The Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas

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Four young ladies enter London society with one common goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.
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OVERALL SERIES RATING: 4.5 stars.

Again the Magic (Wallflowers, #0.5) rating: 3 stars
Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1) rating: 4 stars
It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, #2) rating: 4.5 stars
Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3) rating: 5 stars
Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers, #4) rating: 5 stars
A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, #5): 4.5 stars

A review for a different type of book today! A historical romance! I’ve done a review of The Prize by Julie Garwood in the past and, not going to lie, I felt rather embarrassed about having read these types of books. You know historical romance with a high amount of erotica. But now I’ve realised “stuff it! I can review what ever the hell I want on my blog” and that is what I will do. Expect more of these types of reviews in the future.

Now on to the Wallflower series. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive going into this series. The only historical romances I had ever read were medieval ones and I was a little bored with books set in the 19th century. I picked up the first book in this series on a whim really because a lot of my friends on Goodreads had given books in the series 5 out of 5 stars and they were raving about them. Although I didn’t storm through the books one after another in the space of a week like many, I took my time and read them over the space of about 4 months. Its safe to say, I really enjoyed them. A lot. I’ve even gone back and reread passages over and over again.

One thing that really captured me in this series was Lisa Kleypas’ writing style. It was engaging and consistent throughout. I found that when I started to read a book I would find myself looking up from the book an hour later and not realising how much time has passed. It was a nice experience as over the past few months I had been going through a horrible phase of starting books but taking weeks to finish them. I also really enjoyed Kleypas’ characterisation. Everyone of the characters in these books are original and intriguing. I especially loved Evie and Daisy, and Sebastian and Matthew. Such great characters and I always wanted to know more about them. Even now as I make my way through Her other series The Hathaways I am hoping for more little scenes with wallflower gang.

Obviously there are aspects of the books that are not for everyone. There are things that appeal to different people and everyone will find something that they dislike whether it’s something that happens in the plot or a character. For me, I wasn’t fond of Lillian, I loved her book BUT when she appeared in any of the other books I hated her. I really disliked her in Devil in Winter and Scandal in Spring. Although this is just my personal taste and she had some traits that I dislike immensely in people.
Other than that, there wasn’t much in these that were badly done, the main reason for giving a few of the books a lower rating that the others was because of how much I enjoyed the book. There wasn’t anything wrong with them really, I just wasn’t as connected with the story, I preferred some of the stories over others.

Overall, if you’re looking to read a few light historical romances, look no further than Lisa Kleypas. I can’t express how much I recommend her. I’ve read quite a lot of historical romance over the past year and these were some of the top books I’ve read. So enjoyable and the characters are just divine. I’ve just started The Hathaways series and although I didn’t enjoy the first book as much as the Wallflowers, I will certainly be carrying on with the series.

The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

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Summary for Clockwork Angel:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…
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Overall rating of trilogy: 5 STARS!
Clockwork Angel: 4 Stars.
Clockwork Prince: 5 stars.
Clockwork Princess: 5 Stars.

This review is going to be split in two parts: non-spoiler and Spoiler. I will tell you when to stop reading unless you want to. 

Although I have read Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (except for Heavenly Fire, I heard there were spoilers to The Infernal Devices Trilogy), I don’t think very highly of it. I enjoyed it enough, but I barely remember what happened in it now. So I had The Infernal Devices trilogy (TID) sat on my shelf for about a year and a half before I decided to pick it up last week. I don’t regret this at all. I genuinely feel like I’ve lost part of my soul now that I’ve finished it and there is no more. I would recommend giving this a go even if you didn’t like The Mortal Instruments (TMI), The characters are so much better in my opinion.

Clockwork Angel took a while for me to get into, it was a solid start to the series, but it really was just a “setting the scene” kind of book. It was really good, but lacking in some areas, such as plot development and I feel it probably could have been shorter if Clare didn’t make the characters go off rambling in their minds about nothing in particular. However, the series seriously picks up in Clockwork Prince and I read it one sitting, staying up till about 4am. Lots of character development and amazing new characters that I just fell in love with. Which is something that sets TID apart from TMI for me, in TMI I didn’t actually care about any of the characters other than perhaps Magnus Bane. I was practically reading it for the plot. Whereas in TID, I don’t think I have ever loved side characters so much; Sophie, Charlotte, GIDEON (<3) and Gabriel, Henry! So many fantastic characters. Clockwork Princess focuses a lot in the first half of the book on the romance, I didn’t mind this. It balanced well with the action packed second half. Believe me, the romance is worth pushing through to get to the what happens in the end. Although, I recommend not reading the epilogue. I mean, read it, but be prepared. I wasn’t. I’m still pulling myself together.

I loved this trilogy so much. Probably one of the best I’ve ever read. Read it. It’s worth the time.

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***SPOILERS***

Okay I need to just let my feelings out.
Despite not being a massive fan of Will and Jem (I know I’m a freak), I liked them enough but I WAS NOT EXPECTING THE FEELS DURING THE EPILOGUE.
I can’t deal with it. I could have done without that Cassandra Clare!
I was pushed even more over the edge by Gideon dying, my OTP during the trilogy was Sophie and Gideon! My fave characters!
But I was bawling my eyes out so hard I started to feel sick. I haven’t cried that hard at a book since Harry Potter! It was INSANE. I keep thinking about it and tearing up and its been nearly 12 hours.
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Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

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Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
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Rating: 3 stars

This series has been given rave reviews on Goodreads and on BookTube, and I fear I’m going to one of those who disagrees. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this first book in the series, I did. It was very entertaining and I don’t regret reading it. But it isn’t a five star book, I can’t quite understand people’s reasons for giving it that rating.

There are a number of problems in the book and some of which were probably caused by errors in translation. The book was originally written in German, and it was most likely translated into American English, which isn’t good when the book is set in England with English characters who apparently speak in American English. I kept finding myself pointing out things that are wrong to English culture or words the characters speak that mean something different in England than America. It started to bug me after a while, because it came across as being inconsistent with what the story was trying to portray. Other than this, the writing is easy to read and would probably be enjoyed more by the younger teenager.

The characters were rather average, nothing different from the thousands of other YA characters that I’ve read about and not going to lie I’ve already forgotten their names. I feel like they could have been fleshed out a lot more and the author wastes words by having the main character ramble in her mind about things that don’t really contribute to the plot in any way whatsoever. It’s a shame really because the plot is actually really good, I just feel like it could have been written a lot better.

Like I said I didn’t dislike the book but I doubt I’ll remember it in a months time. I think I probably will read the other books in the series if I should ever see them in the library but I’m not going to go out of my way. I would recommend it if you’re looking for something relatively fast paced and really easy to read.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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Based on the Emmy Award–winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Twenty‑four‑year‑old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.
When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck‑up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets—and for Lizzie’s viewers. But not everything happens on‑screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.
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Rating: 4 stars

First things first, last year I was absolutely obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web-series on YouTube. (If you haven’t heard of it get right on over to YouTube and watch it. NOW. To help you along here’s the first episode):

I absolutely loved it. It was literally my life during my second year of university, and I probably spent more time following the huge amounts of interactive media that went along with the series (e.g. Twitter) than I did writing assignments. Anyway, I think any Jane Austen fan would enjoy this series, unless you’re one of those people who gets offended by any slight alteration to the master piece that is Pride and Prejudice, in which case I’d advise to stop reading.

This book is basically a written form of the series, with a lot more detail and extra scenes that we obviously don’t see in the videos. The book is written in the form of a diary although after reading this book, and having attempted to write a diary myself, it is not a very realistic diary. But who can say the web-series is considered realistic?! So I feel this point is invalid when talking about how good or how bad the book was.

Evidently, from my rating, I enjoyed the book. How could I not after devoting so much of my time to the series?! What I loved most about the book was Lizzie’s voice. It was extremely entertaining and I felt it captured Elizabeth Bennet in modern form perfectly. It was intelligent and witty and highly enjoyable. The adaptation from page to screen and back to page again was very well done, considering the time in which they wrote the book. I particularly enjoyed reading more about Lizzie’s relationships with her parents and sisters.

However, there were aspects that left me still wanting more. I feel they published this book out of fan demand and yet they barely embellished at all on the most important aspects (in a fangirl’s eyes) of the story: Darcy’s first “proposal”, and Darcy’s second “proposal”. The parts I really wanted to know more about and there wasn’t anything new. Even the ending was incredibly rushed compared to the rest of the book and it was a little underwhelming. The book would have got the full five stars if the ending was better constructed. There was a week after Darcy’s second “proposal” that the viewers didn’t really know anything about and I thought this would have been a great thing to embellish on in the book but nope. We get a small amount of clarification. BUT NOT ENOUGH!

But overall, I do think this is a book worth reading if you love Pride and Prejudice adaptations. I did enjoy it despite its set backs and I probably will read it again at some point.

Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

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When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
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Rating: 3 stars. 

Regrettably, this was disappointing. When I found the book on Goodreads a few months before the release date I was super pumped to find a new Young Adult book/series about assassin’s. I had become a little obsessed with them after reading the first two books of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and not going to lie I had pretty high expectations. The premise sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But it fell flat. 

It wasn’t a bad book, I enjoyed it enough. Enough that I will continue on with the series. But it wasn’t anything special. The plot was kind of what I was expecting it to be, awesome. But the characters were not good. None of the characters are particularly remember-able, which would obviously take a lot away from the book. With better characters this series could be amazing. It’s a shame as I was so prepared to love this book and I feel a little heartbroken that I didn’t. 

On another note, a few good things about the book was the whole magic system, I found it very interesting. Although it wasn’t vastly original, its still different enough to want to pick up this book for. Hopefully this aspect will grow with each book in the series (or trilogy, no idea what it’s going to be). It has me a little excited for more on that front. Fingers crossed that Cypress will deliver, 

Overall, really just another book to add to a pile of “meh”s and “maybe”s. For me this is a series I will have to keep an eye on, I feel like it’ll get better. I hope it will get better, 

 

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
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Rating: 3 stars

I feel sad that I didn’t like this book more. The amount of raving reviews I read before hand kind of made me think it would be something amazing. I’m not saying this is a bad book. It is really well written, to the point where I am willing to carry on with the series. However, I feel I didn’t connect with it as well as everyone else did. I think that the reason I didn’t necessarily like this book was not because of it being over hyped, I  actually understand why people love it so much. But I think it was because I felt it dragged on for so long that I kind of had to force myself to sit and read it.

There are a few things I really enjoyed about this book and one was how realistic it was, yeah I know it’s a fantasy, but it didn’t fell like it was accommodating to the clichéd scenarios that so frequently present themselves in other young adult fantasy novels. I didn’t roll my eyes once which was a breath of fresh air. The world in which this series is set is intriguing and it has its good and bad aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed the darker aspects which rarely make appearances in YA, with references to famine, disease, rape and death on a huge scale. It’s a little bit morbid of me to like reading about it but it really gave a much darker edge to the book that I was not expecting.

This book is definitely a story centred on its characters. There is an enormous array of characters that make appearances throughout the book that were really interesting and well formed. My only problem is that I want to know more about them. I really loved Trevanion and Froi. I could read entire books about them (thank god the next one in the series is Froi of the Exiles!). I disliked Evanjalin though, although there were aspects of her character that I liked, there was too much that I didn’t like. It makes me wonder what everyone else sees that I don’t.

There were some parts of the book and the world building that I didn’t like, that were well, confusing. I literally couldn’t picture what Lumatere was meant to look like. I feel that despite the huge amount of detail that Marchetta goes into in this book, she wasted it on things that didn’t matter and could have had more use in the descriptions of the world that the book is meant to be set. Although the writing is fabulous, there were also aspects which I just did not understand, I understand that it is part of Marchetta’s writing style, but I actually found myself trying to guess what was actually happening. I feel that these parts were meant to be obvious to the reader, I don’t know whether I was just being dense, but it really lowered my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I do think this is a book worth reading. I don’t regret it, I just really wish I could have enjoyed it more. I will make my way through the other two books, but I may save them for a rainy day.

Need by Carrie Jones

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Zara White suspects there’s a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She’s also obsessed with phobias. And it’s true, she hasn’t exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane…but Zara’s pretty sure her mom just can’t deal with her right now.
She couldn’t be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara’s overactive imagination. In fact, he’s still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There’s something not right – not human – in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you’d have to fear.
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Rating: 1.5 stars

This book is more of a preteen book rather than young adult. A minor blip from the publishers for marketing it as YA. I didn’t like this very much. The writing is bad. I read this book a few weeks back and I am having to scour my memory to remember what actually happened. The story in itself is not terrible, it was entertaining enough and I quite liked the romance aspect. Although honestly? It doesn’t take much to make me like romance.

I feel this book should have been longer. At just over 300 pages it isn’t exactly short but the plot really needed more embellishment. About 95% of this book is the main character and a few side characters (that barely make any appearances) wondering around and thinking with only 5% of any kind of action, and the action was mediocre at best squished into about 5 pages. I’m actually not sure how the author managed to stretch it to 300 pages, as there was hardly any character development at all, in fact I’m not really sure we know all that much about the main character. It’s sad really because this book has so much potential to be a really good story. It probably would have been better to have merged this book with the second in the series: Captivate. So there is actually more happening. For a Preteen/YA paranormal book its pretty dull.

This is probably one of the few books that I wouldn’t recommend. This is the kind of book you would read if you had nothing else left.

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

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A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is “Cinderella” meets “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form – a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.
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Rating: 3.5 stars.

This book was good, I liked it and I’m glad I read it but there was some aspects of it that I didn’t really like at all. Although it is a very good story and very well paced and thought out. I have always loved books that were set in Japan, I find the country fascinating and I liked the sound of the “Cinderella meets Memoirs of a Geisha” storyline. Despite the world in this book being set in a “fairy-tale Japan”, I still found it rather captivating and interesting.

However, I feel like the story could have benefited from more world building, a little more talk about the history I think would have  made the plot more solid. Not to mention that I only barely connected with the characters. Most of which were very 2D and lacked any originality. I couldn’t stand Suzume’s mother, although that is obviously intentional, but seriously what a selfish horrible character. On another note, I quite enjoyed the romance aspect it wasn’t a major part of the plot but I think it embellished it nicely and although in places it could have been more in-depth  I think it worked well.

There is only one other part of this book that I disliked and that was the ending, although essentially it wasn’t that bad but I felt it was lacking. I still have numerous questions about the side characters and it’s annoying that I’ll never know what happened to them because this book being a stand alone. Ugh!

On a more happy note, I really enjoyed the magical aspects of the story, it was fascinating and it was very original. A nice breath of fresh air from the usual. Despite there not being as much of this “magic” as I would have liked it worked. I don’t have anything bad to say about it really.

I do recommend this book if you’re interested in stories set in Japan/ Asian countries, original magical ideas and an action packed novel that is a little gut-wrenching.

[Series Review] Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa

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To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.
Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.
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Overall rating: 4.5 stars.

You’ve probably thought already that you will never have anything to do with stuff involving vampires again. The topic has been exhausted over and over again and yet the genre still isn’t dead, it truly is an immortal genre in fiction. Its safe to say that Twilight has essentially made the genre go into overkill, and the influx in vampire novels since Stephenie Meyer’s success haven’t really been of any significance. With the exception of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, who’s series could be deemed a success even with the flop in box office of the movie. Even with Anne Rice’s books, and of course the classic Dracula, the genre has always been sought-after in popular culture. But it is obvious it is starting to get repetitive. Luckily, I picked up this series for a bit of fun not expecting all that much. I’ve read Kagawa’s previous Fey series and loved it, so I was eager to give her other books a try. So, so, so glad I did. Not going to lie, I think this might be my favourite Vampire series. I do have a soft spot for vampire books, and I’ve read a lot of them. Although none have really stuck with me. This trilogy is epic. It deserves hype.

The Blood of Eden series centres on the character of Allie, who struggles to survive with everyone else in a post apocalyptic world which has been ravaged by disease, and which has been taken over by vampires using humans as cattle. Allie refuses to become a blood-bag so has to scavenge for food on the outskirts of the walled city. The walled city which keeps out the imminent death which awaits on the other side.
There seems to be a popular craze at the moment for apocalypse/dystopian style books so I suppose there was evidently going to be an attempt to incorporate this into the vampire genre.  It is a good mix. This series certainly brings back a lot of the “dark and disturbing” to vampires, that has been very lacking in the past 10 years. It was thoroughly enjoyable and kind of scary at times!

The characters were all very interesting. Although I do think that some of the “companion” side characters had very stereotypical personalities. But the main character Allie is worth reading this series for alone.  A very strong character that really develops throughout the three books. There are good and bad sides to her character but honestly? Thats what makes a great character in my opinion. Her voice in the books is enthralling and certainly makes you want to keep reading.
I was very fond of Kanin’s character and I wish we could have seen even more of him in the series, I think his character could have been build on a lot more than he was. Jackal’s character was a little frustrating at times but he did bring a lot of dark humour to the story that made me laugh numerous times. Zeke was a good character, but in The Forever Song I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with him even a little annoyed.

Overall, the only thing stopping me from giving this series a full 5 stars are problems I have with the side characters. Otherwise, I would recommend this series to anyone that has lost faith in the Vampire genre and anyone with love for the gory! This is a trilogy I would certainly read again.

[Update] I’ve finished my degree!

Okay I’ve barely posted a thing over the past few months but guess what?! That is at an end! Well, until October that is. Now that I have handed in my last assignment for university, I am free till October when I start my Masters degree. So that means that I will be catching up on all the reading I haven’t been able to do over the past 4-5 months and writing reviews for the books I have read but haven’t posted about yet. FINALLY!! 

Can’t wait to get started.