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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-08 01:15
Hidden by Benedict Jacka
Hidden - Benedict Jacka

Hidden by Benedict Jacka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst rumours of his master's return circulates throughout the mage community, Alex Verus, Diviner and known "outsider", chooses to ignore the gossip and focus on something else entirely, such as rebuilding damaged friendships. An interruption comes in the form of abduction when Anne, his once housemate and valued companion, disappears in her home. Taking it upon himself, Alex doesn't hesitate to stage a rescue mission, which just so happens to lead to a shadow realm, belonging to the one and only Dark mage, Sagash.

(WARNING: This reviews contains spoilers.)

I started reading this series (Alex Verus is nine instalments long), in 2014, as it was one of the few in the genre that had a male protagonist. Being largely into Urban Fantasy at that time, it didn't take a genius to notice the staggering amount of females that dominated. Alex's trouble-making was thus refreshing, yet always struck me as having some issues that I just couldn't ignore. For one, the plot-lines primarily consisted of Alex saving women - not that I have a problem with the odd damsel in distress; I'm not a fragile flower that gets offended by a man coming to the rescue of a lady, but with the amount it happened it got repetitive pretty quickly. The fourth book, Chosen, turned the tables, and Alex was the one in need of saving by the strong females he surrounds himself with. I appreciated that instalment considerably more than the rest, hence my rating of four stars. This one, however, seems to have returned to its roots - the rinse and repeat of Alex being good at everything in full force.

The events that transpired in this one, whilst interesting to an extent, were very clearly filler. However I admit, I actually liked the concept of a shadow realm; the very personal domain of a Dark mage, where their deepest, most sinister creations can take form. In general, I find the darker side of mage society to be far more interesting in comparison to the lighter side. This isn't to say Light mages are dull - on the contrary, there's a lot of shady stuff going on there, but they strike me as far, far too political, at least for my tastes.

There's a part of me wishes the overall tone of the series was more adult, for the simple reason as to allow the malevolence of the Dark to shine through on a much more heinous level. As it was, I felt a little underwhelmed by Anne's recollection of her past - which consisted of her being forced to kill others in an arena. Yes, murder is ugly, but it just didn't shock me as much as I'd like, especially when it's been stated that Sagash was twisted and, most definitely, bad on all counts.

It's at this point that readers are very much aware of Richard, and his impending and much anticipated return. Richard's been a very prominent character from the beginning - Alex has never missed an opportunity to ramble on about his past trauma as his unwilling apprentice. I was hoping there would finally be some sort of reunion or confrontation, and whilst it did happen, it certainly wasn't as explosive as I wanted it to be. Despite being all together anticlimactic, it nevertheless set the foundation for what I assume to be the next book.

As for the characters themselves; Alex still had his obvious faults, but he remained likeable in personality. I'd most assuredly have him as a friend if I could, even if he'd probably get me killed. I've always been fond of Anne, though I considered her a little bit over-dramatic here. Arachne wasn't in it as much as I'd like, but I was thankful for Luna being absent for a large portion. The character I disliked the most was Sonder - he was the definition of annoying, clearly stealing Luna's spotlight in that regard. The introduction of the blink fox was, of course, the most memorable aspect - I hope it returns as a permanent ally! Goodness knows Alex will need it.

Veiled is the next instalment of this series and it was first published in 2015. It's currently on my reading list.

In conclusion - Yet another addition which I considered average, at best, and more than definitely filler. Hopefully the next will be more relevant and include dear ol' Richard!

Notable Scene:

It didn't make me any happier. My crude ability to see the future didn't make me any friends - the opposite, if anything. I had knowledge, but there wasn't anything I could do with it. I was left just as isolated, hating the people who'd ostracised me. Until one cold autumn day when Richard had stepped onto the schoolyard where I was standing, promising me everything I'd secretly wanted if I'd follow him and call him master. And I'd said yes.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/08/hidden-by-benedict-jacka
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review 2018-03-05 00:23
Review: Blood Binds the Pack
Blood Binds the Pack - Alex Wells

An excellent follow up to last year's Blood Binds the Pack, this is more of the same biker mayhem and worker plight on Dune with great characters and plenty of action. 


I'm going to qualify the Dune comparison with "desert planet" and "genetically modified navigators" as opposed to being another story about a rich, well educated, cultured boy being the chosen one for an indigenous population. Unions and company towns are more in line with this setting. And a clear line is drawn between oppressor and oppressed.


Two great books so far. This ends with what feels like a conclusion, but I could easily read a sequel. Or another book set elsewhere in this universe.

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review 2018-03-04 17:05
Fun Update to Beauty and the Beast
Beastly - Alex Flinn

So this was a fun young adult novel taking a look at the "Beast" in Beauty and the Beast. Deciding to focus on high schooler Kyle Kingsbury (the most popular guy ever) and show him over a period of two years change from self obsessed to a thoughtful and kind person works. The main reason why I gave it four stars though is that Kyle's transformation to jerk to good guy felt sudden. He got down right eloquent at times and it didn't read as the same person. The ending was a bit abrupt too I thought. I wish that we got a peek at Kyle's future after he's graduated college. 


Told in the first person we follow Kyle. He's 16 and obsessed with being one of the beautiful people. After playing a practical joke on a witch (terrible idea) by pretending he was interested in her, Kyle is turned into a beast. His father's only thought is to keep him hidden and Kyle goes through periods of depression and loneliness throughout the story.


We also get some interesting secondary characters I wish we had focused more on as well. Kyle's tutor Will was great and hilarious at times. The housekeeper Magda is the only maternal figure that Kyle has in his life. Even the witch, Kendra, keeps things lively. When Kyle captures s man breaking in, he gets a promise the man will bring his daughter to live with Kyle. 


Kyle and Lindy's growing friendship and love was nice to read. I do know a lot of people hate Beauty and the Beast and say that Belle was suffering from Stockholm's Syndrome (I am not one of those people). The biggest lesson behind this story is one don't steal and two look past someone's outward appearance. Kyle learns the second lesson after being shut away in his "castle".


The writing was clever and the flow works. The fairy tale aspects are updated and flow throughout. When Kyle goes a few time what possessed me to say that when speaking like the Beast in the fairy tale made me laugh.


The setting is New York though at times it's at different locations in the state. When Kyle travels up north to enjoy winter with Lindy made me long for winter evenings by the fireplace with my books.


I read this for The (Mostly) Dead Writer's Society 52 week challenge.

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text 2018-03-04 14:04
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Beastly - Alex Flinn

I actually enjoyed that. Very cute and it calls back some elements from the fairy take story as well as the Disney cartoon. I did like Kyle just didn't automatically stop being a jerk and unkind. 

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text 2018-03-04 12:48
Reading progress update: I've read 54%.
Beastly - Alex Flinn

Enter Lindy (or Belle). Flinn kept her as a big reader though her father is awful.


The segues into the Chris Anderson chat rooms are pretty funny. So far The Little Mermaid, The Frog Prince and a few others are running around. 

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