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The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1
The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1
by Rod Duncan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for more!, 26 Aug 2014
Steampunk, I love Steampunk, and this is a fantastic addition to the genre.

The book grabs you from the first page and refuses to let you go, dragging you in to the rich world that has been created. There's plenty of intricate detail without throwing too much information at you and disrupting the flow of the book.

The Bullet-Cathcer's Daughter is packed with the amazing and the wonderful, magic, circuses, theatre, troupes, con ladies and gypsies to name a few. This lot are all present, woven in to the book to create an interesting cast of characters and a fantastic backdrop. Background on Elizabeth is expertly intertwined with the main story, not disrupting the flow or bogging you down with too much information.

While I didn't get too attached to our main character, I did like her. The world and the premise of the book are unique, and so is Elizabeth. She disguises herself as her own cool is that?! She's intelligent, she can talk her way out of trouble...or if that doesn't work, she can usually wangle her way out another way.

I loved the world we inhabit in the story, and it was fantastically written, you can lose yourself entirely in the world and characters. It's one you want to visit again and again so it's just as well that there's a second book coming pretty swiftly!

For all you romance fans, there's plenty of hints of a romance, that will satisfy you and is toned just right. It's going to be interesting to see where that goes!

Perfectly written and toned, with an expert blend of the different aspects we love in a good read!

Midnight Everlasting (The UnderCity Chronicles Book 2)
Midnight Everlasting (The UnderCity Chronicles Book 2)
Price: 2.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong sequel, 26 Aug 2014
As anyone who reads my reviews knows, I loved the first book in the series and so I was incredibly excited for this installment. However I'm still at a loss for what genre this is?! I can't put it in any category!

First I'll address what I know you're all wondering, yes some of the characters from the first book do pop up! The whole battle with the moles thing carries on as well, among other continuations. You could probably get away with reading this as a standalone, but ya know it's more fun if you read the other one!

I still love the world, it totally encompasses you as you read and sucks you in. You feel like you're there and everything is so vivid and atmospheric. I also love all the creatures, as weird and strange as some are!

The characters are all well written and realistic. You can connect with them and develop one of those pesky emotional attachments that give you ridiculous feels.

The UnderCity Chronicles are two truly unique books, and Midnight Everlasting continues on being a thrilling read, totally impossible to put down, and having loads of twists and turns to keep you on your toes, as well as little pieces of humour.

To be honest, Midnight Everlasting was even creepier than Undertow, particularly as I am a regular user of the London Tube. Undertow kind of made me a little bit like "omg" about the tube, it really made me think, this one? Total freak out. I may never be able to ride the tube again. Ever.....okay I'm joking, it wasn't that bad, but I'll certainly never look at the tube the same way ever again.

I loved the mythology for this one, we got an introduction to an old myth that just ya know...turned out to be quite real. I love mythology and the mythology in this was well written and rich.

The romance was perfectly written, slow building attraction and all that, and the story overall was gritty and quite dark. Although whether I'm saying it's dark as in story wise or dark as in world/location wise (geddit) is up to you.

Handpicked (The Pledged Series Book 1)
Handpicked (The Pledged Series Book 1)
Price: 1.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, 26 Aug 2014
This was kind of different to my usual reads, but it was intriguing to me, the whole sorority clearly up to something nefarious type thing. I wasn't sure what to expect from the book if I'm honest, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Handpicked is probably the only book I've read where the sorority girls aren't all described as being bimbos/ditzy/idiots/bitches, which is pretty much every depiction of a sorority girl in movies as well as books when you think about it. It made a nice change to see them portrayed as just regular girls, as weird and strange and probably stupid as that sounds, you know what I mean!

There's plenty of drama and suspense in the book to keep you turning the pages and unable to put the book down. There was a little romance on the side as well as the main drama, and it was quite cute. It would have been nice to know more about Tad to be honest.

The mystery was well done, it was intriguing and the relationships where well written, but there was also the opportunity for there to be more I think. There was more telling than showing, which can wear a bit thin sometimes.

But all in all it was a good way to while away a few hours and enjoyable.

The Hot Zone (Harmony)
The Hot Zone (Harmony)
by Jayne Castle
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 26 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Hot Zone (Harmony) (Paperback)
Castle's books never fail to be unique, different and imaginative, as well as engaging and entertaining. The Hot Zone is no exception!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I freaking love the dust bunnies! I don't want one....I NEED one! Although I'd have some issues sharing my Halloween sweets with one...I'm sure we could come to some sort of arrangement. Although I should probably bear in mind the whole "by the time you see the teeth, it's too late" and just hand it all over. I love everything about these books, they're just so much fun and each book is another fantastic addition.

I love the world, it's so totally unique and sucks you in. The history of the world or whatever you want to call it, the customs the way it works, the powers, everything is just so unique and it helps to contribute to a world that sucks you in while you read and you kinda wanna live there and never leave the world.

In this installment we see the differences between Marriages of Convenience and Covenant Marriages and find out more about each one.
We get to find out more as new things are revealed about....stuff. No spoilers here!
I love how the romance isn't the main deal with these books, it's there but there's also a complex plot going on with it.

Sedona is fantastic, easy to connect to, she's strong, and the best kind of leading lady. She can really take care of herself. Her relationship with Cyrus was well written, they work well together as a team. Cyrus was kind of perfect, not gonna lie. I love how the romance wasn't all that insta crap, you could watch them bond and watch it develop, as with any relationship there's a couple of bumps, but it's wrapped up nicely at the end.

The monsters added a nice creepy touch, particularly as it's set over Halloween, and then there's the whole "main character living in a graveyard" kind of thing. It creates a fantastic atmosphere!

Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin)
Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin)
by Jennifer Estep
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Better and better!, 26 Aug 2014
Jennifer Estep....I love Jennifer Estep. I don't think she's ever written a book that I haven't liked? Mythos Academy is one of those series that I repeatedly re-read whenever I need a pick me up, and Elemental Assassin is swiftly turning in to one of those as well.

While I wholeheartedly think you should read the whole series, if you where inclined to read this as a standalone it could probably work. The book has a concise but informative description of what's gone on in the previous books so you can grasp where we're at in the current book.

Like all of Esteps books, Poison Promise is fast paced, with a slick flow and is utterly engaging. Estep expertly mixes action and romance, with a dose of the supernatural and enough humour to make it a bad idea to read this in public! It's literally the perfect combination of genres, it's the perfect book for any mood really.

I love Gin, she's just perfect. She's the kind of protag I love, and Estep always writes the best leading ladies! Gin has everything I love in a leading lady, she's strong, she's feisty, she's badass and she's snarky. Perfect blend of traits is perfect!

Owen continues to be ridiculously amazing, he's supportive, he gets her and he's just adorable. Their relationship just gives you all the feels and all the warm and fuzzies and it's just squeee.

Finn is my favourite. I love him. I couldn't love him more if I tried. He makes me flat out cackle/snort laugh/ugly laugh whatever words you want to use!

All of Esteps characters are well written, jump off the page, they're colourful and full of depth. You can connect to them so easily, and every time you pick up the next book in the series it's like sitting down with old friends.

There's plenty of development going on in the story, Gin is wary of going after Benson, and we see more of her relationship with her sister in this book. Bria kind of annoyed me in this book, but she and Gin had been getting on so well watching the conflict between them was like aaaaahh nooo! But the resolving of the conflict in this book has made way for a new one....I

Estep knows how to finish a book leaving you well and truly wanting more and making the wait for the next book very painful. I can't wait for the next book because it's going to be a scorcher. We know the identity of M.M. Monroe, and he's going to be a fantastic enemy for Gin, and I'm just way too excited to see what happens next!

A Love Like Blood
A Love Like Blood
by Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Too much drag, 25 Aug 2014
This review is from: A Love Like Blood (Hardcover)
It's 1944, Paris has just been liberated and Charles Jackson's superior officer has wangled it so they can go and visit said City. While there he sees something strange and horrifying in a bunker, a man drinking the blood of a dead woman. Terrified he backs away, minutes later....there's nothing there. Charles tells himself he's seen worse things during the war but he can't help but think he should have done something.

Years later he returns to the city he couldn't forget, he even revisits the site. But it's not until he's dining that he sees something he never expected to see. The man. And he's not alone, an enchanting young woman is with him. He can't resist the opportunity to follow them when he leaves, leading to a confrontation with the woman. He doesn't expect to fall in love with her, nor does he expect her murder, an event he doesn't find out about until 10 years later.

What follows is an obsession for Charles, he becomes obsessed with finding the man, a man he suspects of being a notorious killer in the streets of a Paris, a man who's the head of some sort of cult, and the man who will destroy his life.

I've always loved Sedgwick's books, I remember sitting at school reading Blood Red, Snow White and being totally in love with the writing and the world building, so when I saw this I couldn't resist requesting it. I have mixed feelings about the book, I really wanted to love it, and while I liked it, it didn't wow me.
It was a lot darker than I expected, and quite disturbing at times to be honest. When I started reading I assumed Vampires, but I was wrong.

I enjoyed the world building, switching between Paris, Cambridge and other locations, each location was written fantastically so you got a feel for the place, and felt like you'd been there. There was plenty of mystery which was intriguing, and lots of little bits that meant something but you didn't realise it at the time.

There was a pretty big plot twist at the end, which wasn't that much of a surprise, but it had been led up to, and it was kind of interesting to watch this development if not a bit creepy. There was lots of obvious research, some of which was rather interesting, but some of which I felt did bog it down a little bit.

I got quite annoyed a few times when there where phrases in French, quite frequently sometimes, that didn't have a translation, some of them did, but some of the time you had no idea what was said. Which was kind of annoying because you had no idea if it was important to the story or not, and your only option was to sit glued to google translate while reading.

Other times the actual English was a chore to get through, I mean I know the character was supposed to be an educated man, it was all post war and everything so a bit old fashioned, but it was kind of stuffy to read sometimes and a bit disjointed. Not to mention the passages where nothing much was going on. Or the passages entirely about blood. Yummy.

I know it's not aaaall about if you like the protagonist, but I really didn't like him. I started off feeling a tad sorry for him and being a bit like hmm, but then he was really creepy and stalkery and pervy and deranged/sick/obsessive, whichever one you want to go with. It was kind of hard to like him once he crossed a line. It didn't make sense how he was so obsessed with this all because of a woman he met a couple of times that he was "in love" with.

We didn't really see much of the villain so I didn't have much of an opinion on him. I mean I was expecting some sort of explanation for his behavior or whatever, but we just get told what the thinks the whole deal is by the protag. Villain guy only speaks a couple of times during the book, except for the end when he monologues for FOUR FREAKING PAGES. FOUR. He is literally THAT villain that monologues the day away and you're like "dude....get on with it".

All in all though, I found the book a bit too heavy handed, dragging and mildly disturbing to actually like it.

Conquest (Chronicles of the Invaders 1)
Conquest (Chronicles of the Invaders 1)
by John Connolly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Few issues, but still intriguing, 24 Aug 2014
It all started when a wormhole appeared and Earth and it's inhabitants turned out to be the most advanced creatures the Illyri had as yet discovered....if they didn't attack us, at some point, we could have attacked them, so they invaded us with some help from our technology and love for it, and have been in charge ever since. While they have brought technological and medical advances beyond our capabilities, there are those who still aren't too jazzed about being under rule from aliens, particularly with the rumours of drugged drinking water circulating. Enter the Resistance.

Syl is the Governors daughter, her father is pretty much in charge in England and he's busy dealing with an attack on a military base, making it pretty easy for Syl to sneak out to go shopping. But the trip takes a turn for the worse when a part of the street she's on is bombed, and a chance encounter with a human boy alters the course of her future irrevocably. Not only are these bombings not the work of the Resistance...they could be something a little closer to home, there's dissent brewing between the factions of the Illyri and bids for power are being made all over the place. Secret coups mean things are changing, and when the human boy, Paul, and his brother are arrested and sentenced to death for the bombings, Syl knows they're innocent. But one daring rescue later, and Syl has made her father's already precarious position much worse.

On the run with her best friend, being harboured by the Resistance, Syl and co are about to find out a life changing secret, one that people have killed for to keep quiet.

"Syl would do well in life, assuming her father didn't throttle her first"

Okay so I tried to do this synopsis to the best of my ability without being too spoilery because I take excessive notes when I review, it's a really bad habit! I felt like the synopsis on Goodreads and on my copy of the book itself is kind of misleading. You're kind of lead to believe this is some huge romance thing, and there is romance, but it's not the main focus of the story and there's so much going on that's more complex than you where expecting.

As you can see, I have given it 3 stars, now before you assume I don't like the book, I did like it. I really did, and I'm really excited to read the second book and see where this is going, because towards the end of the book my interest was well and truly piqued, however, there where a couple of things with the book that have contributed to this rating. Partially to do with the misleading synopsis, partially not.

I loved the setting of the book, Edinburgh Castle and the city itself as well as the cool right? She lives in a freaking castle?! I want to live in a castle! I've never been to Edinburgh unfortunately, but through the writing and the descriptions I really got a clear picture of the place and a feel for it. I really enjoyed the little tidbits of Edinburgh's history that where thrown in throughout the book as I largely didn't know most of it!

Conquest is very unique, the aliens themselves, all of the traditions they have, all of the creepy/crazy/weird creatures, the world that has been created and the whole "how they invaded us" thing, the history of the world basically, are unlike anything I've read before, and my brain was working over time to picture this strange creatures and the aliens. I love all things unique so it hugely appealed to me in that sense.

The opening chapter was perfect. It drew you in, intrigued you, made you want to find out more. It concisely detailed the background of the invasion, how it happened, why it happened, what happened during and after and so on, I can't be the only one who is now not looking at the internet and technology in the same loving way ever again. This was fantastic for the opening chapter, but more on this later.

The whole thing with the Resistance was very WW2 like, with the conscripts, the informers, the ways the Resistance communicate without using technology like the dead drops and so on. I thought this was an interesting aspect. But you don't really get much information about the resistance until about page 225.

The characters are well written and most of them are quite intriguing. Particularly Meia, I couldn't work her out while I was reading, I wasn't sure of her allegiances a couple of times, but it became obvious she's determined to protect Ani and Syl, and the reveal about her....well I didn't see that coming and I'm excited to see what's instore for her in the next book, I need loads more Meia!

Syl is hard for me, I wasn't too sure of her at first, she was really wild and a bit like a spoiled brat more than once, but I did like her spirit and her wit, she was perfectly snarky. Syl gets a lot of development over the course of the book, as does Ani, they both go from being kind of care free to being hunted and in more than one mildly terrifying situation, and it visibly changes them. They mature a fair bit, and I'm excited to see what they're going to do in the next book because everyone keeps underestimating them, which is a huge mistake when you consider the fact Syl can bend people to her will and Ani can cloud minds among other things. Before the reveal you knew Ani at least had something going on, and it's been made clear they're special but there's more detail to be had I think.

"You're quite critical for someone who was hours away from being hanged"

Paul is the only character I'm a bit "eeehh" about, which is kind of bad seeing as he's the love interest. My issue with him is that he's a bit bland, and some of what he does made no sense. He's with the Resistance, the Resistance aren't too fond of Illyri, but the second time he meets Syl, just after he discovers she's an Illyri, he kisses her quite randomly? To me that didn't make too much sense, it seemed like he was only part of the Resistance to cause problems with the romance to give it some drama you know? Paul's quite sweet, but I'm hoping for there to be more to him in the next book.

The thing with this book is related to what I said early. My main issue is that you're lead to believe there's some hue forbidden romance going on, they're on opposite sides and everything. I was expecting there to be more to the relationship and I'm going to try very hard to explain this properly. I was working off the fact that we'd have them meet, and there would be hatred at first, which would be expected considering who each of them is, and then we'd see the romance blossom. Not so. Paul first meets her and she's disguised, but as I said, the second time he finds out she's one of the aliens he's so determined to rid the world of, and he just kisses her. There's like instant attraction which is always iffy for me, and it didn't feel true to the supposed character of Paul to have insta anything with an Illyri. Especially seeing as he hates all the Illyri but there's no proper explanation of why he doesn't hate Syl aside from the rescue. I would have thought there would be grudging thanks not smooches. This just really rankled me when reading and it was hard to shake off because it was so strange to me.

The other thing is that in the first half of the book....Syl and Paul are only in two scenes together, briefly. Another reason why this insta thing made no sense, the romance was just there. The relationship was just there. And it was quite strange. I was not expecting to go half the book without the two of them being together, I assumed from the synopsis it would be all go from the beginning and growing attraction.

The narrative was tricky, the story is being told asif the narrator is looking back on events, so there's plenty of ominous comments which worked to intrigue you and keep you reading. We jumped from character to character, some main, some not, and it was very well done, the transition smooth, and the changes well timed to sow more intrigue. The narrator fills in quite a few blanks, which was fantastic when it was concise and something you needed to know, we also got follow ups for some of the lesser characters like the guard who was nice to Syl, which I thought was a nice touch, as well as the little tidbits of information.

However. Like I said the first chapter was perfect for the background and everything. But while some of the tangents did usually mean or pertain to something later revealed, there was a hell of a lot of background and info dumps slotted in to the narrative, which after a while, starts to wear on you and it's a bit of a chore to get through it all. It worked for the first chapter, it worked a couple of other times, but at some points it was like "aaahh not more". Becuase of this I felt the first half of the book was very slow to start and dragged a fair bit, as the action finally ramped up in the second half, alot of the bogging down with information could be ignored. I know you have to set the ground work, but it was just too much information sometimes.

I mean, I was expecting a lot more from the Resistance, more about them, I was expecting more fighting and to see them fighting back but the book is largely about the aliens themselves and their politics and culture, which is what you see a lot of and the source of the majority of all this information. The Resistance are more of a side note, I was expecting them to be more in the story. I thought it would be all about the Resistance fighting the aliens and there'd be all this tension. There was tension but it was between the aliens themselves not the Resistance and the aliens which is weird when you think about the title. It reached a point where I really did stop caring about the aliens and their culture, largely because I felt like I was being talked at by the narrator.

Those are my two issues with the book, and they did slightly change how I viewed the book, I went from loving it at the start, to being bored and mildly frustrated at how misleading it had been, to loving it again, and like I said, I am excited to read the next book because towards the end of Conquest it perfectly sets up the next book, you want to know what happens next, there's issues that have to be worked out and things are going to be interesting. Although I'm getting the feeling our love interests are going to spend more time apart than together so I'm still iffy on the romance. I'm not buying it right now, I'm here for the aliens and cool gadgets and tech....and ya work out what the weird wormy things are. It was very like a fantasy book with all the information, which I was not expecting.

Oh and England being the "European" HQ was a bit odd. I don't consider myself a European, we're part of the EU but we don't use the Euro? I figured it should have been somewhere actually in Europe?

The political power struggle going on was very intriguing you knew something was happening before it was spelled out for you and watching the pieces fall in to place was fun. You had lots of mysteries to work out, and fail at working out, the plot twists where very unexpected and unpredictable so you get surprise after surprise and after each surprise you get excited with the direction of the story.

There where lots of things to keep you intrigued, and the book does make you laugh a hell of a lot, with scenes like the girls not getting our human phrases, but it also is quite sad at points, I'm talking about the scene with Tam and the dog here okay!

Conquest is an intriguing book, full of mystery, intrigue, secrets, betrayal, lies, political and power struggles, coups and lies. With a unique world that where swallow you in to it, full of unique and strange creatures, cool gadgets, and a unique new breed of alien, your imagination is going to get a work out. While it does have a few issues with it, my overall verdict is that it's enjoyable, and a lot of fun once you get past the faults. I wouldn't call this Sci-Fi/YA, it should be labelled Fantasy with YA characters, but bring on book two!

Half-Blood (Covenant Series)
Half-Blood (Covenant Series)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough!, 22 Aug 2014
Alex Andros is a half-blood courtesy of her pure blood mum getting it on with a mortal. Now if you're a pure- blood, you get these epic godlike powers, seeing as how you're descended from Gods having flings with mortals, but if you're a half -blood like Alex? Well you've got two options....drink some freaky elixir and spend the rest of your life being a slave or train to become a sentinel and hunt daimons. I'm sure you can tell which option Alex picked.

Three years ago, Alex and her mum fled the safety of the Deity Island Covenant, no-one, least of all Alex, knows why, but after a tragic run in with a couple of daimons, Alex is found and dragged back to the Covenant. She doesn't get quite the welcome party she hopes for, narrowly avoiding becoming enslaved and all, luckily for her Aiden steps in and offers to spend his spare time away from his Sentinel duties helping her catch up so she can resume her training....but she's on thin ice. One slip...and it's buh bye kicking Daimon ass and being all revengey, and hello scrubbing toilets for her horrific step father.

Simple right? Weeeeelll did I mention Aiden is a pure-blood? Did I mention that there's a bunch of rules and rule number one is that relationships between halfs and pures are forbidden? Alex can't avoid falling for Aiden, but things get even more complicated when Alex gets a cryptic warning from the Oracle, Seth aka the Apollyon aka a totally badass half who can control all the elements and a super special fifth one, and Alex finds out the real reason her mother fled the Covenant with her. Not to mention everything they knew about Daimons....could be very very wrong. Following the rules, and surviving until graduation just became reaaallly hard.

"The pures believed she communed with the Gods. I believed she communed with a lot of liquor."

So Half-Blood isn't a new series, it's been around a while, and as you can tell from my overly long synopsis I have read it before. I read Half-Blood not long after if first came out and I'm not gonna lie, I've read all the series and I love them. I love Armentrouts books, I say this every single time!

I couldn't resist this when I saw it on Bookbridgr, I mean look at how pretty the cover is! And this edition has the prequel to Half-Blood in it as well, which is fun to read before you read Half-Blood...or after, whatever floats your boat.

As soon as you start reading Half-Blood you're thrown in to the action straight away with Alex, and you're pretty much hooked from page one. The opening scene is full of tension and allusions to events we haven't witnessed and it hooks you completely. Especially when Aiden shows up with his badass entrance worthy of a movie. From there, it's fast paced all the way and you're unable to put the book down!

Half-Blood is incredibly unique to everything out there in the YA genre, and you can see it from opening chapter. There's daimons, halfs, pures and Gods. The mythology behind the daimons is rich and like I said, unique, Pures get turned, only halfs can see what they really are after they're turned, hence why they get trained up to hunt them. We've got the whole take on the Gods, and you get fed some little bits of myths. Then we have the Apollyon, who has the Buffy "one born every generation" shebang going on, and gets to control all the elements, something no other half can do, Pures get one element each, and he gets control over the fifth element...Akasha. Like I said, it's some very detailed and rich mythology.

The world building is also astounding. We get this incredibly rich, unique world, shrouded in mystery and things you just NEED to know now, with Greek Gods woven in to it and Greek mythology. It's a modern world, yeah, but it has Greek accents, shall we say? The world that's created will suck you in, and you'll leave kinda wishing you could go to the Covenant, everything is written very vividly.

I love Alex, I really do, she is like my twin and probably the only person who can match me for snark. I love snarky badass characters and Alex is the best of them. She's not perfect, she could be described as having some anger issues, but the imperfections make me love her more, and make her some more realistic and human. Alex is written very realistically, and with plenty of depth as well as being a strong character. Her speech is very current and up to date, and I picked up more than one phrase from her! Alex's inner monologue and narrative is engaging and incredibly entertaining, I'm not talking little chuckles here, I'm talking ugly snort laughing!

"-more than just her merry band of psychos."

Aiden is kind of aloof, at first, and you're fed this little bit of backstory about him, but you still want to know more, you can see what drives him and shaped him, and how he looks after his brother is and is like a parent is cute, but also kinda sad for him. Aiden is generally adorable, the little things he does for Alex with the uniform and everything for example, and it's way obvious he likes her but doesn't want anything bad to happen to her.

Seth is....Seth. He's intriguing, we don't really know much about him, where he comes from and so on, we just know he's the Apollyon and like Alex, you kinda wanna smack him upside the head sometimes. He and Alex have a connection that's more than what it first appears, shall we say.

Our main characters are all written so vividly they jump off the page, and the same goes for the secondary characters. I particularly love Caleb and his friendship/relationship with Alex, they're hilarious together! Alex is written so well you can connect with her easily and feel what she feels, so Lucian you just want to punch and Marcus I'm just like ugh what a douche. You literally go through Alex's emotions with her, through the good and the bad.

The romance isn't full throttle from the go. It builds slowly, you watch it start, slowly blossom and develop, but there's a pretty huge obstacle in the way. That's not to say there aren't any cute scenes, there totally are, and the two of them are ridiculously adorable, warm and fuzzies all the way, you end up squealing internally along with Alex. We're watching the beginning stages of the "we like each other, but...." phase. They can't get together straight away but the potential is there. Aiden gets Alex, and he's adorably protective but he does know she can hold her own.

There is also the potential for a love triangle, but this one is going to be interesting. It's against the rules for Alex and Aiden to be together and he won't let anything happen in case they get found out and Alex ends up a slave, and with Seth there's the whole connection thing. Alex doesn't have feelings for Seth but their bond, and the fact it will get stronger, is going to be a spanner in the works. There's going to be the whole "is this because of the connection thing or?"

As for the writing, Half-Blood is written cinematically in my opinion, the flow is fantastic, each chapter ends making you want to read on. The plot is fairly complex, there's different things going on, different mysteries to work out, or try to, you have to put the pieces together, and nothings as it seems at first. I mean you could be forgiven for thinking the main deal with the plot is Alex falling for Aiden, some torrid love affair occurs and there's lots of training. No. As I said, we see the start of Aiden and Alex, wisps you could say, there's so much more going on than the synopsis leads you to believe, there's secrets and plots, and a tonne of plot twist you won't see coming and will shock you to the "mouth hanging open, uncomprehending" stage.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book is how there was all the potential to leave it on a cliffhanger for the next book, I was kind of expecting, but instead you get this incredibly beautiful, eyes slightly welling up, ending that finishes the book perfectly.

Now as someone who's already read the books, I gotta say, the foreshadowing is on point, and there was more than one line that I chuckled at because it was so ironic considering future events. As I'm sure you can gather, this is one of those books you can re-read until it's falling apart!

"Grandma had apparently missed that memo"

As for the prequel, it's incredibly fleshed out, just as much as the actual novel, I find this rare in novellas not going to lie. It basically details Alex being accepted in to the Covenant, the events leading up to, and the death of, her mother, and then the events immediately before Half-Blood, like how she ended up where she was for example. Alex's characterization runs true to the book, she's just as snarky. There's lots of information woven in to this action packed novella, and it's a fantastic continuation of the story. It gives you loads more insight in to Alex as a character and what her life was like for her in the mortal world. There's even some mentions of Aiden *winkwink*. It's also kind of heartbreaking to read about Alex with her mum and see what their relationship was like, not gonna lie!

Half-Blood is a humorous, fun, and un-put-down-able read, with a world and characters that are expertly built, engaging, and suck you in. The characters are as vivid as the world, and you connect to them so easily, the world...well...I kinda wanna live in it! Half-Blood entertains, while perfectly setting up the next book incredibly subtly and almost like an afterthought. Half-Blood is a must read, there's so much more to explore in the world created, and the potential for the story arc is astounding.

The Vanishing Witch
The Vanishing Witch
by Karen Maitland
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and chock with Superstitions, 19 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Vanishing Witch (Paperback)
I confess, I haven't read any of Maitlands previous books, what drew me to The Vanishing Witch was the synopsis, being the history nerd that I am! And who can resist anything implying witchcraft?!

In the pages of The Vanishing Witch we dive headfirst in to the reign of Richard II, a true boy King, but unfortunately his reign is a tad bit troubled, with the poor facing some incredibly hard times when the poll tax takes the poor and makes them poorer. Not a fantastic time to live in, one could say. Hardly surprising that the poor rose up and riots broke out, with peasants fighting back, including one of our characters, Gunter.

While Gunter and his son become embroiled in the riots and we see the harsher side of life in 1380, we also see how the other half life. Gunter's boss, a wealthy wool merchant, happens to meet Widow Catlin, and it's not long before he's thoroughly enchanted, and his poor wife suddenly takes ill. Then promptly dies. With his son Jan crying murder, and Robert deaf to anything negative about Catlin, things aren't gonna be good! With a strange man following him, and seeing treachery everywhere, not to mention strange deaths everywhere, Robert comes to believe the only people he can trust are Catlin and her odd daughter. But all is not as it seems, some people aren't who they appear to be, and some aren't quite as innocent as they want you to believe.

Yes I know, I could have worded that clearer or made it clearer, but it's so hard to do so without some major spoilers going down! Anyways, we see a year of their lives, and the action is mostly centered around Lincoln with a brief jaunt to London.

I really enjoyed how we had the main story of Robert and Catlin and all that entailed, and seeing what life was like for the wealthy merchant, as well as how certain events effected him, and then having the side story of his employee, sort of, woven in to it showing how things where for the poorer half and how circumstances effected them.Both stories where perfectly woven together, with the characters each being crucial to the other at one point, but mostly having not much interaction despite being in the same world.

I just loved how you got two vastly different perspectives of what life was like at the time, and it was a huge insight. Although it was sometimes a slightly brutal insight, the book doesn't romanticize the time like so many do, we're treated to all the gritty details, some of which involving the revolt, are quite grim to say the least. Not to mention how you see how easily neighbours with grudges can go very badly when events such as in the book are going on.

Right from the opening pages, you're drawn straight in by the atmospheric writing and the world being woven, not to mention the curious little legend/myth right at the beginning which sets the tone of the book quite nicely. If that doesn't hook you, then the sufficiently creepy prologue will! As soon as you read you just have to know what happens next? Who is that man? and so on.

One of the things I loved about the book was how all the chapters had little tips/lore/whatever you wanna call it at the top, some of which where really interesting, this one, for example:

"If a storm is raging, it may be stilled if a woman strips herself naked and presents her body to the storm. For this reason figure-heads of bare-breasted women are often set on the prow of a ship to still the waves and abate the tempest."

I mean that one in particular I found fascinating, as I guess I'd never really questioned what the deal was with the ships having those figure-heads. Then there are others such as:

"If you fear that you are in the presence of a witch, clench both your hands into fists with the thumbs tucked under your fingers. Then she cannot enchant your mind"
Ones such as that really helped to plunge you in to the time, and the way of thinking of the characters and generally of people at the time. And again it was a fascinating look in to a world long lost to us. The chapter headers further help to draw you in to the world and times, as well as introduce you to the superstitions!

The story was fast paced, the flow smooth and the narrative engaging, with the chapters all being relatively small, so it's quite easy to zoom through it. The world was suitably crafted to give you a sense of what it was like, and as I said, the writing was very atmospheric throughout.

The characters are all fleshed out, and interesting, and at points you think you know a character, and then you discover something about them or that they did and you're like "oookay maybe not", they all have different faces shall we say?

I loved the sense of mystery the entire time you're reading, personally, I thought the book was going in one direction and then it abruptly went in another, the plot twists where truly OMG worthy. I mean, one of them, I'd kind of guessed, but I was like no it can't be, and I was trying to work out who else it could be, and then I was like "no way I was right whaaaatt". Each twists is a surprise and a shock.

From the very beginning you just read about Catlin and you can hear Snape in the back of your mind going "people might think you' something". Seriously. As you read, Catlin's facade gradually melts away and you see her true colours, and find out more about her she goes from mildly suspicious to straight up biatch. Edward isn't even sly with his murderous intentions! I didn't suspect what he was up to at all, I just thought...well that he was lazy, I suppose?

One of the biggest mysteries, and one I couldn't work out, was who our mysterious narrator was who'd pop in at the beginning of some chapters before we rejoined our characters. That was a huge point of intrigue because he was obviously a ghost, and ya know, he had a ghost ferret, which was pretty awesome! It also added that extra dose of creepy! You don't find out who he is until right at the end and again, screeching "no waaayy" occurred, because for some reason, I'd never considered he could be who he was.

As I said, we are told the tale partially from this nameless ghost, and then from other main characters perspectives, which I thought was done fantastically, considering we see some characters perspective, never suspect who they are, and then the next thing you know they turn out to be someone different, but you never ever suspect. There's nothing in those characters narrative that would have you think they're anything other than who they say they are. Maitland gives nothing away!

The Vanishing Witch is dark, fast paced book, that will plunge you in to a world and a time you'll leave at the end of the book feeling glad you didn't live in. Laced with mystery, ghosts, witchcraft, murder and supersitions, you'll not fail to be intrigued the entire time and unable to stop reading!

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 1
The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 1
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Fab!, 19 Aug 2014
As a huge Neil Gaiman fan, I leapt at the chance to get my hands on this particular book to review!
We join Bod from the first threat on his life through to the Macabray Dance, where this volume ends.

I am really pleased I can put all fans fears to rest and say, don't worry guys, the graphic novel adaption keeps the feel of the novel and the original text! Plenty of creepiness abounds, but I's a good creepy?

The different illustrators sections blended together well and makes for smooth reading, with no jarring differences throwing you off.

The story is just as engaging in this format as it is in the actual book, I think there's lots of scenes you imagined when you where reading the book, and looking at them in the graphic novel it's more or less how you pictured it!

This is a truly beautiful novel, and one that will need to be in any fans collection, I myself can't wait for volume 2!

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