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Bex (United Kingdom)

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The Bane Chronicles 6: Saving Raphael Santiago
The Bane Chronicles 6: Saving Raphael Santiago
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Raphael., 31 Aug. 2015
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This novella does exactly what it says on the tin - it tells us the story of how Raphael (a key creature in TMI series) came to be a vampire. Unsurprisingly we find out through the eyes of Magnus, but more suprisingly he has become a private investigator. Low and behold he stumbles across a missing person. Guessed who yet?

This sixth instalment would be best enjoyed after reading the main series I think because I think the links between Raphael and his story would be lost on you if you hadn't. I didn't expect a novella to have such an impact on my opinions of a character. By nature, novellas aren't meant to add too much or change too much about a story just in case you don't read them and just stick to the main series. For this reason, I was so surprised that I actually came to adore Raphael. In TMI I liked him sometimes, but mostly he was an occasional character, popping up from time to time in a bit of a grump. That's not to say that comedic value of this was lost on me, I just appreciate it so much more having read this novella now. I'm unashamed to now admit that I LOVE Raphael after this. What a funny character; I really hope he features in more of the upcoming novellas.

The best part for me though was the new insight into Magnus and his upbringing. It's no secret to us that Magnus appears to have had a love-less relationship with his judgemental family, but this novella really sheds a lot of light on how tragic his story really is and how being a warlock was difficult for him as a child. This was such a tiny part of the novella but it's really stuck with me; if I re-read the series I think this will add a new layer to Magnus and his behaviour when I read it back.

Another good novella, perhaps my favourite so far. A must-read if you've read the main books.

The Bane Chronicles 5: The Rise of the Hotel Dumort
The Bane Chronicles 5: The Rise of the Hotel Dumort
Price: £1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Magnus - Breaks All The Rules!, 31 Aug. 2015
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It's 1929, in the midst of a money-driven and allegedly drink deprived New York. Perfect for Magnus Bane - money-making extraordinaire! Magnus takes us on his fifth adventure in the Bane Chronicles novellas as he settles back into life in New York and mingles with the up and comings of society.

Compared to the previous four novellas this one seemed the most disjointed. Not an awful lot happens, it's mostly setting the scene and dropping little bits of information in that link in really well with the main books in the series you may have already read. In particular we are introduced to how the Hotel Dumort was originated. I really enjoyed picking out those links and testing my memory to relate them back to the books - it makes me want to read them all over again. I especially loved seeing Magnus get up to his usual mischief by pulling pranks on the local police and selling alcohol in a "dry" New York; typical Magnus hilarity.

In all honesty I've found this to be the least enjoyable of the four I've read so far purely because Magnus didn't come across as interesting or eccentric as he usually might. I like to see his trickery, but I miss his classic one-liners. Despite this little niggle, I did enjoy this novella and I'm looking forward to the next in the set. Definitely recommended for fans of TMI and TMD series, and of course Magnus.

The Bane Chronicles 4: The Midnight Heir
The Bane Chronicles 4: The Midnight Heir
Price: £1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars A Taster of Lady Midnight., 25 Aug. 2015
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""What happened? Magnus asked musingly. "Well, let me see. He stole a bicycle and rode it, not using his hands at any point, through Trafalgar Square. He attempted to climb Nelson's Column and fight with Nelson. Then I lost him for a period of time, and by the time I caught up with him, he had wandered into Hyde Park, waded into the Serpentine, spread his arms wide, and was shouting, "Ducks, embrace me as your King!"".

It's 1903, just 25 years since our last encounter with Tessa, Will and Jem in London and Magnus is called for yet another favour for the Shadowhunters. Except this time the Lightwoods want a piece of him, or rather a piece of a bunch of other Shadowhunters they want him to kill off for them!

This fourth instalment in the Bane Chronicles novellas is very clever, and yet kind of naughty. I really liked the Cassandra Clare gives us a really cheeky insight into the Lady Midnight book (the first in a new spin off series set after Tessa's story featuring her children!). I really like the seeds she's planted in my mind about what Tessa's children will be like. How exciting to start my mind wandering and imagining what James Herondale is like, who his love interest might be and why he's so MOODY! This guy can rival Jace!

However, the reason for my lack of five stars is this: It's a little bit naughty for Cassandra Clare to use this novella as a shameless plug for the new series because it doesn't really fit in with the theme of the previous three novellas so far. To explain, the previous three have showcased Magnus's madness on his travels. This novella, although it does feature Magnus, heavily focuses on the Herondale's and then all of a sudden veers off into a VERY quick story about how Magnus is asked for a favour and immediately says no. What's the point in that? No adventurous tales to tell there at all. It's just pretty pointless in this regard and really did feel like cheeky advertising. I guess it works though because now I'm dying to read the new series!

I do think fans will enjoy this novella nevertheless, but it isn't one to sink your teeth into to find out new bits and pieces about Magnus at all, it's just a taster of what's to come so just set your expectations in line with this before you pick it up. Fun in it's own right, but it doesn't really fit in with these novellas.

The Bane Chronicles 3: Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale
The Bane Chronicles 3: Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Magnus meets a Herondale., 24 Aug. 2015
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“Let us pause for a moment and consider—Oh, you have already run off. Splendid.”

This third novella throws us into the middle of a tense moment for Shadowhunter and Downworld history - the beginnings of the discussions for the Accords. It's 1857 and Magnus is in London.

The thing I love most about these novellas, and about Magnus, is that the immortality of Bane allows us to see various moments in history which we hear about but essentially miss out on in the MI and MD series. I love the not-so-subtle links throughout this novella to the various families we already know such as the Lightwoods, Waylands and Morgensterns. These links are really fun reading for fans of either series and I loved figuring out who was related to who as I went along.

Another selling point for this novella for me is the initial meeting between Magnus and his vampire love interest Camille. This first, chance meeting is witty and unique to these novellas, a great insight I'm so glad to now have read.

For me this third instalment is the best so far. The story was much more gripping, a little bit cheeky and Edmund Herondale is just Jace all over, it's brilliant, his interactions with Magnus are so akin to what we've already seen with Jace. I definitely recommend this to fans.

The Bane Chronicles 2: The Runaway Queen
The Bane Chronicles 2: The Runaway Queen
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Where Are These Monkeys Coming From?, 21 Aug. 2015
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"It was also a very bad idea. It was a terrible idea. It was the worst idea he had ever heard. It was irresistible."

I really enjoyed this second instalment in The Bane Chronicles novellas. We are launched very abruptly into Paris, 1791, right in the midst of the French Revolution and Vampire home ground. Yet again, Magnus has gotten himself into a mess courtesy of his affliction for falling for black haired, blue eyed boys (remind you of anyone?) asking for favours. Unfortunately, this particular blue eyed boy, much like many of those seeking Magnus for assistance, has no small request to make. He wishes to smuggle the King and Queen out of prison and Magnus is the only one who can help him do it.

Another fun-filled adventure featuring warlock/errand boy Magnus Bane, an evil vampire named Saint Cloud, terribly decadent Parisian hot air balloons and ANOTHER monkey. A great short novella to sink your teeth into. Not quite as funny as our usual experience of Magnus, but enjoyable just the same.

The Bane Chronicles 1: What Really Happened in Peru
The Bane Chronicles 1: What Really Happened in Peru
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric, Witty and Fun. A Great Addition., 20 Aug. 2015
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"Picture this. Me with a little monkey friend. I could teach him tricks. I could dress him in a cunning jacket. He could look just like me! But more monkey-shaped.".

Magnus Bane has to be a favourite character for many fans of the Mortal Instruments and Mortal Devices series. What Really Happened In Peru is the first in a novella series made up of ten (but really eleven) short extracts of Magnus's life before, during and after key events in the aforementioned series. Due to it's short nature, it is of course just a bit of fun, light reading but a perfect addition to the series.

I love Magnus, and I have to admit he is the only character I actually fully connected with in the MI and MD series; of which I was a fan but not a colossal one (I lost interest over time). Often, in MI especially, we hear about how Magnus was banned from Peru. But we never know why. This first instalment begins in 1791 (so closer to Tessa's time than Clary's) through to 1962 and features another beloved character and warlock, Ragnor Fell, as he travels around Lima with Magnus on a number of short adventures.

I just love Magnus. He stinks to high heaven of unembarrassed eccentricity, unadulterated humour and witty insults. I can't get enough of him and this particular novella is so much fun because we get to meet Magnus in his own environment separate from some of our other characters often stopping us from seeing what he's really like behind closed doors.

This little insight into Magnus and his mind is fantastic and I can't recommend it enough. I think fans will love it and I also think it would be a great taster for people who haven't met him yet too!

Trial By Fire (Worldwalker)
Trial By Fire (Worldwalker)
by Josephine Angelini
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Did I read a different book to everyone else?, 19 Aug. 2015
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"Funny how quickly the mind moves, but how slowly time does when you're in pain".

It seems that, with a few exceptions, this book has actually really grabbed the attention of many YA readers and my question is this: Why? I know I'm probably inviting insults by saying this, but I just missed the point. Time moved momentously slowly.

As a fan of Starcrossed but not such a fan of Dreamless and Goddess, I had middle of the road expectations for Angelini's newest addition. The blurb sounded good, and I knew she could write gripping storylines with a twist so I was excited. Now, after trawling through a book in which every page felt like a horrible shift at work, I feel relieved it's over and saddened to admit I almost gave up.

The plot itself is actually fantastic and the reason for my two stars. What a brilliant idea, or bunch of ideas really. Multiple universes? Check. Intelligent leading characters? Check. Fantastical, archaic worlds of magic and treachery. Check, check, check.

So let's start with the characters. Lily Proctor is an allergy ridden, allegedly intelligent school girl with a mum with mental health problems and a beautiful sister. Everything smells of roses. Especially her gorgeous half best friend, half unlabelled boyfriend Tristan - and he's finally asked her to go with him to a party instead of keeping things low key and secretive. Now at this point all of you must be thinking, I bet he's a jerk. And you'd be right. Very typically leading girl crushes on a jerk, throws herself at him and gets hurt. This is all rubbish for our leading lady but great for us because it sends Lily's world crashing down (yep, it's really that cringy and desperate) and opens another dimension entirely for us. Literally.

Lily is infuriating within the first few chapters. She's a class A sap, obsessing over a boy and frankly over her very ridiculous, annoying problems. For example at one point she points out that she feels too pale for current fashion and annoyingly thin but 'even she was aware that she had a great face'. Yes. It must be terrible to effectively be a supermodel. So it's fair to say Lily doesn't win us over to begin with. Nor does pompous, player Tristan who I can easily say is the most awful book crush I've had presented to me in years. This was to the point that at one stage it was almost comical how uncomfortably pathetic Lily was around an uncomfortably arrogant Tristan that I began to question if Angelini did it on purpose to rile us up. I still don't know.

Despite this rant, there were some clever ideas as I mentioned earlier. Lily is essentially brought into another dimension by another version of herself, albeit seemingly an evil version, for reasons unknown to us. Within this dimension there are hybrid creatures with a pretty cool explanation, mechanics (semi magical people destined to aid the witches) and willstones - these are really interesting so I won't go into this. These ideas were fantastic and the reason for my perseverance to be honest.

Something else I really enjoyed was Angelini's representation of mental health and the root cause for one of the characters affected within this book. It was a unique spin on things and I'd like to have seen more development of this. I also loved the comparison that were especially well made between good and evil throughout using Lillian (not Lily). It was great to begin to question what makes Lillian evil, what posesses her to act how she does and if she can really be so evil when she does a lot of compassionate things for her family.

Lily perked up for me towards the end, but I couldn't forgive how utterly irritating she was to begin with and I just couldn't connect with any of the additional characters in the alternate universe. There was so much science type information dumped in throughout that I felt like the story ran off on it's own and I lost track of it.

Ultimately I think this genuinely had the makings of a fantastic series. A couple of the concepts are fabulous and I can't knock Angelini's talent, I just wish she'd had less silly characters and interactions between them and more world/story building. A shame, because despite my rant I really do think some readers will be hooked by the interesting ideas and I think she may lose a lot of readers because of the poor presentation of them - I just can't face reading the second Installment.

Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book 3)
Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book 3)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last"., 14 Aug. 2015
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This line perfectly sums up how I felt about this book. I think the Divergent series easily had the most potential of any YA series I've got my hands on in a good while. Veronica Roth is the queen of world-building, compelling characters and plot subterfuge. For those reasons Divergent was wonderful, inventive and an exciting read. So much so I let it go when Insurgent wasn't AS good (although I still rather liked it). But Allegiant just didn't do it for me. At times I liked it a lot, but for the most part it's lucky I didn't do an Al and throw it off a Chasm.

Here's what I think. Allegiant starts off pretty much where Insurgent ended and shows us the world outside the fence in all it's glory. Quite a lot happens fairly quickly and it started off as a real page-turner for me. I fully got my teeth into the explanation of factions, how they really came about and basically the big reveal of the secrets of the Divergent. I loved how Roth dealt with loss and grief; a really sensitive, thought provoking approach that had be questioning my own opinions on what loss is and how it presents itself. In particular, Roth really delves into how familial loss that Tris has experienced with her parents differs from the loss people are feeling of their identities due to the failure of the factions. This is then shown in contrast to Four's relationship breakdowns with his parents, another kind of complex loss. I really felt engaged by this concept and I think her approach was really interesting. I'm glad I read Allegiant just for this.

Unfortunately, here's where the problems started for me. This book was full of holes. Not little niggles though that you can blink and miss, MASSIVE plot holes. I can't really explain too much without spoiling things for those who haven't read it, so I'll just say that the explanation of "GD" and "GP" groups and how this encompassed the whole point of factions was ridiculous. This initially made a bit of sense, I can see how they could think this would work, but the delivery was terrible. I can think of at least three areas where I literally looked at the book in utter confusion because Roth just contradicted her point. Additionally, Roth just jumped from one thing happening to the next and nothing flowed nicely so it was quite difficult to keep up with the plot, not because it was complex but because sometimes it was so haphazardly written that I genuinely had no idea even where I was in the book.

Another issue I had was the narrative. How confusing is it to have Tris and Tobias both narrate? Well usually I'd imagine not very. But like many readers I had to endlessly flick back multiple pages to check who was speaking because they sounded exactly the same to me. Occasionally I was saved the hassle when they were talking to each other and "he's" and "she's" were thrown in, but otherwise this was odd to me. I actually think it was a brilliant idea to split the narrative. It's always interesting to see the world from another pair of eyes and although Tris is an observant narrator for us readers, Tobias/Four is quite a unique and mysterious character so I thought it would be great. If you've read the five short novellas that Roth has done to show Four's life and character further, I think you'll be surprised like I was, because he has a really well developed voice in those and in Allegiant he's actually pretty dull.

Something else I disliked was the pointless deaths. I'm all for killing of main characters. Seriously, I think it makes it interesting. But some of the character deaths along the way were completely pointless. What I did like though was how these deaths were entirely unexpected, I was genuinely shocked when each happened, but I really don't think they added anything to the story or to my enjoyment.

So the ending. Wow. That's caused some stir hasn't it? I won't comment on what happened of course because I'd hate to spoil the surprise, which it really was. I'll just comment on my thoughts on what it did or didn't add. Which is nothing. The conclusive moments/the big event in the ending which everyone is talking about was absolutely POINTLESS. Why? There was no need. If you consider the other events happening in the background this ending was entirely unnecessary.

I know, I know. I've just ranted about how bad I thought it was. The thing is though, I didn't actually hate it. I did enjoy it for the most part. I think that there are some brilliant ideas in there and some really likeable characters. It was fantastic to delve into the past of Tris' mother and how her parents met; some little pieces of the puzzle fitting together to build a nice picture for us. I especially liked the character development; I grew to love Christina and some of the smaller characters as the story progressed.

The most interesting part of this book for me was Peter. I can't believe I'm even writing that, I should be saying that Tris and Four kept me enthralled and I enjoyed their love story. I just couldn't get enough of Peter, and Caleb to some extent. The corruption of these characters and their realisation of their flaws is so clever; this is why Roth is so good.

Ultimately I think that Allegiant ran out of steam. It's almost like Roth had a deadline to meet and rushed it. The ideas are there, the character progression and world building are fantastic, but Four lost his voice and Tris lost her fire for me. I would recommend this to those of you wanting to get your questions answered and for die hard fans, but for those of you not bothered about completion of a story, you might feel better giving it a miss.

Can't believe I've written all of that after how much I adored Divergent.

Offered by MediaMine
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Swift Shocked the Socks Off Of Me., 14 Aug. 2015
This review is from: 1989 (Audio CD)
Taylor Swift has done some rip-roaringly catchy songs, some good songs and some flops. As a fan I think it's fine for me to admit this; I love her music but I still skip the ones I don't enjoy as I would any artist. For this reason, it's easy for me to give you a track by track honest and objective opinion of her newest album 1989 without all the fan-stuff getting in the way.

1. Welcome To New York: A bit slow to get in to but once you've had a few listens you'll start to really like it. The sound is very different to Swift's usual kind of thing, typically pop-esk but it has some interesting things throughout. I love the jingly kind of sounds like you hear in the beginning; very well produced and not what I expected her to do when I saw this was a pop album.
2. Blank Space: Brilliant, witty and so catchy - you can't not love this. So many memories and thoughts run through my mind when I hear this song, I think most people will have similar experiences and be able to relate to this fun, pop song. Very different to her usual style but in a great way.
3. Style: This is a really cleverly produced song and the video is fabulous. I really think this will appeal to teens and adults alike, it has a really cool and interesting sound to it and the lyrics are nicely woven through. I like it.
4. Out Of The Woods: Oh I really hate this one. It's my number one skipped song. I find it so boring.
5. All You Had To Do Was Stay: This is a difficult one to sum up. It's a well-made, cool sounding song but it doesn't really take off or go anywhere. I prefer her songs with a bit more bite lyrically.
6. Shake It Off: If you haven't heard this you'll be living in a cave without internet, radio or TV so I'll assume you also wouldn't be reading this. Therefore for those of you that have. Say no more. It's fun, catchy and despite hating it the first time I heard it, I now love it and over-play it much to my boyfriends distaste. Reminiscent though of "We are never getting back together" though if you haven't heard it.
7. I Wish You Would: This is catchy, it reminds me of a lot of her previous work but it's not a highlight of this album; it doesn't really have anything especially exciting about it lyrically or melodically. It reminds me, if I'm honest, of the kind of silly songs I'd make up as a schoolgirl with my friends. Think "Stay Stay Stay" from her previous album. You will find yourself humming the lyrics to yourself in the shower despite this. But it's not one I'd pick to play at random.
8. Bad Blood: Okay so this isn't her best work. It's vaguely irritating in that it's so repetitive and the melody really started to get on my nerves. A track I always skip now. On a more complimentary note though, a set of videos for the making of the actual music video featuring various celebrities are really witty and an enjoyable watch.
9. Wildest Dreams: This is brilliant; easily a 5/5 song in terms of showing off her talent lyrically and vocally. It's kind of eerie like track 12 but catchier in terms of the melody. I think even non-fans will like this actually.
10. How You Get The Girl: I love this song. The thing I've said a few times now is that this album is fun, and despite this Swift has still put together some really thought-provoking songs that make people think about their own lives. This is THAT song.
11. This Love: This song is beautiful. The lyrics, the sound, the melody and her voice work absolutely perfectly in this song. Having heard Swift as basically a country singer for the most part, I was so shocked that this worked but I couldn't think of a better artist for this song. Love it. I can't even compare it to any of her other work because it truly stands alone.
12. I Know Places: This is easily the most listened to song for me on this album. It's gorgeous, compelling, eerie and dark. I absolutely love it; a completely knew song in my opinion from Swift and a really dark, catchy melody with haunting lyrics. "They are the hunters, we are the foxes" - One of her best lines yet.
13. Clean: This song is very melodic. It's calm and soft. The only downside is that it doesn't really take off and stays at the same sort of pace throughout - not one you'll skip though irrespective of this.

Overall, Swift shocked the socks off of me with this. It's clear to see that she's had some pretty mixed reviews from this. Some people wish she'd stuck to what she knew, some think she's killed her career with going pop and others think she's rocked it. I personally enjoyed this album. Yes, there are a few less fantastic songs and I do think some of her older work has worked better. However, I can't believe how beautifully written her music has become in comparison to the previous albums (except the odd song) and how well her voice actually works as a pop artist. I fully didn't expect to enjoy this, started listening to it half expecting a flop and have gained some brand new favourites from it.

Sceptic? You just have to listen to it.

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, Book 5)
City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, Book 5)
by Cassandra Clare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 3 Aug. 2015
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There's something about not finishing a book that I can't handle the taste of. Unfortunately for me, after The City of Bones, that bad taste felt like it was guaranteed. Cassandra Clare managed to keep me interested enough with the relationship twists and turns and the destruction of all things evil (cheesy much?) but only barely.

I feel so guilty that I didn't enjoy this book because I really hoped after finishing book three thinking it was all over that Clare must have come up with something awesome enough to make her think to write three more. Now, I hate to sound cynical but I really hope it wasn't just a money making ploy because a lot of her other books I've actually enjoyed, but this series for me just hasn't floated my boat.

This book though, set apart from the others as is only fair, does have some really enjoyable elements and I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into them. I love how we get to see so much more of the Shadowhunter world from a more traditional angle; it was great to see the life Clary's parents must have lived and to learn more about how Clary's mother and Luke had developed from their more traditional lives before everything happened with Valentine.

I also really loved to see some of the other characters develop. Isabelle and Alec more specifically; Alec and Magnus kept me hooked and Isabelle is just hilarious. However, this brings me to my first negative. Jace as a character has the worst kind of attitude of any main character I think I've ever come across. I can totally see how Clare imagined he would come across - cocky but attractive nevertheless. But he is written in a way that his arrogance couldn't appear attractive at all; he is so obsessed with looks that I couldn't see the funny side of it any longer.

Clare has written very well in my opinion in some of her books. The series running along side this (The Mortal Devices) is absolutely phenomenal right to the very end of it, I loved every second of reading it. But, TMI just couldn't match it. Her writing style seems so different in comparison - slow, dull and SO MUCH waffling.

I have high hopes for future work of Clare's, really I do. I feel terrible that I didn't enjoy this book because I felt it had so much promise and some aspects of it were great, it's just a shame about the portrayal of Jace this time. I have faith it will improve ready for the next one though.

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