Tag Archives: four star review

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 Gilded Cage
by Vic James

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Gilded Cage by Vic James

All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery.

Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers.

There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in.

I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few.

The Devil's Bride by Lucy Gordon

The Devil’s Bride by Lucy Gordon

 The Devil’s Bride
by Lucy Gordon

Can the Devil ever be reformed…?

Calvina Bracewell, an orphaned parson’s daughter, lives a wretched life, taken in by a family who abuse her and use her family connections to their own ends.
But Calvina’s world is changed overnight when she marries a man who is wealthy and incredibly attractive. But is he also the devil?
Lord Rupert Glennister is both admired and feared. His uncanny ability with cards and his notorious success with women seem to hint at mysterious forces helping him.
Known as ‘Devil Glennister’, society has threatened to exclude him unless he can redeem himself by marrying a woman of virtue.
In Calvina Bracewell, the face of moral fortitude and all that is godly, the ‘Devil’ sees the perfect bride to save his reputation, and bring him back into the society which is beginning to exclude him due to his over-indulgences.
But Calvina has another love – the innocent Toby, her first love.
Yet this secret attachment is now made impossible by circumstance, but can Calvina forget Toby in favour of Rupert?
Is this sudden marriage simply one of convenience or will it develop into a match of passion?
With Rupert’s former lovers and exploits confronting her at every turn, how can she contemplate life as a respectable wife?
And more importantly, will Rupert draw Calvina deeper into darkness?
In a discovery of love, passion and jealously, Lucy Gordon brings Calvina into the hearts of her readers in a romance filled with suspense and mystery.
As her life takes a sinister turn, Calvina may have the riches and position of a Lady, but who is it that keeps making repeated attempts on her life?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Publication: October 11, 2016
Genre: Romance, Historical
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Devil’s Bride by Lucy Gordon

I went into The Devil’s Bride by Lucy Gordon expecting something devilish, paranormal. What I got instead was an absolutely lovely and entertaining historical romance that was thoroughly engaging. The characters were fantastic and well defined. Rupert was drool-worthy and Calvina grew from the meek girl at the start to a force to be reckoned with by the end. The pacing is spot-on. Never slow, never fast, just right! We get to grow with the characters and with their relationship, which is great! I haven’t giggled and gushed as much as I did reading this in quite some time. Seeing these lovely beautiful idiots fall in love with one another and then try to deny it, fight it, each thinking the other despises them. It’s fantastic! Finally, throw in a bit of a twist at the end with a small little mystery and attempted murder, The Devil’s Bride by Lucy Gordon is an amazingly entertaining historical romance that hits the spot for a lovely light, delightful read!

 

Murder at Mistletoe Manor by Holly Tierney-Bedord

Murder at Mistletoe Manor by Holly Tierney-Bedord

 Murder at Mistletoe Manor
by Holly Tierney-Bedord

Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of a beautiful, historic bed and breakfast in Windy Pines, Idaho. Guests come to Mistletoe Manor to escape from their troubles while enjoying the scenic mountain town.

When all seven rooms of the inn get booked on a Tuesday night in December, Klarinda is excited about having so much business, but a little confused as well. After all, her inn normally isn’t exactly a destination hotspot.

The guests have barely settled in before strange things begin happening. Is this the most accident prone group of travelers ever, or is someone out for revenge?

Rated: ★★★
Publication: October 12, 2016
Genre: Mystery
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Murder at Mistletoe Manor by Holly Tierney-Bedord

This was SUCH a fun Christmas mystery novella. The main character is relateable and likeable. The plot was solid and the pacing fast enough that you didn’t bored but slow enough that you didn’t get lost or swept away. Holly Tierney-Bedord knows her writing well and makes this a truly enjoyable experience. I definitely look forward to picking up more of her books even though it is outside my usual genre.

 

Metronome by Oliver Langmead

Metronome by Oliver Langmead

 Metronome
by Oliver Langmead

The Sleepwalkers hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. They traverse the connected dreamworlds where reason is banished and the imagination holds sway.

But tonight, one Sleepwalker has gone rogue. Abandoning her oath to protect the dreamscapes, she devotes herself to another cause, threatening to unleash a nightmare older than man

Once a feted musician, Manderlay lives in an Edinburgh care home, riddled with arthritis. He longs for his youth and the open seas, to regain the use of his hands and play the violin again.

For too long, Manderlay’s nights have been host to dark, corrupted dreams. His comrades in the retirement home fear Manderlay is giving in to age and senility – but the truth is much worse. The dreamworld is mapped with music – and one of Manderlay’s forgotten compositions holds the key to an ancient secret. The Sleepwalkers are closing in on him. He might be their saviour, or his music might be their damnation…

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Unsung Stories
Publication: January 17 2017
Genre: Dreampunk, Fantasy, Surrealist
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Metronome by OIiver Langmead

SUCH an interesting concept and fantastic execution, Metronome by Oliver Langmead is a thought provoking, yet fun read. Manderlay’s adventures into the land of dreams is exciting. The idea of nightmares as something that must be physically fought and defeated is great. What Langmead does with the nightmares, his description of them, is smart, keeping them relatively nondescript so that the reader can imagine what they are.

The story takes three turns, each of which are equally interesting. The first, we see Manderlay as an elderly man living in an assisted living home suffering from arthritis and repeated nightmares. Learning more about him and his life would have made for a lovely contemporary novel. How did he get there? Why? What’s happened to his family? We never find out as it isn’t necessary for the story, yet, I was so endeared by Manderlay, I really wish I knew.

The second turn happens when Manderlay decides to stay dreaming to correct a mistake. This is when all of the action happens and the people he comes across are so interesting, especially March. The more we find out about March and the bits we find out about his life outside of dreams, the more I love him and want a story about him and his adventures. All of the characters are people I’d love to know more about, which is a testament to how well Langmead writes that his side characters are just as developed and interesting as his main character.

The last turn, well, I won’t say much on that because it is a spoiler, but it’s a great one that leaves you wondering what the heck just happened! It’s such an interesting thing to think about, yet it just makes sense.

A fun, fast-paced, and well developed book, Metronome by Oliver Langmead is sure to please both fantasy fans, as well as surrealists and intellectuals. However, it will leave some frustrated and wanting more (which can be the mark of a good writer, I suppose, but still I WANT MORE!)

About the Author

Oliver Langmead was born in Edinburgh and lives in Glasgow. He has an LLB in Law, and an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study with a distinction, and is currently working towards an MLitt in Fantasy. His first book, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015.

Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis

Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis

 Cedric the Demonic Knight
by
 Valerie Willis

Lord Cedric du Romulus may be a powerful knight, but he’s no human nor does he like masquerading as one. He is a mixed blood demon made by Sorceress Morrighan in her quest to create an army of powerful underlings. Seeking out ever-stronger enemies, he devours them for their power; nothing is safe from his fangs whether they are beasts, demons, or magic wielders. When he finds himself staring at Morrighan’s castle, will he be able to follow through with his life’s ambition and leave behind his lover and wife, Lady Angeline who herself is an heir to a legacy of unknown magic.

Book 1 of the Cedric Series

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Battle Goddess Productions
Publication: February 9, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis

The Morrigan, demons, magic, and knights, Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis had me sold with the synopsis. Then, I saw the cover and thought oh no, did I make a mistake? The cover didn’t grab me or sell me as much as the synopsis did. I put off reading it, thinking oh no, I have made a mistake. But finally, I picked it up and boy oh boy, is this another case of not judging a book by its cover. The writing is actually really great, as is the story!

The writing is incredibly solid and very reminiscent of typical high fantasy novels. It is structured and descriptive, but not overly so to the point where readers become bogged down or bored. The dialogue feels natural, but is a bit nasty for my taste. I know why the character speaks the way he does, but it doesn’t help keep me from cringing when he does and gets misogynistic.

The plot is also typical of fantasy. There is the overarching goal — destroy Morrighan. The distractions — beasts, discovery of self. The improbability of survival. Cedric, after accidentally acquiring a witchy blooded wife, is on a quest to destroy his makers. A father and a literal maker who designed his birth almost as though he were a lab experiment.

THE ROMANCE! Boy oh boy! I had read another book which I had to DNF and will not receive a review, but it was just sex that made no sense with no story just 10% in. This, on the other hand, was all teasing and no act. When the romantic interests finally give in to their passion, fade to black. Talk about sexual frustration!

This is a fantasy series, despite its drab cover, that really lives up to the genre and is a great read. I wholeheartedly recommend Cedric the Demonic Knight by Valerie Willis to readers that like a mix of Arthurian fantasy mixed with demons and witchcraft with a sprinkle of sex and romance.

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Quotes & Excerpts

There could be no more crying. There was no more room for the naïve Angeline in this new world of darkness
-Chapter Fifteen

About the Author

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Valerie WillisValerie Willis, a sixth generation Floridian, launched her first book, Cedric the Demonic Knight, at the start of 2014 on Amazon.com. Since then, she has launched the second book to The Cedric Series, Romasanta: Father of Werewolves (2015), with several installments to come in this high rated Fantasy Romance Series. She pulls in a melting pot of mythology, folklores, history and more into her work with a remarkable amount of foreshadowing that makes reading her books a second time exciting. Also she recently published Rebirth the first book in her Teen Urban Fantasy, the Tattooed Angels Trilogy. Currently on the table to be completed is book two for the Tattooed Angels Trilogy, Judgment and book three in The Cedric Series, The Oracle.

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

 A Bond of Venom and Magic
by Karen Tomlinson

The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.

For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.

As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?

A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Guardians and The Goddess.

Book 1 of The Goddess and the Guardians series

Rated: ★★★
Publication: October 14, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

Full of action and romance, A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson is fast paced and exciting. Characters are great and so is the story and lore. I absolutely loved this book and devoured it quickly because I needed to know what would happen next. I mean, heck, I even went and tweeted author Tomlinson because of what was going on in the story.

Protagonist Diamond will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll start off by saying that. She isn’t reminiscent of other recent female YA fantasy protagonists who fight, sneak, or play games. Diamond, instead, is innocent and guileless. Overprotected by her father, living in a small town, she never learned how to fight or fend for herself. So, when she’s forced to fight, she can’t. It’s aggravating but also humanizing. I loved that she had anxiety and panic attacks, simply because it made her relatable as someone who also experiences anxiety and has had panic attacks. I mean, if you’re suddenly forced into battle after being coddled your entire life, panic attacks make sense!

Opposite Diamond is Hugo. Now, Hugo, Hugo, Hugo. I don’t know what to make of him. Part of me loves him. Part of me doesn’t. Most of me is reminded of Edward Cullen. He’s broody, overprotective, aggressive, possessive, etc. It makes sense in the context of the story, but still, it’s written so over-the-top that I was left wondering how anyone could ignore his feelings or be oblivious to them. It does get resolved towards the end, but it was still distracting.

So, you might be thinking, given the problems with Diamond and Hugo, how is this a four star book? Easy. It works. Diamond needs protecting and Hugo is over-protective. It just clicks and makes your heart flutter, which is surprising for me to say since I actually want to pair Diamond with human Prince Jack, who, given his limited page time, has me completely smitten. He’s the best and I love him and want to see more of him. I know end game will be Diamond/Hugo, but it doesn’t detract me from wishing for Diamond/Jack.

There is something that happens in the ending that did leave me disappointing. A character takes a turn, and it doesn’t really gel with everything that has happened up until that point. Usually, an author would leave tiny hints that could click into place when the turn happens, but I didn’t feel it with this book. It felt completely undeserved and really knocked a star off the rating.

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson has solid characters, but tentative lore. It feels like Tomlinson does know what she’s writing about, but hasn’t wanted to put anything in stone yet. That said, this was a fun read that I would recommend to fans of the Twilight series or the Sookie Stackhouse series, but looking for abstinent YA.

Still not convinced? Sign up for her mailing list and you’ll get the first five chapters free!

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About the Author

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Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic will be released October 14th 2016.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.

About me!

As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not many…I spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didn’t rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven…(there was no Harry Potter then) As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dad’s discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!

Uprising by Jessica Therrien

Uprising by Jessica Therrien

Uprising
by Jessica Therrien

Elyse has done everything she can to protect her friends from The Council’s reach. As long as they believe she’s dead, she has time to rest and train for war. And war is inevitable.

When Kara arrives with the news that Anna and Chloe have been captured, Elyse is faced with the realization that no one is safe until The Council is stopped and Christoph is destroyed. She doesn’t need a prophecy to tell her to lead an army. Christoph has done the one thing that ensures she’ll fight to the death. He’s threatened the people she loves.

It will take more than the words of an oracle to help them fight against the most powerful Descendant alive. To break The Council’s oppression and rise up against a plot so many years in the making, Elyse will need to get dangerously close to her enemy. So close, in fact, she may not survive.

Children of the Gods #2

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication: September 14, 2015 (2nd ed)
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Uprising by Jessica Therrien

The second book in the Children of the Gods series, Uprising by Jessica Therrien keeps up the action from the first book. Elyse, now on the run with William and accepting her role as “the chosen one,” learns to fight and strategize war plans. The war begins to brew and pieces snap into place.

The pacing is great. We see that time passes as Elyse learns to defend herself so that when she does, it isn’t overnight or a surprise. BUT, at the same time, we don’t see the monotony of it, thanks to Therrien’s fantastic writing. What we do see if Elyse, though combat ready, continue trying to be the pacifist healer she was born to be. We see a prophecy come true.

I can’t go into the story too much without spoiling it but I absolutely loved it. It felt like a natural continuation to the first book and the ending shocked me. I have no idea where the third book will go from where we ended in this book. I have so many questions. I’ll probably try to do a spoiler vlog for it.

Definitely must read if you’ve picked up Oppression because Uprising by Jessica Therrien just continues to be excellent.

Oppression by Jessica Therrien

Oppression by Jessica Therrien

Oppression
by Jessica Therrien

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She’s been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she’s well over eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don’t make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she’s been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Some are waiting for her to put an end to centuries of traditions that have oppressed their people under the guise of safeguarding them. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning-and she’s not entirely willing to play by their rules.

Children of the Gods #1

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication: August 4, 2015 (2nd ed)
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Oppression by Jessica Therrien

As a huge fan of Greek mythology, I was excited at the opportunity of reviewing Oppression by Jessica Therrien. I will admit, however, that the synopsis had me worried. I thought it would be a bit too “Mary Jane” and just too saccharine. Thankfully, that was not the case! I think I actually read the entire thing in two sittings (only because I needed to attend class between the start and the end). The mythology aspect was great and fun and seemed pretty sound and correct. The characters were fun, and though some folks may think them too flat, you have to remember, they’re based off Greek myths. Of course love at first sight, or first touch is a possibility!

As a protagonist, Elyse can easily rub readers the wrong way. She seems too perfect almost. Yet, I loved it and found it endearing. Though, there was one part that seemed to really get to me, but I’ll talk about that later. She is sweet even though she has had a fairly foul hand dealt with her parents dying and never being able to fall in love or really make friends since she will outlive them all. Yet, for as much as Elyse tries to keep people away, she still cares — too much so — which is what makes her such a great healer. That’s right, that’s her god descended power. It’s part of the reason she’s at the center of such turmoil once she’s revealed. But, the thing I didn’t like about it, though I understand it from her point of view, is that she is willing to give it all up, her entire life and love, just to prolong a human’s life. Yes, her best friend, but still. Why? I wouldn’t. You know Anna is going to die. She is human. If she doesn’t die now, she’ll die eventually. Why waste your life on that? It seems like something she should have learned early on but hasn’t. This frustrates me, and yet, it’s what makes Elyse a great characters because she fits her role of healer perfectly. A healer, a doctor, can’t just sit back and let someone die if they can stop it.

William, her love interest, is so much fun. He’s cocky and understanding and completely in love with Elyse. I think, without the additional chapter this version (2nd edition) has at the end, I wouldn’t have understood why he loves her so much. The additional chapter shows him when he first meets Elyse and saves her life and shows just how he falls in love. But, being a descendant of Aphrodite, while Elyse’s father was a descendant of Hephaestus, it automatically made sense for me to have them fall in love. I thought it was fantastic too how Therrien sets up the later events with William knowing Elyse will do something stupid and need a back-up escape plan. The fact that she took the time to put that in the middle of the book totally justifies the ending. Without it, I would’ve been disappointed at the use of a deus ex machina escape.

The pacing of the story was fun and steady. It never got too slow, nor did it get overwhelming. I want to know more about the Council and hope in book 2 we’ll get to see more of them and the upcoming fight that will happen. Overall, I absolutely loved Oppression by Jessica Therrien and would definitely re-read it. Well, after I finish the other two (which I will review soon!) If you like the Percy Jackson series, but want a bit more grown up version, definitely pick this up!