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

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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.

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

No Good Deed by Bill Blais – Book Review

Don’t get me wrong, I love YA fiction, but this is one seriously good grown up demon fighting awesome book that all age groups will love!

 
Summary Courtesy of Amazon“In the last ten days, I’ve resigned myself to three things: Your kid’ll break his arm the day after you lose your job; you should always look a gift horse in the mouth; and nothing, not even ridding the world of demons, is as straightforward as you’d think.”Kelly McGinnis has spent her adult life trying to do the right thing, but as a newly down-sized mother of twins and the wife of a man living with Multiple Sclerosis, she also knows that trying isn’t always enough. While interrupting a scene of police brutality, Kelly unwittingly releases a real, live demon. After she manages to kill the creature through gut instinct and blind luck, she is approached to join a secret group of demon hunters who reveal an underworld of monsters and magic. Against her better judgment, Kelly accepts the lucrative, if bizarre, offer; but when she meets Umber, a compelling incubus with an unexpectedly human story, she learns that the truth is far stranger and more terrifying than she imagined.
 
This is the #1 book in the Kelley and Umber series by Bill Blais. Bill is such a great guy, and having posted and interview with him here on the blog before I read the book he made some pretty bold statements that had a lot to live up to. But I have to say it was more. This is a seriously good book!
 
At the ripe age of 21 I find very few characters I can really relate to. YA protagonists seem to always be young teens and I see their flaws and strengths in relation to when I was that age. Kelly though, is a character I will inspire to be like! Middle aged, slightly over weight but with a fantastic family that she loves and an exciting change of career. She is likeable, funny, imperfect and most of all KICK ASS!
 
At no time was I left feeling like this was similar to another book, that I could predict where the next page would take me or felt it slowing down at all. Even domestic scenes of dinner parties had their exciting twists that left me wanting more.Speaking of twists; the introduction of the character Umber in the late stages of the book is something I have not seen before and I loved it. As the whole series is named after the pair I know he will star more in the future books and I can’t wait.
 
The main flaw in this book from my opinion is not really its fault. Being written by an American, being set in America it holds and lot of references to America that do fit is well with the international audience. Struggling to pay medical bills just does not happen in the UK with the NHS, and this was something that bugged me a little. However it is integral to the story and I of course understood that healthcare is insurance based and has to be paid for. Other American cultural references I feel were lost on me, but it did not hold the book back in any way.
 
Overall I loved this book. The protagonist Kelly is awesome, her family adorable and the character of Umber is really one I look forward to reading more about. 
 
9/10 (1 point lost because I’m not American)
 
I am taking part in a blog tour for this book with some really awesome book bloggers. You can see their out their reviews, interviews, guest posts and giveaway from here.
 
Thanks as always for reading,
 
Love Rie x

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong – Book Review

Non stop, action packed and  fantastic addition to the YA series by Kelly Armstrong.
Summary courtesy of KelleyArmstrong.comMaya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

This second book in the YA series, Darkness Rising, doesn’t need to start with a bang. The bang has already happened at the end of the first book in the series, The Gathering, and this starts if it was only a turn of a page rather than a new book. As a companion series to her other YA series Darkest Powers, they compliment each other perfectly, throwing in inter-textual references left, right and centre from both Darkest Powers and her adult fantasy series Women of the Otherworld, this is a real treat for Armstrong fans.

Maya Delaney is soon becoming one of my favourite YA protagonists. Strong willed, talented and a skin-walker. What more do you need to look up to? Superbly written the love triangle in the book is just on the right side of teenage awkward without being overly predictable. Rafe is troubled, invincible and most of all hot for a 15 year old! But with a minor revelation at the end of this book I feel that the relationship may develop in a way I have never imagined before.

As this group of teens struggle to find out who, or what, they really are they are forced to flee for their lives with no one to trust. There is something about this narrative that I really fell in love with, and I can’t wait to see where the next instalment will take us next.

Not read any of Kelley Armstrongs YA fiction before? What are you waiting for! My recommendation would be to start with the Darkest Powers series, and work your way to this companion series. Although I don’t doubt you will enjoy it as a stand alone novel, its well worth the wait to understand all the complexities and inter-textual references.

Overall I have got really fan girl over this book. In my mind YA fiction doesn’t get much better than this!

10/10!

Let me know in the comments below what you think of this book? Think you have a better YA series I will like, let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x