Dracula: The-Undead by Dacre Stoker

No. of pages: 389
Rating: 9/10
Series: Dracula (Book 2)

Synopsis: The official sequel to Bram Stoker's classic novel Dracula, written by his direct descendent and endorsed by the Stoker family. The story begins in 1912, twenty-five years after the events described in the original novel. Dr. Jack Seward, now a disgraced morphine addict, hunts vampires across Europe with the help of a mysterious benefactor. Meanwhile, Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school to pursue a career in stage at London's famous Lyceum Theatre. The production of Dracula at the Lyceum, directed and produced by Bram Stoker, has recently lost its star. Luckily, Quincey knows how to contact the famed Hungarian actor Basarab, who agrees to take the lead role. Quincey soon discovers that the play features his parents and their former friends as characters, and seems to reveal much about the terrible secrets he's always suspected them of harbouring.

Review: When Quincey defies his parents and becomes an actor, he comes across a play about his parents and Dracula, and finds out all about the secrets his parents have been hiding from him. Then when people start getting attacked by what looks like animal bites to the neck, it appears it's not over and Quincey has to step up and relive his parents past.

I love vampire stories, and this one was everything that I expected. I haven't actually read the original Dracula story, but I've seen the film and know lots about the tale, but that doesn't matter, Dacre did a great job of recapping the previous book without making it boring and repetative, and I never felt like I was missing any plot lines as it was always explained. I adored the inclusion of Jack the Ripper, who is another subject I find fascinating, and I thought Dacre's take on it was really interesting, and it fit in well with the story he was telling. My only dislike about this book was that it took me forever to read, and it sometimes felt disheartening that I didn't seem to be making progress very fast. Recommended to any vampire or Dracula fans, or to anyone who likes old gothic horror tales.

Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie

No. of pages: 438
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: Theo gives his bodyguard the slip once too often. Rachel receives a weird text from her father. So begins a highly dangerous search to unravel unanswered questions about their past. Linked by the firebombing of a research clinic, Theo and Rachel fear they are the targets of an extremist group, who will stop at nothing to silence them. Awaiting them are startling discoveries about their identities which will affect their future in dramatic and life-altering ways...

Review: All Theo knows about his dad is that he died when the clinic he was working at was bombed. That is until his mum lets slip that his dad is still alive and in hiding. Theo is determined to find him, and his search leads him to Rachel, together they try to solve the mystery surrounding their births and the clinic their parents worked at, but what they find completely blows their lives apart...

This was surprisingly good, much better than I imagined it would be. The plot is enjoyable, with lots of action and little twists to the story, which you never expect. As it's written for teens the writing is simple, but that doesn't detract from the story at all. Theo and Rachel are likeable, well written characters, that you connect with very easily. Overall it's a great young adult thriller, and I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.

The Reunion by L.J. Smith

No. of pages: 216
Rating: 6/10
Series: Vampire Diaries (Book 4)

Synopsis: Elena summons the vampire brothers once more to unite and challenge their fate. Together they will be called to face the most terrifying evil Fell’s Church has ever known.

Review: When something very powerful comes to Fell's Church and starts killing Elena's friends, she must summon back Stefan and Damon to help save Fell's Church once more...

I wasn't sure where this story was going to go after the cliffhanger at the end of The Fury, but it played out quite well and made an interesting story to round up the initial four books of the series (the author is currently releasing three new books for this series after a 17 year break). I liked how the characters developed through the book, starting out as pretty unlikeable, but then growing into characters that were much more realistic. I'm not sure if I'll buy the new books for this series, because although the books got better, as a whole, I can think of much more enjoyable vampire books to read. Overall, I'll give this series a 3/5, a slow start, but definitely getting better as it goes on, I'd say aimed more at young teens around 13 or 14.

The Fury by L.J. Smith

No. of pages: 192
Rating: 6/10
Series: Vampire Diaries (Book 3)

Synopsis: Faced with an ancient evil, Stefan and Damon must stop their feuding and join forces with Elena to confront it. But in so doing, they are unwittingly sealing her fate...

Review: There's something very evil in Fell's Church and it's stronger than anyone imagines, so Elena, Stefan and Damon group together to try and conquer it, only it doesn't go to plan...

I'm so glad to say that these books are definitely getting better as they go on, and although I wouldn't say they're overly great, they are pretty easy to read. There was a lot more happening in this story, which made it a lot more enjoyable to read, but the ending was a big surprise, so I'm interested to see where that goes in the next story.

The Struggle by L.J. Smith

No. of pages: 187
Rating: 5/10
Series: Vampire Diaries (Book 2)

Synopsis: Elena is torn between her boyfriend, Stefan, and his brother, Damon. But these brothers hide dark secrets and a tragic past that threatens them all. Damon wants to lead Elena astray - and he’d rather kill Stefan than let him possess her...

Review: Even though Stefan is now her boyfriend and she loves him, she can't help but feel drawn to his brother Damon, and so start the secrets that tear Elena's world apart...

The story line did pick up a lot more in this book, which made it a lot easier to read, but the characters are still pretty unlikeable. The plot is still really predictable, and I can guess where the next two books are going go, but as I've already bought them I may as well carry on with them. I'd say this series is more suitable for teens too young to read the House Of Night series, which I think is much better if you're looking for a teen vampire series like this one.

The Awakening by L.J. Smith

No. of pages: 199
Rating: 4/10
Series: Vampire Diaries (Book 1)

Synopsis: Elena Gilbert is used to getting what she wants and she wants mysterious new boy, Stefan. But Stefan is hiding a deadly secret - a secret that will change Elena’s life forever...

Review: Stefan, sick of life hiding in the dark, goes to Fell's Church to try and fit in as a new high school student but when Elena Gilbert sees him, she's determined to have him. But what she doesn't know is he's hiding a dark secret...

It took me ages to get into this book, I felt the story at the beginning just seemed to drag and wasn't interesting at all. It did start to pick up around page 100, but was still pretty predictable. The characters aren't particularly endearing, in fact I quite dislike the main character who is just the shallow popular girl at school determined to have the new good looking student. I have the rest of the books, so I will be carrying on with the series, but I seriously hope they get more of a plot.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

No. of pages: 288
Rating: 9/10

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation.

Review: When Clay comes home to a package in front of his door, he doesn't realise that it'll change his life forever. The package holds seven cassette tapes recorded by a girl who committed suicide 2 weeks earlier. On the tapes are thirteen reasons why she did it, and Clay is one of those reasons. Over the course of one night, Clay gets to know Hannah through the tapes, and finds out what drove her to suicide...

Although a little bit heartbreaking, this is a great book, and a really easy read. It has an interesting set out and I thought it suited the story and made the story flow really well. I liked the message that this book sends out too, about considering how your actions affect others, something pretty obvious, yet this story shows how thirteen smaller random things, all gather in driving Hannah to suicide. This quote from the book sums it up perfectly ~ "You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything."

If you're a fan of young adult books, then this is a great one to read, and whilst it's obviously not the most cheerful read, it's a good one, and I'd certainly recommend it.
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