Tag Archive | vampires

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Series: Vampire Academy #2


Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

Rose has serious guy trouble. Her gorgeous tutor, Dimitri, has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason has a huge crush on her, and she keeps getting stuck in her best friend Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian.

Then a nearby Strigoi attack puts St. Vladimir’s on high alert, and the Academy whisks its students away on a mandatory holiday ski trip. But the glittering winter landscape and posh Idaho resort only provide the illusion of safety. When three students run away to strike back against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. Only this time, Rose – and her heart – are in more danger than she ever could have imagined…

3.5 Drink Me Potions

I’ll be honest. Having read the spin-off series Bloodlines first originally didn’t seem so bad. Until I realized that it spoiled the biggest twists of nearly all the Vampire Academy books. By then, of course, it was too late.

So upon entering Frostbite, I knew what the “surprise”/climax was going to be. That’s why it’s taken me this long to read the sequel even though its predecessor had definitely intrigued me.

With this thought in mind, for me to still give it a high enough rating when there was no surprise tells you how much I appreciate Richelle Mead’s writing. Rose is a delightfully strong and whole character. She knows who she is and she’s definitely not some damsel in distress. She’s the freaking knight in shining armor. In a smaller size and with greater hair, that is. I find her recklessness sometimes way too much for my own taste, but at least she’s distinctly someone I’ve never come across too often in YA novels. I guess I’m saying that she’s discernible in a world full of young, female teenage protagonists. Definitely refreshing.

As for the story, I didn’t find the pace too slow. It wasn’t fast, but the tidbits of suspense relating to the evil vampires (aka Strigoi) held my interest where other areas may not have. This book also revealed more about the special elemental magic known as ‘spirit’ in which Rose’s bestie Lissa had. Once again, not much of a surprise for me but I guess it was nice to see how the information slowly unravelled. I will say that one character I adore made an appearance here, although I’m not happy for what the near future holds for that person.

For a book that’s part of such a long series, it’s hard to rate them high as they are just one tiny part of the whole. I will say that a 3.5 is rather good for such a book, especially with the spoiled surprises included in the picture. There was not a lot of romance going on with Dimitri in this one, so romance people? Don’t get your hopes up. But then again, that’s one thing I love about it. Not everything has to be on just the romantic aspect to make it a good read.

Overall Recommendation:
Although Frostbite was ruined for me by reading the spin-off series first, it was still a fun and enjoyable read. More suspense is created from Strigoi attacks on Moroi vampires, leaving the world of vampires shaken. Rose is still her amazing self, bouncing between fighting and flirting. Even with a mild pacing, the unveiling of new details in this imaginative world of vampires and magic will be more than enough to keep you reading. It was the only thing that did it for me, and I already knew the twists! So for someone who hasn’t figured out the ending already, I’d say it may be even better for you.

Review: Eternal by Kristi Cook

Series: Haven #3

eternal -kristi cookTrue love and destiny collide in the conclusion to the Haven trilogy, which Booklist called “a blend of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, the Twilight saga, and Lois Duncan’s thrillers.”

Forced to endure the violent punishment of the Tribunal for murders he has no recollection of committing, Aidan is slowly rotting away in a Paris dungeon. Violet is all but an unreachable dream to him now.

But unlike Aidan, Violet has not given up hope as she works tirelessly with Matthew, her guardian and protector, to prove Aidan’s innocence and unravel the haunting vision that plagues her thoughts—the death of someone closest to her.

Determined to set Aidan free, Violet discovers that a dangerous vampire war is brewing—and that Aidan may be at the center of it all. It’s only when the war reaches the doors of Winterhaven and tragedy strikes the school that Violet has to finally accept her fate. But that could mean losing Aidan—forever.

With no other option, Violet must choose between true love and fulfilling her destiny…unless she can find a way to have them both.

3.5 Drink Me Potions

It was what I expected, and totally not, at the same time.

Eternal made a decent conclusion to the Haven trilogy. And I do mean just decent. The story picked up where its predecessor, Mirage, left off, with Aidan missing somewhere with the Tribunal. How Violet works to get him back really wasn’t…all that exciting. It didn’t even really feel like she had to do anything, as it was the circumstances that dictated his return into her life. So there went one major plot twist that held a lot of potential.

There was also the threat of some vampire war, and the hinted importance that Aidan might play in that (thus making it also Violet and the rest of her Winterhaven Warrior gang’s business). That sounded potentially great and full of action, right? It’s WAR, after all. Violence apparently equates to excitement factor according to all the action movies out there. Was it, though? Guess I was wrong at that too. It really didn’t build up very well, and the actual process that dealt directly with the war was maybe 40 pages maximum? Couldn’t a 400+ page book at least make the “war” plotline a little longer? It definitely had me on the edge of my seat while it lasted.

And her visions? The ones that potentially held possible death for some of her loved ones? Some of them never really come to pass or even remotely come close to happening because of her precautions. Makes the vision seem anticlimactic doesn’t it?

BUT, I’m not gonna continue to semi-rant the rest of this review. It was NOT all bad.

The majority of the novel did focus on the impossibility of Aidan having a future with Violet, and his ever-present quest for the cure to his vampirism. There was also that new aspect of Violet finding her male counterpart and protector, her Megved, Matthew. Aka Dr. “Hottie” Byrne. That was intriguing indeed.

Why, you may ask? It says he’s supposed to be his Sabbat’s mate in every way?

Although it may sound like the potential for a horrible love triangle at the end of the series, it never does come to that. And weirdly enough, although I have a horrible annoyance/disgust towards these romantic entanglements, I felt quite badly for Matthew. He had a girlfriend, or I supposed was a girlfriend, until he found Violet and now he was dedicated to her and her only. Too bad, old girlfriend. The Sabbat comes first. And it was obvious that he cared for her, possibly in a romantic way (which isn’t creepy ’cause he’s a teacher….well, not too creepy. Come on, he was a hot YOUNG teacher, right?) But he never pursued anything, letting Violet be with Aidan although I’m assuming that went against all HIS early teachings as a Megved. I oddly found myself wishing there was some way he’d get a happy ending of his own somehow.

Let us just pause for a sec and really think of what a great guy Matthew seems to be.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, I really did enjoy Matthew and Violet’s dynamic. They made a great fighting pair when it came to vampire slaying. Even if Violet only felt a strong brotherly love towards Matthew, they too had some understanding and psychic connection that was unlike any other relationship she could have, even the one with Aidan. I think it was great seeing this other kind of relationship at this point in time of the story.

Her friends made a bigger impact in this story comparatively to Mirage. And unlike some novels, not everyone gets a happy ending. I can’t say I was surprised about certain twists of fate that occurred (mostly because I saw a review that ruined the surprise), but I was actually glad to see Cook adding this element. Because visions can’t always be prevented, even with forewarning. This just adds layers to Violet’s character having to deal with possible failure.

One thing I do wish was that the ending answered a few more questions. For example, for the life of me, I felt Tyler’s introduction in the last book as rather…suspicious? Maybe that’s not the right word, ’cause I do like him, but I always thought there had to be some ulterior motive for his presence and joining the gang’s efforts in helping Aidan. Did Cook ever answer that? No. Still waiting here. Am thinking I’ll be left hanging. And what the heck was Dr. Blackwell’s plan in the first place way back in Haven?

All in all, the ending was definitely the highlight of the story for me, maybe even in the series. It was possibly the best way it could’ve concluded, in my opinion. Sure, most of the story wasn’t terribly exciting, but this nearly redeemed all of that. For all the lack of action, Cook did do a good job of creating her characters and the dynamics between everyone in the group. They really were like an eclectic family. A family that by the end of it, felt like I wished I had a group of people like that myself. I’d say that’s a job well done in my books for characterization.

Overall Recommendation:
Although it lacked the ability to expand potentially exciting plot elements set up from the previous novels, Eternal did do an amazing job at continually making the friendship dynamics between Violet and the rest of her gang of friends at Winterhaven really believable and enjoyable. They tackled every problem together. With the added element of discovering she had a protector and vampire slayer partner in Dr. Byrne, all while Aidan was either AWOL or irritated with finding his cure against the ticking deadline till graduation, things definitely heated up in the romance department. The series’ ending made it worth the slow pace, and for the most part, wrapped it up in the most heartfelt way possible that left me touched at the depth love goes.

Review: Mirage by Kristi Cook

Series: Haven #2

mirage -kristi cook

Danger looms large in the sequel to Haven, whichBooklist called “a blend of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, the Twilight saga, and Lois Duncan’s thrillers.”

Violet McKenna is back for her senior year at Winterhaven and thrilled to be with Aidan after a long summer apart. But while their love for each other is as strong as ever, their troubles are far from over.

News of a rogue vampire on a killing spree sets everyone on edge. While Aidan is determined to stop the killer, Violet is chilled by a horrifying vision she simply must prevent…for if she can’t, two people she loves will meet a violent end.

In the midst of Violet’s fear, a mysterious newcomer enters her life—and he has some vital information not just about her past, but about her future as well. Now everything Violet held as truth is upended, and she is left not knowing whom to trust, if she is in danger, and—worst of all—whether she and Aidan are really meant to be together.

3 Drink Me Potions

A rather quick read, Mirage picked up months after the events of its predecessor, Haven. Things seemed relatively normal in this second installment, which to some people might be a little boring. I will admit that it suffers a bit from second-book syndrome.

A new student has transferred to the prestigious Winterhaven, a private school for the gifted. He joins the gang of friends Violet has made since the previous school year. Aidan is still on his quest for finding a cure for himself. Yada yada yada.

Okay, so it does seem rather mundane when I put it like that, but to be honest, I still enjoyed Mirage. Dr. Byrne has volunteered to coach Violet on her precognition ability, and even to help Aidan in the lab. Things are looking good. However, more disturbing visions of Aidan assault our protagonist, which leaves a lot of questions hanging as to when these would come to pass.

I would say that nothing too too exciting occurs until nearer the end of the story, which really sets the stage for the last book. In the meantime, the only exciting factor is this Vampire Stalker serial “killer” lurking around in New York, leaving its female victims with visible puncture wounds and loss of memory during the actual attack. I was curious about this until it started getting obvious as to who might be the culprit behind it all. From there, other questions do arise and that makes me look forward to the next book as well.

Violet doesn’t really develop in this sequel, not as much as she does in the first book. I felt overall that all the characters landed a bit flat in this book, even the romance. It was as if Cook didn’t really know how much to include in this book while setting the stage for some epic conclusion in the next. And that’s what I’m hoping for – some epic conclusion – ’cause I honestly think more information could have been dropped in Mirage.

The only tidbit we DO get is a little more understanding about Violet’s role as a vampire slayer. There’s not a whole lot that we learn about her, but as the eve of her 18th birthday comes, it begs the question whether or not her feelings towards Aidan will start to change as her powers fully come in. THAT is something I’m looking forward to seeing.

With a cliffhanger ending, readers will be left to wonder whether or not their love really can conquer all odds, and is Violet destined to kill Aidan when her powers fully develop.

Overall Recommendation:
Although it lands heavily into the second-book syndrome category, Mirage was still enjoyable in the sense that it provided a little more information about Violet and her newfound abilities, as well as the ever-present quest Aidan’s embarked on. With new character introductions and changing friendship dynamics in Violet’s group at Winterhaven, this second book really sets the stage for (hopefully!) an epic battle and resolution in the next and final installment of the series. It’s an easy read and worth checking into.

Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #6

the ruby circle -richelle meadTHEY WILL BE TESTED

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series.

When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.

Don’t miss their unforgettable final chapter…


4 Drink Me Potions

And thus the Bloodlines series finally concludes, with the final battle rightfully dealing with Jill’s kidnapping, as that was the original fear that had set off this series of events. I find myself a little sad that it’s done. I do hope this won’t be the last time I see these characters. What I love most about this final installment of the series is Richelle Mead’s ability to wrap up ALL, and I do mean ALL, the crazy plot lines that has happened throughout the series. And also seeing most of the recurring characters that I know I at least have grown to enjoy make appearances somewhere at least.

That being said, the biggest problem I had with the book was also because there were so many plot lines to figure out and make satisfying conclusions to them. It felt crowded and a little rushed in some conclusions. I had wanted to read more about one adventure and then it just finishes, with Sydney and Adrian moving on to the next problem that needs to be solved. Nothing lasted very long, and in that way, made each conclusion feel a little less satisfactory. Like it could have been more epic of a battle or whatever, but it never really came to that as nothing was built up to a climax moment for such a strong feeling to occur. It was like, engage with enemy, then in a short while, it was eliminated. Yay. Just not as much excitement as I’d initially hoped for.

The only other thing I wished for was a more satisfactory way for Adrian to deal with his spirit problem. I love that we get to go into his head and see how hard he’s struggling with his want to help while fearing the potential downfall of spirit usage. He’s a delightfully complex character that yearns to help others with all he’s got. However, I suppose that nothing “epic” could be solved for spirit users yet in controlling their horrible side effects. It was just a wish, seeing as this was the last book after all.

Throughout it all, this book still centres all the amazing love between Adrian and Sydney. I love their connection and even when they argue, it shows even more that they can last even through the rough times. They balance each other perfectly, even when they really don’t seem to be. They’re truly the perfect couple I’ve had the pleasure of following in a series in a long time. And that epilogue? Just. Perfect. I couldn’t have wanted a better one.

Although it was a happy ending, the world of the Moroi and Alchemists haven’t much changed in their taboos and such. For that, I do wish there would be more on this world someday as there is still such potential storylines to be explored. I can only cross my fingers and hope with all my might. All in all, it was a satisfactory ending that left a sweet nostalgic taste of the crazy adventures Adrian, Sydney, Jill and the rest of the gang had gone through in the last 6 books.

Overall Recommendation:
I found The Ruby Circle as a wonderfully satisfactory ending to the Bloodlines series. My only problem lies in the fact that although the many plot lines throughout had been solved in some way, it felt kind of crowded in one book. So much went on that it literally felt like Sydney and Adrian were moving off from one problem to the next, or alternating with other problems in between. It never allowed for a lot of time to build up each conclusion to something that could be called epic. However, the rest of the book did justice to all the main characters and I find that I’m going to miss them. Richelle Mead made each memorable and uniquely their own selves. Although a bit sad to see the conclusion to the spin-off series, I have hopes that something new in this world of Moroi, Strigoi and Alchemists will come back one day.

Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #5

silver shadows -richelle meadSydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

4 Drink Me Potions

Continuing with the alternating POVs between Sydney and Adrian like the previous novel, The Fiery Heart, the stakes are raised in this fifth installment, Silver Shadows. Sydney’s been captured and is trapped in re-education, far from the reach of Adrian and his love.

I particularly loved this book because both Adrian and Sydney are doing such different things between them. So I was really impatient to read both their parts to see what they were up to next, whether it be about Sydney’s attempts at escape or Adrian’s attempts to find her while fighting off the temptations of his vices. Both POVs were deliciously exciting and fast-paced, which wasn’t often the case when it came to some of the previous books in the Bloodlines series.

Re-education and its threatening implications were present since book 1, so to finally see it become reality for Sydney was intriguing indeed. To my greater surprise, there was something beyond the humiliation of solitary isolation and confinement. It was like a school, with teachers and other “students” that had to be re-educated. The highs and lows of this school environment felt similarly to any school environment, with antagonism from other students and particularly cruel teachers. And of course, the excitement rises with the dangers of trying to find a route of escape with or without Adrian’s help. But practicing human magic is as great of a transgression as being intimate with a vampire. Uh oh, Sydney.

As for Adrian, I loved his part almost as much as Sydney’s. He loved her, and without her love balancing him, he let spirit control him, falling back into all the old temptations and vices that used to hurt him. I’m glad one of the old vices he didn’t fall back into was girls, as I was terrified that he’d be so out of it or feeling so hopeless he would give up staying true to his one love. However, I should’ve known better than to fear, but it was interesting to see him fall to his very lowest point and then pick himself back up in order to find his beloved.

With lots of action as Adrian and some of our other favourite friends from Palm Springs, like Eddie and Marcus, race to find Sydney’s location, and the crazy antics of Sydney’s as she does her best to hold onto her love for her Moroi and dhampir friends, I must say, Silver Shadows had the best plot line of them all. Plus, a wonderfully cute ending that was as surprising as it was perfect.

Overall Recommendation:
Taking place pretty much from where the previous book stopped, Sydney finds herself trapped in re-education, trying to figure out a way to send Adrian a message to rescue her. Meanwhile, Adrian’s battling his own inner demons as he struggles to hold onto hope in finding his love as time continues to pass without any results. With such an exciting premise, Silver Shadows was a fast-paced and truly enjoyable read that propelled me through its alternating POVs as fast as I could. And to top it all off, Mead added the perfect ending that satisfied both the romantic in me as well as left room for bigger problems to be solved in the last book of the Bloodlines series. This book really surpassed some of its predecessors, and is most definitely recommended.

Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #4

the fiery heart -richelle meadSydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the wolds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her…

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

4 Drink Me Potions

After committing to Adrian and the love Sydney just can’t deny between them anymore, things should be looking up, right? And then the bomb of a cliffhanger had to drop with Zoe Sage’s arrival.

Although, to be honest, not much really happens in The Fiery Heart by way of action or adventure, this fourth installment was quite enjoyable. There were MANY, and I highlight many , steamy and romantic encounters between Adrian and Sydney throughout. Maybe it was made a lot more fun as their relationship had to be kept secret, even among their close friends living in Palm Springs.

This was also the first book in the series to have alternating POVs between Adrian and Sydney. And my, it was an interesting experience to get into Adrian’s head as well. He really is such a loveable character, even though he has so many vices from spirit’s ups and downs. Maybe it’s because of his brokenness that makes him such a relateable guy. He’s by far from perfect, but his love for Sydney helps balance out his problems and makes him yearn to be a better person.

I love the progression of their relationship being such a main point of this book. When a book is part of such a long series, most books contain crazy plotlines amidst the romance that goes on as an after thought while the protagonists are off fighting whatever problems they have to face. This allowed readers to really explore their forbidden relationship as a major crazy plot line in itself that could ultimately lead towards more problems down the road, particularly the threat of re-education for Sydney.

With Zoe’s arrival, there just seems to be a ticking time bomb on their happiness. On top of that, Richelle Mead still added something big besides romance into the story. The emergence of a possible Strigoi vaccine for the Moroi is a major development for this world, which took up a huge part of Adrian’s POV. As for Sydney’s half of the book, she was exploring the potential ability with her magic to counteract heavier dosages of re-inking that would be able to protect ex-Alchemist rebels if ever captured by the organization. So, even with romance being the forefront of The Fiery Heart, it was by far from boring comparatively to the others as some new discoveries were explored.

And to conclude such a romantic story, Richelle Mead brings us back to the heart of action, as is her style, with that crazy ending. I’ll have to say, I’m just glad I read this series late and didn’t have to wait for the next book.

Overall Recommendation:
A well-written installment alternating between Adrian and Sydney’s POV that focused more on their forbidden romance than any other crazy schemes that have been introduced in the earlier novels. With plenty of steamy moments, Mead takes us to the heart of their strong love and shows us just how perfectly matched they are for each other, no matter how different their worlds were before. For a book that doesn’t necessarily contain too much action, I found it very enjoyable as it truly developed our two protagonists that sets the stage for whatever craziness is to come in the next book. A definite must-read!

Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #3

the indigo spell -richelle meadSydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. Alchemists protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she struggles to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do.

Then she finally tracks down the elusive, enigmatic Marcus Finch – a former Alchemist who the organization denies exists, and who lives in shadows, on the run. With Marcus’s help, Sydney realizes that the group she’s been loyal to her whole life has been hiding the truth from her. Is it possible that her golden lily tattoo might have more power over her than she thinks?

As she struggles to come to terms with what that might mean, Sydney is compelled to use her magical powers to track down an evil magic user who is targeting powerful young witches. Using magic goes against everything she always thought she believed, but she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her special blood – or else she might be next.

Forging her own way is harder than Sydney ever dreamed. Maybe by turning off her brain – and following her heart – she’ll be able to finally figure out where she belongs.

3 Drink Me Potions

The Indigo Spell diverted from the crazy plots of book 2, The Golden Lily, and had gone into a totally different direction. Boy, does our protagonist Sydney have a lot going on in her life.

1) She totally went against her Alchemist beliefs and has started practicing magic with her witch/history teacher
2) Adrian Ivashkov, aka vampire Moroi, has declared his love from afar for her
3) Some psycho witch is out to get other strong witches, and that road points towards Sydney as well, ’cause you know, she’s got to be a powerful witch on top of excelling at everything else she does
Oh and 4)? She’s found rogue ex-Alchemist Marcus Finch, and now there may be a ton of Alchemist conspiracies and cover-ups she’s questioning

Can things get any crazier? Apparently not. I think. Let’s just set aside the idea of tracking down the vampire hunters, aka the deluded Warriors of Light, for another time because this book is filled with tons of things other than that. Not that I blame Sydney, ’cause that’s already a lot of things to do at the same time.

For once, this 3rd book departs from spending a ton of time with all of the gang that’s been isolated at Palm Springs. Thank goodness for that too, because to be honest, that Eddie and Angeline romance thing freaks me out a little. Can I just shake Jill and tell her to claim her man before it gets even weirder? Please, Jill, just go confess to Eddie. It’s driving me insane! Anyway, that’s most of what goes on with them, although I do miss their banter at times. But like I repeatedly said, there are TONS more crazier things to deal with.

There are A LOT of Adrian and Sydney times though, much to my delight. After what went down at the end of The Golden Lily, I was intrigued to see how Sydney could get over her Alchemist beliefs. Might be helpful considering she’s hanging out with ex-Alchemists and shoved into Adrian’s path at every which way. I love their chemistry and the patience Adrian has with her. Out of all the characters, the two of them have grown the most so far. There are so many different facets that Richelle Mead has shown in Adrian here. Sure, he’s still that witty and charming young guy who flirts with girls and with trouble. But he’s also sensitive and loving and romantic.

If that was considered character development, I don’t know how to describe Sydney’s almost 360 degree change. She’s someone so tangibly real to me. Maybe it’s because we share a love of knowledge, though I must say, she takes it to the way, WAY extreme than most academics I know. Her growing attraction to Adrian isn’t something she can deny and it was deliciously fun to see her breakdown to his charms and patient love for her.

Amongst the romantic scenes, there are also the dangerous, action scenes. From witch chasing and warning young girls from getting their life sucked out of them (literally) to breaking all the rules she’s grown up with to do something for Marcus, there’s plenty of things to satisfy just about anyone. Who said any good romance story couldn’t also contain an equal amount of excellent butt-kicking action? Once again, no true closure for any of the plots that were laid out here, but I think I’ve resigned myself to wait for some epic conclusion in the last installment. Better not disappoint me, Richelle Mead!

Overall Recommendation:
The Indigo Spell is no disappointment. In fact, it adds onto the already big list of crazy things that’s going on in Sydney Sage’s life. With plenty more action and danger coming her way, Sydney is forced to be with Adrian at nearly every turn, which makes it harder for her to deny the attraction that is there between them. Although missing the ever-present interaction of her dear vampire friends, the banter and excitement of what Sydney and Adrian are attempting to do with a witch hunt more than makes up for it. Here’s to another chapter of the Bloodlines series that continually makes for a good read.

Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #2

the golden lily -richelle meadSydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. Alchemists protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California – tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formorly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age-old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and her sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi – the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that – special, magical, powerful – that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Braydon, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else – someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists – or her heart?

3 Drink Me Potions

Book 2 in the spin-off series, Bloodlines, from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, continued the pace of what was set in Bloodlines. There was definitely more romance in it. Come on, that Brayden guy that Sydney tried “dating” was hilarious. Sydney’s charm lies in her sweet ability to remember the most random things in the world, but his similar ability to do that was just downright annoying. In a funny way.

With a forbidden romance looming ahead for Sydney down the road, the main focus was the building plot of….insert dramatic music here. The so-called vampire hunters that were postulated from the previous book by a dear old, yet slightly crazy, Moroi. There was also the amazing appearances in this series with Dimitri (from Vampire Academy, of course) and Sonya Karp (also, an interesting person from that series). It’s like watching a show and having cameo appearances of some favourite characters, albeit not the most important people, from the original show. It’s definitely a nice trick to draw in readers who loved them from before. Also, kind of ruins a little of what happens in that series, but ah well. Minor sacrifice to pay. So, it’s preferable to finish reading some of the earlier books in Vampire Academy.

I digress. The pace was set nicely, as usual. It wasn’t as unpredictable. I guessed the “twist” a mile away, even from book 1. The characters are all still their crazy usual self, with the addition of a new dhampir, Angeline. She’s even more whack than Jill, Eddie, Adrian and Sydney put together–well, maybe minus Adrian. He’s kinda whack when he’s high on Spirit using, which is the element that he controls. I just love that Mead makes all the main characters so essential and…just loveable. Yeah, they’re imperfect and have the craziest quirks, but that’s what makes them real and distinguishable from each other. Flat, boring characters drive me insane.

Although there was some action in this installment, I guess being part of a rather longer series limits the amount of epic actions that each one can have. I was sad to see that there really was no closure. Maybe just more questions about Alchemists and their ways.

Before I end this review, I just have to go back to the romance, ’cause you know, a good romance is hard to find and love. From book 1, I wasn’t immediately sure who was the particular love interest for Sydney as…well, there was no romance for her in it. With this second installment, I love that Mead took the time to make a plausible connection between Sydney and Adrian, who was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend at the time of their initial meeting. It wasn’t love at first sight. But with the building attraction simmering just underneath the surface whenever they hung out, it made the wait worth it to see two completely different people complement each other just so well. I truly look forward to seeing how this crazy romance is gonna turn out.

Overall Recommendation:
Another interesting installment in the world of Alchemists, Moroi and dhampirs, Richelle Mead gives more tidbits to the crazy things this series has to offer. From protecting a princess Moroi to attending to their love affairs, Sydney has too much on her plate. Action abounds and intrigue is at its highest as she continues to navigate human high school all the while trying to maintain her Alchemist ways. With the same loveable characters from before, witty dialogue and a forbidden romance makes the plot a definite read for those who loved the world the author has created with these 2 series. Another recommendation, although I hope there would be more action and closure next time.

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #1

bloodlines -richelle meadI wasn’t free of my past, not yet.

Sydney’s blood is special. That’s because she’s an alchemist – one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiences in question, her future is on the line.

When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.

The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside – and within – the school grounds. Now that they’re in hiding, the drama is only just beginning.

3.5 Drink Me Potions

Sydney is unlike a lot of protagonists I have the pleasure of following around in a long series. She’s brilliantly smart, yet tries to dumb her knowledge down when it seems to bother people around her, and attentive to what others need. She truly cares for people, which is the root cause of her problems.

Because vampires, even half-vampires, are not technically considered “people” to the Alchemists.

It’s forbidden to even like them, let alone associate with them, yet her job forces her to live with them. Of course, she doesn’t fight or argue with her superiors about any of the things they demand of her. She sounds like a mighty pushover, but that’s because she was raised that way by a tyrant for a father.

This story could simply be another human falling for the charms of a vampire. But, to be honest, that is remotely nothing like what Bloodlines is about. It’s about honour and duty and finding that thin balance between caring for her charge, a vampire princess, while maintaining a professional distance. In fact, there really is NO romance in this story for Sydney. It’s strange as most stories seem to love the romance angle, but it doesn’t really take in the first installment of the series. And it works even better that way.

There are so many things happening in the plot. From dealing with the craziness of human high school while watching over a bunch of vampires in hiding, to Alchemist-like tattoos surfacing on humans and dealing with the ever-annoying Alchemist co-worker of hers, Sydney has WAY too much on her plate to consider romance into it. There’s definitely plenty of intrigue and mystery going on that needs to be solved to keep a reader happily reading.

Also, the characters are all a wonderful group. Besides Sydney, each and every vampire “family” member she’s taking care of has such unique personalities. Adrian’s laidback and the typical party boy but there are moments where I really wonder what his true story is. Given, I haven’t read a ton of the the Vampire Academy series yet, so there may be more to him there. Eddie, a dhampir, is charming and protective. Jill can be stubborn sometimes, but she learns to work it out with her new situation. If it’s so easy for me to love them, you can see why it’s so easy for Sydney to as well.

I could go on about this story, but that’d be way too long of a review. I love the idea of the Alchemist group. It’s so unique and fascinating, intermingling their stories with the vampires. A group of humans dedicated to keeping the vampires a secret from humans for their safety? Totally cool and can go in so many ways. Especially ’cause they consider vampires as unnatural and…well, evil. Let’s just say I can’t wait to finish this series (thankfully they’re all out now), and see where all the foundation and groundwork Mead put in goes. I couldn’t stop reading. Finished it in one day.

By the way, that ending? Didn’t quite see the culprit coming. Although I really should have what with all the mysteries I read. That’s a big compliment.

Overall Recommendation:
Although the vampire genre has really been overdone by this point, this new series following Sydney, an Alchemist, is a far cry from anything I’ve seen yet. Mixed heavily with the chaos of having to protecting a vampire princess from harm while keeping her distance from them, both physically and emotionally, is already hard, but add in a mysterious Alchemist-tattooing parlour and human manifestations of magic, Sydney really has it coming for her. There are so many problems she has face, although the hardest ones are the ones dealing with the fundamental Alchemist teachings she now sees in a different light. Balancing her duty with her genuine care for these “unholy creatures” is definitely gonna come back and bite her. Richelle Mead’s newer series may very well be more exciting than the Vampire Academy series.

Review: Haven by Kristi Cook

Series: Haven #1

haven -kristi cookViolet McKenna thought she was crazy when she had a vivid vision of her dad’s murder—but when her premonition came true, her life fell apart. Then she found a new school: Winterhaven. There, Violet fits right in. All the students have special “gifts” like her own, and she quickly finds a close group of friends. But Violet’s attraction to an alluring boy becomes problematic when intense visions of his death start to haunt her. In her premonitions, the secret he is unwilling to share begins to reveal itself—and the unbelievable becomes reality. To Violet’s horror, she learns that their destinies are intertwined in a crictical—and deadly—way.

3 Drink Me Potions

Warning: This review contains spoilers….’cause honestly, how am I supposed to rant about something major in this book without giving it away? (but really, it’s so predictable, I swear you’d guess it even before the answer comes out)

Okay, let me paint the scenario of this book for you. See if it starts to sound familiar in any way.

A girl moves to a new town/city. She goes to a new school, hoping to find friends and maybe fit in. She’s nothing extraordinary in the looks department. Yet, on the very first day of school, apparently the hottest guy makes eye contact with her and a connection seems to have formed. But, according to some of her new girl friends, this guy normally sticks to himself and never hangs with many people, especially girls.

Is this starting to sound a little familiar? Hmm?

He’s described to move quite fast, there one second next to her and gone the next moment she looks up. He’s quite pale, and hey, he’s a little cold to the touch. All women seem to be affected by his presence (dubbed the Aidan effect). Oh, and the fascinating part? He gives her the hot-and-cold treatment. One day he seems all into her, and the next, he’s off somewhere doing something and cancelling their plans. Later, he keeps trying to explain that he’s doing it for her own protection and that he has some BIG secret he can’t share without scaring her away. (Dun dun dun dun. He’s a vampire. No, seriously.)

Okay. I think I had enough. Who’s ready to guess that the above summary….totally sounded like the beginnings of Twilight? I know it’s hard to be original these days when tons of vampire books exist out there, but SERIOUSLY. Twilight was amazing, back in 2006…but now it’s rather overrated. The similarities were a little disconcerting. At least Aidan didn’t sparkle….or does he?

Thankfully, that’s mostly where the similarities stop. ‘Cause this girl ain’t Bella Swan. Violet can fight on her own (fencing champ, which is pretty cool), and definitely isn’t some damsel in distress in need of saving by her vampire boyfriend *cough*Bella*cough*.

Winterhaven was a rather cool setting. Some prestigious boarding school that has its own cafe, theatre, quad and tons of buildings. Kind of like a mini university, except for high school kids. Man, wish I went to a boarding school like that. Anyway, everyone here has “powers”–wait, I mean gifts (’cause it’s against the rules in this school to call them “powers”). Violet’s always had visions of things, normally terrible things, that were to happen in the future. Here, her friends don’t think she’s a freak, ’cause hey, they can telekinetically move things or even astral project themselves places. Come on, those are way freakier-tastic than collapsing in seizure-like fits when the visions come.

Violet’s friends were cool, each different in their own way with their gifts. However, the attention in the book was obviously not on them, so at the end of the day, even though they can be differentiated based on what they can do, I was never drawn to each individual based on who they are. They’re all nice, they all care about Violet and they’re dubious of any impending danger. I could as easily replace one girl’s name with another and it would make nearly no difference.

And that leads me to the romance. And Aidan? I wasn’t feeling the chemistry very well with him and Violet. Sure, they were described to have some connection that linked them, and the hyperawareness of each other, but still. It was too…instant. What does he see in her? What does she see in him, besides that all-female attraction to him? So when they say they “love” each other, I was totally uncertain as to how that attraction even grew to such heights. Look, this undeniable attraction was kinda cool…back in 2006 as I mentioned before. It was a little harder to stomach this time around. So that made me enjoy Haven a little less than if I had actually cared much for Aidan.

The one thing I will say was pretty cool was trying to be scientific with vampirism. The science of it, being a science nerd myself, was rather fascinating and was compared to a parasitic infection like malaria. I think that was definitely something no other vampire novels have tried out, and for that, I’m rather intrigued to see if Aidan can indeed find a cure for his “disease”.

Overall Recommendation:
Honestly, Haven held way too many similarities to Twilight in the first large section of the book, which may have made me a little antagonistic with the whole Aidan-Violet romance. It was way too fast and based off of some crazy attraction between the two that made it seem less real and not as romantic as it sounds. This may have been cool with Twilight back in 2006, but it got old real fast.
With likeable enough characters and Violet being capable of holding her own when need be, Haven wasn’t all terrible. Set in an enchanting prestigious school where everyone has their own psychic gifts, it was intriguing to see all kinds of people working together and as friends. Lots of secrets abound and it’s up to Violet to figure them out before danger hits too close to her. So hey, besides the similarities, Haven can still hold its own in a rather large genre of vampire books.