Mar 062013
 

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, Book 3) Moroi, magic and murder, oh my!  Sydney Sage is up to her neck in it and is increasingly fighting against the beliefs she was raised with as an Alchemist.  After a forbidden moment rocks her, she starts to question everything she believed in and doesn’t know where to turn.  When someone who managed to leave the Alchemists offers to teach her the secrets she was never meant to know and how to break free of them, she is sorely tempted.  But how can she leave her Moroi and Dhampir charges as well as the very real situation of untrained witches being killed.  Continuing her magic studies seems all the more urgent, and then there is Adrian…

I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this book… It felt a little lacklustre in comparison to the others in the series and not all that much seemed to happen, even though some major plot was moved on.  That’s not to say it’s a bad book, it just didn’t feel up to the standard I enjoyed in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily.  It was still enjoyable and interesting and as always, great to be back in a world with characters I love so much.  Sorry Sydney, but Rose and Dimitri will always be my first loves and I treasure any cameos from them ;)

Some of the characters felt superfluous and while I have no doubt they will come to play their part, having them constantly around doing nothing seemed wasted.  Having said that, had they not been mentioned at all, I would have missed them and I did love some of their interactions!

Adrian has really come into his own in this book, he’s still the playboy we know and love but I think he is finally maturing and I have to say a large part of that is due to Sydney.  Sydney herself was brilliant but I did get a little irritated with her protestations. While they are valid, it just seemed to be more of the same.  I think I understand the reason why now though, and while it made the plot interesting, I felt it dragged on a bit too long.  The last quarter of the book was what engaged me the most and I may have had a little cheer at certain points.

The end though, oh very nicely done, a huge spanner in the works!

All in all, an enjoyable book and you definitely need to read it if you are a fan of the series, but not quite the quality I have come to expect of Richelle Mead.  This will not put me off waiting as eagerly for the next one though, oh no :)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Series: Bloodlines (3)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Feb 112013
 

The Farm (Farm 1) I don’t tend to read that much young adult fiction and the current trend for dystopian settings hasn’t really caught me yet.  I think this is mainly because I don’t have children so I don’t see what is current out there through them.  My cats unfortunately are not readers (unless I’m currently reading in which case they are *very* interested!)

So why did The Farm catch my attention?  Mel and Lily Price are twins about to turn eighteen and living in one of the ‘farms’ that were created after a strange virus swept through the United States, changing a lot of the population into blood ravening monsters. For their safety, all teenagers were gathered into various locations and protected with electrified fences as their hormone laden blood drew the monsters more than anything else.  They donate blood regularly but are not told why and at eighteen, they are no longer in danger and are released.  Lily suspects differently, that when she and her autistic sister turn eighteen, they will be killed as food for the ravening ‘ticks’, as their blood has been used from all the donating.  She is desperate to escape before their deadline and get her sister to safety.

There was a lot I liked about this book, and a couple of things that confused me.  The characters of Mel and Lily were good and I felt Lily was written pretty accurately for a seventeen year old in a terrible situation with a lot of responsibility.  Her decisions weren’t always good, she sometimes felt that Mel was a burden, but she also loved and protected her sister with everything she had in her; I liked her a lot.  Mel was outstandingly created and when we were in her ‘head’, it was fascinating to see how she worked and figured things out.  The use of nursery rhymes to communicate was sheer genius and the behaviours she displays all felt right.

When Carter was introduced, he was again a well created character and I loved his interactions with Lily when he was being honest as well as how he was with Mel, and that won me over a lot too.  He did annoy me a little with his secrets but you do find out why and again, he’s a seventeen year old with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

The thing that confused me a little were the perspectives in which the book was written.  It does change and while each chapter lets you know who is front and centre, with Lily and Mel it’s in first person but when it’s Carter, it changes to third (even if Mel or Lily are present).  It’s a little odd and I can’t decide whether it worked for me or not.

One thing that added depth to the story for me was the use of social media in telling us something about the world.  On twitter if you read https://twitter.com/EscapeTheFarm you get a feel for what happened in ‘real time’, and also look at http://www.npdco.org/ which is the ‘National Pandemic Disease Control Organisation’ – both are well worth a look at!

Pacing was quite good although it was slow to start with but I think that is something you expect when a lot of information about the world needs to be revealed.  In some ways I feel not enough was explained, but then again, if the characters don’t know what is really going on then I wouldn’t expect to either.  The pace does pick up and it increases throughout the rest of the book until the end.  The ending was a big emotional punch that was extremely well written and I was surprised to find that I really cared about it.

The story as a whole was good, entertaining and gave you a good sense of what was going on, even if it was a little convoluted sometimes.  I liked that there were no sappy Vampires or traditional Zombies and instead what Emily McKay gave us was something different and needed.  I don’t know where the next book will take us but I really want to find out.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Emily McKay
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Oct 232012
 

The Immortals: Evermore 16 year old Ever Bloom was the only survivor of a car accident that killed her family. Since then she has been cursed with psychic abilities that play havoc with her chances of living an ordinary life. All she wants to do is stay anonymous and hidden but when Damen starts at school she feels drawn to him, when she is with him she can be a normal teenager. Is Damen too good to be true? What is he hiding and will Ever be able to deal with it?

This is the first young adult book I have read for a while and I enjoyed it. I thought I knew where the story was going but I was wrong and I loved the route it took as to why Ever and Damen have this connection.

More background on Damen would have been good, he sort of appears like this too good to be true godlike male, perfect at everything – no wonder Ever is suspicious. The only thing that surprised me was that no-one else was. It also seemed a bit odd that he was encouraging her to play truant from school all the time, not a good example to set - maybe I am showing my age here, I’m not a young adult in case you didn’t guess!

Ever had the potential to be very interesting but again I wanted more detail on her abilities and what they mean. Having said that, one of the main aspects of the book was Ever trying to deny her abilities so in the context I guess the lack of detail was appropriate. Hopefully in the next book I will find out more.

Being a true romantic the ending makes or breaks some books, and for me the ending was worth it. There wasn’t much romance in the main part of the book, although I guess their behaviour probably passes for romance among 16 year olds. I am too old to remember that age! There was a lot of information crammed into the last few pages,  information which makes me want to read the next book for more detail, but also information that would have been better introduced earlier in the book.

While I might have wanted more detail, this is the start of a series so hopefully things will be better explained in the next book and despite the criticisms above, I did enjoy the story and look forward to reading the others.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Alyson Noel
  • Series: The Immortals (1)
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Sep 042012
 

Bloodlines: The Golden Lily (book 2) I don’t read that much Young Adult fiction, not because I don’t like it, but more because I don’t have children, so titles pass me by without much notice.

Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series however, was one I got very enthusiastic about, absolutely loved, and was so sad when it finished.  Thankfully she decided to write another series, this time featuring some of the minor characters.  It began with Bloodlines and The Golden Lily is the second book in the new series, and I absolutely loved it from beginning to end!

As an Alchemist, charged with hiding Princess Jill Dragomir at a human boarding school, Sydney Sage is finding it increasingly hard to sustain the strict beliefs drilled into her from a young age. That belief, that Moroi and Dhampirs are unnatural beings and should be kept separate from humans, is tested to breaking point as she grows close and emotionally involved with a group she is trying to protect.

Sydney became a much more likeable character in the first book but for me, this is the book where I fully put my belief in her.  She grows so much as a person in her own right rather than ‘An Alchemist following orders’.  The fictional and dysfunctional family the group hides as have really captured my heart and even though my favourite badass and former Strigoi Guardian appears, it didn’t take over the story.  Sydney is breaking out of her indoctrinated beliefs and rules about Moroi and Dhampir’s and she clearly cares for her charges.  She has a lot of responsibility but she bears it well and at times with a lot of humour.

Jill is still a sweetheart and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.  She is coming out of her shell a lot more and finding out who she is rather than what she represents.  She is also still a fifteen year old girl with hopes and dreams, so that causes problems all of it’s own.  Eddie is Jill’s Guardian but is also posing as her brother.  I have no idea what is going to happen there… I know what I want!  But sadly I don’t always get what I want ;)

Adrian, ah… I could write paragraphs about him.  He is a character that both irritates and makes me want to cry.  He has so little belief in himself and with everything that happened in Last Sacrifice, he is at an all time low.  I love the way Sydney interacts with him, at first assuming what everyone else does about him, but then as she takes the time to listen, she gets to know the real Adrian, the one we see so rarely and is startlingly brilliant.

The story was wonderful, I loved learning more of the history of the Alchemists but just get more angry at their rigid and hidebound beliefs, not to mention their punishment methods.  I’m hoping there will be a big shake up happening there soon and it will be stamped with the name of Sydney Sage!

Mead’s writing is so easy to read, engaging and powerful without being wordy.  She doesn’t dumb things down either, which means it can be enjoyed by both young and adults alike.  Her style just drags you in and doesn’t let go until you are finished and leaves you wanting more; always needing to know what happens next.

There are some fascinating threads introduced in this book that I think will play out in the next book, and I honestly cannot wait!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Red

Aug 312011
 

I enjoyed this take on the red riding hood fairy tale, the premise that somewhere in Elodie Rose’s heritage was the woman who spawned the myth.  The book itself is a very sweet story of Elodie, a seventeen year old girl who just wants to be normal, but tragedy and a shocking truth divert the course of her life.  Her father, a man who would do anything to protect her from the curse that follows their family, drills and trains her to survive in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Sawyer is a young man who has his own family secrets and when Elodie comes to work on his father’s research project in the Park, he finds there is something irresistible about her; something that draws him to her but raises his suspicions.

Both characters are solid and likeable and work really well together.  You can believe their instant attraction and the struggle they have dealing with more than just the usual teenage hormones.  The intensity between them was well written, powerful and tasteful, leaving me and them just on this side of wanting more.

I liked the plot, that tragedy had followed Elodie’s family for generations and it was poignant that she believed she would succumb to it too.  The scenes in which she acts out her worst fears were especially emotional.  I enjoyed seeing Elodie’s confidence grow as she dealt with the more mundane bullies.   I also liked that she was willing to stand up for a new girl, it said a lot about her character.  The choice of ‘bad guy’ was good and made a lot of sense after the reveal, and it certainly had me fooled!

The pace was good and well judged, there were no moments where nothing happened, and there was always something pertinent to the story going on.

An enjoyable and engaging read in the Young Adult genre and Kait Nolan is an author I would like see more of.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kait Nolan
  • Format: Kindle
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 202011
 

As I reported in the blog post here the cover for the UK edition of Bloodlines had been revealed.  The publisher has since decided to go with the same cover as the US edition for a more global series look, so… here for the final time is the Cover reveal for the UK edition of Bloodlines!

I loved the original cover but I have to say, this does give a great visual of who the main character might be ;)

 

Dec 102010
 

Rose’s story is told across six books in the Vampire Academy series.  You can read all the reviews I’ve done for them before reading this one if you should so desire: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound.

To say life is complicated for Rose Hathaway would be an understatement.  She is imprisoned and awaiting trial for a murder she didn’t commit, her father insisting she will not face trial and inevitable execution.  Abe seems to have something up his sleeve and all Rose’s friends seem to be in on it,  but they are determined to keep her out of it.  Once the plan is underway, she goes on the run with her ex-Strigoi ex-boyfriend Dimitri, and much to her surprise, Sydney the Alchemist.  Firm instructions are given for Rose to stay safe and hidden until the others can figure out who framed her and why, but safe and hidden aren’t in Rose’s vocabulary, especially not when her loved ones are at risk.  She has a plan of her own, one that could see Lissa’s royal family name restored.  Now she just has to convince Dimitri to go along with it, convince herself that Adrian is the one she wants to be with and convince everyone else that she hasn’t gone completely off the rails.  Simple really.

So here we are, on the last book to finish Rose’s story.  In the Vampire Academy series, we’ve watched her grow in just a few short years, from a young and impetuous teenager into a formidable and fiercely loyal guardian with no qualms about her duty to Lissa.  She’s known love, loss and rejection, she’s travelled the world to try and save the man she loves.  While she wants to be Lissa’s guardian she knows with some of the choices she had to make to keep the people she loved safe, that she would be deemed unsuitable to guard a Princess of Lissa’s stature.  Now she is on trial for a crime she is innocent of, but someone has gone a long way to make sure she will be found guilty.

Lissa has truly come into her own as a spirit user, being able to cure Strigoi and turn them back into their former selves.  Something that was once thought impossible, but her love for Rose and affection for Dimitri gave her the strength to fight for them.  Her confidence has increased with Christian’s love, the unwavering support of her friends and her shadow kissed bond with Rose, meaning the last of the Dragomir royal line is never really alone.

It’s been quite a journey and one I’m so glad I made.  Right from the first book, Vampire Academy, Rose has been an outstanding character; funny, determined, loyal and fierce and she has fast become one of my favourite heroines.  I love the fact that she isn’t perfect, she makes wrong choices, she gets confused by her hormones but she does her utmost to ultimately do the right thing.  Those she loves mean everything to her and she would do anything for them, especially Lissa.

While the point of view is always from Rose’s perspective, that she can see through Lissa’s eyes because of the bond, is a unique way of letting the reader know what is going on with her.  It works really well and as they spend a lot of time apart in this book but is essential you know what is happening back with Lissa, it was a clever way to achieve this.

The writing, as it has been all the way through the series, is consistently crisp, clean and easy to read.  The characters have always been consistent, their personalities solid and very real.

The plot in Last Sacrifice is simply outstanding.  I knew there would be a twist at the end but for the life of me, I didn’t see it coming.  I even went back and re-read to see if I’d missed any clues but no, nothing.  It was very well done.

The plot arc that connects all the books was also very good, often coming to full circles on a couple of issues.  Again, I thought it a very nice touch.

When the real action kicks off in this last book, it doesn’t let up til the end, carrying you with it until it’s inevitable conclusion.  That unseen twist, Lissa’s surprise and the last sacrifice pretty much finished me off and I had to break out the tissues.  I can give no higher praise than that.

While Rose’s Story may have ended with Last Sacrifice, there will be more from Vampire Academy to come and I can’t wait to see who it will be about next.  They will however have big shoes to fill to be comparable to Rose.

There is only one negative thing I have to say about Last Sacrifice and that is the Author’s note at the start.  Just one line took away any mystique as to whether Rose would survive.  I understand why the author’s note is there and for the most part, it’s appropriate, but maybe putting that part at the end with the acknowledgements would have been better.

That doesn’t stop it from being an incredibly engaging and exciting book, even so.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Dec 092010
 

Please be aware this review may contain minor spoilers.

For Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir, it’s time to graduate and be let out into the real world.  A real world that has many dangers – Dimitri intent on hunting Rose down and if he can’t turn her, kill her.  A Queen that has her own plans for the last royal Dragomir and several people who resent Rose’s influence with Lissa.  When a chance to save Dimitri and potentially turn him back into the dhampir he once was is discovered, Rose and Lissa must break more laws than they ever dreamt to free someone who they helped imprison.  With friends and family willing to do what they can to help, what they set out to do, could be life changing for dhampir and vampire alike.

Given her experiences in Blood Promise, Rose feels like a much more mature character.  That’s not to say she has suddenly become a model student else she wouldn’t be the Rose we know and love.  Her wit is still sharper than any knife and she will bend as many rules as she needs to, to protect those she loves.  I expect nothing less!

Lissa has grown up quite a lot as well, I think being without Rose for a lot of the last book, even as difficult as it was for her, helped her be aware she isn’t without talent of her own.  Of course that goes along with realising how vulnerable she can be, but maybe being aware of that isn’t such a bad thing, losing that naivety only creates more strength in her.

I loved the run up to Rose’s graduation and her final trial.  I wanted to cheer as she went, proving to her teachers and peers, just how formidable she has become.  I was a little disappointed that not much was made of the vampire side of graduation but I guess since it’s Rose’s story and being a dhampir it made sense.

Now they are out in the real world, at the royal court and no longer students.  Lissa is the Dragomir Princess, the last of her royal line which makes her extremely valuable, and Rose has the unfortunate record and reputation of being a troublemaker but with excellent and proven guardian skills.  I wanted to protest every time someone wanted to pull the two apart which seemed to happen a lot.  Admittedly not all of Rose’s choices have been good ones but no one could doubt her devotion to Lissa.

The action starts as they realise Dimitri is still obsessed with either turning or killing Rose.  A chance comment in the last book leads to a real possibility of saving him, but the only way to get the information they need is to do something unthinkable and highly illegal.  Break out the man who kidnapped and tortured Lissa in the first book, who they also testified against to put him in prison in the first place.

The pace of the story really picks up as they need to get things moving and in place before Dimitri can catch up with them and take any chance of saving him out of the equation.  Rose being torn between Adrian and Dimitri is quite sad as Adrian is a great character and I believe Rose does love him, just in a different way to what she feels for Dimitri.  She may be a lot more mature now but she is still an 18 year old dhampir.

Where Lissa really comes into her own is when she defies Rose and learns some combat skills to be able to carry out her plan to save Dimitri.  Christian does as well to a certain extent, and their interplay as ex-lovers was funny and heartfelt. I just wanted to tell them to get back together already!

What follows is just simply breathtaking.  Lissa’s empathy and determination, Christian’s love for her and both of them prepared to do anything to help Rose.  That whole section of the book had me on the edge of my seat and hoping for the best but fearing the worst.  Outstanding emotional and heartbreaking writing, and I wish I could say more about it but that would be a major spoiler and I am struggling enough with the minor ones.

Mead has a real talent for putting in a whammy at the end of her books that leaves Rose imprisoned and on trial for High Treason.  A crime that the punishment for isn’t imprisonment, it’s execution.

And so the story remains utterly engaging and enthralling as we go into the final book in Rose’s series; Last Sacrifice.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Dec 062010
 

Please be aware this review contains a few minor spoilers.

The time has come for Rose Hathaway to make a choice.  After the attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy left so many dead, injured, or missing, Lissa needs her more than ever.  Rose is frantic after Dimitri was taken and with her worst fears confirmed, needs to find him and give him the peace they both said they would have wanted, if the worst should ever happen.  Does Rose have the strength to leave the Academy and say goodbye to her best friend?  To cross countries in search of Dimitri and if she can, kill him for the final time.  In doing so, can she survive it.

Blood Promise has so many heartbreaking moments, I’m not even sure where to begin.  I thought Shadow Kiss was emotionally charged but this one is just on a whole new level.

Rose is such a wonderful character.  The amount of strength she has, the pain she has to go through and the determination to see someone she loves find peace is just amazing.  She is so well written she feels like a real person and I feel for her with everything she has to endure.  And she really does get put through it in this book.

I found Lissa’s feelings of abandonment very sad and it didn’t surprise me when she started to go off the rails.  You knew all wasn’t right with her, when new character Avery seemed to be trying to take Rose’s place.  I felt nothing good could come of it.  I did think Avery’s character was well written, just little hints but it was only really when you knew what she was up to that it added up.  It was also hard knowing Rose could see some of what was happening and it was just adding to the guilt she already felt about leaving.

A new organisation and character was introduced and I liked the concept.  It did seem strange that even though the living vampires and dhampirs kept themselves out of human society as much as possible, there needed to be something that allowed them to cross paths without too much trouble.  Enter the Alchemists.  Sydney is an interesting character and I thought the way her dislike of dhampir’s and vampires started to change over the course of the story was well done.

Dimitri.. aaah.  Those sections were the hardest for me to read, to see Rose come so far, so determined then almost give in and become what she dreads the most.  Dimitri as a Strigoi is just plain scary.  A nice touch, however, is that even undead he still feels a strong connection to Rose, even if it is now a broken and twisted thing.

The real strength of character in Rose came to the fore, when she realised Lissa was in serious trouble and she had to finish what she came to Siberia to do.  She still has a place in the living world, however tormented she felt about it, and that she still wanted to find peace for Dimitri through love and not hatred was very powerful.  It still wasn’t easy though.

Managing to save Lissa, even though she was thousands of miles away was brilliantly done.  Using her shadow kiss bond along with another spirit user, to do what she always promised; to protect her.

Rose’s last moments with Dimitri are the most heartrending and what she was prepared to do rather than be turned reduced me to tears.

An emotional, engaging and thrilling read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Dec 052010
 

Being a guardian to her best friend Lissa Dragomir, after graduation, is all Rose Hathaway ever wanted.  The psychic bond between them, gained when Lissa brought Rose back
from the dead, might be the perfect tool to protect her, but at what
cost?  Torn between the forbidden love for her tutor Dimitri Belikov and the
role of protecting her best friend, Rose might be forced to choose
between them.  When the unthinkable happens and undead vampires invade the Academy,
Rose goes above and beyond the call of duty and fights with everything
she has in her.  Will it be enough to save those she loves the most?

Shadow Kiss has a much darker feel to it than the first two books in the Vampire Academy series.  A natural and necessary progression I think, due to the way book two finished.  It was great to be able to start straight in on this novel and I felt it was all the more poignant for it.

Rose is once again the focal character and I have to say I absolutely love her.  She matures rapidly throughout this book due to both her experiences in Frostbite, and the trials she has to go through in this one.  She kicks butt with the best of them but I did fear she was starting to come apart at the seams.  I couldn’t help but feel for her as she tries to cope with her guilt, desire, responsibilities and dedication to Lissa on top of being in her final year as a novice guardian.

There are some interesting revelations about Lissa’s abilities and their bond, and Rose learns more about what it means to be shadow kissed and its repercussions.  Lissa is dealing with her own feelings, of being in an adult relationship, being the last living Dragomir and having to be wary of the schemes the Queen seems to be cooking up for her.  They both grow a little distant from each other which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with their bond you know they will never truly be apart.

From their group of friends, characters are starting to stand out on their own; Lissa’s boyfriend Christian, Adrian who makes no bones about wanting Rose, and Eddie, steadfast, loyal and dependable.  All of them play a huge role in making this series as good as it is.  Then there is the forbidden and gorgeous Dimitri.  I can’t help it, I love him too!

The pace felt a little different in Shadow Kiss, starting almost slowly and then as certain events happened, it got kicked up a gear until the end.  And by the end, wow.

The story, complemented by that exciting pace, was just amazing.  Emotional, compelling, passionate and painful, you felt every ounce of it in the writing.  As crisp, clear and easy to read as the first two, but with two very intense scenes that just blew me away, each for very different reasons.  I was in tears for one of them, make of that what you will!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)