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The Iron Queen - Julie Kagawa As you may have guessed if you have read my past reviews or my book blog, I am very much book obsessed! I am always hunting for new books to read and love it when I come across a series which pulls me in from the very beginning. The Iron Fey series is certainly one set which falls into this category, and although the second book gave a slightly bumpy ride, I felt compelled to carry on reading, and so glad that I did! After reading the first two books in paperback form for the great price of £2.00 each from the local discount book store; The Works, I felt I could not wait and one-clicked my way to this third book on Amazon for £2.99 on the Kindle. There are four main books in this set with a few very short novellas in between as well as a second series which jumps off of the back of this series. With all that said, let me take you into my thought train of this third book of The Iron Fey series. **************************************** IN A FEY LAND NOT TOO FAR AWAY... **************************************** "My name is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, third son of the Unseelie Court...Let it be known--from this day forth, I vow to protect Meghan Chase, daughter of the Summer King, with my sword, my honor, and my life. Her desires are mine. Her wishes are mine. Should even the world stand against her, my blade will be at her side. And should it fail to protect her, let my own existence be forfeit. This I swear, on my honor, my True Name, and my life. From this day on..." His voice went even softer, but I still heard it as though he whispered it into my ear. "I am yours." Please note: Some minor spoilers in the blurb rewrite! Not long ago, everything Meghan Chase had ever known was turned on its head. Half human and half Summer Fae, Meghan was pulled through the closet (literally) and found herself in the middle of a fairy war, and with the oncoming forces of the Iron Fae getting stronger, Meghan would have done anything to help protect the mysterious land, though after her true love is exiled, she knew there was nothing else that mattered more to her than following him, and so she too found herself exiled from the Fairy world she had come to love. If Meghan thought that would be the end of all she had come to learn, she was wrong, for The Iron Fae are still looking for her, and with the oncoming storm, she will be pulled back kicking and screaming unless she takes the offer on the table from the Winter and Summer royalty, an offer which may end up killing her... Meghan is not alone, though, and with the help of her knight and jester best friend, alongside the well loved talking cat, she will venture into a land that may be the death of her and everything she loves... The first book in this series was astounding! I had never quite read anything like it before. Think A Midsummer Nights Dream, modernise it, bring it into the real world, and turn it on its head. Add in a large amount of weird and wonderful creatures and you still have not come close to the impact of 'The Iron King'. The only real gripe I had of this first book was the fact that it was so over-crowded! The second book took a huge step backwards, and although the slightly calmer feeling was a breath of fresh air, it almost lost its excitement and adventure. Luckily, the series had already sunk its teeth into me and I continued on to the third instalment, and I am very glad that I did. The author finally found the perfect mid-point in her writing, and we were able to enjoy a large amount of excitement without being bowled over with information, characters and magical worlds on every single page. It is almost as though the story had settled into its skin and felt confident in the story telling without having to impress us with an over-abundance of unnecessary things. The height of this series so far, in my opinion. The story itself began a little slowly and it did look as though it was going to take the same route and style as the second book, though once Meghan entered the world we had come to love once more, the excitement exploded. It is a shame it took a little long to get to this point, though it was well worth the wait. Although the first part of the story was a little slow, it was still interesting and paved the way for what was to come in the second half of the book. Relationships and characters themselves seemed to grow stronger in this first half, which enabled me to really start understanding and empathising with both characters and situations, so although it was a slow start, it was necessary. I just wish it could have written with a little more energy as the second half held, and then it would have got the full five stars from me! The author also cut down the annoying recaps which were in the previous book as well as the novella in between which was both annoying and off-putting. If you have already read my past reviews, or the past books themselves, you will know that there is a love story among the fantasy based storyline. This has been on the back burner in the past couple of books, though this one really starts to focus upon this aspect in a much stronger way. Among the fantasy situations, the delicate love story is written in such a sensitive way that it is almost beautiful. There are a few slightly sickly moments which made me cringe, and I am a hopeless romantic, though other than these few moments, I feel that this aspect of the story is written in a fantastic way and really lights up the whole story. Looking at the characters further, I feel that this was the book to really get to know the main characters. Although I had my favourites before this book (one being the brilliant talking cat, Grim, who is a fantastic character all round), I did not really feel for the characters or their situations as much as I felt I should have. This book changed all that, and suddenly I felt my heart strings being tugged with certain characters, and yes, there were many times in which I became emotional and either shouted or cried out with dismay at what was happening to these fictional characters as though they were really there in front of me (much to the amusement of my own cat Merlin, especially when I jumped up with emotion at one point, forgetting he was on my lap! He still has not forgiven me!). The main characters were written with such feeling and emotion and I loved reading every minute of their story. Their personalities became much more well rounded and they really started to take on some great personas. They were not completely flawless, however, though this was easily ignored with the excitement of the story. The minor characters were not as well built up, unfortunately, though again, the focus remains more on a select few that this is another factor which can easily be brushed under the carpet. There is quite a lot of predictability in this book, though there is also some huge shocks and surprises in store, and when I say huge, I mean edge of your seats, eyes wide, emotional shouting surprises! So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? In comparison to the previous books in this series, I have already mentioned that the main difference, which is certainly a very positive distinction, is the fact that this book has finally reached the mid-way point of writing with excitement galore without being over-powering. Of course, there are so many fantasy based stories out there that it is difficult to bring something completely new and original into the world, though this author has managed to in many ways. I have not read a book so well written that centres around fairy tales, especially that from Shakespeares mind, in such an inventive way. I fell in love with these books from the beginning and continue to love them, and part of this is due to the extent of originality with many parts of the story. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? Wow! It is very difficult to explain how I am feeling about the end of this book without giving away too much, and so I will say only a few little things about this ending! It is amazing! The shock factor is certainly there, with a lot of emotion both in the pages and in my own mind. Although I had guessed some aspects, I did nto see the full picture until it hit me in the face, and I was certainly not disappointed in the slightest. It was probably the best part in the whole book, even though it was slightly bitter-sweet. In some ways, the end of this book feels like the very end of the series. I could certainly see it working as a trilogy, though after we think it has all ended, the author throws even more our way and leaves it open for another book which I am very much looking forward to reading with a sense that it will be very different from this one, though just as exciting. The story was 358 pages long and worked very well at this length. ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "It's not everyday I get to tell someone I was attacked by a pair of flying reading glasses. Ow" This book has a few flaws and does have a slow start, though in the main, this has been the best read of the series so far and I would recommend the series just on this book alone! The story is much stronger than the previous book and the characters really bloom as the story continues. It is a wonderous read and I am looking forward to seeing where the next book will take me. "A little warning would've been nice. You couldn't have said, 'Hey, as part of your training today, I'm going to beat you senseless'?" - Meghan"
The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling I am a great fan of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and I am not afraid to admit it. I did not start out a fan, at first, like many, I overlooked the series as I thought they were books for children. It was not until the first three books came out that I finally picked them up one Christmas holiday, and from that very first page, I never looked back. All of you have probably heard of the Harry Potter series (how could you not) whether you love them or not, though how many of you have heard of The Tales of Beedle the Bard? Fans of the main Harry Potter books will realise that this is the name of a book which comes to light in the final Harry Potter book, though did you know that it is actually a published book in the real world too? ************************* MAGICAL FAIRY TALES ************************* "No man or woman alive, magical or not, has ever escaped some form of injury, whether physical, mental, or emotional. To hurt is as human as to breathe." 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' actually contains not one, but five diverse, magical fairy tales that are well known in the magical universe of Harry Potter; The Wizard and the Hopping Pot The Fountain of Fair Fortune The Warlocks Hairy Heart Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump The Tale of the Three Brothers The last tale is one that all Harry Potter fans know well, either from the books themselves or from the films, though re-reading it within this book gives it a greater sense of purpose, somehow, and if possible, makes the tale even more exciting. All of the fairy tales within this book take on their own magical edge, yet they each resemble fairy tales seen within our own 'muggle' world. The same virtues and morals lay within these magical tales as are found within such tales as Cinderella, Snow White and other such tales we all know and love, yet this is where the similarities end and the fantastic differences begin. I do not want to go into detail of all the different tales in this book as they are not overly long and too much said would be too much given away. As mentioned above, fans of the main Harry Potter books will already know some of the tales, though I assure you, even if this is the case, you will still absolutely love reading these tales and you will find laughter and fun in all of them as if you are reading them for the very first time. The book begins with a fantastic introduction from J.K Rowling herself which uncovers the mystery of Beedle the Bard whilst discussing magical and non-magical fairy tales and what they hold within the words. I found this introduction very enlightening and an exciting read. It is a fantastic start to what is a fantastic read as a whole. The book also has a personal edge to it, linking it into the Harry Potter universe even more so, both by the notes at the front which show that Hermione Granger translated the original text of these fairy tales, to the individual notes throughout from the hand of Albus Dumbledore himself. If possible, I enjoyed these parts even more so than the fairy tales themselves! The whole book is written as though (now bare with me!) Hermione Granger has translated Beedle the Bards own words and clarified it for modern audiences whilst Albus Dumbledore creates the notes for a magical audience before passing the book onto J.K. Rowling herself who then clarifies Dumbledore's words for a muggle (non-magical) audience! I will take a deep breath now! There are some brilliant images throughout, simple yet brilliant. It makes you realise that this book is in fact a wizards childhood book. The images are very much like those seen in some of my daughters books, yet this is not just a simple childs book. It holds morals for both adults and children alike, with a magical twist, and it can be enjoyed thoroughly by all. "Clever as I am, I remain just as big a fool as anyone else." This book is a very short read at just over 100 pages, yet this length works perfectly with the subject matter. I enjoyed every single second of reading this book, and although it is not as fascinating as the main Harry Potter books, it holds something magical within the pages, something which will make you take a lot away with you after the closure of the final page. This book can be picked up on Amazon for as little as a penny (not including postage and packaging), though when bought new, the RRP is £6.99. This is quite steep for what it is, no matter how great a read, it is still very short, though £1.61 of each sale goes towards the Children's High Level Group. "Death comes for us all in the end."
Ruby the Red Fairy In the last year, my nearly six year old daughter has grown from strength to strength with regards to her reading. She is reading everything she can and has exhausted a lot of her younger books on her bookshelves. A while ago, she was given a couple of Rainbow Magic books from her aunty. We had never come across these books before, though immediately liked the look of them. We began reading one of the books together though realised soon after that it would be better to read the books in order, so we set off on our challenge to collect as many Rainbow Fairy books as possible. I believe there are well over 200 books in this set so I doubt we will ever own them all, though we have managed to acquire quite a number from Charity shops and car boot sales over the summer and could finally start reading from the very beginning. ************************* RAINBOW FAIRIES ************************* As mentioned above, there are quite a number of books in this series, though they are all split into smaller mini-series' each with seven books. We have not got to the second mini-series as of yet so I can not tell whether you have to read right from the very first series, though I will update when we do get there! Ruby the Red Fairy is the very first book in the very first mini-series (and therefore the very first book in the series as a whole!). It is available as a stand alone book as well as part of a hardback book which contains all of the first seven stories in this mini-series. The seven books of this mini-series are as follows; Ruby the Red Fairy Amber the Orange Fairy Saffron the Yellow Fairy Fern the green Fairy Sky the Blue Fairy Izzy the Indigo Fairy Heather the Violet Fairy It is best, in this mini-series at least, to read in order as the whole seven books work as one full story. In this first mini-series we meet the seven main Rainbow fairies, though unfortunately they have all gone missing in the plight to save Fairy Land from the evil Jack Frost and his Goblins. Without the Rainbow Fairies, Fairy Land will lose its colour forever. It is down to two human girls to help the fairies restore Fairy Land back to its colourful state, though first they must search for each fairy in turn which proves difficult when you have evil goblins chasing after you! In this very first book, Rachel and Kirsty discover Ruby the Red Fairy stuck in a pot at the end of the rainbow whilst on their holiday and in turn, discover the world of fairies. Their journey begins though will they save all the fairies before it is too late? This book is absolutely fantastic. It is a brilliant introduction to this lovely world the author has created for young children between the ages of four to perhaps nine or ten. Younger ones will love their parents reading to them, taking their minds into the colourful, magical world of fairies and goblins whilst older ones will enjoy reading the simplistic yet exciting words on their own. I have read a number of books of this kind to my daughter which have simplistic wording and basic stories and many have been quite boring and below average in the excitement ranking for both me, the reader, and my daughter, the listener, though this book is far from these other ones. I found myself nearly as excited as my daughter when reading it, and every single page brings some new, magical things and places that really create a wonderful image in your mind. Once we had finished Ruby the Red Fairy, we could not wait to go onto the second book and continue the story. Luckily, we have the whole seven in one book so could, though I would recommend purchasing all seven in this mini-series before starting otherwise children will become upset and adults frustrated at not knowing what is coming next! ******************** FINAL WORDS ******************** Ruby the Red Fairy is approximately 65 pages in paperback, single book format and can be found for as little as 1p (excluding postage and packaging) on Amazon, or if you prefer, look out for the hardback book which contains all of the first seven stories in one. It is a bigger book and covers seventeen pages in this first story (144 pages in total for all seven stories) alongside some lovely pictures both in colour and black and white. This treasury can be picked up from Amazon for £5.99 in hardback form. Do look around, though, as these books have been out for a number of years now and can be found everywhere. We picked up this treasury for 50p at a car boot sale! So is this book recommended? It is a yes from me and a yes from my daughter. These are, without a doubt, the best books of this kind we have come across so far.
Hopeless - Colleen Hoover I have never come across any of Colleen Hoover's books before now, though this is one of those times where I find myself kicking and screaming that I have waited until now to introduce the books into my world. I should have known that it would be love at first sight when many friends and blog-friends all rated this so highly! Finally, I got around to reading the first book in this series and I will never look back! ************************************** CERTAINLY NOT A HOPELESS BOOK! ************************************** "I want you to keep them open...because I need you to watch me give you the very last piece of my heart." What is better for you - believing the lies or discovering the truth even if it does leave you feeling much more hopeless than before? Seventeen year old Sky knows that the truth can cause everything to feel hopeless. She knows that it can tear you apart from the inside out. She knows that the more she is with Dean Holder, the more the truth will engulf her, though he has an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her that she has never felt before, and she is not about to walk away. Dean has a reputation that rivals her own and he terrifies Sky, though at the same time he manages to captivate her. There is something about him which sparks memories within her which have been buried for so long, memories which she can not explain, and ones which she wishes would stay buried. She tries to keep him at a distance, especially when she finds out snippets of his past, but Holder insists on learning everything he can about her, and she finds out that avoiding him is not as easy as she first thought. Soon, Sky finds herself caving in to Holder's unwavering pursuit, though it is not long before she realises that Holder is not who he is claiming to be, and when secrets start revealing themselves, Sky finds that everything she once knew is falling through her fingers. Everything about herself and her life is about to change forever... "My lack of access to the real world has been replaced completely by books, and it can't be healthy to live in a land of happily ever afters." If you think you have read a story like this before then think again. 'Hopeless' is unlike any other love story you have ever read. It is not a story in which you can guess the path both within the storyline and through the impact it will have on you, the reader. It is an amazing ride of skilled writing and emotional plots. It encompasses everything fantastic about the world of storytelling, and it brings some real feelings and emotions from the page into your life. I have been very lucky of late; through book blogging, I have come across some amazing books by some wonderful authors, and this book certainly sits among the top of the best books I have ever read. The plot is simply wonderful from the very beginning right to the very last page. It is so original that you can not possibly figure out exactly where it will end up going. For the first part of the story, you would be forgiven if you thought you were reading a simple love story in the making, though it does not take too long before all those thoughts are washed away. It is far from the typical love story found in many books, and with the twists and turns the author throws in with such magnificence, you will end up feeling emotionally charged and will never in your wildest dreams guess where the story will take you. It is a rollercoaster of emotions which gets more and more powerful the further you read through the book. It is so real that you will be drawn right into it and not want to put it down even for one moment. Although the whole of the book is amazing, the story reads as though it is in two parts. The first is slower in pace though certainly not slower in excitement, with some fantastically written twists of its own. The second is much more highly charged with a faster pace and much more emotional parts thrown it...what am I talking about? The whole second part is a fully blown emotional rollercoaster, though believe me, it is not a rollercoaster you will want to get off of, even if you prefer the teacups! Both parts run spectacularly into one another and work alongside one another to create a well-rounded, wonderful read. I absolutely adored both parts for similar reasons as well as the differences. In a lot of other books I have read, the slowness alongside the action-packed emotional ride would seem out of place, though this author craftily melds each part together, captivating your heart and mind right from the word go. Of course, we can not forget the characters, for a fantastic story with below average characters would really pull the whole feel of a book down. Like the story and everything surrounding it, though, the characters are certainly nothing to worry about. They are beautifully written with such a real feel that you will find yourself passionate about them right from the very beginning. We learn so much more about Sky than we do Holder, though each enchants you to such great heights that any little piece of information you will find yourself pouncing on it. I know that the second book in this series will enlighten us more about Holder himself and I am very much looking forward to this, though for now I am so very happy with these characters. Of course the question is (to many people) whether you will find a new fictional male obsession in this book...I will not say much though I will say that you will not be disappointed! "And while I could sit here and feel sorry for myself, wondering why all of this happened to me..I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to wish for a perfect life. The things that knock you down in life are tests, forcing you to make a choice between giving in and remaining on the ground or wiping the dirt off and standing up even taller than you did before you were knocked down. I'm choosing to stand taller. I'll probably get kicked down a few more times before this life is through with me, but I can guarantee you I'll never stay on the ground." Please be warned that this book does contain some adult themes both sexual and via some language choices. There is also forms of abuse in this book to be aware of, though it is dealt with in a sensitive way, if not very shocking. One thing that I want to mention is spoilers! DO NOT LOOK AHEAD! I have often been a culprit in spoilering myself by reading further book synopsis' and/or reading spoiler filled reviews as I can be quite impatient, though I did not do this for this book and I am so glad that I prevented myself. You need to let this story play out as you read it otherwise you will ruin a lot of the suspense of the story. You have been warned!! It is very difficult to write a review when everything is so perfect, but no matter how hard I have tried, I have not found anything wrong with this book. It is amazing, and I fully recommend it...now! Do not wait! This book best falls into the New-Adult Romance genre. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? The uniqueness of this story is what makes this book stand out the most, alongside the fantastic twists and turns which leaves you guessing throughout. It is not a story in which you will ever begin to guess the end, and combined with the realness of the story, it is a very original read. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? The ending has a very high shock factor and as mentioned above, you will never even begin to work out the end before you get to that point. It keeps within the fast pace of the second half of the book and is extremely emotional. A fantastic ending for a fantastic book. ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "Sometimes you have to choose between a bunch of wrong choices and no right ones. You just have to choose which wrong choices feels the least wrong." There has only ever been one other book which I have added a whole host of quotes into the review as I do not make it an obsession of mine, though this is a book which every line is a fantastic quote. The writing is amazing and the words will stay with you for a very long time afterwards. I can not do this book justice, so I recommend that you find out for yourself. It is one of my favourite books this year so far and can not wait to read more of this authors works. This book is approximately 486 pages long though when reading it; it does not seem nearly that much as you just don't notice the time passing. This book is in paperback, Kindle form and audio and all can be found on Amazon for the following prices: Kindle Format: £2.76 Paperback: Between £3.66 to £8.78 Audio: £14.54 (or free with Audible.co.uk) A/N: A slightly condensed version of my review is on my book blog; Elfie Books (http://elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk)
Rainforest Café - Disneyland Paris About a month ago, one of my dreams came true. Yes, I am a child at heart - my dream happened to involve Disney Princesses, rides, Ratatouille and a Circus hotel. Of course, my dream was shared with my beautiful five year old daughter who was also extremely excited to be going to Disney Land in Paris for the first time. One thing I knew from my research before we arrived in Paris was that everything was going to be very expensive, including the food, and so we decided to throw caution to the wind. If a McDonalds was going to cost the earth then we may as well enjoy something far greater than a greasy burger and fries, and what better place to go than The Rainforest Café. Having never been to The Rainforest Café anywhere before, we were all quite excited. From the outside it looked wonderful so I could only imagine what the inside looked like, and we were certainly not disappointed! ****************************************​********************** NOW ENTERING THE RAINFOREST...UMBRELLA'S OPTIONAL! ****************************************​********************** We were staying at one of the off-sight hotels which were affiliated with Disneyland itself, and although the hotel offered dinner, we wanted to spend as much time at the resort as possible, which meant eating in and around the parks rather than travelling back to the hotel for each meal. There are many restaurants to choose from, both inside the park as well as just outside in the Disney area. From the moment we arrived, though, one particular restaurant stood out and the whole group of us actually agreed on one thing - The Rainforest Café was the one for us! DIRECTIONS As mentioned above, The Rainforest Café is situated right outside the Disney Parks which is approximately ten to fifteen minutes shuttle ride from the off-site hotels (shuttle bus is free and stops by the hotels approximately every ten minutes). It is also a few minutes walk from the train station which connects to all main railways in Paris. If you are coming from the centre of Paris, you will find this restaurant around 20 miles away which you can drive to on the A4 autoroute (motorway). Even if you are not going into the main Disney parks, you are still able to go on the Disney grounds outside of the main gates and so can still enjoy a meal at The Rainforest Café. THE EXPERIENCE The first thing which stood out for me and those of us who had never been to The Rainforest Café was the amazing appearance both on the outside and the inside. If you have been to a Rainforest Café then you will understand when I say that it is like no other restaurant around (at least not that I have experienced). From the outside you feel as though you are walking into a large cave with a crocodile for a guard (one that scared a couple of the children who were with us - mix this with the slight feel of Wonderland with the giant toadstools and you get the idea. As you walk through the cave entrance, you find yourself in the café shop complete with a giant snake on the ceiling amongst other animals and wildlife which is generally found in the rainforest. My husband nearly had a heart attack when the giant snake (something which he is petrified of!) lowered from above him complete with sound effects! Of course, the children wanted to purchase items from the shop though we managed to hold them off as they were all very hungry. Once inside the actual restaurant, the decor just exploded! It was absolutely amazing! From wall to wall and floor to ceiling was fantastic rainforest décor, and the noise was incredible. Around the outside walls were a whole host of different animated animals complete with sound effects, from elephants to gorilla's and much more. The ceiling was also inhabited by an array of birds and reptiles, many which also moved. There was also a beautiful waterfall which we were lucky enough to be sat right next to, the water sound becoming more and more relaxing as the evening wore on, and next to the other animated animal noises, it was such a different and great experience...and I haven't even got to the food yet! We arrived at the restaurant at a reasonably early time due to having young children with us. If memory serves, it was between 6 and 6.30pm. This is the time when the main parade occurs in the main Disney park. We had watched this the night before and so decided to take the opportunity for a quieter meal the following night because as soon as the parade ends, chaos ensues with everyone rushing to get to a restaurant in time to get back into the park for some more enjoyment before the fantastic light show at the end of the night. The parade starts at 7.00pm and continues for approximately 40 minutes so we had a lovely window where we were seated straight away. An hour later and we would have waited quite a while as this restaurant does not allow booking. Once seated, we took in the ambience and my husband marvelled at the animal print table cloth (yes, of all the things to see, he loved the table cloth!). The children were extremely excited with all the different things to look at that they took their time to settle though once we were able to grab their attention long enough, we were able to take a look at the menu. MENU We had quite a large party so I will not give you the run down on what everyone ate, though to give you an example of food and prices, I will lay out a small selection below. The menu was not as extensive as I would have thought, though there was something for everyone to enjoy. APPETISERS There is a mix of appetisers for either one person or for sharing. In a lot of restaurants, sharing usually means between two people, though the servings here were huge and could easily go around three to four people. Big 'O' Onion Rings (V) ... Euro8.50 My daughter is a very fussy eater and literally had these onion rings for her main course. I am extremely glad that I did not get them her for a starter only as the basket was huge! There was easily twenty onion rings which were large and juicy and very tasty. This is served with BBQ sauce and nothing else, though was very adequate for a main for my fussy daughter! Awesome Appetizer Adventure ... Euro21.90 This is one of the appetisers to share which featured Tam Tam Chicken wings, fried sweet potatoes, Pita Quesadillas, deep fried camembert and Garlic Bread with Pico de Gallo. If I thought the onion rings were huge then I was very much mistaken! I could not believe this was a starter, even if it was one to share. My sister and brother-in-law shared this and my sister felt full before the plate was even clean, and she had a main course to come! MAIN COURSES There is, again, a lot of different types of meals in the main course section from pizza and pasta, to burgers, to curry and fish and chips. There are also salads for the more conscious of eaters! Pizza ... Euro17.90 - Euro18.90 The pizza's are served whole with no option for a couple of slices. They are all rather large and so can easily be shared by the smaller eaters of your group. There is only a couple of pizzas available. Pasta - Euro17.90 - Euro20.50 There are two selections for a pasta dish, one vegetarian and one meat. Burgers - Euro18.50 - Euro20.50 There are a number of different burgers available, and like the rest of the meals, these come in an over-large size! My husband selected a Rainforest Burger with a large mushroom on the side for an extra Euro1.00 and thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband tends to eat a lot of burgers and claims that this burger was the best he had ever tasted, and to my shock, he was actually full up after eating it all which never happens! Salads - Euro17.50 - Euro19.50 There are three choices of salad with one vegetarian option included. None of our party had a salad meal and so I can not comment on these dishes too much, though from the rest of the meals I would imagine these are not only large but also very delicious. Other mains include such meals as chicken, shrimp and pineapple curry, fish and chips, fajitas, steak, pork ribs, mixed grill and wraps. These are all rather large as with all the meals and come in between Euro19.90 to Euro26.50. Within our party, we had the fajitas and the wraps and both were reportedly delicious. There is also an option for a Cha Cha menu which includes a main course and desert of a pecial menu for the set price of Euro21.90. This can work out cheaper though be aware of the sizes of the meals. There are also only a few options for both main and desert on this menu with most of the options available on the main menu. Chilli con Carne is an option separate from the main menu. DESERTS There are a number of different deserts available and from looking over at other tables, they all look spectacular. I did not personally have a desert as I was extremely full up, though my brother-in-law and nephew shared a 'Volcano' which is a giant chocolate brownie cake with nuts, served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream. When it arrived, even they were amazed at the size. Forget sharing for two, it took three adults and three children to finish it! It also came complete with a sparkler on top which excited the children. Of course, the size reflected the price bringing in this desert at nearly Euro16.00! Other deserts available come in between Euro6.90 to Euro8.50 and include sundaes, pancakes, cheesecake and more. DRINKS A range of drinks are available at a range of prices. Hot drinks come in from Euro2.50 for a coffee to Euro7.00 for an alcohol cappuccino. There are a selection of cocktails available for Euro8.90 and aperitifs and beers from Euro5.50 to Euro7.00. Wines come in all shapes and sizes from a small glass to the whole bottle ranging from Euro5.00 for a 20cl glass to Euro23.00 for a 75cl bottle. Soft drinks are also available from Euro3.50 to Euro7.00 As you can see, the menu is not a cheap one. I know The Rainforest Café in general is not cheap, though I do not know whether this one works out more or not, though we expected prices such as this as most restaurants in this area are expensive. I wouldn't usually pay nearly this amount on a dinner out, though when in Rome...well Disney...! I am glad to say that the food quality matches the prices, and it was definitely the best meal we had the whole time we spent in Paris. SERVICE As already mentioned, we were seated very quickly. I am not sure whether the service would be any different at a later, busier time, though I had absolutely no complaints when we were there. The staff were efficient, happy and helpful - even the ones who did not speak English very well! AMMENITIES The restaurant is fully accessible to wheelchair users though I can see it getting quite difficult to navigate the aisles at a busy time as there are a lot of tables and seating packed in. The toilets are actually situated slightly out of the restaurant at the side of the shop. The signs were not very clear though we managed to find them eventually! All toilets were very clean and spacious and matched the general décor of the restaurant. ******************** FINAL WORDS ******************** Wow, what can I say!? I have been to a number of restaurants in my time, though none gave the same feel as this one. The décor alone is something to entice you in, and the food is amazing! The prices are very high, though everything in and around Disneyland is, it is just something you can not get away from. It was certainly the best meal we ate the whole time we were in Paris, and I will certainly go back there if we return to Disneyland. I am hoping to visit The Rainforest Café in London at some point in the hope that it is as amazing as this one. I fully recommend you visiting this restaurant if you are ever in the vicinity of Disneyland Paris, you wont regret it!
The Iron Daughter - Julie Kagawa I think that it would be very apt to call me a Book-a-holic, or book obsessed, or even a book nerd! Any of these titles, I am happy with, as it is very true. I love immersing myself into different worlds and forgetting my own problems for a time, and love hunting for new books. I came across this set of books on Goodreads.com after a number of my friends gave glowing reviews. On my regular trip to 'The Works' high street store, I was able to pick the first and second book up for £2.00 each. Amazon have this book at the moment for £5.24 in paperback form and £4.61 on Kindle format. ********************************** RETURN TO THE NEVERNEVER ********************************** "I know you'd risk everything to protect us, and that's what worries me. You still don't know enough about this world to be properly terrified. Things are going to get screwed eight ways from Sunday, and you're making goo-goo eyes at the enemy! I heard what happened in Machina's realm and yes, it scared the hell out of me. I love you, dammit. I'm not going to watch you get torn apart when everything goes bad." ~ Puck Not long ago, everything Meghan Chase had ever known was turned on its head. Once she had stepped through the closet and entered a fairy-tale world (No, we are not in Narnia - though close!), she could not go back. After discovering that she was half human, half Summer Fae, and a princess no less, and rescuing her younger brother from the Iron King, Meghan has to uphold a bargain she made with the Winter prince, and return with him to the Winter Queen's domain. Once here, she feel deserted by the one person (or fae!) that she thought loved her, and to top it all off, the Sceptor is stolen by the Iron Fae though no one will believe her, and instead Summer and Winter begin a war that could throw the balance of her world into chaos. Meghan knows the real danger is the Iron Fae, though with her own newly acquired fairy powers cut off by the Winter Queen, she is stuck in Faery with only her wits and cunning to help. Trusting anyone would be foolish, and trusting a traitor could mean the death of her, though Meghan can not help hearing the whispers of her own heart, and it could lead her to more trouble than good. "Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined." The first book in this series was astounding! I had never quite read anything like it before. Think A Midsummer Nights Dream, modernise it, bring it into the real world, and turn it on its head. Add in a large amount of weird and wonderful creatures and you still have not come close to the impact of 'The Iron King'. The only real gripe I had of this first book was the fact that it was so over-crowded! So much happened on every single page, and so much was thrown at me that it was anything but a relaxing read. Thankfully, this second book is much calmer. There is still a good amount of creatures poking their heads in the readers direction, though the focus is more upon the actual story line than the creatures and people within. Descriptions are still very full and occasionally overbearing, though in the main, this has also calmed down. Looking at the story itself, I feel that it was slightly weaker than the first, despite the calmness of it. It had the foundations of a great second part story, though I felt it struggled to create the excitement in many places that the first book held. Regardless of this, I did enjoy the read. There was many an anticipated moment and it flowed brilliantly, perhaps even better then the first in many ways. I have read a few novels which deal with characters falling through the veil from the real to the fantasy world, and striving to get back home again, and have had mixed views on these books. This one certainly throws a lot more into the works and I still got excited to see what would actually pop up on the next page, even if it was not as exhilarating as everything and everyone I met in the first book. The strength of the story lay cemented from the first in many ways, even with the weaker moments, and it was possibly due to the love of the first book which kept me glued to the pages and wanting to know where it was going, rather than this particular story itself. Another aspect which I found offered great strength that overcame the drawbacks was the characters. Although they were certainly not flawless, they were superbly written. By this point, I had become attached to certain characters and began empathising with them and their situations which really helped the story along. Again, my all-time favourite character happened to be a talking cat called Grim for short. I do not know what it says about a book when the best character is a feline, though considering he was written perfectly, it just shows that all characters mean something to the story, something which I find brilliant. Even the weaker characters have great personality and style, though there are some in which took longer to associate with. These weaker characters did not detract from the rest of them, though, thankfully! Among the fantasy based storyline, you will see a love triangle of sorts which grows stronger in the second half of this book than ever before. It is still not in-your-face which is great, though the underlying current is always there. At times, I did find myself getting slightly annoyed with the main character and her unbelievable responses to the other two characters (as well as situations as a whole), though in the main, the love story part was written with great feeling and emotion. Although in saying this, I did not feel like crying or shouting at the book (or throwing at my cat who would have ignored me for weeks if I had done that...again!). The love story is beginning to take a new turn, though, so we may possibly see some of this emotion from my stomach (heart?!) in the later books. Unfortunately, there is a large amount of predictability in this book compared with the first, which in this case, was a little off-putting and annoying, though among this there are many elements which are surprising and even a little shocking - enough to keep me on my toes. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? The first book was so different that its uniqueness made it completely refreshing and different to many things I have read before, and although the story continues in this book, it lacks the originality that the first book held. The surface layer of story is still very different in a number of ways due to the characters, creatures and scenes, though the main, underlying story has been seen many times before. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? The ending was probably the best part of the book. It was energetic and exciting and brought back the feel from the first book, though it could have been much more than it was. I was expecting fireworks with rockets and Catherine wheels, and I got a few smaller fireworks with some sparklers! It was enough to make me want to read on to the next book, though, so it did something right! The story was 359 pages long, with a few pages at the end to give us an insight into how the authors mind works which was quite interesting. ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "I could have taken a nap instead of waiting for you to finally show up. What took you so long human? Did you walk?" -Grimalkin" This book is certainly not flawless, and it lacked a lot of excitement that the first book held, though the story and characters combined was enough to keep me reading until the very end, and at many of a time, I did find some excitement brewing. This is the second book in the Iron Fey series which contains four books with numerous novellas in between. *** EXTRA *** If a novella is long enough, I will usually make a separate long review for it, though the novella between book one and two is only a mere 49 pages so it can not really be called a book as such, so I thought I would add it here for fans of this series. Please bare in mind that you do not need to read the novellas to enjoy this series, though occasionally you will find missing scenes and insight in which is missing from the main books. This particular novella holds a missing scene which falls between the two main books and follows Ash and Meghan as they journey towards the Winter Court. 'Winter's Passage' unfortunately focuses a lot of recapping from the first book, and as I had only just read this, I felt this recapping was too much, especially as it took up half the novella! This of course, left a mere 25 to 30 pages of story, hardly worth the time and effort in a lot of ways, though still a very nice little read once you get past the annoying parts! As with the first book in the series, it had the excitement and energy which we had become accustomed to, though lacked the over-crowdedness that this first book held, which made it a more relaxing read, and much better in my opinion. Only a few characters appear in this book, and although one of my favourite characters in the triangle is absent, we see a little more of the other two, and not forgetting the best character of all - Grim the Cat! All characters are written as well as they are in the main books with fantastic personalities and humour combined with seriousness. At this point, readers will have their favourites and start to empathise with one or many of these, and this novella certainly helps with this! A three star rating from me for this novella due to length, recapping and flow problems! My reviews on this series can be found on Ciao and my book blog; http:elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk
The Iron King - Julie Kagawa I think that it would be very apt to call me a Book-a-holic, or book obsessed, or even a book nerd! Any of these titles, I am happy with, as it is very true. I love emersing myself into different worlds and forgetting my own problems for a time, and love hunting for new books. I came across this set of books on Goodreads.com after a number of my friends gave glowing reviews. I was very lucky to be able to pick up the book at my local Works discount bookstore for the small price of £2.00, though due to my very long 'to-read' list, it sat on a pile in my room for quite a while before I finally had the time to pick it up and begin reading. Once the book got going, I had to kick myself for waiting so long to read it! ********************************** WELCOME TO THE NEVERNEVER ********************************** "Time to switch to decaf, princess. If you're going to shriek at every bogey that jumps out and says 'boo', you'll be exhausted before we reach the edge of the woods" Something has always seemed a little odd to Meghan Chase, ever since her father vanished into the lake when she was a young girl. She had never really fit in at school, and her step-father barely even notices she is around. Her little brother sees monsters under the bed, and a dark stranger seems to be watching her from afar. All this, though, is the least of her worries.... Everything Meghan has ever known is about to change, and her best friend knew it was coming! "Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined." And this story is one I could never have imagined! Although the premise spoke of mystical beings, I never even saw this one coming! All her best friends weird over-protectiveness becomes very clear to Meghan when her birthday rolls past and she begins to see strange things out of the corner of her eye. Things get even more scary when her little brother changes...literally! Soon Meghan is thrown into a world she only knew through books, a world in which she believed to be one of fantasy, one which only existed within dreams and nightmares. As she ventures through the closet (no, nothing like the Tales of Narnia!), she realises her life will never be the same again. Faeries exist, and Meghan soon finds out that she is not only part fae, but also the daughter of a once believed mythical faery king - you may know the name - King Oberon! That's right, we have entered the Midsummer Nights Dream world! These faeries were not just stories, but real beings that grow from the imaginations and beliefs of humans. This was the part I did not see coming! At first, I was amazed and almost shocked, though once I read further into the story, I realised that this world, although explored in Shakespeare's words, is nothing like the one I had experienced before. Do not be concerned if you are not a fan of Shakespeare or his works, this is something completely and utterly different. Meghan soon finds herself in the midst of a deadly war, and realises that it is not only hers and her brothers life at stake, though the question is, how far will she go to save someone she cares about, and what when saving one person you love may harm another person you could love...even if they are trying to kill you! I have read a few novels which deal with characters falling through the veil from the real to the fantasy world, and striving to get back home again, and have had mixed views on these books. This particular book blew me away, though. It incorporates everything we have come to know about the Fae, and throws so much more in to the mix as well. Of course, this book is certainly not without its flaws. One main flaw in my opinion actually goes alongside the part which I find fantastic. As I have just mentioned, the world within these pages are excellently thought out, with so much thrown into the pot to create such an exciting world filled with hustle and bustle and pure imagination. It is wonderful, though at the same time it is also extremely crowded. I love the busy world with the fantastic descriptions, the many different characters who have both been seen in other books and films as well as completely new ideas, and the exciting action which occurs throughout the book from beginning to end, though I feel almost exhausted when reading as everything is happening all the time, all at once. There is absolutely no space to breathe! This is not a terribly bad thing, though if these aspects had have been spread out a little bit more, then I feel that the journey through this book would have been so much better. The story itself, forgetting the over-crowdedness, flows brilliantly and pulls the reader right in from the very start. It has the mixed feel of fantasy meeting fairy tale, and is written in such a way that you are able to read and read before realising that hours have gone past. At times, there is a slight feel that the author has tried to extend the book by adding twists and turns which did not really need to be there, and this, alongside some small inconsistencies, are frustrating, though due to the story being so fantastic, you barely notice these small flaws unless you are like me and pick books apart when reviewing! What can I say about the characters? Well, when your favourite character happens to be a cat, what does that really say about how the rest of the characters are written? Actually, quite a lot! If the cat has a fantastic personality (do not forget, this is faery-land - the NeverNever to be precise, and cats can talk!) then the main characters must be brilliant, right? Although we meet a whole host of different characters, we are drawn to only a few main characters which are consistent throughout the book. All of these characters are strongly written, though it did take me quite some time to really start believing in them. One thing which stood out for me which did not help with my belief in the main character, is the extremely quick way she accepted everything about the fantasy world and her part in it. Yes, she questioned it slightly, though if I were her, I would be laughing my socks off for weeks before I would even begin to start believing it all enough to step into a closet with a seemingly insane person! Once we are past this stage, though, the characters do settle down in their personalities much more and by the half way mark, I did start caring about them more and more. They are not the most fantastically written characters I have come across, though they really do fit into the story well. Even with the flaws, it is like they just fit into the world this author has created. As you may have guessed, there is a love triangle that appears within this story, though for the main part of the book, you barely even register it is there. Shipping fans will certainly be getting out their pens and voting, though, as for the reader, it is easy to sense where this triangle will be heading, though of course, the main character is unaware of both hers and others feelings - typical! Did I do any shouting at the book to make my husband give me funny looks? Not really. I do not think I felt any overwhelming feelings towards this triangle until near the very end, and by then, my brain was completely full up with the huge amounts of information I had just pulled from the book that I really had no room to spare for any extra thoughts! Perhaps I will feel different in the second book. Time will tell! There is a small amount of predictability in this story, though I found it difficult to see where a lot of the story was going as there was always so much going on and I was never able to order my thoughts enough to work out exactly what was going to happen until it was right on top of me. This book best falls into the Young Adult - Fantasy genre, though you will also find many other aspects within the pages. Perhaps the author wanted to match the crowded world in the pages to the genres, as you can find aspects of humour, urban fantasy, science fiction, magic, supernatural, and romance all working alongside the main fantasy heading. I think I need a lay down after reading this! So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? I do not think I have ever read a book like this before. Yes, it does have many flaws, though the fantasy mixed with fairy tale is simply amazing. The storyline alone is something that stands out as different, though add in the numerous characters and creatures and you have yourself something very unique. Of course, there will always be some similarities to other stories as there is only so many different things in the world to write about, though this author manages to bring something new out of something old and it had me hooked in right from the word go. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? I had mixed feelings about the ending. It was a perfect roundup of the story whilst leaving it open enough to want to go on and read the next book, though having got used to the hustle and bustle of the exciting (if slightly over-done) action on every page, I had expected the showdown at the end to be much more than it actually was. There was no real explosive end to this book which was a little disappointing, though perhaps it was only due to the excitement throughout the rest of the book that made it seem less action based. It did round everything up, though, like I said, so it was not a terrible ending, just a little unsatisfying. The story was 363 pages long, with a few pages at the end to give us an insight into how the authors mind works which was quite interesting. ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "Grimalkin yawned and licked his whiskers. 'Not dead,' he replied. 'Hardly dead. But she changed her name and appearance so many times, even the oldest fey would hardly remember her. She likes to keep a low profile, you know.' Puck frowned, knitting his bows together. 'Then how is it you remember her?' he demanded, sounding indignant. 'I am a cat,' purred Grimalkin." Yes, there are some flaws in this book, and there is the whole issue of the over-crowding, though I urge you to look past all of these and you will find a fantastic novel full to the brim of fantastical creatures and amazing worlds that, until now, only appeared within your dreams and nightmares. I absolutely loved this book and am looking forward to reading the next one to see where the story leads us. This is the first book in the Iron Fey series which contains four books with numerous novellas in between. The RRP on this book is £6.99, though you can buy used copies on Amazon for as little as £2.20. The Kindle book is currently selling at £4.18
Torment - Lauren Kate As many of you might have already gathered from my previous reviews, and the fact that I have a blog which focuses upon books alone; I absolutely adore reading. I love stand-alone books, though I am always looking out for a series of books in the hope that I will fall in love with them and have longer in the respective worlds. I came across this series quite a while ago now though due to the amount of books on my shelves, and more recently in my Kindle, the books sat on my shelves for quite a long time before I got around to picking them up again. I had also looked at reading them a number of times before, though something about them put me off, even though I felt drawn to them. Torment is the second book in the Fallen series. ****************** HELL ON EARTH ****************** "Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere. We can't always understand them, but we have to trust in them. I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith." It took fallen angel Daniel and re-incanted Luce an eternity to find one another, and now something has changed. Luce has surpassed her previous lives and is still alive, and Daniel will do anything to keep it that way, though at what cost? You would think that after so long apart, Daniel would want to keep Luce close to him at all times, though in the usual brooding way we have often seen in male characters of this kind (Edward Cullen and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to name a couple), I should have known that life would not be a bed of roses for the two star-crossed lovers. Instead of relaxing by the pool, cuddling up to his newly found love and sharing a plate of spaghetti like Lady and the Tramp, our brooding fallen angel dumps Luce at yet another school and leaves to hunt down Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. This is where the name of the book comes in. Of course, in his absence, Luce is absolutely tormented, though she soon realises that Shoreline is no ordinary school, and perhaps with her newly acquired Nephilim friends (offspring of fallen angels and humans), she will be able to figure out more about her past, the past that Daniel is inconveniently keeping from her. Learning more about her past, Luce begins to suspect that Daniel is hiding something (she has only just realised this?!), something buried deep and reeks of danger. What if Daniel's version of the past is not all that it seems? And what if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? Described as 'the ultimate love story', it should come as no surprise that the love story between the two main characters is paramount within the first and the second book, though as you may have gathered from the write up above, this love story is not a straight forward one. Through the first book, we were left with a lot of questions about the two characters involved in this relationship, and although we learn a little more in this book, we are still left confused. This is not all of a bad thing, though, as it keeps the story mysterious and leaves it openly running forward whilst we come up with our own theories. One aspect which started to annoy me in this book, more so than any other time, is the constant pining the two characters have over one another. Yes, I understand their misery at not being together, especially from the point of view of Luce, though I think we got the point after the first fifty reminders! Apart from the few flaws in the characters, one main one which I have outlined, the characters as a whole have improved quite a bit from the first book, though at times I felt that the lesser characters were more well rounded that the main characters. This could be due to the fact that the mystery surrounds the main characters and hopefully, in due course, the characters will grow and expand, though for now, I do feel a little disappointed. Heading back to the storyline itself, the same problem arose in this second instalment as we saw in the first; for about three quarters of the book, the story seemed to go nowhere. It barely progressed very far until this point and many times I felt it was slow and tedious. However, something once again drew me into the story and I found myself reading at quite a fast pace, barely wanting to put the book down. Perhaps it was the mystery surrounding the story that kept me entertained, though whatever it was, it certainly was not the beginning style of the story. The final quarter of the book mirrored the first with the action and excitement doubling, though it was not until right near the end that I really felt the pull of the story. The question is whether you can bare a slow start enough to get to this energetic point? At times, I do admit that I felt like putting the book down, though the story already had a hold on me, and perhaps if you have read the first book and are thinking about continuing onto this book, you will feel the same. As far as predictability is concerned, you will find a fair amount in this book, though there are a lot of twists and turns near the end which leave a lot of mystery still left in the air. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? Unlike the first book, I did not find this one overly unique. A lot of the school situation almost mirrored the first book, as well as many other books out there. Of course, the story as a whole does hold a different feel to it, and the storyline looks to be going where other may not have gone before (have I just stepped into a Star Trek review?!), so I still have some hope. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? The ending is, once again, the best part of the book. Although it did not have the excitement the first book held, it did have some great moments with a large twist at the end which I did not see coming. This book best falls into the young adult paranormal romance genre. ****************** FINAL WORDS ****************** "Loneliness in a crowd of people was the worst kind of loneliness, but she couldn't help it." Is this a fantastic read? Not by a long shot. It lacks energy and strength that you would expect to see in a book such as this, though once you hit the mid-point (or just beyond), you will find a huge contrast in style and flow. I am glad that I ploughed through the slow parts and am hoping that the next book will bring something much better into the fold. By the look of the end of this book, we should probably expect something completely different. Whether this will eb a good or bad difference is yet to be decided. This book is just over 450 pages long and can be found on all formats of book from the Kindle for £4.33 (which is a little too much in my opinion) to paperback for £4.56 or second hand from a penny, to audio books which range from £2.05 second hand all the way up to nearly £18.00 which is completely unreasonable in my opinion!! ******************************** A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA ******************************** As well as the four main books in the Fallen series, Lauren Kate has written a series of shorts which run in and around the main books. These shorts are exactly what they say on the tin - shorts. Pages seem to range between two to fifteen pages so you can not even call them a short novella! Due to the length of these shorts, they can not be made into a full review though I thought I would add a couple which occur around this book as a little extra to this review. These are almost like missing chapters in some sense. You will be able to find little reviews on these shorts as and when I read them on my book blog; Elfie Books (link found below). A Date with an Outcast (2.1) This short follows Shelby and Phil before Shelby finds out exactly who Phil is. It takes place at the beginning of the second book in the series; Torment. I was wrong when I thought six pages was short - this one is even shorter at only two pages long! To be honest, this short is barely worth the time. Not just due to the poor length, but due to the insert itself. It does not give us any new insight and I feel that both the short and the characters are poorly written in comparison with the main books and the other shorts which have come before this. Personally, I would say avoid this one completely, though if you do read it, it will only take a matter of minutes if that so it is not stealing too much of your time! Cam Goes hunting (2.2) This short takes place within the second main book of the series; Torment. Fans of Cam will love this four page short that focuses upon him alone as he tracks down outcasts in an effort to protect Luce. We get a little insight to more of Cam's feelings towards Luce, though it mainly adds an extra paragraph or two of 'behind-the-scenes' within another main book scene. It seems the further we go through these shorts, the less entertaining or interesting they actually are. Perhaps I should quit whilst I am ahead? Inside Francesca's Office (2.3) These shorts continue to be very short with this most recent one falling in at a mere three pages. I know these act like missing short scenes, though it would have been nice to have them a little longer! This scene takes place upon the arrival of Roland in the second book of the series; Torment. What is interesting about this scene is the fact that it is written from the point of view of Francesca, a teacher at Shoreline. She is a character I despise in the main books though through her point of view we are able to see the world through her eyes illuminating her thoughts and feelings a little better for us. My personal opinions of this character has not changed after reading this, though. Stephen and Roland also appear in this scene, and all characters are written as well as they are in the main books with personalities that you will either love or hate. A slightly condensed version of my review can also be found at http://elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk
Fallen - Lauren Kate As many of you might have already gathered from my previous reviews, and the fact that I have a blog which focuses upon books alone; I absolutely adore reading. I love stand-alone books, though I am always looking out for a series of books in the hope that I will fall in love with them and have longer in the respective worlds. I came across this series quite a while ago now though due to the amount of books on my shelves, and more recently in my Kindle, the books sat on my shelves for quite a long time before I got around to picking them up again. I had also looked at reading them a number of times before, though something about them put me off, even though I felt drawn to them. Fallen is the very first book in the series of the same name. It is a series which has received a very large variety of ratings and reviews from those who absolutely love it to those who find it below the one star rating. Perhaps this is what stopped me from reading these books before now, though perhaps not as I like to check out something for myself and not be completely led by other peoples views. Either way, I am now on the third book of the series at the time of writing this review and I am glad that I finally started reading them. *************************** CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS *************************** "We meet. We always meet, somehow we're always thrown together, no matter where I go, no matter how I try to distance myself from you. It never matters. You always find me." After tragic circumstances thrust Luce Price into the realms of a reform school, she hits her lowest point. Accused of the unexplained murder of her former boyfriend, Luce is left confused and alone, unable to even contact her parents or best friend for help. She feels that nothing can pull her from her despair until she sets eyes on Daniel Grigori... Immediately, Luce has a strong sense that she has met the mysterious and aloof Daniel before. He seems all too familiar to her, though she can not place where or how they would have ever met. She is drawn to him completely, though can not explain why, especially when he goes out of his way to avoid her. With security cameras watching her every move, Luce finds it difficult to get to know exactly who Daniel is, though with the help of a friend, she begins to uncover more about the mysterious person haunting her dreams. Luce has to find out exactly what secret Daniel is so desperate to keep...even if it kills her... Described as 'the ultimate love story' it was obvious from the start that the main storyline would focus on these two characters, though it is far from a straight forward story. Daniel remains a mystery throughout most of this book, and even as we reach the end, we are still left with a large amount of questions about him. Due to this, the love story within this book does not overly come into play until near the end of the book, so if you are worried about lovey-dovey scenes, fear not! Of course, the constant thoughts and feelings about Daniel from the mind of Luce does become a little too overpowering at times, though this can be overlooked quite easily once you fall into the story. Of course, this particular story would be a lot easier to fall into if it actually went somewhere! For the first half of the book I was left wondering when something substantial would happen. Although there was something pulling me into the story, I was unsure as to what it was as I felt nothing was really happening. It was an extremely slow read to begin with, though I would not say it was a painfully slow start. It is true that nothing much happens in the first half of the book, and the frustration over the inner thoughts of Luce do become a little too much to bare, though somehow (an I am not entirely sure how!) I felt a magnetic pull into the pages. I could barely put the book down. It was not as addictive as some books I have read, though there was certainly something which held my attention so fully. Before I knew it, I was over half way through the book - enjoying the read, though confused as to where the actual story was! The final quarter of the book finally sees the story take off. It is a completely different feel to the first part of the book, with the energy spiking in ways I had not thought possible considering the slow start, and I found myself getting more and more excited about the unfurling storyline. The question is whether you can bare a slow start enough to get to this energetic point? Personally, I am glad that I did as the last part of the story really reached some great heights and opened up a lot of questions which I desperately needed to know the answers too! Of course, the mark of a good book (and series) is not to give away the answers too soon, and although loads of questions popped up, the answers were not immediate. As a whole, the characters were above average. A number of characters really took on some great personalities and were written in such a realistic way that I found myself forming strong opinions of them one way or another. Unfortunately, due to the flow and style of the story, these feelings of the characters took quite a long time to actually surface. I also felt that the lesser characters were often written in a much higher stance than the main character whose point of view we were following. Yes, we learnt a lot more about Luce than any other character, though her actions and reactions were often poorly executed within the pages. By the time the book ended, I had only just started to form a slight attachment to this character which pulled my whole opinion of the book down. Luckily, it was not pulled down enough to prevent me from reading on. The other character in the spotlight is Daniel, and the same goes for him as with Luce. We do not really get to know him until nearer the end, and although in part, his character is written well, it is starved of emotion. Reminds me a little of Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer mixed with Edward from Twilight. A very broody character in the main who does not hold substance until its almost too late. As far as predictability is concerned, you will find a fair amount in this book, though there are a lot of twists and turns near the end which leave a lot of mystery still left in the air. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? In the main, this book has a lot of similarities to other books which centre around a girl starting boarding school, meeting a mysterious person, finding supernatural beings exist and finding herself in danger of some sort. Nothing overly original about the base storyline at all. In saying this, though, it is written in a different way which sparks a small sign of originality (although whether this is good or bad I am yet to decide!), and the supernatural element also helps make it that little bit different. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? As I have already touched upon above, the ending IS the book in my opinion. The book took so long to actually get up and go anywhere, and it was not until the last quarter when it actually took off. From the point when the energy grew, the ending built up brilliantly. There were still down moments, though the energy, flow and storyline grew and grew to give us a fantastic ending. As much as certain questions were answered, there were even more left open. This drew me in even more so and made me want the second book straight away (which I had luckily). I just hoped that the second book would get into the story quicker and stronger than this one did. This book best falls into the young adult paranormal romance genre. ****************** FINAL WORDS ****************** "She had sand in her mouth and between her toes, the briny wind raising goose bumps on her skin, and the sweetest, spellbound feeling spilling from her heart. She could, at that moment, have died for him." Is this a fantastic read? Not quite. It lacks energy and strength that you would expect to see in a book such as this, though once you hit the mid-point (or just beyond), you will find a huge contrast in style and flow. It took me a while to really get into the book due to the slow start, though something kept a hold of me and kept me interested enough to plough through the slow beginning, and I am glad that I did. If there had not been so many questions left unanswered at the end, as well as the energy and excitement the end of this book gave, then I am unsure as to whether I would have gone on to the next book, though with so much in the air, I craved more and went straight on to the next book. Will I read this book again? Probably not any time soon, though it is a possibility in the next fifty years!! This book is just over 450 pages long and can be found on all formats of book from the Kindle for £1.99 to paperback for £3.85 (much cheaper for second hand books) to audio books which range from £1.99 second hand all the way up to nearly £16.00 which is completely unreasonable in my opinion!! ******************************** A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA ******************************** As well as the four main books in the Fallen series, Lauren Kate has written a series of shorts which run in and around the main books. These shorts are exactly what they say on the tin - shorts. Pages seem to range between nine to fifteen pages so you can not even call them a short novella! Due to the length of these shorts, they can not be made into a full review though I thought I would add the first one as a little extra to this review. You will be able to find little reviews on these shorts as and when I read them on my book blog; Elfie Books (link found below). Daniels First Sighting The first short in this series runs alongside the beginning of Fallen at the point where Daniel first sets eyes on Luce. In the main book, we get to see everything from the point of view of the female character which leaves questions open about other characters and their thoughts and feelings. Within this short, we find out exactly how Daniel felt and why he acted the way he did. It does not give a whole lot of information though is an interesting read to see a scene from Daniels point of view. The short is written in the same style and flow as the main story, though due to the length, it gets going a whole lot quicker. It is an eye-opener to a degree, though do not expect to find out a lot more than you already know from the first main book. Is it worth reading this short? Although you really do not have to read this short to enjoy the series, it is worth five minutes to take a quick look at this short, if nothing else, to find out why Daniel acts the way he does at the very beginning of Fallen. I would personally give the short alone three stars though it is difficult to rate and review something so short! This short can be found free on http://www.box.com/shared/h5j48s3ele A slightly condensed version of my review can also be found at http://elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk
Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare A while back, I was watching movie previews when I came across 'City of Bones' which is being released later this year (2013). The preview really caught my attention and I found myself picking up the book by Cassandra Clare when I next visited the local high street. 'City of Bones' is part of 'The Mortal Instruments' series and follows a group of Shadowhunters as they attempt to protect Mundanes (normal humans) from rogue Downworlders such as vampires, fae and werewolves. Of course, there is more to these books than just this, and you can find my reviews on all of the books in this set so far on my book blog elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk. I absolutely loved the first three books in the series, though the fourth and fifth book felt like a let down and I found myself rather disappointed. It was due to this disappointment that I was unsure at first whether to read the prequel books in the 'Infernal Devices' series, though I am glad that I did. So far, there are three books in the 'Infernal Devices' series which I believe should be it, though 'The Mortal Instruments' series was also meant to be a trilogy and then Clare decided to write more, so you never know. The books in this prequel series are: Clockwork Angel Clockwork Prince Clockwork Princess With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of the first book in this prequel series; Clockwork Angel. ****************************** RUNNING LIKE CLOCKWORK ****************************** "One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us." Sixteen year old Tessa Gray journeys from America across the ocean to meet with her brother in London, England during the reign of Queen Victoria, though from the moment she arrives, she knows that the life she left behind is not anything like the life she seems destined to now. Kidnapped and imprisoned by a mysterious couple of women who call themselves the Dark Sisters, Tessa begins to realise that she is not quite as human as she thought, though as the Sisters force her newfound ability out of her, she only feels fear and confusion. That is until she is rescued by two best friends; Will and James, and taken into the protection of the institute which is run by Shadowhunters. It is here that Tessa learns about the shadow world and realises that she is a Downworlder, though what type, she does not know, and neither do the other Shadowhunters. Tessa feels alone and scared, and to top it off, the mysterious Magister will stop at nothing to get his hands on her and use her ability for his own gain. At the same time, she is desperate to find her brother who has seemingly vanished into this air. And what good story would be without its love story? You would think that Tessa had enough on her plate what with trying to survive and trying to find her brother, but no. Soon Tessa finds herself fascinated, and torn between witty but moody Will and secretive James, though there will come a time when Tessa will have to choose...Save her brother or help her new friends save the world. Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. It seems that this prequel series was written and published alongside 'The Mortal Instrument' series, and many may think that reading 'The Infernal Devices' first would make more sense, though I feel that by reading this series after 'the Mortal Instruments' will allow you more insight into this world. This series is set many, many years before that of City of Bones, though I found it extremely easy to fall back into this magical world. It did take me a short time to adjust from the previous time frame and characters to the ones in this book, but once the story got going, it was like I had never left the world. The story is written from the view of Tessa and we learn at the same pace as she does, though of course, from reading the other series, we are a little more advanced in our knowledge than the character of Tessa and sometimes this is a little frustrating. Once the first few chapters go past, I found that the action and excitement from the previous series started to pop up, and it is not long before nearly every page holds some kind of thrill. There is barely a moment to collect your thoughts throughout the whole of this book, though this is certainly not overwhelming in the slightest. In fact, this exhilarates the reading, especially as the style and flow tend to match the story pace. The storyline itself is perhaps even better than that of City of Bones, though I know many will disagree with this opinion. There is a vast difference in the many reviews I have read on this first book, from those who love it to those who absolutely hate it. Personally, I love the fact that it is set in the Victorian era. It gives the story a whole different feel, and the settings really give a fantastic atmosphere which aids in the way the story is written. There are some minor flaws with the story such as some elements being dragged along too fast and others being dragged out too long. It is slightly haphazard in a few places, though none of this really put me off as the story was strong enough to overcome these flaws. With a lot of books, it takes me a while to attach myself to the characters, and this book has a slight element of this. Tessa, although written from her viewpoint, was perhaps the hardest character to understand at first. I found her characterisation slightly annoying, though I could not put my finger on why, until I met with the other characters. Most of the characters were easier to get to know, and I soon found my favourites, though I did come to realise one thing which could have been the root of my annoyance at first. Although all the characters were different to those in 'the Mortal Instruments' (well, they would have to be considering the time period difference!), they seemed a little recycled. Most characterisations of the various people in this book seemed all too familiar to those in the previous series. It was this which I found was slightly annoying, although as time went on, I did start to either love or hate the different characters, so it was not something which hindered my reading, I just feel that they could have been rewritten to a larger degree. Although this book does contain Downworlders, which covers everything from vampires to werewolves, it is not the main focus of the story. Instead, we get an insight into the inner-stories of the humans, or rather the human sides of the characters in many cases. It is through this outlook that we see a love story beginning to arise. It is very early stages at this point in the series, and having not read the next books yet, I can not begin to imagine which way this love story will go, though the feeling is certainly here. Do not fret, though. Those who do not like any kind of love story which is in-your-face will not find that here. Other human aspects which the book looks at with great detail is such aspects as loss, grief, strength, weakness, secrets and many more. Unlike 'City of Bones', this book is not so predictable. Yes, there were many things which could be guessed, though Clare does a much better job at keeping things hidden until the time was right. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? This story is not overly unique in its storyline, and the characters are seemingly recycled from the previous series, so not much really makes it different, though the setting and the world in which the author creates does provide some small amount of uniqueness. In saying this, though, there are only so many different storylines available on this earth, and not every good book will be absolutely unique. This book is not very different in most ways, though the difference lies within the world and that, I think, in this case may just be enough. There is just something about this book that makes it exciting from near the beginning right to the very end. It may not be something I can put my finger on, though it is certainly there. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? Cassandra Clare has a habit of creating such brilliant endings to her books which leave us wanting more. This aspect did slide a little in the last two books of the previous series, though she has certainly redeemed herself in this book. The ending was not perhaps mond-blowing, though it certainly contained the right amount of excitement which left me looking forward to reading the second book in the set. This book would most likely fit into the young adult steampunk genre, though it has elements of many other genres and so it is not easy to place. Of course, you have the paranormal aspect alsongisde a small amount of romance with an above average dose of humour. The story was 476 pages long, and although this is quite a long look, I read it reasonably fast as, after a certain point, I could not put it down! ************************************** CASSANDRA CLARE CONTROVERSY ************************************** I felt it was important to add this aspect to this review as I have both read and heard a number of different reasons why people avoid this book, and a lot of negative reactions to the author herself. Cassandra Clare is reasonably well known (though not by me and I am a Harry Potter fan!) in the Harry Potter fandom by writing many fanfiction pieces (fanfiction in case anyone does not know is stories based upon actual books/films and their characters though taking on a whole new story). One particular fanfiction piece she wrote came under severe scrutiny about its plagiarism. She has also wrote some Lord of the Rings fanfiction and other science fiction writings, many of which have also been accused of plagiarism. She has since taken down these works from the fandom sites, and now writes in her author name of Cassandra Clare opposed to her surname being spelt 'Claire'. I have looked into this further and it is also apparent that when Clare's first novel was published, she was accused of being racist and sexist, though not much is really said about this which makes me wonder how true this aspect is. I also saw NONE of this in this book or any of the others I have read. The plagiarism problem seems to have vanished once she changed her name and stopped writing fanfiction, though this could be as she was not as well known as some people thought. What with the success of the 'City of Bones' series, and the upcoming film, this argument about her past has now come back into the light. Whether people believe this, or in fact care, is another case entirely. I did not hear of any of this until I was part way though reading this first book of the Mortal Instruments series, and to be honest, I am not sure whether it would have changed my mind about reading it or not. The fact remains that this author has plagiarised many works which is a definite no-no in the world of writing, though can an author leave her mistakes behind and can people forgive these mistakes? It is true that 'Clockwork Angel' is not an overly original story, though as far as I know, nothing has come up about plagiarism with this story, and even knowing what I do now about this problem in the past, I am still glad that I read this book as it was a great read despite its few negative points. Those who have read Cassandra Clare's fanfiction work have found that the characters in this book are almost carbon copies of ones in her earlier works, and I have already mentioned that this is the case in comparison to her other series, though apart from being uninvented in this area, I do not think that you can say she plagiarized herself! Whether this piece of information deters you from reading this is up to you, though in my opinion, I would say that if you decide to avoid it just because of this then you will be missing out. ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "Will looked horrified. "What kind of monster could possibly hate chocolate?" You may think, after reading the negative points in this review, that this is a book to stay clear of, though this is certainly not the case. I really loved this book despite everything which I outlined as flawed, and there is enough strong points to keep the reader entertained and excited. The average rating of this book online is around 4.5/5 stars, so although many hate it, it seems that most agree with me that, yes, it is flawed, but at the same time, it is a great read. This book is currently on Amazon from £3.66 in paperback form, £4.27 on Kindle format, and from £19.08 on audio book.
Ratatouille on the Wii It took us a while to catch up with the excitement of games machines like the Wii, though a year ago we finally gave in and bought one, especially as our daughter has now got to the age where she loves all things electronic. We try to limit her time on such things as she is only five, though there is no keeping her away from games consoles in this day and age. What happened to good old fashioned hide and seek and conkers?! One of our most recent buys for the Wii is Ratatouille, though it is not an overly new game, having come out back in 2007. It is a favourite of my daughters in regards to the DVD so she was extremely happy to have us present this to her as a reward for finally getting through the night dry! It took all of five minutes before the Wii was set up and my daughter was learning the controls (faster than me!). ***************************** WELCOME TO RAT-A-TOO-EE ***************************** Ratatouille follows the story of a cute little rat called Remy who has dreams of becoming a top chef, believing the mantra of the legendary cook Gusteau that everyone can cook. Through the guidance of the spirit of Gusteau (though he is not seen in the game), Remy makes his way to a restaurant that is slowly going out of business, and with the help of his new human friend Linguini, Remy begins cooking for the restaurant. This game follows the story reasonably well, though there is quite a bit left out, providing a much shorter game than what I was expecting. The humour of the typical Pixar movie is still very present in this game, and through game play and scenes which pop up throughout, it is a very exciting game for both children and adults alike. The game is advertised as a two player game, though do not be mislead. The main game is a single player game with extras being unlocked as you go along enabling some mini-game multiplayer fun. This multiplayer option takes a while to discover and unlock and is not overly straight forward. You will also need codes to unlock portions of the multiplayer. I am afraid that my daughter was too impatient after trying for so long to figure out the codes in the game, even after she completed the whole of the main game, that we did cheat a little and looked the codes up online. Even then, it took a few tries to figure out how to actually put them in! Maybe it is just me. It is possible that I overlooked something incredibly obvious, though my daughter tends to see things I don't, even at her age, and even she did not stumble on anything that would help us! With that little niggle out of the way, and let me just say, that is the main negative feature of the game, let me take you further into the world of the chef rat! Before you begin the game, you will need to make sure that you have a nun-chuck as game play can not go ahead without this. Both the nun-chuck and the remote are used in the controlling of the characters in the game (mainly Remy) and are reasonably simple to learn. My five year old daughter picked these up extremely quickly, though to help you out, the first time you come across certain actions, there is a helpful hint that pops up on the screen as well as a couple of scenes at the beginning of the game to walk you through the controls. This tutorial can be replayed as many times as you wish after you pass the first level. You are able to create a number of different profiles on the welcome screen and your game is saved automatically at various points through the game. You do have a number of lives per save point which is shown by the cheese circle in the top corner. You are able to collect cheese in many different points through the game which helps you progress from one save point to another easier and quicker. The game play is very simple to master, though it does have its harder points where even I struggled. In the main, my daughter was able to work out what she had to do and had a lot of fun doing it, though at certain points, I had to help her out a little as a few points did seem almost impossible for a while! It was not the instructions, though more the level of difficulty in certain scenes which only provides more entertainment and a much more fulfilling experience. The game play runs through the basic story of the film and adds some extra scenes in which provide even more fun. Each scene is humorous and exciting and most are very unique from one another, though you do get a few scenes which repeat a number of times with only slight differences. These are a little annoying as you want fresh new ideas rather than recycled ones, though I am looking at that from an adult perspective rather than that of a child, and as this is rated U, the thoughts of a child is what matters, and my daughter certainly did not mind. Scenes range from sliding down a broken pipe (possibly the hardest of them all!) to helping the human cook and decorate cakes, helping rats escape to avoiding dogs and breaking rat traps. Each scene has one or many different missions which you can remind yourself of by accessing the menu screen in-game. As well as the main part of the game play, you will find many different mini-game chances within the game, both as part of the main story and separate to it. The separate mini-games have to be unlocked in general, and to do this you have to collect a certain amount of different items. These mini-games are all really fun and in my opinion, almost better than the main game itself! All these mini-games can also be unlocked to play a single games in the extras potion of the disc, and a few are also under the multiplayer category. Another aspect my daughter found fun is to 'decorate' the rats home in the sewers. This is done by earning points and purchasing items in the shop. There is not a whole host of items to play with, though enough to keep my daughter entertained. The game play is not actually that long. My daughter took around five hours on and off (the games are timed!) with my help, though I also played on my own profile and took only a couple of hours to complete the game. There are a number of different extras which are found under the heading of Gusteau's shop, some of which I have already mentioned. These are unlocked by earning points through the main game play and can be 'bought' at various times once you have earned enough. You can also unlock these via codes which we actually found easier with certain parts. The extras include; Single player mini-games Here you can replay the dreamworlds mini-games (only if you have completed them in the main game), play timed cooking games and try for your best scores on the sliding games. Multiplayer mini-games With up to two players, you are able to access a number of mini-games and go head-to-head to see who is the best! Mini-games include rat races, Last rat standing, Tight rope games and closet collecting. Championship Mode This is a multiplayer option, though players take it in turns to get the highest score. Here you can play against up to three opponents on a variety of different levels which all need to be unlocked. Players use one remote and nun-chuck in eight different cooking mini-games, four different slide games, a number of dream world timed games and basically challenge one another to all the other mini-games found within the main game. I feel that out of all the extra categories, the championship mode is the best with more variety, though my daughter loves the multiplayer option as she loves playing against me (and winning!) at the same time. The graphics of this game are fantastic. I would not say that they are the best I have ever seen, though for a game of this nature, they are top rate. You are able to configure the display settings between 60Hz (480i) mode and EDTV / HDTV (480p) mode. *********************** FINAL WORDS *********************** This game has fast become a firm favourite of my daughters. She has completed the main game, though has started it all over again on a different profile, enabling her to replay the main game as well as play all the unlocked items. She has not tired of playing this game at the moment and she has played it over and over again. I also really love this game, though from an adult perspective, once the main game is out of the way, the rest offer no real extra excitement unless playing with your child. The game play is exciting and inventive and provides a whole host of fun for all ages. The game is very short which is a little disappointing, though perfect for young children. Amazon have this game for £12.98 which I think is very overpriced for a game which has been out for a few years now. There are a number of used games from as little as £1.50 on Amazon also which is a much fairer price. We picked this up in the CEX shop for £4 which, in my opinion, is a great price for a game that entertains my daughter for great lengths of time.
Sins and Needles - Karina Halle I first came across Karina Halle a number of months ago when I feel into a fantastic set of books which she had created; 'The Experiment in Terror' series. I fell in love with her writing almost immediately and could not put these books down. Once I had reached the current ending to this series, I was eager for more, though the next book was not due out for quite a while. Luckily, I stumbled across Halle's other series and immediately started reading it, filling in the void the other series had left. You can see my reviews on the other series both on Ciao and on elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk 'Sins and Needles' is the first book in 'The Artists Trilogy' series. So far, this is the only main book out with the second one due out later this year (2013). ******************************* THE SINS OF THE PARENTS ******************************* "You're a con artist. A liar. A thief. An unredeemable soul. You can't be reformed. You can't be saved. You'll die trying to make the world pay for what it did to you. And you'll die alone." As the daughter of a pair of grifters, Ellie Watt is used to starting over. She spent her young life as a pawn in her parents scams, though it was not long before a scam went wrong and they fled, leaving her behind with her uncle, and although Ellie loved her uncle, she was desperate to leave the dry desert town of Palm Valley and move onto bigger and better things, following the footsteps of her parents. Now, Ellie is much older and, perhaps, much wiser, and after her conning ways catch up with her, she returns to her old town, determined to walk along the straight road, though when she meets up with her old friend, she got a lot more than she bargained for. Once the high school outcast, Camden McQueen has completely transformed into a much bigger and badder, and hotter man with his own thriving business in tattoo art. Ellie is counting on making Camden fall in love with her all over again, though what she does not count on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time, and when Camden catches Ellie trying to steal money from him, he makes a deal with her that she can not possibly refuse. When freedom comes at a price, the road can be a dangerous one. It took me a while to fall into this story, though whether this was because I was pining over the previous books and characters, or whether it was really due to the slow start, I am not sure. Luckily, the slowness did not last forever, and it was not long before the style and flow came back to what I was used to seeing in Halle's writing. I did find a number of moments where the slowness began to creep back in, though by these points in the book, I was hooked into the story and so did not notice as much. The main part of the story is not an overly unique one, though it is the way that it is written which brings the story to a whole new height. Like her previous series, Halle has a fantastic ability of writing both storylines and characters in such a 'real' way that you almost forget that you are reading a fictional story. Although I do not dwell on differences or similarities between different series', I did feel that this particular book had a much more 'adult' feel to it from the very beginning to that of 'Experiment in Terror'. There are no supernatural elements within this book, and the subject matter of 'Sins and Needles' throws the reader into a much darker, adult world to what we are used to in the previous series. To be honest, when I first read the blurb, it was not a book which I was fighting to read. I had this book from very early on in 'The Experiment in Terror' series, though put it off due to wanting to continue reading the one series in one go. If I had not read this series first, I am unsure whether I would have picked up this book, though I had to have more of this authors imagination, and I am glad that I did. As soon as I got past the initial slowness, I fell once again into a fantastic story which will stay with me for a long time after. I have already touched upon the flow and style, though I want to mention it once again as it is simply flawless, at least after the initial few chapters. It flowed as fluidly as a real-life story would play out in front of your eyes. Amazing! I can not fault the authors way of writing in this aspect. It is close to one of the best in the ways of flow and style that I have ever read. Of course, the storyline is not the only aspect within a book which is important. A storyline can only really be as good as the characters which dwell inside the pages, and luckily for us readers, this author is adept at both of these. The two main characters are absolutely fantastically written, with the 'real' sense of characterisation that you find within the storyline. Although the story itself has a slow start, the characters jump out immediately and I find myself really paying attention to them as they weave their way into my heart and mind. Neither character has an ounce of any 'fake' feeling to them, and they jump out of the page with sheer perfection. We do not learn everything there is to know about the characters immediately, and almost learn about them as they learn about one another. The history and backgrounds to these characters come out with great timings, allowing us to know what we need to and keeping some information from us to uphold some suspense. There are, of course, numerous other characters within this story, and like the main characters, they are all very well written. There is the occasional weaker link, though this is overshadowed by the near perfect writing of all the others that you simply breeze over these flaws and ignore them. This book is difficult to place in any one particular genre, though I would say that it best fits in with the contemporary/adult romance. The following warning is written in the blub; "**WARNING** This book contains graphic language, sex and violence. Readers who are sensitive to sexual scenes, violence and a lot of cursing should refrain from reading this book. This is not YA or NA. 18 and above." There is certainly a lot of graphic language, sex and violence throughout this book from beginning to end, and although I am not one to love reading harsh languages within a book and often feel that it is put there for no good reason, though I do admit that most of this language within this book feels right to be there. Perhaps it is the 'real' feeling of the characters and storyline which makes these words seem in the right places? Perhaps it is something else, though either way, I was not offended by it in the slightest and it became as part of this story as the characters themselves were. The sex and violence is also very strong throughout, though it is somewhat milder in many ways to the majority of the Experiment in Terror series. The story is reasonably predictable, though even if you can guess the ending and such like, you will not guess exactly how it is written and what happens to lead up to it. Due to this, the predictability is not a problem in the slightest. This is a completely different series to that of 'The Experiment in Terror' series, and so there is no particular order in which to read these two series', though I am personally glad that I read 'The Experiment in Terror' series first as it enabled me to see how Karina Halle writes and absolutely fall in love with the writing. If I had picked up this book first, the slow start may have put me off, though do not let it put you off - get past the first few chapters and you will love everything about this book. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? I think that the main difference with this book, as well as the author's other books, is the style of writing. The story and predictability is not overly different to other books I have read, though the style of writing and the amazing characters really set this apart from other books (not including her own books as they are all amazingly written!). The whole 'real' feeling of this book, both with the characters and the storylines, also aid this book in making it very different to other books of this kind. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? Although I found the ending fantastic, I would not say that it is the best ending of a book I have ever read. I think I expected so much more in the way of dramatics than was presented to me, though in saying this, I was not disappointed too much as it was a perfect end to a great book and left me wanting more. Unfortunately, the second book is not currently out, so now I am waiting for the author to release books for both her series'! ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "That is what I thought of you, Ellie. Heartless, reckless, selfish, and cruel." He was back to shooting me when my armor was down. I turned my face away from him, not wanting to let him see the hurt in my eyes. He reached up and put his fingers under my chin, bringing my face forward again, forcing me to look at him. "Beautiful, sad, wounded, and lost," he continued. "A freak, a work of art, a liar, and a lover." His gaze was starting to eat away at my insides. Razor-blade butterflies whirled in my heart. "I hate you, Ellie Watt," he whispered, lips coming closer to mine, "because I still love you after all these years." I absolutely loved this book. As soon as the story got going, it was very difficult to put down. I am in awe of this author. Her writing is absolutely fantastic, and it really shows through her books that she is passionate about what she does. Will I read the next book? Without a doubt! The paperback version of the book is 447 pages This fantastic book is a little higher than usual in paperback form at £10.05, though with a much better price for the Kindle at £1.97. If you do not already have a Kindle, visit Amazon and download their Kindle for FREE! Got to love Amazon! Do I recommend this book? Yes, most definitely!
And with Madness comes the Light - Karina Halle I am back with another review covering the fourth novella in the fantastic Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle. This is the last book of the series which is out so far. More will be coming out, though at the moment, it is unsure what date these are due as the author is currently working on her other series. For Experiment in Terror fans like myself, this is a frustrating moment! As many of you will know from reading my past reviews on this series, I absolutely adore these books and the wait for the next one is going to be very difficult to say the least! Lets hope I can find another series I enjoy as much to occupy my mind! I came across this series a couple of months ago and found that it had some amazing reviews. I was so happy when I found that the very first book in this series; Darkhouse, was FREE on Amazon, and continues to be free to download on Kindle still. If you have not already started the series then you have no excuse! If you do not have a kindle then that is not a problem - Amazon allows you to download a PC kindle free also! I really do love that word! From the very first book, I was hooked in completely and utterly. It was entirely different from anything I had ever read before, and held a 'realness' between its pages from both the storyline as well as the amazingly written characters. From that moment, I knew I would have to read all of the books one after another without delay, and was able to obtain them all on kindle with a push of a button. The main books in this series are also in paperback form, though so far, the novellas can only be found on the Kindle format. My review on the previous books in this series can be found on my book blog; http://elfie-books.blogspot.co.uk. There are currently six main book in this series with a further three due to come out shortly. There are also a number of shorter novellas which fall in between the main books, 'And with Madness comes the Light' is the fourth novella and comes after the sixth main book in the series; 'Into the Hollow'. The books in this series so far are as follows; Darkhouse Red Fox Dead Sky Morning Lying Season On Demon Wings Into the Hollow Come Alive (Expected out 2013) Ashes to Ashes (Not yet published) Dust to Dust (Not yet published) With the following novellas; The Benson Old Blood The Dex Files And with Madness comes the Light With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of this fourth novella of the series... ********************************** THE JOURNEY TO DEX 2.0 ********************************** "If wishes were fishes, this whole place would really stink." There are a whole array of supernatural books out there, and I do admit, I have read my fair share of these, though The Experiment in Terror series takes this genre to a whole new level. The main focus of these books are on the supernatural, though from the very beginning, an extremely large factor in the storylines have been focuses upon the two main characters and their lives both with the supernatural and otherwise, and as the books progress, more of the focus turns to their complex relationship which is like no other I have ever read. Both storyline and characters have so many twists and turns, shocks and surprises that you are constantly left wanting more. In the past books, we see the story pan out through the eyes of our heroine of Experiment in Terror; Perry. In 'The Dex Files' we got an insight into the depths of Dex's mind, and like many others, I was eager for more. I love the fact that the books until this point are mainly from Perry's point of view, though there is just something so inviting about our hero that we are always left wanting more. We are now given this chance even more so with another novella written from the point of view of Dex, and as far as I know, the future books will also be from his point of view...this makes me a very happy bunny! Although the novella falls after the sixth main book, it covers the time period from the end of Lying Season (Book #4) until the end of On Demon Wings (Book #5), though I would certainly recommend reading this after the sixth book for reasons of understanding more so than anything else. 'And with Madness comes the Light' is entitled for the infamous tattoo/s Dex has on him, with a second tattoo coming into light in the last book. Within this novella, we get to understand more of what these words really mean to Dex and follow him through the time frame that he was without Perry. At the end of Lying Season, we were left shocked with the actions of one of our main characters. It was not only shocking, though completely out of character (in a good way though!), and we were left with many questions as to why events panned out the way they did and where our two favourite characters would go from here, and although there has been a further book which has answered some of these questions, there was still some much that we needed to know, and in this novella, we get the answers we have been craving. Dex went from one man to a completely different man in the time frame without Perry. Perry felt he should have been grieving and falling apart like she was, though in her eyes, he was absolutely fine, but was he really? How did Dex cope in these months without Perry, and what happened to cause him to change so completely? 'The Man, The Mystery, The Madness' A quote in the blurb really rounds this novella off brilliantly. Dex has never been anyones fool, though now he has missed his one chance for real happiness with Perry and he is left broken and alone. He has no choice but to climb out of his darkness and walk his own path to redemption, though nothing in his life has ever been easy, and this is certainly no different, especially with the dark madness waiting for him in the wings... Although this book takes place in the time frame of the other books, or to be more precise, between books, we see scenes completely new to the story. Whilst we were following Perry while she fought her own inner demons, Dex was fighting his own, and if you loved this character before now, you will absolutely go mad for him while reading this novella. We see a completely different side to Dex and really begin to empathise and sympathise with him much more than ever before. As usual, the author manages to capture the 'realness' of both the situation and the character and we are drawn into the book with such depths that we almost forget that we are reading a fictional story. The flow and style matches the action and emotion completely and there is absolutely no flaws in the writing that I can find, and trust me, when reading I always have my review in the back of my mind and so I look out for even the smallest of flaws, and like the whole of this series, this book is certainly lacking in the flaw department! I have nothing but praise for this amazing author! Of course, with lack of flaws, there is a lack of information to write in this review, though this only works for the best when reading this set of books. No complaints here! I have spoken of predictability in the previous books, though due to the scenes occurring in a time frame that we have already read, we of course know how it all ends. That is not to say there is no surprises. This novella opens your eyes to quite a bit of new information, and some, even I did not see coming. The supernatural scenes are still apparent in the book, though in the main, the scenes focus upon Dex and his thoughts and feelings about Perry and life itself. This is a fantastic insight and a very well timed stage of the series. The main genre which this book falls into is Paranormal Romance, though you see a lot of other genres creeping in throughout. The following warning is written in the blurb of the first book and still applies here; "The Experiment in Terror series is a horror/romance for mature audiences only. Readers who are easily offended by harsh language should think twice about reading it." This is something to take note of. I am not one to love reading harsh languages within a book and often feel that it is put there for no good reason other than the way younger readers tend to speak these days, though I do admit that most of this language within this book feels right to be there. Perhaps it is the 'real' feeling of the characters and storyline which makes these words seem in the right places? Perhaps it is something else, though either way, I was not offended by it in the slightest and it became as part of this story as the characters themselves were. There is a lot of this type of harsh language, though, so do be warned. Other aspects to be aware of are such things as violence, sexual tension and mental health. All of these pop their heads in and out of the pages throughout the story. Possession is another aspect which is paramount in this book with references to evil and demons. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? The series as a whole is tremendously different to others of this kind as it is written in such a 'real' way that you find yourself living every moment alongside the characters. The storyline, the characters, the creepy settings - all of these contribute to the fantastic read which keeps you on your toes throughout and you are forever wanting more. You are pulled right into the world of Experiment in Terror right from the word go, and once you have read the first page, you will never look back. Other books in this genre certainly have something to look up to. In comparison to the other books in this series, the main difference is the change of perspective. This, in many ways, creates a whole new feel to the story, though in other ways, it does not change much at all due to the fact that the writing is simply perfect whichever way the author presents the story. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? I do not think that the ending is as powerful as the past books in this series, though it is certainly exciting and full of energy. It rounds everything up wonderfully, whilst leaving a perfect amount open, just enough to make you need more of the story, to find out answers which have been left open and to continue where the story has left off. ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "I wasn't Dex Foray. I was just this emotion that was crumbling to the floor, holding onto the doorway like it was the last thread of my humanity." The whole Experiment in Terror series to this point has been absolutely fantastic. I can not praise the author enough, and this novella is no different. I would have loved it to be a little longer, though I know that soon, we will get a whole book from the point of view of Dex which I feel quite excited about. You do not need to read the novellas in this series to enjoy the story as a whole, though unlike the first novella, this one does contain a lot of interesting and often useful information which can open your eyes to the action in other books. Will I read the next book? I can not wait to read it! Unfortunately, I have reached the end of the books out so far, and as the date has not been confirmed for the release of the next book, I am left on tender hooks! Karina Halle - if you are reading this, from all the Experiment in Terror fan - PLEASE PLEASE bring out the next book very soon! Throughout this series I have learnt that you will simply not want to wait for the next book so I suggest purchasing them all at once. Luckily, if you are reading on a Kindle device, the one click download enables you to buy the book and read it without delay which is fantastic, as once you have entered the world that this author creates, you will not want to leave it! The only downside to this book is the length. It is the shortest novella in the series, coming in just shy of 100 pages. For any other series', I would not have bought this book for the £1.95 as found on Amazon as I feel you can get full books with triple the page length for this price on the Kindle, but this is Experiment in Terror! There was absolutely no way I could go without reading this novella. I had to have the complete series to date, and I would say that this is the best series of books I have read so far this year. Money and time well spent! Don't worry if you don't have a Kindle, simply go to Amazon.co.uk and download their Kindle app absolutely free to your PC and then download the Kindle book in seconds. Do I recommend this book? Yes, without a doubt!
Into the Hollow- Karina Halle I came across this wonderful series of books a while ago after reading some fantastic comments and reviews on the very first book. It took me a while to get around to reading this set as I have so many books in my to-reads list (I am obsessed with reading!) though finally I got around to them, and my luck was in. I found the very first book; Darkhouse, FREE to download on the Kindle from Amazon. Free is certainly a word I love! At the time of writing this review, Darkhouse continues to be free, so waste no more time - download the first book now and get started on this wonderful series. Do not worry if you do not have a Kindle, Amazon also allows you to download their Kindle absolutely free for your PC or mobile phone. From the very first book in this series, I was hooked! The writing, characters and storyline was written in such a way that it all seemed so real. I almost forgot that I was reading a fictional tale many times. I was extremely glad that I had got hold of the full set from the word go, as I would have hated waiting. Of course, with the Kindle, it is an easy point and click and you have the book there with you. I love hard copies of books, though the fact that these are all also in Kindle format means that it is so much easier to grab them all quickly! To date, there are six main books in this series, with another one due out later this year (2013) and a further two books (at least) in the future. There are also a number of mid-books which fall in between certain main books. These you do not have to read to enjoy and follow the series, though if you are like me and fall in love with this set then you will want to go back and fill in the blanks with these sub-books. The main books so far include; Darkhouse Red Fox Dead Sky Morning Lying Season On Demon Wings Into the Hollow Come Alive (Expected out 2013) Ashes to Ashes (Not yet published) Dust to Dust (Not yet published) With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of the sixth book of the series... ******************************* FOLLOW ME INTO THE HOLLOW ******************************* "This is me trying, Perry," he said softly, the anger being drained of his face. "This is me taking my heart out of my chest and putting the bloody mess in your hands. I can't give you much more than that." The Experiment in Terror series focuses upon the supernatural, though as the books progress, we see a lot more of the complicated relationship of our favourite main characters, and now that we are at book six, so many will be wanting to see so much more with Dex and Perry, especially after the last couple of books, though will readers receive this? Perry Palomino had the fight of her life against her inner demons...literally, and with the help of Dex, she came out the other side, though the battle is far from over. She is now left broken and alone, not knowing who she can really trust, and fighting to prove to her own parents that she does not belong in a madhouse. The only sane thing she can do is leave her family behind and move in with Dex...well, nearly sane thing anyway! Whilst staying with Dex, the Experiment in Terror series is given a fresh new start, though will hunting a monster who locals call 'Bigfoot' really help their relationship, or will their past mistakes continue to haunt them? As they make their way to the desolate terrain of the Canadian Rockies, Dex and Perry realise that the only way they are going to survive and leave the snow-covered peaks for good is if they put their faith in one another, but can Perry really trust the very man who sent her to Hell and back? The first thing I thought of when reading the synopsis of this sixth book is: Bigfoot?! If this was any other series then the pure mention of this snow dwelling monster would have me rolling my eyes and walking away, though Experiment in Terror has a way that can make anything unbelievable into the believable, and it did not fail me in the slightest. Yes, the duo go of on the premise that there is a Bigfoot type monster roaming the mountains, though neither really believe it, though will their time alone in the mountains with only themselves and a scary companion change their minds? This book continues very soon after the last book, and it is almost as if there was not a break. I was able to fall straight into the story from the beginning, and although I have found this very easy in all the other books of this series, it was perhaps even easier in this one. This could be due to the fact that over the last couple of books, so much has been left in the air, with shocks and surprises galore. I could not wait to read this book and had a lot of expectations and hopes for certain storylines so was very eager to get into it, and the style allows this to happen extremely quickly. The style and flow continue to be fantastic throughout the whole of this book, with the flow changing as the story changes, which matches up to the action and fear of the characters. It is almost as though the flow and style reflect Perry's own thoughts and feelings. The supernatural element is not as high as most of these books, though we do get a small sense of creepiness and fear from the mythological aspect and more from the main storyline and its scenes. In these certain points, the writing and the characters really provide the creepy aspect which allows us to fully emerge ourselves into the story and feel what the characters feel, such as the fear emanating from our heroine. On a scale from one to ten, though, with ten being the scariest a story could be, I would have to rate it quite low, perhaps at a three. This is certainly not a bad thing as the story has become much more character based and therefore it is their story that readers will be more interested in at this point rather than the supernatural scares. Speaking of the characters, those who have read my past reviews of books in the series will have come to understand that the characters themselves really make these stories what they are. Although there are smaller characters, both relevant and otherwise, the main two characters; Perry and Dex are the ones to watch out for. These two are written so perfectly that it is difficult to believe that they are fictional characters. Never before have I read a main character part I can relate to in many ways, and one which pleads for my full attention to completely. Neither one is fake in any way, and both seem to jump from the page with such perfection - I was absolutely amazed with their characterisations, personalities and the way that they are both written into the story. From reading the books until this point, we have learned a great deal of their history and backgrounds, and although there is so much more to learn, it is their present characterisations and situations which are in the limelight at this point. It is difficult to properly put this book into one particular genre, though I would say that it best falls into the paranormal romance setting. It also has a great deal of humour and action, with mystery and adventure also chucked in throughout. It is certainly a book for 16 and above at least and contains a lot of adult content. The following warning is written in the blub; "Darkhouse and the Experiment in Terror series is a horror/romance for mature audiences only. Readers who are easily offended by harsh language should think twice about reading it." This is something to take note of. I am not one to love reading harsh languages within a book and often feel that it is put there for no good reason other than the way younger readers tend to speak these days, though I do admit that most of this language within this book feels right to be there. Perhaps it is the 'real' feeling of the characters and storyline which makes these words seem in the right places? Perhaps it is something else, though either way, I was not offended by it in the slightest and it became as part of this story as the characters themselves were. There is a lot of this type of harsh language, though, so do be warned. Other aspects to be aware of are such things as violence and sexual tension The story is written from the third person perspective, and this is from Perry's perspective. This is a fantastically written viewpoint and we learn just as much as the author wants us to about this character, with the story opening up before us as it does to Perry. We see and feel her insecurities about her life, her body and her thoughts and feelings. We feel her fear. We cry out in shock the moment she does. It is possibly one of the best third person points of view I have read as there is nothing unreal about this character, and although I can not relate to everything about her, there is bound to be something with this person that everyone will be able to relate to. There is a small amount of predictability, though you will still be surprised and shocked a number of times and not see it coming. So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines? Everything! This book, and the whole series altogether, is simply amazing in every way. Whilst it would not be for some people, I would estimate that it would appeal to a very large audience. A friend of mine did not know whether she would like these books as she does not usually read ones of this kind, though she, like me, was hooked from the very start. The flow and style matching the characters feelings and thoughts really stand out and the way that the characters are written is simply spot on. The whole 'real' feeling of this book, both with the characters and the storylines, really aid this book in making it very different to other books of this kind. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? The ending of this book will be one which fans will be highly anticipating, though I can not say too much about it for fear of giving anything away. I will say, though, that you will not be disappointed in the slightest. The ending matches the rest of the story in the fantastic way it is written, and you will be left wanting more and more. A little trivia for you - did you know that Karina Halle names all her books in this series after songs? This particular book is entitled Into the Hollow which is by Queens of the Stone Age. "Avoir, adieu, goodnight I'm too wrong to get right But I can't wait forever I've always been alone A fool believes he's clever Don't you wanna go Into the hollow? I don't go alone Aren't you gonna follow? I live behind my eyes Be sure to keep the surprise I break what I've borrowed That's why I always go Alone into tomorrow Don't you wanna go Into the hollow? I won't go alone Aren't you gonna follow?" ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "No, you're not shooting me down, kiddo ... Because I'm not really trying. When I do try, you'll know it. And then you'll throw the whole damn rulebook out the window." I absolutely loved this book. I love the fact that in the last couple of books we really see more of the character stories and the relationship between Dex and Perry with the supernatural still continuing, though with this book it almost takes a back seat. You know it is there, though your focus is upon the characters and in my opinion, it is the characters which really make these books what they are. Will I read the next book? I have already ready the next book! I have read up to the very last book out and am now awaiting the next book to be released which is making me go through withdrawals from Dex and Perry! If I did not have so many books in my to-reads list then I would be rereading these without a doubt! The paperback version of the book is 447 pages As far as I can tell, this latest full book in The Experiment in Terror series is not yet published in paperback, though I would imagine that it will be soon as the other main books in this series are on both Kindle and in paperback form. The Kindle download book is on Amazon at the moment for £2.49 which is a fantastic price for such a brilliant book. Do I recommend this book? Without a Doubt! This is certainly my favourite series of 2013!
Possessed - Niki Valentine During one of my many visits to 'The Works' book store, I came across an offer to buy two books and get another one free. Having picked two books I really wanted to read, I could not find another one overly appealing, though this book seemed more interesting than most, and it was the free book so if I didn't like it then I would not have wasted money on it as such. One aspect which made this book look much more interesting was the comparison sticker on the front; 'If you enjoyed Black Swan, you'll love this'. Having never read the book of Black Swan, I could not really compare it properly, though I have seen the movie and I found it quite enjoyable, even if it was a little unusual! Once home, I checked out some reviews which made me a little wary of beginning to read this book as the average rating seemed to be a little below two stars. Not a good sign, though I do not always like to follow the crowd when it comes to books, and the only way to find out myself is to read, and read I did...even if it was months down the line from when I bought it! ****************************** SLOW BURNING POSSESSION ****************************** "Is she losing her mind or loosing herself?" Emma has always struggled in her life, though she has always worked hard to achieve her dream, and after winning a scholarship, her dream journey starts to happen in the form of a prestigious music school. Emma is determined to excel, even though she feels very different to all the other girls, most of whom are from richer backgrounds and seem to wish her to fail. It is not long before two girls seem to take Emma under their wing. Chic twins, Sophie and Matilde come crashing into her life, surrounding her with champagne and parties and demanding her full attention, and although Emma can not afford this luxury lifestyle, Confident Sophie and quiet Matilde insist on paying for everything and simply having fun. After a troubling performance in front of a large crowd, Sophie and Matilde disappear home, though only one returns after the other is found dead after committing suicide. It is a huge shock for Emma, and she struggles to cope with the loss of her friend, though even more shockingly, Sophie does not seem overly worried and instead, begins to flourish. Soon, events take a much more worrying turn when Emma begins to blackout, coming around again hours later in strange places with no memory of getting there, and then comes the dreams... Something, or someone, is consuming her mind, and Emma begins to doubt everything and everyone, unable to know who she can trust and whether she can even trust herself. What's worse, her best friend is beginning to terrify her...Will she find herself and move past her grief, or will her mind become completely consumed so that she will no longer even exist...? As I have already mentioned, this book has been compared to Black Swan, a movie which I found very interesting and almost exhilarating at times, even if it was very unusual. To top it off, Niki Valentine is apparently an award winning writer who has been published internationally to huge acclaim under a pseudonym. Two aspects which really seem to promote this book even before the first page has been turned. Unfortunately, none of these statements offer any real help in the storyline which almost fails from the word go. The story has a typical older teen desperate to prove herself feel to it which I have come across many times in various books, and although many pull this well-used theme off well, this one seems to struggle from the beginning. We follow Emma as she tries to settle in her new home in a prestigious music academy in England. She feels out of place due to her less well off background, though she is a musical prodigy and knows what she wants and is willing to work for it, no matter what other students think of her. Cue in the twins who are vastly different to one another, with the first; Sophie, being an exceptionally callous and manipulative girl who seemingly controls her quieter, kinder sister. Emma, being such a nice person, falls for both girls charms, even though it is obvious from the start that she and Sophie do not go together at all, and you would never see two vastly different people becoming friends in reality, though somehow they do. Add to the mix the pressure of the academics, and a teacher who Emma looks upon as a father though is not what he seems, with a death quite near the beginning, and you have yourself a story which has been used many times over, and in my opinion, one which has been written many times before in a much better way. The story itself, even with the similarities to other books, does hold some interesting aspects, and from the synopsis, it did have potential, though this is as far as it goes as it just does not achieve anything compelling or entertaining for the most part. The execution is poor and the writing is disjointed and extremely simple. I have read many young adult books, though this does not eve come close to the maturity found in most of these with regards to the writing. The sentences are almost spitting out with the lack of length, and the punctuation alone is enough to send a reader to the loony bin. Add to this the constant repartition on just about everything from the character differences in the twins to how Emma feels, it makes me wonder how on earth I got through this book! It is not only the story which is severely affected by the poor writing; it is also the characterisations which suffer. You would think that by following Emma that we would learn more about her background, how she is feeling and what she is thinking, though apart from the constant repartition of certain aspects in these regards, we are really only given a two dimensional character with flaws up to her elbows. The twins are no different, apart from being even less bulked out. We do not really get any sense of personality from Matilde apart from the fact that she is quiet and walked over by her sister. It is true that she dies quite early on in the book, though this alone should have really held more emotion. By lacking in the characterisation department, the rest of the story with the grief and following storylines does not hit in the right places at all. I had expected by the title and the synopsis that there would be some kind of creepiness involved, though surprise, surprise, there was absolutely none of this at all. There were areas in the story which could have really benefited from being a little scary, and there was so much left open to add this in perfectly, though yet again, we are looking at another failure in a story which could have been so much more. So after reading all of this, why have I rated this book two whole stars instead of only one? The reason is simple. Despite the terrible writing and two dimensional characters, there are points in the story which were quite interesting, and something kept me reading until the end. I am not entirely sure what it was that prevented me from chucking the book straight in the bin, though perhaps it was the expectation that it would get better. I almost willed the story to take the road I could see that would help it, and at times, it did feel as though it was going somewhere. Unfortunately, these times were few and far between, though it was these few short moments which raised the star rating slightly. I always like to ask the question about what makes a book any different to other books along the same line, though I think that you probably already know the answer to this; nothing. The story has been seen in so many books in very similar ways that there is really nothing different here apart from the fact that this is written in such a poor way that makes it really stand out, though not in a good way. One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story. So how does the ending of this book compare? Well, the ending runs along the same lines as the rest of the book with nothing exciting to speak of. I had hoped for a mind-blowing ending to wrap everything up, and although the whole story was wrapped up nicely, there was no explosions in sight. It was literally a book with a beginning, middle and end and nothing in between to pad it out or make it anything near exciting. The story was 352 pages long, which took me a couple of days to read - a number of hours which I will never get back! ************************ FINAL WORDS ************************ "Who do you trust when you can no longer trust your own mind?" Well, I know the answer to that quote - do not trust this author! There are a few above average reviews on this book, though in the main, the majority seem to agree with my opinion of this book, and that opinion is that this book is one to stay clear of unless you enjoy poorly written stories with flat characters. The RRP on this book is £6.99, though is on offer on Amazon for £5.25 in paperback form (and plenty of used copies for less). It is on the Kindle for £3.99. I do not think that the buy two get another free offer is still on at The Works, though do check out this shop for many great books deals. Unfortunately, no matter what the price of this book, there is no great price for such a letdown read. Luckily, I did not pay anything for this so I only lost hours of my life reading it!