Friday, 3 May 2019

Book Review - Demon Road

Title: Demon Road
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Demon Road (Book 1)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release Date: 25 Feb. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-0008156923

For anyone who ever thought their parents were monsters… Amber Lamont is a normal sixteen-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.
But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red-skinned, horned demons – Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…
Witty, action-packed and heart-stoppingly thrilling, Demon Road will take you on an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America.

My Review
I have always been a fan of Derek Landy, I have met him a number of times and read the Skulduggery Pleasant series more than once. I even dressed as the main character the last time I went to the London Film, Comic and Literature Convention. He is by far one of my all time favourite authors!
I bought this book when it first came out in Hardback but for some reason didn't find time to read it. I then found out it was a trilogy and so waited for all 3 to come out so I could read them together. But then I never seemed to get round to it. I think that because I am so much of a SP fan, I was nervous this wouldn't be as good.
However, last week we were looking up some book lists at work, and this one came up as a recommended read, one of my colleagues was going to read it so I thought I would try too so we could have a discussion. So I picked it up.
The premise of the story sounded quite intriguing, a young girl named Amber, just turned 16 - discovers that she is a Demon by birth. Both of her parents and their close friends are Demons too, but when an unexpected event occurs- Amber finds out the horrific truth - that her parents want to eat her so that they can absorb her power. And apparently she isn't the first of their children that they've devoured. Fearing the craziness and horror, Amber makes a run for it. Teaming up with a mysterious man named Milo who has one heck of a killer car.
All sounds great so far, right! Well that unfortunately was as good as it got for me. I don't know what it is but something just fell a bit short for me with this story. 
I found Amber to be rather annoying, very naive and a bit pathetic at times, she gets herself into far more trouble that I ever thought was possible and most of the time it's for the most stupid of reasons. I thought it was good that she wasn't the typical pretty, kick ass heroin - in fact as a human she is quite dumpy and unattractive, but this was also ruined somewhat by the fact that when she turns into her demon form she is of course absolutely breath-takingly gorgeous and sexy. I just couldn't get myself to like her and I really struggle to connect to her or even care about her problem.
Milo on the other hand was a different story, you don't really know much about him for at least the first half of the book and then slowly more information about him is trickled in. I liked the mystery and also his sense of humour which was very dry. 
Then we have Glen who is one annoying human being. Sometimes he can come across as sweet and goofy - a bit like an excited puppy, but other times he just seems to get in the way. 
I felt the book was a little slow for me - it started off quite exciting and got me interested in reading more, but it seemed to follow a bit of a pattern. They would drive somewhere looking for answers, they would unearth something dark and un-natural that threatened wither them or the town/village/city they were in. They would then overcome the threat and drive to the next location - where it would all happen again. They are faced with Vampires, Witches and Serial Killers. 
Skulduggery Pleasant is filled with fast talking dialogue, endless humour that literally makes me burst out laughing, and super kick ass characters - which was what I was also hoping for in Demon Road, but it didn't have the same magic or charm. There are a few attempts at humour and banter -but it falls short, i didn't find myself laughing once. 
Then there's the gore... After reading SP - I am used to a bit more nasty surprises, but Demon Road went a bit beyond. Towards the end there was one particular gory description that actually made me feel quite ill and I nearly shut the book and refused to finish, but I was just curious enough to want to know what would happen, that I just skimmed that part and carried on. It was just a little bit too gross for me.

I was so disappointed that I didn't like this book, I wanted it to be another series that I could fall in love and rave about. I'm not entirely sure I want to read the next one in the series, but I have it on my shelf so for old times sake, I'm going to give it a try and hope it brings back the greatest that I have come to know, love and expect from Landy.

My Rating


Monday, 22 April 2019

Book Review - The Darkest Legacy

Title: The Darkest Legacy
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book 4)
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 2nd August 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1786540614

Five years after the destruction of the so-called rehabilitation camps that imprisoned her and countless other Psi kids, seventeen-year-old Suzume "Zu" Kimura has assumed the role of spokesperson for the interim government, fighting for the rights of Psi kids against a growing tide of misinformation and prejudice. But when she is accused of committing a horrifying act, she is forced to go on the run once more in order to stay alive.
Determined to clear her name, Zu finds herself in an uncomfortable alliance with Roman and Priyanka, two mysterious Psi who could either help her prove her innocence or betray her before she gets the chance. But as they travel in search of safety and answers, and Zu grows closer to the people she knows she shouldn't trust, they uncover even darker things roiling beneath the veneer of the country's recovery. With her future-and the future of all Psi-on the line, Zu must use her powerful voice to fight back against forces that seek to drive the Psi into the shadows and save the friends who were once her protectors.

My Review
So, I have been totally addicted to this series over the last couple of weeks. The books were originally released as a trilogy and the third book had a nice conclusion but I still wanted more, therefore I was pleased to hear that there was in fact a fourth book released in the series. I then found out that it is set 5 years after the end of book 3 and is told from Zu's point of view - not Ruby's. At first I was a little bit nervous about this - not that i don't love Zu, because I do. But she hasn't got the same strength of voice as Ruby and I've come to know and love Ruby's narrative. But my doubts were wiped away withing the first couple of pages. Zu is not that shy, quiet kid anymore, she has grown up and now has a voice. She just has to decide if it's her opinions she is sharing or just following the rules of others. 
Then all hell breaks loose at a Press Conference and she is accused of committing some horrible crimes, she has to run for her life but try to find a way to clear her name.
On the way she meets two strange Psi's - Priya and Roman, but she doesn't know who she can trust, these two characters star off quite small but become a huge part of the story and I liked that even as readers we aren't sure whether or not to trust them, we see them develop just as Zu does. 
And don't worry - we still have Chubs and Liam in the story, and in a way Ruby too.
This book is written so well, that you're never sure what is going to happen next. I literally read this in 2 sittings, I would have done it in 1 if I was able. I just could not put it down, I had to know what would happen and I found myself gripping the edge of my seat, biting my nails and gasping, laughing, crying, smiling - pretty much a whole host of emotions. This was actually my favourite book in the entire series, it made me feel so much and swept me along with Zu and all she has to face. 
Alexandra Bracken is a magnificent storyteller and I am definitely going to be looking up her other series as well. 
I cannot recommend these books enough - you have to dive right in!

My Rating

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Book Review - In the Afterlight

Title: In The Afterlight
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book 3)
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 17 Nov. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1786540201

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.
They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.
Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

My Review
Having raced through book 1 and 2, I was desperate to get straight into the third book. Especially with how book 2 ended - talk about cliffhangers! I had to know what would happen to Ruby and her friends, especially after the horrific death (i can't say who as I don't want to give spoilers!) This book picks up just where the last book left off, we are straight back into the heart of the action and wondering what Ruby is going to do next. 
The group have very few options left, they are constantly in danger and not sure who to trust. They have a few plans to try and change their destinies but with obstacles in their way everywhere they turn, you know it's not going to be easy.
This book focuses much more on Ruby and Cole - the growing relationship of them as leaders with the odd hint of romance, though you know the only one for her is Liam! They are volatile and opinionated but work well together and the growing tension between Ruby and her other friends creates a tense atmosphere. 
I read the first half fairly quickly then struggled to find time to read, this may combine with a slightly slower pace towards the middle of the book, but I found myself beginning to drag my feet with reading it. I lost a bit of passion for the story and felt like I wanted things to just move a little quicker. I found myself in a bit of a lull with the book. There is a lot of discussions and planning what will happen, but not much action so the pace really does slow down. However I persevered with it and quickly enough the story started to pick up again. Bracken throws in some twists and turns just at the right moment to reignite your passion. At one point I was shouting at the book - I couldn't believe she would do that!!!
The ending rises in climax and gets very exciting again, I read the last 150 pages very quickly. Overall it is a perfect conclusion to the trilogy and everything comes together nicely without everything being tied up. There is hope for the future for the characters we have come to love and yet enough to make it a satisfying ending.
Though I am very excited to find out there is an extra book that follows told from Zu's point of view.
If you haven't read this series, I would highly recommend it. This series will take you by the horns and shake you up. I have really enjoyed it and will be sorry to say goodbye to these characters. 

My Rating

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Book Review - Never Fade

Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book 2)
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 17 Nov. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1786540225

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.
When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

My Review
If you think I read book 1 quickly, it's got nothing on this one. As soon as I finished book 1, I dived straight into this one and was once more swept up into Ruby's world and carried through a mix of exciting adventures, heartbreaking moments and shocking discoveries. I read this book in about 2 days - I just couldn't leave it alone (sorry for the delay in the review, just haven't had a chance to jump online).
We are back with Ruby, but this time she is working for the Children's League, Chubs is off - hopefully recovering from his injuries, and Liam doesn't know that Ruby even exists. We still don't know where Zu is, but my god do we hope she is alive. We now have a new team around Ruby - Jude who is so sweet and tries way too hard and then we have the sarcastic, rather aggressive Vida who you can't help but hate but rather admire all at the same time. It was weird without the original group and I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but I soon found myself loving the new dynamic, even whilst wishing the others were there too. Ruby then finds out that Liam holds the key to a possible 'cure' for their powers so she has to track him down again. 
This book had so many twists and turns that I felt myself being carried along with it in a swirl of emotions but I couldn't step away. I loved the change of pace and setting and felt that this book was so much more exciting than the first - and I didn't think that was going to be possible. 
Seeing the two different teams mix was briliiant, and Bracken handled the merge perfectly. I really can't push this series enough right now - Bracken is a legend. These books have really rekindled my passion for reading and I can't thank her enough for that. I am desperate to start the next book and see what happens next. 
If you haven't read any of this series - you have to start with book 1, but I suggest you find yourselves a copy and get stuck in - you won't regret it!

My Rating

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Book Review - The Darkest Minds

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: Darkest Minds (Book 1)
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: 18th Dec 2012
ISBN13: 9781423157373

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

My Review
I missed this series when it first came out, then i saw the trailers for the movie but wasn't overly enthralled by it. But then my parents bought the DVD when it came out and offered to lend it to me. If there is a book behind the movie, I always have to read the book first, so I ordered a copy from the library to give it a go. 
I wasn't really expecting much from the series, but it sounded interesting enough. I started to read and from the first few pages I was hooked. I read this book so quickly, it was so good to just lose myself in a story again, and this book swept me up and carried me away. 
We meet Ruby at 10 years old, there is a new threat that is hitting all the children. Many of them are dying and if they weren't dead, they were developing strange powers. Then Ruby feels a change within her, and suddenly her parents don't recognize her, and she is being collected and taken to Thurmond - a camp designed to 'cure' the children, but really its more look army prison camp. 
The story has an interesting set up and really gets you wanting to know more, it then fast-forwards to Ruby at 16 years old. Having spent 6 years getting used to camp life, she's not sure what else there is anymore, but something it changing, something big. Ruby escapes from the camp and meets up with Liam, Chubs and Zu - an unlikely group of friends who are trying to get to East River, a so called 'safe-haven'.
I loved the change of pace and scenery. It was great to see different people too and how Ruby interacted with them. Liam was by far my favourite character, funny, witty and a bit of a pain in the bum! Chubs is full of personality and a total bookworm like myself. Zu was cute and a little odd, but altogether full of life and a bit crazy. 
Bracken has a real way with words and can weave a fabulous story so effortlessly. Every single moment of the book kept me hooked and every setting was a picture perfectly clear in my mind. 
I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book, and I have the second one to dive straight into.
This was one of the best books I had read in a long time and I am so glad I finally got a chance to read it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, it was so amazing!!!

My Rating

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Book Review - Labyrinth of Spirits

Title: The Labyrinth of Spirits
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Book 4)
Publisher: W&N
Release Date: 18 Sept. 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1474606189

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermin to save him.
Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war.
She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

My Review
When I heard this book was being released I was so excited, I am a massive fan of the series and couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. I had to wait to get through a request list at the library but finally my copy came in. 
I got stuck in straight away and it was like i'd never been away, I was immediately transported back into the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It was at once comforting and exciting, I was ready to find out where Zafon would take me next. 
Due to being crazy busy at work etc, I have only been able to read in small snatches, so whilst I wanted to read this in a couple of big chunks, it ended up taking me closer to 6 weeks to read, this did dampen my experience a bit as with massive gaps between reading times I often had to remind myself what was happening and who each of the characters were. But this isn't going to change my opinion of the books, I am still totally enamored by the entire world.
This book is a mass web of intrigue, we follow Alicia Gris as she tries to solve a disappearance case, she has a past that is far more complicated than first expected, but she is amazing at her job. We are of course reunited with Daniel, Bea, and Fermin who are as flamboyant and dramatic as ever. 
Daniel wants to find out more about his mother who died when he was a child, but this is far more complicated than we ever could ever imagine and an entire web of intrigue begins to spread. We then get plunged into a wild web that spreads across characters and places. We have the minister Valls who is missing, corrupt Police officers, friendly helpers and a host of other people who you will have to decide which side they are on. 
This page is over 800 pages long but it doesn't feel that long when reading it. I would have raced through it if I could have and I thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn. Fermin is definitely still my favourite character, i love his sarcasm and easy going humour. 
I would highly recommend this book and the entire series to anyone and everyone. I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon's style of writing - he is a true storyteller.

My Rating

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Book Review - The Burning Maze

Title: The Burning Maze
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo (Book 3)
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 1 May 2018
ISBN-13: 978-0141363998

I was a god, once. Until I was cast out by my father, Zeus.
Now I'm an awkward mortal teenager called Lester. Bound to a difficult and dangerous demigod called Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.
My way out? A series of scary and dangerous trials, of course. For my third mission I must:
Journey to the Labyrinth to free an Oracle who only speaks in riddles.
Defeat a vicious and bloodthirsty Roman emperor - the most vicious of three very vicious and bloodthirsty Roman emperors.
Is that all? No, I have to do everything without the help of any of my godly powers. Wonderful. Looks like I'll be needing all the help I can get. From friends new and old ...

My Review
I was actually quite hesitant about reading this book. I absolutely loved the original Percy Jackson series, I really liked the Heroes of Olympus series, but so far I have been rather underwhelmed by the tales of Apollo in his human form of Lester. I realized that my biggest issue was that I really don't like Apollo - and when the book centers on someone you don't like or particularly care for, it makes it harder to read. 
However, I was determined to read this latest installment and hopeful that it would captivate me again.
The book starts of right in the center of the action with Lester, Meg and Grover trying to escape the Maze whilst being chased by strixes - demon birds intent on killing the group. Add in some fire and various other dangers and it looks like our heroes are doomed.
But it gets so much more dangerous and developed. I found it hard to get into at first but I think this was because of my preconceptions about Apollo. 
I read about 80 pages in my first sitting and although I wasn't massively excited, I was intrigued as to what was going to happen next, enough that I picked the book up again the very next day.
To my surprise I actually started to like Apollo a bit more, he's still cocky and arrogant as he's meant to be, but I didn't find it as annoying and he also seemed to have a more human side to him. Maybe the longer he spends time as Lester and less as Apollo, he becomes more humanized. I think it also helped that we got to see more of Meg and the two of them together. I've always liked Grover and his sense of humour actually does make me laugh. 
The story really picked up however when we got Piper involved again. I think she is my favourite character and I was glad to see her involved again. 
The book has a number of villains, all working together and yet still deviously back-stabbing. We have Medea, Caligula and a talking horse. It took me a while to understand who was who and who was working for who, but overall it made for many exciting twists and turns. 
I ended up finishing this in just 2 days. I found myself really starting to get into it and whilst Apollo is still not my favourite character, I did start to like him. The addition of Jason Grace back into the group also helped, and the chemistry between him an Piper was almost radiating off the page.
There is a massive shock moment about 3/4 of the way through the book. I won't give any details at all, but I can't believe Riordan did it! I know fans of the series like me will be massively shocked and heartbroken by the events of the book. But this is what gets you more hooked, you have to keep reading, to see if its true, to see what happens next. 
Still not my favourite series, but I am certainly excited about the next book in the series and I can't wait to get hold of it. This is certainly my favourite book in this series so far.

My Rating


Saturday, 22 December 2018

Book Review - Glass Town Wars

Title: Glass Town Wars
Author: Celia Rees
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
Release Date: 1 Nov. 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1782692225

All these Glass Town intrigues. No matter how long you'd been absent, how far you'd travelled, once you were back, it was as though you'd never been away.
Tom and Augusta are from different places and different times, but they meet in the virtual world to combine forces in battle, to save a kingdom, escape a web of deceit and to find love. In a place where fictions can be truths and truths fictions, learning who to trust is more than friendship, it is about about survival.
Glass Town Wars, inspired by the early writings of the Bront√ęs, is a captivating, magical novel by the renowned Celia Rees.

My Review
I was offered a copy of this book to review from the publisher and was so excited to accept. I had read some of Celia Rees' books as a teenager and although I don't remember much about them now, I do remember that my friends all read 'Pirates' when we were at school and we loved it. So I had high hopes for a new book by this author. I gratefully accepted and looked forward to getting stuck in.
May contain some spoilers ****
I started this book about 6 weeks ago, I don't have as much time to read as I used to so it is taking me longer to read books, but I also struggled to get really invested in this one.
When I first started the book I was intrigued, Tom is in a coma after and illness or an accident - I'm not really sure, he has a host of people visiting him, including his girlfriend, a mate named Milo and a nice young girl named Lucy who sits and reads to him not knowing whether Tom can even hear her.
Then one day Milo sneaks something onto Tom and it transports him into a Virtual World, thrown in at the deep end, Tom must learn to survive. Whilst there he meets Augusta who I think is a princess of some sort, and together they fight battles, meet magical creatures and a host of other adventures.
This book had a really promising start, I was a little bit confused as to what was going on at first but I slowly started to get into the world. I liked Tom as a character, he is a bit shy but not afraid to get stuck in and seems polite and thoughtful. The Virtual world seemed like a really interesting place and I was looking forward to seeing what Rees would do with it next. 
There are quite a lot of characters and I must admit I don't really know who all of them were or what they did. I ended up having a couple of weeks when I didn't read much and I when I came back to it, I was totally confused as to who most of the people were. It took me a bit of effort flicking back through some pages to place who was who and even then I was a bit puzzled with some but I kept reading in the hope it would become clear.
When I did get back into it, I was quite quickly back into the world and reading quite fast. This book to me is a bit of a puzzle though, parts of it I really enjoyed and other bits I either found a bit slow or just a bit annoying. I wanted to get back to the main story but there seemed to be a lot of side plots going on. 
There was something about a forced marriage that took me a while to get into, especially as it was clear Augusta loved Tom at this point, but the next thing I knew they were flying away in a Helicopter (that didn't even exist in the time the 'game' was set - but is then explained as a development from the game player) Then they were fighting Zombies and running away somewhere, I got really confused as to what on earth was happening.
All the while you are split between the Virtual world and the Real world. This book had some truly amazing ideas and some really well written chapters and some great imagery and adventures but at the same time it had some really confusing bits.
I still can't decide if I actually enjoyed it or not, it just left me confused. Maybe if I read it again in one go, or with less of a delay in the middle it might make more sense, but I don't think I liked it enough to want to read it again.
It just left me feeling like I wanted more, or if not more - something different, something more direct - follow the parallel story lines but keep them parallel - don't let the Virtual one zoom off in a million different directions. 
Overall I think it is a book that could be enjoyed and has some great ideas but to me felt a little bit muddled.
I realize that it is also apparently based on some childhood stories written by the Bronte's but the inclusion of 'Emily' in the book didn't really add anything for me. In fact it was just another name I had to work out. 
This is a book that will certainly take you on a ride of emotions, but to me - left me mainly confused.

My Rating

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Book Review - The Defiant

Title: The Defiant
Author: Lisa M Stasse
Series: The Forsaken (Book 3)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Release Date: 7 July 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1442432727

In this gripping conclusion to The Forsaken Trilogy, Alenna's loyalties are put to a test of life and death.
Alenna Shawcross and the others who escaped the wheel are working toward an all-out assault on the United Northern Alliance. The plan is to dismantle it from the inside--and Alenna is one of the few people who can access the organization's inner sanctum. But when she returns to the home she has nearly forgotten, she encounters old friends and is swept into a secret plan that puts everything she loves in danger.
Knowing what is at stake for her and her friends, Alenna ventures into the heart of the treacherous UNA. She's determined to bring them down, because freedom is the only choice. Or is it?

My Review
After reading book 1 I was left wanting to know more. After reading book 2 I was fully engulfed in the series and invested in the characters, for me book 2 was much better than the first and I hoped that the author would continue to get better as we headed into book 3.
The Wheel is now history, that battle has been fought, but a much bigger one stands ahead. It is now time for Alenna to face the UNA head on, right in the middle of it’s own territory – by returning to where she grew up. After undergoing extreme training, Alenna and Liam are ready for the next battle, but it isn’t long before they are separated and once again fighting desperately for both their own survival and victory over the UNA. We have other characters make a return appearance such as Gadya and Cass, they are a refreshing addition and probably my favourite characters.
I expected this book to be ram packed with action and be really fast paced but I actually felt like it was a lot slower again and I found myself getting bored in places, I just wanted them to get on with it.  For example Alenna in the Farm house labour camp – this was a necessary addition to the story, her captivity and submission but for me it just dragged on that bit too long, constantly waiting for her to break out and yet not daring to.
For me the story was a bit too political, I knew it was a fight against a government but instead of a clear battle, there were so many debates about what was right and what was wrong and why things were being done, and whether that was the right thing to do for all civilisation – it just got a bit tedious. There were also so many bad guys – or even possible bad guys that is started to get a bit confusing as to who was really in the wrong and who was just misguided. You never know who to truly trust – and to a certain extent that can make for good reading –keeps the tension, but again it was just too multi-layered and I just got a bit fed up and assumed everyone was evil.
There were some exciting moments and some quite sad moments and there were times when I really did start to race through the book again, but overall I found this book disappointing. It had so much potential from book 2 to make an epic conclusion, it just felt like things got a bit lost on the way.
I’m glad I finished the trilogy and it was worth a read but I don’t think I’d want to read it again. It just didn’t wow me.

My Rating

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

My Literary House!

Anyone who knows me will know that I love my books, reading is one of my ultimate favourite past-times. But it isn't just the reading that I love, it is the world that each book creates, the feeling of belonging somewhere, of immersing yourself in a whole new universe. To me books come to life, the characters are my greatest friends or deadliest enemies, the worlds they create are places for me to escape to, to forget about my own troubles.
When I fall in love with a book, I fall completely, and as such love to enjoy that world to it's full extent.
Which is why I made my house a literary palace, a place where the walls reflected the worlds of books I loved, and why I was heartbroken to have to leave it.

That's right - I had to say goodbye to my literary house!!!  It was the worst moment ever, and I shed more than a few tears, but I took pictures before I left and I want to share them with you now.

So let me walk you through what was once my world.

As you entered the house you were in a narrow hallway, on the left hand wall I had funky photo frames where I displayed photos of my friends and family. Under these photos I had a tribute to 'Alice in Wonderland' with the simple saying - 'We're all Mad here!"

Next to the doorway I painted my own 'Sigil'.
I am a huge fan of a series called 'Skulduggery Pleasant' by Derek Landy, and in the book some of the characters have hidden symbols either on themselves or in their homes, these hold powers that when touched activate. So right next to my front door, I painted the Skulduggery Pleasant logo.
I joked that in order to gain freedom from the house you must touch the sigil to activate the door! Even if it didn't work - it looked pretty cool.
Took me hours to get it right with all the twisty bits at the bottom!

As you walked through the hallway, you came to the dining room, on the left hand wall I painted another quote from Alice In Wonderland with some illustrations of the Hatter's hat, a tea cup and the Cheshire Cat's smiling face.

On the opposite wall to that I painted the five Faction symbols from Divergent - I absolutely love those books and the faction symbols were what I thought represented the books the best. They are probably one of the things that took me the longest to get right, especially the sign for 'Erudite' and 'Abnegation' but I was so pleased with how they turned out. My plan was to write the faction names around each symbol but I never got round to it.

Then on the back wall in the Dining room that lead to the kitchen, I drew a Gruffalo and his child. I am a massive fan of these books and the film version and definitely wanted him on my wall.
It took me a couple of days to finish them both, getting them in proportion and colouring them with the fur effect, but they came out so well.
The Gruffalo did start to peel and was due some repair work when I left, but overall he looked awesome, and he was pointing at the kitchen, as though he was getting ready to sneak in and steal our food.
The final picture I had in my Dining room, fit perfectly between two doorframes. It is from 'The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy' which is one of my husband's favourite books. And he is a character that you can't help but love.
It is of course, Marvin the Paranoid Android
 He came up with the answer to the most important question - 'What is the meaning of Life' and the answer is of course '42' which is made up of 'Life, the Universe and Everything' - hence the Venn diagram above his head. (My husband is also a Maths genius so the Venn diagram was for his benefit)

I always say that my husband is my 42, so I had to have Marvin on the walls somewhere. Although made of what looks like simple shapes, he was harder to draw than you would expect! But he made me smile everytime I walked past him.

The next part of the tour takes you upstairs, on the wall at the bottom of the staircase, I had the following quote:
This then lead you to the top of the stairs where you really did enter Narnia. I had the famous Lamppost landmark surrounded by snowy fir trees.
This was the full height of the wall, from floor to ceiling, and involved balancing on chairs at the top of the stairs (fully safe of course).
I loved being able to have the feeling of Narnia in my house, the stories always held a feeling of magic and wonder to me and it felt very homely and comforting.

On the wall opposite I had a quote from my all time favourite series - Harry Potter! Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I am a total Harry Potter obsessive. I have t-shirts, socks, bags, phone cases, pictures, merchandise, bracelets - you name it, I probably have it. So right by my upstairs light switch, I had the following quote:
And yes, I even had 'Nox' and 'Lumos' on the light switch. This was one of my favourite quotes from Harry Potter and a good message to remind you of each day.

The next wall decoration was actually the first one I did and the biggest. My friend Loushae and I spent an entire day in the study (which is actually a pretty small room), painting this masterpiece, and it was one of the most enjoyable and frustrating days of my life, but I loved every minute.
We created a wall size version of 'The Marauders Map'

Apart from 'Solemnly' being spelt wrong and there only being 3 Tables in the Great Hall instead of 4, I think we did an amazing job, and although I lived with those mistakes for over 2 years, I could never bring myself to change them - it was our little quirk and a point of laughter whenever we showed it off to anyone. We measured each line, each gap, each corridor and placed each set of footprints within it. The Whomping Willow in the middle probably took the most work, and trying to scale it so that we could fit in as much of Hogwarts as possible, this is merely a fraction of rooms and corridors, but it was our masterpiece and something that I will always be proud of.

That just leaves me with 2 more pictures. The next one is my absolute favourite and the one I was most proud of. I wanted to show this off to anyone and everyone that came round my house, and think it is the one that actually looks the best.
I became a huge fan of 'The Hunger Games' when the series came out, I have read the books multiple times and seen the films countless times. I only have to hear the music and I feel all emotional. They are incredible books and something that really made me feel like part of a world.
The most obvious symbol of Panem and more importantly the Rebellion that Katniss was part of, was of course - The Mockingjay, so above my staircase I created this:
It took me hours, I did every detail and every bit of shading by hand, leaning across my staircase, stretching up but it was worth every minute.
Everytime I went down my stairs or across my hallway I would see this and get the same warm feeling, it made me happy everyday and this is the painting i will miss the most.

So that leaves me with my final picture, as you head back down the stairs and out of the front door, I bid you farewell with a quote from The Hitch-hikers guide, complete with dolphins at either side, we say 'So long... and thanks for all the fish'

For anyone coming round our house who didn't know the series, it was funny to see the confused looks on their faces, it was always a topic for conversation. And what better way to say goodbye.

So that was my literary house, I was lucky because I was renting the property from family and I had permission to draw whatever I wanted on the walls and make the house my own. I had so many more plans for other pictures and designs.
But then both my husband and I got jobs in Milton Keynes and after commuting back and forth for a year we decided to move to MK, to save petrol and reduce the stress of traveling back and forth on a by-pass in peak traffic everyday.
So now we have moved house and we are renting the traditional way, from a proper landlord which of course means that the walls are not to be drawn on. So I have left behind all my wonderful pictures, and hope that one day I will own my own home and be able to re-create all my masterpieces and add even more, but until then, I cry with the knowledge that my wonderful pictures have been painted over and forgotten by everyone else. But I will always have the pictures to remind me.

What did you think of my pictures? Which one was your favourite?
Who would you have painted if you had the chance?

-- All images copyrighted to their franchise, I don't claim to own any of the pictures or quotes, merely my drawings of them --