Monday, 22 June 2020

Review: Aurora Burning

Aurora Burning 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well. 

Aurora Rising was a nice little surprise for me, I'd been sent an ARC by the publisher and even though Sci-Fi isn't my usual thing I fancied picking it up and giving it a shot. I ended up really enjoying myself reading it and highly anticipating the sequel, Aurora Burning. In fact I was kind of procrastinating from reading Aurora Burning because I was so excited for it and knew I'd binge through it in no time! 

Aurora Burning follows much the same kind of formula as the first book. There's a nice action packed opening before the whole Kuzco 'yeah that's me' kind of thing like I mentioned in my review of Aurora Rising. I do love how it's addressed and acknowledged in the narrative so I'll give it a pass for being kind of, exactly the same. There's also the multiple POV's, the slices of information on the world although from what I could tell a lot of them were the same as from the previous book but don't quote me on that because I'm not 100% sure as I didn't have time for a re-read! I just got that eery sense that I'd already read them. The humour and snark of the previous book is also present in abundance throughout Aurora Burning, as is the action scenes, fast pace and slight ridiculousness that sometimes pops up. 

However, this time around I feel like we get a lot more emotion than there was in the previous book, to go with the new characters that we're introduced to and we finally get some more background and insight into the characters. Zila in particular was much appreciated by me as I kind of always forgot she was there in the previous book and I felt like out of all the characters we got to know her the least. With the absence of one character, Zila certainly takes the spotlight a lot more in this book. Not only do we come to understand her thanks to a very cleverly written chapter, but she also has a lot more to do in this book! Before she kind of felt like an additional crew member to bulk out numbers and I couldn't quite figure out what her purpose was so I was excited to see her take on more of a role and learn more about her. It was also nice to see her relaxing and becoming more comfortable with the others! 

As you'd expect from the cover of Aurora Burning, our cover man Kal takes more of a focus in this book. I felt like we saw a lot less of Tyler than we did in the previous book and all eyes were on Kal as we went deeper into his character's background and there were some brilliant twists with him that I usually figured out about 2 seconds before the reveal! I also loved getting a deeper look at the Syldrathi and the split between them with the Unbroken opposing pretty much everyone. 

Aurora Burning picks up smoothly from where we left off with a burst of action to pull you in as we get to grips with the current situation our crew have found themselves in. Once again, I liked that we didn't hang around and jumped straight into things. Quickly being introduced to the 8476343 problems they have to face. One of which is new character Saedii who's badass, a little bit scary and yet still kind of awesome. 

I have to say, Finian further cemented his place as my favourite character in this entire series! I love he and his narrative and I loved getting to see one of my ships develop further in this book. I feel like Finian had more depth in this book, as did Scarlett actually! The two of them really remind me of my Teen Wolf OTP Stydia! Speaking of OTP's, I feel like Saedii and Tyler are going to become a thing next book and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. I've been holding out hope for Cat and that hope hasn't entirely died so I'm not sure if I can get behind Tyler X Saedii. 

I have to say, Kal was my biggest disappointment in this book. He was super intriguing in the first book with his 'enemy within' and that internal struggle and then we get plenty more intriguing information about him in this book...but somehow he ended up just being relegated to being the love interest. He stopped being a character all of his own and really just became like one entity with Aurora and I felt like the entire point of him this book was to be Aurora's love interest. It was really disappointing and I felt like his potential was never really explored which made the ending all the more frustrating. 

On the subject of Aurora and Kal, I never fully got on board with their romance in the first book, it seemed very insta-love and didn't have much depth to it but I figured it would be expanded upon in this book. However, there's a little plot device in this book that allows months to pass for the two of them in the blink of an eye and I was side-eyeing it immensely. It sped up the romance but I still didn't fully buy it because we didn't get to see a lot of it and it seemed like it was there to make things more wrenching and emotional towards the end but it just...fell a little flat to be honest. 

There are still some plot twists that are pulled out to surprise you that leave you gasping and ramp up towards the end fantastically. I also particularly thought that the final chapter was clever as we snap quickly between POVs and it added to the building rhythm of the finale, keeping you speeding towards the end and amping up the tension before the absolutely horrific cliffhanger ending. Was that really necessary!? 

I can't say whether I enjoyed this more than Aurora Rising, I think I might have enjoyed the previous book a little bit more. Aurora Burning is much like Aurora Rising in that it isn't entirely perfect, there are a few things that niggled at me, but it was still a fast and enjoyable read that you could have fun reading! I look forward to having that cliffhanger resolved in the next book and I'm once again, probably foolishly, holding out hope for a certain character! Although I think I've now finally lost hope for Cat.  

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Manga: Noragami 21

Noragami Vol 21 
Rating: 5/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Yato is a homeless god. He doesn't even have a shrine, let alone any worshippers! So, to achieve his ambitious goals, he's set up a service to help those in need (for a small fee of course). He hopes that one day he'll be able to build the temple he feels he deserves, but for now he can't be picky about the jobs that he chooses to accept. From finding lost kittens to overcoming school bullies, Yato is divinely intervening all over the place! 

While Yukine is busy harbouring the stray who promptly disappears, Hyori is getting used to regular life without he and Yato. Speaking of Yato, he's gone off with Kazuma to train and hunt Ayakashi although it soon becomes clear that the two of them really need to work on getting more in sync with each other. Yukine needs to hunt down the stray but while doing so he ends up encountering Yato's father whom we all know and hate, and as soon as he said that there's a way out of Yomi my first thought was, 'here we go. What could possibly go wrong with this knowledge?'. 

Yato's father provides plenty of interesting information in this volume. There's a glimpse of how he came to be and some ominous notes when he mentions the stray's death which kind of has me curious, because there's clearly some history there. However, there's quite a development when it comes to Yukine as he starts to wonder how he died and it definitely provides a sense of impending doom when paired with everything we learn this volume. 

This volume largely spends its time building up for the next showdown and adding in a few little plot twists with Yukine and then with Hiyori and her lifeline, while also having Yato and Kazuma preparing for the next step. The Gods are all plotting together to help Yukine and go after the Crafter although the mention of 'God hunting' is ominous and had me on edge. Much as I love and feel for Yukine, I'm back in the 'wanting to shake him' place. 

Volume 21 is another solid volume, moving the plot along and keeping the readers interest through to the end. While serving to continue to set up and move the characters where they need to be for coming volumes and events, it also provides more intrigue and ends on a super ominous note that leaves you desperate for the next volume! 

Friday, 19 June 2020

Review: Bone Crier's Moon

Bone Crier's Moon
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Bone Crier's Moon has been one of my anticipated reads for a while so I was eager to dive in, unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations and often fell a little bit flat. While the world was intriguing and I was incredibly fascinated by the Bone Crier's and the lore surrounding them, the negatives outweigh the positives for me. 

I'll start off this review with what I did like about this book. As I said, the world is intriguing and so is the lore that surrounds the Bone Crier's, I actually thought it was quite original. I was excited to dive in and learn more about them and how everything worked. The opening of the book was misty and evocative and the atmosphere for the book was very well done throughout and was, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the book. It was atmospheric throughout and it was this atmosphere that helped pull you into the book and bring the settings to life. It just added a little extra something to the scenes and provided certain feelings depending on the scene and location. I was really able to get a strong feel for the aesthetic of the book as I was reading which I particularly enjoyed. 

There's some nicely placed ominous hints throughout the book about what's really going on with one of the characters and serves to provide a sense of intrigue to keep you reading. However, I think the biggest plus about this book is how badass all of the female characters are. They're strong, they can take care of their selves and they aren't afraid to fight back when they need to. Even Sabine who doesn't really enjoy violence all that much! Each of the Bone Crier's really had each other's backs and I loved the strong, deep female friendship depicted between Sabine and Ailesse though I would have loved to see a bit more of it! I'm a sucker for strong female friendships in books and this one certainly provided! 

However, there was quite a bit about this book that let it down for me and made me rate it three stars. While I did love the world and was intrigued by it, I felt like the world building was really lacking. There was enough detail for the magic system and so on, and the lore of the Bone Crier's, but when it came to the actual world and setting a feel like it wasn't followed through on enough. I assume it's a French inspired fantasy world judging from some of the words that were used, and there's the catacombs that are built from bones, but other than that I don't really have much of a feel or picture of the place. The Bone Crier's, the catacombs and the small area that Bastien inhabits are all expounded upon to a decent extent in most cases but other than that small corner there's not much known about the world. Some royalty are then thrown in at the end with not much detail. There's also a mention of some distant war but that's about it and we don't see much of the world. So much is poured into the mythology and magic system that I feel like the world building fell to the side a little. 

The same could be said for the characters and their backstory. They seem quite two dimensional and flat and all we really know about them are their basic motivators. Revenge, completing a ritual and rescuing a friend, there's not really that much more to them than that. In fact I wasn't even aware that Ailesse was the main character when I started reading, I thought it was Sabine and I think I might have actually preferred Sabine as the MC because I did feel like out of all of the characters, we got to know her the most and see her develop unlike the others. 

I also really wasn't feeling the romance, I have to be honest. It was straight up insta-love and I really wasn't a fan of it. All signs seemed to point towards Bastien and his female BFF who's name escapes me, but all of a sudden he's in love with Ailesse and I didn't...really...see why? All I gleaned from the book was that it was 'just because'. So I really didn't enjoy the romance, there was no chemistry between the two and it felt really lacklustre and then to make it even worse another guy is thrown in right at the end and's insta-love. Hell, he hasn't even met her and he's falling all over himself because of her and I'm not entirely sure how a love triangle full of insta-love is going to pan out in the next book because I'm not particularly rooting for either couple. Honestly I was expecting a really intense/deep romance and this was...not it. 

After the initial excitement over the world and the mythology, my interest waned pretty quickly. While it does have a fast start and a fast pace, I just ended up not being that hooked? To the point I could quite easily skim read to get through it. The insta-love had my attention straying but also the very repetitive plot. Ailesse is constantly running away and getting caught and then running away again over and over, while Sabine is looking for her and there's shady goings on. There's huge time skips that I honestly didn't feel worked because the plot still went nowhere? And I would have  preferred to spend more time with Sabine as she developed and had to do the one thing she didn't really enjoy all to save her friend instead of reading the same sequence of events over and over. I ended up being pretty bored, and once I'd finished the book and was reflecting on it I realised that not a lot really happened, honestly. Which brings me to my next point.... 

For the majority of the book not a lot happens, as I said, and it's super repetitive but in what felt like the eleventh hour there was a plot twist that literally came out of nowhere. There were no hints to it or anything, at least not that I detected, and it really seemed like it was thrown in for shock value or to add something to make people keep reading and anticipate the next book. It really didn't seem to have the most solid basis to me, which wasn't helped by the lack of world building to be honest. 

Despite a promising start and premise, Bone Crier's Moon ultimately ended up falling for flat for me and being more than a little bit disappointing. Perhaps my expectations were too high as I know a lot of people actually really loved this book, but for me there were too many negatives and aspects that I wasn't too big a fan of! I haven't quite decided if I'll check out the sequel to see how it all ends or not yet! 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Review: The Stars We Steal

The Stars We Steal 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin? 

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

I really enjoyed Brightly Burning; Donne's sci-fi retelling of Jane Eyre, and I was excited to see what she was going to do next...well here it is! The Stars We Steal is another sci-fi retelling, this one being a retelling of Persuasion which I'm fairly sure I did get around to reading back in the day but I'm not entirely sure! 

The Stars We Steal launches right in with the reappearance of Elliot and we quickly get to grips with Leo and her situation as well as the way things stand in the world of the book. That being that Earth is frozen and everyone is up in space waiting for it to thaw. While there's no time wasted at the beginning of the book as the story starts straight away, the book continues to be fast paced throughout as well as fun, easy to read and very easy to get lost in. 

I liked Leo well enough. She admits her faults, I guess which is pretty much the only things I have to say about her. I did love Evgenia, however, perhaps more than I liked Leo and I would have liked to have seen a lot more of her but she wasn't our main character so. Carina was also pretty unlikeable as a character BUT my opinion of her did change as the book went on and I actually ended up quite liking her. The sisterly bond she had with Leo was enjoyable too and they had a couple of sweet moments. As for our love interest Elliot, I felt that we didn't really spend that much time with him and I don't really have a lot to say about him. 

There is lots of representation which is a point in favour of the book. The world building was solid enough for the book and I enjoyed the setting and the world that was created though we didn't go into too much depth. Although I did feel that sometimes there was a bit too much telling rather than showing throughout. 

My biggest issue with the book would be the ending though. It threw me a little because I was expecting to see everything play out but instead we had the epilogue and then time jumped two weeks on from the explosive reveals which left me feeling quite disappointed and very unsatisfied all in all. Which is a shame because despite its flaws I did enjoy this book, the ending just let it down more than anything else. 

Was it perfect? No. I wasn't too attached to the characters and don't have a lot to say about them. But it was easy to read, fun to an extent and it kept my attention with the easy to read writing style. In fact I easily binged 200 pages of this in one day. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Review: House of Earth and Blood

House of Earth and Blood 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

I debated whether or not to write and publish this review, but I was encouraged to do so and now that I have the we are. I'm going to start with the positives before heading into negative territory...

I was actually very excited for House of Earth and Blood, I felt like Maas was more than ready to jump in to the world of adult fiction as sometimes reading the ACOTAR trilogy in particular I felt it would have been better as an adult series. I was most excited for a fresh new world and characters and to see what Maas would do. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect as I didn't read the synopsis before jumping in to this and had only heard tidbits about it here and there. 

As such, the urban fantasy setting and the gallery immediately caught my attention. I'm not going to lie, I had been expecting a fantasy setting like her other two series. I was immediately intrigued by multiple different aspects to the world, the Houses, the magical creatures and angels occupying the world and so on, and I was more than ready to dive in to the book and get to grips with it all. Helped by the fact that along with an interesting world, we're also immediately introduced to a host of interesting characters. 

Our main character Bryce was brilliantly snarky though she was very similar to both Aelin and Feyre in regards to that and a few other aspects. Bryce has been through quite a lot and I liked that she was portrayed in that way. There's no attempts to cover up the emotional scars that she has, or sugar coat anything. Bryce's ways of coping with her trauma aren't sugar coated either and I appreciated that honesty and genuineness in her character and she has some wonderful character development throughout the book. Danika I particularly loved as a character, I was so intrigued by her role and the Pack of Devils and I really liked her and her entire attitude. Not to mention her bond with Bryce! I loved the way Maas depicted the female friendship between the two of them, it's always brilliant to see a nicely written, strong female friendship. Jesiba was intriguing but still somewhat of a mystery as was Fury our possible assassin, Juniper the ballet faun and Lehabah the fire sprite! They were an intriguing bunch though some remain more of a mystery than others so I'm excited to get to know them better in the future and tease out more of their pasts. 

Hunt is our main male character and when he was first introduced I did toy with the idea of him being the love interest but shrugged it off because I thought it was someone else until the plot twist threw that out of the window! Just call me Boo Boo the Fool. Hunt reminded me a lot of Rhys with the whole darkness and skulls thing that he had going on. I did enjoy the romance between the two, Hunt's secretly soft side was cute and I liked the route their relationship took and watching it develop over the course of the book. 

I also have to mention Ruhn, Bryce's brother and the leader of the fae Aux division. Bryce might dislike him but I loved him completely! He's like an emo/rocker Legolas but with black hair and tattoos! He also has a very strong similarity to King Arthur with his sword and I can kind of sense a novella coming with that tale. I particularly loved his friends Declan and Flynn and I think the three of them made the book for me! 

As we start the book, we immediately get to grips with the world, with tidbits being thrown out from the beginning. Humans are ruled over by the Vanir and above them is the Asteri and they aren't exactly happy about it so there's some tensions. There's also a missing fae relic which obviously plays a part throughout the book. The thing is, as much as I enjoyed all of this, not much really happens within the first 50 pages but Maas's writing is so easy to read that you can breeze through it all getting acclimated to the world and the characters and the host of different supernatural creatures present in this world. 

There's then a pretty big plot twist within the first 100 pages of the book that left me shook. I should have seen it coming, and perhaps if I'd read the synopsis I wouldn't have been quite so blindsided by it. While I initially hadn't been quite sure what to expect from the book, as I'd started to read I had started to form a few expectations as well as some theories...that plot twist completely threw it all out of the window and I once again had no clue what to expect from this book. It has to be said that there are quite a few excellent plot twists and bomb drops throughout the book that are all very well timed! In fact the surprising time skip helps to keep the story moving forward and allowed for a better place for the story to truly begin. 

House of Earth and Blood is mostly told from Bryce's POV, but the changes to Ruhn, Isaiah and Hunt are smoothly handled. I loved the murder mystery aspect (though it reached a point when it was so slow and meandering that it got a little bit boring and seemed to be forgotten at some points) and the tension between Bryce and Hunt. There are plenty of interesting hints of the past dropped throughout the book so you can try and piece everything together while providing plenty of intrigue. As I mentioned, there are some impressive plot twists to keep you on your toes and the ending was quite spectacular and not entirely how I figured things would go! I also have to say I'm heavily intrigued by Aidas. 

However, there were also quite a few negatives to this book for me as well. I did enjoy certain parts of it like I mentioned, but there was a lot I didn't enjoy quite so much and that me rolling my eyes. The repeated use of descriptions like 'caramel eyes' which was used at least 3 times in the first 6 pages alone, for instance. I also got pretty tired of hearing about Bryce's skin tight dresses and perfect ass over and over, I really didn't see the need for such repeated descriptions throughout and of course pretty much all of the male characters fancied her. Let's also talk about her use of the word 'alpha-hole' which reached a point when it had me physically cringing every time I had to read it or the different variations of it. I'm still baffled as to how she's going to throw around the word 'alpha-hole' when her love interest is the definition of an alpha male, albeit it one with a tragic past and let's be honest she's pretty much known for her alpha male characters. 

As I mentioned, Bryce largely reminds me of Aelin and Feyre while Hunt, Isaiah and the rest of his crew were very reminiscent of Rhys's gang. The incident with Connor and Danika lowkey reminded me of Throne of Glass and then there was Hunt. He reminded me of Rhys so badly. Black hair? Check. All dark and shadows? Check. Misunderstood? Check probably. Has a power that no-one else does? Check. He's even referred to as 'the shadow of death' at one point and I'm fairly sure Rhys has been called that. His backstory is very, very much like a combination of Rhys and Rowan's as well. Similarities between characters like personalities and looks I could overlook, but so much seemed to be pulled from the other two series. 

While I enjoyed the world and was intrigued by it (it's got a few Norse Mythology references going on), I took issue with the fact that everything was laid out for us. There's a war and tension between the humans and the Vanir but...we don't really see that. It's mentioned and Bryce is treated badly a few times because of what she is, but we don't really see any of this war that's going on. I can only assume we might venture out of Crescent City and see more of the world...and this war, in the next book. I had also expected to see more of the whole 'humans being oppressed' thing but it was mostly just Bryce getting crap from people. My point is, it was very hard to see the Vanir as the bad guys when they're either a love interest or described as being ridiculously good looking...and we see none of what they do that's so bad other than Sandriel, I guess. 

ALSO the book is called HOUSE of Earth and Blood and the Houses are mentioned so very briefly at the beginning but that's it? They're just there and considering the books title I figured the Houses would have a bigger part to play than they actually did but apparently not? Unless it comes into play more later. I was just quite excited about them when they were first mentioned and was expecting there to be lots to do with them and for them to play a way bigger role than they actually did but it was like they got forgotten about and were just another thing thrown in there. 

Can we also talk about the swearing? I'm in no position to say anything because I use the f-word as an adjective at this stage in my life but half the time the swearing just seemed like a kid cursing because they can to try and be edgy. The use of violence seemed much the same way considering a character I LOVED was killed off before I could really get to know or care about them. Granted it created an interesting plot twist but I can only assume there's going to be a prequel novella or series. 

My biggest issue with this book is this is an entirely new series with an entirely new, urban fantasy setting and new characters but it's impossible to ignore how similar it is to Maas's other series. Hunt's backstory is an amalgamation of Rhys and Rowan and Bryce is made up of Aelin and Feyre though I think I liked her a lot better than both in the end. There's once again wings and Legions and so on and it's hard to shake the feeling that Maas took the things most popular and that she perceived as the most well done in both ToG and ACOTAR and mixed them together to create this book. It got to the point when buddy reading with my coworker that I had to say to her, 'look, is it me or is this reaaaaaaaally similar to the other series?'. 

There were also some parts that I found just plain ridiculous, like the My Little Pony horse thing (though to be fair it did make me laugh with its ridiculousness so points I guess?), and the long, drawn out villain speech. Her trying to run away also vividly reminded me of that scene in Jurassic Park when the injured woman is trying to run away from the Velociraptors. Let alone the whole thing when Bryce shot the guy, cut him half and then burned him....right before she hoovered him up. I'm sorry but I seriously lost it at that part and could no longer take the scene seriously at all. There's a few other things that I won't get into, some things that were overdone or excessive though to be expected now that Maas has free reign. 

My final criticism of this though? While initially nothing happened for those first 50 pages I assumed once we'd gotten past that point things would improve. However, this could definitely have been a couple of hundred pages shorter than it was and I reached a point when I had to sit and go back over just what exactly had happened in the book so far...and it was surprisingly little. While the final part of the book was took hundreds of pages of mediocrity to get there. When I say this could have been a couple hundred pages shorted I'm talking 300-400 at least, it was far too drawn out by useless scenes that had no bearing on the story. While I enjoyed learning about the world and the tidbits, at points it seemed like we'd been dropped in midway through a series. There's so much randomly thrown in here, and so much that should have been told as we went along rather than dropped in chunks. 

House of Earth and Blood is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I had been looking forward to it and I did enjoy the history and lore of the world as well as a few of the characters and the emphasis on friendship. Bryce's pain and trauma and how it was handled and her character growth were also excellently done as was the development of the romance and the intrigue throughout. The final part of the book really pulled it back for me but I also can't ignore the negatives. There were plenty of them and it was hard to take this book seriously in a couple of places. The most glaring issue being that this could have been much shorter and much of it appeared to be made up of her other two series. I am intrigued and will most likely pick up the second book to see just what happens next because I am curious and quite intrigued by Aidas and Maas's sequels are usually on point. However, I think my expectations for this series have been seriously lowered. I had been expecting this series to be better than both of her previous series but found myself faced with a fair few disappointments when it came to the quality. 

House of Earth and Blood is an adult fantasy but it's not one to be taken too seriously. Aside from Bryce's trauma I found it to be quite light and the writing quite simple. 

Monday, 18 May 2020

Manga: In/Spectre 11

In/Spectre Vol 11
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Both touched by spirits called yokai, Kotoko and Kuro have gained unique superhuman powers. But to gain her powers Kotoko has given up an eye and a leg, and Kuro's personal life is a shambles. So when Kotoko suggests they team up to deal with renegades from the spirit world, Kuro doesn't have many other choices, but Kotoko might just have a few ulterior motives. 

Volume 11 picks up from where we left off with the murder mystery in the process of being solved. On the surface, things seem to go quite amicably as an agreement is reached but there's too much of the volume left for it to be quite that simple as we soon find out! Volume 11 see's us dive into the nitty gritty of everyone's motivations and the skeletons lurking in their closets. 

This volume is nice and chunky, and there are a lot of solutions presented throughout the volume as is usual when it comes to this series. The trick is figuring out the right one and seemingly, the right one is easy to pick out...until a plot twist throws it right out of the window. 

Volume 11 see's the conclusion of a brilliantly done, twisty mystery that has you intrigued until the final page as you try to figure out who's lying and what really happened. I was fully engrossed into the volume and I could appreciate how it connected to the whole Rikka situation that we still have going on. I'm sure w're being smoothly driven towards the next encounter with her and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out! 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Manga: Edens Zero 6

Edens Zero Vol 6 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

A young boy gazes up at the sky and sees a streaming bolt of light. The friendly, armour-clad being at his side tells him gently, 'That's a dragon.' The fact that he's joking isn't important. What's important is the look of wonder on the boy's face... and the galaxy-spanning adventure that's about to take place!  

As we embark on Volume 6 of Edens Zero we just have Valkyrie left to locate! In order to locate Valkyrie the crew heads off to the time oracle to try and get some help, though before that there's a nice ominous tone regarding one of Elsie's crew members and a couple of familiar faces! 

Volume 6 has a good amount of action to keep you hooked as we have a fighting competition going on. It was nice to see each of the crew's various different approaches to battle and see their own skills shine for a change. I think the standout was Homura as we get to delve into her background and how she came to be with Valkyrie, there's been plenty of mystery around her and some of that mystery was illuminated in this volume. 

There's also the addition of a shady new captain to the crew whom I have such a bad feeling about, it's not even funny! I'll have to wait until next volume to see what horror he's going to unleash on the crew! There's also something odd going on as the crew venture's to a new planet. 

The crew are getting closer to finding Valkyrie but it seems the bad guys are also closing in! The volume easily speeds along and holds your attention with the action scattered throughout and the ominous hints of story lines to come in future volumes! 

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Manga: Fairy Tail 100 Years Quest 3

Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest Vol 3 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

A wizard's job is never done! Get fired up for the official sequel to Fairy Tail, with story and layouts by original creator Hiro Mashima himself. Natsu, Lucy, Happy, Erza, and the whole Fairy Tail guild are back in action! And they've decided to tackle the '100 Years Quest' - a job no one's dared take on since the founding of the guild more than a century ago. A mysterious town, a baffling spirit, a ghastly new enemy... and a brand new continent to explore. When you're with real friends, the adventures never stop!

100 Years Quest provides us with another excellent volume in the series and there's action from the start which is to be expected at this point. What got me excited about this particular volume, however, was the plot twist that happens pretty early on in the volume....a dragon shaped plot twist to be precise! I'm really enjoying the dragon element in this series and loving the focus on them, as much as I love the magic element, and if you've read the main series then you're in for a surprise that will have your jaw dropping! Even I was reading it like...whaaaaaat!? At which point it's time to try to get over the surprise and settle in properly for the rest of the volume because this series is getting so good! 

While I was excited and enjoying this new series, I was also wondering what new things could be brought in to keep it going and keep it fresh, aside from the dragons! (Speaking of, we're already introduced to a second one in this volume!) Then the plot twist happened and I was like 'aaaah I see' and any slight skepticism I might have had has now vanished and I'm even more excited to see where this is going to go now. 

There's a nice, epic battle to enjoy and the high of completing a mission but there's also ominous hints scattered here and there; Natsu and his behaviour, the guild master for Diabolos and then what's happening back at the Fairy Tail Guild. There's even a glimpse of what's to come with a quick intro to the dragons that got me so excited! While I did find the doppelgängers funny, I was also a bit like...okay gimme the dragons again! I feel like this volume really takes a turn for the fanfic with the doppelgängers and Grey's in particular! Nalu and Gruvia shippers are going to have plenty to screech over too. 

While we have some fun and relax along with the characters, things kick off once again towards the end of the volume both with another guild member popping up and then with the next dragon already being introduced which leaves you excited for the next volume and what's to come. 

If you've been on the fence about this series, this is the volume that's going to cement your interest! 

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Review: The Guinevere Deception

Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom's borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution--send in Guinevere to be Arthur's wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king's idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere's real name--and her true identity--is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot. 

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old--including Arthur's own family--demand things continue as they have been, and the new--those drawn by the dream of Camelot--fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur's knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself? 

It genuinely pains me to give this book only three stars as I was expecting this to be a five star read for me. It's been one of my most anticipated books ever since I spotted it on GoodReads and it didn't even have a proper synopsis. Kiersten White is the queen of retellings for me, I loved And I Darken as well as Slayer, though I haven't gotten around to her Frankenstein retelling just yet but I've heard incredibly good things. So considering how much I love all things King Arthur I was so, so excited for this book and for her to give us a retelling that I expected to be wonderfully twisted to her style. In all honesty, White has never let me down with her offerings post-Paranormalcy which is the only book of hers that I didn't really like and didn't finish the trilogy. 

As soon as I started to read this book I got Merlin vibes. Merlin is one of my favourite TV shows in the world and I rewatch it frequently, and as I was reading this book...hardcore Merlin vibes. I thought of Merlin more than once as I was reading this, and at times I thought I could see echoes of the show, or nods to it. At one point I even had the thought that this was like a twisted version of the show a little. I could picture some of the scenes as scenes in the show, just changed slightly. 

I'll start with the things that I did enjoy about this book. I found the magic interesting, I've not encountered knot magic in a book before and I liked the consequences to using it as it meant Guinevere had to be careful how much she used magic and what she used it for. Being familiar with the mythology, some plot points were predictable but there were some great twists thrown in there to keep me on my toes...Lancelot, Tristan and Isolde and so on. There was some brilliant LGBTQ+ rep and some feminist undertones to it. I liked Guinevere well enough, I admired her determination to succeed at protecting Arthur and wanting to prove herself and find a place for herself. However, in all honesty my favourite character was Mordred. The thing is, I was sympathising with Mordred, I liked him and his humour, he made me chuckle but I know Mordred so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop when it came to him and then boom. There it was. Of course. I still love him though, I can't lie. 

My problem is, I eagerly started to read this having been so incredibly excited for it...and I wasn't grabbed. Alarm bells started ringing because this couldn't possibly be right, this is supposed to be one of my favourite books because Arthur and Kiersten should be the perfect combination. I started to wonder if it was because I was tired and just not in the mood to read so I put it to one side for a little bit. Then I struggled through to around 60 pages and I was seriously considering DNF-ing this because I just don't have the time anymore to read books that I'm not enjoying. But I decided to persevere even if I did resort to skim reading at one point and I couldn't believe this book drove me to that. The majority of this book is so slow and I had no urge to keep reading, I was reading because I felt I had to and because I wanted to get it finished. 

Guinevere doesn't do anything for most of this book. She faffs about with her knot magic, chatting to her new friends and the other Knights wives, chatting to Mordred and Brangien and so on. Towards the end it does pick up and there's a lot more action but..that's right towards the end after you've struggled through a couple hundred pages of not much at all and I found my attention wandering. I was bored and I didn't think that would happen with this book. 

I also feel like the reader is kept in the dark for too long, to the point it becomes frustrating and then it's all a bit of a cop out. There's so many mentions in the narrative of her 'not being Guinevere' and her alluding to her real name and so on, I was expecting her real name to be revealed at the end of the book and I had a few theories as to who it was...she forgot. She forgot her real name so I didn't even get that at the end although I'm fairly sure I do know who she is. Or where she's from anyway. 

The romance Arthur was bland to me. He doesn't stand out at all, he's just very kind, very brave and he puts the good of Camelot and its people before anything and anyone else. The romance is barely there and there's an attempt made at a love triangle that might have been more interesting if Arthur wasn't He was forgettable and he didn't stand out at all. Then again, none of the characters really did for me. I liked them well enough, but Mordred's the only one that even remotely stands out to me when I think back on the book. 

I had no solid sense of setting either, this is supposed to be set during whatever century it's set during but I had no clear image of that time period. In fact I was picturing the costumes and settings of Merlin more than anything else because aside from the odd mentions of a goblet here, or similar such things, there was no slid sense of time period for this book, which is a surprise and a disappointment considering how rich And I Darken is. 

The last 50 pages or so are good, there's action, it's engaging and it was what I'd been expecting from the entire book but I don't know if it was worth struggling through the rest of the book to reach it. There's some interesting set up for the sequel but I'm quite wary of it now, and unsure whether to read it. I'd like to think the sequel won't start out like this one did, slow and uninteresting for the most part, but then again I didn't expect to be so disappointed with this book either. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Review: Song of the Crimson Flower

Song of the Crimson Flower 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician's apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman's daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao's prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest's Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that's been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins? 

I was a little bit wary of this book, as I'd read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and I really didn't get on well with it. It had aspects that I did like, but for the most part I wasn't a fan of it and didn't bother to read the sequel. However, I was intrigued by the synopsis for Song of the Crimson Flower and was willing to give Dao's writing a chance one more time. 

There are some references to the duology and events that happened in it that you may or may not consider a spoiler. I for one, knew what direction the duology was going to take so I didn't consider anything in Song of the Crimson Flower to be a spoiler, it was more confirmation of what I'd thought was going to happen. There's enough information about what happened in the duology scattered throughout that you can understand what happened and you can see the connections between the books, especially when we meet characters from the duology. 

It was quite easy to sink in to the world of the book thanks to the descriptions but I'd have liked more from the world building. A bit more richness and depth, I know it's technically part of the series but seeing as we were visiting what I believe to be different places to the other two books, some more world building would have been great. The mysterious blood pox and its cause were easy to figure out from early on as well, it was fairly obvious what was behind it and which direction the story was going to go. 

There is a really great fairy tale-like quality to the writing and the story which I did enjoy throughout the book and the writing is quite simple which makes it an easy to read book. I whizzed through this in a couple of sittings though I wasn't particularly compelled to keep reading initially and it's not got all that much depth to it. It's a bit slow to start, and considering the book is around 300 pages or so, and Bao has two weeks to fix the curse, you'd think there'd be a bit more of a sense of urgency to things....but nope. I think it's around halfway through the book that they finally set off on the journey, and even then there's no sense of urgency. They're stopping here and there, getting involved with the goings on in a village and staying with other people and so on. The journey is rushed through by the time it starts, and I think it would have been better to start the journey sooner in the book than wait until halfway. 

Lan is quite sheltered and I wasn't sure I liked her at first after her outburst at Bao. But the fact that she showed genuine regret and wanted to make amends made me like her a little bit as that does take a lot of guts, however, she's quite a forgettable female lead and I found myself feeling quite neutral towards her throughout the book,  I didn't overly like her and I didn't overly dislike her. She did irritate me though, when she started going on about how Bao had 'sulked' long enough, or however she worded it, and said various other things. The thing is, Bao might have been upset and his feelings might have been hurt but he never outright hated her. The synopsis says that Bao now 'despises' her but he doesn't because the book is too short for that. The journey doesn't start until halfway through the book, what remains of the book isn't enough time for Bao to genuinely despise her and then rekindle his feelings for her without it being rushed, so he just simply decides to stop fawning over her quite so much. Honestly, Bao's not been treated the best by people, including Lan, and I did really feel for him. I understood his reaction to Lan and what she said to him, and he did the right thing and was honest so I did actually like him even if he didn't hold out against Lan all that much. 

The ending isn't a particularly strong one, it was obvious as to what was going to happen and you could see it coming because everything about this book is simple. The language, the world building, the characters and so on. I did like it more than I liked Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I did enjoy myself reading it once things finally got going, but it's just an easy, quick read and it didn't leave much of an impression on me. I just wish Dao would go all in with her writing, and really bring in more of the world building and build up the characters some more. I think this will be the last book I read by the author because they just aren't quite enough for me. 

Monday, 27 January 2020

Review: Into The Crooked Place

Into The Crooked Place 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Magic rules the city of Creije Capital and Tavia Syn knows just how many tricks she needs up her sleeve to survive. Selling dark magic on the streets for her kingpin, she keeps clear of other crooks, counting the days until her debt is paid and she can flee her criminal life.

But then, one day, with her freedom in sight, Tavia uncovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the realm she calls home. Desperate to put an end to her kingpin's plan, Tavia forms an unlikely alliance with three crooks even more deadly than her: 

Wesley, the kingpin's prodigy and most renewed criminal in the realm

Karam, an underground fighter with a penchant for killing first and forgetting to ask questions

And Saxony, a Crafter in hiding who will stop at nothing to avenge her family 

With the reluctant saviours assembled, they embark on a quest to put an end to the dark magic before it's too late. But even if they can take down the kingpin and save the realm, the one thing they can't do is trust each other. 

I was very, very excited for this book. I read and loved Christo's To Kill a Kingdom, it's one of my favourite books and so I expected big things from this. A gang of misfits, a heist...but with Christo's storytelling and her originality from To Kill a Kingdom? Sign me up! However, as I was reading this, I just wasn't as grabbed and invested as I'd expected to be. If I'm being completely honest, as I was reading all I could think was 'this is essentially Six of Crows just with a different magic system'. 

The magic system we were presented with was intriguing, and I was curious about it, there was a nice  amount of initial world building that was enough to pique your interest but not overwhelm you and I always love morally grey characters like Tavia. I was also loving the whole magic black market, gangsters thing we had going on. Karam I particularly enjoyed out of all the characters, she was badass and I liked the humour and banter there was between not just she and Tavia but all of the characters in the book. The cast of characters was diverse, there's some intrigue and there's a lot of magic sprinkled with some action. 

However, there's not much else that I really have to say about this book. It was an okay book, it wasn't anything that really stands out to me among the multitude of other similar books. Wesley really reminded me of Kaz Brekker and I thought it more than once as I was reading. The characters are interesting, but I don't feel like they had enough depth to them. I wasn't overly attached to or invested in any of them, though they were likeable enough. I enjoyed the f/f romance, but after a certain point it became a little bit repetitive and as much as I liked the initial world building, I'd have liked to delve deeper because unless I missed something....I still have no idea why magic was outlawed. Much like the characters, there just wasn't enough depth to it for me. 

The writing was good, as was the world building and there were some great twists to it. I just struggled to make it to the end of the book and if it hadn't been an arc I probably would have DNF'd it. I never found it hard to put down, I found it hard to pick up because I wasn't that enthused with it although it did pick up towards the end, I'm still not sure I'll pick up the sequel. It's a lot of struggle to get to the really good stuff, and it was a little too predictable at points. 

My main problem with the book is that it felt quite bland to me. I found that it didn't stand out from Six of Crows and Gilded Wolves and so on, which is disappointing to me because I was expecting Christo to put her own brand of originality on this and take what's becoming a YA trope and make it something new and exciting and different to everything else. But the entire time I was reading I could just pick up echoes of other books and it felt very same-y to me as I was reading which was the biggest disappointment for me when it came to this book. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Review: The Beautiful

The Beautiful 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface. 

This review is way overdue, I read it near to when it came out but I struggled to figure out how to put in to words what I wanted to say about this book other than just screaming. That and uni work was kicking my a**. 

The Beautiful immediately drew me in with the intrigue scattered throughout the first couple of chapters. There's a mysterious prologue narrator, Celine and the hints to her past and what happened...and what exactly she did. By the time I got to the chilling third chapter with the ominous sense of something wrong, I was hooked in to this and more than willing to see where this was going to go and to get some answers to the questions that I already had building up. 

Ahdieh's writing is incredibly rich, she creates a palpable atmosphere as you read and you can feel the danger and the tension...and the overall creepiness in some scenes. She brings the streets of New Orleans to life and her descriptions are so vivid, whether it's for the settings, the food or the clothing. As you read you have a clear image of everything along with an aesthetic and a vibe to each scene that you can feel which makes it incredibly easy to slip in to the world of the book as you read. 

We quickly meet a colourful cast of characters. We of course have Celine who's our main character and I loved her. She's intelligent, she's brave and strong and she isn't here to fit in to the societal norms. She doesn't give a damn about society and what a woman should and shouldn't do and I loved that about her. She's feisty and such a brilliant main character. I loved her narrative and her internal monologue as she struggles with herself and the darkness within her. She also is of Asian heritage, and with the time period the story is set in it made for an interesting struggle she had as she's always been told by her father to ignore it, to not acknowledge it or admit it. I liked seeing her becoming more accepting of herself as she worked through it. We also have Pippa and the other girls at the convent, though I have a soft spot for Pippa. I loved that she stuck by Celine through everything and was such a good friend to her, even when Celine tried to keep her at a distance. Odette was another favourite character of mine, initially she's a mysterious, wealthy girl who commissions Celine but we quickly discover she's so much more than that. She's strolling around in pants instead of skirts, and I was intrigued by her from the start as well as her power. Speaking of powers, I was also intrigued by Arjun's and he was a fun character that I can't wait to see more of and get to know better too! 

Our male lead for this book is Sebastien, or Bastien, and boy did I love he and Celine's first meeting/interaction. I was living for the banter and the dynamic between them, and I couldn't wait to see more of them together and dive in to the romance. He also has some mysterious past with Michael which provides yet more intrigue as you try to figure out what their issue with each other is! 

I particularly enjoyed the chilling interludes we had with the killer as I was trying to figure out who it was. Their perspective as they choose their victims and the insight in to their motivations was interesting alone, but it also provides us with some key information about New Orleans and how things work, or more specifically how the world of this book works, with the mentalists and La Cour Des Lions. It also provides some nuggets of information on some of the characters which was especially fun as characters like Bastien and Arjun are quite mysterious in the beginning, so some light is shed on them...but you still want to know more. I feel like these little nuggets prepare you before you dive further in to the details, they lay the groundwork and build some excitement! 

For the most part, our point of view is Celine along with the killer, but we do get Bastien's POV eventually, it just takes a while to come about. It was perfectly timed if not a little odd to suddenly have it sprung on us. Thanks to that we do get to delve in to Bastien a bit more, who's been rather mysterious and elusive up until that point. It's a good chance to get to know him better as well as his crew, I just would have expected to get his POV close to the start although it does allow an element of mystery to be kept up. 

The thing I liked about reading this, is that there's no initial sense that it's a vampire book. The vampire aspect is as slow burn as the romance is, which I was loving by the way! I went in to it knowing that it was supposed to be vampires, but as Celine is our main narrator we're as in the dark as she is. We know what she knows, although we do end up a little bit more enlightened after a point thanks to the killer's POV. However, there's still plenty of questions to ask as the information was enough to tantalise but not satisfy your curiosity. As you're reading, it initially seems like a murder mystery with some potential magic going on, but the more information we got, the more curious I was about the vampire lore. We get more and more nuggets of it, and I was excited to find out all the details because it's certainly different to the usual. The vampires had been portrayed to us initially as magic users of a sort, or that's how they were portrayed to Celine, but as we head towards the end of the book we finally get a glimpse of their vampire sides and get to revel in the vampire-ness. 

The Beautiful is an atmospheric rollercoaster ride, and there's a few nice twists to it. One of the best ones being the reveal of the killer. There was an interesting piece of information dropped about the killer in one of the POVs that had me gasping and gave us someone else to keep an eye out for and when the reveal actually came, so many little pieces clicked in to place. The odd sentence or comment earlier on in the book turned out to be hints that I'd missed entirely, but could see clearly upon the reveal! So when you're reading...keep an eye out! 

The end is full of more twists than just the reveal of who the killer is, those twists keep on coming and there's so many fantastic reveals packed in to the last couple of chapters. One reveal in particular had me putting the book down and staring into space for a solid minute or two, thinking back over the entire book. I even went back to certain parts and everything just clicked that had been hinted at but that I'd once again missed, and it all fell into place and left me reeling. Even more so than Celine's actions that had me stifling the urge to shriek because I can taste the angst for book two already...and the impending love triangle although it's been spiced up a bit from the usual by the knowledge provided in the penultimate chapter. 

I'd expected good things from this book, it sounded right up my street from the start and it didn't disappoint me at all. It's in fact left me screaming and impatient for the next book because we go on quite a journey in this one, and some brilliant things have been set up for the sequel! 
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