The Banshee’s Embrace, Victoria Richards

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The Plot:

Half banshee Jacqueline Huston is confused. With the Brotherhood of Merlyn looking for her, the specter of Death wanting her soul, and having to live with the knowledge that her wizard boyfriend’s son killed her husband, sometimes life feels a little chaotic. Then the Brotherhood kidnaps the love of her life, Toby Williams, in an attempt to convince her to join their crusade for power over other supernatural beings.

In this book, Jacqueline comes to grips with her enormous powers–capable of reaping any soul, a temptation she must avoid at all costs. But will she be able to control her immense powers, or will she use them and risk losing everything in order to save the one she loves?

 

My Review

After reading the plot, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to start this one.

I wasn’t disappointed. The Banshee’s Embrace is a brilliant book with a really original plot. I like the characters, especially Toby and Matilda; they bring a real warmth and humor to the book.

Richards manages to build suspense beautifully, and her writing has a good pace. Action-packed, engaging dialogue and loads of twists in the plot, this book is so easy to read, a real pleasure. Also nice is the romance between Jacqueline and Toby, not too racy, but enough spice to add another angle into the plot.

My only criticism would be that the book ends far too quickly; it can be easily read in a few hours. And there is such a lot of information to take in that it becomes a little hard to process, well for me anyway.

However, I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in the series and this has put Victoria Richards firmly on my radar! I will certainly be looking for her other work in the future.

 

My Star Rating: 3.5/5

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A Shade of Vampire 6: A Gate of Night, Bella Forrest

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The Plot:

Derek and Sofia are finally enjoying a well-deserved break. Staying at a resort with good food, sun and sea, Sofia is thrilled to witness Derek’s re-introduction to the human world.

They would almost be mistaken for a normal young couple, if it were not for the red-eyed monster lurking in the shadows and watching their every move, waiting for his signal to pounce…

 

My Review

I couldn’t wait to start reading this book. After the previous 5 books, I was looking forward to seeing Derek and Sofia finding peace and settling into a ‘normal’ lifestyle as Derek is now human. Oh dear….I couldn’t have been more wrong. This saga gets more and more dramatic with every book!

It’s kind of hard to write a review without spoiling the story for those who have not read it, but you can expect the usual amount of twists and turns for A Shade of Vampire, and once again, we get to find out more about certain characters.

The writing is of the excellent standard we have now come to expect from Forrest, my only disappointment is that it looks like Derek and Sofia will have even more to overcome in the next book, instead of a happy conclusion I was expecting. The plus side to this is that I can look forward to another instalment of the brilliant A Shade of Vampire.

 

My star Rating: 4.5/5

A Shade of Vampire 5: A Blaze of Sun, Bella Forrest

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The plot:

“Of course you know who I am. I’m a daughter of the darkness just as surely as you are his son…”

Ever since his brief encounter with Emilia at The Shade, Derek’s thoughts and dreams have been haunted with images of the mysterious, beautiful brunette. Plagued with guilt, he struggles to understand why he is so drawn to this dark stranger from his past.

When Emilia suddenly appears again on the island, Derek is both terrified and intrigued. But this time, he is determined to involve Sofia and discover who this woman is.

If only Derek and Sofia knew, Emilia is a mystery that should be left undiscovered…

 

My Review

So, back to The Shade once again for another roller coaster ride. We were left at the end of book 4 with a sense of deep foreboding (well I was anyway), for our little Derek and Sofia, and it turns out with good reason!

Without giving the plot away, it turns out Emilia was once a close friend of Derek but has since turned to the dark side in desperation to gain Derek’s love.

Most of A Blaze of Sun sees Derek and Sofia separated, as Derek is taken to The Blood Keep, the home of the ‘the Original’. Sofia, meanwhile, is left to struggle to retain control of the Shade whilst having to deal with Ingrid’s hate.

Again in this book we learn more about the characters past, such as Anna and Kyle, which to me, is the key of any great saga. Forrest knows exactly when to give more background on certain characters, making you want to read on and on.

A Blaze of Sun ends a bit like book 4, again, I feel apprehensive for the young couple, but just can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Another excellent novel from Forrest, I genuinely think her writing gets better and better. Will definitely be reading her other work after this.

 

My Star Rating: 4.5/5

Review and Interview: The Gift of Charms (The Land of Dragor), Julia Suzuki

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The Plot:

This epic novel, first in this fantasy series, transports the reader to the magical Land of Dragor, where seven dragon clans live hidden from man having beaten off the evil dragsaur beasts.

Their great wars with the humans are over and the dragons live peacefully among the smoking mud pools and around The Fire Which Must Never Go Out. But the terrible years when they were enslaved by humans have left a lasting scar, and they are told they can never soar above the mountains and leave their safe haven to explore the outside world.

There is unease in the air of their mist-filled valley, and the coming of a strange egg heralds a new era. Unlike the normal delicate lilac, this shell is multi-coloured like the contents of a treasure chest. The newborn hatchling is called Yoshiko, but he is immediately treated with suspicion by the elders, and is lucky to survive. The last time a coloured egg was laid, legendary warrior leader Surion was born from a red shell, and with his gift of fire the dragons went to battle with the humans. Will Yoshiko bring a blessing to the clans, or a curse? Could Dragor be about to meet its saviour, or its destroyer?

Chameleon-like Yoshiko is bullied and tormented as he grows up, taunted at fire school as he struggles to produce a jet of flame. Desperate to hide his colour changes, he flees from school one day and finds himself on the fabled mountain of Cattlewick Cave, home to the mysterious and reclusive elder Guya. This chance meeting changes Yoshiko’s life, and as he develops from hatchling to youngling, he is inspired to spread his wings and venture outside Dragor. He returns with something, but will it be a blessing to Dragor or a curse.

 

My Review:

When I was asked by the author Julia Suzuki to review this book, I was at first a little unsure of what to expect to be honest. This kind of novel is way out of my comfort zone. The nearest things I’ve read to this sort of fiction are Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, which I love.

The first comment I’d like to make is how easy a story it is to read. Suzuki writes with fluidity, the text flows beautifully and the dialogue between the characters is clear and well written. I can see children of 8+ really getting into this book because of how easy it is to read. It’s not stuffy or boring, Suzuki doesn’t waste time or words, she gives enough background to the story and characters so that the reader has a clear image in his/her head regarding the scene and characters.

Secondly, although this novel is aimed primarily at children, it is very clear to see the parallels of the Land of Dragor and the world we humans inhabit today. For example, the dragons daily life seems to be hampered in the same way as ourselves, with bullying, discrimination and ignorance prevalent in their society as well as ours. I think this novel will help to educate children in these areas and give them a basis of understanding these issues in their own lives.

The characters in this book are brought to life wonderfully by Suzuki. Her descriptions are perfect and use of dialogue is excellent. The relationship between Yoshiko, who is the little hero of the piece, and Igorr, who torments Yoshiko terribly, is so true to life it made me think back to my own school days. And I think children will also relate to this part of the story in particular.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Gift of Charms and I would highly recommend it to children of 8+. I will certainly be recommending this to my 12 year old niece. Well done Julia, this is a solid start to a series which I’m sure will grow in popularity.

My Star Rating: 3.5/5

 

Julia was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for her…

 

What were your inspirations for the book?

 

 ‘It was during the time that my son was at junior school that I was inspired to write the first novel.  Ideas came flooding to me. I had been thinking back to the wonderful vintage books I had read and wishing there were more like this – yet with unique edge and an interactive web presence. I knew first hand what parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were looking for when purchasing a book for their children, but more than that, I knew also what they sought themselves. Readers want gripping action, loads of adventure – all the classic aspects of heroes and villains, quests and hangars and the hope of happy endings. I wanted to write books with universal appeal, that were fantastical and yet in many ways real to today; to fulfill the expectations of book lovers and hook a non-reader back into reading.  For me this had to be in the form of a series, set in and a place we would all like to visit  – and so the Land of Dragor came to be. 

 

What books did you enjoy reading as a child?

CS Lewis and Enid Blyton were my favourites

 

Can you give us any sneak peaks into further plot lines for the series?

Three children become the Dragor heroes, and problems become even greater than in book one ~ that is all I am going to say at this stage 

There seem to be a few themes, as mentioned in my review, that mirror our own lives. Was this intentional? And if so, what do you hope will be the message that impressionable children will take away from the book?

Yes it was intentional. The main message being that we are all special and can achieve what we put our minds too with persistence; rising above anyone who tries to bring us down.

The Gift of Charms Book #1 is available in paperback to PRE-ORDER at AMAZON HERE http://tinyurl.com/o95ufw9.

Release date is September 4th

 

 

A Shade Of Vampire 4: A Shadow Of Light, Bella Forrest

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The Plot

 “A riot among the humans. A siege at the port. A kingdom on the brink of civil war while still facing the threat of an attack from outside forces at any moment.”

Since the implosion at The Oasis and Derek’s stay at Hawk Headquarters, The Shade has fallen into a state of utter chaos. To make matters worse, the citizens of Derek’s kingdom have become suspicious of his loyalties and accuse him of siding with the enemy… At a time when Derek desperately needs full cooperation from his subjects, they wish to put their own King on trial.

Meanwhile, Sofia is being held hostage by the hunters. They are determined to rid her of her infatuation with the vampire. She submits to the strict routine and training they impose on her, but the only fuel that keeps her going is the thought of reuniting with Derek – something Reuben is fighting with every fiber of his being to ensure will never happen.

…Until one day, out of the blue, Reuben appears to have a change of heart and comes to Sofia with a proposal; a solution that she never dreamed possible. A solution that would fulfill her heart’s deepest desires and secure her and Derek’s future together, forever.

But can she really trust this man who is so renowned for his hatred of vampires? Does she even have a choice?

 

My Review:

Again picking up from the third book really well, this instalment of the A Shade of Vampire series does not disappoint. Sofia, Derek, Claudia and Ingrid are at hunter headquarters, and Sofia is now reunited with her father. Sofia begins to trust Rueben more as she believes they both believe in a cure for vampirism, a decision she may live to regret. In this book we get to see the back-story of Claudia and Yuri, which I really liked.

We also get more of an insight into the mind of evil Ingrid, a great villain. From this book we also understand the importance of Sofia to the Shade, and that Derek and Sofia are indeed stronger together than apart. The introduction of a new female character at the end of the book with a past with Derek threatens to ruin the dream of Sofia becoming Queen of the Shade.

Another fantastic outings for Forrest, this book definitely leaves you wanting more. Addictive.

 

My Star Rating: 4.5/5

A Shade of Vampire 3: Castle of Sand, Bella Forrest

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The Plot:

What Sofia has with Derek feels like a sandcastle; temporary and something that the waves of life and time will soon ruin…

Since the return of Gregor Novak, the island has turned several shades darker. His hatred toward Sofia and thirst for fresh blood lead to a brutal war igniting between father and son.

Meanwhile, the hunters are gaining formidable strength and resources by the day; they know that the safety of The Shade hangs entirely on its ability to remain hidden from them.

And a sinister secret lies in wait for Sofia within the bowels of an Egyptian desert … a secret that threatens to crush her sandcastle much sooner than she could have expected.

My Review:

Wow, another great book to continue the Shade of Vampire series. The plot thickens as Derek’s father returns to The Shade and makes his hatred of Sofia crystal clear. This understandably causes tension between Derek and Sofia, as Derek still feels loyal to Gregor. What Sofia also doesn’t know is that her world is about to be turned upside down as the truth about her parents comes to light. She also has to contend with the fact that her best friend is now a hunter and would like nothing more than to kill the love of Sofia’s life!

With new characters introduced, including the vile Boris and Ingrid Maslen, I found this book hard to put down. I love the way that Forrest makes almost every chapter in the book pivotal to the plot, it’s hard to predict what is coming up in the next few pages, which is just brilliant.

Well done Bella Forrest, I have found a series as captivating as Twilight, which I thought was impossible! Thank you, I can’t wait to read more.

My Star Rating: 4/5

A Shade Of Vampire 2: A Shade Of Blood, Bella Forrest

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The Plot:

When Sofia Claremont was kidnapped to a sunless island, uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet, she believed she’d forever be a captive of its dark ruler, Derek Novak.

Now, after months of surviving an endless night, the morning sun may soon rise again for Sofia. Something has possessed Derek’s heart and he offers her a gift no human slave has ever been given in the history of his cursed island: escape.

High school, prom and a chance to move on with her life now await her.

But will she be able to forget the horrors that steal her sleep away at night? … or the feelings that haunt her for that tormented prince of darkness?

My Review:

After reading the first A Shade of Vampire book, I was eager to find out how Forrest would continue the story.

As with any good saga, new characters and plot twists are a must and Forrest doesn’t disappoint.

In this book the bond between Derek and Sofia grows much stronger and you get the sense that there is much more to come in the way of plot as details about the characters are subtly revealed. A connection between the reader and the young couple begins to develop, as does a strong dislike for certain characters!

This book is twice as long as the first so there’s much more to take in and a good chance for character and plot development. This is an excellent follow up to the first book and was much better than I expected to be honest. Forrest has created yet another YA novel world to get lost in, and I love it. Bring on book 3!

My Star Rating: 3.5/5