn to each other, Leah and Raine must uncover the truth before one of both are killed.

This new offering on the teen/adult supernatural fantasy genre will be a read treat for fans of the genre. I can seen teenage readers of series such as Twilight, True Blood and the House of the Night who have now grown up loving Secrets for its similar themes of romance mixed with secrets, danger and adventure – just like me.
Leah is the extraordinary protagonist who has supernatural powers coming out of her ears. Super hearing, being able to view people auroras, smell their personality (yes I do mean smell) and withstanding, and enjoying extreme heat at times seem like a little too much. But her weaknesses balance her out to be a character I grew to love through-out the book. Fans of supernatural and fantasy fiction will recognise the signs of different fictional races common within the genre, which I really enjoyed. Yet Leah’s predicament in my reading experience still presenting something unique. 
Discovering Leah’s secrets as the book progresses became an really enjoyable read for me. With my habit of reading more than one book at a time, it was great to have to read only two sentences to be absorbed back into narrative. With dramatic and shocking scenes holding a serious tone, the personalities and relationships growing between characters provided light release, delivering the romantic domestic scenes I really enjoy.
I did feel like more than a few of the events throughout the book were rather rushed, in particular the romantic developments between characters. Alongside this, the constant addition of characters, often with similar names, sometimes required some hard concentration to keep up with (yes I am speaking to you David, Donovan and Declan). The enemies were often just as numerous and their intertwining motivations becoming clear eventually.
Despite my mixed feelings about the character developments and rushed narrative, I truly enjoyed going to bed every night to just read a bit more before I went to sleep. The writing style is effortless to read providing much needed escapism into another world where vampires, werewolves and everything else in-between exists. 
Overall I give Secrets:
7/10
Secrets is not cheap, priced at just over £6 for the Kindle version on Amazon in the UK (and nearly $10 in the US) and more the the printed version – but I think it is one to put on your wishlist. I will defiantly be picking up the next book in the series regardless.
Thanks for reading,
Love Rie x
I was gifted this book to read and review as part of the Secrets blog tour organised by Illuminated Tours

13 by Kelley Armstrong – Book Review

This final book in the Women of the Otherworld series is all that fans could have wanted… and more! Action packed, fantastically written and some fab character development make this a 10/10!

13 by Kelley Armstrong – Final book in the Women of the Otherworld Series.
Summary courtesy of Amazon: War is coming to the Otherworld. A sinister cult known as The Supernatural Liberation Movement is hell-bent on exposing the truth about supernaturals to the rest of the world. Their violent, ruthless plan has put everyone at risk: from werewolves to vampires, from witches to half-demons.
This has easily been my most anticipated book release of all time. Over time I have done a number of posts on this series including reviews, reading challenges and even an interview with Kelley Armstrong herself (the highlight of my blogging life :D). This book as the final instalment in the Women of the Otherworld had a lot to live up to. Which it did – and more!
Released on Wednesday, my busy schedule meant I didn’t get my hands on my copy (which was waiting for my at the post office) until the Sunday. I sat down with best friend and fellow Armstrong super fan, Sam Crossley, and devoured this book in pretty much one day. 
At 419 pages this is not a short book, but the hard back with a reasonable size font is easy to read. Having read everything published around the series we were also able to skip the first few chapters which were a re-publish of the opening chapter of Bitten, the first book in the series and a preview published in The Hunter and the Hunted. If you haven’t read anything by Armstrong before, this wouldn’t be a bad place to pick it up.
Each characters from all the previous books makes an appearance and readers are treated to some great character development.This action packed book pulls at the emotions with worry, loss and anger, but more importantly returning to the lust, romance and love amongst the characters that the latter books in the series have lacked.
The narrative moves so fast, but even so at just over the half way point I was baffled at how Armstrong was going to tie up all the loose ends.Yet the ending works fantastically. Not falling into the trap of trying to deliver too many happy endings the extra little short story From Russia with Love, in my opinion, was the perfect finish.
I am so sad that the series is over, but having been promised a new adult series, Omens & Shadows, with the first book Cainsville being released next year, there is so much to look forward too!
10/10
I would love to know your thoughts on this book if you have read it, please let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,
Love Rie x

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