REAPERS – Book One by the Thornton Brothers

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Hellllllo readers, been a bit of a tough week I seem to be entering a quarter life crisis; I’m twenty-two living with what feels like twenty-two people and yet see none of them, everyone I work with is mature, and married with small children or a least a goldfish or two and I’m still trying to decide whether it’s wrong to drink wine at midday on a Sunday. It’s fine if you were wondering; I have checked. Books have been a bit of a saviour at the moment and this one especially dragged me out of my comfort zone and has made me feel a lot more upbeat even if it’s in the fictional world; without further moaning onto the review.

Danger, heartache, grit, tension, brotherhood, trauma, betrayal, sacrifice, fear. Death square in the face. All in a day’s work for the REAPERS – an elite black-ops team deployed to remote, untamed conflict zones. Their mission: to assassinate covert targets, conduct rescue operations and gather intelligence.  We follow this tight band as its members evolve; some will die and be replaced by new faces, some will defect, be injured or retire, and others will change in unimaginable ways. All will be tested to their limits.

REAPERS is an epic set in a sprawling dark fantasy universe of tragic characters, complex villains, and shocking story turns.

BOOK ONE is a novel-length collection of the first seven staves (which were originally released as independent episodic chapters in serial format).

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I guess the first thing to state in this review is these wonderful authors have been writing for a little while and this book made from seven staves was released as chapters independently before now being collaborated together and sent out into the big scary commercial world of books. The book as the blurb suggests follows the daily work of the reapers who are a cream of the crop black ops who are sent out to do all the things you could ever expect; missions, rescue operations etc etc all written with a superior knowledge I couldn’t quite believe was entirely fictional.

Into the nitty gritty I suppose; I thought this was fantastic, a mix between fantasy and hardcore blistering action. I say this often but I find fantasy difficult to stomach – I don’t like fairies or dragons and the like. But here, it is a much more subtle part of the story – for me I didn’t feel like the plot was built on the idea of fantasy but was used to transport to the reader to a new and exciting land which I thought was wonderful.

The writing is stunning; I normally go through and find a paragraph later in the book but I thought the first sentence really screamed at me this is going to be bloody epic and it was.

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‘A sprawling desert camp sweltered under a sun of molten gold. The settlement’s crude and rambling architecture was fashioned from the bones and husks of great sea beasts blessedly rendered extinct by some untold ancient catastrophe that impossibly evaporated an entire sea and left its primordial life to wither and cook for incalculable aeons upon the cracked and naked floor.’

It doesn’t get quite more exciting than that does it? The writing is smooth and moves with such pace; the main characters are built with style and understanding. Their personalities intermesh wonderfully and there is a real feel of comradeship; here I would normally really go into the character profiles but it’s better to read and get them know them based on the way they interact than me briskly trying to throw them all in here although I must admit a soft spot for Tusk. In terms of content this book is full on and it moves seamlessly through action, memorable emotional moments and then sudden stunning descriptive segments it is wonderfully woven together.

This isn’t my style of book or genre and yet I know when the next instalment comes out I will be the first to be getting a hold of and reading on because there is so much I still need answered. Here I felt that although the characters are well loved by the authors there is literally no way of finding out what is happening next; I was continually on the edge of my seat not sure whether the next character to be killed/stabbed/kidnapped/bombed would be favourite and I thought that was brilliant because I was just so enraptured.

In terms of negatives there are couple of tiny editing issues and there are so long sentences and passages that could be broken down but that’s a small quibble. I adored this book and everything in it. Bloody well done.

Linnnnnks

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Kalarum: The Stone Tablet (The Kalarum Trilogy Book 1) by Dee Willis

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Is it me or is the fantasy genre becoming ever more popular? I might have to filter how many I read because there are just too many for me to get my tiny hands on. I don’t know what it is about the fantasy genre that irks me so much but it just doesn’t appeal in the same way as a thriller or a historical fiction does. I find myself reviewing almost from the point of view that I enjoy this genre because the writing is sublime or the characters are really well described it’s just the genre? Is that odd? Maybe I’ve got book brain at the moment. Despite that ramble today I have, yes you guessed it, another fantasy style book and it’s a good’un all fantastical writing and all that. Without further delay: THE REVIEW.

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The Land of Kalarum is in the mist of the Dark Hour – a time that was prophesied centuries ago – and to defeat it, the stone tablets must be reunited as one. After the attack on Tinsgates, Belcrest barely escapes with his life. Severely wounded he makes his way to Hollow Woods. It is there he meets Nasira – High Captain of the Vycar Legion. Unknowingly, the evil creatures that attacked Tinsgates had stolen one of the tablets. Unable to reunite them all, the Elven Chieftain tasked them with gathering the remaining stones. Since the tablets were dispersed to various races within the land – which they had no clue existed – they had to rely upon legend to guide their journey and quickly the 19 year old Nasira learns that the land she had known is full of mystery and shocking truths. Legend and myth become reality and there is no turning back from the road she must now travel.

So the basics: we follow the journey of the elven warrior Nasira and the human Belcrest (that’s going on my list of names for future children,) as they fight to bring the tablets and the two nations together. One tablet is lost and it is feared that evil forces have taken it under their possession; our heroes must fight to keep the remaining three from also being unaccounted for. I thought this book was a really fantastical story; it’s got all the basics, dwarves, elves, humans, creatures, prophecies, magic, and destiny: you know the drill right? Each is written with understanding and dexterity the elven are particularly graceful, delightful beings with their pointed ears and their extensive knowledge of war. I however liked the dwarves a little more; hot tempered and heady creatures their language and their mannerisms kept me captivated as a reader.  Belcrest is sweet and loyal, as he learns from Narisa and their friendship blossoms in a really wonderfully honest and trusting way. Being the sole survivor of his village we see him have to quickly take up this new role which is so important for the survival of the worlds and I thought it was written with skill and understanding.

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In terms of writing style it is stunning, utterly utterly stunning and I think that’s the main reason I keep delving back into this genre.

For example, ‘as dusk approached, on the other side of Kalarum, the two moons were beginning to take their place in the sky. The splash of color melted across the land from the rising of the moons and the setting of the sun. The tiny granular rocks below reflected a dark orange color and many of the finer granules sparkled like crystals from the soft touch of the moons light.’

That description really helps to transport you to this new, exciting, fantasy world and I guess that in my love of historical fiction transports you to a different era fantasy takes you to a new world? Definitely got book brain at the moment I would say. Anyway I liked the message that was woven throughout the action, the fantasy characters and the beautiful descriptions; the message that despite differences in race, and ability Narisa with her weaponry skills and Belcrest with his awareness of goodness and honour make a strong and dependable team. I think my only comment would be there’s not quite enough to make it feel wholly original.

I’ve gone on a long time again so I’ll make this a little snappier: it seems that Dee Willis has really written a truly fantastical novel with some really strong writing flavour. The emotions that are created, the landscapes that are described and the ultimate battle of good versus evil is a true fantasy tale. Definitely one for the fantasy genre lovers.

Linkkkkks

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Poisoned Apple by Katherine McIntyre

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Hellllllo readers, another day another review and one I’m really excited to be sharing with you. I often get authors who request a review and then later I get another request for a review of another book and it’s really special to be asked a second time. It also helps the reader/blogger to get more of an insight into the writing style and complex of the author. Today’s is another short tale perfect for a couple of lunchbreaks or a longer journey on le train and I enjoyed this more than the first book Katherine sent me (Stolen Petals – which you can read my review of HERE.) For now, onto this review which I hope all you lovelies enjoy.

Snow White’s a goth and Prince Charming’s a jerk.

On Neve’s eighteenth birthday, her stepmother kicks her out. A group of diner rats offer her refuge—including Brendan, who offers his couch for her to crash on. But the more time she spends with him, the more he confuses her. One second, he’s kissing her. The next he’s pushing her away.

Believing her life has reached rock bottom, Neve struggles to ditch her “damaged girl” label. But when she uncovers the truth about her life, she’s rocked to her very foundation. Will Neve be able to hold on to the good things coming her way, or will her bad luck poison everything?
Neve lives at home with her stepmother after her father left them for another man. On Neve’s eighteenth birthday, her stepmother throws her out. Neve has no where to go. She’s a loner. She blames herself for the lose of her parents.

I didn’t realise that this was a Snow White inspired story because I didn’t read the blurb (slaps wrist) but I’m kind of glad I didn’t know because now I can see all the links and I want to read it again where I can pick alllll of them out. As the blurb says the book follows Neve on her eighteenth birthday who is kicked (almost literally) out of the place she has always called home by her evil stepmother – (see Link) Wandering the lonely streets she finds at 24/hr diner where she befriends a group of guys (see Link) and they decide to keep her company. Brendan who is dealing with all sorts of other problems of his own offers her a bed for the night and we kind of go from there, learning more about her family and the ins and outs of her “relationship” with Brendan.

In terms of the length this is rather a short novella and that’s why it would be perfect for a train journey because you can just whizz through its lovely little pages. I thought the character profiles were brilliant; Neve is my go-to character. She is smart, intelligent and she wants to stand on her own two feet and she’s not afraid to say that. She’s gutsy, honest and sarcastic and I thought she was brilliant. Brendan is struggling with the break-up of his relationship and I thought his need to stay away from Neve and yet not quite able to was well written. The additional character were well built up including Veronica the evil stepmother and the guys at the diner.

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I found the characters easy to empathise with and feel for; although at times frustrating it is nice to read a book from an author who puts her characters really on the line. The pace moves along well and although short does manage to get quite a few tiny sub-plots in. Due to the length I couldn’t have really expected more but I think the length works so no problems there. I thought the humour woven in was clever and witty between all of the character helping you to get involved in the story as a whole.

In terms of wobbles I think there could have been better character development in terms of both the main characters but the book isn’t really long enough for that. I also thought some of Neve’s decisions were just odd especially the ending; it works with the Snow White theme but it felt a bit off? It didn’t fit with the character profiling we have been given throughout.

Overall this is a short snappy book with a really interesting plotline. The characters feel fresh and the fairy-tale aspect really adds to the story although it works without it too. It’s a brilliant little book and for just under £2 it really is worth a read. Thumbs up.

Liiiiiinkkks

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Enigma by Aimee Ash

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Helllllo readers, today is another book from the recesses of my Kindle. I’ve been meaning to review these for ages and I’ve had a bit of a readers block recently so have been struggling to get anything finished. I seem to pick one up and then put it down again and then start something new and it’s exhausting to say the least. I read this book almost a year ago and had a quick flick through but quickly remembered my thoughts so have penned them down here for you. As always anyone waiting for reviews, they will appear at some point. I’m struggling with reading at the moment but will hopefully all pick up soon.

When KATE HARRIS moves to Long Beach California, she hopes to finally settle in her new home. She longs to have friends and fantasises about meeting the guy of her dreams. But after one dangerous night, Kate finds herself obsessing over a mysterious stranger who saves her life, and she embarks on a quest to uncover his identity. But her journey ends when she discovers her gorgeous neighbour, JACK JONES, who proves to be the welcoming distraction she needs.

Kate is deeply intrigued by Jack, and begins to feel differently when she’s in his company. She is flattered by the attention he showers her with and enjoys her newfound confidence. And even though their relationship symbolises young love, Kate soon realizes that Jack is anything but normal.
When Jack is forced to reveal his many secrets, including the curse inflicted upon him by his twin brother, Sebastian, Kate begins questioning what is real and what is just a mere illusion.

Jack refuses to make peace with his brother, and warns Kate to stay away from him. But Kate is drawn to Sebastian, and if she betrays Jack, the consequences of her actions will lead to devastation for them all.

This review I feel is going to be really difficult to rate because I think since genre’s are always developing. YA for example, which for me has really come into the light recently in terms of their popularity, and some just haven’t hit that quality mark. If I was to rate this book on the plot then it would be very different to my review based on the characters but I’ll try my best. The book follows the relationship of Kate who is saved by a mysterious stranger; she then plots to find out who he really is. However, during her mission she meets the rather dashing and exciting Jack. As the book continues we see the love triangle develop and the dangers that it has created.

You can tell from the blurb that it’s quite a niche idea I think. It’s not one I’ve seen for a long time and I think the blurb really set me off for a really good read. The problem for me is that the book is written entirely in first person from Kate but, and this I think is due to the YA feel of it, she is so under-developed that the book especially the dialogue of the characters falls really flat. The book should really be full of emotional trauma, tension and suspense but the characters are so lacking that it really can’t be saved. There are also a hell of a lot of clichés used including the favourite biting of the bottom lip and collapsing into heaps on the floor. Exhausting.

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Additionally, realising that I’m really writing this book off, the superpowers of the twins are not really being used for anything useful? You would think given super powers that they would be used for good, throw in a bit of action, a cliff-hanger or two and you’ve got an even better story that could have supported the characters better but no, na-da, they’re not really used at all. However, if I’m going to spin the positives I’ll go with this; the writing does move with pace and is at times gripping. The author throws in a couple of surprises and although Kate is a weaker character she is down-to-earth which is nice. The two males in the book were written with spirit and I could definitely see myself getting into an argument over who I preferred.

How am I going to sum this all up? I think it’s got good bits and bad. Unfortunately it’s too undeveloped and not thought through succinctly and that is a toughie because it is what ultimately supports the book on the whole. I thought Kate was a confusing character but she has potential and the author obviously knows what she needs to do just didn’t quite pull through. On an asthetic point the cover is awful; but I am glad I read this, just won’t be revisiting any time soon.

Linnnnnks

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Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye

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Helllllllo readers, another review today from the recesses of my reading life because, me and reading have seriously fallen out. I just can’t get the reading buzz back but it doesn’t feel like a reading slump, more of a reading bust-up. I’m not sure even reading the Chocolate Run, my go to, will help this time.  I just need to clear the air with reading, get into a really, (really) good book  and clear this all up. However, it has allowed me to review a number of books I’ve read but never quite got round to typing up which is always nice. Today a delightful children’s book which was pretty darn lovely.

Hermux Tantamoq is an average mouse who works in his watch shop by day and spends his evenings at home with Terfle, his pet ladybug. But all that changes when Linka Perflinger, daredevil aviatrix, steps into his shop, drops off her watch for repair, and walks out with Hermux’s heart. When a shady-looking rat tries to claim Linka’s watch, Hermux knows that something must be terribly wrong, and embarks on a dramatic quest to find her . . .

As the blurb suggests the book follows Hermux Tatamoq who just happens to be a watchmaking mouse. In his day to day life, he has a little pet ladybird called Terfle, he wears flannel shirts and he has numerous printed images of different cheese from around the world. He has a crush however, on the darling Ms.Linka Perflinger who just so happens to visit his watch shop needing an emergency repair on her watch. From that moment, Hermux’s life will change forever. As Ms Perflinger seemingly disappears our worried friend will go on a hair raising mission to find his missing lady. The journey paved with killers, thieves, snakes, dramatic rescues and a casual Fountain of Youth will be a terrifying mission for the mouse but a brilliant tale to tell.

Now for the fun bit; there’s something just delightful about this tale, a story following a mouse with a pet ladybird; it’s pretty special. The writing is solid with just the right amount of description. Sometimes with fantasy books there’s too much and for children especially, this can bog the story down. Here it is flitted in to help aid the imagination of the child but not so much smother it, if that makes sense? The characters are well described with a lightness of touch and the author works hard to distinguish the villains and the characters we love (mainly Hermux and Ms Linka.) I really liked how Hermux’s humble nature was turned into an inquisitive detective and the mild nature of him made this story doubly sweet.

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I thought the story was clever and the introduction good vs evil makes for a strong plotline to develop the tale and the characters as a whole. I thought the journal from the Jungle of Teulabonari (what a great name) was a brilliant insertion allowing for the introduction of new characters like the army of lab rats and the cosmetics monarch. It sounds a little confusing but it comes together really well. The story twists and turns and I thought the odd names of the characters and places would really help to intrigue younger readers.

In terms of negatives there are some passages of description that are really long. For me a reader who likes description I loved it but for younger readers it could get tiresome and the long and fiddly names could also be a difficulty. This could also cause problems when reading aloud but it’s a small-ish point.

This book for a young reader has everything; suspence, excitement, good vs evil, and some really exciting and well developed characters. A fun book an exciting tale and one to get younger readers really into their reading. Spot on.

Linkkkkks

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught life 101

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*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.

1)       The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.

2)       Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.

3)       ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin

When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.

4)       Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.

5)       Remember to breathe by Simon Pont

I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.

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6)       Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite,  made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.

7)       The Fault in our stars by John Green

This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.

8)       The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.

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9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman 

Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.

10)       Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.

I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.

I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X

The Love & Hate Tag

The Love-Hate Tag

Helllllo readers, I’ve been tagged in lots of new blogging awards recently which as always is bloody lovely. I feel like I’ve written a lot of bookish things recently and less ‘lizzy-bits,’ so thought I would take the chance to write out the love & hate tag before I forget. The idea is that you write ten things you love and ten things you hate and then you tag someone else to write theirs down and so on and so on. Simples.

Love:

  1. Reading: Might as well get this one of the waaaaay. I’m an obsessive reader to the point where it’s starting to terrify me. I’m not sure I can balance my life with how much reading I wish I could get done but, imma trying.
  1. Margaritas: Gah my cocktail of choice (or just anything with tequila.)
  1. Blueberry Yoghurt: This is a recent thing but I used to abhor blueberries, horrible little things. But trying blueberry yoghurt in the past month or so I have been an addict. Not sorry.

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  1. Early morning cuddles: If me and the boyf are staying the night with each other, we’ll set the alarm half an hour early so we can have a morning big/little spoon snuggles because we’re gross and we know it.
  1. Walking: I’ve always preferred walking but getting up in the morning is sometimes a little difficult, but recently I found out I could walk to work and save myself £60 or so pounds a month (BONUSSS.) Now I seem to walk everywhere, to the station, to friends, into town. It helps my anxiety too because public transport is killer.
  1. BURRITOS: That is all

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  1. Peppermint tea with nettles and camomile: This stuff is just, beautiful.
  1. Cinema dates with all the gang: Anything with my motely group of friends. Spoons dates, cinema trips, days in the sunshine in the park, traveling to unplanned parts of the world; all good.
  1. Weekends with my parents: I never realised how close my family are but we are a close-knit gang. I love spending the weekend helping Mumma B with the chores, popping out for lunch bits, going for a walk around Stowe. Imma home bird and I do not give a monkeys.

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  1. Driving: Although I still can’t drive I really love driving around and trying not to cause chaos on the roads. It was a little nerve wracking to start but I cannot wait to get my own little car and be whizzing around all over the place.

Hate:

  1. People that are always late: Get a watch? I mean we all check our phones enough we should know that if you say seven, twenty past isn’t going to cut it.
  1. Blackberry soothers: The smell of these things makes me choke; gross.

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  1. Jellllllllllllllllllllly: (or Jello) I think jelly is horrible, the taste and the texture of the stuff is just blergh.
  1. My inability to remember to add reviews to Amazon/Goodreads/My own review list: The organisation of my day-to-day life is pretty on pointe but this I always seem to forget and then have to add tens of them on in one go. Sorrrrry
  1. Emails that don’t answer questions: Is it me or if you email someone a number of questions no matter how carefully bullet pointed they answer the first one, maybe the second if you’re lucky but not all. What is that?

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  1. Snakes: These, terrify me. My desk-neighbour at work is always trying to trick me into looking at pictures of them on his computer. Dude, no.
  1. Going to the dentist: Years of having to go to have my braces tightened has made this an utterly terrifying experience for me, not that it wasn’t already.
  1. Not travelling: I have the travelling bug so much right now and I have no-one to go with *wails*

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  1. Constantly being covered in bruises: Doesn’t matter what I’m doing/wearing/drinking I end up with random uncomfortable bruises and they are so unattractive when they’re on your wrists/elbow/feet. How does that even happen?
  1. Running out of liquid eyeliner: That stuff is ma jam.

Ten things I love, ten things I hate, I now tag Stefani at ‘Caught Read Handed’ to complete said taggg. Enjoy!

The Lebrus Stone by Miriam Khan

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Hellllllo readers, a little bit of an emotional review for you today; I’ve spoken to a number of bookish bloggers about this but sometimes it gets a bit too much. I’ve thought for a while about taking a blogging break and step back for a while, create some breathing space, get through my review requests and get back on top of it all. We’ll have to see; sometimes it feels like it’s all a bit too much. The reading, reviewing, writing, the social media, the emails, and all whilst attempting to hold down a full-time job, travel home and see friends/family/Lola & Barbie and trying to build on a new relationship. Gah, I feel like I’m having a blogging midlife crisis. I’ve also struggled with the book used for today’s review; a fantasy book which I found difficult to read, but I’ll let you find out why.

When eighteen-year-old orphan, Crystal Valdez, accepts an invitation to the small town of Blacksville, West Virginia, she hopes to have a summer to remember and a chance to learn more about her parents, to also get to know the family she never knew existed. But the Lockes begin to act strange and erratic; eerie movements in the night fuel her vivid and gruesome nightmares. To complicate her summer further, she becomes attracted to the menacing yet handsome Cray Locke: her none blood related cousin. He seems determined to keep his distance.

The only bonus to her trip seems to be the housekeeper and gardener. And when a local informs Crystal of the secrets buried at Thorncrest Manor, the kind consisting of a forbidden relationship and a war between hidden worlds, and witchcraft, she must decide whom to trust. Even if it means leaving behind those she has come to love.

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As the blurb suggests the book follows Crystal who has a horrible start in life in which both her parents die in a terrible car accident. Sent to live with her Aunt who is then a little shockingly killed in a house fire thing aren’t looking to positive. Alone in the world and spending her remaining childhood in a foster care home, a woman who claims to be her long lost great aunt appears seemingly out of nowhere, Crystal is invited to find out more about her mother and her family. But not is all as it seems, once in Thorncrest Manor, the family appear to turn on Crystal and her destructive relationship with Cray looks soon to burst; as readers we follow Crystal as she seeks to find out more about herself and the family she barely knew.

In terms of positives Crystal is a well-developed although complicated character. She has a lot of emotion and she’s written with passion. Her relationships throughout the book were thorny and although she has a lot of layers to her as a character, I found her difficult to warm to. At times she was prickly and her relationship with Cray is a little odd. They are both distant with each other and at times he treats her horribly whilst she adores him. It didn’t sit well with me as a reader. Their relationship is uncomfortable at best and they don’t interact in an open way at all. Additionally with her mood swinging, from needy to jealous to desperately in love, I was exhausted. Although the writing is quite strong in places, as to the description of characters and the like, the pace is slow and I found myself having to read the first few chapters a number of times to get into the book; saying this it does pick up but it’s a slow burner.

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I also questioned throughout Crystal’s decision to stay at the Manor. From almost the moment she arrives there, it becomes noticeably clear that there is something very wrong with the Locke family. Isobel’s character changes so utterly she’s barely recognisable (whilst she shows no intention of sharing any further information) and Crystal starts to suffer with terrifying nightmares which are suggested to be due to her being tormented by ghosts. Throughout Crystal attempts to rationalise what is happening whilst I was yelling to myself ‘get the hell out of there.’ It didn’t make sense to me that a girl with such intellect would stay there so long in such a unpredictable environment. Additionally towards the end of the book it becomes truly disturbing; there are a number of descriptions of rape and sensitive material that I didn’t find fitted or was needed. It all became a bit too much. Additionally the ending didn’t clear anything up for me. Many questions are left unanswered and although I assume due to the ending a second book is in the making I don’t think I’ll be reading it.

I guess for me this book just didn’t work. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get or enjoy from this book. The writing at times works well it has ebb and flow and although it moves with a slow pace many of the descriptions are spot on. I found however the situation that our main character is in and her personality as a whole jarred and became confused. Additionally as we work our way through the story and realise that we’re not getting the answers we expected it feels like the book was for nothing. It’s frustrating and unrealistic and I found it a difficult to read. Unfortunately one I’m a little saddened to have read.

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