Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman #BookReview #YA

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Title: Retribution Rails
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Vengeance Road #2
Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Publication Details: November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Adventure; Historical Fiction; Western
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

 

REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


Review

Vengeance Road was a tour de force, so I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be a sequel (of sorts – more on that later), and although it’s not released until November, I couldn’t wait. I devoured it ASAP.

And you know what, I wasn’t disappointed. Thank the unicorns!!

Retribution Rails is a companion novel, not a direct sequel, so if you missed out on Vengeance Road you need not worry (although you really should read it!), there are two new plucky main characters to focus on, and it’s set around ten years after the first book.

Charlotte Vaughn is a young aspiring journalist who is determined to succeed despite all the odds that are stacked against her. Inspired by her hero (and real-life feminist icon) Nellie Bly she takes matters into her own hands and heads off in search of a story worthy of being her big break. A story so big that the newspapers won’t be able to turn her down. Even if she is a woman.

When Charlotte’s train is targeted by the fearless and ruthless Rose Riders, it could be the answer to her prayers, or it could be the death of her. Her encounter with the infamous Rose Kid sets in motion a whole train map of trouble, leading her on a wild west adventure that’s a little more than she bargained for.

This book was a rip-roaring adventure full of heart. Erin Bowman’s ability to bring history to life with a fresh and modern outlook is nothing short of a revelation, and I really think she’s paved the way for a whole new strand of YA. It’s a great, empowering story for young girls, and full of action for any thrill-seeker.

I couldn’t remember the ins and outs of Vengeance Road going into this (probably because I’m old and drink too much), just that I really enjoyed it, but as we are reunited with Kate and Jessie from the first book it all slowly came back to me. It was so nice to back in their company and see how life had panned out for them ten years on.

I loved everything about it. The adventure, the romance, the historical accuracies, the suspense, the heart-break, the everything. More please!

Have ALL THE UNICORNS.

unicorn rating

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fandoms #TTT #BTVS

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Top Ten fandoms you’re part of/love.

Wow I haven’t done a TTT yet this year. I didn’t mean to stop doing them altogether, just to only partake in the topics that really appealed and I guess that hasn’t happened yet.

 For me, the word fandom only brings to mind one thing…BUFFY!

I recently won tickets to a special Buffy party to celebrate its 20th anniversary (wahhhhh so old) which was amazing! The Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square was kitted out in all the Buffy Merch you could imagine and I was in Heaven. AKA 1999.

Here’s Giles as a demon as the biggest cake I’ve ever seen:

 

Anyway, I thought this TTT topic would be the perfect way for me to celebrate the Buffy anniversary on my blog, by compiling my top ten episodes. This is going to be painful…

(OK this was actually impossible. I’m not happy with this list but the more I change it the worse it gets. DAMN YOU WHEDONNNNNNN)

 

 

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10. The Wish

 

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9. Dopplegangland

 

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8. The Gift

 

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7. School Hard

 

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6. Hush

 

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5. Bad Girls/Enemies (I CAN’T CHOOSE)

 

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4. Becoming (parts 1 & 2)

 

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3. Prophecy Girl

 

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2. Tabula Rasa

 

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1. Once More with Feeling

 

BONUS (just because)…

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…Smashed

#Buffyslays20

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones #BookReview#YA #FantasyReads

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wintersongTitle:
 Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 508 pages
Publication Details: February 7th 2017 by Titan Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Romance
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

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‘Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.’

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Review

Inspired by one of my favourite films of all time, Labyrinth, I met Wintersong with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. It’s not a short book at 500ish pages, but it flew by…however, I don’t feel like I can say I loved it. In fact I’m really not sure how I felt about it and I finished it a couple of weeks ago!

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Basically, The Goblin King steals away Liesel’s beautiful sister Kathe to lure Liesel to the Underground where he plans on making her his bride. Liesel has always dreamt of The Goblin King. She’s drawn to his beauty and his power, but also fears him. There is a passion between the pair but being The Goblin King’s bride means leaving her family behind and never setting foot overground again.

Wintersong was certainly cringe-worthy in places, and outright bizarre in others, and it never went where I thought it would which is a double-edged sword in that it’s good that it was unpredictable but bad in that I wanted things to happen that didn’t.

Overall, I enjoyed this strange, slightly melancholic tale that brought a new Goblin King into my life. I obviously pictured a young Bowie with a ridiculous wig and an even more ridiculous cod piece but that’s not the point (swoon). There were some deliciously dark moments in Wintersong, but the relationship between the MC and The Goblin King never truly felt right, not even in that ‘so bad but good’ way.

I do think Jae-Jones has written a lovely tribute to Labyrinth though, and I also loved the evident use of, and inspiration from Rossetti’s The Goblin Market which I’ve only ever read snippets of but now want to read in its entirety.

“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

– The Goblin Market

unicorn rating 4

(I rounded-up)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to be Thankful for! #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Thanksgiving Freebie – I’m going for 10 Books I’m thankful for…

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  1.  The Chronicles of Narnia: I will always be thankful for this series; it has inspired me my whole life!
  2.  Twilight: As much as this book started a whole trend of bad teen vampire fiction, it also put YA on the map, and I don’t think the young adult genre would be the same without it.
  3. Harry Potter: I’ve never read them, but even I know that people’s (adults) opinions on ‘kids’ books would not be as favourable as they are today without Rowling’s series.
  4. A Million Little Pieces: I think this is the book I’ve read the most. It taught me that beautiful things can come out of suffering, and that people can overcome anything with hope and determination.
  5.  Slaughterhouse 5: I think everyone should read this anti-war book, which is completely batshit and poignant all at the same time.
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  7. The End of Mr. Y: This book introduced me to one of my favourite British authors.
  8. Interview with a Vampire: I’m glad this book exists for the sole purpose of reminding me how vampire should be!
  9.  The Hunger Games: I’m thankful for these books mainly because they’ve given me so much fangirling/ranting material.
  10. The Time Traveller’s Wife: This book reminded me that literary fiction can be amazing, and that I shouldn’t just read YA all the time!
  11.  Burial Rites: Same as above!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! 🙂

*Fangirl Alert* The Heir by Kiera Cass

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but while the online world was going crazy over the announcement that Kiera Cass has expanded on her The Selection series, I was knee-deep in Horror October posts.

But now, let’s celebrate!

I am sooooooooooo excited about this, but also slightly worried that you can have too much of a good thing. Is Cass breaking all her own rules in this role reversal, where a selection of boys compete for the Princess’ (America and Maxon’s daughter, obvs) hand in marriage.

Cass addresses this question and more on her website…but to sum it up…we just have to wait and see. EEEEK! So long to wait.

The Heir, is due for release May 5th 2015. TOO FAR AWAY!

HEIR

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

And if that wasn’t enough, don’t forget about The Queen, the prequel novella which gets a digital release next month (December 2nd). Which is a much nicer wait than MAY is. Ugh.

I’m linking this up to Breaking the Spine’s Waiting on Wednesday.

Introducing… Morganville – The Series (Buffy fans rejoice!)

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know anything about this until the press release landed in my inbox. And man, I was pretty excited!

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry, Rachel Caine has adapted the first book in her Morganville Vampires series, Glass Houses, into a web series comprising of 8-12 minute long episodes, which began airing yesterday.

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Web series have been hailed as the new big thing for a while now, with the ability to reach a worldwide audience faster than any other format. You only have to look at the success of I Kissed a Vampire, Dr. Horrible’s  Sing-a-long Blog or the endless Netflix and Amazon Prime series to see that the way we watch TV is changing.

This Halloween, Morganville: The Series hopes to make a splash in the world of Webisodes…

The entire show was filmed on location in Dallas, Texas, in four separate venues, including a coffee shop, a turn-of-last-century Victorian home, a hospital,and a university, and I’m assured that nearly every episode ends with Rachel Caine’s infamous cliffhanger endings. But at least this time we won’t have to wait too long to found out what happens next. Hurrah!

But, how do you cram a whole book into such a small series?

“The first thing I tried to do, since I wrote the book in 2006,” said Caine, “was to write down everything I remembered from it without re-reading it. That was fascinating, because what I wrote down was really the core story, and that turned out to be what needed to be told in the show.”

It’s also pretty hard to believe that the whole thing was filmed in just 10 days.

Glass Houses was our first introduction to Morganville – a town riddled with vampires. The book centers around Claire Danvers who doesn’t quite fancy slumming it in the college dorms, and is looking for a room. She finds one, and a lot more in the Glass House. We meet a whole host of fun, and some not-so-fun characters, who are intent on helping or hindering Claire in her quest to survive in Vamp town.

So, is the web series going to tell the whole story?

“For practical purposes, you can only have so many characters in a show with this running time, so some characters from the novel, while really interesting, ended up not being central to the plot (like Miranda). However, I did think it was important to introduce Myrnin, a fan favorite, into the mix early, so he makes a short appearance this season,” explains Caine.

Hold the phone, is that Amber Benson?

Yep. The awesome Amber Benson, who you should all know as Tara from Buffy TVS landed the role of Amelie – the sort-of vampire queen. PERFECT!

I really enjoyed these books and I can’t wait to check out the series. I plan on marathoning it on All Hallow’s Eve. Who’s with me?

In the mean time, here are the first two episodes to whet your whistle…

 

 

Links:

http://www.morganvilletheseries.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/geekandsundry

http://www.morganvillevampire.com/

http://www.rachelcaine.com/

 

*Fangirl Alert* Upcoming Release!

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The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Title: Shadow Scale
Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #2
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Expected Publication: March 10th 2015 by Random House Children’s Books (Hardback)
Goodreads

I did a bit of a squeal when I saw that the sequel to Seraphina had been announced. Seraphina was one of my favourite books of last year (making it to #4 on my Top Ten Books of 2013). I read it shortly before I started blogging so unfortunately I don’t have a review of it, but this is what I posted on Goodreads:

Love love loved it. Dragons, Castles, Princes and Princesses but different than the usual bumpf. I think I’ll be reading this again in the future.”

And now I have the perfect excuse to reread and review it, before Shadow Scale is released.

Not that I ever need an excuse.

March is so far away!

Lazy Saturday Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Cress
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Author: Marissa Meyer
Edition: Paperback, 550 pages
Published: February 6th 2014 by Puffin Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Sci-Fi
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads
Purchase

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

What can I say about Cress that hasn’t been said already? Very little probably! Is it amazing? YES. Is it a compelling, satisfying continuation of what I’ve already declared to be my favourite new series? YES. But is it too long? Hell YES.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book. I loved Meyer’s galactic take on Rapunzel, I loved the dynamics between Scarlet and Wolf, and Cress an Captain Thorne (bless her) but I do think it went on a bit in places, no?

To be fair, it might be because I was really busy at the time of reading it, so I was grabbing just a few minutes here and there to read, but sometimes I felt myself skimming parts.

However, that just makes me want to read it again in more substantial sittings because ahhhhhh, on the whole, I can’t stop fangirling over this series.

I still can’t get over how it shouldn’t work. Fairy-tale retellings meets Star Wars, with a bit of Dystopia thrown in…I mean it sounds ridiculous, but it’s just not. Cress, felt even more Star Wars-y to me than Cinder did, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m just trying to figure out who Darth Vader is, Sybil or Levana?

(Anywaaayyyyy) Towards the end of Cress, we’re introduced to Princess Winter. And wow, how batshit is she!? I’m quite upset how long we have to wait for the next book. I have no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be amazing.

I need to know what happens with Cinder and Kai RIGHT NOW!

unicorn rating 4

The Lunar Chronicles is now available in paperback from Waterstones. See how you can get 10% off here.

YALC UK is upon us!

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The UK’s first ever Young Adult Literature Convention is taking place this weekend at Earl’s Court, London, and I can’t wait. Are any of you planning on going?

I’m aiming to go for both days because there’s SO much I want to see/do, and because the entry also gets you into the Film Comic Con I’m hoping to see some of that too.

About YALC 2014


Malorie Blackman (Noughts & Crosses; Knife Edge) is acting as curator and director for the first UK Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) which is taking place at the London Film and Comic Con 2014 (LFCC).

The two-day convention taking place 12-13 July will bring together the UK’s YA publishers to provide a host of author events in a dedicated Book Zone, with talks, workshops, signings, a book sales area and publisher stands promoting new and upcoming titles. 50 authors plus a host of industry experts will be taking part in the event over the course of the weekend.

2014’s YALC event will be the first time a large-scale public convention around Young Adult books has taken place in the UK, and its setting among the fans of cultish film and TV will help set books at the heart of entertainment for teenagers and young people. The event will aim to showcase UK YA’s best books and authors, as well as bringing international authors to UK audiences.

Events

Here are just a few of the events I’m hoping to attend – excitement is at an all-time high right now!

It’s the end of the world as we know it: The ongoing appeal of dystopia
With Malorie Blackman, Sarah Crossan and Patrick Ness, chaired by James Smythe

With Divergent and Catching Fire achieving box office success and a host of hot new dystopian tales in the offing, the trend for dystopia shows no sign of fading. YALC curator and Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2013-2015 Malorie Blackman is joined by fellow authors Patrick Ness and Sarah Crossan, plus chair James Smythe, to talk about why dystopian fiction appeals to young adult readers today.

Superfans Unite!
With Tim O’Rourke, Rainbow Rowell and Lucy Saxon, chaired by Andy Robb

Superstar US author of Fangirl and Eleanor and Park Rainbow Rowell joins three other teen authors and self-declared superfans – Andy Robb, Lucy Saxon and Tim O’Rourke – to discuss the impact that being a fan has had on their writing.

Bring me my dragons: Writing fantasy today
With Frances Hardinge, Amy McCulloch, Jonathan Stroud and Ruth Warburton, chaired by Marc Aplin

With Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings making fantasy increasingly popular in the mainstream, what does it mean to write fantasy for young adults today? Four authors who each take innovative approaches to the genre come together to discuss contemporary fantasy writing with blogger Marc Aplin.

Heroes of Horror
With Charlie Higson, Will Hill, Derek Landy and Darren Shan, chaired by Rosie Fletcher

Heroes of horror unite: Charlie Higson, Darren Shan, Will Hill and Derek Landy come together to discuss their work with SFX’s Rosie Fletcher.

How to get published
With Phil Earle and Sally Green, chaired by Ben Horslen (Penguin Books)

Join award-winning author and industry insider Phil Earle, and this year’s publishing sensation Sally Green for a panel discusison giving advice on getting published, chaired by Penguin Books editor Ben Horslen.

Crossover: Not just for kids
With Matt Haig, Anthony McGowan, Nick Lake and Meg Rosoff, chaired by David Maybury

With books like The Fault in our Stars and The Hunger Games being read as much by adults as they are by teens themselves, we investigate the phenomenon of so-called ‘crossover’ books. Award-winning authors Matt Haig, Meg Rosoff and Nick Lake, together with chair David Maybury, will discuss the appeal of young adult fiction for adults, and whether there are any books that are ‘just for kids’.

Holly Black & Sally Gardner in conversation
Bringing YALC to a close, this exciting event brings together superstar US author Holly Black with one of the UK’s biggest names in writing for children and teenagers, Sally Gardner, to discuss fairy-tales, magic and more with chair Jonathan Douglas.

LFCC


There’s also a ridiculous amount of good stuff going on at the film and TV convention including the Game of Thrones panel, and GILES (Anthony Head) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau) from Buffy in attendance….and PETER PETRELLI.

Ahhh too good! One more sleep! Maybe I’ll see some of you there?

Lazy Saturday Review: The One by Kiera Cass

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Title: The One
Series: The Selection #3
Author: Kiera Cass
Edition: Paperback, 323 pages
Published: Published June 5th 2014 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Genre(s): YA; Dystopian; Romance
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it, obvs!

Goodreads
Purchase

For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives.

Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realises just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

The breathtaking finale to THE SELECTION trilogy will make you swoon!

Oh man, it really did make me swoon. I cant help it, Maxon just does it for me, you guys. He’s cute, just the right amount of insecure but can be assertive and forthright when he needs to be, and hellooooo, about to be King. Hot!

The One was pretty much everything I wanted it to be. The relationship between Maxon and America was cute but not without its problems which is what has been so addictive about this whole series. At times I wanted to shout at them (OK, so I literally did) for moments of stupidity and letting situations and people get between them.

Throughout the series, I’ve found that the growing unease of the land of Ilea has been that extra something to what would otherwise be a throw-away teen romance story, and in book three it all comes to a head as we discover exactly what the rebellion is all about.

I feel like The One threw enough curve balls at me to keep me entertained but let’s face it, it could only end one way, right? It was more about the journey than the outcome for me, and it’s a journey that I want to revisit. Again and again.

I can only think of one thing that annoyed me about this book and that was Celeste. She was so horrible in the previous books but all of a sudden she was forgiven and became part of the girls’ group. Now, I’m all for forgiveness, and people can change, but it all happened a bit too quickly for my liking. Hey ho.

I’m sure I had loads of other things to say about it, but I was so sad it’s over that I couldn’t write a review initially, and now the feeling has passed along with my memory of it (I blame all the wine)…I’ll just have to read it again, shame.

With all of that being said, I couldn’t bring myself to give any of the books in this series 5 whole unicorns. Mainly because of what I like to think of as ‘The Trash Factor’. They’re silly and very cheesy and I love them, but I just can’t. The inner book-snob-who-likes-to-have-no-fun in me is trying to come out there…and I’ve tried so hard to torture her with teenage vamprire fiction over the years! Give up, already.

unicorn rating 4

The One is available now in paperback from Waterstones. You can get 10% off here.