Monthly Archives: February 2014

ARC Review: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

White Hot Kiss

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: The Dark Elements #1

Source: Won an ARC from Two Chicks on Books. Thank you!

Book Summary:

One kiss could be the last 

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever. 

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

book thoughts

So yes, the cover and title are pretty bad. I actually had zero interest in this one when I first heard about it, because from the title and cover I assumed it was New Adult Contemporary Romance, which is definitely not my thing. But then I won an ARC from the awesome and generous Two Chicks on Books. It was in a mystery box, so I picked it up and read the description. With that cover, I was still worried it might be mostly sleaze romance, and not so much paranormal, but since it was written by the highly regarded Jennifer L. Armentrout, I tried the first page.

And was of course hooked. The main character’s voice reminded me a bit of Rose from Vampire Academy (another series whose covers and titles don’t remotely live up to the story). Now don’t get me wrong, I love romance. I find it much easier to become invested in a story that has it. I can’t get invested in is a story that is basically all sexual tension and zero emotion. Likewise I’ve never been very interested in Contemporary Romance, because the emotional stakes always seem so much higher when I get to watch the two lovers overcome the supernatural crazy. And this book definitely had supernatural crazy to overcome. Because of her half-demon blood, Layla can’t kiss anyone with a soul, for fear that she would suck it right out. She grapples constantly with a gnawing hunger she can only keep at bay with heavy sugar intake. She’s been taught to hate her demon blood, and to know that because of it she can never be more than half-warden (gargoyle) Most painfully, she can’t marry and give birth to more wardens, because of her tainted blood.

When she meets Roth, a “soulless” demon who she can (and wants to) kiss, she’s tempted. But she’s grown up believing all demons are evil, even the demon part of herself. But what she thinks is just a physical attraction to the kind of relationship she never thought she could have, eventually grows deeper and more complex as the two are forced to work together and trust each other. There was a bit of a love triangle, involving Layla’s best friend/adoptive warden brother Zayne, but it was a sensible one, and I can guess where it’s going (or at least where it better be going).

I worried that the Christian mythology would be too black and white, but the issues of good and evil, innocence and darkness, family and belonging were quite complex and well-explored. Having a soul, even a “pure” one, did not necessarily make you better than a “soulless” demon, much to Layla’s surprise.

There was just enough high school interaction to ground the story, but thankfully it was free of the typical silly drama that sometimes serves as filler. Layla’s two human friends were entertaining and it actually felt like they added to the story, and even progressed the plot at times. And the plot certainly kept me guessing, just the way I like. Some mysteries were left unresolved, but since this is the first in a series (yay!), I’m not worried. 🙂

5paperhearts


Grabby Paws: Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

Today I have grabby paws for…

Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changes when her sister is murdered—and she uses a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

Zephyr is on the run from a punishment worse than death when an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend (a surprisingly HOT friend) changes everything. Because it seems like Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess made flesh that is prophesied to change the power balance. For hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.

But how is she supposed to save everyone when she can’t even save herself?

Why I have grabby paws…

Yay Greek mythology! Harpies are so cool and such an untapped and intriguing source material. I kind of wish it were a series rather than a stand-alone, but it looks great either way.  Also, Zephyr Mourning is an amazing name.

Releases March 11th


Grabby Paws: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

Today I have grabby paws for…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Why I have grabby paws…

Well first of all her name is Kestrel. Which is awesome. Then there’s the forbidden love aspect, which I’m always a sucker for. It also seems like the cultures are a mirror of the ancient Greek and Romans, which is fascinating. And of course, it’s YA High Fantasy!

Releases March 4th


Pretties & Kitties: 2013 Edition

Kitties & Pretties

Kitties & Pretties is my version of the various weekend book haul show-off memes such as Stacking The Shelves, The Sunday ShowcaseIn My Mailbox, Owl Post, etc. It goes like this: I set up and arrange the various books I’ve received lately, wait for one of my curious kitties to come investigate, then start snapping pictures. Or I let my husband pick up Winky, my blog mascot, put her in a bag (she likes being carried around in a bag – she’s weird and awesome like that) and place her on the table next to said book haul. Which is what happened above. 🙂

(Kitties & Pretties is free for anyone to use, with a link back to my blog)

So. Guys. I won A TON of books in 2013, courtesy of my new found obsession: stalking following book blogs. I know that normal people post their book haul weekly, but since I didn’t get into blogging myself until close to the end of 2013, and seeing as I still want to show off thank all the awesome bloggers who gifted me these books, I hereby present my 2013 Kitties & Pretties Overview!

We’ll start with the books I got for myself, during the first half of the year. Bought with a combination of Christmas gift cards and the weekly online bargains at BooksAMillion. Wink is taking her duty as Official Book Presenter very seriously.

Wink books intent stare

Books obtained include:

The Selection and The Elite by Keira Cass

The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

The Matched trilogy by Ally Condie

The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Blood Magic by Tessa Graton

Immortal by Gillian Shields

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Sweep: Volume 1 by Cate Tiernan

The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer by Lucy Weston

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

Next I’ll showcase the books I won during the first part of the year from awesome generous bloggers, authors and publishers. Wink is generously voting for The Adoration of Jenna Fox with her total adorableness.

wink tail books

Books won include:

The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

The Testing and Indepedent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Every Other Day and Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Cinder & Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

The Program by Suzanne Young

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Mermother: An Account of What Happened In The Sea by Elizabeth Jane Wolfe

Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem by Melissa Lemon

Marking Time by April White

Winky’s tail and I also felt the need to point out how freaking awesome it is that I won a personalized copy of Incarnate by Jodi Meadows!

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Yes, my first name is Julia. Rain Jeys is my pen name, though it’s also my middle/maiden name. 🙂

During the first half of the year, I also won Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley and Reaper by L.S. Murphy. I have to just use the Goodreads image, since I’ve lent both books out. 🙂

Next we have the awesomeness that awaited me when I arrived at my new house (well, kind of new – I lived here with my Grama as a kid) in California. After a certain date, I just had any books I won sent to my new address and my mom collected them into a book pile for me. Here they all are, lined up beautifully on the shelf of my new housewarming-gifted bookshelf!

Shelf

Books awaiting me included:

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard

Of Beast & Beauty by Stacey Jay

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakely-Cartwright (and the movie!)

Also awaiting me in California was this unexpected present

Mystery Book

I have no idea who gave it to me, but thank you!

Shortly after arriving in California, my amazing husband purchased these beauties for me

House of Hades

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This next pile is displayed by my adorable assistant, Captain Jack (yes, Harkness), who seems to wish me to read The Burning Sky next.

Jack loves The Burning Sky

I kind of forgot to divide these into piles (I was distracted by Jack’s immense cuteness!), but anyway:

The Sea Inside by Vickie Johnstone (won from the author’s blog)

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (purchased)

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (purchased)

Marked, Betrayed, Chosen &Untamed by P.C. & Kristen Cast (gift from  my husband)

And here is Vinnie, from atop his favorite perch, on top of the bookcase, and never too far from his penguin robe, to present the first book I’ve ever won from a Goodreads giveaway!

The Vinnie Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

I was lucky enough to have won the grand prize for the Indelible giveaway, which was this beautiful real copper rose (as in a rose – coated in copper) and a feather quill, ink and inkwells. Gorgeous.

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Vinnie says we need a close-up of the copper rose

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I didn’t win the actual book though! Even though I really want to read it!

It would take half my life to thank each individual blogger for each individual book here (especially since I’m still typing one-handed), so instead I shall list each blog and author here. Thank you so much!

Erica Hayes

My Friends Are Fiction

Literary Meanderings

Christy’s Love of Books

DJ Librarian Dishes

Jean Book Nerd

Short & Sweet Reviews

Lili Lost in a Book

Bookaroo-Ju Blog

The Quiet Concert

The Secret Writer

Ex Libris Kate

Kate Tilton

Readers Confession

Forever 17 Books

YA Romantics

Vade Mecumbt

Ensconced in YA

Kismet Book Touring

 I Love to Read and Review Books 

The Attic -YA Book Reviews

The Book Belles

Tressa’s Wishful Endings

BookHounds YA

Fiktshun

Vickie Johnstone

2013 was definitely the year of books, but I want 2014 to be even better! So I’m off now to read some more. Tell me your thoughts in the comments. Have you read any of these? Do you want to? Any you especially recommend? Some I’ve read already and some I haven’t. Either way, I love your input. Thanks for reading!

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Throwback Thursday Review: Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)

Throwback Thursday is a meme hosted by I Heart YA Fiction, featuring older releases and/or books that have been on the shelf for a while.

Frostbite

by Richelle Mead

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Series: Vampire Academy #2

Source: Purchased

Book Summary:

It’s winter break at St Vladimir’s, and a massive Strigoi vampire attack has put the school on high alert. This year’s trip away from the academy to the wintery peaks of Idaho has suddenly become mandatory.

But Rose’s troubles seem to follow her wherever she goes—dealing with the pain of knowing that her relationship with her tutor Dimitri can never be, things get even more complicated when one her closest friends admits his feelings for her.

The glittering winter landscape may create the illusion of safety but Rose—and her heart—are in more danger than she ever could have imagined…

book thoughts

“Frostbite” as the name for a vampire book is rather eye-roll inducing, I know, but it actually kind of fits with the book, which is probably the most fun of the whole series (at least until the end, when the intensity ratchets up catastrophically). A brutal Strigoi attack forces the students of St. Vladamir’s Academy to retreat to the safety of an Idaho ski lodge, which is also serving as a safe house for basically the entire Moroi government. I loved this aspect of the book, as it opened up the world of VA so much more We got to see great tension between the Moroi who want to learn to use their magic to fight, and the more traditional Moroi who lean toward infringing on the rights of the dhampirs to defend them. Lissa really comes into her own in this situation, offering diplomatic solutions to these hairy issues.

We’re also gifted with a glimpse of Rose’s mother, a formidable guardian with a daunting reputation. We meet Tasha Ozera, Christian’s aunt, a forceful advocate for Moroi self-defense and an old friend (who would like to be more) of Dimitri’s. And of course, Frostbite introduces my favorite character, the charming, infuriating Adrian Ivashkov. I actually wasn’t smitten with him at first – I was worried he signaled a love triangle. However, I correctly guessed how the “love triangle” was going to play out, so I was able to stop worrying and just enjoy Adrian’s immensely entertaining presence.

“I think you smoke them so you have something to do while thinking up your next witty line.”
He choked on the smoke, caught between inhaling and laughing. “Rose Hathaway, I can’t wait to see you again. If you’re this charming while tired and annoyed and this gorgeous while bruised and in ski clothes, you must be devastating at your peak.”
“If by ‘devastating’ you mean that you should fear for your life, then yeah. You’re right.”

The book’s description made me wary that it would contain non-stop ridiculous relationship angst, but it was actually handled in a reasonable, more funny than annoying, way. It was more like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with everyone simultaneously attempting to piss off and earn the favor of their beloved. Since Rose has to hide her feelings for Dimitri, especially after his insistence that they can’t be together, most people expect Rose to fall for her friend and fellow guardian Mason, who is crazy about her and not uncharming.

“[Dimitri] Belikov is a sick, evil man who should be thrown into a pit of rabid vipers for the great offense he committed against you this morning.”
“Thank you.” I said primly. Then, I considered. “Can vipers be rabid?”
“I don’t see why not. Everything can be. I think. Canadian geese might be worse than vipers, though.”
“Canadian geese are deadlier than vipers?”
“You ever try to feed those little bastards? They’re vicious. You get thrown to vipers, you die quickly. But the geese? That’ll go on for days. More suffering.”
“Wow. I don’t know whether I should be impressed or frightened that you’ve thought about all of this.”

Personal issues take a back seat, however, when some of Rose’s friends decide to go Strigoi-hunting on their own, and Rose must team up with Christian to track them down. Seeing those two work together is always amusing, since their similar (sarcastic, rebellious) personalities tend to clash. We finally get to see the Strigoi in all their terrifying glory, and the suspense of the last several chapters will have you turning pages at a breathless pace. An excellent read.

Oh! I forgot to put this in my review of the first Vampire Academy book, but basically the entire album “Tear The World Down” by “We Are The Fallen” mirrors the VA series perfectly. ESPECIALLY this song:

So if you love this series as much as I do, give it a listen! 🙂

5paperhearts


Grabby Paws: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

This week I have grabby paws for…

One kiss could be the last. 

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever. 

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

Why I have grabby paws…

Well, okay this one is a bit of a cheat, since I already have an ARC of the book. I won it from the awesome Jamie at Two Chicks on Books. I have grabby paws for the release date though, so I can review it! 🙂 When I first heard about the book I wasn’t interested. The name and cover make it seem like New Adult Contemporary, which isn’t my thing, but when it arrived I was intrigued by the blurb, so I read the first page, and the voice kind of reminded me of Vampire Academy, another book that suffers from an unfortunate name and cover. So I’m reading it now and will review it around the release date.

Releases on February 25th


Review: The Sea Inside by Vickie Johnstone

The Sea Inside

by Vickie Johnstone

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Cerulean Songs #1

Source: Won from author giveaway. Thank you!

Book Summary:

Book 1 in the Cerulean Songs series. Time is all we have; it flows – it cannot stop. Jayne wakes up in the hospital following a terrible accident to find herself paralysed below the waist. While struggling to recover, she is offered a gift that opens a portal to another world. To the girl’s astonishment, she finds herself on a journey, on both the physical and mental plane. It brings her to the mystical realm of Entyre, where life is very different and power lies with the creatures of the deep. Her adventures bring her face to face with a terrifying witch, a cheeky insect and the most beautiful of mystical creatures – a unicorn. While the threads of time keep flowing, Jayne must decide what is real, who to trust, and regain her inner strength in order to find herself and her true destiny.

Nickie Storey, author of the ‘Grimsley Hollow’ series: “A delicious brew of invention, enchantment and refreshing characters, Vickie Johnstone has a firm grasp on the fantasy genre. I can’t wait to read more of her work!”

Greta Burroughs, author of the ‘Wee People’ series: “Strange worlds, interesting characters, suspense and a surprise ending – what more can you ask for? This book has it all and more.”

Jennifer Thomas: “A gripping and fascinating mythical adventure that is beautifully described. There is suspense, fear and emotion throughout the entire novel that makes you want to keep turning the page.”

A big thank you to Maja Drazic for the beautiful cover photograph.

book thoughts

I was excited to read this book. The cover is gorgeous (I’d seen the image on deviantART before I even knew the book existed), I love fantasy and I know what it’s like to be paralyzed. So when I won a copy I read it as soon as it arrived.

The author completely nailed what it’s like to be in the hospital following a catastrophic injury. Jayne felt lost, alone, detached, confused. It was like I was reliving my own experience it was so accurate. Jayne is given  a chance to escape her tragic situation, to walk again and be whole, by a strange woman who gives her a crystal. The crystal transports Jayne to the underwater city of Entyre.

Jayne concentrated on getting better. The dark mood that she had found herself in grew steadily lighter and she pushed her memories of the blue city to the back of her mind, dismissing them as dreams, which would gradually fade with time.

That was her hope, for while she slept her mind wove images of the sea, accompanied by the echo of the whales and a tall man whose hair was the colour of the darkest waves.

He was always there, not far away it seemed, thus was the lucidity of her sleeping life.

The author employs a unique, highly effective narration strategy when switching between Jayne’s time in Entyre and in our own world. When in Entye, the story is told in first person, and when in our own world, it is told in third. To me, this reflects Jayne’s feelings that perhaps the injury has happened to someone else, and she is just a spectator. It also gives her added agency when her body and health are restored in Entyre. It reminded me of the switch between color and black-and-white in The Wizard of Oz.

Jayne falls in love and finds a new home in Entyre, and though the city is fascinating and described beautifully, I really needed more. When Jayne first arrives in Entyre, she is nearly killed by mysterious invisible creatures who live in the sand. We learn that there was a devastating war involving these creatures – but that’s it. We also don’t learn enough about how the crystal works or why, or what the connection between Entyre and our world is. I wanted more of the mythology of Entrye, more of how people lived there (though at least we did see some of that). I also would have appreciated more of a build-up of the romance. It wasn’t insta-love, but it was rather too subtle. I wanted to know what they liked about each other, what they did together. We never really get to see them together as a couple. They kiss once, then two weeks pass, then Jayne is yanked back into our world.

I did enjoy the kind of inverse of the traditional hero’s journey that occurs in the second half of the book. Instead of (let’s use The Wizard of Oz as an example again), the heroine spending all her time trying to get home to the regular world, Jayne discovers that Entyre is her true home, and must fight heroically to return to it.

How could I have doubted myself even once? It was never a dream.

This second half unfolds in decidedly Narnian fashion – things don’t necessarily make sense, but they keep you on your toes. I’m the type of reader who wants to know the reasons behind a flying unicorn, how it got there, why, etc., but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the flying unicorn at all. (Yes, there is actually a flying unicorn – also, at one point our heroine is carted off by actual plot bunnies). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t my preferred method of plot development. It was unique and interesting, but events felt like they came out of nowhere and I really wanted more structure.

The writing itself suffered from a few issues. First, I felt it was rather too formal for a modern British teen. It didn’t sound natural and made Jayne harder to connect with at times. There were also minor descriptive issues, such as Jayne repeatedly describing her own red hair flying in the wind, and the way she almost always had to “glance around” before she could describe something. It made Jayne’s narrative awkward at times.

I’ll give an example. First, I’m reading this scene, which leaves me breathless with its poignancy:

“You know they speak to one another.”

“The trees? No!”

“They do. If you listen, you can hear the rustling of the leaves. They open like hands, don’t you think? I imagine them as hands, but they speak. I am sure of it.”

But then I keep reading and on the next page it says:

“So, here I was in a forest of blue and it seemed normal and I was on an adventure.”

and then I’m frustrated because I wish she would describe something, anything else instead of repeatedly describing things that are obvious.

I did enjoy the ending. I liked the fact that a fall (Jayne’s accident) began the story, and she had to fall again to reach Entyre once more. The allusions to The Little Mermaid were brilliant. Once of my favorite aspects of the Hans Christian Anderson version is the pain the mermaid experienced in her feet when she tried to walk. This theme, and the parallels between mermaids and paralysis in general were beautifully done. The theme of time was also thoughtful and interesting. All in all, I enjoyed this book, and I just hope that the next installment goes deeper into the mythology of Entrye and explains things more clearly.

3 paper hearts


Flashback Friday Review: Vampire Academy

Flashback Friday is a meme hosted by Fic Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast, featuring reviews of books that have been out longer than two years but are no less awesome and deserving!

Vampire Academy

by Richelle Mead

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Series: Vampire Academy #1

Source: Gifted from a friend who I will be forever grateful to!

Book Summary:

Lissa Dragomir is a mortal vampire.

She must be protected at all times from the fiercest and most dangerous vampires of all – the ones who will never die.

Rose Hathaway is Lissa’s best friend – and her bodyguard.

Now after two years of illicit freedom, they’ve been dragged back inside the iron gates of St. Vladimir’s Academy. The girls must survive in a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night-time rituals.

But above all, they must never let their guard down, lest the immortal vampires take Lissa – forever…

book thoughts

Yes, I know that “Vampire Academy” is a crappy, ridiculous title that makes you roll your eyes and want to move on immediately and I know that they’re advertising the movie as “Mean Girls…but with VAMPIRES!” but forget all that. This is a legitimately great series.

First of all, the vampires, called the Moroi, are basically mages. Physically weak magic-users, who need blood to supplement their diet and become sickened in sunlight. Making vampires physically vulnerable is a fresh, creative move.

The other type of vampires in the series, the Strigoi, definitely don’t sparkle. They’re strong, soulless and insatiable. Actually scary and threatening.

Then enter the really brilliant aspect of the series. The Moroi basically use their bastard, half-human children as bodyguards against the Strigoi. Moroi no longer intermarry with humans, but have plenty of liaisons with the hardy half-human dhampirs, their bodyguards and mistresses.

This leads to some really intriguing questions and plenty of societal tension. The world-building is superb, especially considering that the Moroi society exists as a subset of our own modern world. The juxtaposition is fascinating.

So in this world, we follow the adventures of Rose Hathaway, feisty and strong-willed heroine, whose only goal in life is to be assigned s a guardian to her best friend, the Moroi princess Lissa Dragomir.

Rose is the perfect guide through this world. She is honest and witty but full of genuine heart. The relationship between Rose and Lissa is wonderful. Young Adult as a genre is usually so focused on romance that developing strong friendships often takes a backseat, but that is definitely not the case here. Lissa is the last of her family line, and has magical abilities that manifest as a rare, unpredictable element that causes her mental instability. Rose’s fierce devotion to Lissa drives the plot and invests the reader emotionally.

“Lissa and I had been friends ever since kindergarten, when our teacher had paired us up together for writing lessons. Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d—or rather, I’d—responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at out teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target.

Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since.”

The author has developed an interesting method of dual-narration. Part of Lissa’s strange magical abilities include a mysterious link between the two girls. Rose can feel Lissa’s emotions, and sometimes even slip into her head. We get to see Lissa’s struggles and experiences firsthand, and she grapples with the legacy of her family line and her strange powers.

There is still romance, but it is believable and well-balanced. Rose becomes enamored of her older mentor. They complement each other beautifully, but there are real problems standing in their way. Dimitri is also a dhampir, a guardian, and a guardian must always put their Moroi charge first. With Rose and Dimitri both poised to both poised to become Lissa’s guardians,

“If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.”

Lissa, for her part, develops a connection with another orphaned royal, the outcast Christian Ozera, whose parents voluntarily became Strigoi. His character is entertaining and intriguing.

Rose’s narration is really what I love most about the series. It’s engaging, genuine and highly entertaining.

“And than suddenly he was there, charging down the hallway like death in a cowboy duster.”

Give this one a try. I was lucky enough to be given a copy. Otherwise it probably would have been just another book on my miles-long “might-read-this-one-day” list. Don’t judge a book by its name.

Oh! I forgot to put this in my review earlier, but basically the entire album “Tear The World Down” by “We Are The Fallen” mirrors the VA series perfectly. ESPECIALLY this song:

So if you love this series as much as I do, give it a listen! 🙂

5paperhearts


Grabby Paws: Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

This week I have grabby paws for…

Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure, and the chance to avenge his father’s death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price…

Why I have grabby paws…

It’s multiple Shakespeare retellings – what’s not to love? Hamelt and Romeo interacting? Norse mythology and a descent into the Underworld in the name of true love? Must read.

Releases on February 4th