Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Puffin
Released: October 6th
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads/Amazon

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother's mysterious death, he's lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he's tracked down by an uncle he's never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die...
(from Goodreads)

Unsurprisingly, I loved Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer. Rick Riordan’s writing…it wins me over every time. EVERY TIME.

So this booked was a bit different to Rick’s other series. Our main character, Magnus, was a homeless teen, and had been for two years. His mum had been murdered, he didn’t trust his own family members, and now, he had just gotten himself killed. All in all, it’s safe to say he did not have an easy life. Magnus was very easy to like, though. He was funny but realistic, he was kind-hearted and determined! You just had to like the guy. His sense of humour was sarcastic but a bit darker than say Percy or Leo’s - which was understandable. He was also less trusting and wary of people - but was also pretty caring and (dare I say it) heroic - even if he didn’t think so himself. I really, really, really enjoyed following him in this book. I am also very curious as to what the prediction thingy (prophecy?) at Valhalla meant and how Magnus ties into it all. I honestly can’t wait for book two, I can’t. What am I going to do with myself?

Samirah was another character I really loved! A daughter of Loki, it was difficult to know whether to  trust her or not (I did) but regardless, she was an awesome character. She was a Valkyrie, and was the one who chose Magnus for Valhalla. She also seemed to have a lot of secrets, but at the same time, seemed very dedicated to Odin and helping people. Everyone distrusted her because of her father, and she had to deal with that on a daily basis at Valhalla. You had to admire her for not constantly cracking under the pressure and managing to get through everything, even when it seemed like it was all going wrong. It was also interesting how her family had had many previous dealings with the gods before - the al-Abbas family was connected to them going back generations, so Sam knew a lot about it all, and she struggled between wanting to have a normal life and wanting to be a Valkyrie. 

I also loved a lot of the other characters, including Blitz and Hearth, who were Magnus’s sort-of guardians/friends and looked out for him. Hearth was a very powerful rune magician and Blitz was a dwarf with a knack for fashion design and they were both awesome and loyal friends who stuck by Magnus. TJ, Mallory, Halfborn and X seemed like a nice bunch too and I really hope we get to see them interact with Magnus more in the next book! They seemed to all become friends with Magnus really quickly, and I do wish they had spent just a bit more time together so we could understand why they became close. We met a few gods in this book as well, but I’ll just talk about Loki for the time being, because he was (unsurprisingly) a very tricky character - the trickiest god we’ve met in all the series. It would be crazy to trust him from what we’ve seen of him so far, but he could also be very funny and somewhat charming at times, and could make you understand his point of view on certain matters - which was even more reason not to trust him.

I also have to mention the Sword of Summer (or Jack, as he liked to be called). I loved Jack. He was a sword to rival Pookie Bear from Penryn and the End of Days! He was just so funny and came up with the most hilarious stuff. Ahh, well I always love talking objects. I’m very glad Jack was in this book - and also, that joke about pen swords? I cracked up. I did.

Plot-wise, this is the type of book you don’t even bother trying to predict what will happen because, a) you’re so engrossed, and b) literally anything could happen. I really enjoyed the plot and the obstacles Magnus face in his attempt to delay Ragnarok. I loved visiting some of the other worlds and meeting all the different people and different gods, plus I loved Magnus’s reaction to things (that scene where he asks about Loki and the horse, oh dear, I think I laughed for way too long). The thing that made me laugh the most though, was the title of chapter 48. I can’t even. It was so funny I just sat and laughed for a good five minutes before even reading the page. Also, ANNABETH! Annabeth was in this book! On three different occasions! Okay, not for long, but still. I missed her. And I can’t WAIT for Magnus to hear Annabeth’s story and vice versa. It’s going to be awesome (also if Percy makes a cameo in any future books, I may die. Just saying).

Overall, I loved this book, it was amazing, please read it. I mean, if you liked Percy Jackson, or if you like gods and mythology, you’re pretty much guaranteed to like this. And if you didn’t like Percy Jackson, I have no words for you. If you haven’t read Percy Jackson…get on that. Seriously. And then come back and read Magnus Chase.
Also, for those interested, here is the trailer!

I really like the visuals for this trailer, but have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of the voiceover. Gets you hyped for the book though! I mean I was already very, very excited to read this book as a huge Rick Riordan fan, but the trailer added to it.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Demons of the Hellmouth, A Guide for Slayers by Nancy Holder

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Demons of the Hellmouth, A Guide for Slayers by Nancy Holder
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: September 4th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Demons of the Hellmouth is a fully licensed guide to the vampires and other demons that flocked to the Sunnydale Hellmouth in Joss Whedon’s cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This in-universe illustrated guide is written by Rupert Giles, and also contains handwritten notes from Buffy and Willow. This unique book promises a diabolical romp through the highlights of the beloved show. (from Goodreads)

As a Buffy fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review this book. In the format of a guide for Slayers, this book takes you on a trip down memory lane (well - if you’re a seasoned fan whose seen the series multiple times, then maybe not, but it’s still a lot of fun), exploring all the vampires, demons and other forces of evil that Buffy and the Scooby Gang encountered in the TV series.

The book started with a foreword by Anthony Stewart Head (who played Giles), which I really enjoyed reading. It’s clear from the things he wrote that he and the other actors in the show must have really loved Buffy, and still look back on it with fondness. I actually rewatched the whole series (on Netflix) maybe a year and a half ago but reading through this book was really nostalgic and made me remember all the reasons why I love Buffy so much. It was great for reminding me of some of the weird characters I had forgotten too, and I think it’s just a great book to have on your bookshelf, whether for reference, nostalgia, or simply because it looks really cool (it does, I love the layout).

I really liked the format of the book, and the detailed info on each character. I loved reexperiencing some of the crazy vampire/demons the Scoobies came across, as well as refreshing my memory on the backstories of some of my favourites. It was quite funny too - Giles’s dry humour came across fairly well (though not exactly the same as Giles from the show, but maybe I’m being a perfectionist) and Buffy, Willow, Xander and Faith all had little scribblings in the margins which were also fun to read (though, again, were not entirely accurate portrayals of the characters - I know it would be difficult to get their personalities to really shine through in just a few words per page, but still. I can’t help but compare). The way they interacted with each other through the scribbles made me miss the show and all the relationships between the characters so much! Ahh. Maybe it’ll be time for another rewatch soon.

I loved all the photos/illustrations too, which really added to the nostalgia, and also made it seem like a more realistic guide. The advice to the Slayers coupled with the hints as to what they would be facing in the future were great too and I’ll always live in hope that one day there will be a Buffy reunion (it’s unlikely, but I won’t give up!).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and if you’re a Buffy fan of any kind, even if you already know every detail of the show (and the comics and everything else), you’ll probably enjoy this too. There’s no real new information, but it’s a nice consolidation of everything and something cool to display on your shelf.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review: Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro

Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro
Publisher: Alma Books
Released: September 15th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Twelve-year-old Grubb lives a hand-to-mouth existence in Victorian England, working as a chimney sweep under a cruel master. After an incident at an inn, he hides in the trunk of one of its guests, the enigmatic Alistair Grim, and is whisked away to his Odditorium, a wonderful flying house full of incredible mechanical features powered by an enigmatic substance called animus. Now apprenticed to Grim, Grubb begins to settle into his new life and find a new family in the eccentric crew of the Odditorium, when suddenly his new world comes under attack by the evil Prince Nightshade and he is propelled into a perilous quest. As he gets caught up in the struggle, Grubb will learn valuable lessons and discover remarkable secrets about himself and his new host. (from Goodreads)

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium was unexpectedly fun and different! It was definitely odd, but very enjoyable, and I think it’d appeal to children and adults alike.

Grubb was a very likeable main character, and I loved his voice as the older narrator looking back on his younger years. Older Grubb certainly seemed very different to younger Grubb in some aspects, so I was very intrigued as to what happened to him as he grew up! I’m already excited to find out, and am very much looking forward to the next book. I do wish we had seen a bit more of Grubb’s personality - it was obvious he was a good kid who’d had a tough childhood, but a lot of his dialogue was crying out after someone, or exclamation, which didn’t really enable as much conversation as I’d have liked. But apart from that, Grubb was a great character to follow!

Mr Grim was an oddball, to say the least. He seemed like a good person deep down but he definitely was not above using people for his own means. I did like him but not quite as much as I wanted to. He had an interesting backstory though. Very interesting. I guessed a few things, but much does still remain a mystery, which I suppose will be explored in book two. His search for odditoria had me intrigued and I was generally interested in how odditoria and animus worked (though the explanations weren’t as detailed or clear as they could have been - but then that would have made it a bit too complicated for a book aimed at a younger audience).

I really liked all the other characters as well, especially Nigel, who probably had one of the saddest histories. The Yellow Fairy and Cleona were other interesting characters too, and I hope we get to find out more about them in the second book! Mack, the talking pocketwatch, was nothing but trouble, but I ended up liking him anyway, because how could you not? And who on Earth was the Prince Nightshade? I had no guesses. He seemed to know a lot about everything though, which was rather scary.

Plot-wise, I really enjoyed the adventures of Grubb and the other residents of the Odditorium! Some things were a bit predictable but still good to read about and I think the ending was great because it opened up many possibilities! I have no idea what will happen in future books (apart from Mr Grim carrying out his original goal) but I look forward to finding out. I also loved the illustrations by Chris Mould, they really added to the quirky feel of the book!

Overall, Alistair Grim’s Odditorium was an enjoyable read that I think would really appeal to fans of maybe Artemis Fowl (though it’s quite different, I get a similar vibe), the Bartimaeus series or anyway who likes a good story about magic.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Review: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

All That Glitters (Geek Girl #4) by Holly Smale
Publisher: HarperCollin's Children's Books
Released: February 26th 2015
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads/Amazon

"My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek." The fourth book in the award-winning GEEK GIRL series. Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she's a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that's not necessarily a good thing... (from Goodreads)

All That Glitters was another enjoyable addition to the Geek Girl series and I’m looking forward to picking up book five! I do have to admit this book was probably my least favourite so far - but it was still fun and definitely worth the read.

Harriet was the same old Harriet, but this time I felt like her naivety went a bit too far. Some parts of this book just seemed unrealistic in how dense Harriet was being - I don’t think anyone could actually be that oblivious! This happened on several occasions - to give one example, how could she think “stars” meant the actual stars? It was clear by the the context and the questions people were asking that that wasn’t what they were talking about but somehow Harriet managed to block out common sense. I felt sorry for her at times, but I also felt like it was a bit ridiculous that someone could be this naive. But I did get it, and I understood how she felt, and how much she wanted to start fresh at this new school - making friends is very difficult when you’re an awkward person (don’t I know it!) and Harriet couldn’t help her awkwardness. Even though sometimes she was a bit self-absorbed (while Jasper at the start of this book was way too rude and being overly mean, he was actually partially right), Harriet was a very caring person and she stuck to her values, even if it was hard sometimes. She also saw the best in people (even when she really, obviously shouldn’t have), so it was clear she was a nice person who was just not very good at talking to new people. I just wish she would face reality a bit more, sometimes.

I think Nat and Toby’s plan in this book was a bit dumb, and they clearly didn’t think it through, but they were at least trying to help. I’ve always liked Nat, she stuck by Harriet and always defended her. Toby…well Toby was Toby. A bit strange, but ultimately, you can’t help but end up curious about him. I actually wish these two were in the book a bit more, but oh well. And Nick! Oh Nick. He wasn’t in this book, besides in letters and flashbacks. I did miss him a lot. I don’t know if he’ll turn up in the next book (I hope so!) and now with Jasper thrown into the mix (who I do also like), who knows what’s going to happen.

Plot-wise, a lot of this book depended on Harriet misunderstanding things when there was little to actually misunderstand, so I can’t say I loved those parts. But there were loads of things I did really enjoy - the modelling stuff especially! When Harriet Manners was mistaken for Hannah Manners and she ended up on that shoot doing a ton of weird stuff - oh, it was hilarious! I loved finding out more about modelling, and I was glad to know that Harriet had missed it. I don’t think she’ll be modelling for life, but I think Harriet does enjoy modelling, not matter what she says, and I hope she gets to enjoy it while she can!

Overall, All That Glitters was a good read, and I’m really excited to find out what will happen to Harriet next! Series recommended to contemp fans looking for something a bit different.

Friday, 18 September 2015

My Little Box September 2015 Review

This month's box was another great one! It took a while for my box to get to me (after supposedly being shipped on the 2nd of September, it took over two weeks for it to arrive) but it was worth the wait in the end! September's box is titled the "My Little Fashion Box" - here are my thoughts! (And, as always, apologies for the terrible photos.)

I really like the design of this month's box! It's done a great job of shifting from a summery vibe to something more autumnal. My favourite of the illustrated girls on the front of the box is the third from the right, wearing glasses and a messy bun. I could never pull that style off, but I love it!

My thoughts on each individual product:

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluid - I'll admit, I had no idea what this was when I first saw it! According to the description card, it's a "miracle cream especially designed for intolerant-prone skin". Well that's perfect for me, because I definitely have intolerant skin. I applied this product to my face and neck as directed (and my eye contour area too, which it is also suitable for!) and I have to say, it really is soothing. It is a bit greasy when you first apply it and I'm not a huge fan of how it feels on my face, but if it soothes and helps get rid of irritation, then it's worth it. I have some irritation just above my jawline at the moment, and while I can't yet say it's going away, the cream definitely made the skin there feel better and less itchy. It's also pretty hydrating (though not the best hydrating product I've ever used) - I applied it to my under-eye area, which is very, very dry, and it feels quite smooth at the moment! So overall, I'm pretty impressed! 

My Little Beauty Red Dingue Lip Colour - this is a lip cream that's basically like a matte liquid lipstick. It's a very pigmented raspberry red colour, which I tried on thinking it wouldn't suit me at all, but actually doesn't look too bad and I might wear it when I'm feeling bold (so, not that often, but still, it's a nice product to add to the collection). I like that one coat is enough, and that it lasts for quite a long time without reapplying. It is a little drying however, so I would have to wear lots of lipbalm before applying this, and maybe add some on top if it's possible to without smudging the colour. And the packaging - the packaging! It's so cute! Those mini polka dots just get to me.

Kératese Couture Styling Laque Noire - I've been really getting into hair products recently, so I was very pleased to see a hair product in the box! The formula of this fixing spray is especially designed to combat against humidity - which, once again, is perfect for me, because I'm actually going on holiday soon and was wondering what I should use on my hair in the humid conditions! I tried it out at home and while it smells lovely, I didn't notice too much of a difference in frizz levels (though my hair was down and I was just at home, so it's not really an accurate test of how good it is). I will take it on holiday with me though to see how it fares in a hotter, more humid climate!

Cointreau Cocktail Kit - what an unexpected item! I don't actually drink, so this will probably be enjoyed by a family member, but I think this is actually kind of cool. The mini bottle is really cute and the little booklet of cocktail recipes comes with a number of different and interesting ideas! I'm not sure how My Little Box is determining who gets the cocktail kit though - what about subscribers who are under 18? Can you subscribe if you're under 18? I forgot whether they asked me my birthday...

Alfa-K Adhesive Nail Decals - I have sort of a love hate relationship with nail decals. I love the idea of them, and would love to wear them (these ones are so pretty!) but I am so rubbish at putting them on. It always goes wrong, ALWAYS. I am determined to try again and get it right this time, but we shall see how it goes...

American Vintage and My Little Box Scarf - I got the blue scarf! Definitely love it, it's so soft, the pattern is very pretty and it will go with a lot of different outfits. I also love the box the scarf came in, 1) because the image on the front is really cool - the cut out bit that shows what the scarf looks like also acts as the scarf the illustrated woman is wearing, and 2) because the back of the box has three different ways to wear the scarf, which I thought was very creative! I have seen the black design of the scarf that other people have received in their boxes and I really do love that one too, but I'm happy with what I've got. 

That's my review of this month's box! What did you think? Did you prefer any other beauty boxes over this one for September?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Review: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble

Madame Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble
Publisher: Alma Books
Released: July 15th 2015
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

In 1789, with the starving French people on the brink of revolution, orphaned Celie Rosseau, an amazing artist and a very clever thief, runs wild with her protector, Algernon, trying to join the idealistic freedom fighters of Paris. But when she is caught stealing from none other than the king's brother and the lady from the waxworks, Celie must use her drawing talent to buy her own freedom or die for her crimes. Forced to work for Madame Tussaud inside the opulent walls that surround Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Celie is shocked to find that the very people she imagined to be monsters actually treat her with kindness. But the thunder of revolution still rolls outside the gates, and Celie is torn between the cause of the poor and the safety of the rich. When the moment of truth arrives, will she turn on Madame Tussaud or betray the boy she loves? From the hidden garrets of the starving poor to the jeweled halls of Versailles, "Madame Tussaud's Apprentice" is a sweeping story of danger, intrigue, and young love, set against one of the most dramatic moments in history. (from Goodreads)

Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice was an interesting read and I liked the way the fictional story and real events were weaved together.

I have to admit, I don’t know a lot about the French Revolution, but the author’s note at the end of the book was very informative and gave insight into a lot of what happened in the book. I did a bit of Wiki-ing after finishing the book, and it’s clear that the author toned down things a bit and changed up some stuff to make things easier to read. I was fine with this, but I imagine it might bother you a little if you’re a real history buff. In general though, the book gives you a very basic overview of of what happened during the French Revolution, which is enough to help understand the story (and will perhaps inspire you to some of your own research afterwards).

Célie was a thief living on the streets, and had no-one but Algernon, the boy who saved her when she was dying in a ditch. She had a hard life; her whole family was dead, she was just about managing to survive herself, and she was angry with the rich people who lived in luxury while the majority of people were starving and unable to feed their families. She stole from the rich, or scammed them, and she and Algernon tried their best to hold on to their beliefs about equality. I liked Célie, though I did think she could be very naive at times. Apart from that, she was a good character to follow. She had trouble in situations where she was expected to act proper and like there was nothing wrong, when people were dying needlessly every day. She also didn’t compromise her beliefs, even when it led to conflict with Algernon, the person she loved the most at the start of the book. I really enjoyed seeing Célie’s relationship with Manon (Madame Tussaud) develop and how they grew to care for each other. It was nice to see a bond like that, and Manon was probably one of my favourite characters in the book. She did what she had to survive, and she didn’t sugarcoat things. At the same time, she took care of Célie when she didn’t have to, and helped her more than she needed at the start, even before they had gotten to know each other. I also quite liked Manon’s uncle - her whole family, actually. They were a nice unit and obviously cared a lot for each other.

I really struggled to like Algernon. Even at the start of the book, he was just eh. I didn’t warm to him, and I wasn’t really invested in the romance, so I didn’t really care whenever Célie was expressing how much she loved Algernon but couldn’t be with him. It was okay though, because there were a lot of other interesting scenes that made up for my lack of interest in the romance.

The writing was a little choppy at the start but got better as the book went on - I think it was just the opening chapters that were introducing the story. Plot-wise, it was insightful to see the Revolution through Célie’s eyes. I would have maybe liked a bit more detail in places but I can understand that things had to be omitted to made the book more readable and not too long. The ending wrapped things up nicely and left off in a place where you knew what would happen next (and more was explained in the author’s note, which was nice). 

Overall, I enjoyed Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice. It wasn’t as action-packed as I was expecting, and there were a lot of “a few weeks later”s instead of descriptions of events, but it was worth the read and would likely be enjoyed to those interested in Madame Tussaud or the French Revolution, or history in general.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Review: The Secret Fire by C. J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

The Secret Fire (The Alchemist Chronicles #1) by C. J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld
Publisher: Atom
Released: September 10th 2015
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

French teen Sacha Winters can't die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?
(from Goodreads)

While I enjoyed The Secret Fire as a whole, and finished it pretty much in one sitting, I had a few problems with it. Some parts just seemed a bit underdeveloped, or lacking in research, to me - but all in all, it was a very readable and engrossing book.

It took me a while to warm up to Taylor. She was currently at school doing her A-levels, and was a perfect model student, and it was a little bit too much at times. She was sort of overbearing with her perfect student persona, to the point where the lengths she’d go to for a good grade were just unrealistic. It was also here that you could tell there was a lack of research. I won’t go into too much detail since this really is a minor problem, but basically, it was implied that extra-curricular activities such as the online tutoring Taylor had agreed to were something you could be graded on and something that would count towards your final A-level grade. This isn’t true, and no teacher would be able to dock marks just because Taylor didn’t fancy volunteering for something completely unrelated to her exams or coursework. I understand that the schooling system is more like this in the US and that participation in things counts for marks, but in England, nope. The only things (for A-levels) you are ever marked on are exams and coursework. Nothing else counts. Furthermore, Taylor was also writing essays for another student, which I found very unbelievable of someone as studious as Taylor, who valued her education so much. If those essays were actual graded essays (e.g. coursework essays), Taylor’s actions would be cheating, and it would be grounds for disqualification across all exam boards. I don’t think someone like Taylor would ever risk that, even for a really good friend.

Taylor did grow on me though. Once she and Sacha started talking and she realised something really strange was going on, I started to like her more. She began to understand that her life was in danger, and suddenly, stuff like getting into Oxford and achieving perfect grades didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. She wanted to help Sacha, and help herself, and was willing to break  the rules (something she would never previously consider) to do so. 

I mostly preferred Sacha’s chapters, though I wish we could have seen more of the French setting! I did really enjoy what was explored though. Sacha started off a bit rude towards Taylor, which didn’t endear him to me, but I guess I could understand, since he was going to drop dead in a few weeks and probably didn’t care much about manners. I did find it sort of funny that the only reason he even started to pay attention to Taylor was because of a message her friend sent him, pretending to be her, but I did enjoy seeing them get to know each other. I also enjoyed seeing the scams Sacha was pulling using his ability (of not being able to die) - it was risky business but I got what drove him to it. The romance was cutesy, but happened a bit too fast for my liking. I was already rolling my eyes at Taylor’s proclamation that Paris had “changed her” (in one day) and Sacha’s dedication to Taylor after knowing her a short while, but it could have been worse. There were no cheesy declarations of “I’d die for you, my love!”, which I greatly appreciated, so I was happy for the most part.

In terms of the more minor characters, I was very intrigued by Taylor’s grandfather and what he was up to. He knew a lot more than he was willing to share and I wondered what his true intentions were. We did find out a little in this book, but I have a feeling more will be explored later, which I’m looking forward to. I also really liked Louisa! She helped Taylor a little later on in the book with a certain problem of hers, and she was definitely one of my favourite characters. I would love to know more about her; she seemed to have an interesting backstory, so I really hope we get to see more of her in book two and delve into her past!

Plot-wise, it took a while for things to pick up, but I was engrossed for the most part. I predicted certain things (e.g. Taylor’s connection to Sacha) but I was very interested to see how it might be possible to keep Sacha alive past his eighteenth birthday. I do want to find out what happens next (I was really happy this book didn’t end in a cliffhanger, because waiting for sequels is always agony) and so I’ll probably pick up book two. The alchemy parts were really interesting and I also enjoyed the training scenes in this book, and hope to see some more of those in the sequel! As well as more of Paris, or any other parts of France.

Overall, I didn’t love The Secret Fire, but it was a decent start to a new series, and I think will appeal to a lot of younger teens, or to people who love the starcrossed lovers thing!