A Shade of Vampire – my review

Recently, as I was scrolling through my facebook news feed, I stumbled across an advert for a new vampire romance series. The advert told of over six hundred reviews, and one of the top ranked books on Amazon at this time. As a fellow paranormal romance author, naturally I was curious to find out what this new series was all about.

I looked through some of the reviews, and although mixed, they were above all fairly favorable. It seemed perhaps the new twilight phenomenon had landed. I was keen to take a look so I placed my order for A Shade of Vampire.

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The cover is beautiful and evocative. A lone figure of a woman stands against a mystical forest background lit only by the moon. It paints an image in the mind in readiness for the beginning of the novel.

The story opens with the main character — Sofia Claremont strolling along the beach late at night. She’s upset with her best friend for forgetting her birthday, and wallowing in self pity. From nowhere, a man more beautiful than any she’d ever seen, confronts her and after a short altercation, Sofia is drugged and kidnapped.

Soon after, she wakes on an island, populated by vampires, where a witch’s spell means the night is everlasting.

Lucas, her captor, explains how she is to be a gift for his brother, Derek. She is to become his slave, and join his harem. Derek, prince of the vampires, has been asleep for over 500 years and has been woken to save the island from immanent danger.

I’ll start by saying, this wasn’t my favorite paranormal romance. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. Although readable, some elements didn’t gel so well with me. Not everything was explained as well as it could have been. For example, why did vampires need to live in treetops, and how did Sofia manage to get to ground level by herself?

The storyline wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked either. Sofia seemed to accept her fate very quickly and after one escape attempt, didn’t really bother again. She developed a bond with Derek after realizing he wasn’t like his cruel brother. And instead of trying to escape, put all her energy into decorating a room in Derek’s treetop penthouse. Although Sofia’s character seemed reasonably well developed, her fellow slaves, were just names dotted in here and there. The story is written from Sofia and Derek’s alternating povs. Much as i liked the idea, Derek’s internal monologue, seemed too close to Sofia’s for there to have been 500 years between them.

I found the writing style a little unusual. Repetitive words and the use of quotation marks seem to be the author’s weakness and I found the formal introduction of every area they passed through a little jarring. The Shade, The Cells, The Vale, The Pavilion, The Residences etc.

Creating a world from scratch is never going to be an easy task, and Bella Forrest seems to have done a nice job creating something rather unique. Although the storyline could have been stronger, she seems to have done something right, as she has quite a following.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA Paranormal Romance. Just enjoy it for what it is and don’t look too deeply into it. Or if you’re looking for a vampire story with a little more depth, check out Verado – A Darker Blood 😉

Highgate Cemetery…

a journey into the unknown. This is exactly what the architects of the magnificent Highgate Cemetery were aiming for when landscaping the enormous site, and they certainly achieved it.

Highgate Cemetery

Built in the 1830’s Highgate was one of seven sites across London allocated for one of the new style cemeteries. The seven, which came to be known as the magnificent seven, also included Kensal Green and Tower Hamlets but Highgate soon became THE place to be buried.

Highgate Cemetery

The West cemetery is only accessible via one of the many guided tours, and much as the idea of being led around by a grouchy tour guide didn’t really appeal to me, it soon became clear that without a guide, we wouldn’t have appreciated anywhere near as much about the rich history of the site. And far from the grumpy guide I was expecting (thanks to tripadvisor) we were lucky enough to be taken around by John Waite. His passion and knowledge were enlightening and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide.

Victorian Coffin

Victorian Coffin

Our journey began in the courtyard, where a set of stone steps led us up to the labyrinth of grave lined pathways that ran in all directions beneath a dense canopy of trees. We were told that within more than 50,000 graves lay over 150,000 bodies, so you can appreciate the size and scale of the place. Laid to rest within that vast site are all the most important people of their day, and although most of their names mean little to us now, we still benefit from their achievements today. 

Highgate Cemetery

The highlights of the cemetery have to be the Egyptian Avenue, and the catacombs. Unfortunately, of the thousand coffins that once rested within those vaults, only a couple of hundred remain. The rest fell victim to grave robbers and vandals.

Highgate Cemetery

Because of the Victorian gothic architecture, the location proved to be the perfect setting for 1970’s horror movies. Taste the blood of Dracula and Tales from the Crypt are just a couple of the films they shot here.

Highgate Cemetery

The cemetery fell into decline and was locked away for over fifty years. It was taken over by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, a group of volunteers set on restoring and preserving the site. Although the restoration is an ongoing project, more and more of the cemetery is opening to the public, giving a new experience each and every time you visit.

Ok, who dropped a house on the graveyard?

Ok, who dropped a house on the graveyard?

This place is truly fascinating and well worth a visit. For more information visit: Highgate Cemetery

A little sophistication please

Just once in a while, I crave a night out which requires a pair of skyscraper heels and a little black dress. My cravings were satisfied this week with a trip to the ballet. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not usually a ballet kind of person, but I do have a penchant for anything with a slightly gothic undertone and the Sofia National ballet‘s production of Giselle certainly didn’t disappoint.

Sofia National Ballet

Sofia National Ballet

There is something about the ballet which takes you back to childhood. Watching the grace and beauty makes you believe that one day, you too can become a Prima Ballerina. Okay, so maybe it’s a little too late for me but hey, a girl can dream.

The Bodyguard – My five star review

Wow! That’s pretty much all I can say about the new West End musical ‘The Bodyguard’.

The Bodyguard

Having always loved the blockbuster movie, I was very excited at the prospect of a brand new West End show. Clearly I managed to convey my enthusiasm just enough to secure tickets for my christmas/valentines present from my lovely husband.

For those of you who are perhaps too young to remember the film, the story is centred around pop megastar – Rachel Marron. Rachel finds herself the victim of a ruthless stalker, and reluctantly enlists the help of a former Secret Service agent — Frank Farmer. Determined to keep her life as normal as possible, Rachel doesn’t make Frank’s job easy and it takes a close encounter with the stalker for her to begin to co-operate. Slowly Rachel and Frank’s close proximity ignites a chemistry between the pair and they start to fall in love.

I have always loved all of the songs from the film, especially ‘I have nothing‘ and ‘Run to you‘, and thought that Whitney Houston’s flawless performance on-screen was magical. With so much to live up to, I imagine the idea of making a stage show was a daunting one.

The show is very much like the film, with just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The scene changes were faultless, so much so, in fact, it was sometimes difficult to believe you weren’t watching it on the big screen. Each song was performed  beautifully,  and every one of the cast were utterly fabulous to watch.

If you liked the film–you’ll love the show. If you’ve not seen the film–see the show anyway. You won’t be disappointed.

click ‘The Bodyguard’ for more details

London Fashion Week 2013

How lucky am I to have been taken to a catwalk show at the legendary London Fashion Week?

Yes, that’s right–very!

london fashion week 2013

On Tuesday morning my friend and I glammed up and hopped onto a train into London. My friend (we’ll call her Liz), is very much the glamour-puss, often sporting a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes and equally glitzy outfit.

The pair of us eagerly tottered down to Covent Garden and along The Strand, to Somerset House. We were very chuffed to have been able to navigate the underground and streets to arrive at the location without so much as one wrong turn.

Okay, so we felt glam for a millisecond, until we walked in through those gates and were greeted by a plethora of the young, the attractive–and the somewhat exotic. Suddenly feeling like two very haggard old crones, we followed our clip-board lady into the Vodafone Lounge for pre-show drinks.

At that moment we were introduced to our ‘personal stylist’, which we weren’t expecting, and Liz quickly asked her the obvious question, “how do I stop looking so old and haggard?” To which our ‘personal stylist’ replied with a snort, “I wish I could answer that.” And so ended our  lengthy style consultation.

A few moments later, we were ushered into the show room and quickly realised that our tickets were for standing room only. Oh well, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided that I’d probably be able to see better from that position anyway.

So the lights went down and bizarre music filled the room. The first model appeared, looking beautiful, if a bit miserable and lank. Her outfit was unusual–I’ve since been told the designs on catwalk shows are just a ‘concept’, which explains a lot.

As each model floated past with elegant ease, I really took in the atmosphere and excitement of the show. The designer we saw was Emilio De La Morena. His prints were stunning. And his show, short but sweet, was my first taste of the diverse world of fashion.

The Phantom came to town

Today my family and I were in for a real treat. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera came to town and we were lucky enough to secure tickets. I first saw this musical when I was fifteen years old (way too long ago) and the gothic magic consumed me. It was something that never left me and now I’ve been able to share that magic with my own children. My daughter watched in awe as the phantom attempted to steal the beautiful Christine away from her new love, and as the huge crystal chandelier exploded above the audience. My favourite part will always be the masquarade ball, although it lacked a little in this version, it was still fabulous.

The whole show was wonderfully put together and the singing was mind blowing. Although the show was on a slightly smaller scale than the London version, they have retained all of the glory of the original version. I can’t wait ’til it comes around again. I’ll be first in the queue.