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beccabooklover (Rhymey, South Wales, United Kingdom.)

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Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, Book 1)
Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, Book 1)
by Katie McGarry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first instalment of Katie McGarry's Thunder Road series didn't disappoint and it totally delivered, 7 July 2015
As a massive ( and rather obsessive!) Sons of Anarchy fan this book immediately jumped out at me. A YA Sons of Anarchy style book with biker gangs, motorbikes, a bunch of badass biker boys and a whole load of biker drama? Yes please! The first instalment of Katie McGarry's Thunder Road series didn't disappoint and it totally delivered, exceeding my expectations over and over. Honestly, as I started reading I didn't expect to love it as much as I did but as the story progressed I was just drawn in deeper and deeper to the world of Snowflake and its complicated but loveable inhabitants. NOWHERE BUT HERE was such a fast paced, mystery filled extravaganza, filled with juicy secrets and destructive lies. It was definitely a fun filled ride.

What drew me into this book at first was the wave of familiarity that swept over me whilst reading NOWHERE BUT HERE. Like I mentioned before I am the biggest fangirl when it comes to the Sons of Anarchy TV show; a huge fan. As I started reading NOWHERE BUT HERE, I loved that I was stepping into the familiar world of biker gangs again, although its much less violent and murderous than the Sons of Anarchy biker gang! I loved reading about the rules, the biker cut (leather jacket), the bond of the brothers, the chapel (meeting place) and the old ladies. I definitely think it enhanced my reading experience by knowing beforehand the ins and outs of a motorcycle gang as I wasn't confused by any of the lingo (I'm no expert but you know, I'm obsessed with the show!). The depiction of the gang itself was just top notch, so authentic and realistic. The Reign of Terror, a motorcycle gang, where it's members live their lives on the right side of the law (most of the time), shunning drugs and guns for a lawful, profitable security business. What really stood out throughout the novel was this immense bond between the club. It's not just a club, it's a brotherhood, a big extended family that is full of love for one another. That really struck a chord and that sense of family and home resonated throughout the book, growing in importance and strength as it went on. Yes, not everyone gets on at times but that's what families are like and it definitely upped the realistic factor with the message that life and people are not always hunky dory all the time. Life is sometimes messy and unpredictable but in the end what's most importance is the bonds that we make and the people that we make apart of our lives. I loved how this book wasn't just a relationship angst focused filled story. It focused on the bond between a father and daughter; I enjoyed witnessing Eli and Emily tip toe around one another, trying to get to know one another. I loved seeing their relationship develop despite the ups and downs, secrets and lies. Also in NOWHERE BUT HERE McGarry perfectly discusses important topics such as death, illness and disabilities. Like I said previously, this book exceeded my expectations in every way and had so much depth and realism in its pages. It's so much more than just your average, typical YA romance story. So much more.

I loved the characters in this book although they infuriated me at times . They were such an eclectic bunch of individuals from Olivia to Eli and Chevy to Violet; they all added layer upon layer of depth and fun and realism. I think Olivia might be my favourite character; seriously her character was so badass, such a complete opposite to your average Grandma. You won't find no knitting, baking, perm wearing Grandma here. Nope. Olivia is gritty and fierce, swears like a trooper, wears jeans, slinky tops and doesn't give two hoots what others think of her. She's just fantastically orchestrated and is this blazing presence from start to finish.

Our main female protagonist, Emily first comes across as a sheltered, naÔve, stubborn young girl who's been wrapped up in cotton wool all her life. You witness her going through an incredibly confusing time in her life whilst she's having to deal with the fact her whole life could be one big fat lie. She's been deceived by those closest to her and the past isn't turning out to be all that she thought it was. I must admit that reading from her perspective at times was slightly irritating and a little frustrating. She was so judgemental and critical of others and although I knew it was because of her sheltered upbringing and the brainwashing of her family, it was just very frustrating. What irritated me more though was the fact she didn’t have her own voice, her own thoughts and she did exactly what she's told without second guessing it. Her character development in this book was superb and as the story progressed you witnessed her growing stronger and more independent. Some serious character development there and female empowerment.

Now onto, our male protagonist, the swoon-worthy, cocky Oz. He completely embodied the bad biker boy with his no nonsense, not a care in the world attitude. Oz is cheeky, sarcastic and a little arrogant which in itself was irritating at times but he's a product of his tough upbringing, just like Emily. His cold treatment of Emily was a little harsh but the reasons why soon come to light. There's so much more to Oz than it seems and as the story progressed he showed his softer side more and more (and I fell in love with him more and more too!). He's protective, caring and loyal; he shed his bad boy image more and more as the story went on. The dynamics between him and Emily were just so fiery, so explosive and tense at times. Some scenes were just dripping in sexual tension and really upped the romance parts of the book. McGarry knows how to write some good sexual tension filled scenes that are sexy and thrilling and full of suspense. It was amusing witnessing their emotions just fly all over the place and enjoyed seeing how it all came together in the end.

I found the first half of this book to be a little slow going and honestly a little unbelievable. I had to suspend my disbelief a little to truly begin to enjoy it and once the story got going, the last half of the book was a whirlwind, heart racing ride. I honestly though it would turn out to be your average contemporary story focusing on romance and more romance and a bit of angst but I'm so glad that it proved me wrong. It's not a perfect book with some undeveloped characters and stereotypical scenarios but all the action, mystery and shocking revelations more than make up for it.

All in all, NOWHERE BUT HERE was such a FUN book. It's action packed plot and complex characters really sucked me in, delivering a fresh, gritty, sometimes dark but depth filled story. I must admit, the notion of the motorcycle club attracted me and if you love that kind of thing, you'll love this. But if you also want a book that deals with complex, important issues and love a bit of contemporary romance then you definitely should pick this one up and give it a go! You won't be disappointed.

Dragonslayers: From Beowulf to St. George (Myths and Legends series Book 2)
Dragonslayers: From Beowulf to St. George (Myths and Legends series Book 2)
Price: £4.64

5.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW: Myths and Legends - Dragonslayers, 3 Jun. 2013
I've always been fascinated by dragons and have eagerly devoured any fantasy stories with them in. So this book really is the perfect book for a dragon lover like me. It explores in depth the myths and legends surrounding the beasts and their evolution throughout the ages in regards to their appearance and behaviour. It is an easy and quick read full to the brim with background stories and concise information. Each section also tells briefly the story of the particular Dragonslayer and his foe.

It begins with the tales of Ancient Dragonslayers such as Hercules and Cadmus. I particularly enjoyed reading about Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. I love Greek Mythology so enjoyed the references to the Greek Gods and how Cadmus fought and killed a great serpent. The book then goes on to discuss Norse Dragonslayers, Beowulf and Sigurd. Having recently studied Beowulf I appreciated re-reading about the dragon in that epic tale and how it greedily guarded a horde of treasure. As a lover of Tolkien it brought to mind the great dragon Smaug who sits upon a massive pile of gold and treasure in his story The Hobbit. My favourite tale of all within this book was Sigurd the Volsung. It is such a heart-wrenching tale of heroism and tragedy. It has made me want to read more about the epic tale and read Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. The book moves on to discuss Holy Dragonslayers and Medieval Dragonslayers. I enjoyed reading these sections but loved hearing more about The Ancient and Norse Dragonslayers. The last section on Dragonslayers Around the World was an added bonus as it was so interesting hearing about dragons in regards to Native Americans and the Maori tribe of New Zealand. This book just fed me so much information I devoured it all and it has undoubtedly cemented my love for dragon mythology even more.

The illustrations and pictures in this book are truly beautiful especially the ones illustrated by Peter Dennis. They are so vivid, bright and detailed. Along with the fantastic legends and context within this book, the illustrations really do make it an enjoyable and thoroughly interesting book. I would definitely recommend this book to all lovers of mythology, fantasy and dragons.

The 5th Wave (Book 1)
The 5th Wave (Book 1)
by Rick Yancey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW: The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey (5*), 24 May 2013
This review is from: The 5th Wave (Book 1) (Paperback)
The 5th Wave is the ultimate `unputdownable' book. It absolutely blew me away. I'm not sure if I can actually put into words how much I loved this book as I flew through it devouring it completely within a day. It was just utterly gripping, thrilling, compelling and had me on the edge of my seat (and sanity!) throughout the entire book. I was entranced by the fast paced plot but it also toyed with my emotions. As I read this book I literally couldn't trust a soul. I couldn't distinguish friend from foe. The plot, the characters made me utterly paranoid as I distrusted everyone and I found the narrative so disorientating (in a good way!). I loved turning each page not knowing the complete truth, kept in the dark just like the characters waiting for the next wave. It was just a brilliant book, completely amazing and as I finished the last sentence I really did think "Wow, what a book!"

The plot of The 5th Wave amazed me. I loved the different POV's and how we viewed the alien invasion from different perspectives. I also enjoyed how the POV's jumped from character to character as it heightened the disorientating and unsettling feeling of the whole narrative. Just like the characters we are left in the dark, not knowing what is really going on which I found a really fun and gripping experience.

I loved the characterisation in The 5th Wave. I attached myself to Cassie, the tough female protagonist from the first page. She was like a common, familiar link, a solid piece of ground in a world of uncertainty and distrust. I really enjoyed Cassie's character. Determined and strong she lives day by day fighting to survive in a world where she has learns that she can no longer trust anyone. Alone, she sleeps with her brother's teddy bear her only companion for most of the book. I just loved her story and how determined she was that she would one day find her brother Sammy and reunite with him. Despite everything she has witnessed and been through she puts one foot in front of the other every day.

Zombie, our male protagonist is the ultimate killing machine, moulded into a deadly warrior in order to eliminate and annihilate the enemy. I was really shocked when his true identity was revealed but loved his whole transformation. His storyline just had me gripped and I loved trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

I had my suspicions concerning Evan but in the next chapter they were overturned and then I was suspicious of him again and in the next minute I wasn't etc. This book will leave your brain throbbing whilst you try to figure out who exactly the characters are! The whole Cassie and Evan thing did have me a little frustrated at first but I did enjoy the dynamics between the two towards the end. I also thought, hey, the world is ending so why not have a little bit of fun and romance? Annoying to some I'm sure but I like it as love is essential to humanity, setting us apart from the aliens. It also becomes a form of transformation and redemption in their relationship.

One thing that I enjoyed about The 5th Wave was the aliens. They're not stereotypical green blobs or beastly beings; in fact we don't really see an actual alien just the `individuals' deployed by the mothership. The mothership hovering over Earth is the first signifier of the end of the world, the destruction of humanity. I found the portrayals of the aliens much more eerie than if they were monstrous beings running around the planet savagely killing people. They seem cold and calculating treating the invasion like a game, slowly picking off the population in waves then one by one watching from afar. Then even more eerie and frightening is the fact that you can't tell if someone is human or alien. That freaked me out just a little. The book is a lot more emotionally and psychologically terrifying than I ever expected it to be.

All in all, The 5th Wave was a truly fascinating read. I urge you all to read it and be sucked into a story of deception, fear and excitement. Like others I read it because of all of the hype but my expectations were blown away. It was an exhausting and riveting read and it kills me to have to wait until next year for the next book!

Dark Tidings (Ancient magic meets the Internet Book 1)
Dark Tidings (Ancient magic meets the Internet Book 1)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, fun and hilarious!, 28 Nov. 2012
Dark Tidings was a hilarious and enjoyable tale that took me on a rollercoaster journey from the fantastical middle ages to the modern day. It was exciting, completely compelling and had me laughing from the first page right up to the end. A clever and unique tale, Magee combines the fantasy and science-fiction genres with a modern and contemporary thriller, creating a quirky and magical tale.

The story in general was a fantastical combination of magic, humour and mystery full of anticipation and excitement. Some of the events in the book were peculiar, plain odd and just downright crazy but the level of craziness in this book just made it all the more enjoyable and entertaining. The story in general was jam packed with numerous twists and turns and it also shocked and surprised me in places. I enjoyed the build up to the two plot lines intertwining and the scene where Madrick, Tung and Michael finally meet is hilarious and involves a lot of champagne, a cork and a night of total drunkenness. I loved the mixture of fantasy with the modern world. I laughed out loud at the misuse of well known cultural phrases and slang by Madrick and Tung. The plot was fast paced making it a quick and easy read but it was also fun and engaging. There was something constantly happening making the book and exciting whirlwind read. The magic within the book was just crazy especially the Scroll, that seemed to me to be a temperamental piece of magic, creating the most weird objects in the most frantic of situations. The book ended on a very funny cliff hanger that definitely leaves me wanting more and to see how they get out of the predicament that they find themselves in at the end of the book.

The characteristation in the book was full of depth and as the novel progressed I found myself liking the characters more and more, and wanting them to succeed; Madrick and Tung to finally stop having to run and Michael to achieve his goals of unmasking IIBE (International Investment Bank of Europe) as a corrupt corporation and filling his pockets (and others) with money.

Tung, a cunning thief with a troubled past is a funny little character, and constantly gets himself and the others into trouble and into the most unfortunate predicaments. Those unfortunate situations more than likely evolve into amusing and crazy situations that made me laugh out loud in places especially the drunk scene with the chickens in the pub. Despite being from 1000 years in the past he settles into modern life quite at ease and I loved his appreciation and love of modern food especially his favourite; pizza! Despite being a bit foolish Tung surprisingly becomes rather handy with magic and the Scroll and I enjoyed his transformation. I also I enjoyed seeing his relationship with Madrick evolve throughout the book and they slowly became father and son figures to one another. They also reminded me of a comedy duo. Their personalities complimented one another and during a time of immense trouble they help one another and surprisingly manage to escape the clutches of their chasers.

Madrick was an enjoyable character. A wizard but not quite a wizard any longer, he comes across as a wild old man with a flare for the eccentric. Having lost the ability to cast spells, he finds himself in a spot of bother when he is thrown into Mifal's dungeon but finds help in the unlikely figure of the thief, Tung. Once they had escaped from the dungeon with the help of a very powerful spell, a decoy stallion, some peculiarly placed clothes, some unfortunate nakedness and the placement of the Scroll in a dark dark place. I loved his enthusiasm for modern life once reaching the 21st century. His thirst for knowledge was just great to see and I loved his excitement for the television in particular!

Michael, a modern day computer expert hungry for the destruction of IIBE, a corrupt and seemingly evil corporation responsible for swindling the world's money and also responsible for some of the worlds atrocities. He was a fun and interesting character but Madrick and Tung's adventures were a lot more exciting in my opinion. His reasons for wanting to commit fraud was quite emotional and emphasised Michael as a determined young man, affected by trauma and hungry for justice. He wants to help the ordinary people out and make the place a better world, but such high hopes come with some unexpected consequences.

I would highly recommend this fun filled adventure book to any fan of Terry Pratchett. Magee's witty sense of humour, eccentric characters and amusing storyline made this peculiar fantasy story a fun and thrilling read. The characterisation within Dark Tidings completes this surprisingly griping book and the entertaining plotline combined with the most fantastical oddball characters made me laugh out loud and giggle at the outrageous events. I will definitely be reading the next book to see how Madrick, Tung and Michael deal with their next big adventure.

Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Drago
Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Drago
Price: £4.68

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, captivating and intriguing essays., 23 July 2012
I just couldn't write this review without some spoilers (so if you haven't finished the series so far please stop reading right here, right now!).

What a treat this book is for any George R. R. Martin fan who loves to delve deep into the story and engage in discussions regarding the series, explore deep into the characters' minds, analyse the plot closely and read interesting theories. This rich collection was an absolute pleasure to read, a collection brimming with the most fascinating and compelling essays as each author contributes a detailed analysis of the most captivating subjects. Despite the complexity and intensity of the essays I raced through this book. I mostly enjoyed all of the essays but decided to give the collection 4/5 due to a select few that just didn't cut it for me such as `Same Song in a Different Key: Adapting A Game of Thrones as a Graphic Novel' and `Collecting Ice and Fire in the Age of Nook and Kindle'. They were both interesting reads but didn't captivate me enough to have me totally invested in what was being discussed. It was interesting though to read about the concerns regarding the graphic novel and discussing the changes needed in regards to the graphic sexual scenes especially with younger individuals.

`Art Imitates War: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in A Song of Ice and Fire' by Myke Cole was such an interesting and thought provoking read. It discusses the psychological trauma suffered by numerous characters within the series and likens their situations to that of PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Cole praises Martin for successfully portraying PTSD in his series whilst also portraying the numerous different reactions to trauma, whilst using the Cooper Colour System to categorise the reactions of certain individuals. It focused mainly on the characters Theon and Arya who have both dealt with trauma in different ways; Theon suffering at the monstrous hands of the Bastard and Arya traumatised by all that has occurred in her life so far. He states that Theon, suffering from PTSD has become a weakened, destroyed individual, damaged physically and mentally, an empty shell with suicidal tendencies paralysed by fear. He analyses his inhumane descent into weakness and transformation into Reek, a pitiful character. Arya on the other hand, plucked from an almost innocent and guarded life reacts differently to trauma by fighting back, forging new identities therefore empowering herself. She is not weakened by the events but made stronger, capable of defending herself in dangerous situations. Cole's essay was thorough, relevant and completely captivating.

In the essay `The Palace of Love, The Palace of Sorrow: Romanticism in A Song of Ice and Fire' Romanticism is discussed in depth, linking the series with the Romantic movement of the 19th century. The idealisation and mythologizing of past events and individuals are analysed close. Take the Night's Watch for example. The Night's Watch is viewed by numerous characters in the series as a romanticised institution of the past now degraded made up of thieves, rapists and murderers seen as an honourable calling guarding the realm. The essay also discusses Robert's rebellion, Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar Targaryen, Jaime Lannister and the Kingsguard.

`Power and Feminism in Westeros" was possibly my favourite essay out of the bunch. This essay highlights the oppressive patriarchal society evident in Westeros and how it dominates the lives of the female characters of the novel. Cersei, the cold and evil Queen is discussed as being shaped by society, flawed and damaged by society and the roles that are determined for her as a woman. Her sex has inevitably destroyed any chance of true power and her villainous character is attributed to the brutality of patriarchy and its strict and oppressive roles for women. The author discusses the deluded nature of Sansa, a young and influential innocent, captivated by romance, knights, chivalry and Arya, a female character who rebels against her role and her gender. This essay completely captivated me and it has inevitably piqued my interest in feminism in regards to fantasy.

I think one of my favourite essays was `Petyr Baelish and the Mask of Sanity' by Matt Staggs as it brilliantly captured the sneaky, warped mind of one of the series' most devious men. Littlefinger is undeniably a scheming little man, loyal only to himself and Staggs discusses in depth how he is a psychopath, devoid of feelings and emotions. This essay was so brilliantly compelling and successfully psychoanalysed the manipulative, cold, calculated Littlefinger and analysed his attempt at vying for power and so far succeeding as a cruelly prosperous villain. Such essays as this one really helps me look over the series again from a different perspective and view characters in a different light. Littlefinger's manipulative and brutal demeanour is so obvious from the first moment we meet him and this essay helped unravel his character layer by layer.

The essay `Men and Monsters' discusses the use of rape and violence in the series and acts as an argument against the criticism the book has endured for its graphic scenes. The author does a good job of voicing his opinion on the issue; rape and violence is used to identify the corrupt and archaic societies, crumbling due to chaos. Examples of this are the Iron Islands, backwards in its attitudes towards women and sex. The monstrous acts committed in King's Landing such as the rape of Lolly's Stokeworth, depicts Lannister rule disintegrating in a fragmented and damaged society. Rape and violence is also discussed as being catalysts for war, acts that are so deeply frowned upon it starts wars evident in the case of Robert Baratheon's rebellion beginning because of the rape of Lyanna Stark. The fact that rape is associated with monstrous deeds and individuals such as Gregor Clegane and Ramsay Bolton is also emphasised in the essay. I believe that this essay does a great job of giving a thorough opinion on the use of rape and violence in the series and shows that it isn't used as plot filler but as an effective plot device.

`Back To The Egg: The Prequels to A Song of Ice and Fire' by Gary Westfahl was an interesting read which first discussed short stories in general before moving on to discussing Martin's Dunk and Egg short stories. This essay was a fun one to read and it definitely piqued my interest in Martin's other literature and short stories.

Susan Vaught's fascinating essay `The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros Or, What Moral Ambiguity?' discussed the morally ambiguous characters within the novel. Simply by reading the novels we are instantly made aware that most of the characters are not the archetypal goodies or baddies, but are more layered and complex fitting into more of a "grey" moral category. A portion of the essay analyses such characters as Sansa, Davos and Jaime as they attempt to redeem themselves of their past actions. What I thought was more interesting than that was the discussion of the fate of certain characters; Robb, Catelyn and Joffrey. The author analyses how emotions cloud the moral judgements of certain individuals therefore making them flawed and in regards to their morally good/bad actions, eventually seals their fates. Robb breaks an oath; a completely dishonourable act that the author argues undermines the values of society and therefore is unforgivable and punishable by death. By marrying Jeyne Westerling, Robb also seals his fate; an excruciating and humiliating death. Catelyn is depicted as being a woman, a mother, a wife disillusioned by her emotions. Vaught argues that her lifelong contempt of Jon Snow, her hunger for revenge and her dishonourable and distrustful actions eventually leads to her fate and her ironic reincarnation as Lady Stoneheart; a cold hearted, brutal being. This essay was just so intriguing and shed light on the morality (or lack of) of the characters and discussed some interesting thought provoking points.

`A Different Kind of Other: The Role of Freaks and Outcasts in A Song of Ice and Fire' discusses in detail the underdogs of the series, the individuals looked down upon and ridiculed by society. There are countless "freaks and outcasts" in the series; Tyrion, the `Imp'; Bran, the cripple; Jon Snow, the bastard; Brienne, the masculine woman; Varys, the eunuch etc. Each and every underdog exists in complete disregard to the so called "norms" of society; they do not conform to such norms and are therefore labelled as "freaks".

There are many other essays within this rich collection such as one discussing the complexity of history and timekeeping within the series, the use of religion, omens and their meanings and the dangers of magic to the world of Westeros and its inhabitants. The final essay is an interesting one as it analyses the effect of Martin's series on the fantasy genre in general and discusses the success of a series in a genre looked down upon by literary buffs.

I would highly recommend this book of excellent essays to lovers of the series who wants to delve into the world of Westeros long after they've finished the series. The essays are excellently articulated and contains the most intriguing and captivating discussions in regards to Martin's masterpiece. In addition to the essays the foreword by R. A. Salvatore just completes this collection and makes it a must read for fans of the series and fans of epic fantasy in general.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2013 12:17 PM BST

Empty Altars
Empty Altars
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Original mythological, character driven story., 21 July 2012
This review is from: Empty Altars (Kindle Edition)
I was surprised by this book; in a good way. At first I was slightly confused and had already decided that this was going to be an OK read, but as the story progressed I found myself enjoying the story with its magic, deceit and intrigue. As a lover of mythology I instantly appreciated how the author weaved together Norse mythology with Greek and Roman and produced an original and enjoyable tale. Not knowing much about Norse mythology myself, I wish that there had been a little more information at the beginning to introduce me to the ins and outs of the myths but the story has definitely piqued my interest in the subject. The story lacked a solid plot in my opinion, anticipation and the shock factor despite its originality but more than made up for this with its well crafted world and setting and strong characterisation.

The author does an excellent job of depicting Diana, the Roman goddess of nature, childbirth, the hunt and the moon who was also known as Hecate and Artemis in Greek mythology, in this book despite my dislike of her at the beginning. A witch of great power, her runes transports her to a Norse meadow, where she soon learns that she is not wanted. She soon comes to learn that she is to play a vital plot in trying to save the Norse and the whole world from the black-hearted, evil witch Heid. She frustrated me with her cocky attitude, impulsiveness and quick temper but redeemed herself with her caring side and her eagerness to assist those in need of her help. She is in no way a damsel in distress and I admired her strong, independent and feisty attitude but she also irritated me with her arrogance and sometimes superior attitude. Her cold attitude towards Tyr at the beginning of the book perplexed me, as he is undoubtedly kind and respectful towards her, offering assistance if needed. Diana seems distant at first, irritated by his offers of help. Her independence and stubbornness seems to blind her from seeing honest offers of help. Post's interpretation of the goddess was original and I enjoyed how she modernised her tale by introducing Diana lounging in her New York apartment, her use of modern phrases and her longing for modern technology such as a camera. Her use of modern phrases also added a light comic relief to the story as it utterly perplexed the other characters and made for some scenes of amusement and confusion which helped lighten the serious mood of the tale.

I really enjoyed the character of Tyr, the sky god of Norse mythology. Despite having a thunderous temper he is an honourable and loyal individual who fights for and fiercely protects those he cares about. He is a caring individual, drawn to Diana despite her vexing attitude. I also thought he had a cheeky side and his humorous teasing of the goddess brought a sense of fun and light heartedness to the story. The fiery exchanges between Diana and Tyr were full of sexual innuendos that underlined the intense sexual tension between the two. It was entertaining at first but slowly it started to frustrate me that nothing was happening between the two and when it something finally happened it seemed rushed, too quick and of no great importance, devoid of warmth and passion. I wish that their relationship had been dealt with in a more romantic way instead of a thing that they had to get out of their system before trying to save the world.

Inga's transformation from a fragile and scared young girl weakened by shame and banishment, to a capable young woman was a great and vital part of the story. Her exile shows the corruption of the seemingly peaceful society and is a prime example of an innocent young girl tricked by a dishonest man misusing his power in degrading ways. Inga's storyline was full of emotion and I enjoyed seeing her alter before my eyes and fulfil her destiny. Freya, the goddess of love and beauty is a fierce individual in this story, liberal with her sexuality, sensuous and beautiful and eager to unite couples especially Diana and Tyr. I really liked the character of Freya. She just doesn't take things too seriously, lives a passionate life filled with pleasure and beauty, Freya was another character that helped lighten the mood of the story. Eager for Diana and Tyr to get together she urges Diana to free herself from her chaste life and the dialogue between the two goddess' was fun to read, as if they were two friends sharing secrets.

Heid was portrayed as a plausible villain despite the fact that I felt that she posed no real danger towards Diana, a great and powerful witch. A witch consumed by a hunger for power and domination, Heid is depicted as a mad and uncontrollable being who would stop at nothing to destroy everything before her, take control and wreak havoc upon the world. A good villain but I just felt that she was doomed from the moment Diana stepped foot in the norse meadow and battled her hellhounds.

The plot was full of treachery, deception and magic all woven together to create an exciting tale. As a reader I was constantly kept on my toes as there was always something occurring on each page and the story unravelled at a steady pace. The story was laced with twists at every corner, and the surprising revelation of a traitor helped add to the tale. Despite the tale being an exciting one, I felt that the characterisation and the blossoming relationships were more central to the story and therefore the plot seemed almost fractured, less solid. There were numerous action scenes within the story that were a little anticlimactic as we were made aware from the beginning that Diana was an almighty goddess with unmatchable powers.

The magic within the story really interested me and it was probably the most entertaining aspect of the story in my opinion, secondary to the characterisation and relationships. The runes were especially interesting, as they're aptitude for foretelling the future helped create an intense feeling of foreboding throughout the story. There were also numerous different creatures within the story; giants, hellhounds, witches, dwarves, dragons etc that helped define an exciting tale full of magic.

All in all, this book was a pleasure to read and I enjoyed the characterisation of mythological figures. I felt that the message of the story was that in the face of great evil, loyalty, honour and determination will always pay off in the end. This story may be a little hard to get into at first but a little determination goes a long way and once the story gets going, it's full of fierce characters, surprises and twists, and an enchanting world of magic and myth. Read it and be surprised.

Dragon Fate (War of the Blades Book 1)
Dragon Fate (War of the Blades Book 1)
Price: £0.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great exciting traditional fantasy., 12 July 2012
This book took me on an adventure filled journey full of magic, intrigue and excitement. Overflowing with likeable and believable characters, Hallowell successfully depicts a traditional fantasy story that I thoroughly devoured in just a few days. Delno, a humble young man finds himself face to face with an old and pregnant female dragon and is immediately thrown into the world of the revered dragon riders, magical individuals blessed with longevity, unrivalled strength and a unique companionship filled with love and respect.

Delno was an extremely likeable character with a strong set of values and a longing to be free of heroism and leadership. He is an easy going, friendly and honest individual; a character that I took pleasure in reading about. Despite his status as a commoner of low birth he is truly a noble and heroic individual who is willing to fulfil his destiny and step into the role as a true born, influential leader who other men will follow loyally. I especially admired that he took no pride in killing and sees it as a necessity in war, but takes no pleasure in the act. I enjoyed the fact that the protagonist was a grown man who had actually experienced life in all its forms; it made a change from reading a fantasy based around a young boy, clueless with no life experience. Delno has witnessed death, suffering, has fought in wars and is an experienced soldier and man, both strong and independent.

Geneva, Delno's female partner, is a sharp nailed, walking, talking (and flying!) dragon with a cocky attitude and a loving nature. Dragons are common creatures in fantasy with numerous depictions of them ranging from monstrous beasts to intelligent sentient beings; the latter being the depiction of Geneva in Dragon Fate. She is a sharp, witty creature and I enjoyed her character immensely especially when she made sarcastic comments to Delno. Despite being fun and light hearted, she is also a dangerous creature, capable of aggression and destruction who can hold her ground against seemingly greater opponents. I found it especially amusing that due to the close mental/spiritual connection between Delno and Geneva, and the inevitability of being privy to every emotion, she feels jealous over Delno's possible interest in a female individual. By showing us readers Geneva's jealousy, Hallowell successfully depicts Geneva as a conscious creature, able to feel human emotions. I enjoyed seeing the close relationship between Geneva and Delno evolve throughout the story and look forward to seeing that bond solidify in future tales.

The other characters just added a whole other dimension to the story and they each served an important purpose in moving the plot forward. I won't divulge too much information about the other characters but throughout the story we are introduced too Nat, an extremely likeable character, an informative individual who isn't all that he seems to be; Brock, an almost father like character, both loyal and firm; and Rita, feisty and independent, small in stature but aggressive with a sword. Hallowell did an excellent job of depicting a believable baddie and I found myself greatly disliking him from the beginning. He is depicted as being a twisted, bitter and sour man, discontented with life in general. Blinded by pride, he views others as lesser beings and wishes to rule them with an iron fist. He is tyrannical, arrogant, selfish and argumentative; an excellent portrayal by the author.

I thought the plot of the story was well structured and exciting enough that it kept me reading for hours even when I intended to put the book down. There was a fast paced storyline, with something always happening be it meeting new characters, learning new interesting information or getting caught up in a skirmish. I felt that the plot wasn't lacking in anyway despite maybe the fact that there wasn't enough action. There was a few instances in the novel where there was a small number of fighting scenes, mainly training practice and there was a skirmish or two towards the end but they all felt that they were resolved too quickly. I also felt that there wasn't any real danger except in one fight in particular between two individuals who are supposedly meant to be "colleagues" of a sort. In that one fight I felt that there was a real threat as it was just so intense and the suspense was just evident in the whole scene from the use of language to the characters' frantic movements. This scene in particular was quite a shocker and definitely served as the catalyst for the rest of the story. In my opinion I felt like this book, Dragon Fate was a starter novel, a tasty little starter that is building up towards hopefully an even tastier series filled with more danger, intrigue, deceit and excitement. It helped establish the characters, the setting and the storyline and all in all I enjoyed my journey with Delno, Geneva and co immensely.

In my opinion the most interesting part of the story was the mammoth amount of information divulged throughout. The narrative is so rich with the most fascinatingly imaginative facts regarding dragons. There is a detailed analysis of a dragon's anatomy, a discussion regarding the dragon as possibly being a "six limbed" creature and I especially enjoyed the explanation of how a dragon breathes fire (down to a chemical reaction!). Plus there was the ingenious added bonus of the Dream State which I thought was a creative and original idea.

I couldn't help but notice that there was a similarity between Dragon Fate and Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, Eragon in particular. Right from the beginning it was evident that some parts of the story was very similar to that of Eragon such as the dragon riders, dragon bond and the dragon mark but as the story progressed I thought less and less about the similarities and concentrated on the story as whole and found elements of it both imaginative and original. It is inevitable that fantasy authors will take inspiration from other tales and I believe that this is true about a lot of fantasy fiction. Despite my belief that the storylines are similar in parts, I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Fate and thought it was an excellent example of a traditional fantasy story with a solid plot and a wealth of intriguing characters.

I would highly recommend this book to younger readers of fantasy who wants to read an exciting and adventurous traditional fantasy story and doesn't want to get too bogged down in a complicated story. I also believe that lovers of the fantasy genre would enjoy Dragon Fate for its traditional fantasy setting and believable characters. It's a fun and intriguing quick read, full of excitement and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole story. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series to check up on Delno, Geneva and the rest of the crew and hopefully begin another fun filled adventure.

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi #1)
Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi #1)
Price: £2.29

4.0 out of 5 stars So much fun!, 23 Jun. 2012
This book was a completely unexpected fun roller coaster ride that I just devoured in a few days and enjoyed immensely. I love Greek mythology so this book really stood out for me. It is amazingly detailed and just full to the brim with original ideas and completely modernises Greek mythology and the famous Gods of myth. The level of accuracy in regards to some of the tales from mythology in this book just amazed me and really showed me how much work went into the story. It totally reflects the hard work of the author and her own interest in the subject of Greek mythology. The ancient myths are just fantastically depicted within this story and I was blown away by how the author weaved together and shaped the well known tales and put her own individual twist on them. The great mix of modern and myth just complements one another and the whole story was just one great adventure that merged together the present with history and myth whilst creating something original and enjoyable.

I must admit that I started the book with a little hesitation. I thought, here we go again with a girl in school blah blah blah and had almost decided there and then that I didn't like the book. But oh boy, a few chapters in and I was hooked and I was telling my boyfriend all about it and how much I was enjoying it. Just like Chloe who is unknowingly swept up into a strange and exciting adventure so was I and I just went with the flow and completely enjoyed every minute of the journey. The storyline flowed brilliantly throughout the story and there was an equal balance of fun and adventure mixed in with some drama and bloody fighting scenes.

The characters were well fleshed out; full of personality and every single one brought something different to the story. We meet the main protagonist Chloe as she is returning to school from a suspension - one of many - and she is taunted by others for being a crazy freak that sees strange things and hears voices. What a way to introduce a character eh? But her craziness isn't all it seems and we the reader are privy to her conversation with a strange boy who is invisible to all others at school. This incident in particular along with her nightmares serve as the catalyst for what is about to happen; Chloe waking up from a deadly attack and being made aware that she is the Oracle of Delphi, a powerful individual whom the Gods both admire and fear. She is thrust into her new role and must battle demonic demigods sent by Hades, deal with her new life as Pythia, struggle with her feelings for the sarcastic son of Apollo and come to terms with her destiny.

Strafford Law *swoon* is possibly the epitome of boy crushes and I can assure you all that you will instantly fall in love with him! He just has this irresistible bad boy attitude along with some very good looks. He is also a big softie and the softer side of his character slowly comes to light throughout the story. There is also a feeling of mystery that surrounds Strafford and his current circumstances making him seem even more irresistible (than he already is!). The romance in the story fits perfectly. Despite the book being one of magic, battles and gods the main part of the story is very much rooted in the lives of the characters themselves who, for the most part are all teenagers. Teenagers get crushes, fall in and out of love and admire those of the opposite sex. I found that the romance didn't hinder the story in anyway but helped to flesh out the characters and unearth parts of their personalities that are not so obvious at first. It also gives the story a little suspense as the uncertainty of the outcome of the romance is unknown and gives those readers who love a little romance in stories something to enjoy. I personally don't think too much of romances in stories unless they serve a purpose and I believe that this one in particular helped the characters reveal parts of their personalities that were previously unknown to us.

My favourite part of the whole story is the way the Greek gods are depicted. It is just so hilarious and such a brilliant idea. Throughout the ages the gods have reinvented themselves to help them blend into everyday life and society, producing some very funny tales. Currently, Apollo is spending his life on earth as a famous rock star who Chloe is obsessed with. I really did enjoy how the author depicted the Gods and really reflects her initiative and creativity as a writer. Cupid is portrayed as a spoilt little brat, who loves to go against his mothers wishes flirting and wooing his way into mischief. Aphrodite is portrayed as a beautiful man eater who loves nothing more than romancing handsome men for eternity. Hermes was my favourite God in this story, the immortal and magical equivalent of an everyday postman, who reminded me of a crazy old man who just loves to tinker with technology. I just loved how the Gods have "stolen" the idea of the internet from mortals and adjusted it to determine it worthy for them to use. It reminded me of how in Greek mythology the things invented by the Gods were stolen by the mortals to use, such as when Prometheus stole fire from the heavens to give to mankind. These small little details show how detailed this story is in portraying little bits of information from Greek mythology.

This book had a great YA feel as it dealt with the lives of teenagers despite their divine qualities and spectacularly magical lives. Despite immortality, magical weapons and living in the heavens Chloe and the demigods are very much normal everyday teenagers (well maybe not quite normal!). The most obvious sign of teenage anxiety is evident in how much the demigods worry about their appearance! They have the perfect hair, abs and smiles plus they are kitted up with designer gear; an amazingly hilarious and clever idea! It just completes the whole modernisation of the mythology and makes it current, reaching out to new young readers of the genre.

I really do urge you all to read this fun filled book because it completely took me by surprise and took me on one crazy journey that I honestly was not expecting. I would definitely 100% recommend it to lovers of YA who enjoy reading fun books filled with a little bit of romance, adventure, mystery and drama. It also a great way to learn about Greek mythology especially for those who want to start reading about the subject. Like I mentioned earlier, it is very accurate in its portrayal of Greek mythology but has just revolutionised the tales by portraying them in a new, modern and fun context. I love Greek mythology so I would also recommend this book to lovers of the subject who want to read something completely different and have a little fun in the process.

Wraith's Forest
Wraith's Forest
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5/5 - A magical tale, beautifully written, 23 April 2012
This review is from: Wraith's Forest (Kindle Edition)
Wraith's Forest is a dark fairy-tale novella filled with deceit, compassion and magic. I was pleasantly surprised by this short story. An intriguing re-telling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale, Leger perfectly produces an original and exciting tale that magically draws you into the story.

In my opinion the story was beautifully well-written. The author's use of description and syntax just completed the story and added that extra layer to the narrative of the story. The writing emphasised the frantic emotions of the protagonist, Jenna when she descends terrified into the forest searching for the haunting Wraith. In this scene in particular, the sentences were short perfectly highlighting the scared girl's emotions and her increasing heartbeat. The writing throughout the story perfectly paralleled the emotions of the characters; a great technique in my opinion. The descriptive scenes of the story brought the fairy tale to life. I could truly feel the cold, deathly breath on Jenna's face, smell the decaying surroundings of the forest and felt the warmth and luxuriousness of the bath water. It was magically written.

I enjoyed the characterisation within the story. They were authentic and believable; perfect characters for a great re-telling of the timeless fairy tale. Jenna, a young and pretty girl finds herself terrified and alone amongst the dark and decaying trees of the forest where the dreaded Wraith waits in the shadows, guarding the forest and the magical tree. The Wraith was a believable scary character; I always find such creatures more frightening than monsters. I personally felt complete sympathy for the anguished creature when it was mentioned that he wails for days and nights on end when the harvest of the Tree is completed. I won't spoil the story too much but it is one of pity, compassion and heartbreak.

I did enjoy the story but I thought that it only skimmed the surface. The length of the story just didn't work for me. I think if the story was longer another layer of depth could have been exposed and the story could have progressed a little slower therefore revealing each layer slowly creating more of an effect. The relationship between the characters could have developed at a steadier pace but I guess that's the nature of fairy-tales! But that is the only negative thing I really have to say about this story; I enjoyed the story so much that I wanted it to be longer. So not too bad of a point I hope.

All in all, it was a good, enjoyable read. I was surprised upon reading it as it was just so beautifully written. The descriptive scenes within the story were just written perfectly. The story was also an exciting read and although it was a short novella I did get caught up in the story of the two protagonists. A great fairy-tale re-telling and I hope the author writes more original tales based on other classics. I'll definitely be looking out for more by this author in the future.

Covenant of the Faceless Knights: Beginnings
Covenant of the Faceless Knights: Beginnings
by Gary F. Vanucci
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great exciting traditional fantasy., 23 April 2012
The author of this book, kindly sent me this book to review after enjoying two of his Wothlondia short stories. It is fast-paced and adventure packed and thoroughly enjoying. It is packed full of detailed descriptions of the characters and setting, therefore making the world of and its inhabitants even more realistic and authentic. Vanucci also gives us the viewpoints of numerous different characters, be them good or bad, giving us a wide range of perspectives and therefore allowing the reader to see the story through the eyes of different individuals.

You are thrown head first into the story and I do like to be in the thick of it straight away. I enjoyed the build-up to the beginning of the quest and being introduced to each of the characters individually.

There were three characters in this book that stood out for me. The first; Rose Thorne. What a feisty, independent woman she is! In the first few chapters I witnessed her skill with a blade, her roguish attitude, her skills as a thief and her special ability to disappear into the shadows. I enjoyed witnessing her humanity throughout the novel. She is so confident and cocky I enjoyed seeing her softer side at times, reminding us that she is human after all with feelings. I grew to like her and I'm looking forward to seeing what is in store for her in the next book.

Secondly, I admired Elec's humble personality and his caring attitude towards his fellow companions. He was always thinking of the safety of others and on numerous occasions we witnessed his compassionate side. His unexpected ability with alchemical potions helps to hone his less than confident skill with a blade. I loved the concept of the magical potions helping him in battle and thought it an original idea. What I loved most of all was his entrance on his mighty steed; an eagle! What an amazing entrance and it really gave Elec that wow factor and I was just as amazed at his mount, as the guards of Oakhaven were on seeing the magnificent beast for the first time.

Sauenn was also an admirable character. A barbarian survivor of the Chansuk tribe she is hungry for revenge and her strong willed character helps feed her dangerous skill in battle. Although a deadly, blood-thirsty warrior, I also thought she was a vulnerable young woman. Underneath the desire for revenge, I felt there was a grieving little girl just trying to find her way in life and understand the atrocities that had been committed against her people. I just loved her fiery personality and how she just throws herself into battle regardless of the consequences. Definitely one to watch out for.

The level of detail within the book was just immense. I personally love detailed descriptions of characters, worlds etc and boy, this book didn't disappoint. I just think such a level of detail adds that extra layer of authenticity to the story.

The use of each chapter as a different window was an effective narrative technique in the story. One minute your fighting alongside Rose, flying on the back of an eagle with Elec or traversing the underground passages with Barguth, the goblin and his worg mount. Being able to see the world through the eyes of the bad guys was a great idea. In most books the story is told through the eyes of the good guy and we partake in his journey alone, but in Covenant of the Faceless Knights I was taken on numerous different journeys.

I must admit I was a little confused at times and felt as if I was being jumping from scene to scene, character to character just too fast. I was most confused when it came to the bad guys as I wasn't quite sure of what exactly was going on with the two different groups. But I must admit it was great to have a story where we had the baddies perspectives! Also I do enjoy the disjointed chapters and found it rather similar to Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire simply in the way that each chapter was centred on a different character. I do think it's a good narrative technique as it keeps the reader wanting more and having to read on and on to get back to their favourite characters.

I really enjoyed the book but I just felt that it could have been just that little bit longer! I just think a lot more could have been explained and the story could have progressed at a slightly slower rate therefore incorporating more in the text. My main reason for thinking this is that I wanted to see the relationships of Elec, Rose, Sauenn and Garius develop right infront of my eyes over a realistic time frame. By the end of the book I was convinced of their ever growing close bonds as companions but I do wish that I could have just witnessed more of them conversing and communicating with one another. I'm sure that I'll see their relationships grow stronger through the trails and tribulations of the next book. It was great seeing the result of their companionship at the end of the book; they all had key parts to play in the quest and played them perfectly. The length really isn't an issue and maybe it is just my obsession with reading massively long books!

All in all, this was a great and exciting read. I would definitely recommend it to fans of traditional fantasy. Thank you to the author for allowing me to review it. I certainly had an exciting journey alongside Elec, Rose, Sauenn and Garius in Wothlondia and I'm looking forward to rejoining them in the next book!

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