Monday, 19 September 2016

Book Review: Blood Kiss by J .R. Ward

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1)


Hi readers, 

So, I'm finally reviewing this! I read it like in July but it's only now I've got around to writing about due to everything else that I've been writing about. I double checked the publishing date and this came out last year, but as normal I had to wait for it to become paperback and then to get around to reading it. I remember being super excited to hear that Ward, who is my second favorite author, was bringing out a new series that connected to the Brotherhood and that she'd gone back to how she had originally written those first few books, which I fell in love with.

I didn't feel disappointment, nothing has changed in her writing style or characters, but I was hoping that the story would focus more on the new characters and what seems to be the next generation of the Brotherhood. Instead though, the plot is divided into two; Paradise and Craeg's love story and Butch and Marissa murder mystery story. Both do work well together and it's typical of Ward's Brotherhood novels to be divided into two or three story plots that feel equal balanced. 

However, this means that if you've not read any of the Brotherhood books it's harder to understand. All, the characters have already been set up and everything. Though, the history between Butch and Marissa is gone over so readers can remember and understand it, I think if you haven't read their story it can be difficult to get into their relationship. I would have much preferred the Butch and Marissa story to have been in an actual Brotherhood book, but Ward has tied in the plot nicely, so it doesn't feel as jarring. 

The plot is that Paradise gets recruited into the Brotherhood's training program. Finally, she has a chance to prove she's more then just a pretty face! Of course, falling in love was never a part of the plan, but we know from one of the previous Brotherhood book when Paradise and Craeg meet that something is going to happen between them. Paradise and the other recruits have a trail to get through and of course she and Craeg pass and then like so do three other guys. Then they begin their training. Alongside this is Butch's story and he's having problems in his marriage - basically it's a communication break down brought on by a problem in the past. 

The characters are really good and do feel realistic with their true to life problems. There is a good develop for all of them too, with Butch and Marissa overcoming their problems to save their marriage and Paradise and Craeg overcome their barriers and let the love between them grow. Time is spend with some of the other characters, but not much becomes of them due to the fact there's so many and they each have their own novels. 

Overall, this novel is good and fits well into the Brotherhood series and its nice to see different and new characters. I still would have liked it if this novel had just been about them though as then it would be easier for new readers to pick up and there'd also be less focus on the Brotherhood. Hopefully, this might come through more in other books in the series. I'm looking forward to reading to reading the second one now and also the next Brotherhood book, I think it might have all ready come out but I'm still awaiting it. 

Thanks for reading.           

Monday, 12 September 2016

September's Life Update: 10 free Sewing Projects


Hi readers,

I've got a slightly different post to share with you all today. Originally, this post was about sewing projects you could do with kids during the summer holidays, but now summer is over and most of the kids have gone back to school. I still wanted to write this post though, so I thought why not aim it slightly more at Christmas? So below is a list of free sewing projects that I've done with the young people I work with at the youth center, which you can do by yourself or with family and friends as a fun weekend activity or you could make them for Christmas presents!

I used wool felt in all these projects expect the first one, which I used fabric. You could use anything you like to make these, but I find felt a lot more easy to work with -especially if children are doing the sewing. Also, I just noticed in editing this that all but one of these projects is a soft toy! But most of the patterns can easily be changed to make key ring charms or pillows or however else you want to change them. I think I just find it easy to make soft toys with the kids as they have basic sewing skills and of course, my work being a charity, we don't get a lot of money/supplies for arts and crafts.

I've included the links to all but one of the projects, so you can get the instructs and patterns. I hope you enjoy and find this post useful.


1. Hair Scrunchies


I found out how to make these from someone at work. She was teaching the Thursday craft group of 8-12 year olds how to make scrunchies and hair bands. Seeing how easier it was, I really wanted to make my own and so I give it ago a few days later and now I'm addicted. I'm always in need of scrunchies because I end up mis-placing them! So, being able to now make my own and use whatever pattern of fabric I want is really great. It's a good way to use up strips of fabric and I think they'd make nice small gifts for people with long hair.

Pattern: https://snapguide.com/guides/make-an-easy-hair-scrunchie/

YouTube Video I found useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN-GpWWhjvk


2. Steggie


I found this little guy whilst looking for a triceratops because that's what I really wanted. I thought he looked too nice to pass up on though and so I got the pattern. I was meant to be making a big one to go with this small one, but I've not got around to it yet. Whilst the body parts are easy to do, sewing the spike plates on is a bit tricky. But he turned out well.

I've not made this with the kids yet, but I'd like too.

Pattern: http://nuno-runo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/stegosaurus.html


3. Minion


For weeks, the young people I work with on Tuesdays have been asking to make Minions. So I found a simple pattern for a small toy one and I give it ago. There are lots of bits to sew on, but you could glue them on. The kids really loved making them and made their own spin on them with one girl covering the bare 'bum' of her's with a white felt strip with penned in 'censored' Which was so funny. Since taking this photo I added in white dots over the eyes and buttons on his overalls. The H on the pocket originally stood for my name, but then I decided to name him Hogarth, which works well.

There are no instructions for the pattern because I think it's in Spanish, but it's not that hard to figure out what the shapes are and where they go.  

Pattern for Minion via Pinterest: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/8f/3c/0e/8f3c0ec0c0529146a9b04e43148b7119.jpg

Pattern for clothes: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/6d/ed/20/6ded20a2fc4c6ec40abf7e3d3cf61cd3.jpg



4. Mermaid 


This is another thing the kids had been bugging me for. It took my ages to find an easy pattern that was all in one piece - which I prefer and find it easy for the kids to do. I struggled so much that in the end I went with this one. The pattern is in Spanish- I think and so it was a little bit of a trail to work out the best way to fit the pieces together.

In the end, I went with sewing the tail, body and hair together on both the front and back then pinning them together and sewing it all up. Some of the kids choice to sew the three pieces with their matching parts together first then sew them to each of the other parts, but it was kinda tricky to do this.

Also I found the stars that are used to cover her chest not right for the kids, so we made 'bikini' style tops. Actually, mine never really got finished, I was going to give her a small skirt - to cover up my stitching and also put the flowers in her hair. To be honest, I'd like to try this one again and spend more time on it.

The pattern is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bonifrati/5425111743/sizes/l/in/gallery-lucienerosi-72157625867910218/


5. Ladybugs / ribbon bugs


I adapted this pattern to suit my needs as you'll see. It turned out that all the ribbon I had was Christmas themed and since we made this in June, I didn't think it'd be fitting. So I cut the wings and other bits out of felt instead. These were easy to make, but the kids didn't get into them as I'd hoped. I'm happy with the way mine turned out though.

Pattern: http://www.patchworkposse.com/ribbon-bugs-stuffie-free-pattern/


6. Horse/Unicorn/Pegasus 


I made this like last year because I wanted a unicorn but couldn't find a pattern for one. So I took this simple pattern of a horse and once I had made it just cut out a horn and then I also decided to add some wings. I think it was My Little Pony inspired. For the mane and tail, I decided to use some rainbow fur I had left over and it work well, though attaching it was a bit tricky.

I've not made this with the kids yet because it took me awhile and I found the sewing of the legs hard. I think most girls would like this though, so maybe in the future we'll make them.

Pattern: http://simmy.typepad.com/echoesofadream/2007/05/thank_you_so_mu.html


7. Fish and Seahorse


This is the one I don't have the pattern for. I couldn't find it because I realized that I'd just googled patterns for sea creatures and then picked the best ones. I made like a goldfish and the seahorse like two years back and I also started another goldfish which as you can see I never got around to finishing. Sewing the whole thing with sequence was taking forever.

So make this just find some plain images of the sea creatures you want, print them, cut out the shapes from felt and them just sew them together and decorate. I also made these smaller and the kids made key ring charms out of them.


8. Panda


I was watching Kung Fu Panda the other day and decided I wanted to make a panda soft toy. I love pandas and they are one of my favorite animals. I found two very different patterns, but I went with easiest for this post. Plus, kids can make this very easily and if they are not a fan of pandas it's easy to change the colors to make whatever bear you want.

I'd love to make this one bigger and out of micro-fleece or another soft fabric, so that he could become a pillow. That'd be really awesome. I love how he turned out and do think I'll be making him some friends soon.

Pattern: http://mollychicken.blogs.com/my_weblog/2005/11/anna_panda.html



9. Fox



This little guy would make a really nice pillow/cushion. Or maybe a pin or a key charm. I found him really quick to sew up too. He's sitting on my desk with my panda right now, but I sure wish I'd made him bigger because he'd be another good soft toy for snuggling with. He's be great for fox lovers.

Pattern: http://littlewhiteschoolhouse.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/free-fox-softie-pattern.html?m=1



10. Day Of The Dead Doll


It's nearly Halloween! So, when I came across this doll I knew I had to make her. She took me awhile and I do think that glueing the bones ect on would have been easier, but I do find hand sewing relaxing. I'm really pleased with how she turned out as I struggled to get the pattern pieces the right size just due to my computer. She's not as complicated as she looks to make either, it's just the time needed.

Pattern: http://www.aestheticnest.com/2014/10/craft-day-of-dead-doll-free-pattern.html


Surprise bonus; knitted Dragons.

Lastly, does anyone remember the knitting patterns I brought in Leeds? Well, my mum has been busy making these guys! She also made the rainbow hedgehog, but I forgot to take a photo of it it. I so want to make a small hedgehog by myself at some point though and aren't the baby dragons so cute?




This all for this week, thanks for reading and please come back soon. Feel free to share you thoughts below. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Book Review; Glass Houses by Rachel Caine




Hi readers, 

Today, I'm continuing with clearing off 'easy' books on my to read shelf and this was next on the list. I know this book came from my one of my favorite shops - The Works- cause it still had the price sticker on it, but the date I got this I don't know and it's more then possible my mum could easily have brought it for me as it's been on the bottom of my bookcase with other vampire novels for a good few years now.

I was a little bit worried that this story would be another 'Twilight'. I feel bad that I'm now judging teenage vampire fiction and sometimes other teenage supernatural novels by that marker. I think the Twilight books just annoyed me a lot, like Fifty Shades Of Grey did and now I'm too quick to say, 'oh, it's just another Twilight!' Every time I start reading that kind of novel. Also, when I took Glass Houses off my shelf I saw it had been sitting behind Interview With The Vampire and I so wanted to read that instead. It's my all time favorite book and favorite vampire novel. I resisted temptation, but my reading of Glass Houses was over shadowed by that urge, which so didn't help.

I'm please to report though that Glass Houses, isn't anything like Twilight, which makes me feel totally better about writing this review. However though, the story and the characters didn't really grab me enough to make me want to buy the next book. When I looked into it I found there was 15 books in The Morganville Vampires series and there hasn't been anymore since the last came out in 2013. Glass Houses is the first and was published in 2006. Which makes me safer to talking about some aspects of the story and characters, that people might see as spoilers. And I do try hard in all my reviews not to do that to people because I so hate it when it happens with me and then it makes me not to carry on or actually start reading a novel. So, you've been warned now.

There's so much I actually want to write about this novel, which isn't a change for me because I normally want to go into a whole essay and pick everything apart, just like every English Lit class has taught me. But I know people don't like reading long in-detailed reviews, more often then not they just want to hear if it was good or bad and worth their time reading. But I feel it can't be helped, I love vampires so much and tonight I'm in the mood for an in depth reviewing - which is shocking cause I've been struggling to write for the last month or so on all my blogs and personal projects! I guess sometimes it can take just one thing to get you back on the writing track.

So anyway, the plot of Glass Houses is that a 16 year old girl called Claire moves into a town called Morganville in Texas, USA where she attends college due to being super intelligent and her parents wanting the best for but not wanting her to grow up too fast and let her go, basically. American readers will get that more then UK readers as here 16 is like the starting age for going to college and we don't really have the very intelligent people fast tracking through the education system either. I think also the divide between 16 and 18 must be bigger in the USA. when I was a teenager I didn't feel like there was a such big gap between the ages like this novel makes out there is.

Claire is being bullied by a gang of girls due to making the leader like stupid in front of a hot boy. She over hears the girl call Monica say that World War 2 had been a Chinese thing and without really thinking about it, Claire corrects her. From that point on, Monica and her gang the Monickettes, which sounds like some pop band of the 1980's or 1990's, have been bullying her. Thus, the opening of the novel begins with Claire returning to collect her clothes washing and finding a note saying all of her clothes have gone down the rubbish chute.

Monica and the Monickettes are waiting for her as she leaves and Claire gets pushed down some stairs. Not wanting to return to the girl's only dorm, she finds an ad for a housemate and goes to visit the house. There she meets Eve - a goth, Shane - who has a tragic past and Micheal who turns out to be a ghost. She moves in with them and Eve tells her that vampires are real and they rule the town. Claire then falls prey to a young vampire and to free her Shane makes a deal of having his blood drunk instead. Claire doesn't want that though and after asking if there's anyway they can get out of, Eve tells her about this power book that the vampires have been searching for.

Of course, Claire finds the book and in the dramatic final a vampire finally gets their hands on it. Turns out this book is about how to turn people into vampires, a knowledge that vampires have lost and it was written by the vampire who gets it back. It also turns out the house they are living in use to be her's as well. The vampire agrees to grant the group protect against other vampires and their human friends so Monica can't bully Claire anymore.

Then though, Shane father's turns up and starts causes trouble after Shane phoned him to ask for his help in defeating the vampires who were attacking them for the book. His dad is like a vampire slayer after revenge. The novel ends on the cliff hanger of Michael being killed.

I found all the characters to be quite well written. I liked how they all had secrets and I can see how they'd develop into friends and couples in the other books. The bully and her gang were also interesting, but there wasn't enough time spent on their characters for me - this might happen in the other books though. As for the vampires, they were mostly in the background and we only got to see like three of them - not counting ones that briefly appear. This to me doesn't satisfy my vampire need enough. Though the actual backgrounds and lore of the vampires did, which I'm always very interested in, especially if it's a different take on how vampires came to be ect. Hopefully, there's more of that in the other books.

The narration of the book is first person and Claire tells the story, so we did only get one point of view. However, she's not your typical 16 year old girl and her high intelligence and scientific mind were a nice changed from the 'stereotypical' teenage girl that has a tendency to appear in this young adult supernatural novels. Though it did take me awhile to actually get into the story. I think the overshadow from one of the best vampire novels as well as one of the worst, didn't help, but it's also the pace, which happens a little bit too fast at the start so we didn't get to know Claire all that well before she get's pushed down the stairs.

That set aside though, I did find this novel easy and fast to read. It's written simply, but effectively and even if the age of the main characters don't give the target audience for these series the writing clearly does. I can understand why a lot of teenagers and young adults would like these books, but they are not for me and I need a lot more 'adult' to satisfy my needs now. (Anne Rice and J .R. Ward are clearly to blame here!)

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book and maybe if I was younger or had more time or had never read/seen Twilight I would look into reading more. As it stands though I'm not interested at the moment. I would recommend this book to teenagers and young adults who like this kind of thing and perhaps haven't read Twilight or are seeking some better vampires to read about.

Thanks for reading and if you've got the time check out my other blogs. Next week is going to be a Life Update post, as hopefully I'll have finally finished a post I started late July/early August about sewing projects for kids. If not, it'll be another book review, so till then.

Image result for The Morganville Vampires



Image from; Amazon uk and www.korsetpelangsing.biz

Monday, 29 August 2016

Book Review; Joyland by Stephen King

Image result for joyland by stephen king

Hi readers, 

So, summer is finally drawing to a close even though in the UK it's not been much of a summer! We've only had a handful days that have been good and all the others have been rainy, windy and cloudy. I don't mind though because I'm not one of the sun and the heat! My favorite season is up next; autumn and already there's Halloween items in the shops! I just can't wait! But I thought I needed a book to end summer out on and since I now have a few books that I've finished reading and are waiting reviews, it was hard to decided. Finally, I choice Joyland, because it just seemed so fitting. 

I found this book at a cheap bookshop in London along with another King novel - Cujo-which I had heard about, but I had never heard of Joyland before. My first thoughts were that it was connect to the movie Adventureland, which I really like and does have a lot of the same themes as Joyland, but they are separate. In fact, Adventureland came out in 2009 and Joyland in 2012. Their time and place settings are also different with Joyland being in 1973 North Carolina and Adventureland being in 1987 Pennsylvania.

Joyland is only the second novel I've read by King. The first was Salem's Lot, which I read last year, but didn't review for some reason. though I have read some of his short stories and I do own a few other books. I think and this is before I get to reviewing the book, that I'm not a fan of King's writing style. I like the idea of his stories and I find his characters interesting, but the way he writes just doesn't grip me. I don't know if that's because I feel his style is stuck in the 1960's and 70's. Which given that most of his novels were written then and/or set then is understandable. Perhaps, it's his use of American language that I just don't get. Whatever it is, the story plot and characters carry things through enough for me to keep reading.

So Joyland, if you've not already guessed is set in an amusement park and I have this interested in such places. I have a lot of happy memories of going to theme parks with my family and friends, but I also have a fascination with abandoned theme parks. - Now that's something I do have a post about on here! I think also having watched Adventureland a few times I was more then eager to read this novel. I actually enjoyed reading it, though I was a little let down by the supernatural/horror as coming from King I expected there to be a lot more! This novel's main focus though is about growing up, love and heartbreak. 

Devin Jones a university student takes a summer job at Joyland park after being encouraged by his girlfriend who is having to move away to do her summer job. Devin is then warned by the park's fortune teller that he will met two children  a girl and a boy. Of course he doesn't believe her and gets on with things, including dressing up as the park's mascot Howie the Happy Hound. He also learns that the haunted house ride is haunted by a young woman who was murdered in there by her so called boyfriend and that people have seen her ghost. The crime has never been solved though. 

The fortune teller's words do come true and Devin meets a girl who's life he then saves and the boy is a medium who lives with his mother in a big house over looking the sea. Devin develops a friendship with the boy- who turns out to be very ill and his mother after helping them to fly their kite on the beach. Devin also breaks up with his girlfriend, which leaves him very heartbroken and though he's made new friends he feels lonely. He decides to stay at the park instead of going back to university in the hope that this will make him feel better. Devin also, with the help of one his new friends figures out who killed the girl in the haunted house ride and confronts them in a finally show down at the end of the novel. 

The story and characters are both well written and enjoyable. There are a lot of interesting characters that appear and they felt realist for the time and place. Devin develops a lot too as we get to see the effects heartbreak can have on a young man and how he overcomes this. The dialogue was also effective, even if they did use a lot of theme park term words that I had to keep remembering what they were code for. There was a lot of nice imagery that came out of the description too which really brought everything to life for me. 

I found the plot simple but mysterious and pacy which meant I did read through it fast. Like I said before though, my only issue is that I just can't get into King's writing style. However, I wouldn't let that put you off if you've not read any of King's stuff before because he's worth reading for his characters, which seem so realistic with their many layers. 

Overall, this novel is a good summer's read or even a autumn/winter read if you are wanting the summer back! I think it's also a good novel for first time or beginner readers of King because the supernatural/horror elements are really minimal. If you like 'coming of age' stories and ones set in the theme parks then it's really good. However, if you're looking for a little more horror and/or excitement then you might end up disappointed. Still give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!           


If you've got the time, please check out my other blogs:

https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/
https://negativitybreakout.wordpress.com/

Also, check out my goodreads page for updates on books. 
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7400715-hayley-hardman


Image from Amazon.uk. 


Additional information from; 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventureland_(film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyland_(novel)

Monday, 15 August 2016

August Life Update: My Brother's Wedding

Hi readers,

Today I wanted to write a quick post about my brother's wedding. It happened on Thursday at a place called Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, UK. The castle was really lovely and dates to the 1800's, so it's all intact still, not like the castle we stopped at on the way there! There's not much left of Beeston castle, it looks like the ruins of a large tower on a tall hill now. The well was interesting though and you could see a lot from the top, though it was a very clouded day.

My room, photo below, at Peckforton was really nice. I was staying in the top floor of one of the towers. It faced out over the chapel and tower gates as can be seen in the photo above. I had a window box and a fire place, which I'm a lover of both, but I do wish I'd had my parent's bathtub as mine was just a normal bath/shower combo. I didn't sleep so good though, I don't like beds that are not my own and I think on the night of the wedding I was so over-tried that sleep was beyond me! Well....my parents and I had been up till 3am in the wine cellar reflecting on the day.  




I did so want to take a bath in this tub, but I didn't get the chance. In fact everything went so fast, I sort of feel like I missed it all and I so wish I'd taken more photos. Speaking of, I decided I'm not going to post up any photos of anyone but me. That's because it's personal family photos and I do feel the need to ask people if it's okay for them to be published here. Though even if they said it was okay, I'd still feel like this wasn't the place. So, I'm just going to share the photos I think are okay for here.

For the last few months/weeks leading up to the wedding, I'd become worried that I'd be super bored or wouldn't fit in. It had been weighing on my mind a lot, if my dresses were okay and what I'd look like in the photos. Well, beside from the photos - I'm so not good in any photos really- everything else was good. The day went by with lots of things to keep me busy - like chasing around after my brother to drag him in the photo booth and meeting relatives and friends I'd not seen in ages. 

My brother and his new wife had ordered a bird of prey display, an ice cream cart and an string quartet to keep everyone happy whilst they got all the photos out of the way. I loved all these things and I had a lot of ice cream and watched the birds flying about. I even got to hold one! He was an owl and his name was Mango, he also was the bird that delivered the wedding rings at the ceremony.  



This is an eagle hawk. He was a bit scared and didn't really want to fly around everyone. At one point he went off to investigate the ice cream cart and we didn't think he was going to come back! But then he did and everything was okay again.


I tried all the ice cream from this cart, but the vanilla one. It was really nice and since the weather was warm and sunny, it was very fitting. A few people hopped on the bike behind the cart and had their photos took, but I didn't. I have a nice one of the bride though. It was a hit with everyone I think. 


This was the room in the great hall were my brother got married. They then used it as the dance room for the party. The theme was purple and sliver, with a touch of Game of Thrones and Disney. I really liked it and it looked great. The DJ played some good music too - most of it seemed to come off the list I put together online as I reconsidered a lot of the songs! I really loved the table decorations too! They were floating candles with purple flowers underneath them in the water. They were present everywhere and this photo below with them by one of the great hall windows is really nice.  
  


Of course, no wedding would be complete without a cake! Their's was just so awesome. They had Game Of Thrones on the bottom with them seating on the throne at the top. The middle section was images of Totoro, which is the bride's favorite anime and like my second. I love it and it was so cute. The top was Disney couples. each layer was different, but we only got to eat the lemon one. The other two were red velvet and chocolate. I got a good picture of them 'mock' cutting the cake with a big sword.  


I think one of my favorite things was the chocolate fountain. There was lots of things you could get dipped into the chocolate, including mini doughnuts, fudge, fruits and gingerbread man! I think that's one of my new favorite things. I tried to find a photo of the chocolate fountain, because I didn't take one, but it seems that no one else so far has! I got this photo of me eating a gingerbread man, though I don't think it's a good photo, but I wanted to put up something. 


 Lastly, we went into the wine cellar. It was really nice and the perfect place to have a few more drinks before going to bed. My other brother's girlfriend and my next door neighbor ordered some tea and I was surprised that no one had thought to serve hot drinks down here. Like I said at the start, my parents and I were the last to leave. It was such a long day, but also really good. 

I still can't believe how fast it went though! I'm enjoying seeing all the photos everyone else took too. Hopefully, I'll get to see the one from the photo booth and the hired photographers. It's nice to be home, but I do miss the castle. Also, I have a sister now! That's going to take awhile to sink in. 



Next week will be a book review. See you then. 


Photos all my own.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Book Review: Imprudence by Gail Carriger


Hi readers,

I finally finished this! I know it's like two week over due now, but the first week I had like four days to read it in and that wasn't happening. Then last week, I realized I was rushing through reading the book and losing my enjoyment fast. I decided it wasn't worth speeding through it just to write about this novel on my blog. So, I slowed down again - at least until the last few chapters! 

So, this is the second book in a new series by Gail Carriger, which follows from The Parasol Protectorate and is the story of Alexia and Conall's daughter, Rue. She has the power to steal supernatural forms and can become a vampire, werewolf or other were-beast by touching said creature. This can led to some funny moments, but also very useful. 

This novel is about Rue's trip to Egypt to relocate her parents as her father is under the werewolf alpha curse and going crazy. As we know from the other series and get reminded a little in this book, there is a God-Breaker-Plague which is made up of dead soulless's bodies that makes all supernaturals mortal. Of course, this was all set up at the end of the last series, so people who've read them will be able to make more sense of things, but of course enough information is given for those that have not. 

There's a lot more going on then just a pleasure trip to Egypt though, as news of the werelion, who Rue and her friends met last time has gotten out. The werelioness is still traveling with them as The Spotted Custard starts getting attacked, Rue decides it's due to people hunting the werelioness. Throughout the novel they are chased and often engage in fights with unknown enemies. Rue decides they need to warn the Pride of werelioness they are all being hunted, but just maybe the enemy isn't after werebeasts after all?

As with the first book, I thought the chapters were too long and they were too broken up. The pacing too was slow, which might be the reason I didn't read this as fast as I've done the other books. I know that most people won't made these facts and maybe I'm being too fussy. To be hones those are the only downsides for me. 

The characters were really good and it was nice to spend more time Alexia and Conall, even though I think this might have been their last appearance. They both come across as being their good old selfs', if just older! There is also the appearance of a very old friend too. I kinda don't want to spoil that though, I wouldn't say the introduction is a plot twist, but there is one later on. I do see why this character has come back though and I think it'll be useful in the other books too. We do get to see a lot of development of the characters in this book.

I think this happens especially to Rue as at the start and later on, she 'loses' her family. She can't be part of the werewolf pack now her father is gone and she doesn't want to stay with her parents now they have moved to Egypt. She has to find herself again and also her own family. That's really what this story is about, though it stays mostly in the background. The romance between Rue and Qusenel finally takes off and they get together. Though and I'm still not sure how I feel about it because of me it just feels wrong, especially with the historic setting, but they end up sleeping together before they enter anything else. 

I also don't feel that the same level of bedroom activity language that was in the first series is present here and in away I feel a bit let down by this. I get the narrative is trying to stick within the historic time zone and the over all theme of the novel is not sex. I think maybe I found the whole thing jarring and just thrown in there when so much else was happening. I think that I'd have liked the characters to have more time, instead of the danger of their adventures, as it were, pressuring them into falling in love. Anyway, they are together now and we'll see where things go. 

The novel has a good ending, which does leave one thing open ended for the next book and it'll be an interesting read. Looks like Rue is uncovering more of her family history. I also wonder which country she'll end up in next. I'm guessing it might be a little bit of a wait now though! 

Overall, I did like reading this novel. The setting and characters interested me greatly and find them all so likable. I don't think I'm that excited for the next book though because I still feel that compared to the original series this one doesn't quite hit the mark for me and that really comes down to pacing and now the narrative is structured. I would add don't read this one without reading the first one as they are not stand alone books, but you don't have to have read the first series as enough information is given. 

Thanks for reading and next week I'm going to be looking at the first book in a new series by my favorite author.      

Monday, 18 July 2016

Book Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger


Hi readers, 

Today I'm looking at the sequel to the Parasol series. This follows Alexia and Conall's daughter, Rue, as she sets off to have adventures on her own. Well, sort of, she brings some friends along too! I was excited to see how Carriger would write this story and the contrasts to the first series.

My first in impression is that it's really good. It stays in the same vein as before with the focus being on the supernatural and adventure theme with the steampunk being in the background, though it does feel a little more developed here. Also, there's only a small bit of romance as none of the characters have got together yet. I don't made this though as it means there's lots of time for things to happen between the characters. 

The plot of the novel is that Rue, now a young lady, has been giving a quest to travel to India to investigate a new kind of tea by her adapted vampire father. She's given a state of the art airship, which she names The Spotted Custard, and most of her crew. Rue then recruits her best friend Primrose and her twin brother Percy - Alexia's best friend Ivy's twins- as well as Qusenel, Madam Lefoux's adopted son. Bring all the next generation from the Parasol books together! 

They then travel to India, making some new friends along the way and once there - including a lioness and some monkeys. All isn't as it seems though and soon Rue is dragged into a problem that is a lot more deeper the missing tea leaves. I won't give anything else away, but the ending is happy and solved enough for my liking. 

All the characters work well together and they do develop as the pages turn. Rue does remind me of her parents a lot though and I love one of the scenes were she turns into a werewolf and ends up running through London in bloomers! That image is going to stay with me a long time. I also like her airship being painted like a ladybug and her quick thinking. The other character don't seem to sit on the side though as they all seemed very detailed and come across as them being the main characters. I like all the different friendships too and there wasn't a character that really bugged me. 

I have like three issues overall though. The first is that I felt this book was longer then any of the first series. The chapters felt long and sometimes I found them too broken up for my own liking. The second is that this book does have it's dippy moments. Unlike, the first book of The Parasol series which felt like a run with one thing after another, the same style is a bit less in this book and I don't think it works well. There were a few moments were I got bored because of this, but that just made me want to push on. The third thing is that there's more terminology used, especially to do with the airship and my dyslexic brain didn't understand, though I always felt like I knew what was going on though. 

Overall, I did actually enjoy reading this novel. I don't think you need to have read any other books by Carriger, though of course having that background of everyone's parents etc is useful knowledge, but with all the focus being on Rue and her friends, anyone could pick it up. It's a nice introduction to anyone interested in steampunk and alternate history too. I'm looking forward to the second book now! But I won't get it read for next Monday's review as it's Amazon says it's not arriving till the Thursday after! I might not post anything then so that they follow on from each other. Going to have to see. 

Thanks for reading. 


Image from; Amazon UK.