Category Archives: Favourites

Review – The Talisman Chronicles – T. M. Franklin

Summary:

A mysterious house. An old journal. A dusty chest holding more than secrets.

Each talisman found in the chest grants the chosen a gift, a unique ability.But with that power comes a burden–the duty of The Order.

Something is coming.

Something evil.

And it’s up to The Order to stop it.

The Talisman Chronicles – All Six Episodes Available for the First Time in a Single Volume

 

Image result for the talisman chronicles tm franklin

 

Review:

Six short stories, all centred around a house and a mysterious chest. This is T. M. Franklin at her YA Paranormal/romance best!

Window:

I originally read this when it was first released, and this is my review from back then (I will edit at the end)

The touch of paranormal to what is a seemingly normal house makes for an interesting story. Chloe has always been linked to the house and the picture window in the living room. It shows her things. Thinks of the past, the present, and what could be.

Chloe, apart from her gift, is your average teenage girl who isn’t part of the ‘in crowd’ at school, preferring to spend her time with her best friend Miranda. Ethan, the boy who lives across the road whom she has a crush on, used to be their friend, but became big man on campus and decided to hang with the popular crowd. Chloe and Miranda are fine about this, until the house shows Ethan in danger.

What follows is a very sweet story about friendship and caring for others and hilarious Twitter conversations. Without spoiling the story, I will say it took me about an hour to read it and I loved every minute. The characters are likeable and relateable, even with the gift Chloe has, and the reader cares about them just as much as the house does.

I want a house like that, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy

*EDIT*

The way Franklin has extended and adapted this story to make it the beginning of a series is fantastic as she hasn’t lost the soul of the original story. It smoothly leads into the next without any hitches!

Timepiece:

Following on from the first book, Wren is new into town. After Chloe and Miranda become friends with her, and she’s having weird dreams about Chloe’s house, she begins to embrace her destiny – afterall, that is what it is.

By the end of this book, it’s still not completely clear why these things are happening to the teens in their town, but Franklin’s effortless writing style makes you want to keep reading until the very end so you have all the answers.

Gauntlet:

I think Beck, the main in this episode of The Talisman Chronicles, is my favourite character. He’s focussed on doing well at school and with his swimming, but there’s something about him, a serious side that is so endearing. What we don’t know, until this episode, is about his sister, and the crap he and his dad are going through with her and Beck’s mother.

While all that is going on, Beck is brought into the fold with the others and the prophecy. His destiny is explained to him, and it takes him a while to get used to it and his relationship with Wren. He’s a strong character with flaws that make him all the more relateable.

Mantle:

I have to admit. This episode was my last favourite (which I still enjoyed), but I can’t work out why. It still had the action and a lot more resistance from Maia to everything happening. She was the first to not just blindly accept what was happening to them all. I liked that about her as it made it feel that little more realistic, but there was something a little… off about her episode.

While a lot of questions left open by the previous episodes are answered in this book, more are created by the end of it which is frustrating in such a good way!

Shield:

Dylan has been a character readers have met a couple of times due to his knowing Chloe and Miranda at school, and then his dad becoming involved with the Order. When Dylan is given his gift, his dad wants nothing more to do with them, and orders Dylan not to either, but the draw is far too strong, for them both.

Dylan defies his dad and puts himself in danger, but eventually his dad realises he needs to do this, they ALL do.

Prison:

Once again, Chloe is the main in this episode, but by the time this one comes around, we can see how much stress she’s under and how tired she is by everything. All she wants to do is protect Ethan and others not in The Order while The Order prepare for the big fight.

Sadly, it seems that not everyone will survive the battle and this is weighing on Chloe and her friends worry about her.

Are The Order strong enough to band together and do battle?

 

All in all, this series is fabulous, and I couldn’t put it down. Not one episode slowed the flow of the entire story, and there were a couple of moments that shocked me as I hadn’t seen them coming. I’ve miss T. M. Franklin’s writing, and as ever, I need more!

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Filed under Action, contemporary, Favourites, NA, Novella, Paranormal, Promo, Review, Romance, Series, Short Story, Supernatural, YA

Review – Confess – Colleen Hoover

Synopsis:

At age twenty-one, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her fight to rebuild her shattered life, she has her goals in sight and there is no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping a major secret from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin.

 

 

Review:

 

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I stopped at one picture that was just text. It was an anonymous confession. Intrigued, I carried on reading the posted confessions. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, and other broke my heart. The comments were uplifting, helpful despite the people commenting not knowing who had confessed, and others were downright funny. Knowing this was linked to a new Colleen Hoover book, I was both nervous and excited.

I have waited so long to read this book because I knew it was going to rip my heart out and stomp all over it, but when I finally did pluck up the courage to open it, I couldn’t put it down.

Auburn Reed is 20 and is struggling. She lost her first love (only love really) to an dreadful disease, and since then she’s never managed to settle. She plays her cards close to her chest, and we the reader is left wondering what happened in the five years since she was forced to say a final goodbye to Adam.

Owen Gentry hides away in his art studio, inspired by people’s deepest, darkest confessions. Submitted without names via a slot in the door to his studio. Then, once a month he showcases his artwork that these words inspire. – now this is a GREAT concept, one that had me wanting more and more. The inclusion of some of his paintings into the book made Hoover’s words come to life. The only thing I would have liked to have had more of, was more of Owen’s artistic process. We only really ever hear about the end results of what he is painting, not while he is painting.

When Auburn walks into Owen’s studio looking for a job, he recognises her and her name straight away. Why? He keeps that to himself. There’s an instant attraction between the two of them, but because of aspects of each of their lives, they try not act upon them. When they do arrange to meet, Owen stands Auburn up.

What follows on is a story of heartache and more secrets. Told from both character’s POV, the reader finds things out as Owen and Auburn reveal them.

Such a wonderful story, told extremely well. I’m looking forward to seeing the tv series adaptation of it (If I can view it in the UK)

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Review – Fangirl – Angel Lawson

Synopsis:

Ruby Miller has her summer all planned out. Sitting by the pool. Babysitting for some extra cash. Packing for college. All of that changes when a fan video Ruby and her best friend, Iris, create goes viral gaining their little fansite a ton of hits and the attention of the big wigs in Hollywood.

Ruby and Iris fall into the world of actors, movie sets, teen stars and elusive artists. Not only is their friendship put to the test when Ruby’s cast in the lead role of the newest zombie flick, she must straddle the line between fiction and reality, love and lust, and being true to herself.

 

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Review:

Red Stars 5

 

Reading the Death Fields books first made me realise that they were a kind of continuation from this book, so naturally, I had to read it (I get possessive over linked books and a series)

Fangirl deals with Ruby and Iris – two utter fangirls (I see what Lawson did there) over the Zocopalypse comics (The original title of the first Death Fields book) and the character of Alex (and Wyatt obviously). They run a blog about it, be it news about the comics, it’s creator Gabe Foster, and anything else to do with the franchise. They decide to make a fan video of a section of the story, and that is the beginning of things blowing up.

Anyyone who has been a fangirl/boy will understand Ruby and Iris as characters. They are defiant in their adoration for Zocopalypse, the characters, and the creator – but their blog has rivals. Mostly, in the form of Ruby’s ex-boyfriend, Reid. He gets jealous of the attention their video gets them – Ruby in particular, As someone who has been involved in a fandom blog back in the day, I totally ‘got’ this aspect of the story. This and the tweets about the fandom brought smiles and memories to my face. Sometimes, I would love to go back, others I would never deal with all that again.

While the story itself is a bit ‘out there’ in what happens, it was a great escapism story that would make any reader wonder what they would do in those situations.  That to me makes a great book and story.

The writing is top notch and Lawson makes us believe we are a part of the fandom, even if only while we’re reading the book.

 

 

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Review – The Stranger’s Voice – Grace Harper

Synopsis:

“Can you hear me?”

Adaline Starling needs a new tenant for the flat above her store, and Callum Hague needs somewhere to live.

Adaline is a genius, hiding in a magazine store, she has never opened. She is trying to convince the world that she is whole, that there is nothing wrong with her.

Callum Hague likes to fix things, preferably thousands of miles away from his hometown. He’s returned from a year long project in Nairobi where he has built a school.

They both have hidden imperfections that have shaped their lives from childhood. If they were left to their own devices, they would both become reclusive.

Their best friends think they would be perfect for each other and set about fixing them up.

It takes a serious incident for them to confess their invisible flaws, but will they accept each other’s hidden imperfection?

With supporting characters that include a cheeky apprentice and an overbearing charity chairwoman.

Will Adaline turn a deaf ear to everyone’s advice to own her imperfections?

 

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Review:

Silver Stars 5

Reading this book, I was struck by the thought of hidden imperfections – something both of the main characters have and hide for their own, personal reasons – and wondered what I would have done in their positions. That to me is the mark of a good book.

A lot of readers don’t want reality in their fiction, they want to escape. Not me. I want to wonder “What if…” – I want to relate to the characters and imagine myself in their shoes.

Adaline and Callum are great leads. They are down to earth with their problems. They both face life head on when they can and when they need to, but both are hiding. It’s immediately obvious what Adaline’s imperfection is from the start, but Callum’s is hidden well and I have to admit, I thought it was something completely different.

As usual, I fell in love with a side character. Scottie, Callum’s apprentice, is cheeky, cocky, and far to smart for his own good. I adored him, and would love more about him, but I’m not sure that will happen.

Well worth a read once it’s released – The Stranger’s Voice will have you laughing, cringing and welling up throughout the entire story!

 

Pre Order Links:

Amazon * iBooks *B&N 

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Review – Penance and Promises – L. A. Cotton

Seven years ago, Ana Parry walked into Chastity Falls Academy and changed the lives of Jackson Pierce and Braiden Donohue. Her arrival set into motion a series of events that none of them could have ever predicted.

But they got out.

Escaping Chastity Falls, they left behind a life built on lies and secrets, danger and fear.

… Didn’t they?

Penance will be served, promises will be made.
Welcome to the end of Chastity Falls.

 

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Review:

Red Stars 4

Well, it’s finally over. I have left Chastity Falls for the last time and it’s a bit bittersweet.

While it was great to have another book, it was only a novella and let’s face it. That’s not enough to revisit these characters. It’ll never be enough.

Jackson and Ana are happily settled, until Braiden and Cara show up. While Ana loves Cara, but she’s still unsure and wary about Braiden – who can blame her after everything he did back in college? Even if he is trying to change his ways because of his feelings for and new relationship with Cara.

But, naturally, Braiden’s past catches up with him – and Jackson. Althought Jackson still has his reservations about Braiden and how much he has ‘really’ changed, he still has the loyalty to their long-standing relationship as brothers and best friends, so he helps Braiden in protecting Cara.

Reading more about these characters and being invited back into their lives is like meeting up with a friend you haven’t met up with for a while and talking as if no time had passed at all between you. Cotton knows and loves these characters so much it’s clear in her writing that she cares about how they’re presented to the reader, even when they’re being total assholes. She wants us to love them, and make it hard for us to say goodbye.

Chastity Falls has ended, but so many readers I’ve spoken to have ideas as to what is happening to them after the book has closed. We care about them and want them to live on, even if there are no more books about them.

A great ending to what has been a fabulous series, one that I will re-read more than once.

 

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Filed under ARC, contemporary, Favourites, NA, New Release, Novella, Promo, Review, Romance, Series

Release Blitz – Penance and Promises – L. A. Cotton

Penance and Promises

by L.A. Cotton
A Chastity Falls Novella
Publication Date: January 30, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Seven years ago, Ana Parry walked into Chastity Falls Academy and changed the lives of Jackson Pierce and Braiden Donohue. Her arrival set into motion a series of events that none of them could have ever predicted.

But they got out.

Escaping Chastity Falls, they left behind a life built on lies and secrets, danger and fear.

… Didn’t they?

Penance will be served, promises will be made.
Welcome to the end of Chastity Falls.

 

Chastity Falls: The Complete Series Box Set
(releases February 13th, special pre-order price of $3.99)

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

“The Chastity Falls series had me intrigued, captivated and spellbound from the first word right down to the very last. Take a trip to Chastity Falls, I dare you!” ~ Our Kindle Konfessions

When seventeen-year-old, Ana Parry arrives in Chastity Falls, it’s supposed to be her fresh start, her escape. But then she meets the mysterious Jackson. She shouldn’t want him. He definitely shouldn’t want her. Before they know it, it’s too late, and their attraction sparks a series of events that neither of them could have predicted.

Loyalties will be tested, lies will be told.
Welcome to Chastity Falls.

Box Set includes:
Loyalty and Lies
Salvation and Secrets
Tribulation and Truths
Redemption and Regrets
… and the brand new novella: Penance and Promises

 

About L.A. Cotton

 

Contemporary romance and romantic suspense
… written with feeling

L.A is author of contemporary romance novels ranging from sweet with just a hint of steam, to suspenseful reads full of angst, tension, twists and turns. Home is a small town in the middle of England where she currently juggles being a full-time mum to two little people with writing. In her spare time (and when she’s not camped out in front of the laptop) you’ll most likely find L. A immersed in a book, escaping the chaos that is life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter

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Filed under Book Blitz, contemporary, Favourites, New Release, Novella, Promo, Release Day, Romance, Series

Review – It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

 

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Silver Stars 4

 

I’d heard so many good things about this book, I didn’t even bother reading the blurb before opening it.

It soon became clear what the underlying theme of the book was, and I need to commend Hoover for approaching it in a way that can only (in my opinion at least) evoke sympathy in the reader.

Lily has just been to her father’s funeral. That in itself should have cause sympathy for her, until she explains the kind of man that he was., but we’re soon moved on from there as she meets Ryle. Ryle’s a neurosurgeon who wants nothing more but to advance high in his career and be the best he can be. That means he doesn’t do relationships and he doesn’t want children.

Naturally, because this is a romance book, he and Lily enter a relationship – of sorts. Then it become serious between them. Things go well… until his temper rears it’s ugly head. Lily’s caught in her present, but with her past weighing heavily on her mind and when they meet, it cause certain problems between her and Ryle.

When I finished the book, I have to admit that I had to put it down for a while to process. Domestic violence isn’t an easy subject to write about, but Hoover does with sensitivity and skill. She never glorifies or whitewashes it, yet makes the reader begin to understand why some victims stay with their abusers.

It wasn’t until I read the note at the back of the book that I understood why she wrote this story, why she HAD to write this story. And I applaud her for it.

Well worth a read, even if you, like me, are one of those who doesn’t understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship. It may well make you reconsider how you think.

This is quite possibly my favourite Colleen Hoover book to date.

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Series Review – All for the Game – Nora Sakavic

Book One: 

18874651Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

 

 

Review:

Silver Stars 4

 

When I get that message of “I have a book recommendation for you” from my best mate, I usually listen to her. Then she tells me that it’s about a made up sport that’s a cross between hockey and lacrosse, I wonder what she spiked her tea with… Then I went along with it because we both like/dislike the same books (we’ve already agreed to never read a specific author again, and we can’t wait for a different author’s next release).

From the offset, Sakavic sets the tone for the entire series with this book. It’s full of mystery, fear, and violence. The characters are – not quite relateable due to their circumstances, but they are real. They have major flaws, yet you can’t help but like them and want them to do well. The main thing I really liked was that Sakavic didn’t try too hard to ram the mystery and the fear that the characters (Neil especially) have. For me, it’s what The Raven Cycle books wanted to be, with added sport and a much better mystery.

The Foxes are a team in name only. They segregate themselves from the other athletes at Palmetto University, and each other. They argue and threaten each other, and they consistently lose their Exy games. They all have their different reasons for being on the team, yet many of them aren’t willing to try and mingle.

Then Neil’s recruited to the team. He’s been on the run for years, and it’s a risk agreeing to join the Foxes, but his love of the sport overrides his fear of those he’s running from.

Can he survive his time on the team without being found out, or killed by one of his teammates? I had to finish the book in pretty much one sitting to find out!

The main reason this isn’t a 5* read for me, is the way the team coach stays out of the arguments/fights between the team members. I wanted to slap him and tell him to help his team rather than to turn a blind eye. No coach would leave them to their own devices, especially where drugs and weapons are concerned. I’m guessing he has his reasons, but it still rankled at me a little.

Book Two:

18187013Book 2 of All for the Game; The Raven King follows The Foxhole Court

The Foxes are a fractured mess, but their latest disaster might be the miracle they’ve always needed to come together as a team. The one person standing in their way is Andrew, and the only one who can break through his personal barriers is Neil.

Except Andrew doesn’t give up anything for free and Neil is terrible at trusting anyone but himself. The two don’t have much time to come to terms with their situation before outside forces start tearing them apart. Riko is intent on destroying Neil’s fragile new life, and the Foxes have just become collateral damage.

Neil’s days are numbered, but he’s learning the hard way to go down fighting for what he believes in, and Neil believes in Andrew even if Andrew won’t believe in himself.

 

Review:

Silver Stars 4

The continuation of the first book, The Raven King – Better than another of the same name in my opinion – carries on with the action. I was already becoming attached to the characters in the first book and this book made that attraction stronger with every word.

Considering this series has been described as M/M, Sakavic has been quite subtle with it (apart from the very out and proud Nicky who is wonderful). The subtext is fantastic and in places, made me smile while in others, made me well up. The emotion is thick in this book and that’s what drew me to the characters. The female characters in this second book  are shown more in how strong they are. They’re all so different and have their own issues, but they deal with them in a mature way.

Even though, as with The Foxhole Court this book is told from Neil’s POV, yet Sakavic lets the reader learn about his teammates (and tentative friends) alongside him, and she does this very well. Throughout this book, Renee and Nicky were my favourites, but Andrew, Neil, and Kevin are up there too.

We also meet more of the Ravens, and I have to admit that they’re (mostly) not at all likeable. They are ruled by Riko’s iron fist, and although they’re one of the best teams, they are not remotely relateable. That becomes even clearer towards the end of the book when Neil is forced to spend time with them… That’s when I really began to read with my heart in my mouth.

Again, not a 5* rating because of the lack of control Coach Wymack seems to have over his team and the way he doesn’t involve himself in their lives more and reign them in.

Book Three:

23667559Neil Josten is out of time. He knew when he came to PSU he wouldn’t survive the year, but with his death right around the corner he’s got more reasons than ever to live.

Befriending the Foxes was inadvisable. Kissing one is unthinkable. Neil should know better than to get involved with anyone this close to the end, but Andrew’s never been the easiest person to walk away from. If they both say it doesn’t mean anything, maybe Neil won’t regret losing it, but the one person Neil can’t lie to is himself.

He’s got promises to keep and a team to get to championships if he can just outrun Riko a little longer, but Riko’s not the only monster in Neil’s life. The truth might get them all killed—or be Neil’s one shot at getting out of this alive.

 

 

 

Review:

 

The third in the All for the Game series for me, was by far the best in the trilogy. Not only are the Foxes in on Neil’s secrets and most of each other’s, they are more of a team than ever. Yet, more and more and more is thrown into their paths. I sobbed reading about Andrew and what happens to him, which then causes a domino effect on the other team members.

This book is also the main element of the M/M romance that is hinted at and alluded to in the previous two. It’s a real slow burn and almost a fight to actually be considered a romance. What it is tough, is a natural progression of these characters and I found myself internally cheering for them.

Finally, Wymack steps up and fights for his team and shows the respect he has for each member and I can now understand why he seems as hands off as he has been in the previous books. In fact, the adults are all a lot more ‘responsible’ in this last book and feel like they are doing the jobs they’re employed to do.

This book is the ultimate culmination of what Sakavic has set up in the first two books. Speaking to other people have read this trilogy, I found that they’ve had the same kind of reactions to me in different parts of this book. I cried, I laughed, I smiled, and I cheered as each of the characters matured and dealt with the things in their past that was holding them back. As a team, they are working together and fighting for what they want and deserve.

Neil and Kevin especially, deal with some horrible things in a way that I would never have imagined from the way they behave in the first book. The character progression for these characters is brilliantly done and I applaud Nora Sakavic for this.

Trying not to give spoilers, I think the ending was perfect. Anything more ‘pretty’ or ‘neat’ would have been a disservice to these characters, but I also feel as she’s left it open a little to maybe, possibly write more about The Foxes. I wouldn’t be averse to this idea.

Overall:

As someone who isn’t a huge fan of sport in general – even though I enjoy reading about them – I really liked this. Although Exy is the backbone to the story, it doesn’t dominate the plot. It’s used a device to get the characters together and moving around to the places they need to be. It also gives them a reason to become closer they way they do throughout the series.

It’s a pretty slow burn, but the entire trilogy is captivating and makes you want to devour it. I will certainly read more by this author and I want them in paperback for my shelf!

 

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Filed under contemporary, Favourites, M/M, NA, Promo, Review, Romance, Sport

Series Review – Catherine Brodie Chronicles – Grace Harper

26814807Book One:

Summary:

Catherine Brodie has a happy life in Brighton, she has friends, a secret boyfriend and almost at the end of her law degree.

However, everything changes when she reaches her twentieth birthday.

She tells a white lie to get out of a family dinner to celebrate her birthday and sneaks off to a party. The repercussions upend her secure and stable life. Two weeks later, she attends the funeral of her brother and parents. Each birthday following sends Catherine into turmoil with more heartache and misery. There are those that wish her harm.

Alexander Devlin was there the night of her birthday and by coincidence, he crosses paths with her every year. Catherine dismisses the coincidence, but her best friend Tara Adkins is convinced fate is throwing them together.

The first novel of a new quartet that tells the story of Catherine Brodie and her struggle to come to terms with what she did that had far-reaching consequences. It is an epic tale of love, passion, and revenge.

Devastated with her loss, Catherine carves out a new life and starting her own business. The group of friends she picks up along the way helps her hide from those who wish her harm. It doesn’t take long for her harasser to find her and make her life a misery once more.

The question is, will Alexander Devlin be there in time to save her?

Review:

Red Stars 4

The prologue… sucked me right in. I wanted, no needed to know what brought on those feelings.

We’re introduced to Catherine Brodie, a 20 year old girl who, while she loves her parents, is a little smothered by them. She’s not allowed to have a boyfriend or go to parties where there are going to be boys and not adult supervision. It’s these rules that set the tone of the story. If Catherine hadn’t lied to her parents, she wouldn’t have suffered immeasurable grief and completely withdrawn into herself.

Moving across the country and reinventing herself is the only way she is able to move forward with her life and survive – this is her ‘disappearance’ of the title and completely not what I was expecting (in a good way).

I loved the way Harper interweaves not only Catherine’s story told from her point of view, but also the story of Alex (and Seb) who pop up on occasion and we are given the odd chapter from Alex’s point of view, rounding off the connection between him and Catherine.

I read this book in one sitting as it kept me turning the pages because I needed to know what was going to happen next.

Harper has given us a solid story and the group of characters she has created in this world are well rounded and likeable (mostly – I’m looking at you Patrick). Each of the characters has a purpose in Catherine’s life and keep you rooting for her and them.

I will warn people as I know many don’t like them, but this book ends on a cliffhanger. I LOVE a cliffhanger in a series as it leaves me wanting more, more, more.

26814816Book Two:

“…’Do you love me yet?’ Alex said, hoping the answer was yes…”

The Recovery of Catherine Brodie starts four years after Erin’s confrontation in the cellar of Green’s. Alexander Devlin wants his band to perform at Green’s and writes a begging email. Erin relents and says yes, even though it goes against all her rules.

Erin continues to put her past behind her, but like every bad penny, they always turn up.

Erin Brodie has made a success of her music venue and it’s the most sought after place in the country for non-signed artists to perform. Alexander Devlin is the guitarist from the rock band Fragile, they are at the top of their game and are just about to release their final album.

Erin drops her guard and so her courtship with Alex begins, but it comes at a price. Erin has enemies and, this time, they have upped their game. This time, her life is in jeopardy and it takes all of her friends to race to find her.

This time, they might just be too late…

Review:

Silver Stars 4

What I liked about this, the second instalment is that is doesn’t continue on exactly where book one left off. While that works in many series, it wouldn’t have in this one. It would have made this book too much filler. The way Harper has continued this gets us straight to the nitty gritty of the continuing story of Erin and her friends and how they’ve coped with everything that happens.

While book one covers a much larger expanse of time, book two doesn’t, yet it never feels slower in pace. Rather than bombard us with detail and unimportant acts, Recovery takes us on a journey with Erin and her friends as she begins to work with them to deal with the problems life keeps throwing at her rather than insulate herself.

Once again, the characters feel like they could be anyone’s close circle of friends despite the fact that many of them are famous and under the scrutiny of fans and the media. They make mistakes, have flaws, and blunder through life until they’re able to find the place they need to be. Yes, a lot of them are extremely successful in their professional lives, but let’s be real. Their personal lives are a bit of a mess – Harper does quite enjoy torturing her characters.

There’s a lot more romance in this book which  makes the series shift gears slightly, but the suspense doesn’t take a back seat. The two plotlines run alongside one another and mesh really well due to the excellent backstory that Harper has built.

Once again, this book ends on a cliffhanger which made me go straight to Amazon and buy the next one. I just had to know how this series could continue and how Erin was going to deal with everything.

26814820Book Three:

“Ask me the question,” she whispered.

Erin Brodie is in hospital after her ordeal with Stacey Chambers. From the moment Alexander Devlin met Erin he knew she was the woman for him. His love for her that started a decade before is finally reciprocated. He heard Erin’s declaration loud and clear.

All Erin has to do is survive.

Tara, Tom, and Casey are moving on with their lives, leaving Erin behind. Alex and Seb start their record label after their final concert. But, it’s not until Erin feels the sting of betrayal that she decides to live. It means that Erin has to give up the one thing she has loved for a long time. Will she have the courage?

Just when Erin thinks she has a new plan, her past catches up with her. Quinn and Louise return and so does Erin’s birthday.

Will she escape this time around?

Review:

Red Stars 4

Unlike book two, this book picks up almost exactly where the last book left off. Once again, this works very well in keeping the story going.

The romance from book one is much more prevalent in this book, and steers the plot and the characters in new directions that I don’t think they expected because of it. That in itself causes some of the problems in their lives. After all, the course of true love never did run smooth (not sure if I got the wording right there, but I’m not a Romeo and Juliet fan).

A lot of series suffer from the third book being weaker than the rest, but this isn’t the case with Survival. It’s just as strong as the previous two and just as well paced.

Erin’s birthday is fast approaching once more, and people from her past are turning up uninvited causing more and more problems. But she has Alex at her side now and has the support of her friends even more so, yet she still suffers knock backs that make her reassess the life she has. Is it enough or is it finally time to move on?

Yep, another cliffhanger. Harper certainly has these down to a tee!

26814830Book Four:

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today . . .”

Erin Brodie is engaged to record label owner, Alexander Devlin and they are to be married in one week’s time. They have to get through seven days of wedding preparation and then their happily ever after is sealed.

However, Stacey Chambers has been given a day pass for the nuptials. Jude North is contemplating defecting from Red&Black’s to Quinn’s record label. Then there’s Quinn, who manages to smash apart Erin’s legacy in one day.

Everyone returns to gather for the wedding. Tom and Mickey come back to protect the happy couple. Tara, Seb and Louise are determined to get them down the aisle.

It’s time Catherine Brodie became Mrs Devlin, will she make it?

The final book in the Brodie Saga

Review:

Silver Stars 4

Considering the timeline of this book is about a week, it never once feels rushed. The pacing is absolutely perfect and kept me wanting to know how the series ends.

Quinn – I’ll say it now – is an utter bastard and is definitely one of those characters that you love to hate, and his nasty/petty side really comes to the fore in Absolution. He does something that could potentially set Catherine back years in her recovery and doesn’t care about the repercussions. Thankfully, Catherine has her friends and her fiancee around to prevent that happening.

This book is the prefect ending to this series, yet not everything is tied up in neat little bows. The reader is still left with questions which is the most frustrating this, but I also understand why Harper has done it. She leaves us with just enough to satisfy us that Catherine’s story has finished in the best way possible.

I’ll definitely reread this story, I want to see if I pick certain things up that I missed. The hints that are dotted throughout the books and finally revealed in this last book. It’s a great series and I will recommend it to anyone.

Overall:

The main reason I’ve not given these books five star ratings is that there were a few areas where I would have liked more information and detail. Patrick – I would have loved more information about him. His story felt a little… rushed and conveniently tied up towards the end. Considering everything he went through, I would have expected a little more to his plotline.

Jude… I kind of didn’t see the point to her other than to cause grief between Catherine and Quinn. More than once I wanted either Tara or Catherine to slap her.

Casey. By the fourth book, I felt he was a little abandoned (and so did he from the little snippets Grace gave us). I would have loved to see his story explored more – I’m hoping he’s the subject of his own book… Harper already knows I want Seb and Tara’s story, so I’m officially requesting Casey’s book. (Oh, don’t forget Tom too).

If you enjoy romantic suspense, this series is ideal for you.

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Filed under British, contemporary, Favourites, Promo, Review, Rockstar, Romance, Series, Suspense

Series Review – The Mortal Instruments – Cassandra Clare

I originally read the first 4.5 books back in 2011/2012 – I really enjoyed the first three, then lost interest with books four and five. Then recently, after watching Shadowhunters on Netflix, I decided to reread the entire series to see if my opinions changed. If I’m honest, I can’t remember most of my thoughts of the books from the first read because I wasn’t as concious of reviewing on sites such as Goodreads then, so my opinions will mainly be based upon my recent re-read.

There may be spoilers towards the end of this post… Sorry, they were pretty much unavoidable.

Book One: City of Bones:

Summary:

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

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Review:

Original rating: 4* (July 2011)

New rating: Silver Stars 5

I must admit, when I start re-reading the series, I half expected to not enjoy it that much. Pretty much the same way I did when I reread the Twilight series after a couple of years, but I was wrong. Although I knew where the story was going, it didn’t stop me falling in love with the settings and characters all over again.

Clary and Simon have the kind of friendship we all wish we could have with someone. There’s no fakeness between then and they know each other inside out. If I wasn’t such a Clace shipper, I’d totally want these two to be a thing.

Jace, Alec and Isabelle – There was a constant hint of “why can’t I be that badass” to them. They’re confident, have goals to be the best at what they do, and quite frankly they don’t give a shit about what people think of them. Especially Jace. Now, for a book boyfriend, he’s pretty high up there as he’s not only gorgeous, but he’s also strong, and there’s that cocky side to him that borders on arrogance, but never quite crosses that line. His one liners made me crack up more than once.

The story itself is pretty fast paced, and in any other book, Clary would irritate me with the way she charges into situations without thinking, but with everything going on, I think I’d most likely do the same. Plus, not knowing and understanding the rules gives her the scope to break them without realising she’s doing so.

The biggest surprise, during both reads, were just how funny this book is. As I mentioned, Jace’s one liners were brilliant and never felt forced or over the top, but all of the characters had their moments. This is what made the characters real and often reminded me that they’re supposed to be teenagers rather than in their early twenties.

The secondary characters are well suited to support the mains too. Magnus Bane – he is fabulous, and I so wanted to hate Hodge, but I just couldn’t. We all do things when we’re desperate, but… yeah. The supporting cast is just as solid as the main characters.

The twist at the end, even though I knew from reading before, had me biting my nails. I was so invested in Jace/Clary, I just couldn’t imagine them not being a thing.

Book Two: City of Ashes:

Summary:

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? Clary would love to spend more time with her best friend, Simon. But the Shadowhunters won’t let her go–especially her handsome, infuriating newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil–and also her father. When the second of the Mortal Instruments is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor suspects Jace. Could Jace really be willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

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Review:

Original Rating: 4* (July 2011)

New Rating:

Red Stars 5

I know I said I would be happy for Clary and Simon to be a thing if Jace wasn’t in the picture, but… no. It’s not working for me; sorry guys, I’ve friendzoned the both of you.

I love Jace, I do, but he irritated me a little in this book. His constant self loathing and putting himself in ridiculous situations annoyed me. Having said that, the way Clare has given us more POVs in City of Ashes gives the reader more scope into the characters (Jace in particular) and how they’re changing from book one into book two. More characters are introduced into this book which, in others would confuse the story, but somehow it merely adds to the Shadow World and how the mundanes, downworlder, and shadowhunters interact. There were plenty of characters I wanted to slap (I’m looking at you Maryse and the Seelies) which made the story feel much more rounded. Afterall, we can’t like all the characters all the time.

Simon, Magnus, and Alec get their own story ARCs which made me both smile and get teary. They were a little cliched, and often used tropes, but somehow, they fit the characters and how they were developing in the story.

Clary… I understand she’s trying to help her mum, I do, but in places she takes her frustration a bit far. The whole Clary/Jace problem must be annoying as hell too. I know I was willing for things to be different cause come on. It’s Clary and Jace. Having said this, her reactions are spot on for what she’s going through, completely. The same with Jace. If I’d fallen for someone, then told they were untouchable, I’d be pissed off too.

Now, I never spoke about Valentine before… he’s your ultimate bad guy in many ways, but also I think he’s more than a little crazy. He has a belief so strong that it’s twisted his ideals about his role as Shadowhunter. In some ways, this is the most realistic thing about any of the characters. How many times on the news have we heard about a person’s belief screwing with how they view the world? But, most of the time he’s just a huge arsehole.

Overall, this book encompasses more than City of Bones and gives the reader a far wider scope into how the Shadow World works.

Book Three: City of Glass:

Summary:

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

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Review:

Original rating: 4* (July 2011)

New rating:

Silver Stars 5

Okay… the ending of book two left me a little… whoa. Again, Clare uses a trope that has been used before, but she changes it up slightly, and I liked that. Simon is able to interact with people he’s known all his life and have some semblance of a normal life which makes me happy. This is a character who was seen as ‘Clary’s puppy dog’ because he followed her anywhere due to his fierce loyalty to her. Now he’s coming into his own and, naturally this brings him… issues. Mostly in the form of Maia and Isobelle. Bless him, when that goes up in flames… well, you kinda have to feel sorry for him. Yet, he’s a commodity now, and his story ARC is really interesting.

City of Glass takes us to Idris. Somewhere I’d been dying to read about since book one. Afterall, it’s the homeland of the Shadowhunters and the power of their origins and governments.

Of course, Jace and Clary have differing opinions about who should go and who shouldn’t. This causes even more issues between them and the tension jumps off the page.

Once again, all of the main characters are showing growth and are beginning to show hints of the adults they are destined to become. While Clary has the least growth, it becomes clear that she has a very specific path and journey that she needs to travel to unlock secrets, and what secrets they are. If I thought Valentine was an arsehole in book two, books three ramps him up into far more insane thoughts and actions. it’s because of him that Jace is much more tortured in this book than in any of the others. He still has the bravado and cockiness that he’s always had, but it’s clear it’s a front.

Then… there’s Sebastian. He kind of comes out of nowhere, and he’s a lot like Jace. The total belief in himself and cockiness, but there’s more of an edge to him than there is to Jace, a darkness. Jace believes he’s dark because of what valentine did to him, but Sebastian exudes that very same darkness without even trying.

Once again, the climax of the book took my breath away, and I may even have whisper-yelled YES at two am.

Originally, this series was going to be a trilogy, and this book was kind of the perfect ending, even if it did leave me wanting more.

Book Four: City of Fallen Angels:

Summary:

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

The stakes are higher than ever in the #1 New York Times bestselling fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments series.

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Review:

Original rating: 4* (November 2011)

New Rating: 

After my first read, I’d seen plenty of people moaning that this series is being extended from a trilogy to a series of six books, but the way the third ended left a lot of questions unanswered. yes, Jace and Clary got their HEA in a way, but readers are left questioning things. I did wonder whether Clare would be able to fill another three books considering how fast paced the first three are.

This book was still fast paced, but in a different way. A lot of the narrative is more internal than the previous books. Jace… he’s withdrawing from Clary and their relationship – admittedly with good reason – because he’s afraid he’s going to hurt her. BUT HE DOESN’T TELL HER THAT! This is the main reason this book is a 4*. The lack of communication between characters that could quite easily solve a plethora of issues.

Simon has his own issues – still mostly Maia and Isobelle, but now someone’s trying to kill him… yet, that kinda backfires. A lot. He’s naturally shaken up, but because of this, we get a lot more interaction between him and Jace which brought a smile to my face simply because their banter is often hilarious. Add in the addition of Jordan, and the three musketeers comes to mind.

Overall, this book felt like more of a filler than a continuation of the plotlines from the first three books. It was based more around the character’s relationships, until the last quarter of the book where the action picks up again. This isn’t a bad thing as readers get to know their favourites a bit better, and Clare introduces yet more new to prevent the group becoming too stagnant. These additions work .

I can kind of understand why there is a big divide about this book, but I also understand why Clare wanted to write it.

Book Five: City of Lost Souls:

Summary:

The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

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Review:

Original Rating: 4* (May 2012)

New Rating:

Silver Stars 4

This is, by far, the slowest book of the series to date. It feels like not a lot is happening, yet what is happening needs to. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I felt.

Once again, Jace isn’t Jace. Continuing on from where City of Fallen Angels left off, and Jace is missing. Along with the creepy Sebastian. Naturally, that’s a big deal because he’s Jace, and Clary is desperate to find him. Who would blame her in all honesty?

What follows is a weird mishmash of stories. Clary manages to find her brother and her boyfriend, leaving the others behind to try and work out how to sever the connection between the two boys. With help from the Seelie Queen (yeah, right. I don’t like her), she has a way to remain in contact with Simon, but of course, that doesn’t last very long. damn you Sebastian.

While Clary is trying to find out the dastardly plan, Simon et al are fumbling their way through different attempts to find out how to save their friend before the Clave kill him just to be able to stop Sebastian. These characters kind of lose their sparkle and attraction in places, but there are glimmers of brilliance. However, the side arc involving Magnus and Alec near broke me.

While the book is slow, it’s worth it as once again, it’s the final quarter of the book that is the best. The action ramps up as we get the showdown that’s been very slowly bubbling away. Sebastian’s plan is worse than Valentine’s in that he’s not been swayed by his belief that Shadowhunters are the best of the best and are superior to everyone else. He’s not a zealot, he’s just plan evil.

The final battle had me holding my breath in places (hence 4* over 3) and when Clary is forced to make a snap decision, I nearly slapped her. I mean… how COULD she? Naturally, it worked, and thinking about it after the book ended, it made perfect sense after listening to the Angel’s advice to Simon.

While the majority of characters are happy that most of their major problems are over, poor Alec and Magnus are… no longer so happy. There’s quite a shift in their relationship that at times felt unreal, yet all too real in others. I hate Alec in places for even considering the deal with Camille, but also, I could understand what love does to someone – it makes them desperate. Hello, look at Clary and Jace for the last five books. Everything they’ve done is because of love – for each other and for their family.

Not my favourite in the series if I’m honest, but not a bad addition.

Book Five: The City of Heavenly Fire:

Summary:

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

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Review:

No original rating – 1st time read:

Red Stars 5

Okay… I put off reading this book for almost 4 years. I think a lot of that it due to my losing interest halfway through book five back in 2012. I hadn’t actually finished it the first time around, so I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I dived in at stupid o’clock in the morning.

Beginning with a completely different set of Shadowhunters in Los Angeles, introducing Emma, Julien, and his brothers and sisters was an obvious lead into a possible new series/spin off. They were great additions on the whole, but Emma/Jules felt a little too Clary/Simon for my liking, so it’ll be interesting to see where Clare takes these characters, if she does at all.

Sebastian is still at large… he and his Endarkened are rampaging through Institutes around the world building their forces. Eventually, we’re back in Idris and Clary and Jace (and the others) are being ignored by the Clave at how powerful Sebastian’s army actually is, because hey. They’re kids, what would they know? Sadly, they’re proved right (duh!).

Once the slightly waffly first bit of the book is out of the way, we get down to the nitty gritty. Clary, Jace, isobelle, Simon, Alec and Magnus decide that because no one is listening, they’re going to sort shit out themselves once and for all. Having to leave their loved ones behind on what seems to be a suicide mission is hard, and because of the whole Malec thing, they take some of these issues with them.

Once they’re on their journey, I have to admit I had moments where I laughed out loud. The banter between these characters is on point in this book. I nearly choked at Alec’s “I’m not your bitch” line because it was so unlike him, but perfect for the situation.

The romance side is a little… fraught. Because of what happened at the end of City of Lost Souls, Jace is hesitant in getting too close physically to Clary. Simon and Isabelle are dancing a Tango that neither of them realise they’re part of fully. It’s endearing to watch it evolve and unravel. Despite their surroundings, Clare manages to keep the majority of the dialogue and internal thoughts quite light.

I must admit, this book was the one I couldn’t work out. It wasn’t completely predictable, and had me not only laughing, but SOBBING. I rarely cry at books, but I’m not ashamed that parts of this book had me in tears. It was a rollercoaster in places.

While I thought City of Glass was a great end to the original trilogy, Heavenly Fire is the perfect ending to the series as a whole. All those nitty gritty lose ends are tied up, not always perfectly – but hey. What in life is perfect? I must admit, I do need one small novella… When Jace mentioned “Clary Herondale” I near died. So, could we have that short please?

On the whole, Clare doesn’t have the best writing ability in this series, BUT while reading I was able to suspend disbelief and escape reality, and in my book, that’s what makes a book or a series enjoyable. You want to stay with these characters, find out how they’re going to react or work out a problem. I am sure I’ll reread them again soon, but for now, I’m going to mope about how much I miss these characters. Thanks Christ for Shadowhunters… oh wait. Season One’s finished.

I’m off to try The Infernal Devices books…

 

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Filed under Adventure, contemporary, Fantasy, Favourites, Paranormal, Review, Romance, Series, YA