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.


Love Ross & Rie x


Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky – Book Review

Today I have a guest book review for your from my good friend Ross Phillips. He has done a number of reviews for my blog now, and has slightly different tastes in books so can give you another perspective from me gushing about hot vampires! I do intended to get round to reading all these little gems and give my perspective too, so look out for my comments at a later date!

Without further ado I will hand you over to Ross:

Metro 2033 by Dmity Glukhovsky

“The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend. More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man’s time is over. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro – the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity’s last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters – or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct – the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price. VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line. It was one of the Metro’s best stations and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro – and maybe the whole of humanity. “

This book is a bit of a departure for me as I usually stay away from the whole post-apocalyptic genre as in my experience books in such a setting tend to be either gritty depressing trudges through a ruined version of whatever part of the world the author happens to know best, or wholey unrealistic frag-fests which are all action and take no account of pratical difficulty or plot.

So when a friend bought me Metro 2033 as a present purely on the fact it was set in Russia (and I’m a well know Russophile) I was skeptical, having put it off for months on end I finally decided to get on with it and to my utter shock I actually quite enjoyed it.

The world Dmitry has created within the Moscow subway system (of which there is a VERY handy map inside the cover) is completly engaging, with threats of all variety around every corner from zealot political cults to mutants to the downright paranormal let alone the radiation and chemical threats.

There is a very real sense of the well characterised Artyom being a very small, delicate cog in a very big, broken machine. Action is well paced and the tension in some scenes is almost palpable. Supporting characters are very human indeed with almost the whole book highlighting just how fragile humans are both physically and mentally and that the survival of humanity is by no means a safe bet.

If I’ve got any real issues with this book it comes mostly from that fact its Russian. Cyrillic languages are notoriously hard to translate effectively and while on the whole its perfectly readable there are odd phrases and sentences that seem a bit ‘odd’ (for want of a better word), a bit like when you run something through Google translater, what might be a comon enough phrase in Russian doesn’t come out right when directly translated to English.

Another small niggle is that while the districs and subway stations of Moscow may be familiar to the people who have been/lived there it has the tendancy to get slightly confusing for those of us with no knowledge of Moscow.

So all things considered I think you could sum this book up by saying that it’s a good book thats tad spoiled by its localisation.

7.8/10 (shall we call it an 8!)

Irriatingly there is a sequal (Metro 2034) but so far i cant find any copies in English. German, Spanish and French yes but apparantly a real niche Language like English doesn’t get a translation . . . . understandable, its not like English is the 3rd most Spoken langauge in the world or anything . . .

Thanks for reading,

Love Ross & Rie x

Guild Wars: Edge of Destiny by J. Robert King – Book Review

This book review is courtesy of my good friend Ross Phillips, a Guild Wars nut who reviewed the first book of the series Ghosts of Ascalon just last week. He enjoyed it so much he decided to jump straight into the the second book, but was somewhat disappointed, but I will let him explain why:

Summary courtesy of Amazon:  Destiny Called – They Answered.In the dark recesses of Tyria, elder dragons have awoken from millennial slumbers. First came Primordus, which stirred in the Depths forcing the asura to flee to the surface. Half a century later, Jormag awoke and drove the norn from the frozen climes of the Northern Shiverpeaks, corrupting sons and brothers along the way. A generation later, Zhaitan arose in a cataclysmic event that reshaped a continent and flooded the capital of the human nation of Kryta.The races of Tyria stand on the edge of destiny. Heroes have battled against dragon minions, only to be corrupted into service of the enemy. Armies have marched on the dragons and been swep aside. The dwarves sacrificed their entire race to defeat a single dragon champion. The age of mortals may soon be over.  This is a time for heroes. While the races of Tyria stand apart, six heroic individuals will come together to fight for their people: Eir, the norn huntress with the soul of an artist; Snaff, the asuran ge­nius, and his ambitious assistant Zojja; Rytlock, the ferocious charr warrior in exile; Caithe, a deadly sylvari with deep secrets; and Logan, the valiant human guardian dealing with divided loyalties. Together they become Destiny’s Edge. Together they answer the call. But will it be enough?

“Having finished Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon and really enjoyed alot more than I thought I would I decided to read the second book in the series ‘Edge of Destiny’

This book acts as a prequel to Ghosts of Ascalon and deals with the action of the Guild known as Destiny’s Edge (something which is mentioned numerous times within Ghosts of Ascalon) as they band together to try and do battle with the evil all consuming Elder Dragons and their respective minions.

Its a good premise but suffers a fatal flaw, its too short.

This isn’t like Ghosts of Ascalon which just felt like it could have done with being a chapter or two longer, this book could really do with being at least a third longer than it is, there’s just too much plot and too many characters and not enough space.

There are huge holes where it just skips forward a few months between one paragraph and the next and some sub-plot elements are left with so little explanation and follow up that even a hardcore Guild Wars fans like myself are left confused.

It also leaves no room at all to evolve the characters and so they remain ‘flat’ and one dimensional right up until the end. and for a book with so little space to spare its seem to devote quite alot its word count to its frankly puerile to the point of vomit inducing romance. 

On the plus side though the beginning and the end are very good, and it did have a fair few funny moments and witty verbal stand offs between some of the characters but on the whole it just felt a little lackluster next to Ghosts of Ascalon which had exactly the same and yet so much more.

If I had to rate this book I would give it a 5/10. Quite disappointing”

Found this review intriguing? You can pick up the Kindle version for £3.99 on Amazon. However my recommendation would be to check out a second hand paper back which I have seen under £3 on Amazon private listings.
Thank you as always for reading, and I welcome your comments below on what you thought of this book? What do you think about in in comparison to the first one?

Love Ross & Rie x  

Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck & Jeff Grubb – Book Review

This book review has been kindly provided by my friend Ross Phillips. Only recently have I discovered that my old school friend is also a complete fantasy and science fiction book worm and has a real talent for review writing. This book review is for ‘Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon which is based on the computer game Guild Wars. Ross is a self confessed Guild Wars nut, and so this review is from his perspective. I have never even heard of this game, never mind the book (sorry Ross!) but after this review I will be sure to seek it out and give you my comments on it as a ‘newbie’. Without further a do: 

Summary courtesy of Amazon250 years ago, Ascalon burned . . .Desperate to defend his land from advancing hordes of bestial charr, King Adelbern summoned the all-powerful Foefire to repel the invaders. But magic can be a double-edged sword—the Foefire burned both charr and human alike. While the charr corpses smoldered, the slain Ascalonians arose again, transformed by their king’s rage into ghostly protectors and charged with guarding the realm . . . forever. The once mighty kingdom became a haunted shadow of its former glory.
Centuries later, the descendants of Ascalon, exiled to the nation of Kryta, are besieged on all sides. To save humankind, Queen Jennah seeks to negotiate a treaty with the hated charr. But one obstacle remains. The charr legions won’t sign the truce until their most prized possession, the Claw of the Khan-Ur,is returned from the ruins of fallen Ascalon.
Now a mismatched band of adventurers, each plagued by ghosts of their own, sets forth into a haunted, war-torn land to retrieve the Claw. Without the artifact, there is no hope for peace between human and charr—but the undead king who rules Ascalon won’t give it up easily, and not everyone wants peace!

‘This is a book that was recommended to me a long time ago by a fellow Guild Wars nerd but I have been putting it off for a while, why? Because I have yet to read a single book based on the lore of this computer game that hasn’t been utter rubbish, and since I view Guild Wars lore as the best of them all (by a huge margin) I was loath to go and ruin it by reading a half baked attempt by a slightly broke author to make a quick buck out of its success.

But boy was in for a treat.

Now I should kick off by saying as a Guild Wars fan my review will be bias, as I already know a lot of the histories, places and cultures featured and therefore ‘get’ a lot of the references and little in-jokes but even with that considered I think a newcomer to the lore of Tyria would not find it much of a challenge to keep up as everything that you need to know is explained along the way in a concise and not too intrusive manner. This is helped by a few of the less well informed characters asking the questions themselves that the reader is may be asking, but whether any of this works or not is not really my place to say.

What I can say is this is possibly the most well rounded and enjoyable fantasy book that I have read this year at the very least. It is written from the 3rd person perspective but only from the point of view of the main character, while seeming quite a basic way of doing things at first it becomes more and more engaging throughout, as we truely see not only how he sees the rich and well fleshed world around him but more importantly his companions.

Not only is the world very rich but the supporting characters are as well. Each one having depth and true personality whole still retaining a cultural identity which means you find yourself getting increasingly attached to them as the book goes on.

But nothing is perfect, if I had to find faults with this book I would start with the fact that it is very short. While this means there are no real ‘boring segments’ it also means that all the history and character back story is a little crammed in. While I had no problems keeping up, a reader not so well aquainted with Guild Wars lore may find it difficult to digest (but as I’ve said, thats not something I can really judge on). Another thing which slightly irritates me is this book has rather an abrupt ending, at the end of the last chapter you turn the page expecting to find a epilogue but its just not there, which is a shame because it could really do with one.

So if I(as a Guild Wars fan) had to rate this book id give it a 8/10′

Thanks for reading,
Love Ross & Rie x

Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George. R. R. Martin – Book Review

This review was written by my friend Sam Crossley. After raving about the TV series, he craved and purchased the whole series on Kindle. But I will let him tell you more:

I first came across Game of Thrones from the season 1 TV series. After the first episode I was hooked and decided to buy the books. So I had a slight advantage when I read the first book, as each book is a TV series.

Summary courtesy of Amazon

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men… all will play the Game of Thrones.
Winter is coming…

The story line is based in a medieval setting on a different world. It follows multiple characters of different high born families. One of the things I love about these books is that the different families have different sayings and sigils for example; The Stark’s sigil is the dire wolf (A different breed of wolf twice the size and only found in the north.) and their motto is “Winter is coming.” And the Lannisters sigil is a golden lion and there motto is “A Lannisters always pays his depts.” You realise as you read through the book that every sigil and motto has been carefully thought out and applies to the families perfectly.

In the same way as the families have been thought out, each character has so many different sides to them and have all been completely well rounded. The author has said that he intends to write seven books so as you might guess the plot twists turns and rolls in ways I could never guess! Despite this is keeps you enthralled with every page. My only minor negative point about this series of books is trying to remember all the house names and who they are in allegiance with. However, you don’t really notice this until you put the book down and eventually you put it down and suddenly realise that you’ve known them all for quite a while.

You will notice a reoccurring theme in this review but something I really credit this book for is its depth of characters and detail. This is again shown in how the author has intertwined each different religion into the story and managed to give you enough information that without knowing it you understand everything about it.

I give this a 5/5.

You can pick up Game of Thrones on Kindle for just £3.99 or if your old school and love you papers back you can grab a bargain at £3.86.
I also advise everyone to watch the TV series, I rate it a better book to TV conversion than the LOTR’s trilogy. 

Thanks for reading, Love Rie & Sam x

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:

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

Chris Carter – The Executioner. A Book Review by Sam Crossley

 I met Sam at school and we have been close friends since, particularly in College. He has been a big supporter of my blog and is also a fan of reading. So when he mentioned he had a bit of time of his hands and a pile of books this weekend I asked if he would like to write some reviews.

And this is the result 🙂

Please enjoy and comment your opinions on this book, and I look forward to hosting more of his reviews in the future.

Chris Carter – The Executioner

This book is thriller, and it’s not scared to go into detail! A detective in LA, specialising in serial killers, his psychological background making him perfect for analysing the evidence and working out the motive of “The Executioner”. His name is Robert Hunter and unfortunately this is the second book in the series, I have a feeling I have the first book at home, unread, which is a pain because although the other book is only briefly mentioned once or twice and has no effect on the plot of this one, it would lend something deeper to the characters in this book. It’s obvious whatever happened in The Crucifix Killer had a dramatic effect on the main characters.

Anyway, it’s a very easy read; the writing style is very fluid, coupled with the incredibly short chapters it keeps thesuspension up whilst giving you plenty of places to stop. If you feel inclined that is. I didn’t and finished this 472pg, 142 chapter book in 6 hours. Throughout the book you gain more and more knowledge about the main characters, Hunter and his partner Carlos Garcia. Towards the end you are even able to guess comments made before you read them. Their partnership is very fluid, although my only criticism is that the partnership is very one-sided with Hunter the wealth of knowledge and Garcia the less experienced sidekick who is sometimes ignored in my opinion.

The author, Chris Carter, was a criminal psychologist before he took to writing; this really shows in this book. You really get a feel for the type of person the detectives are facing as they slowly unearth the clues from each horrible crime scene to the next. Each thought up with detail that’s slightly more sinister and cruel than the last.

I feel that reading the first book would have given you a better understanding of the characters and possibly solved a few of the odd niggles I felt about the partnership, but other than that a very enjoyable read. One of the first things I intend of doing upon getting home is read the first one.

I give this a 3.5/5

Love Rie & Sam xx