Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead
Release Date: 16th August 2007
Publisher: Razorbill 
Format: eBook
Pages: 183
Rating: 4.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 RC, 2014 SSC and 2014 EBC

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever."

This was not at all what I was expecting, and I mean that in the most positive of ways. I guess with the most prominent vampire-based book that I've ever read being the Twilight series, I really wasn't prepared for everything this threw at me. Strong female characters? Magic? A cracking mystery? So much snark and sass? I was not prepared for this.

I went into this expecting one thing, and what I got was completely different. And I absolutely loved it. Most of this book was a massive surprise for me. The plot, the character's, the back story, this world - all of it was much better than I expected. I knew this was a well-loved series, and the reason I finally decided to give this a go was because of the movie adaptation. But I really wasn't expecting that I'd be one of the people singing it's praises. 

I can even pinpoint for you what I loved so much about this book - it's ability to surprise me. As I've already said quite a bit, I wasn't expecting anything that happened in this book (except for maybe the romances, I could see those coming from a mile away). And I think I got so distracted by how unexpected this book was that I was truly surprised by the plot twist at the end. It hadn't even crossed my mind, and recently I've found that I almost always guess the twist at the end, so this was a pleasant surprise. 

Aside from it's ability to really keep me guessing, I loved almost everything else about this book. Especially our two main characters, Rose and Lissa. Rose is just so so sassy and snarky, and I honestly haven't read a character like her in a while. And Lissa is the polar opposite, which in itself is interesting to read. Add onto this that fact that everything about Lissa's story (which is mainly what our plot is focused on) is so tragic, strange, and mysterious, and you've got yourself two perfect leads. Where Lissa is weak, Rose is strong, and vice versa. The two of them together make for one powerful duo, which I'm sure will be explored in subsequent novels.

But even though I loved the plot twists that actually managed to surprise me, and our two heroine leads, I was never completely blown away by this book. This is so close to a 5.0 out of 5.0, but it's not quite there. That being said, I'm so excited to continue on with this series, and I really recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is definitely not the vampire story you'd expect. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (41)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

The Ring and The Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary from Goodreads:

"Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve? 

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. 

But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard. 
Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I've been seeing this around a lot recently, which always sparks my curiosity. Plus it does also sound quite interesting. I simply have to check this out when it's released later this year.  

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: 31st August 2010
Publisher: McElderry Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 476
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 RC and 2014 SSC

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them...."

** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**

Overall, I rather enjoyed this. As to be expected, I've been trying to compare this with Clare's other offering, The Mortal Instruments. And whilst I probably enjoyed this one more than City of Bones, it gets a lower rating because overall, this pretty much followed a path a would have expected. 

- Pros -
  • I really liked the majority of our characters. Tessa seemed a bit uptight at the beginning, but I liked how she turned out in the end. Will, whilst I actually don't like him as a person, I do enjoy reading about him. Jem, as his name implies, is a pure gem. And then there's also Charlotte, Henry, Jessamine, Sophie and Thomas, who I all liked for varying reasons
  • Many interested questions were brought up, that I'm eager to get the answer to. Why exactly does The Magister want Tessa? How exactly did Tessa come to be? What exactly happened will Will's parents and this Cecily person? Questions like these are the type that urge me to continue reading a series on, and I definitely will be reading this series to figure it all out. 
  • I appreciate the twists and turns. Whilst I wasn't entirely surprised by everything that happened, Tessa did truly surprise me at the end. I honestly thought she had stabbed herself, and what made it even more surprising was beforehand I thought there was no way she could stab herself, since she's a main character. And then she kinda did, and it surprised me. And I like being surprised. 
  • I liked this more than City of Bones. I read City of Bones sometime last year, and whilst I quite enjoyed it, it didn't live up to the hype for me. This, however, I found more enjoyable. I think I just liked the character's more, and adding a historical setting never hurts for me. 
- Cons -
  • Whilst I appreciate the twists and turn, I wasn't entirely surprised by them. The identity of The Magister, for example, didn't entirely surprise me. Whilst I was a little surprised when it was finally revealed who it was, I knew it couldn't have been de Quincy, because that came out way too early in the story to be true. It also didn't entirely surprise me when Nate flipped on Tessa, because betrayal happens all the time in books. And when I compare the big reveal of The Magister to the big revelation at the end of City of Bones, well, it just doesn't compare.  
  • I didn't like it when Will acted like a complete and utter ass. The way he treated Tessa was downright disturbing. One minute he's showing her affection, the next he's lashing out at her. And he was unbelievably cruel to her at the end, which we all know he did for some sort of reason, but nothing warranted treating her like that. There were so many times that I just wanted to tell Will to STFU or GTFO.  
Overall, I quite enjoyed this read, and I will be continuing on with the series in the foreseeable future. If you had the same problem I had with City of Bones not living up to the hype, I highly suggest giving this series a go. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (40)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

Never fade by Alexandra Bracken

Summary from Goodreads:

"Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. 

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. 
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?"

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I'm currently reading The Darkest Minds and absolutely loving it. It's only natural that I'm going to want the sequel!

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: Diva (The Flappers #3) by Jillian Larkin

Diva (The Flappers #3) by Jillian Larkin
Release Date: 10th July 2012
Publisher: The Inkhouse
Format: Paperback
Pages: 306
Rating: 3.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 RC and 2014 SSC

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Parties, bad boys, speakeasies—life in Manhattan has become a woozy blur for Clara Knowles. If Marcus Eastman truly loved her, how could he have fallen for another girl so quickly? Their romance mustn't have been as magical as Clara thought. And if she has to be unhappy, she's going to drag everyone else down to the depths of despair right along with her.

Being a Barnard girl is the stuff of Lorraine Dyer's dreams. Finding out that Marcus is marrying a gold digger who may or may not be named Anastasia? A nightmare. The old Lorraine would have sat by and let the chips fall where they may, but she's grown up a lot these past few months. She can't bear to see Marcus lose a chance for true love. But will anyone listen to her?
Now that the charges against her have been dropped, Gloria Carmody is spending the last dizzying days of summer on Long Island, yachting on the sound and palling around with socialites at Forrest Hamilton's swanky villa. Beneath her smile, though, Gloria's keeping a secret. One that could have deadly consequences . . ."

Being the shortest book in this trilogy, I feel like I can sum this up with just a couple of words - it was just alright. There was nothing spectacular about this ending, nothing unexpected. All the character's ended up where you'd expect them to, in what is essentially just 300 pages of tying up lose ends. Character's are redeemed, couples end up together, everything ends exactly as you would have predicted it. Which makes for a fairly boring read, to be honest.

I did enjoy this story, but it was just following the motions. After falling completely in love with Vixen, and finding Ingenue a bit forgettable, it's a shame that this series came to a close with something so blasé. Let's take the Marcus and Clara storyline for example. After breaking up in Ingenue, Marcus is on the rebound and is engaged to some girl named Anastasia. As it turns out, Anastasia isn't all she claims to be. Which could have lead to an interesting storyline...if we heard a bit more from Anastasia. Besides one confrontation between her and Clara and Lorraine, you don't hear anything from her. Maybe exploring that storyline could have done more than just be the catalyst for Clara and Marcus getting back together, and Lorraine getting her redemption. There is another storyline in there, involving new character's, that could be interesting to some, but I didn't care enough about these character's lives to care much about their ending. So overall, blasé. 

In the end, I think this book was just lacking what I loved in it's predecessors. The romances and relationships I loved weren't there, with Jerome (Gloria's other half) hardly present at all, and interaction between Marcus and Clara only occurring twice in the book. Even though I knew it was bound to happen, I still enjoyed reading Lorraine's road to redemption. And I just simply adored Melvin. But, that's not enough to pull this book from mediocrity.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (39)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Summary from Goodreads:

"Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?"

Why I'm Wishing for It:
Doesn't this just sound crazy?!? High school girls performing exorcisms, its not something you come across every day. I'm a bit wary of this, since the last time I read a horror YA novel I was less than impressed. But, I'm willing to give this one a go if I can get my hands on it later this year. 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: 14th February 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: eBook
Pages: 295
Rating: 5.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 SSC and 2014 EBC

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew - about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam - was wrong."

** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**

Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel about this book. Whilst it may have had some issues, this was the most fitting end to a series that snuck up on me to become one of my fave series.

- Pros -
  • Juliette, and her amazing character growth. In Shatter Me, we met the very fragile Juliette, a girl who was afraid of her own shadow. Shatter Me, told from Juliette's perspective, was filled with crossed out words that she was afraid to speak or even allow herself to think. In Ignite Me, Juliette is completely different. She is no longer that afraid girl; she is sure of herself, and her wants and desires. There are no more crossed out words - she is completely sure of her thoughts and actions. It's a real treat to watch a character grow so much.
  • Warner. Never have I ever done such a 180 on my feelings for a character. Warner was depicted as this despicable, psychotic person when we first met him. But now, almost everything he did has a valid and (sometimes) honourable reasoning behind it. Possibly the biggest revelation (for me at least) was learning that Warner never intended to us Juliette as a weapon. He found her whilst trying to find help for his mother, who's own touch was killing her. Warner still admits that he's done some terrible things, but he doesn't want to be like that any more. Ignite Me shows us that he was a product of his upbringing and circumstance - he was living his life the only way he knew how. But now, with Juliette, he's reaching for something more. 
  • Warner and Juliette together. I was so sure that Juliette would end up with Adam, not because I wanted her to, but because in most books with a love triangle, the chooser ends up with whoever they fell for first, or the good guy. Surprisingly, that didn't happen here. Juliette even realised that she probably wasn't really in love with Adam, which pleases me to no end because I always thought their relationship was only due to circumstance. Warner and Juliette fit so much better together, which becomes abundantly clear in Ignite Me. Where Adam wants the meek, fragile girl Juliette used to be, Warner wants the passionate, powerful girl that Juliette's become. They just work so well together, and I am so glad that they've ended up together. 
  • Speaking of Juliette, I loved all that romance. We spent the majority of our time focusing on the relationship between Juliette and Warner; Her realisation that he's not the despicable person she believed, and her final acceptance of her feelings and there getting together. And boy, do they get together. It's great to read. 
  • Kenji. The hilarious best friend. Any time I laughed out loud whilst reading this was because of him. He's the much needed comic relief.
- Cons -
  • There's virtually no dystopia. I was expecting an ending with a full blown war, a fight to the death, with Juliette eventually claiming her rightful place. And we did get that, but it was so short. It started, and then it finished quickly after. It seemed a bit too easy for Juliette and her band of superheroes to seize control of Sector 45. And with this being the finale to a dystopian series, you'd think there'd be a bit less focus on the romance and a little more time dedicated to the war. 
  • What the hell happened to Adam. Adam was Juliette's knight in shining armour in Shatter Me. Now he's become an entitled, self-absorbed, bitter person. When presented with the new and improved Juliette, he flips out because she's no longer the quiet, scared girl he preferrs. Instead of giving Juliette a chance to explain, he just gets angry with her. He's so bitter that he even made Juliette touch Kenji, knowing full well that her touch could kill him. Adam's another character who's done a 180, and I'd be surprised if anyone out there still likes him, or wants him with Juliette. 
  • I think we needed an epilogue. We ended after the swift and easy takeover of Sector 45, with Juliette's aim to eventually take over the world (or at least America). I think an epilogue, just a little into the future, were they've taken some other Sector's and are building there army would have ended the story nicely. And, of course, knowing that the gang are still all together and that Juliette and Warner are doing well would have satisfied a lot of readers. 
So whilst I had major issues with the lack of dystopia, I just loved the romance so much that it didn't end up bothering me all that much. There was still enough tension to get me flipping furiously through those pages. And even though the ending was a bit short for my liking, it still had my heart racing. This series overall was a treat to read, and I really think everyone ought to give it a try. 

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