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TToria

TToria
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      06.04.2012 15:09
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      An excellent addition to the series.

      Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #10
      Publisher: Piatkus (March 2012)
      Genre: Paranormal Romance
      Length: 572 pages
      ISBN: 978-0-7499-5570-0
      Format: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle
      Purchase: Amazon
      Author URL: www.jrward.com

      Goodreads synopsis.

      Ever since the death of his shellan, Tohrment is a heartbroken shadow of the vampire leader he once was. Brought back to the Brotherhood by a self-serving fallen angel, he fights again with ruthless vengeance- and is unprepared for a new tragedy. Seeing his beloved in dreams--trapped in a cold, desolate netherworld--he turns to the angel to save his former mate, only to despair at the path he himself must take to set her free. As war with the lessers rages, and a new clan of vampires vies for the Blind King's throne, Tohr struggles between an unforgettable past, and a future that he doesn't know he can live with... but can't seem to turn away from.

      My thoughts.

      Oh, i had been waiting for this novel to be released for so longgggg!
      I've loved the books in this series *well, except phury's book-yawn* and having read them all i couldn't wait for the this one- until i heard the romance would be between Tohr and No'One.
      I just did not see how this would work at all! No'One's character wasn't appealing and Tohr's love was extremely fierce for shellan, Wellsie. He's devastated about her death. So how would Ward go about creating this new romance without making Tohr's previous one, and the whole Shellan/ Hellren strong connection seem a farce? After all, the appeal to the 'mating system' in BDB is that once a hellren/ Shellan- that is them for life, no other will do etc.

      The truth? Ward achieved it in my eyes. I mean completely. It was emotional, understandable and completely convincing of the characters we've come to know in the series. It wasn't simply the case of out with the old in with the new: the plot was written so that it puts Tohr in a position where he has to move on.
      Wellsie and his son remain stuck in the in-between, (they can't cross over) as long as Tohr holds on to them. It's angel, Lassiter, who reveals to Tohr the action needed to be taken if they're to be set free. Cue No'One's involvement.
      For his ultimate love to move on he has to practically climb into bed with another. Ok, maybe not literally. Well yeah, literally. Harsh.com!
      But Tohr refuses to love or even attempt to love anyone other than his shellan.

      It's a personal growth for both characters Tohr and No'One. They're two people with emotional baggage that they need to accept and move on from.
      No'one turned out to be a great character! I was surprised just how well Ward turned this around for me. Like a snowball effect, her assumed small personality grew and grew throughout the pages. She really held her own whilst battling Tohr's harshness and her own troubles, yet kept a certain amount of vulnerability. The way her appearance was described was a surprise too, i'd initially pictured her much different.

      No'One has some bridges to build with her daughter, Xhex, too and as we see their relationship become stronger, we see Xhex's relationship with Hellren, John, deteriorate. I loved how this was included as a sub-plot. Instead of the usual hearts and flowers scenes between the couples after they're wed, with Xhex and John you see what you would expect of a couple as such. She's badass- she wants to fight. John's the typical over-protective Hellren- he wants her to stay home. Recipe for Xhex to flip him the bird? Yup.

      Ward's great storytelling and sub-plotting also includes, what i'll personally call, Qhuinn & Blay's Just get it on! Journey. ;-). It's a relationship we all want to keep reading about and see develop, yet Ward is taking her time! In Lover Reborn Qhay's chemistry is, yet again, on fire the minute they're together. Will Qhuinn say something? Is Blay getting over him? Etc. The final pages give us readers the answer and i've recently found out that Ward is, in fact, releasing a book for them, despite the m/m topic that might not be viewed as appropriate from the publishers. Yay to her listening to her readers! *Claps like a seal*

      Whilst all this chaos is going on, yes there's more, the antagonist(s) need to step in somewhere. The lessers. Well, the slayers' role isn't as fundamental to the plots in Lover Reborn. They're too busy being pansies and jumping off bridges. It's the Band of Bastards, that cause the drama in this novel. The Brotherhood's rival clan are trying to de-throne Wrath so Xcor can take his place. There's even bloodshed, but who, if anyone, dies?

      Summary & Rating.

      Just an action-packed, romantic, funny and brilliant addition to the series! I couldn't possibly touch upon everything i liked about the novel, i'd be here all day and no doubt unleash some spoilers. Just know that if you're a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you are not going to be disappointed with the authors direction! Ward's storytelling doesn't falter, her characters are as lovable and funny as they've always been (including the new ones) and the world she's created is still as enthralling as it's always been. If not, better! Yeah, it's totally got five shiny twinkle twinkles from me :-)

      Recommended to:

      Paranormal romance fans, readers of Lara Adrian, Christine Feehan, Jeaniene Frost & Co.
      Fans of the series and Ward's work in general.

      Thanks for reading xo

      © TToria ttoria.blogspot.com

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      08.02.2012 13:08
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      An entertaining read

      Goodreads Synopsis:

      'After paying two millennia's penance to Osiris, world-weary phoenix Ice has had enough. Saving souls without any hope for her own redemption isn't how she imagined spending eternity. Fed up, she decides her next death will be her last. But when she sacrifices her own life for a sexy Texan in a catastrophic plane crash, she has no idea the consequences will be so great...or that she'll end up back in his life for her next assignment.

      Now that Turner Alcott has survived the worst, finding a wife and mother for his son matters more than ever before. When the mysterious Ice comes into his life, Turner knows she's the one--but love is the last thing Ice wants. If he wants to win her heart, Turner must teach Ice how to forgive herself, and prove that love is the ultimate sacrifice.'

      Worth the read?

      I absolutely loved The Last Rising! I rarely read romance novellas, mainly because I like my romances to have a lengthy period of time for the two protagonists to develop their chemistry. And basically i just want as much to read as possible, should I like the characters.

      Despite my preference on length this novella was written with a convincing finesse. The plot was solid with unexpected revelations occurring throughout, along with the unanswered questions unfolding nicely during the final chapters. Some came as a shock, one or two predicted but entertaining none the less.

      The characters were written as equally strong as the plot instead of one carrying the other. For a short piece Firasek managed to create perfectedly rounded characters: memorable and believable personalities, the likability factor, depth and flashes of their histories. Plus created a personal journey for each of them brilliantly. It wasn't hard to conjure up the characters as real people and relate to them and their problems.

      Dying over and over again has got to be pretty annoying! I expected protagonist Ice to moan a hell of a lot more, but she didn't. It was made clear she was more than fed up with her situation but she was written as a very strong-headed character who knew exactly what she wanted. Yet in order to get there, she had to realise a few things.
      ...Cue handsome Texan cowboy, Turner.

      On black and white Turner's character is a winner. Good-looking man, hard-worker, doting father (though maybe works too much) seeking a woman to settle down with and live happily ever after.
      But does that make for a boring read? You'd maybe think so, but no.
      Pining for Ice to be his and for answers from her, whilst contending with being a single parent and work being an important factor, he was actually written with a fiery and tenacious side too. But still adorable.
      The tension, both sexual and from irritation, simmered throughout the pages until it really boiled!

      The other supporting characters were relevant to the story, my favourite being Brodie, Turner's son. He was absolutely adorable and though he came across quite grown up for his years, he was still written convincingly given his situation. The hardship he faced while not having his mother around and his dad constantly having to work was heartbreaking! His scenes were written brilliantly by Firasek and really pulled your emotions to the surface.
      Fellow phoenixes' serving penance alongside Ice, I've got to admit, were a bit forgettable and only one really stood out to me. In fear of giving too much away I can't/ won't elaborate.
      Perhaps it was because the other leading characters had such big voices, I'm not sure. But I'll be reading about one of them again in the sequel, there'll be room for their character to grow then, so i look forward to that.

      I'm always sad when a series features new characters in each installment, leaving the ones you've grown to love, behind. But it worked for The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R Ward among others and I don't see why it can't work for Curse of the Phoenix series.
      I look forward to becoming enthralled with the story of another phoenix, which I know will be magically crafted by Firasek.

      Summary

      All in all an incredibly creative, entertaining and easy read. Firasek created such a journey within a short amount of time I finished reading with a "Noooooo!"

      The characters, plot and atmosphere were completely captivating. For me, the high points of the novella were the depth of the characters, their convincing chemistry and sizzling sexual tension. Plus the inclusion of Egyptian mythology, the phoenix angle and little Brodie's character.
      Definitely worth a read and recommended to all fans of romance.
      Oh, and the cover is gorgeous!
      Four stars from me.

      The Last Rising is available on Kindle for £1.88.
      If you haven't made the Kindle leap and don't own one yet (I don't either) you can download an app for your PC and read it on that instead. On Amazon simply click purchase and it'll come up with the instructions. It is really simple and only takes a moment.

      Entangled Publishing 3rd Sept 2011
      245KB
      ASIN: B005L92H56

      Thanks for reading.

      © TToria ttoria.blogspot.com

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      19.12.2011 16:44
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      A memorable YA read

      I recieved an ARC copy of Geek Girl from the publisher for an honest review.

      So, what's the novel about?

      Seventeen year-old Jen has spent her life shuffling through numerous foster homes due to her mother serving jail-time and her having been killed. There was once a family to which she belonged and loved but due to unfortunate circumstances she had to leave.

      From that moment on Jen chose to stay in control of her foster situation; she would hold herself emotionally distant from the families she stayed with and would leave when she decided. Meaning she would kick-up her rebellion a notch and ultimately her behaviour would ensure her departure.

      On a typical school day, boredom strikes for Jen and knowing it's about time she moved on from current foster family- the Clarks, she makes a bet with two of her friends that she can turn a geek 'bad', like her. The prize she'll receive from them is a lip-piercing and of course, she'll leave with a bang.
      Seeing clean-cut Trevor among his geeky friends, his shirt buttoned right the way to the top, yet possessing somewhat handsome looks; Jen chooses him. Only one up from the geeks in the social pecking order, the goth girl sets about tactfully involving herself in Trevor's world.

      At first he is stunned when she approaches him at a party, but recovers well and invites her along to spend time with him and his geeky friends. It isn't long before Jen finds herself participating in Sci-Fi movie-thons, volunteering in a senior centre and bowling- all while agreeing to supply her friends with a progress report.

      It soon becomes evident to Jen that being out of her dark comfort zone is turning out to be not as cringe-worthy as she expected it to be. It is then the terms of the bet change in Jen's eyes.
      Instead of turning Trevor bad to win the piercing, he has to turn into a fellow rebel so Jen can feel more deserving of him...Aww

      Worth the read?

      My first reaction to this novel as a whole is 'Awww'. Hardly an astute reaction, but it is fitting.
      What began as a story about an insensitive bet a teenage trouble-maker makes, then evolved into the sweetest, most heart-breaking and romantic tale of forgiveness, acceptance and love.

      Bennett has highlighted a stage we all remember experiencing in our teenage years, the drama, awkwardness, insecurity and feelings on love/ lust. It is all knowingly credible, from the 'social groups' at school, the journey of self-discovery and right down to the typical dialogue between the teens. This novel will bring back school memories to everyone.

      I'll be honest, Jen's troubled character was hard to like at first. Bennett laced up her sometimes cruel personality with humour and i knew that, of course, there had to be more to why Jen acted in the insecure way she did, so with that i kept reading.

      Jen's character was developed gradually and carefully, changing though keeping the naturally gained traits from her troubled life; her suspicion of everyone and low-self esteem.
      The changes to her personality were completely believable and seemed to coincide with her surroundings. For example, there is a moment after her defensive walls are knocked down when she realises she has not put her personality into her bedroom. It remained exactly how it was when she first moved in; she never felt the need to add personal objects or things. This tied in well with a point when Jen was changing.

      It was truly heart-breaking reading about her past and her reactions to being treated nice by her foster parents. She couldn't believe there wasn't a catch to simple pleasant gestures. There was a moment where she casually compared herself with Spock, from Star Trek, stating his difference from those around him- like her. Though it wouldn't seem so just reading this, it did really pull on my heart-strings whilst i was engrossed in the novel.

      I'm thankful that Jen's character didn't change in ways for love interest, Trevor. This would have been a horrible direction for kids/ readers to take note of. Instead, she begins to look at the world and people around her differently than she previously had been doing while living with the burden of her past.

      Trevor, for me shouldn't have worked. His character was almost perfect and usually to a reader that can seem quite unreal and hard to relate to. You begin to see the cracks though when Jen takes him to her friends' parties.
      Actually, even then he was cool, calm and collected the majority of the time. But anyway, it truly didn't matter and his character did work. The focus of the novel is their developing relationship and their undeniable chemistry that jumped from the pages.

      The other characters within the story, i feel, were a necessary inclusion. Trevor's geeky friends, Jens rebellious crowd, Mrs Green (in the study with the candlestick, lol) and the 'angel' who comes into Jens life, all fuelled the development of the plot and gave the duo the tools to progress as characters.

      I think the novel as a whole teaches valuable lessons: find who you are and accept yourself, accept others for who they are-even if they are different from you and most of all cherish what you have and the people in your life. Oh and of course, learn to love and be loved in return. *Mind flashes to the dialogue in movie 'Moulin Rouge'*

      It touched upon the brutal topics of drug-use and different forms of abuse, but Bennett didn't focus on the specifics when revealing them- she was brief and to the point, then moved on in a way that balanced out the drama with the fun.

      Summary

      Overall i really did enjoy this YA novel and i would recommend it. I love the cover too.
      It was well-written and one which stirred all my emotions at some point or another. But for reasons i'll not go into, for fear of revealing too much; i wouldn't read it again. For me it's one of those books that once you've read it, you've found out all the shock factors and it wouldn't be as exciting again.
      Five stars from me. Bennett did a great job of keeping me engrossed, entertained and shocked. Recommended to all!

      Paperback, 318 pages
      Published July 26th 2010
      Available on Amazon from £6.09 for paperback or £3.68 for Kindle.

      Thanks for reading.

      © TToria ttoria.blogspot.com

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        15.11.2011 14:37
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        An entertaining read

        Many thanks to author Kevin M.Turner for providing me with an ARC of his novel for an honest review.

        I have been recieving a lot of novels to review via my book blog, some have been almost painful to keep reading, never mind review. (I know that sounds awful- just being honest)
        I like writing about things i've enjoyed, it's always great to find amongst the pile one that demands your full attention, as this novel did. But i do understand that perhaps i should include reviews of novels i haven't enjoyed too...maybe at a later date.

        The Magi is the first novel in a five-book YA fantasy series, initially written for the enjoyment of his students.
        Author Kevin M.Turner decided to write this after noticing his students were not eager to read anything from the library. He gave them questionnaires to fill out on what they would like to be included in a novel and with the results set to work in creating it.
        I really admired his dedication to his students.

        So what's it about?

        With school just around the corner, thirteen-year old Elijah faces the usual insecurity an average teenager does. He had hoped to fill out more during the summer, become that person who would return to school and be noticed by all.

        Unbeknown to Elijah, he was about to realise he had been noticed already.

        Waking up in the dead of the night, with the feeling of terrifying danger, Elijah trusts his screaming instincts and makes a run for it. The yellow eyes he's met with in the darkness, before he manages to flee his house, mark the beginning of a journey he has no choice but to make.

        Facing heart-breaking obstacles, including the death of his parents (Not a spoiler!) Elijah eventually stumbles upon the hidden city of the Magi, Savenridge. There he discovers just who the Magi are and begins training with them to learn how the elements of the earth work. He must understand and respect them if, like the Magi, he is to control them.


        "Once I explain to you who I am--once you are taken to Savenridge and meet our people, you must never speak to anyone on the outside about what you learn. You must keep our secrets forever. The knowledge we have has been kept a secret for almost three thousand years. What you're about to be told is powerful. It's history."



        Whilst among the gifted community the teenager begins to unravel a hidden truth. It soon becomes clear the Magi have enemies, and they want Elijah.

        Worth the read?

        The Magi was a wonderful form of escape. I was immediately caught off guard with the exciting and tense sample chapters i'd read. Receiving the full novel I thought the pace would slow down at some point, and it did, though not for too long.

        I liked how Turner created a world where magic had to be learned in order to use. This gave the novel an educational undertone and forces the reader to accompany Elijah on his journey to understand the Earth's elements.

        It has to be said, i was a little worried at first. A thirteen-year old protagonist wouldn't usually be a character i could relate to. Yet, he's quite mature.
        He isn't perfect, the flaws and vulnerability he has are believable and written in way that readers everywhere will appreciate. Despite his age, Elijah is written as a very courageous and intelligent boy- but not overly so. He is not good at everything in life or during the Magi training, but the things he is good at; he's curious as to why this is the case and wants to learn more.
        As the 'hero' of the story, Elijah is tough when battling obstacles, of course, but that doesn't mean he always saves the day. His character never forgets the dismal incidents he's been through. You're forced to feel what he does as his emotions remain raw throughout the pages.

        The other characters are also impossible to forget: The sympathetic teacher Master Roddick, elder in the Magi Olivia Rose, with her majestic aura and unique methods of training Elijah. Both were captivating and stepped right off the page.
        From Elijah's friends, timid Samuel and brash Paul to the feisty introvert Becca- each one was three-dimensional and could have been someone a reader would know. I really enjoyed the way Turner developed these characters and cemented them in your imagination. Even the clockmaker, visited once, in his little hut with clocks covering the walls and tabletops, was fascinating and unforgettable. Some ties were left open, for their progression throughout the series no doubt.

        The antagonists were immediately established as people to fear, the line between good and evil being marked clearly. At a certain stage in the novel i did want to know more about one Maliphist in particular. But as i read on the need evaporated when Turner thickened the plot and someone fiercer became known. The city in which the Maliphist's live fits in perfectly and is easily conjured up in the mind, thanks to an appropriate atmosphere being written.

        Summary

        With shock turns and evolving problems, the plot remains solid and flows effortlessly. As it draws to an end, everything leads to a satisfying conclusion, though has ties left leaving the series room to grow.
        It has been said that Harry Potter fans should love this new series and i agree. I found this novel enthralling and despite its YA tag, i recommend it to everyone. This incredibly exciting first installment is one not to be missed and i eagerly await the sequel.

        Thoroughly entertaining and with an attractive book cover too, five stars from me.

        The Magi is available to buy on Amazon for $3.55, to read the first five chapters visit Kevin M.Turner's blog at
        http://themagiseries.blogspot.com/p/magi.html

        Thanks for reading xo

        © TToria ttoria.blogspot.com

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        31.10.2011 22:43
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        An enjoyable read with the potential to become a fab series!

        Many thanks to author Krystal McLaughlin for sending me the ARC of this novel, i appreciate it.

        What's it about?

        Siblings, Drew (14) and Sophia (15) are suddenly uprooted from their home and all that they know when their parents tragically die in a car accident. Declared in their parents' will is the order to go and live with their dad's sister Celeste- an Aunt they have never met and never even knew existed.

        Expecting a haggard and mean old lady, they're shocked when they travel to the privately owned and secluded island to discover their Aunt is charming and young-looking with similar looks to Sophia. Not only that, but Celeste isn't alone on the island.

        Under her roof and supervision are a handful of mysterious teenagers. Amongst the teenagers is Falen, he has taken a shine to Sophia and seems to find everything she does amusing, much to her annoyance and embarrassment.

        While Drew takes to Celeste initially, Sophia has trouble. What sets her on edge as she approaches Celeste's house is the fact she has seen it before, but not in reality. It was in the nightmare Sophia had that included her vision on her parents' death.
        Whilst continuing to battle and understand the plethora of cryptic dreams and the new people around her, it isn't until her sixteenth birthday that all is revealed.
        Her birthday has triggered the 'Awakening' and Sophia, like her mother, is a witch. Unfortunately for the teenager this could mean the bond between her and Drew could be destroyed. Not only that, but it is revealed just how powerful she is destined to become.

        Unfortunately, Sophia doesn't get a chance to learn about her gift when an unforeseen enemy threatens the lives of herself and those she's came to care for.

        Worth the read?


        Absolutely.

        Krystal Mclaughlin's debut novel is easily read with an effortless flow to it. Though it begins slowly and is actually quite sad, it isn't long before the novel kicks into gear with mystery and suspense when protagonist and narrator Sophia is faced with a strange guy approaching her in the airport toilet. This immediately has the reader asking all kinds of questions.

        Thankfully the novel isn't predictable either. As i approached a certain chapter i couldn't help sigh when i assumed it was building up to a love triangle scenario. McLaughlin steered away from that though and the scene turned out quite unexpected!

        For me i find the characters another main strong point in this novel, especially Sophia.
        Quite sweet and vulnerable, she is also very strong which makes for a likeable person. The death of her parents plus the terrifying predicaments she is thrown into still finds the teenager holding her own, all the while thinking and worrying for her younger brother, Drew.
        Then there's the chemistry between her and Falen, totally typical of teenage lust at first when she asks herself certain questions, but the relationship as a whole is mature enough to develop slowly and in a believable way.
        Other great characters were badass Teagon and family friend to Sophia and Drew, Jack. These two had enough depth to make for an interesting and exciting read though i won't elaborate.
        Gianna, one of the teenagers living with Celeste caught me off guard without even doing anything. I really thought she would be and act different, maybe more harsher, but in fact she didn't play a big part at all.
        At the time of reading i did wonder why McLaughlin went this route, but upon finishing the story i realised if she hadn't it would have been very predictable.

        The main setting, Enchanted Island, was described beautifully along with the place of the final 'showdown'. The whole atmosphere fuelled the intense ending which had me unable to stop reading. For a moment i remember thinking of horror Children of the Corn. Though The Witches Lottery is definitely not a horror - i certainly wouldn't have read it otherwise! - it does have a creepy element towards the end of the storyline.

        Concluding with a brilliant and chilling epilogue sure to make sequel, A Dragon Forsaken, exciting, numerous ties from this first installment of the Enchanted Island series need to be tied. I can't wait to read it.

        Summary

        An exciting YA read with the potential to be a great series. There isn't a specific topic the plot dwells on for too long; it has the right amount of romance and drama intertwining throughout.
        Though saying that, i'm going to give it four stars because i do think it could have been even better in terms of action. Also, because i'm just not drawn to the front cover; something important for me. Yes- i happen to judge books by their cover sometimes; unless i'm already a fan of an author.

        I have high hopes for the sequel now that the 'gifts' most of the characters possess have been revealed.
        Judging by the epilogue the antagonist is constructing something very nasty too...

        You can pick up a paperback copy for £6.62 from Amazon, or for the kindle for 86p
        ISBN13: 2940012012579

        Thanks for reading.
        xo

        © TToria ttoria.blogspot.com

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          24.10.2011 19:05
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          Five stars, an entertaining read

          First of all, i'd like to thank Emlyn Chand for giving me an advance reader's copy of this novel for review. I truly appreciate it...

          Wrapped in meaningful epigraphs, Emlyn Chand's first published novel, Farsighted, is pieced together tactfully with multiculturalism, action, teenage romance and psychic abilities. This makes her debut one to push the typical clichés of YA paranormal fiction aside.
          Yes, i'm talking about vampires.

          So, what's it about?

          For teenager Alex Kosmitoras, life doesn't just throw him the typical challenges expected during the high-school years. He was born with something that has caused him a life of fighting for acceptance-he's blind.
          Having this 'disability' has caused numerous obstacles for Alex, not because he longs to be able to see, but because Alex is convinced his father resents him for it, is friendless because of it and finds himself constantly targeted by the school bully. Without having a choice in the matter, Alex Kosmitoras would always stand out in the crowd, though not for the reasons he desired.

          Striving for acceptance-yet fighting for independence, he goes about his daily life using his heightened senses to describe what the usual would see, except in vivid accuracy and detail. It is then on an embarrassing day for the teenager, he experiences minor visions into the future. Naturally he becomes confused between what is real and what isn't and unfortunately this finds him on the receiving end of the school bully's hits.

          A new found struggle is unleashed when it becomes clear to Alex, all may not be entirely normal with him. What began as manageable premonitions considered coincidences, then turned into something more haunting when the visions revealed new friend and crush Simmi, dying in numerous scenarios.

          Her arrival coincidental or not, Alex realises the only person he can turn to for answers and guidance is Miss Teak, the mysterious woman who has opened a psychic shop next to his mothers florist. Can she teach Alex how to harness and embrace his new found gifts? And what exactly can be done about Alexs' revelation of new girl Simmis' impending doom?

          So, is it worth the read?

          I was blown away by the originality and creativity of this novel. Emyln Chand has created such an unusual protagonist. Written in a first-person narrative, on black and white it shouldn't work- I mean how do you bring the perspective of a blind individual's environment and the characters around him to light without risking repetitive and limited descriptions?

          But, Chand pulls it off perfectly and is tactful in her deliverance in describing the environment and characters around Alex by his other senses. I had yet to read a novel where a character's eye colour was described and significant somewhere along the line. It wasn't done here and i didn't miss it whatsoever-in fact i didn't even notice. It was easy to build a scene and picture someone by the descriptions Chand created from Alexs' POV.

          I love the way the author developed the characters and made you care for them in some way or another. Each of them was on their own personal journey and growing in their own way. Not only that, but they were flawed, making them relatable to the reader.

          For me, another specific character other than Alex gripped me- Shapri- the daughter of Miss Teak. Her journey and break-through was the most plausible, not to mention her kick-ass attitude and demand for rightful respect. The love interest of Alex, Simmi, remained in her shadow when it came to distinguishable personalities. Even when Alex faced the school bully with Shapri, the outcome wasn't necessarily a better one than Simmi's, but it left you cheering Shapri on as she had Alex's back in a more encouraging way.
          Of course it's disgusting anyone bullying another for being blind. I hate to say it, but i found the fact that Alex was targeted by the school jerk not such a big deal, this was only because his Alex's character was written so strong and courageous. He defended himself. He wasn't defined by his blindness.

          Alex's personality wasn't all golden- there were dark moments and it wasn't pretty- but it was believable and expected from a teenage boy, given the situation in which they arose. Had his character been all sunshine and roses it would have been far less convincing...and entertaining.

          Through her story-telling it is evident the author had done her research into the range of psychic abilities, multiculturism and Greek mythology. Each chapter begins with a rune above a premonition about what the protagonist is set to face- these give such a sense of atmosphere for the entire novel and what it stands for. I enjoyed them, though would maybe see some readers out there being put off as they give hints to what the protagonist is set to face.


          I find the entire novel crafted in perhaps an unintentional educational way, with hidden depth, lessons, guidance and encouragement to accept others for who they are not what they look like or where they're from.
          With a promise from the author that the sequel will be narrated by another character, i am incredibly excited to see the world-and Alex- from their POV. There are a few loose ends to Farsighted which leave room for an exciting installment and i for one cannot wait to read it.

          Summary

          All in all, Emlyn Chand's debut novel is a cutting-edge and exciting addition to the YA collection. Even the novel's cover, designed by Lee Libro, is perfection, with its ability to capture the essence of the story. Five stars from me.

          I'm excited for sequel Open Heart and more excited for Chand's upcoming success, she deserves it!

          ISBN13: 9780615524689
          Available on Amazon for the kindle at $5.73 and the paperback will be available on the 24th of November (2011)

          Thanks for reading xo

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            26.09.2011 13:58
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            A good addition to the genre, think the sequel will be more exciting- i hope!

            Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
            Book one of the Faeriewalker Novels.


            I read a review a while back on Glimmerglass and having been interested by it's supposed uniqueness; i saved the book to one of my wish lists on Amazon. Last week i finally bought it. Arriving swiftly and having only 284 pages, i promptly got stuck into what i was assuming would be a completely original tale of paranormal characters and a fantasy world.

            I've never read any of Jenna Black's work before. I can say i wasn't disappointed, though i wasn't completely blown away either.

            The plot is fairly straight forward, or so you assume at first.
            Dana Hathaway is a sixteen year old girl living with her alcoholic mother in America. Having travelled from place to place her whole life, she is lead to believe it is because her mother doesn't want to leave a trail for Dana's father. The mother-daughter duo is "better off without him" and the reasons for this; Dana's mother changes periodically depending on her intoxicated state.

            Due to her fae heritage, Dana is a gifted singer and while attending a voice recital witnesses her mother-yet again, cause a stir due to showing up drunk. This is the final straw for Dana. She has taken on more responsibilities than a child her age should have; taking care of the bills and her mother and never having any friends due to the endless string of excuses she's had to make for her mother and the constant travelling. So after the humiliation of the day's events, she decides to go to the place where her mother has said her father lives: Avalon.

            Avalon, situated on a mountain in England, is a peaceful world of magic and modern technology, where normal people and the fae exist. Upon reaching border control-yes border control of a fairy land- Dana runs into a spot of bother and soon realises she has picked possibly the worst time ever to go and see her politician father. She is more important to their world than she ever imagined; she is a Faeriewalker, a rare known individual that can do things no human nor regular being of the fae, are capable of achieving. (This isn't a spoiler don't worry)

            It abruptly becomes evident that everyone has a plan for her; for some, they want her immediate death. For others, she will seal their progression in the world of politics. Either way, she becomes targeted by all. Is there anyone that acts with her best interests at heart?


            There are some great characters in Glimmerglass; none of which seem impossible to relate to somehow.
            The protagonist Dana narrates and though sometimes i thought of her as the type 'oh woe is me' i think i was maybe a little harsh. I came to this conclusion after reading pages of her depression at her predicament. But her droning on is totally understandable and believable of the character; she's practically raised her mother and there is no-one -in any world- that she can trust; blood relation or not.

            Black has captured the realism of a teenager's angst in an unfortunate situation. Her descriptions of Dana's thoughts along with her mannerisms and awkward sense of being around a first time lust/ love situation is spot on of that of a teenage girl.

            It was also nice to see the character of Dana slowly progressing in terms of growing up, instead of an often made decision by authors to have a character totally change by one event or circumstance. I'm not saying this can't happen, but with such creativity in this book it felt good to read something, feel it develop and really believe it possible. If Dana had arrived at Avalon and been over-confident and comfortable in her surroundings, it wouldn't have made me truly believe in her.

            Other characters such as Ethan-the love interest and his sister Kimber, were highly entertaining. Along with Dana's bodyguards and Aunt. They each have distinct personalities -some likable with charismatic qualities, others menacing; with one in particular challenging Miss Trunchbull's brutality. (From Matilda-don't ask me why the comparison, just when i think of this character in Glimmerglass-i see her as another Miss Trunchbull!)

            The world created was what intrigued me most. The 'old-style' world of Avalon is mixed with modern additions; such as the roads being used by horse and carts, plus the occasional car. The fantasy land really took a turn when a monstrous species came to light, described with claws and such things. That, added to the water creatures that swam beneath the surface of the moat; eating any being that fell in, really gave the novel a much needed fearful element.


            Glimmerglass was a fascinating read and at times a page-turner, though in the end it never really built up to an exciting climax. Exciting events happened but they seemed to thaw out before they really got going. They were too quick. There was, however, a main ingredient to the plot which kept me turning the page, a question you ask yourself throughout: 'Who is really trustworthy here.'

            I'm in no way slating the book by these comments; i did enjoy it. If it didn't pull me in then i wouldn't have the sequel 'Shadowspell' on one of my wishlists. I have just read more captivating books in the paranormal and urban fantasy genre.
            I would still recommend Glimmerglass to fans of the genre. It's a light and easily read book with certain unique and enjoyable elements, such as the politics route, as one example. But i am going to give it four out of five stars. I hope the next installment to the Faeriewalker series includes more action. Perhaps now that the foundation to Avalon and Dana's reasons for being there has been established it gives room for more troublesome events to take place. Given how Glimmerglass ended i can see this as a great possibility and i do look forward to it.

            Glimmerglass was published in May of 2010 by St Martins Griffin. You can buy this book from Amazon with prices for the paperback starting at £2.44. After browsing Amazon i cannot see it available for the Kindle, but there is an audio download option for £15.44.

            The collection of all three novels is also available from Amazon for £19.99 which includes:
            Glimmerglass, Shadowspell, Sirensong.

            ISBN13: 9780312575939

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              22.09.2011 13:54
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              Succeeds in it's aim. A Quick and easy approach to your skincare routine.

              Elizabeth Arden's 3-in1 daily cleanser, exfoliator and primer.

              Having received this product free and knowing it was from skincare line 'Intervene' aimed at women aged 25-30, i resisted using it for a while. It wasn't until i had ran out of my usual Clarins exfoliator that i decided to give the product a shot; i'm twenty-four now so a year off the guided age couldn't cause any harm. Besides i've always been told it's never too early to address the first signs of aging. It's just a scary step to take and admit!

              Anyway, the Intervene line by Elizabeth Arden was created not only to address first signs of aging but to "help maintain skin's radiance and natural glow." So the company themselves have written.
              This is particularly helpful as the season's change and we come into the colder months, my skin can take on such a dull tone!
              Being a free sample, my tube is only 50ml. But this product can be bought- in the rather large 150ml tube, from numerous places, which i'll state later on in the review.

              The creamy white substance is hidden by the silver/ grey metallic finish to the tube, so seeing how much of the cleanser you have left isn't possible. With their usual red logo at the top and centre ( a vertical rectangle) 'Elizabeth Arden' is then written underneath in a small and white font followed by 'Intervene' in larger, clearer letters then small font again underneath for what the product is and also the French translation. The ingredients aren't stated on the back, just a brief sentence on how to use.
              Unsure of the lid on the 150ml tubes, i can only state the screw top i have on mine. Black in colour, it is easily loosened but can be a nightmare to screw back on when your hands are wet. Though, that's usually the case with these types of lids and no big deal. It's pretty secure once it is on and no contents can or do escape.

              The cleanser itself smells like Dove's soap; it is a really fresh and clean smell. White in colour, the product isn't overly thick, though definitely not too runny. The exfoliating beads are not the gritty kind you sometimes find with other exfoliators and don't have the scratching effect at all. In fact they're so gentle that they glide and melt into your skin.
              You're instructed to massage the cleanser onto a wet face and this produces a foamy lather. As advised you then rinse it off well and once it's rinsed off can you feel the smooth effect instantly. Your face takes on the real feeling of "squeaky clean." This isn't so good if your one to skip moisturising though and i'd advise you not to with this cleanser, if at all. I haven't personally tried it but a moisturiser in the Intervene range is available and designed to be used after this. I can imagine it would be brilliant, though at £35- i'm not in a rush to buy it. Others work just as well.

              I noticed you really do not need to use much, perhaps a five pence piece sized blob on your fingers. It does go a long way so unless used every day for a long time, the cleanser will last you a while. Mine is still considerably full and i have been using it daily for a while now. I'd think a 150ml would be a great buy should it work well for you.

              The dreaded after-effects weren't at all what i thought they would be. I knew a product of this popularity and brand would be decent, but everybody can react differently and i genuinely thought this product would be one that may irritate my skin. When i saw the glow to my face and the blemishes dying down, i was pleasantly surprised. So far my face just appears more radiant, the tone is even and the most evident reaction is the smoothness. Though i have noticed my face can appear quite shiny, especially my t-zone area.

              The key ingredient within the Intervene range; stated by the company and quoted here, is their "naturally-derived Biodormin technology that boosts skin's natural defences. This supports the skin's natural cell metabolism rate to help combat the visible effects caused by stress" it then claims to "boost the skin's appearance for a radiant and natural glow."

              Overall i think their claims are tangible. This multi-tasking cleanser is a quick way to follow your skincare routine without having to reach for individual bottles/ tubes while you rush around in the morning. It appealed to me that i could use it with fresh water instead of some other 'all in one' products i have tried that are used on their own. The cleanser leaves my face feeling thoroughly clean.

              Can i afford to use it daily forever? Probably not, but i would buy it for occasional use. The fact that it is slightly more expensive than the usual Pure Melt Cleansing Gel by Clarins i use, hasn't swayed my opinion; this cleanser includes an exfoliator and primer. I'd be better off with it. (But i'm not giving the cleansing gel up completely. I love it!)

              For its price tag i am rating this cleanser a four out of five. It is available on Amazon from £21.95 for 150ml, Debenhams £24.00 for 150ml (plus free delivery for beauty club members with a specific code given) and from feelunique.com for the best price i have seen; £19.55 for 150ml. This is also with free delivery.

              All in all, it's a cracking product that succeeds in its aim with minimal fuss. Definitely one i'd recommend.

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              • Super (DVD) / DVD / 108 Readings / 103 Ratings
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                17.08.2011 19:57
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                An unpredictable and sad super-heroes' story

                Super
                *Movie only review*

                Ok first and foremost, this film is insane...

                Settled down with some wine, my other half and i decided to pick a film to watch on box office and opted for Super after hearing about its likeness to Kick Ass. For those who assume so too; it isn't. The only similarity is that there is an everyday kind of guy transforming himself into a super-hero. The difference with this film is that the guy mentioned is questionably insane.


                Seemingly normal Frank (Rainn Wilson) has two memories in his life he is proud of and uses the drawings in crayon he's created of them as momentum when things seem tough. One memory (shown in a flashback) is of the day he pointed out a hiding thief to a police officer, the other is of the day he married recovering drug-addict Sarah. (Liv Tyler)
                One morning at home, Franks suspicions are roused when a swaggering male comes knocking on the door asking for Sarah. Making himself comfortable and asking that Frank make him eggs, the arrogant Jacques (Kevin Bacon) eventually turns out to be a drug dealer. Jacques becomes romantically involved with Sarah and is the main cause of her becoming hooked back onto drugs, even using her to test out 'new products.'
                When short-order cook Frank returns home from work a couple of days later, Sarah's clothes are packed and she's left him for Jacques.
                Putting a halt to Frank's depression about the situation is a religious program starring super-hero the Holy Avenger. Frank feels the masked 'hand of God' is reaching out and urging him to become a super-hero himself and so sets out to a comic book store to find inspiration.
                It's here he is introduced to the erratic store worker and comic enthusiast, Libby. (Ellen Page) Not revealing his goal, Frank asks questions on different types of super-heroes focussing on the masked characters without super-powers.
                Finally creating a costume and naming himself the Crimson Bolt, Frank arms himself with a wrench and sets about fighting crime and getting Sarah back from thug Jacques and his cronies. It doesn't initially go to plan and after being shot by Jacques henchmen, Frank seeks shelter at Libby's house and it's there she persuades him to allow her to become his side-kick Boltie.


                The entire cast perform brilliantly and their interaction with one another is almost flawless, though there is minor character development while the film focuses more on the action. Wilson's strong interpretation of Frank highlights the misery of character; this incredibly urges you as a viewer to actually feel sorry for him. I say incredibly as there are moments when you believe Frank to be a tad deranged!
                One minute you're anxious for Frank to succeed, the next you're rooting for the police officer to find a straight-jacket and help the man into it.

                Almost stealing the movie's limelight is the performance by Page, her character is a step above Frank in the psychotic stakes and Page plays it brilliantly; often leaving your jaw hanging open by her audacious interpretation of Libby. There is a shocking scene some viewers may feel uncomfortable watching as Libby, dressed as Boltie, asks that she and the Crimson Bolt have sex. But masked or not, Frank refuses saying he's still married. She takes it upon herself to indecently rape him.
                It's straight after this ordeal, while Frank's head is down the toilet; he views Sarah's face within his vomit and forgets about the incident ordering the rescue attempt for Sarah to happen at that moment. Truly weird!

                Bacon and Tyler do not take a back seat and execute memorable performances along with Michael Rooker, Jacques right hand man, Abe.

                As previously mentioned, some have compared Super with Kick Ass, but I feel director and writer James Gunn didn't aim to ask the same question with his work; what would it be like if an ordinary person became a super-hero? I think he targeted the more mature viewers. Super had more realism, even if it was brutal. There were no jumping from high buildings and surviving, no amazing gadgets and weapons and surprisingly no unlikely situations. The protagonist was hugely faulted and had reactions -what one would think- of relevance, given the situation and obvious unstable personality disorder issues.

                Bizarre and unpredictable, the movie will have you wincing at the constant brutality. I had to double check Tarantino didn't have anything to do with it. Despite the cartoon 'Pows' shown amongst the ruthless combat it doesn't add the required amount of humour I think the makers were going for. I admit there are funny parts, some of the dialogue is entertaining, but I gasped more than I laughed. The idea of a wrench being used as a super-heroes' tool is ludicrous, seeing it onscreen is something different altogether, it really is barbaric.
                Just when you've said in your head 'what the hec' (to put it mildly) more times than you can count, you then can't help voice this in full when a scene has Frank experience something I can picture more at home in a scene from the film Mars Attacks!

                This movie falls more into the dark tragedy category than anything else. Quick-paced and unexpected, its main focus seems to be the gritty realism of man with a personality disorder. Along with the goriness there are some laughs and I can imagine this being the perfect film for men to sit and watch together with a few beers. But I will warn viewers that this is not a feel good movie, it's really quite sad. The unpredictability factor I mentioned earlier doesn't see the film ending as one would think.

                You can buy this on DVD from Amazon new or used from £8.49. A Blu-ray, new copy starts from £11.85.

                Super is 96 minutes long and was released in the U.K July 2011, rated an 18.

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                  04.08.2011 15:36
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                  An emotional read, highlighting the waste of a teenage life.

                  Entangled by Cat Clarke

                  During a food shop at Tesco's I couldn't help browse the book section and it's there I spotted Entangled. The cover isn't exactly eye-catching and exciting, but the title was enough to make me want to read the synopsis on the back of the book and so after becoming curious, I bought it. That night, I finished Entangled in one sitting and it took me a while to get to sleep, though not because it was a horror.


                  Seventeen year old Grace wakes up imprisoned in a pristine white room and unsure of how she got there or why. Her captor, the enigmatic character that is Ethan hasn't harmed her-yet, if anything- and regularly brings her food, his only request is that she sits and writes about her life.
                  Reluctant at first to obey Ethan, Grace holds off until finally three days into her abduction she sits at the table provided in her 'cell' and chooses one of the many pens to begin her story, which she tried hard to forget.
                  Things begin to unravel and you learn all about her past, her relationships and the close people in her life; best friend Sal, of whom she's fiercely loyal to, boyfriend Nat, who she loves intensely and it's this love that encourages her to start over her life positively, her struggling mother and the reasons for her father's absence.


                  This is undoubtedly a compelling and powerful debut by Clarke that forces you to feel an array of emotions. Often uncomfortable and quite dark, the topics covered are touched upon tactfully and without going too far really explore the situations Grace finds herself in, or causes herself.

                  The character Grace (and narrator of the novel) is -to put it frankly- a mess! From a broken home and with a broken heart, Grace drinks alcohol regularly and sleeps with any boys (until her relationship develops with Nat) to escape reality and massage her self-esteem. She isn't likeable all the time, her attitude can be quite full on and you ask yourself whether the girl has any morals at all, but despite that and the frustration it brings, you learn to sympathise and above all want to reach inside the book, cuddle her and protect her from herself.
                  With so many emotions caught up in her own head she strives for a release and that unfortunately comes as her self-harming, also a way for her to feel somewhat in control of her life.

                  The other characters Sal and Nat have likable qualities and you do find yourself feeling sorry for them at times when Grace takes things too far. However, as the story goes on I became infuriated by the two, while they at first each seem great people for Grace to have in her life, it soon becomes apparent that as Grace begins on her journey to happiness the two of them almost can't help destroying that.
                  Grace gets a taste for happiness, she's almost there but then it blows up in her face in the worst way imaginable and hits her harder, confirming her theory that there is no hope for happiness.

                  Whilst engrossed in the story of her life as Grace writes, you're often reminded of where she is as chapters start with 'Day three' 'Day thirteen' etc and can't help wonder if she'll ever be released, who exactly the mysterious Ethan is and why he wants her to write about her life. There are theories you come up with in your head and I have to say one of mine was correct, but that doesn't take away the tension or build up.

                  Entangled really was a shock to my system and the most emotion-stirring book I have read since 'A child called it' by Dave Pelzer. I was left reeling for days. Though you'd usually want a book leaving you in a state of euphoria, one in-between those that shakes things up a bit can do some good. Any strong reaction is a good reaction, right? Though I won't be reading it again, it is definitely an unforgettable book and one to read at least once.

                  I'd recommend adults and (older) young adults to read this. It is certainly not for young readers, the content can be harsh; self-harming, suicide, violence, sex, alcohol misuse etc. Although none of these topics are glamorized in any way, the character Grace is strongly disgusted herself by her actions so I feel it wouldn't encourage a reader to dabble in these things. If anything it would encourage a reader to hold on tight to their morals and think everything through.

                  Entangled is 372 pages long and was published in January 2011 by Quercus Publishing Plc. The paperback can be bought on Amazon from £0.01 new or used, or the Kindle for £3.91
                  ISBN 978-1-849 16-394-1

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                    02.08.2011 22:42
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                    A vampire romance to read if you haven't read J.R Wards' Black Dagger Brotherhood

                    Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian
                    Book one in the Midnight Breed Series.

                    Browsing a book on Amazon usually encourages the site to advertise recommendations in the same genre underneath the one you are viewing; this is how I came across Kiss of Midnight. A vampire romance and the first in the Midnight Breed Series by Lara Adrian, skipping reading the reviews (due to rushing as I had to go out) and with a quick browse over the summary, I decided to give it a go.


                    Photographer Gabrielle Maxwell agrees to join her friends as they head to a new club in Boston after her gallery opening. As the club gives Maxine a menacing impression and tired anyway after the nights' events she decides to leave. It's outside she witnesses an animalistic murder occurring and despite the shock she manages to capture a photograph on her phone.
                    Gabrielle then heads straight to the police station to report what she has witnessed. She shows them the image she had taken, which unfortunately appears too grainy for the police to make out anything and see what she sees; six men with blood dripping from their mouths and glowing eyes. Turned away and presumed crazy by the police after no evidence and no body, Gabrielle questions herself. Unbeknown to her, there was another witness to the murder that night, Lucan Thorne, and a few days after the incident he knocks on her door posing as a detective to retrieve her phone.

                    Lucan, a vampire, had paused that night waiting for the right time to attack and destroy his corrupted brethren and that was when he spotted Gabrielle. As the oldest and strongest of his kind Lucan is the leader of a small group of Breed Warriors, sworn to protect his race and humans from the Rogues. The Rogues were once like him, regular vampires drinking human blood. But there is always a risk with each and every one of them to give in to bloodlust and take more blood than needed. It's then they become uncontrollably addicted and change into a ruthless killer, known as a Rogue.
                    A romance slowly begins to try and develop between Lucan and Maxine. It occasionally falters as he tries and fights it with everything he has, more so when it is discovered she is a breed mate (a rare human with DNA that is compatible with vampire DNA) Lucan is very old and has fought with bloodlust for many years.
                    The question arises whether his desire for her and her blood is too strong for him to control himself from tipping over the edge and killing her and becoming one of the creatures he lives to kill.


                    First of all I want to say I finished this book then bought the second in the series (Which I find better) but that unfortunately doesn't mean I thoroughly enjoyed it, curiosity just got the better of me and I wanted to keep believing it would turn out much different to another series I had read. I haven't got further than the first two books as I just grew fed up, and so I moved onto a different series. This book is so similar to J.R Wards' Black Dagger Brotherhood series; with the band of warriors, their breed mates, weapons etc I couldn't help comparing Kiss of Midnight with them as I sat and read. There are only a couple of original ideas that managed to keep me intrigued, one being the obvious difference in enemies and one being in Kiss of Midnight, the vampires are actually descendents of aliens who'd came to earth. I've never heard that one before.

                    I don't want to be completely mean and say Adrian copied the idea, this book isn't complete rubbish and the romance is solid and believable. I just would have liked the warriors to have more of distinguished camaraderie. One warrior dies and the sadness doesn't seem all that you would think it would be and doesn't last very long. This may be me comparing Ward and Adrian's books though, but I really couldn't help do so and I feel next to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the Midnight Breed series doesn't stand a chance. But that is just my opinion. It did intrigue me who had the first in their series published first and after research it turns out it was Ward, and Dark Lover was published in 2005 whereas Kiss of Midnight was published in 2007.

                    That being said, the main characters are well written and introvert Maxine, you like instantly. As her story quickly unfolds there's a twist and you realise her vulnerability, and it is magnified when her past catches up with her.
                    Lucan holds his own as a tough and enticing warrior and though I compared him with the warriors in Wards series, his troubles and the way he deals with them are different.

                    I would recommend this to those into vampire romances, had I read this book and series first I may have rated it higher, but I read it right after the Black Dagger Brotherhood so I feel it didn't get a fair shot.

                    All in all It's a good and easy romantic read, with plenty of action too, so I won't just base my rate on comparisons, I'll give it three stars. At least Adrian's warriors' names were less laughable than Wards.

                    Kiss of Midnight is 359 pages long and includes the first chapter of sequel Kiss of Crimson at the back. You can purchase the paperback new or used from £2.00 or £1.59 for the Kindle, on Amazon.

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                      31.07.2011 22:39
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                      A supernatural thriller with a kick ass female lead. Great start to a series.

                      Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
                      Anita Blake series, Book one.

                      I usually buy my books from Amazon, as they come a lot cheaper and I tend to go through a lot. However, I had just finished a series by J.R Ward and had no un-read books around the house ( I always need one at hand for those quiet moments and before bed) so I ventured to Waterstones looking for the same type of series to continue on in the paranormal reading faze I was going through.
                      The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series caught my eye instantly when I was browsing the Paranormal Romance section in Waterstones, mainly because there were seventeen of them and I knew they'd keep me busy for a while...if I liked them. But also because they each had an edgy book cover. (different from the one dooyoo has shown) They all had red spines and a red photo frame effect to the front cover with sinister pictures in the centre. Guilty Pleasures has a smashed light bulb within the cracked photo frame and an injection needle dripping with blood is within the bulb (Though after reading the book, I really am not sure why.)
                      The deal breaker for me to buy Guilty Pleasures was reading the back of the book. The first three lines read "My name is Anita Blake. Vampires call me the Executioner. What I call them isn't repeatable." I like a strong and edgy main character with a bit of attitude and the synopsis then concluded that Anita is in the centre of a murder mystery. Although I hadn't read anything by Laurell K.Hamilton before, or even heard of her, the novel seemed to have all the ingredients I usually seek out for a good read and so I bought it.

                      In St. Louis, Missouri Anita Blake works as an 'Animator' among others in a small company. The profession means she raises the dead -and is known as the best- for a living, for mourning relatives who have unanswered questions (or wills). This came as a welcome shock for me as the synopsis was solely about vampires and didn't have any mention of zombies. I read on to find there are a whole host of supernatural beings from were-rats to ghouls and the novel can actually be quite spooky at times.

                      Anita used to kill vampires freely and is well known to have a great deal of knowledge when it comes to the supernatural. However a new law has been granted by the Supreme Court, giving the undead equal American citizen rights. This means they're protected by the law and cannot be executed unless seen as a threat or a known criminal. The person then responsible for killing them has to have a license for doing so, which Anita does now possess.
                      A department within the police force, known as the 'Spook Squad' (because they deal with the supernatural related crimes) often call on Anita to examine crime scenes/bodies and give her -usually correct- theories concerning the investigations. In Guilty Pleasures they ask for her expertise after a string of vampires have been murdered and they are unsure who or what exactly could be doing them.
                      The master vampires' of the city then become increasingly irritated with these revelations so call upon her assistance too.
                      One of the master vampires, the charming Jean Claude, is quite taken with Anita -much to her annoyance- and this stands in her favour as the other master vampire, Nikolaos, doesn't take too well to her. At one thousand years old, Nikolaos is older than Jean Claude making her more powerful and is quite psychotic! She's actually quite a scary and unpredictable character and what makes her worse is that the one thousand year old vampire is in the body of a thirteen year old girl- Creepy. K.Hamilton describes the eerie mannerisms of Nikolaos so convincingly they are easily imagined and the facial expressions written as she goes from little-girl-lost to completely insane, rattle you.

                      There is chaos from all angles for Anita as she becomes pressured to figure out the murderer among the growing suspects.
                      It does seem that Anita has a lot of enemies and constantly has to watch her back, but the action doesn't seem too un-realistic.
                      She isn't like some superhero that goes unscathed; she does get hurt, she doesn't find herself miraculously free from tricky situations-and there are plenty of them. She doesn't always save people and her fighting abilities are convincing. The fact she carries brutal weapons around with her the majority of the time and even stores one in the head board of her bed with easy access, come across as completely believable from the character.

                      I was immediately struck by Anita, the heroine and narrator of the novel. It was refreshing to see a strong leading lady. She really was unlike any other character I'd read about before; upfront and sometimes brutally honest. She has her opinions and beliefs and doesn't care what anyone thinks of them or of her. One would expect to dislike the character and feel unable to relate to her, but K.Hamilton makes it known from the start that Anita has a vulnerable side too, without the damsel in distress cliché. Her fear of vampires is layered and portrayed through showing her hatred instead and when faced with the undead she has extreme paranoia of looking them in the eye. This from the brutal and acknowledged 'vampire executioner' makes you question why she would put herself through facing the creatures in the first place. But even with the vulnerability Anita is still strong-willed and this for me as a reader was interesting and give her character depth, coaxing me to keep reading and to keep rooting for her.

                      Guilty Pleasures is definitely not for young readers. I would recommend it to those interested in supernatural murder mystery. It isn't like any other vampire series I have ever read and though it does include romance it doesn't take centre stage. I have read that Laurell K.Hamilton does begin to include a lot of sexual scenes as the series progresses but being only half way through I haven't came across them yet. I hope the mystery remains in the novels as I think she writes them impressively.

                      Guilty Pleasures was published in 2004 by Berkley Trade and has 327 pages. It also includes the first chapter of the sequel 'The Laughing Corpse'. You can buy the paperback from Waterstones for £7.99. It is also available from Amazon £1.98 for a paperback and £4.99 for the Kindle.
                      ISBN 978-0-7553-5529-7

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                        29.07.2011 02:31
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                        It does what it says it will do, but maybe a pointless item?

                        Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser - with Peach Essential Water
                        (For normal or Dry Skin)


                        After purchasing my routine products from a Clarins counter in store, I was then given two free items, their Relax Bath and Shower Concentrate and this One-step cleanser. Receiving two free items from Clarins and both being 100ml bottles, is not bad going at all. I had never considered shopping for these types of products from Clarins as I feel they are simply luxury items; too expensive and not necessarily essential. That being said, after experimenting with the two, this one-step cleanser is my favourite out of them both and think it may interest many people.

                        Clarins have a 'Cleansers and Toners' section and within this there are five categories, six if you count the sections' gift sets; Foaming Cleansers (Where their Pure Melt Cleansing Gel is located-It's brilliant by the way!) Cleansing Milks, Toning Lotions, Eye Makeup Removers, and finally Instant Cleansers and Cleansing Waters where this product can be found.
                        There are three one-step cleansers within this category that are designed for different skin types. One is with orange extracts and designed to renew radiance and is for all skin types, one with mint essential water for combination or oily skin, and this product which is with peach essential water for normal or dry skin. My skin leans slightly more towards the combination kind rather than normal or dry but I decided to try it anyway as I have a couple of products designed for normal skin and they hadn't done me any harm.
                        The first thing you notice about this product is its peachy coloured tint, visible through the transparent oval bottle. However, the liquid actually soaks into your cotton pad translucent, just as water would, which confirms that the bottle may actually have a slight tint to it. With the usual gold band around the bottom of it the lid is the usual Clarins style; white, chunky and easily screwed off. The writing on the bottle itself stating the products' details is easily read, in the usual style and bold font that Clarins usually use and red in colour. The contents can leave the bottle pretty quickly despite the hole the cleanser comes out of not being too big, but it's easily controlled when covered with a cotton pad/ ball. I have to say, this product smells absolutely gorgeous and not overwhelmingly so, it has a light and fresh peach scent, really feminine.

                        The instructions on the bottle advise you to 'Soak a cotton pad and gently wipe over face. No need to rinse off.'
                        When I used the cleanser for the first time, I used cotton balls instead and found them to work just as effectively as a cotton pad would. As it was the morning I didn't have any makeup on at the time and found I only needed one. I tipped the bottle -with the cotton ball over the hole- once on each side, meaning not much of the product was used at all. The cleanser did go on as water would but my face did sting for a couple of seconds and I noticed it left a shiny film which was somewhat sticky, but left for a little while the stickiness seemed to dry. I then applied moisturiser and my skin really did feel good and I didn't break out from using it that time.

                        Another day I wanted to see how effective the cleanser would be removing makeup. After a dozen soaked cotton balls I was still left with makeup smeared eyes and my stubborn mascara still clinging on for dear life, result- does not remove heavy makeup. I then experimented a couple of days later removing basic makeup ( a little powder and a fair coloured eye shadow NO mascara) and the product worked fine and effectively.

                        I think this one-step cleanser does achieve what it's designed to do, but don't expect a deep cleanse. It would be a very handy item to take to a festival if you were camping, I can imagine it would freshen your face right up in the morning. It would also be a handy item to own if you find yourself often rushing in the mornings, it is a quick way to make sure your face is clean and should you use it all the time you wouldn't need a separate toner. For a night time wash I wouldn't recommend this.
                        For me, I like the feeling of splashing my face with water in the morning, not to mention I am a huge fan of another cleansing product from Clarins, their Pure melt Cleansing Gel. It is much more effective, lasts longer and has better long-term results. But that is just my opinion, I'm sure this product will have many fans.
                        The ingredients are as follows: Peach essential water (obtained through a process of steam distillation) rich in glucose and fructose. Coconut derivative, a gentle non-foaming cleansing agent and Moringa seed extract.

                        You can buy Clarins Water One-step Cleanser from their online website or one of the counters in store for £18.50 and that is for 200ml. It is also on escentual.com but for the much cheaper price of £14.80 for 200ml. Overall I am rating the cleanser three out of five stars. The best thing about the product is it's scent, for what it does I really feel the price is outrageous. It's nothing special.

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                          24.07.2011 20:23
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                          An expensive, smelly bubble bath!

                          Clarins Relax Bath and Shower Concentrate

                          This product came as a freebie along with Clarins Water Comfort One-step Cleanser after purchasing a few regular products from the Clarins counter in store. It's always nice to receive something free from Clarins being that their products are quite pricey, but it does make you vulnerable to adoring yet another item and wanting to continue to use it! Their selling techniques are spot on! However, I didn't have this problem with the Relax Bath and Shower Concentrate; I will not be buying it in the future.

                          You can find the Relax Bath and Shower Concentrate within the Clarins Aroma Body Care selection which includes a tone category and a relax category, the latter being the one this product falls under.
                          The ingredients and their aims are as follows: The essential oils of Basil, Geranium, Camomile and Petit Grain: aroma-therapeutic, promotes a sense of well-being and soothes. Coconut cleansing base: cleans skin, provides comfort. Extracts of Linden, St John's Wort, Hawthorn Thyme and Valerian: relaxes.

                          First appearances were ok; the transparent oval bottle reveals the pretty coloured aqua-blue contents with the chunky screw top and the gold band around its white lid that Clairns products usually have. Written on the plastic bottle in Clarins usual bold style and font is the product details, easily read despite being white and not the writings' usual red. The plastic isn't overly solid meaning the gel-like contents are easily squeezed out of my 100ml bottle, though not too fast. This product is bought in 200ml bottles too but I'm unsure how well the contents could be emptied, the hole the concentrate comes out of is neither too big nor too small so I suspect it would be the same.

                          The instructions to use this product are simple; 'In the bath pour a capful of product under running water (max temp 37C/ 98.6F) Spread all over body and inhale deeply to benefit from the aromatic properties. In the shower, massage the concentrate over the body with a sponge.'

                          I followed the guidelines for the quantity needed in the bath and noticed it really was the right amount. There were plenty of bubbles, the softening effect on my skin was almost instant and the scent was so powerful you could smell it all around the house-but for me that wasn't a good thing. Once out of the bath my skin remained moisturised but slightly oily. I followed the set instructions in the shower also, but noticed the lathering wasn't entirely good via a sponge so the next time I used it in the shower I used just over a five pence size amount in my palm and applied it to my body. Using the product this way I noticed a little did go a long way and using it in the shower proved a better result afterwards as I was less oily than I had been after using the product in a bath.

                          I was on the fence with this product and I still am. It does what it's designed to do in terms of cleansing your skin and leaving it soft, but it's main aim to the soothe, relax and relieve stress is over-powered by the scent, I personally find it unpleasant.
                          The product claims to 'calm both body and mind' but the basil it contains led me to lie in the bath hoping the smell wouldn't linger on my skin instead. It is so over-powering and unfeminine each time I have used it in experiment; I have immediately -once dry-applied the strongest, nice smelling moisturiser I own in hopes the smell would go away.

                          Overall I am giving Clarins Relax Bath and Shower Concentrate just two stars. I feel the smell is enough to take away one star and the price another, then for overall disappointment; another one. To me it is simply a bubble bath with an unattractive smell, I can buy any of the Radox range for less than quarter the price and be confident it would do its job in terms of relaxation and aid with sore muscles, plus smell nicely. However, each to their own, I feel if you do prefer your bath and shower gels less feminine smelling and like the smell of basil, this is for you.
                          This product can be bought from Clarins online or from one of their in store counters at £17.00 for 200ml, the cheapest I have seen it online is £15.22, again for 200ml on e.chemist.co.uk.

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                            20.07.2011 13:03
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                            A good paranormal murder mystery but not as good as the rest of the series

                            Having read and enjoyed 'The Sookie Stackhouse series' by best-selling author Charlaine Harris, i was intrigued to find another series she had under her belt 'The Harper Connelly Series' the first one having been published in 2005. This time Harris focused on a different kind of paranormal; in place of numerous vampires and shape shifters there is only one supernatural character and she is able to connect to the dead.

                            'Grave Sight' is the first instalment of a four-part series, introducing us to step-siblings Harper Connelly and Tolliver Lang and the unusual life they lead.
                            As a young teenager Harper almost died by being struck by lightning. The freak accident then left her with the strange ability to sense the deceased's location and relive their last living moments and feelings.
                            Making a living off her 'gift', Harper and Tolliver spend their days on the road, living in motels. Harper provides the families with closure explaining -or confirming- how their loved one passed or detecting where their body lies. Tolliver manages their finances and schedule, most of the time also being a crutch for Harper as they encounter rude clients not entirely convinced of her abilities. The duo live by their routine of getting in, then as quickly as possible, getting out.
                            Leaving one job, the duo then make their way to the next which takes them to Sarne, Arkansas. They're met with the unconvinced towns' officials after Sybil Teague, a widow who inherited a great deal of the town, requests their services to find missing girl Monteen 'Teenie' Hopkins. Teenie is the girlfriend of her recently deceased son Dell, who apparently shot himself in the head out in the woods of the Ozarks. It's there Teenie is thought to be too, some believe she 'has simply ran away' but with Harper's presence there it's obvious the girl is to be discovered dead. It's after this apparent conclusion that the plot thickens, twisting and turning, leaving the reader with the same questions a murder mystery urges; 'Who did it?' and 'why?'

                            Unlike the protagonist in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Harper isn't one you adore from the get-go. She's actually quite hard to like at first, with her moaning and continually up and down mood, it seems she's quite a depressing character. That being said, for all she has been through, and continues to go through, it becomes understandable and as you read on you begin to like her more. Her stubbornness and sometimes cold attitude bodes well when faced with fighting for her life, had the character been softer, it would be less likely she'd do so well. I didn't find Tolliver particularly annoying, but his character didn't excite me either, it was only as I continued with the series did I find him more interesting and feel he really came into his own. As for the other characters; they all fit into the plot well and as intended they're not all exactly likeable, but this gives us reason to go through the book blaming each one of them at one point or another, for the crime.

                            'Grave Sight' was a page turner, though sometimes presenting predictable situations; it was still capable of keeping me guessing who the criminal was right until the last pages. I'd recommend it to fans of Charlaine Harris' writing style, to those who enjoy murder mysteries and to those who are after a murder mystery with a paranormal twist. It was enjoyable but since i personally preferred the last two books in this series i am only going to give it 3 stars, I feel the first in a series should always be the best.

                            'Grave Sight' has 263 pages and you can purchase it, and the rest of the series, from Amazon. New from £1.30 and used from £0.01. It is also available for £4.49, for the Kindle.

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