Tag Archives: vampires

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

11 Nov

Series: Bloodlines, book #1

Published: August 23rd 2011 by Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 421 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Great new spin-off series of the Vampire Academy following the new protagonist Sydney, the human alchemist who helped Rose in Last Sacrifice. Sydney may not be as kick-ass as Rose (kind of hard to beat), but she is every bit as head-strong and protective of the ones she loves. She warmed my heart, as did the other characters in their group, Jill, Eddie and in particular Adrian! All in all, a wonderfully entertaining start to a new series!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Synopsis:

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Thoughts:

I actually read this book a couple of weeks ago, but things were being so hectic at the time, that I never got a chance to sit down for a review. I do however remember my one thought after closing the last page:

I am in love with Adrian Ivashkov.

That’s right. Not since Jace in The Mortal Instruments have I felt so strongly for a male character. What a wonderful, cynical, broken-hearted, flawed, protective, kind and romantic character Mead has created. I felt as if he practically jumped out of the pages every time he was given page time. Talk about a scene-stealer!

So, taking that into account, my view of Bloodlines may be slightly biased, since Adrian had me feeling starry-eyed pretty much all the time.

That being said, I was conscious, more or less, of the rest of the plot as well. And believe me when I say that I was wary at the start.  For one, I loved everything about the Vampire Academy and was wondering if Sydney the alchemist could be as good of a protagonist as Rose?

Well, was she?

Yes, I think she was. Obviously not as kick-ass. Not the center of attention. Not as drop-dead gorgeous. But every bit as head-strong and courageous, and protective of the ones she loves.  Just managing the situations in a different way. While Rose tended to go running head-first into things, Sydney took time to think about the best possible way to handle something before acting on it. She is a bit of a brainiac, a book-nerd, responsible and all that. But she also proves that she has the guts to act in dangerous situations when it really comes down to it.

I found myself feeling for her, being human and trying to cope in a world of vampires, cleaning up after everyone, suffering from the repression of her father, trying to do everything right and please everyone but not always succeeding. Always putting everyone else before herself. I also see a lot of potential growth. I think she’ll learn how to stand up for herself and I hope in doing so she’ll also face her father. I can’t wait for that moment to happen.

The setting in this book is not much different from the Vampire Academy setting, except for the obvious. There are only humans in the school. Otherwise, Sydney and the Moroi princess Jill essentially face the same high school issues that Lissa and Rose once faced. That is, trying to cope with rumours, high-school bitches, not breaking school rules, boy crushes, demanding teachers, and the list goes on. It’s all very entertaining, and I loved seeing the little group of Sydney, Jill and Eddie taking care of each other and facing everyone around them.

Seeing as this is a spin-off, I should let you know that it works perfectly well to read this book if you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series. All though, be warned that there are quite a few spoilers as to how the previous series ended. So if you are planning to read VA, you should probably do that first before starting Bloodlines.

My one qualm about this book were the plot twists leading up to the finale which were a bit predictable. Someone of course had to turn out to be the bad guy with a hidden agenda.  BUT, seeing as Adrian was given page time in the finale, I wasn’t too bothered. And some of the other plot threads were very nicely tided up. So all in all, I enjoyed reading it until the end.

Finally, what really made this book special for me, was the growing affection between Adrian and Sydney. It happened so slowly that I barely knew if I was feeling it right, but I do think now there is great potential for the two of them. They definitely share a connection, and I cannot wait to see that continue in the sequel.

Now, some people have been complaining about the romance being too slow, but how could it have happened in any other way? I mean, Adrian was suffering from a broken heart. It would have come off as rather strange if he had been able to throw himself into another relationship just like that. I really did prefer this slow but much more believable scenario. Just saying.

The ending is a bit of a cliffie. Let me just say, you will be dying to know what the next spoken words are.

I know I literally cannot WAIT to continue the journey of these wonderful characters in The Golden Lily, to be published in June 2012.

Advertisements

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

10 Oct

Series: Hex Hall, book #1

Published: March 2nd 2010 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 323 pages

My Rating:  3.5/5

My Summary:

Light and fun read about Sophie, who after casting a particulary bad spell gets sent to Hex Hall, where she learns one or two things about the magical world and about herself. This is a Harry Potter for girls, with a distinct teen-age feel to it. As a 30+ year old, I found it slightly too immature. Yet because of the witty voice of Sophie, and a good pace, it’s still an entertaining read. Sequel is called Demonglass.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Synopsis:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Thoughts:

I remember saying in my review of A Great and Terrible Beauty that it was described as a Harry Potter for girls.

Well, scratch that. This is the Harry Potter for girls!

Let’s see:

  1. The main character Sophie is sent off to a boarding school for magical folk.
  2. Said school is essentially a pale version of Hogwarts, with ghosts floating around, furniture that change shapes, spooky bathrooms and classes featuring subjects such as The History of Warlocks and Transformation.
  3. Like Harry, Sophie was brought up in the human world, hence is a complete novice when it comes to all things magical.
  4. Like Harry, Sophie is famous in the magical world, given her family status, and I won’t say anymore here due to spoilers.
  5. Like Harry, Sophie is special and has a dark streak to her witch craft, which makes her not only a prime target for evil forces, but also has her doubting her own goodness.
  6. Like Harry, Sophie has a tendancy to get herself into trouble, with pretty much everyone at school, earning her several punishments and detentions.
  7. Like Harry, Sophie find herself an archenemy pretty much straight away.
  8. Like in the Harry Potter books, the plot revolves around students getting attacked at school by a mysterious evil force.

Well, isn’t it obvious where Hawkins got her ideas from? I really felt as if I was reading a girl-version of Harry Potter.

A very light version though, which lacked the depth that made Harry Potter such an engrossing read. You see, the theme dealt with here (as in Harry Potter) is quite dark. A character actually dies in this book. Still, because of the light tone of the book, this event never affected me. I didn’t feel the tragedy that the loss of that character was.

Compare that to my reaction to the fourth Harry Potter book where at the end of the book, a character died. I remembering being shocked, as a heaviness settled on me. I just couldn’t believe it had happened. And I certainly felt the grief of Harry and everyone around him.

Hex Hall could have been all that, but instead settled on being just a light, fun and easy read. Something which I liked, but didn’t devour.

Being a girl-version of Harry Potter, the romantic lead is also obvious, pretty much from the start. The romance (or crush as I prefer to call it)  was cute, but that’s about it. Sophie was a well-rounded character and a fun voice to follow. Archer however, felt a bit too one-dimensional for me. He was hot. He was mysterious. He was every girl’s crush. But then what? I would have liked to know more about him. The ending however promises more, and I have to admit I am curious to see how it develops.

Finally, I should warn the adult readers, that the book has a teen-age feel to it, and at times I felt too old (and rightly so, since I am much older than the target audience). I appreciate that Sophie’s voice felt so close to her age, not one year more or less than her 16 years. So kudos to Hawkins for portraying a teen that realistically. However, for an adult reader, it came across as a bit too immature at times.

In fact, I believe the extent of enjoyment of Hex Hall depends on the reader’s age. Say if you’re a teen or early tween, it will most likely rate 4-5 stars. If you, like me, are 30+, the grade is more likely to end up around a 3.

The sequel is called Demonglass.

Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

4 Sep

Series: Vampire Academy, book #5

Published: May 18th 2010 by Penguin/Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 489 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Rose graduates from The Vampire Academy and goes to the court with Lissa and other guardians. It doesn’t take long until she has a new crazy plan in store, to save Dimitri from the undead. I loved this roller-coaster from the beginning to the end all though the end was quite a cliff-hanger this time. Can’t wait to dive into the final book Last Sacrifice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Full Review:

This is the 5th installment of the Vampire Academy Series, a series I have gradually got drawn into, the more books I’ve read. I devoured the previous book Blood Promise, where Rose goes to Siberia in order to find Dimitri and kill him. She fails that mission and ends up having to return to the Vampire Academy, knowing he is still out there in his undead Strigoi state.

Not many pages into Spirit Bound we learn that the tables have turned. Dimitri is now the one chasing Rose, and he is just waiting for her to graduate from the academy so that he can go after her. After the graduation, Rose and Lissa go to the court, along with other newly graduated guardians that are all waiting to receive their real-life assignments.

Rose however, has other things on her mind other than her new status as a guardian. She has heard rumours about someone once having restored a Strigoi back to the living. The one person that may be able to tell her more is Victor Dashkov, who is imprisoned in a high-security jail for his deeds towards Lissa (which you may remember from the first installment). Soon Rose has come up with a plan which includes breaking into Victor’s prison, and well, I won’t say anymore than that.

What I will say is that I loved reading the book. Let me break it up to you in points:

1) Adrian: Rose has started dating Adrian, and all though I am really a hard-core Dimitri fan, I can’t help but feel something for this guy. You can tell how much he cares about Rose, and it’s heart-breaking to watch, because no matter how much Rose tries to tell herself she’s over Dmitri, she is so not.

2) Lissa. Like so many other reviewers have commented, this is the book where Lissa grows a backbone, and it’s about time. We’ve watched Rose doing everything for Lissa (including drawing darkness from her), without really getting anything in return. In this installment, Lissa finally shows us why she is worthy of Rose’s friendship and devotion.

3) Dimitri. Well, I did see that coming, all though maybe not that soon. His depression made very much sense to me. Who wouldn’t feel depressed with those memories haunting you? I only hope he’ll overcome it.

The ending was a huge cliff-hanger that I really didn’t see coming at all. Can’t wait to see what happens to Rose and all my other favorite characters in the final installment The Last Sacrifice! All in all, a great read!

Review: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

11 Aug

Series: Mortal Instruments, book #4

Published: April 5th 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 424 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

I absolutely loved the first three books of MI series, and was thrilled to continue the series. Sadly, it left me disappointed. The plot was all over the place, more problems were thrown at Jace and Clary, and my favorite character Jace turned into an emo. Still ok read because of the great setting and the writing, but nowhere near as good as the first three.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

I have finally started reading the fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments. I’m feeling a bit giddy as I dive into this wonderful world of Cassanda Clare’s again. Actually, it’s a mixture of giddiness and nervousness. I’m eager to revisit this world, but also anxious about not messing up that perfect ending that was City of Glass. In particularly when it comes to Jace and Clary.

Nevertheless, I still want to read it. And, it’s on the top of my “what to read next” poll! Thanks to all who voted!!

Okay, so taking a deep breath here, and diving in:

I’m now a few chapters in. Clary’s friend, the vampire Simon is the narrator in this installment, and he is experiencing some problems. Firstly, there are problems of a romantic nature, as he is dating not one, but two girls at the same time: Werewolf Maia and shadowhunter Isabelle, who are bound to find out about each other soon. Then, there is his mom, who is growing increasingly suspicious of his weird habits (such as never eating), and is starting to demand answers.

The biggest problem however is his new status as the untouchable daylighter. That is, not only is he the only vampire who can walk in daylight (hence the nickname daylighter), but since The City of Glass, he is also protected by a rune mark on his forehead.  A rune that Clary gave him in order to save his life. All this makes him a very powerful vampire, and a threat to many others.

A vampire named Camille Belcourt (you may remember her from Clockwork Angel), has realized his potential power, and asks him to join her on her quest to become the leader of the NY vampire clan.

But does Simon really want to become involved in vampire power struggles?

As Simon ponders these issues, we also get a look into the Shadowhunter institute where Clary is now conducting her training to become a full-fledged shadowhunter. She and Jace are as much in love as before, all though Jace has been distancing himself slightly.

Oh no! Don’t give me that again!

But yes, I am definitely sensing troubles on the Clary and Jace horizon. Jace is once again doubting himself, or so I think.

I’ll admit I’m not too happy about that development. BUT, I am loving everything else. The characters, the dialogues, the humour, the vividly described settings are all spot on. And I am certainly feeling the pull..
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I have a hard time writing this review, hence why it’s taken so long. But I guess I just have to get over it and write the words I’ve been dreading to spell out. I was disappointed.

There, I said it.

I hate to be criticizing my favorite author Cassandra Clare, but I have to be honest and write what I feel, sorry all you fans of the Mortal Instruments Series!

What I feel is that City of Glass was the true end to the series, but as Clare decided to extend the series, she had to quickly come up with a continuation. Consequently, the plot in this installment suffered. It felt forced.

The only part of the plot that was intriguing was the beginning, where Simon is being drawn into the politics of the vampires. I so wish she would have continued on that path.

Sadly, the first intriguing chapters quickly fell into the background, as a number of other irrelevant plot threads took the forefront. There is Simon who is tormented by two-timing his two girlfriends and his desire to drink blood. The new character Kyle is introduced, but does not really bring anything new. There are lots of preparations for a wedding that never actually takes place. Some shadowhunters are also being killed but that all happens off-page. Alec and Magnus are off on some honey-mooney kind of trip and keep sending pictures to the rest of the group. Clary is learning some self-defense. And what not else.

The overall feeling was a plot that felt jumbled, and a bit messy. The POV also changed like there was no tomorrow, and added to my confusion.

However, messy plot aside, what really disappointed me, more than anything else, was the problems Jace and Clary were having.

I had no problems with their issues in the previous books, but City of Glass brought a sense of closure for these two. And having them getting into more problems now felt like a huge step backward. Moreover, the issues they experienced this time around felt forced, as if Clare had to desperately create something to keep the lovers apart (and supposedly keep the readers interested). It was almost as if I could see her thinking: Okay, now the sibling problem is solved, so what do we do now?

She essentially tries to (re)create the romantic tension with the “I don’t deserve you because I’m too dangerous for you” -dilemma, something which is really getting very old. I’m not impressed with Clare trying to implement that here. Not impressed at all.

I also didn’t like that Clary and Jace, after all they had gone through, couldn’t talk about their problems sooner. You’d think they’d be closer to each other than that. It also annoyed me how their characters changed in this book, Jace going all emo on us  and Clary going all whiny about whether Jace loved her or not. I mean come on! In all seriousness, can she really doubt Jace’s love now??

The ending promises more problems regarding the Jace and Clary relationship, and I can only sigh. I so wish Clare had taken a different direction. I wish she had left Clary and Jace alone, and concentrated on Simon and his new adventures instead. Why didn’t she?

Ah well. For the first time ever with a Cassandra Clare book I am actually contemplating whether to read the next book or not. I probably will, just out of pure curiosity but if the end is any indication of where this is going, I am pretty much convinced I will be disappointed again. Damn it Clare, you should have left it where it was!

At least we have her other series to look forward to, which I am truly grateful for. I never thought I’d say this but I am now looking more forward towards The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments Series.

The fifth installment City of Lost Souls to be published in May 2012.

Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

4 Jul

Series: Vampire Diaries, book #1

Published: June 26th 2007 by HarperTeen

Details: Paperback, 200 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About popular girl Elena who falls in love with vampire Stefan. Problem is, Stefan’s evil vampire brother has decided he wants Elena as well. This underdeveloped story, with contrived dialogues and shallow characters is clearly aimed for young teens only. I could barely get through the book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Full Review:

I recently decided to give the Vampire Diaries a go, which is why I’m now sitting with The Awakening in my hand. With doubts creeping in: What the heck was I thinking?

Anyone who has been following blogs and reviews knows that this series hasn’t exactly received what you’d call high praise. Why then torture myself through another crappy novel? As if Evernight wasn’t enough suffering for one month.

But I suppose it’s for the same reason as when I want to see a supposedly crappy but very much talked about movie. I get this strange urge to see it just so that I can form my own opinion. (I remember watching The Da Vinci Code for this very reason.)

And let’s face it. Vampire diaries is a talked about series, most likely due to its resemblance to Twilight (note that it was published before Meyer’s work)  and to the succesful tv series which is airing at the moment.

Enough said, with these whopping high expectations, I’ve plunged into the world of Elena, Stefan and Damon (of course picturing them all as the actors in the tv series – hard not to!).

We enter the story as the beautiful and popular girl Elena returns to school after a summer in France to discover that a new student has enrolled. And not just any student but an outwordly-looking handsome young boy who seems to have no interest whatsoever in Elena.

Frustrating to say the least. Well, at least for Elena who is used to get anything she wants, especially when it comes to boys.

After a couple of weeks of “suffering” the ignorance of Stefan, as the boy is called, she is molested by another boy at a cemetery. Who comes to her rescue? Yes, you guessed it right. Stefan.

Despite a few eye-rolling moments here and there, I was sort of enjoying it though, as I found myself turning pages hoping to see some chemistry when Elena and Stefan finally got to know each other.

Well, turns out I should not have been bothered.

On that first night, when Stefan rescues her from the cemetery, they kiss. After that, Elena’s first words to Stefan (and I repeat first words), are I love you.

I mean, come on!

It’s explained that Elena and Stefan need no words to communicate to each other, because they just feel what the other one feels. Really? They have barely exchanged greeting phrases and they already know each other that well?

To me, that just signals a lazy author who can’t care enough to create some dialogues between our main characters.

When they eventually do talk (a couple of pages later), it’s generally something dramatic such as I love you, I’ll protect you, I’ll always be there for you, or something along the same lines. What happened to normal conversations?

Bah!

Once I established that this contrived soap-opera relationship was to be the main theme of the book, it was hard not to just drop it on the spot. But there are only 200 pages of the book, and I figured that if I’d got this far, I might as well continue.

At least there was Damon, who seems infinitely much more interesting than Stefan could ever be. Stefan and Damon are brothers and are mortal enemies ever since something happened way back then when they grew up. Damon is supposedly evil, but I have a feeling he may experience some development, which means he could become an interesting figure. That’s about the only good thing I can say about this series.

Elena on the other hand was a self-centered brat. Her friends were only there to support her, without any motivations or feelings of their own. There’s that one-dimensional evil bitch at school who is out to destroy Elena. Yawn. Nothing out of the ordinary.

In short, it all felt very underdeveloped. As if the story could have come to life, had more thought and investment been put into the characters. As it was now, I could not connect to anyone, and I certainly couldn’t connect to the romance of Elena and Stefan.

So yep folks, this was just about as bad as I thought. Despite its similarities to Twilight, it’s nowhere near the same league.

Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

Review: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

25 Jun

Series: Jessica, book #1

Published: February 1st 2009 by Harcourt

Details: Hardcover, 351 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

So I finally got around to read this vampire tale about Jessica who finds out that she is betrothed since birth to vampire Lucius of the dangerous Vladescu clan. And I’m glad I did, because this was a truly enjoyable read. Great dialogues and characters. A sequel to be published in Jan 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

So I’m finally starting this book. I say finally, because this book has been lying in my TBR pile for over a year! I don’t really know why it took me this long, all though I suspect it had something to do with that dorky and chic lit-sounding book title.

So why starting it now?

Well, it has surfaced as the clear winner in my poll of what book I should read next! Thanks again to all of you who voted!

I’m now a few chapters in. It opens when our heroine Jessica, who is a normal (or so she thinks) teenage girl, notices that she has a stalker, a tall, mysterious and handsome young man, who appears to be following her everywhere she goes.

It turns out that Lucius, as the young man (and stalker) is called, has come from Romania in order to follow-up on a treaty that was made before Jessica was born. A treaty that states that Jessica is to marry Lucius!

Apparently, Jessica’s real Romanian parents, as well as Lucius’, pertained to two powerful and royal vampire clans in Romania. The “marriage treaty” was made all those years ago in order to stabilize the ongoing rivalry between the two clans.

As you can imagine, Jessica has a hard time believing all this. She knew of course that she was adopted, but not much more than that.

I’ve just got to the part now where Lucius has moved in to the guest apartment of Jessica’s house. The two of them don’t really get along that well (yet) . Lucius is trying to blend into Jessica’s school as “the foreign exchange student”, but is failing big time. Not surprisingly, considering his tall stature, long black coat, thick Romanian accent and old-fashioned manners. Jessica is just trying to avoid him at all costs, I mean what else would you do with a guy who is claiming to be a vampire?

In short, I’m guessing I’m in for an exciting read as these two get to know each other better!
 
 

 
 
After finishing the book:

So I finished the book and I thought it was a really enjoyable read! I loved the witty dialogues and watching the developement of the main characters Jessica and Lucius. I especially liked the development of the character Jessica. She gradually transforms from an all American, insecure and quiet teen age girl to a strong-willed courageous vampire heiress during the course of the book. And I never saw it coming! It was that subtle, which is a huge kudos to Fantaskey.

Lucius as a character was intriguing as well, as he has that dark side lurking beneath the surface. He’s got a bit of the Edward Cullen problem going on. Doubting his own soul, believing he’s evil and destroyed for ever, trying desperately to protect his loved one from his dangerous world. Doing so by distancing himself from her.

Does it work?

Mostly, yes it does. Like I said, I was intrigued. I loved his charm and humor, and I loved his development too, from and arrogant and sarcastic prince burdened by traditions and rules, to a teen-age boy who just wants to live a little. I understood his efforts to push Jessica away, for the most part anyway, except for maybe the whole Faith subplot. I mean, was it really necessary to be messing around with Faith? I wasn’t too impressed by that side of him.

In fact, at one point during the Faith episode I wondered what the heck Jessica was doing persisting to be with him after all he put her through. I know I had been running the other direction long before then!

But okay, I know it’s fiction. And I know that Jessica deep down knew that it was all an act. In fact, she was the only one who believed so, which in the end warmed my heart.

The ending wrapped everything up so nicely, that I am wondering if I really want to go ahead and read the sequel Jessica Rules the Dark Side, which is to be published in January next year. I’m afraid that it may be another one of those originally planned stand alones which has been turned into a series to generate more revenue. Sorry Fantaskey, but I’ve been burnt before, see Body Finder Series.

However, I will keep an eye out for the reviews as the sequel is published, hoping that they prove me wrong!

Review: Evernight by Claudia Gray

21 Jun

Series: Evernight, book #1

Published: February 10th 2009 by HarperTeen

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 1/5

My Summary:

About Bianca who reluctantly enters the eery boarding school Evernight, meets Lucas and falls in love. Half way through, an important secret is revealed about the school. Shallow characters, contrived dialogues, fuzzily explained world-building, a romance that is more telling than showing. I could not even get through the book. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

There are two books out there that appear on literally every “what to read after twilight” list, and which I haven’t read. Evermore by Alison Noel and Evernight by Claudia Gray.

Ever since I started this blog, I have been debating with myself whether to read them or not, more out of curiosity than anything else, because lets’ face it. The reviews haven’t been all that great.

Then just recently, two things happened around the same time.

1) I stumbled upon a raving review of Evernight.

2) I realized that I might have mixed up the two books.

You see, I decided quite early on that Evermore didn’t seem like a book I wanted to read in the near future (judging by the reviews), and so Evernight was put in the same box, not having done much else than having a similar title (stupid of me I know).

However, it suddenly dawned on me that I might have just misjudged Evernight. That maybe, just maybe it was a good book and I had missed something?

Enough said. I started reading it and I’m now a few chapters in.

The story takes place at the boarding school Evernight. 16-year old Bianca has just moved there together with her parents who are teachers at the school. She is not very happy about having switched her nice and comfortable hometown to this eery and goth boarding school where she knows no one but her parents.

We enter the story when she is about to run away from the school. On her way through the woods, she realizes she is being followed by a young man. Terrified, she sprints through the underbrush and so does he, until he manages to overtake her. Only, we soon learn that he wasn’t actually chasing her, just trying to protect her. He thought she was running from someone else in the woods, and so decided that throwing himself over her was a good idea to stop the attacker. Say what??

But yes, you heard it right. And this is how we are introduced to Lucas, Bianca’s love interest.

You know, I really wanted to give this book a chance, but that first scene literally had me rolling my eyes. Can’t be a good sign. Still, I’m carrying on..

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t get much better. Bianca is shy and introvert, yet despite this fact seems to be making quite a lot of friends here and there, including within the “in crowd”. There is the love triangle, which I don’t mind as long as it is believable, see Nightshade. Here, not so much.

We get that the other guy Balthazar, also the most popular and handsome guy in school, has taken an interest in Bianca. Yet we are never treated to any conversation between the two of them apart from the occasional phrase here and there. Consequently, I’m having problems grasping who Balthazar is and why he is so into Bianca. All I know is that Balthazar is incredibly friendly towards everyone, good-looking and well, just all around perfect.

Lucas on the other hand is moody, behaves weirdly, frequently starts fights with everyone, is hot and cold towards Bianca and what not else. Yet he is of course who Bianca wants.

Why am I even continuing this book, you might ask?

Well, I was just about to dismiss it, when something unexpected happened about midway through, and this has sparked a bit of interest. I’ve decided to keep going a bit more.
 
 

 
 
After finishing the book:

As you can see from above, I  wasn’t very impressed with the first half of the book, but I kept reading anyway. I’m not gonna lie, it was a struggle, but I am stubborn about finishing my books. I nearly gave up halfway through, but then something happened that surprised me, and I decided to continue a little bit further. What if it did get better?

Well no, it didn’t.

I fell about 80 pages from the finishing line. Or rather, I threw in the towel. I was already skimming large chunks of the pages to get to the end as fast as possible. And when that happens, there is really no point in continuing. There are far too many good books out there for me to waste my time on something that I could have written better myself.

Because seriously. That’s how I feel about this book. It’s really not good. At all.

Geez, where do I even start?

The whole book was all telling and no showing. We are only told how Bianca and Lucas feel about each other, and so I never felt any sparks whatsoever reading about these two. Bianca kept saying that Lucas was the only person she could truly be herself with, yet judging from her conversations with other characters, she seemed just as comfortable with them as with Lucas.

Speaking of the other characters, they were all cut-out card board shallow. Let’s for instance look at Lucas’s room-mate Vic. He is this surfer dude who is always in a happy mood, only there to move the plot along at times when Lucas and Bianca needed someone to chip in with dialogue or help. But who is he really? What motivates him?

And that goes for the rest of them. I had absolutely no idea of who the other characters were,  except for the one characteristic each that they were given i.e.  Balthazar is friendly, Patrice is shallow and Raquel is scared.

The writing was so poor that it threw me out of the story a number of times. I felt as if I were reading the script of a soap opera series, that’s how juvenile and stiff it was.

Then there was that surprise element that was thrown at us readers in the middle of the book, which I admit, at first sparked my interest only because I felt so dumbfounded. After the initial surprise had worn off though, irritation quickly followed.

Why?

Well, beware of spoilers:

For the whole first half of the book we are treated to Bianca’s insecurities and feelings of not belonging, and how eery she thinks the boarding school is. Then half way through, we find out that the reason why the school may seem a bit strange is because it is run by vampires. In fact, most of the students and teachers at Evernight are vampires, including Bianca!

We learn that (despite the first-person narrative), Bianca has known this all time along (while we readers had no clue). She was born a vampire, her parents are vampires, and she drinks blood every morning for breakfast. Yet, this little fact was deliberately not mentioned, so that it would come as a surprise to us readers later on. Once the surprise was out, vampire-related stuff was mentioned in just about every other sentence of the book.

I’m sorry folks, but that is just bad story telling. As I reader I felt cheated.

Moreover, I felt like I was reading about two different Biancas. In the first half she was a scared and shy girl, and in the second half she had suddenly become this self-assured strong vampire (or half vampire – whatever). The point is, I lost any concept I had of who Bianca was. Not the best character development if you ask me.

I could go on ranting (and believe me, there are things to rant about) but I think I’ve made my point clear. There are several books out in the series, Stargazer being the sequel. Needless to say, I won’t continue the series.

Review: The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine

22 Apr

Series: Morganville Vampires, book #2

Published: April 3rd 2007 by NAL Jam

Details: Paperback, 238 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Second book in the Morganville Vampires series. Shane’s dad turns up in order to kill vampires, and gets Shane into trouble, which means Claire needs to save Shane. I enjoyed the first book, but here it felt too young adult. Simplistic plot, shallow characters and plot holes. Won’t continue the series.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

It’s been a while since I read the first book in the series Morganville Vampires, about 16-year old Claire who goes to Morganville to attend uni and finds out (first-hand) that the town is ruled by vampires. While I didn’t think it was fantastic I still thought it was a fun action-filled page-turner with the potential to become better as the series progressed. Which is why I thought I’d pick up the sequel.

I’m now a few chapters in. And it picks up just where Glass Houses left off, which is literally, in the middle of an action scene.

Beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the first book yet!

So, Michael is dead. Killed by that biker gang who stormed into the Glass House in the final chapter of Morganville Vampires. The leader of the gang is Shane’s dad, who has come back to the town in order to revenge the vampires for killing his daughter and wife. He mistakenly took Michael for a vampire, and hence had him killed too.

Needless to say, the other three house mates Shane, Claire and Eve are distraught and frantically trying to find a solution to their problems. And let me tell you, they have acquired a lot of problems. Half the town has turned into their enemies – vampires, police cops and now this biker gang.

They do have support from Amelie, the leader of all vampires, but if they screw up (for instance are linked to any vampire killings by Shane’s dad), that support would quickly be withdrawn. Hence, it’s a volatile security net, to say the least.

Despite this mess, Claire persists that she needs to go back to school, I mean , say what?? That would be the last thing on my mind (school nerd or not).

Moreover, I don’t know whether the writing of the book changed or my view of it (most likely the latter), but I’m noticing now that the language is very young adult. We’ve got phrases like “totally cool” in every second paragraph, and detailed descriptions on how to cook pasta for the first time (oh my god, it boils over!).

Which is fine, because after all, it is targeted towards young adult. As an older reader though, I’m starting to have a few doubts.

 



After finishing the book:

My first thought after having finished this book is this:

Meh!

It was not good, certainly not great, just.. meh. There was plenty of action but with plot holes huge enough to drive a truck through, and shallow cardboard cut-out characters. All written in a language way too young adult for me.

The strange thing is, I actually enjoyed reading the first installment Glass Houses. Strange indeed. I’m reevaluating that review now as I’m wondering if it really was as good as I thought at the time?

But I think I know why.

While reading that first installment, my curiosity was peaked because of the novelty of the whole world Caine introduced us to. Moreover, there was an actual plot, with Claire arriving as the new girl in town discovering everything on her own, meeting friends, creating enemies, finding love. I do remember that I was expecting more, yet forgave the first installment for its lack of depth in characters and world-building only because it was the first in a series, and I believed that it was to develop into something more complex in the following books.

Which obviously did not happen.

Instead, what we got was a filler with tons of action that had no other purpose than make the reader turn pages. In fact, the action scenes were so haphazardly thrown together, that it felt like the author just invented them as she went along, having Claire the heroine race around to try to save the day. It grew boring very quickly simply because there was never any thought behind Claire’s actions nor any dialogues (apart from the occasional “that’s gross!” Or  “totally cool!“). Just a lot of aimlessly running around.

As for the plot, I found it too simplistic. I need more layers or subplots to keep me interested. The story line was essentially Shane’s dad who showed up to kill some vampires and got Shane into trouble, which meant Claire and company needed to save him. That was basically it.

On finishing the book, nothing more had been revealed about the Morganville world than we didn’t already know. Amilie was still a bit of a mystery, Oliver remained the evil vamp who wants to take over in charge, Monica remained a super-bitch and Brandon was a jerk. Tell us something we don’t know!

Instead, what this book had me noticing was all the giant plot holes that seemed to have been overlooked. Of course, those existed already in Glass Houses. For instance, I remember questioning why Claire didn’t go home the second she found out  about the vamps in Morganville. But I went along with it for the sake of enjoying the story.

In The Dead Girls’ Dance however, I started wondering about a few other plot holes, such as why on earth people hadn’t tried harder to leave? And why no one else outside of Morganville knew about this deady secret? I know it’s (somewhat fuzzily) explained that anyone who leaves Morganville have their memories viped clean.

Should anyone recuperate their memory, the vamps supposedly had that person killed. How the vamps keep track of these “memory mishaps” is another thing. I mean, do they have vamp cops that go questioning every single former Morganville citizen to make sure that their mind manipulation works, or what?

Moreover, this series is placed in modern time, that is, in our current world of technology. Oliver, the evil vamp himself praises human technology as it makes it easier for vamps to keep track of humans. Yet, shouldn’t that very technology be a disadvantage as well? I mean, for one, there is the internet. Couldn’t any Morganville resident intent to reveal the vampire secret do so in a single chat or email? Or do the vamps control that as well? If they do, how?

It’s certainly not explained, and in order to believe in this world, I need to know how the vamps manage to maintain Morganville a secret. As it is now, it’s not clear at all, which makes it very unbelievable.

In short, in order to enjoy these books, I think you might have to suspense disbelief. You need to forget the how’s and why’s and just go with flow as Claire continues to land herself into trouble.

That, or there is the option to just quit reading this series altogether, which is what I’m about to do now. Two books were enough.

For those of you still interested, the third book is called Midnight Alley.


Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

13 Apr

Series: Vampire Academy, book #4

Published: August 25th 2009 by Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 503 pages

My Rating: 5/5

My Summary:

Fourth book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose has dropped out of school and is traveling through Russia in order to hunt down the man she loves. I loved experiencing the world outside the VA gates with Rose! Amazing book!! Cannot wait to read Spirit Bound, next in the series.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

I just started reading this fourth installment of the Vampire Academy Series, and boy am I excited! As you know, if you’ve been following this blog, I wasn’t always a fan of the Vampire Academy. In fact, it was a gradual process, which by the way can be seen in the grades.

Vampire Academy started off on an enjoyable but not great 3.5 grade. Frostbite hit a higher mark (4/5) as it was a great entertaining read. Shadow Kiss with its devastating ending reached an almost perfect 4.5.

Question is now, will Blood Promise be the first Vampire Academy book (in my opinion) to score a perfect 5/5 mark? Only one way to find out!

And here is where I advise anyone who has not yet read Shadow Kiss to stop reading, because some serious spoilers are coming up!

Okay, so in Shadow Kiss things changed quite dramatically. For one, Rose has dropped out of the academy, only months prior to her graduation. Moreover, she has abandoned her plans to work as the guardian of Lissa. In fact she’s left Lissa to take care of herself. The reason for all of this?

She is on a mission. To kill the man she loves. Dimitri. Yep folks, I still have a hard time believing this, but in the last battle with the Strigoi in Shadow Kiss Dimitri was captured by the Strigoi and turned. Rose, who is heart-broken by this turn of events has decided to take matters in her own hand (as she always does), and go after Dimitri – or the new undead Dimitri – in order to kill him. Because she knows he would rather be dead than walk the earth as a soulless Strigoi.

Hence, at the start of this book we find Rose in Russia. She’s following a hunch that Dimitri might have returned to his birth town in Sibiria. Problem is, she has no idea where that is.

After lingering in St Petersburg for a while, staying close to other Moroi in the hopes of finding information, she runs into another girl. A human girl who, it turns out, is an alchemist; someone who helps the vampire world stay hidden from humans. This job includes disposing of dead Strigoi bodies before they’re discovered, and not surprisingly, she has been kept quite busy ever since Rose turned up in the city.

Upon questioning Sydney, as the girl is called, Rose learns that she knows where Dimitri’s Damphir town is. Problem is, she can’t tell Rose the location. Instead she’s ordered (by some mysterious superiors) to take Rose there herself.

Hence, the two of them end up on the Transibirian train heading towards that town, and this is where I am at now.

Needless to say, I am so excited. I always wanted to know more of world outside the walls of the Vampire Academy, and that’s exactly what’s happening now. Moreover, the descriptions of Russia are wonderful, and having traveled on that Transibirian myself, I can tell you this – Mead knows what she’s talking about! It’s as if I’m revisiting that train trip once again, that’s how real it feels.

In short, it’s starting great and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

 


 

After finishing the book:

Holy freaking crap! That was an intense ride! Yep, you’ve guessed it, I just finished Blood Promise, the fourth installment of the VA series. A series that just keep getting better and better.

This installment was the best so far as Rose travels to Russia in search for Dimitri. And wow, how I love it! I loved learning about the outside world of the Vampire Academy, the alchemists, the unpromised, the Damphir towns and mobster Moroi, the feel of Russia and all the new characters.

Yet, we never lose touch with the group of people we’ve come to know (Lissa, Adrian and co) at the Vampire Academy, as Rose keeps visiting Lissa’s mind from time to time. As much as I liked those characters (Christian and Adrian especially), I have to admit though that to me, those visits where the weaker part of the story. I was far happier accompanying Rose on her adventures in Russia than following Lissa on her journey through the social intrigues of the Vampire Academy and Court World.

This may be because I’ve really come to love Rose. She is without a doubt one of the coolest heroines out there. Bad-ass, yet vulnerable, huge heart, tough, protective and of course witty. Essentially, she’s a heroine I could follow to the end of the world. Which is surprising considering what I thought of her in the beginning. Talk about character growth!

Now, as for the actual plot:

As I mentioned above, Sydney the alchemist, accompanies Rose to Baia, Dimitri’s birth town where Rose ends up staying with Dimitri’s family for a while. Some reviewers commented that this part was a bit of a filler as nothing much happened during this period. Me? I loved every second. I drank in every detail of Dimitris house, his wonderful family, scary witch granny included and everything that came with it.

Eventually though, it was time to move on, and I think we all knew this was bound to happen. Rose finds Dimitri. Now this was interesting. Or no, wrong word. Excruciating! Back was the lump in my throat, my pounding heart and chest pain. Dimitri is a Strigoi, and so he has lost his soul, or has he? I found myself being as confused as Rose. Evil or good? Good or evil? Along with Rose I’d change opinion every few paragraphs. Excruciating indeed.

The ending provided another couple of twists, that I didn’t see coming at all (well, apart from the Dimitri dilemma that I kind of guessed would happen). Question is now, what about Adrian? Will he ever get a chance? Should he? Geez, I’m torn, because he really grew in my eyes in this book.

All in all, I am SO loving this series now, and I cannot get enough of this world. Thank god there are two more books to delve into, Spirit Bound being the next!

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

1 Apr

Series: Vampire Academy, book #3

Published: November 13th 2008 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 443 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Third book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose with friends are back, for their senior year at the Vampire Academy. Rose struggles with many issues in this book, in particularly the dark side effects of being shadow-kissed. Hence this book is quite a bit darker, if compared the first two books. And I am so becoming a VA addict here, this book and in particular the ending blew me away.  Fourth book is called Blood Promise.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

The Vampire Academy series is growing on me. I started out feeling just okay about it, as in yes, definitely an entertaining read but nothing to write home about.

After reading the sequel Frostbite however, I noticed how on finishing the book, my hands started itching to get a copy of the next book in the series. In other words, I was getting slightly more hooked.

Fast forward a few weeks, and here I am sitting with Shadow Kiss, book number 3 in the series, also rumoured to be the book – bound to make anyone who hasn’t got VA addicted yet (such as me) a complete convert. A bit like the fourth book in the Harry Potter series.

Needless to say, I’m eager to get started.

I’m now a few chapters in. After surviving the terrible Stigroi attack in Frostbite, Rose and her friends are back at St Vladimir’s, where life continues, more or less like before.

A very important school test is coming up – a 6 weeks field experience – where each Dhampir is assigned to guard a Moroi on school grounds. Occasionally, the instructors will try to “harm” the Morois and the Dhampirs are to be graded according to how well they protect their subjects during these fake attacks.

Rose is of course looking forward to spend 6 weeks with Lissa (who she assumes will be her subject), but gets an unpleasant surprise when it’s revealed that she is to guard Lissa’s boyfriend Christian instead. Christian is not too bad though and they soon realise that they get along better than they thought.

Meanwhile, something very strange is happening to Rose. She’s seems to be seeing ghosts – at least that is what she thinks it is, as the person she keeps seeing is the dead Mason. As you may recall, Mason is Rose’s friend who got killed in Frostbite. Rose fears that she’s loosing her mind, and keeps it a secret, even as one of these very “ghost sightings” lands her into trouble in school.

And this is as far as I’ve got. Even though not much has happened yet, I feel quite happy to delve into this world again, with Rose, Lissa, Dimitri, Christian and not to forget Adrian – our new acquaintance and spirit user from Frostbite. Review coming soon.

 

 

After finishing the book:

It’s been two days since I finished reading the book, and I just can’t seem to let it go. Wow!  It’s like everything just intensified. It went from being a fun light-hearted young adult series which I’ve read as pure entertainment up until now, to a darker gut-wrenching story that would not release me from its firm grip until the very last page.

I noticed the change while I was reading the second half of the book, as my heart started going like mad, my chest ached, and I realized I had a lump in my throat. I eventually had to stop for a few moments, to take a deep breath and remind myself that jeez Tess, this is just a book! Get a grip!

So yeah, to cut it short, this series is finally getting to me.

At the start of the book however, I wasn’t feeling it just yet. Or rather, it felt like a prolongation of the previous book Frostbite, that is, entertaining and fun. There were the ever-present issues at school, with rumours, jealousy, dealing with the bond to Lissa, evading Adrian’s flirting etc, and Rose kept getting into all sorts of trouble as usual.

Then gradually, darker forces began creeping into the story as Rose started noticing the consequences of being shadow-kissed. As you may recall, shadow-kissed essentially means brought back from the dead. Which is what happened all those years ago, when Lissa used her spirit powers in order to revive Rose.

Understandably, Rose finds it terrifying to realize that something unknown is happening to her, and to not know for sure what it is.  I mean how bad are the consequences? Is it something she will be able to live with or something that will destroy her life? As far as Rose knows, there has only ever been one other shadow-kissed person before, and that is Anna – the guardian of St Vladimir (whom the academy is named after). Problem is, Anna is dead and hence, is not much help in the advise-department.

At the same time, and possible derived from the darker shadow-kissed side effects, Rose also starts to question her choice as a life-time guardian. Like every Damphir trained to be a guardian, during her whole life she has been drilled with the mantra: the Moroi always come first. But, as Lissa starts planning her life for college, assuming Rose is to follow her to wherever she decides to go, the very thought of living a life as someone’s shadow is starting to frustrate Rose.

After struggling on her own with these issues (and more) for quite some time, Rose finally finds someone to confide in..Dimitri. And let me just say, that all though I already had a soft spot for Dimitri, he really grew in my eyes in this book. He really did. What an absolutely wonderful guy!

That said, he wasn’t the only person I got more attached to. I really enjoyed seeing more of the others as well, Adrian, Christian, Lissa, Eddie and not to forget Mason. I admire Mead for creating such well-rounded secondary characters, each one with good and bad sides, each driven by different motivations – just like in real life.

Christian in particular keeps growing in my eyes, mainly because he is such a vulnerable and strong character at the same time. I love his complexity. I keep feeling for Adrian too, who has now shown us that he is much more than just a drunken flirt.

I suppose Lissa is the character I feel the least for now at this moment, seeing as her friendship with Rose has been kind of one-sided lately. Her character however is also understandable as she has grown up with the same mantra drilled into her head as Rose – that Moroi always come first.  Considering the other Moroi Royals, she still stands out as one of the best Moroi out there. And putting myself in her shoes, I would probably have been upset too, knowing that my best friend kept all those secrets from me.

My only worry now is, will all these wonderful characters appear in the next book? You know, for the first time in this series, I really have no clue! Which is also of course what makes it so exciting! As for the other stuff, my chest keeps aching and the lump in my throat is still there – if you’ve read the book you know what I mean. I won’t even try to predict an outcome there, let’s just hope for a miracle, okay?

I’ve already ordered and received Blood Promise, the fourth book in the series (and thank god for that!). Expect that review to be coming up soon!

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

10 Feb

Series: Vampire Academy, book # 2

Published: April 10th 2008 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Sequel in the Vampire Academy series. Several strigoi attacks upset the Moroi community. Rose has guy issues and we learn more about Lissa’s ability. I was not addicted by book one, but have to say it is getting better the more I read. Looking forward to read third book in the series, Shadow Kiss.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

I’ve been wanting to read this sequel for a while, more out of curiosity than anything else.  You see, this series seems to have taken the whole blogging community by storm – and I feel weirdly left out. I read the first book (Vampire Academy) expecting to feel the same excitement, yet just felt like it was.. okay. Definitely an entertaining read – fun, fast paced and all, but not something to get superexcited about. And nowhere near comparable to Twilight.

So what had I missed?

The only conclusion I could come up with was that I simply hadn’t read enough to get myself addicted. Hence, here I am with the sequel, which I hope will make me jump the fence and join the many Vampire Academy fans out there.

Ok, so I’m now a few chapters in. It starts only a couple of weeks after book one ended. Rose is trying to get over her romantic feelings for Dimitri, her older Russian trainer and Lissa has hooked up with Christian. Not many pages in, on her way to a guardian test, Rose and Dimitri stumble upon a massacre. An entire royal Moroi family have been slaughtered by Strigoi vampires.

Following this terrible event, it’s decided that the safest option for all Moroi (and Damphir’s) at the Vampire Academy is to accomodate them at a royal luxuary ski resort during the upcoming christmas holidays. Something which many students welcome as a pleasant surprise.

Another surprise, is the sudden appearance of Rose’s mother. As a well-known and respected damphir guardian, she has arrived to the academy in order to protect Moroi royal family. Rose’s relationship with her mother can be descibed as frosty (at its best), and sparks literally fly during each one of their encounters.

We are also introduced to a new character, Christian’s charming aunt, who seems very (and perhaps too?) close to Dimitri.

In short, there are lots of little threads that have sparked my curiosity. Moreover, Rose seems more likable in this book, less flirtatious and arrogant. So, it’s looking good.

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well I finished this book fast – in under two days.

Does that mean I’m now officially addicted to the Vampire Academy series?

Well, it’s getting there, I think. It’s not anywhere near the addiction I felt for Twilight. But I did get a bit teary-eyed at the end, and my hands are itching to get the next book Shadow Kiss. So maybe, just maybe the VA addiction will reach Twilight levels at some point. All I can say now is that the series is growing on me.

And here’s why:

If you read my review of the Vampire Academy, you know that I complained about it including too much high school drama, as in too much gossiping and bitching around. Well, I was glad to find out that there is much less of that in Frostbite.

Instead we learn more about the outer workings of the vampire world that Mead has created. The evil Strigoi are a more prominent threat here, and the Moroi’s and Damphir’s are being forced to reevaluate their structures and traditions in order to face that threat. All this I found really intriguing.

As you know, I also complained about Rose’s arrogant and flirtatious nature in Vampire Academy, which was hard to relate to. In Frostbite however, she started to grow on me. She’s still Rose, kick-ass and flirtatious, making the occasional impulsive and stupid mistake, but the big difference is that I’ve started to understand and empathize with her.

The appearance of her mother probably helped. Seeing Rose with her mom, it made it easier to see through Rose’s tough shell, and discover the sometimes small and vulnerable girl hiding beneath. I also liked the fact that Rose started to make a conscious effort to work on her less attractive traits. In short, she is maturing fast, and I like watching the process!

Not only Rose is growing on me, the other characters are as well. In Frostbite, new characters are introduced (Christian’s aunt, Rose’s mom and in particular Adrian!), and old favorites such as Mia, Dimitri and Christian remain. I can’t wait to see where the story will take them.

Lastly, in my review of the Vampire Academy, I called for more background info on Dimitri (Rose’s Russian trainer). While I can’t say I learnt anything new about him, he continues to intrigue me. The bond and chemistry that he and Rose share feels real, which is very good. I’m so voting on these two to get together.

That said, I haven’t fully comprehended why them being together is such a huge issue. I don’t think the age difference is that great. I mean, had he been 34 years old, then yeah we’re talking a major age gap, but 24? No big deal!

And while I understand their reasoning around love getting in the way of protecting Lissa, I’m thinking there has to be a way around that. For instance, would it not help having Dimitri reassigned to a different Moroi? Or would that implicate them never seeing each other?

As you can see, I haven’t fully grasped the impossibility of their relationship. Yet, I enjoyed reading about these two, so in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter. Because, to cut it short, this was a great read!

If the rumours are true (and I believe they are), the third book Shadow Kiss is even better. Hence, I know that I am sure to continue my VA journey in a very near future. I’m certainly feeling the pull..

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

8 Jan

Series: The Infernal Devices, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 479 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series which I LOVED. Set in Victorian London, shape-shifter Tessa is captured by evil warlocks and saved by a group of shadowhunters, among them handsome and arrogant Will. While I loved revisiting this world, the relationship between the two main characters in this book bothered me a little, as did some of the repetitive factors. All in all, a great fast-paced read and a good start to a series, but not as amazing as The Mortal Instruments Series.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

As a fan of Cassandra Clare, I was superexcited when I heard that she had written a spin-off series, set in the very same shadowhunter world that I’ve come to love after reading her Mortal Instruments Series. The question was only: was she going to be able to replicate the success that was The Mortal Instruments series?  Well, judging by the many rave reviews it appears as if yes, she has succeeded. And so, I am really excited to finally delve into that world again!

I’m now a few chapters in. Set in the Victorian England, this is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series. Many of the characters are therefore ancestors to Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Co.

The main character however is of unknown family. Her name is Tessa – an american orphan girl – who upon following her brother to London, is captured on arrival and held captive by two weird-looking sisters named The Dark Sisters. It turns out Tessa has a rather unusual talent which the evil sisters intend to use: Tessa can shape-shift into any human form. After weeks in prison, she is saved by the gorgeous and arrogant shadowhunter Will, and taken to the shadowhunter institute in London, where she meets the rest of the members of the shadowhunter family.

And this is where I couldn’t help but start noticing the similarities with the City of Bones. Tessa, like Clary, doesn’t belong in the shadowhunter world, yet is saved and accommodated at the shadowhunter institute seeing as her remaining family (Tessa’s brother as well as Clary’s mother) has disappeared. At the institute Tessa is introduced to the members of the shadowhunter clan, where Will seems like a Jace with brown hair, Jem is the equivalent of Alec (all though straight), and Jassamine is a slightly more bitchy Isabelle.

And this is as far as I’ve got. While I do love diving into this world again, I hope these new characters will differentiate themselves from the ones that I know in The Mortal Instruments. I hate to be comparing them like this, but I just can’t help it! Hopefully, the more I get to know about them, the less comparable to Jace and Co. they’ll seem.

 

 

After finishing the book:

As you know, after reading a few chapters, the similarity to The City of Bones bugged me. However, as I read more, the characters started taking on a life of their own, which meant I could enjoy it for what it was – another entertaining trip into the shadowhunter world of Cassandra Clare.

After finishing it however, I have to admit it lacked that special something that made the Mortal Instruments amazing. What special something? Well, it lacked a romantic lead as appealing as Jace. And there were some repetitive factors. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let me tell you what I loved. As always with Cassandra Clare, she provides a detailed and intricate world-building that makes you feel as if you literally live and breathe within that world yourself, in the midst of all types of supernatural creatures in a London set in the Victorian era. Not an easy feat, but Clare sure pulls this off beautifully. I also love the sharp, interesting and quirky dialogues. But most of all, I think it’s her wonderfully fleshed out characters that stand out for me. After all, she was the author who created my one fictional crush last year – Jace.

In this book the characters are once again wonderfully drawn. There is Tessa with her identity issues, Sophie – the reasonable maid, Jessamine  who struggles against her shadowhunter heritage, the kind and fierce Charlotte and so on. Even if not that much is revealed about them in this first installment, you get a feeling that things are in store for all these characters, and that they will all play a role eventually. And that’s precisely what I like about Clare’s writing.

Yet, there was one character I had an issue with in this book, and that is Will, the potential love interest of Tessa. I first had an issue with him because he is just too similar to Jace in how he keeps the rest of the world at an arm’s length with sarcasm. As you can imagine, anyone too similar to Jace pales in comparison.

Then, as I read on, Will started taking on a slightly different personality than Jace. Which, in a way was good (because I’d hate to be comparing him to Jace), but was also bad, because what was revealed of his personality was not very appealing at all.

Will is like a darker version of Jace, who seems to use sarcasm in order to hide his ugly true self. While Jace (despite his sarcasms), was unable to lie, Will seems unable to tell the truth. All he seems to do is lie and being mean and rude, just for the sake of hurting others.

I don’t care whatever reasons may lie behind his behaviour, or that he occasionally seems to care for Jem. I still don’t think there is an excuse for acting the way he does. Most importantly, he treats Tessa horribly, and I’m actually bound to agree with the maid Sophie when she advised Tessa not go get involved with him.

Jem on the other hand grew on me. There is some actual bonding going on between him and Tessa, which seemed more grounded and real, as Jem (as opposed to Will) is someone you can actually talk to. He seems mature beyond his years, and despite his tragic circumstances he’s above self-pitying which is what seems to be consuming Will. Yet, Will is sure to be the romantic lead, or so I think. The next installment will most likely “explain” his earlier behaviour. The problem is, I’m not sure I’ll buy that explanation.

Lastly, the repetitive factors, some of which I mentioned earlier made for a slightly lower grade. All though the characters eventually took on lives of their own, it still could not take away the fact that some parts of the plot were quite similar to The Mortal Instruments. For instance, there is a questionable parentage of the main heroine, a villain who is raising an army to take down the shadowhunters, a main character discovering she has a powerful talent, a love triangle featuring two guys where one is kind and the other arrogant and so on.

The Bottom Line:

That said, I enjoyed reading it and I definitely plan to read the next installment, Clockwork Prince, out in September next year. It just couldn’t quite compare to The Mortal Instruments, that’s all.

Oh, and on a sidenote, what is it about Magnus Bane that makes him so appealing? I literally squealed when he made an appearance again. One of my favorite characters in this series, that’s for sure!

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

24 Dec

Series: Morganville Vampires, book #1

Published October 3rd 2006 by NAL Jam

Details: Paperback, 248 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

First book in a series of 12. About Claire who moves to Morganville, Texas as a freshman in college and befriends the older teens Shane, Eve and Michael. Soon the sinister secret of Morganville is revealed – the town is ruled by vampires.  And Claire and her friends find themselves in the midst of it all. This is a fun page-turner, with non-stop action, and a little bit of romance. Not enough character depth and a cliff-hanger-ending drags grade down. Sequel is called The Dead Girls’ Dance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

After reading Twilight, I did what many others did. I went on the hunt for other similar vampire series. Numerous Twilight-reading-lists and recommendations later, I had gathered the following information:

There are two young adult vampire series out there worth getting into (for a 30-year-old), both having earned a huge fan-base and great reviews: The Vampire Academy and The Morganville Vampires. Problem with the latter was that at the time I was craving a vampire story a la Cullens i.e. nice vampires who refrained from killing humans. Not the case with the Morganville Vampires whose vampires are..well not exactly the good guys. Hence,  the book ended up on my TBR pile and there it was, forgotten, while I plowed through one young adult series after another reading about pretty much every mythical creature out there except vampires (sirens, shapeshifters, werewolves, fallen angels, fairies, demons, ghosts and the list goes on..).

Now, almost a year later, I feel I’m ready to delve into another vampire series where (gasp!) they are actually the evil guys. Not only ready, I’m looking forward to it! Time has come for the Morganville Vampires.

I’m now a few chapters in. Brainy and studious Claire is just starting classes at the Texas Prairie University in Morganville, Texas as a freshman, at only 16 years of age. Problem is, this doesn’t sit well with other students, in particular a certain Monica, leader of a terrifying girl gang.

During a scary encounter in the dorm with them, Claire is pushed down a flight of stairs. Feeling lonely and badly bruised she decides to try to find somewhere else to stay, seeing as her dorm no longer seems like a safe alternative.

Following an add in the paper, she finds a room in a house in downtown Morganville, to share with the group of older teens Eve, Shane and Michael. Through them she soon learns that there are things out there far more scarier than Monica and her gang of girls.

It turns out Morganville carries a rather sinister secret. The town is run by vampires, who operate like a type of mafia. You’re either with them and get protection or you’re not, meaning there is a high possibility you’ll end up as one of many strange disappearances.  Claire is having a hard time at first believing in the existence of vamps (who wouldn’t) but as the days go by, she reluctantly grows to accept it as the only plausible explanation to all the strange happenings around there .

And this is as far as I’ve got, but I’m already feeling the pull. I’ve got the same excited feeling as when I started reading the Mortal Instruments series. Claire (as well as Clary) is an ordinary girl who teams up with a cool group of older teens and friends, to explore a supernatural world she had no idea existed. As in the City of Bones I’m immediately warming to the characters, in this case Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael, and I’m feeling really curious to see what will happen next. In short, I’ve got a good feeling about this series.

 

 

 

 

After finishing the book:

I’ve just finished the book and I liked it. It’s a great fun page-turner and a good start to a series.

It had everything you’d want in a paranormal fiction series. Intriguing world-building, friendship, romance and of course lots and lots of action. I loved the latter of course seeing as that was one of the reasons why I kept turning pages. Yet, the non-stop action overshadowed character development, which is why this story never reached amazing grading levels for me. (As you know, the characters are the number one priority for me in a book.)

However, the characters are all likable, and they have distinct characteristics, so that’s all good. I just needed a bit more depth to really start caring for them. Though I assume more depth will be provided in the following books.

There is romance as well, and it develops quite slowly, which I liked. First they hang out, become friends and only then, after some time does it become more. I wasn’t even sure until about half way through the book which one of the two boys would take on the romantic lead (surprising seeing as my romantic antenna is usually pretty alert and spot-on). Either way, it doesn’t blossom into anything more than those first tentative steps. Too much fast-paced action going on in the background for that. But I look forward to see how it develops.

Lastly, but not least, the premise of this series is intriguing in itself. What would happen if vampires were to rule a city? How would that work? Some of the details of this concept is explained in this initial book, but others are left out, which makes me curious to continue reading. For instance, I would like to know more of the background and the hierarchy of the vampire rulership. And why is it that some vampires can stay out during the day albeit not in direct sunlight? Moreover, are all vampires evil or are there exceptions?

I’m sure these questions (and more) will be addressed in the following books, and I’m looking forward to get the answers, as I return to the town of Morganville in a very near future. One thing that lowered the grade however was the cliff-hanger ending, which had the book ending practically in the middle of an action scene. You probably will want to have acquired the sequel The Dead Girls’ Dance by the time you finish this book.

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

29 Sep

Series: Paranormalcy, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Anticipated debut about Evie, who works for the IPCA, an agency which controls paranormal creatures in the world. She meets shapeshifter Lend and things spiral out of control. Great light, quirky and funny read, a nice contrast to the other doom-and-gloom epic paranormal romances out there. Very enjoyable read!

My Full Review:

A lot of hype surrounded this debut, which has earned praise from authors such as Lisa McMann and Becca Fitzpatrick, and a whole lot of rave reviews at the book blogs. Needless to say, I was really happy to finally get hold of a copy!

The heroine Evie is working for IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency which is an organization aiming to monitor and control the paranormal creatures of the world. You could think of it as similar to the organisation in Men in Black, although they of course monitored aliens. Evie is useful to the IPCA as she can see through all kinds of glamour that paranormal creatures use to blend into the human world.

She is an orphan and has been living with and working for the agency practically her whole life. Her best friend is a mermaid who works there as a secretary and her boss Raquel is kind of her substitute mom. Oh, and there is Reth, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a fairy.

Yep, Evie is not the most normal teen out there. Yet normal is what she craves. She wants other teenagers (humans!) to hang out with, a highschool to go to (with lockers!), a driving license and boys to flirt with. Instead, she regularly escapes into her beloved tv-series Easton Heights for a dose of (what she thinks is) ordinary teenage life.

Still, she doesn’t reflect too much upon these issues until things change. A mysterious unknown creature called Lend breaks into the agency and is caught and detained at the IPCA quarters. Lend is a shape-shifter who can take on almost any form. Evie, not surprisingly, is the only one who can see through his various glamours to his real form.

Lonely as she is, and curious by nature, she starts a habit of visiting Lend in his prison cell. Soon they develop a crush on each other. Triggered by Lend, she starts questioning things in her life she had never thought about before. It turns out everything is not what they seem. Meanwhile, something is killing paranormal creatures and the agency is getting worried. Somehow this is all linked to Evie and her past.

My thoughts:

First of all, I was surprised to find that the tone of the book is light. The heroine Evie is explaining everything in a jokingly kind of way, as if not really taking it that seriously. It starts already in the opening scene where she makes fun of a vampire who is about to kill her.

“Oh, stop pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?”

It is definitely refreshing to find a light tone in the narrator’s voice, a nice contrast to all the doomed, epic, dark, haunting and angst-ridden paranormal love stories I’ve read in the last year. I was expecting a darker tone though so it took me a couple of chapters to get used to Evie’s jokes. At first they felt forced, but eventually I warmed up to her bubbly, quirky personality and found myself chuckle out loud a couple of times.

Likewise it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the world White has created. There is a lot of info thrown at you at first. The whole idea behind the IPCA has to be explained, as well as Evie’s role in there and of course every paranormal creature you may have ever heard about is present in this book, so that has to be included too. I felt a bit like I did when I started reading City of Bones, like there was so much world-building going on I found myself detaching from the plot. It didn’t last long though. Once you get used to the idea of all that paranormal activity going on at the same time, it becomes easier to focus on the plot again, and get sucked into the story.

Once I did get into the story, I got into it fast. I loved so many aspects of it. The characters felt multi-dimensional and real . It’s easy to warm up to the heroine, who is strong and insecure at the same time. She’s bubbly with life and says what she thinks, yet she is also insecure and is struggling with loneliness and a feeling of not belonging anywhere. The growing bond between her and Lend is believable. They are honest and straight-forward to each other right from the start. Of course she is the only one who has ever seen Lend for what he really is – which yes, may sound cliché, but actually warmed my heart!

I was equally intrigued by the mystery surrounding the plot. Reth, the fairy seems bent on taking Evie’s heart but what are his intentions? What is the role of the IPCA? What is the creature who is taking out paranormals? And how is Evie’s past linked to all of this?

While alternating between all these plotlines and the growing relationship between Evie and Lend, there was not one boring moment. I was literally glued to the pages until the very end. The ending left me pretty satisfied, all though some questions were left unanswered. I am still wondering about the role Reth played.

One minor dissapointment though was the climax at the end, which I thought was solved too easily, and without being properly explained. Sorry to be talking in riddles but I want to avoid spoilers. For now, all I’ll say is that I was wondering about the logic behind one particular action, attempted and not carried through, by the villain. It didn’t make sense to me.

The Bottom Line:

Despite those question marks, it was still a very entertaining read. Kudos to White for creating such a fun refreshing new take on the young adult paranormal genre! (Something which is quite an accomplishment in the crowded ya paranormal market). I can’t wait to dive into this paranormal world again, which should happen in about a year. The next book Supernaturally is out in the fall 2011.

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

16 Sep

Series: Vampire Academy, book #1

Published: August 16th 2007 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 332 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Vampire series with 6th book out soon. About Rose and her best friend Lissa. The plot centers around their high school life at Vampire Academy, with intrigues, revenge, gossip & face rank politics. Quick easy read, but not great- too much gossip girl a la vampire for me, but may develop into an intriguing plot in future books. Sequel called Frostbite.

A few chapters in:

There are many vampire series currently out there on the market, partly or mostly due to the enormous success of the Twilight Series. Hence, I’ve been a bit sceptical towards most of them, wondering if they are pure rip-offs or if they actually have something to offer. After reading quite a few reviews however, I realized that Vampire Academy seems to stand on its own, and have gathered its own little following (not so little by the way, only if compared to Twilight). So I decided to give it a go. There are currently 5 books out in the series, with a sixth book to be released later this year.

So I’m half-way through. It starts with Rose and her best friend Lissa getting caught on the run, and brought back to the Vampire Academy where Lissa, who is a royal vampire Moroi princess is to attend her education. Rose is a Dhampir, essentially the body-guard of Lissa, sworn to protect the race of the Moroi vampires her entire life. The Moroi vampires need constant protection since the Strigoi vampires – the undead immortal evil vampires,  are constantly on the hunt for Moroi blood.

Are you lost? Well, that is all there is in terms of world-bulding (so far that is), and as soon as these two, Rose and Lissa, arrive to the Vampire Academy, the somewhat ordinary life begins dealing with high school issues such as socializing with the right crowd, face ranks politics, avoiding that one school bitch, dealing with humiliating gossip, having crushes on guys, breaking all sorts of schools rules etc. Essentially a Gossip Girl with vampires.

Rose is a sexy, sassy girl, with a witty mouth and a temperament. Lisa is the opposite, kind, cautious and quiet. At the moment I’m feeling that Rose is bit too much into herself and Lissa, oblivious to the feelings of people of the outer world, and I wish she could be a bit more tolerant and humble. Let’s hope for development there.

There is Dimitri as well, who is Lissa’s guardian, and also the personal trainer of Rose. He seems like a fascinating character, all though so quiet that it’s hard to get an impression of him. Hoping for more there as well.

Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

I’ve already finished it, in just two days. Very easy and quick read. Not the greatest book, and not something I’d lose sleep over.  It has a good premise for a series though, and I can see myself getting more attached to the characters the more I read.

However, it was a bit too teen for me to really love. The plot centered around too much highschool drama and gossip, to make me glued to the pages.  I also found it hard sometimes to relate to the heroine Rose with her over-confident and flirtatious nature.

Christian and Dmitri both intrigued me though, and I look forward to see where the story will take them. Dmitri is this silent hero, who always seems to emerge whenever anyone needs help, Rose in particulary. I’d still like him to talk more and reveal things about himself. There may be time for that though, in future books. Christian is a complex character given his troubled past, which made him that much more interesting. I rooted for him pretty much immediately.

A pleasant surprise was the ending and how most loose ends were actually tied together. We get explanations for almost everything we’ve been wondering about, and there’s no cliff-hanger, like in so many other YA series. Kudos to Mead for that!

The Bottom Line:

I can very much see a continuation, what with Rose and Lissa’s bond, the villain who is still alive, and all the other complications involving Lissa’s abilities. I just hope that the next book will incorporate more of the outer vampire world Mead has created rather than highschool gossip within the walls of the Vampire Academy.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, even though it is not nearly as addictive as Twilight, it’s still a good, fun and light read!

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

21 Aug

Series: The Southern Vampire Mysteries, book #1

Published: May 1st 2001 by Ace

Details: Paperback, 292 pages

My rating: 3 / 5

My Summary:

About Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in Louisiana who meets and falls in love with vampire Bill. With a murder mystery. This is a fun light adult read. Not great but it may become better in the following books. I thought Bill was a bit dull. Eric or Sam on the other hand..let’s just say I am a bit curious to see what direction it will take.

A few chapters in:

Not sure if I’ll like this vampire series. From what I heard it’s not particularly romantic, and it may also have too much of that adult-romance stuff that I tend to avoid. But it’s mentioned just about everywhere and compared to Twilight, so I guess I have to just see for myself!

Ok, I’m 50 pages in and it’s not that bad. I saw the first season of True Blood and so reading this book is like reading the script of the series. I didn’t know it followed the books this closely! It doesn’t bother me though. The book is kind of fun, light guilty pleasures sort of reading. So far, I’m enjoying it…

After finishing the book:

Well, I finished the book last night. While it wasn’t bad it wasn’t great either. It certainly is no Twilight. Yes, it is about a human girl who falls in love with a vampire, but that’s where the similarities end. This book is sort of rawer, and as such contains more sex, violence and blood. I’m not a big fan of neither. I much more prefered the sweeter Twilight world. That being said, I still enjoyed the book, possibly because I didn’t have any high expectations. I saw it for exactly what it was, light fun read.

On a sidenote, I thought Bill the vampire was a bit dull. He never really talked that much so we never get to see any personality. I got a feeling he was interested in two things only: sex with Sookie and protecting Sookie. Not the most romantic literary character out there. But, there are two other male characters, Sam and Eric, that seem very promising. I have a feeling they might play more prominent roles in the books to come. So I will probably read the sequel Living Dead in Dallas, just out of curiosity.

The Bottom Line:

Do I recommend Dead Until Dark?

If you’re looking for fun and shallow literature that won’t require too much thought or investment – possibly something for the beach – then yes. If the other books in the series improve, then the more reason to read this first installment as well.

Review: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer

6 Aug

Series: Companion book to The Twilight Saga

Published: June 5th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Details: Hardcover, 178 pages

My rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

A wonderfully written book, where Meyer once again manages to put life into a character I didn’t think I’d care about – a newborn vampire. A must read for every twilight fan.

My Full Review:

No one thought much about Bree, the newborn vampire who gives herself up to the Cullens at the end of Eclipse, only to be killed by the merciless Vulturi clan. I sure didn’t pay any attention to her, more than that she was a testament to how a new-born Bella might be like should she turn vampire – wild and uncontrollable, especially while scenting a human prey. Therefore it was a surprise to me to realize that not only two chapters in I was already growing fond of Bree.

She is created by Riley (Victoria’s new mate) to participate in Victoria’s army against the Cullens. Of course, she has no idea that she is only going to be used as a brick in their war, nor does any of the other newly created vampires know any of this. They all live together in a house in the outskirts of Seattle, some of the vampires wilder than others. Not rarely do fights erupt resulting in one or two vampire lives lost.

It’s an unstable environment to say the least, and Bree tries to stay under the radar as much as possible, to stay safe. She’s very confused and especially lonely until one night when she befriends Diego, one of the other older vampires in Rile’s army. They spend some time together and in doing so she starts remembering bits and pieces from her former life again, reconnecting to her human self. But their time together is short, as Riley starts preparing for the battle.

It’s a short, sad story considering Bree’s tragic end, but it’s interesting, especially towards the end where the battle is described and we get to meet the Cullens and Bella from the viewpoint of her, an outsider. There is also an interesting play of minds going on during the meeting with the Volturi that we were unaware of in Eclipse. Bree essentially tells Edward everything there is to know about the Volturi secretly betraying the Cullens in this battle. She is on the side of the Cullens, more than I understood in Eclipse, which only added to my sadness to see her go in the end. Under different circumstances, I think she would have fit in perfectly in the Cullen family.

All in all, I loved revisiting the Twilight world, all though from a different view-point. Meyer certainly proved again what she does best – excellent characterization. In short, a wonderful read!

Do I recommend it?

Yes, if you liked the Twilight Saga you definitely should read this!

Review: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

5 Aug

Series: Georgina Kincaid, book #1

Published: March 1st 2007 by Kensington

Details:  Paperback, 343 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

Start of a series, by same author as Vampire Academy. About a succubus who seduces and pleasures mortal men (while sapping their life energy), but also longing for what she can’t have, a true love. This was ok, not as bad as Bitten, but not great either. Good writing but a weak plot. I may read another one in the series to see if it gets better.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Succubus (n.) An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men. Pathetic (adj.)

A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore–free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…

My thoughts:

This book is written by the same author as The Vampire Academy, which is an highly acclaimed vampire series. I’ve also read a couple of good reviews and so I decided to give it a go, despite the synopsis which sent off a couple of alarm bells.  You see, it revolves around  a succubus, who feeds of sex from mortal men. It felt like this could be one of those adult romance type of novels, which really are porn disguised in a paranormal romance package.

I’m relieved to say that no, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, of course there is some sexual content, as we are dealing with the life of a succubus, but it never felt like it was too much. It was there to move the plot along. So in that aspect, all good.

I like the writing style as well. It wasn’t poetic or anything like that. But it was kind of easy-going. It had a flow which made you get into the story very easily.

Still, despite all this, I wasn’t blown away by the book. And I’ll get to why in a moment.

The main character Georgina is a charming and witty girl who works at a book store in Seattle, living a relatively normal life. She is also a succubus, which means she feeds of sex with mortal men, in which she sucks their life energy.

She hates it though and refuses to destroy good mortal men, and as such, prefers feeding of scums, guys with low moral values. Her friends include, apart from the mortals working in the book store, a vampire, a demon and an angel.

When we are introduced into the story, Georginas favorite author has just arrived to town. A charming guy called Seth. And here begins her struggles with liking him but not wanting to give him too much encouragement, because obviously any sort of physical contact would be impossible, seeing as that would destroy Seth.

Seth is not the only love interest though. There are several other guys around in this book, all utterly charmed by Georgina of course seeing as she is a very attractive woman, due to her shape-shifting abilities (as part of her being a succubus).

While Georgina is running around not wanting to get too close with any of the guys that she likes, yet doing exactly that, a murder mystery is going in Seattle. Someone is killing immortals, i.e. vampires, demons etc. And somehow all this is linked to Georgina. She’s getting these mysterious notes from someone who appears to be the killer.

So yes, you might have guessed it already.. I thought the plot was pretty weak. I didn’t believe in the murder mystery – it seemed to have only been thrown in there in order to create some suspense. It also got a bit tiring with Georgina’s all love interests. I mean, if she had such an issue with guys being attracted to her, why not just turn of the charm or shape shift into a less attractive woman? Problem solved! Also, the love interest Seth felt quite bland. Yes, he was a nice guy but he lacked charisma.

I did however root for one side character. I won’t say who, but if you read the book you might guess who I’m talking about. I am kind of curious to see if he will play a bigger part in the books to come. So even though I wasn’t too impressed by the start of this series, I think I might read another to see if it gets better.

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #3

Published: March 24th 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 541 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

WOW!! What a great ending to a mind-blowing series! Yes, not the most original but great writing and amazing characterization! The growth of the characters is palpable – have now come to love them all, Jace, Simon, Clare, Luke, Magnus Bane..and the world of shadowhunters & downworlders. Eagerly anticipating fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, out next year.

My Full Review:

This is the third installment of the Mortal Instruments trilogy. And I’ve just warily started reading it. Warily, because I know that once I’m a few chapters in it will result in a “bye bye social life”. I’ll retreat into the house and will not get out until I’ve finished it. That’s how addicting I predict it to be. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of The Mortal Instruments series.  A fourth book in the series to be released in April next year, City of Fallen Angels. Yay!

Update:

I forced myself to read this over a week, just to savour it as long as possible, all though it was hard, really hard, especially nearing the end. Let me just say, what a great ending to a fantastic trilogy! I know I know.. another book is coming – and will get to follow these characters yet again, all though from Simon’s point of view – but it was meant as a trilogy from the beginning. And you can tell that this was the original end. Everything is wrapped up beautifully in this one.

I thought the two first books were great too, but I felt like this was the best, possibly because I’d grown so attached to characters and the story. Basically, I just I loved it, from start to finish. Yes, it may not be the most original story, but the world-building and the characters, and the witty dialogues, and the heart-pounding romance..it all makes up more than well for the lack of originality. I felt completely transported into to the land of the shadowhunters, Idris, where they travel in this book, to participate in a looming war against Valentine, and frankly, I never wanted to leave. Thank god for that fourth book, I’m just saying.

Ok, so beware of:

SPOILERS———————-SPOILERS—————————–SPOILERS

As I said before, I loved the characters in this book, and the witty dialogues..

– Magnus Bane for one is a brilliant character. I was a bit worried at first that he wouldn’t participate as much in this book as the rest, but I needn’t have to worry, as he shows up pretty soon in Idris.

– Sebastian. I may be blind but I didn’t see this coming. At first I thought it was going to develop into a love triangle between him, Jace and Clary. Then I started to realize that something was up with him, and began pondering that if he is Valentines son, how does Jace fit into all this?

– Jace. My oh my. Of all the characters he is the best. Tortured, strong, vulnerable, sarcastic, romantic, casanova, hero..I mean seriously, I have not come across such a complex character in some time. And the relationship he has with Clary is the core of the book. I just wanted more of them, all the time. Each one of their encounters was so emotional, tense, romantic and fierce that it blew me away each time. Absolutely wonderful!!

Valentine. Wonderfully drawn evil character, who believes, actually believes that he is doing the shadowhunter world a favor. He is that crazy. And I think that somehow he loved Jace, and he definitely loved Jocelyn. He wasn’t always mean. That is what makes him fascinating and more real somehow.

Even though the ending was pretty neatly tied up, there were a few loose ends left hanging. For instance, we know how the angel blood is affecting Clary making her being able to create runes. But Jace, what are his abilities? Apart from being able to move and jump faster and higher than others, we don’t know much about that. Also, Sebastian’s body was never found so expect that to continue in the fourth book. And, the fairy queen tells Clary that she does not know all the secrets of her past, implying this may somehow affect her and Jace. How? Well, I suppose that’s to find out in City of Fallen Angels as well. Can’t wait!!!

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #2

Published: March 25th 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 453 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so I am officially hooked on the Mortal Instruments series. The more time I spend in this world, the more addicted I get. Great second book, with lots of suspense and plot twists. And did I mention Jace is hot?

Full review:

If you have not read the prequel City of Bones, be aware of some serious spoilers!

City of Ashes is the sequel to City of Bones, which I loved and devoured. Except for possibly that twist at the end which left me utterly devastated. I even hesitated about reading the next book, because if I weren’t to follow the budding romance of Jace and Clary, then what else was there to intrigue me? Or so I thought.

Well, I needn’t have to worry. This second installment is about as good (or even better) than its predecessor! Action-packed with twists and turns, great characters and now a forbidden romance. What else can you ask for, really?

It starts just where City of Bones left off. Life has been pretty turbulent (mildly speaking) for Clary ever since she saw the shadowhunters at the Pandemonium club that night. It turns out her mom is a shadowhunter, her dad is evil and she has a brother she didn’t know about – her love interest Jace!

The one person who could have explained a few things to her – her mom – is in coma, so Clary just has to try to figure out things on her own. For one, she tries a romantic relationship with her best friend Simon, because..well he is available and a possible option (as opposed to Jace). However, after a devastating scene for Simon in a fairy court (and possibly the best scene in the whole book!), things are made pretty clear where Clary’s heart stands.

Meanwhile, Jace is having problems, stemming from the fact that the Clave (the shadowhunter government) are now suspicious of his intentions. As the son of Valentine, they figure he may very well be working as Valentine’s spy. A new inquisitor arrives to investigate the matter, which really make things spiral out of control.

Simon is also struggling with some pretty serious issues, which result in a very dramatic situation half way through the book. I was shocked to say the least! And while all this is happening, Valentine continues planning his revenge on the shadowhunters.

There so much more, but I’m afraid to give away too much info. Suffice to say, this is as action-packed as the first installment. I raced through the pages in a matter of hours, loving every second of it.

What a wonderful series this is turning out to be. If you have not read The Mortal Instruments Series yet, what are you waiting for?? Get your hands on it now! You will not regret it!