Should be the Idiot Court: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

Source:GoodReads

Anytime I see a comparison to The Selection in a blurb I usually run away, unless it’s written by Richelle Mead and then I torture myself and try to rid the feeling of having all my dreams crushed by starting my binge watch of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

So yeah, this book didn’t turn out to be good.  It’s books like this that really get me fuming as a feminist.

And really make me wonder what publishers thing about their readers.

And this is by Richelle Mead who has created some fantastic lead female characters-I like both Rose and Sydney.  I forgot the main character’s name from Soundless which I’m pretty sure is going to happen to Adelaide after I detox from this book.

I am really sad about Richelle Mead, I loved her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series and I’ve read Succubus Blues and enjoyed it too, but I did not enjoy this much like I didn’t enjoy Soundless.  It lacked the trademark Mead voice and instead was something dull and about four years too late in the genre and just bad.

Really bad.

I even think if this book was written four years ago it would’ve been terrible.

I think a lot of the problems are a result of the fact that Mead isn’t embracing her strengths and is more or less trying to recreate other really bad YA novels (cough, The Selection, cough).  It was almost as if she had writer’s block and the the publishing company just gave her a loose outline of a book so that she could finish out her contract with or whatever.

Note, I doubt this is what actually happened, but this book lacked heart.  It read like mindless other books trying to pimp itself to a female audience who likes pretty dresses and romance, and forgot substance.

Which is a shame.

I am a fan of a dress porn as much as anyone can, but I think anyone can see that dress porn and a cute romance* isn’t going to make a book for me.  It needs good character development and a plot would be nice too.

The Glittering Court has neither.

First, the set up is a little fucked up.  A girl runs away from an arranged marriage with a distant relative who while banal doesn’t seem horrible (as far as arranged marriages are concerned) for an arranged marriage to a complete stranger done by an organization that is basically a glorified brothel but without the sex because this isn’t adult fiction but young adult-but still sex is going to come in play after marriage, so it is a brothel sort of.

I mean, how fucking stupid is that?  I could understand Adelaide using The Glittering Court as an excuse to get to the new land and then bailing on it, but she is totally down on the idea.

I’d like to say that the rest of the book is not near as stupid, but that wouldn’t make me an honest review.

It’s even dumber.

Need a drink?

I do.

I’m glad it’s Friday, let me tell you.

Well, it was Friday when I first started drafting it.  By the time I finished and edited this review it was Sunday and I’m coming off of a stiff hangover because of this book.

I still can’t get over the fact that this book was by Richelle Mead.

It’s not just because the book is just so different in subject matter, but because the writing itself was just so bland.  Even though I had problems with the later Vampire Diaries and to  a lesser degree the last Bloodlines book (which was cheesy as hell, but entertaining like a bad Lifetime movie, there was still something interesting about them.  They were interesting.  There was action.   For the dignity of Mead I won’t mention how boring Soundless was (okay, I sort of did).  And sadly, The Glittering Court though was just boring and filled with dress porn-Soundless lacked dress porn.

Le sigh.

Throughout the reading process, I tried to think  objectively.  Look at the book as though it was written by someone else and see if I thought it was better.  After all, there are lots of books out there in the YA fantasy sphere that shared a similar premises-the aforementioned abomination, The SelectionThe Jewel and countless others..

A premises like this is fatally flawed.

I really hate how one dimensional this book and other’s seem to think their intended audience is.  I know I discussed the dress porn phenomena in my review of The Jewel but it still annoys me that publishers think this sort of thing can pass it’s audience.

Pretty dresses are nice and all, but teenage girls and women in general are not so entrapped by them that we can look past some pretty insulting things which was The Glittering Court.

Seriously, how the fuck is one ot make sense of this plot?  Escape an arrange  marriage by basically selling yourself into another worse situation.

It’s just asking your audience to be stupid.

Which is pretty insulting, Richelle Mead.

I’m hoping your publishers forced you to write this shit.

At this point, I don’t know if I’m going to read another Mead book unless the premises truly intrigues me.  This has happened to me before with an I used to read all the time, and unfortunately, it looks like it has happened again.

Overall Rating: A DNF a little bit over the 200 page mark.  More on the side of F than a subjective it wasn’t for me book.

*Note, I wasn’t a fan of the romance which I really didn’t talk a lot about in this review because I was entrapped with the publisher’s stupidity that I overlook a fatal plot fail because of pretty dresses.

In Which Sagwa The Siamese Cat Does It Better On the World Building: Soundless by Richelle Mead

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

Source: GoodReads

This was a DNF because it was so excruciatingly boring.

I made it about half way through the book and I just had to give up because nothing intrigued me even though it was by freaking Richelle Mead and featured an Eastern inspired world.

No world building was given.  And Mead’s usual kick ass and take no prisoner style was missing.

Instead, we have a very dull protagonist who is in love with a guy who looks like a non-animated Shang from Mulan  in my head and they go on an adventure that is even more boring than those fabricated rope course adventures your school would throw you on to do team building  or whatever nonsense excuse they come up with (FYI ropes course suck, all those bugs).

I didn’t really care to find out the result.  I imagine it somehow involved them finding some sort of curse for their problems, but after being bored for over a hundred pages I didn’t care to find out.

It’s sort of a shame, since I do applaud Mead for trying something different.  And if I wouldn’t have known Mead’s past library, I might have enjoyed this one more.  At best it reads like an average high fantasy that takes elements of Eastern cultures but never specifies what culture they’re using or develop them into being something surely fantastic.

So it results to being something akin to Sagwa the Chinese Animated Cat.  Except you know, Sagwa, actually was more pronounced with its use of Chinese culture and mythology.

It was, after all, a PBS show.

But seriously, other than the use of Chinese inspired names and having a setting that is comparable to rural China there is nothing defiantly  Chinese about this book.  It could take place really anywhere.

That is sad.  This is Richelle Mead, so I know she can do some kick ass world building and I want a good Asian inspired high fantasy.  That part of the world has a lot of mythology and culture that really has been untapped in YA land or poorly tapped.

In the end I’m going to forget about Soundless pretty quickly.  It wasn’t memorable at all.

Overall Rating: A DNF.  DNF’d because it was boring not highly offensive.  The construction was decent which gives the book  two stars on GoodReads rather than one.

So Long, Farewell: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here…

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.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times 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, 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. 

Source: GoodReads

I’ll just say it Bloodlines is a far superior series than its predecessor.

Especially in it’s finale. While I did have some problems with The Ruby Circle, in comparison to the The Last Sacrifice it was perfect.

Okay, overall it was a pretty fantastic book.  There were a few blips here and there, but the book was so much fun I really didn’t focus on them much.

Coming into this book, I was really scared.  I mean, what could Sydrian do now that they were married?

Apparently, a lot.

In this installment, secrets are revealed and things sort of finally piece together in this book.  It’s a good ending.

A really good ending.

Sure, there are some things that just seem a little too put together, but overall it didn’t bug me that much (surprisingly).

When I went into this book, I was a little weary.  Because Sydrian had already reached the pinnacle of a happy ending-or so I thought.  Mead was able to add more layers to the couple that weren’t there in previous installments.  Just like she was able to add levels to the plot as well.

The Jill kidnapping wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it was going to be.  When I read the cliff hanger at the end of Silver Shadows I was kind of groaning.  However, it didn’t turn out to be this drawn out annoying this like the finale to Vampire Academy was.

What was probably The Ruby Circle’s biggest strength was that it was paced very well.  This is really huge for Mead since that was Vampire Academy’s biggest weakness.  I think I spent a total of like three hours reading this book.  It went by that fast. And there wasn’t one part that bored me.

As previously stated, what might’ve been this book’s biggest weakness was how some things were tied up in the end.  One of the plot twists was borderline a little too Breaking Dawn-ish.  However, it did not bother me as much as that book did.

Bloodlines is not a perfect series, it is a fun one though.  Unlike Vampire Academy, it takes awhile to get used to Sydney.  However, I think as the series progressed it surpassed Vampire Academy.  The finale was a nice wrap up to the Vampire Academy universe with leading a tiny window open should Mead ever decide to revisit.

Overall Rating: An A.  Objectively, it should probably be an A-, but it gave me enough feels where I’m going to ignore logic and reason.

The Covers Look Like They Were on a Binger Too: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Because of the heart wrenching for my (yes, I said my because in my fictional universe he’s all mine-even though he obviously only has eyes for Sydney in Richelle Mead’s world) Adrian I had to see him have happiness.  Which is why I gobbled down Bloodlines like a fiend.

Like with my binge review of the Vampire Academy series, I’ll be doing almost a mini review for each book and then discuss the series as a whole at the end of this post.

Where Sydney Does a Sad Drew Barrymore Impersonation

Blood doesn’t lie…


Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. 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 last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

Source: GoodReads

After reading Rose’s perspective the first thing about Sydney I could think of was drab and boring.  But as I continued reading this book I grew to appreciate her like her.  And you know what, she wasn’t that bad.  Sure, sometimes she had the Drew Barrymore I’m really a thirty-old pretending to be a high school kid going on where you if I was Jill I’d be like chill out Sydney.  But I grew to like her in the end.

Despite her skinny obsession.

Rolls eyes.

I actually really liked the set up for Bloodlines for a spinoff.  Unlike, some (a lot) of spinoffs there was the perfect balance between introducing new fans to the Vampire Academy world and give enough cookies (thank you for the Rose cameo, Mead) to sustain themselves.  Oh and the ending…

Even though I wasn’t a Professor Snape Dimitri fan, I still have to say I was squealing when he made his cameo.

And Adrian.  Oh my Adrian (and yes, the word my is going to be used a lot to associate with him) throughout this binge review.  I felt for you baby, so so much here.  But you were still able to have your one liners and be awesome.  And I loved how you weren’t your typical I’ll take charge macho YA egomaniac in a stressful situation.  It seemed realistic.  Though, you did try to help in your own Adrain type of way.

I think the worst thing about Bloodlines was it was clearly an introduction book.  Which is fine, I expected so much.  But after having all the buildup in the Vampire Academy starting again, well, it took a lot out of me.

Overall Rating: A solid B.  And Sydney, please eat a cheeseburger without cringing.

 

Where You Want to Tell Sydney that Cheeseburgers are Delicious

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.

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. Formerly 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 the 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 Brayden, 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?

Source: GoodReads

The Golden Lily  was better than Bloodlines, but the self body shaming that Sydney was doing throughout the book really bothered me.  I really appreciated the Adrian lecture at the end.

The relationship building between these two was excellent as well.  One thing I will give this series is that there is no insta love here and Mead takes her time building these two so it’s an actual believable relationship-unlike some couples (cough, Dose, cough).  That was probably The Golden Lily’s greatest strength.  All those Sydrian moments and they’re not even a couple yet.

What didn’t work for me, well, the side plot.  It just seemed sort of thrown together so that the book could have an action worthy last hundred pages.  It wasn’t bad and as the series progressed it made sense, but it wasn’t my favorite plot.

The side characters were better in this installment as well.  Jill seemed more like  a teenager than a ten year old, or maybe Sydney was less Drew Barrymore than the last book.  And I liked the addition of Angeline.  She provided some nice comic relief.  I also really enjoyed Eddie.  Wish his role was more expanded to be honest because he’s pretty awesome.

Speaking of badass half vampires, Dimitri rears his head in this installment and I actually like him a lot better here than I did when he was the star of the show.  He actually works as a side character.  And since Sydney wasn’t drooling over him, even better.

Overall Rating: B+ a strong second installment.  But there were some things that needed to be worked on-like Sydney eating a cheeseburger.

And This is HOw It’s Done

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.”
In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next.

Source: GoodReads

This probably was my favorite book in the series.  And probably solidified the fact that I prefer Sydney to Rose.  Mainly because she’s so brainy bad ass much like Hermione Granger.  But she has waaay better taste in guts (seriously, Ron Weasley-shudders).

Everything is done perfectly.  The world building.  The characters.  The relationship building.  The cameos.  The plot.

Love.

Love.

Love.

Character development  played a big role in this particular installment.  Sydney grew big time and so did Adrian and both of them had to grow for them to be together. And I think Sydney probably would eat a cheeseburger in this installment (yay).

The courtship was as sizzling as ever.  And I loved how even though it was a big part of the novel, it was wrapped around and didn’t overwhelm the entire plot.

Also, both of the characters strengths and weaknesses play a role in shaping the novel.

To be honest, when I saw the cover I was worried Mead was going to throw in an annoying love triangle.  But bless the book lords, no.  It was just terrible cover design (Man, this series really got screwed with the covers).

I was also worried that the overall action oriented plot or plots was going to be messed up here since there were two of them going at the same time, but oddly it worked here.

Really,  The Indigo Spell was one of those weird books where I was glushing the entire time and acting like a fangirl.

Overall Rating: A+

Can We Just AK Umbridge JR Already?

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.

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.

Source: GoodReads

You know what I really hate when a series narration is thrown off mid series.  Like in Lux when Dameon Black’s POV was thrown  randomly in  Origin.  It just usually seems gimmicky and doesn’t work. Even though I totally know where Jennifer L Armentrout was going using Daemon’s POV in Origin, but in The Fiery Heart (totally worked).

I think it actually helped the novel going into my Adrian’s head.

Especially with the direction Mead decided to go  with this installment.

I loved the fact that she actually had the guts to diagnose Adrian.  Knowing someone who has bipolar disorder the behavior that Adrian exhibited was pretty spot on.  And I love how Mead used how mental illness can effect a relationship.  The whole wellness vs spirit usage was a pretty good plot as well.  It reminded me of how many people will refuse to take medication because they say it impairs their creativity.  I just loved this plot line.

However, as much as I had to love about The Fiery Heart it wasn’t my favorite out of the lot.  Throughout the entire novel, there was just a sense of dread with this book.  It was so fluffy, so I knew to expect the worst.  The fluff was okay for the most part, but sometimes I was like.  Come on.  I miss your banter.  Though I totally get why you two want to be physical…but still I’m the one reading I need to enjoy the banter.

The other big problem I have is Zoe (hence forth known as Umbridge JR).  Sorry, I just did not like this character.  She’s not sympathetic.  And I don’t know why Sydney bothers.  Just by her some horrible cardigans and a blood quill, Sydney, if you want to get in her good graces.  Seriously, though this character is pretty unredeemable and has the maturity level of a toddler. I mean, how can you hate Eddie?  How?

Overall Rating: B+/A- still solid but it’s no Indigo Spell.

The Alchemists are Akin to Death Eaters, but Worse Because They’re So Boring like the Dursleys

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.

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.

Source: GoodReads

Ah, Silver Shadows currently the most recent book out in this series.  And it ends on such an evil cliffie.

You know it’s odd, in the Vampire Academy series I was always on Mead’s ass about being too long winded with her book.  But I felt like this installment was way too short.

And it was pretty long.  Not four hundred pages, but a healthy three hundred and some odd pages.  And a lot happened.  I just…I don’t know with having Vampire Academy tomes approaching six hundred pages towards the end of its run, I was hoping for a book that was a little thicker.

But man, a lot of story was packed in those pages.

Mead really knew who to twists my emotions.  Because God….I just felt so bad for Sydney and wanted the vampires to finally get fed up with the Alchemists and stick Rose and Dimitri on their butts.  And I kept waiting for Sydney to wake up and save herself, though all considering she was pretty awesome given the circumstances.

But Adrian.  Oh, baby.  I wanted to rip your head off for awhile.  But your regression makes sense.  I just wanted to slap you a lot.  Or have dream Sydney or real Sydney slap you some.

But when you did wake up….Man, you did kick some ass.  And then your plan.

Normally, I’d be annoyed with it, but this is one time where I’m actually giving this cliche my blessing (mainly because Sydney is me, well, if I was a fictional character and could throw fireballs).

Overall, this installment left my hanging but concerned.  While there are some loose ends, I think if it would’ve been a tad bit thicker everything probably could’ve been resolved here.

Overall Rating: A.  Not quite an A+ but this book really left me feeling. Flaws and all.

Series Overall:

Is it odd that I think overall I prefer Bloodlines to Vampire Academy?  While it’s true that when Rose and Vampire Academy were at its peak, I probably liked them better than Bloodlines.  Overall, Bloodlines is a better written series with a character that actually makes sense in her decision making-once she got over the no cheeseburger thing.

The smartest thing Mead probably did was featuring Adrian in this spinoff.  He so should’ve won Rose’s hand in Vampire Academy, but putting with that bore of a wannabe Snape might’ve been the best decision Mead made.  Adrian is able to develop in this series and he and Sydney are just as good if not better than he is with Rose.

All I can say is I want The Ruby Circle now.

If you want something fun, with possible deeper meaning give Bloodlines a try. I know I want more.

Overall Series Rating (books 1-5): A-

Binge Reading: The Rest of the Vampire Academy Series

I had read Vampire Academy and Frost Bite a long time ago (last year).  Because of library delays and holds, I sort of put this series on the back burner until I saw a few of my blogging cohorts binge reading it and was like.  Why not?

So I binge read it.  And ordered the Bloodlines series because after this binge I need more Adrian.

Not so much Rose though.

Who can just stuff it (okay, I do like you Rose but you really need to grow up some).

For this binge review I’m going to talk about the last four books briefly then do an overall series review.  It’s probably going to come up to be a very long review though-it’s four books-but I’m going to try to be as brief as possible.

 

Shadow Kiss: The Book Where Mead Has Guts

It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She’s having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all… might be seeing ghosts.

As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose’s forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line – and choose between the two people she loves most.

Source: GoodReads

This is the way to write a book.

It’s probably one of the strongest books in the series (I should probably review the first two books just to make sure, but it was awesome).  Oh, there were some issues.  Like I got annoyed with the pacing of a certain romance.

Seriously, you go from repressing your feelings to going horizontal?

Grant it, the ending of the book sort of made sense why they went that far.

That aside though.

Perfection.

While Vampire Academy is not exactly the greatest literature known to man kind, these books can keep you entertained.  Which was what Shadow Kiss did. I was on the edge of my seat.  And not bored once. Even the boring scenes were entertaining.

I think what I liked best about this particular installment was the character development.  Not so much for Rose, but for the minor characters in the series.

One thing I love about Vampire Academy is its large supporting cast.  With the exception of a certain love interest, most of these characters are well formed and I love how their relationships play off of each other.

For example, I love the growing Rose/Christian friendship and the Rose/Adrian relationship.  Of course, the Rose and Lissa friendship is still great to read about too.

The action towards the end of the novel is pretty pulse racing.  And that ending.  I know a lot of people are probably NOT going to like what happen. But I like how gutsy it was (if only the resolution was that gutsy).

So, other than horrible romantic pacing.  The third book in the series is a winner for me.

Overall Rating: A-/B+

Blood Promise: The Book Where I completely Hate Dose

Rose Hathaway’s life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose’s neck, a mark that says she’s killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters … Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life’s vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir’s and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

Source: GoodReads

This was probably my least favorite out the series.

Just going to say it now.

I lost a lot of respect for Rose in this one and I really feel like about two hundred pages could’ve easily been chopped off without much thought.

Let me just start by saying up till this book I didn’t hate Dose (Rose and Dimitri).  Yes, I thought their relationship bordered on Sexual Harassment Panda territory and that Dimitri could do with some character development, but they weren’t horrible together.

They had chemistry.

Sort of squeamish chemistry.

But chemistry.

But this was the book where I really can honestly say I can’t stand them together.

The relationship was borderline icky before because there was power issues, but now  it’s downright abusive.

And yes, I know Dimitri can’t help it that he’s a Striogi but…but..Rose have some self respect.

You have a guy like Adrian there for the taking, yet you want a guy that basically has turned you into a blood whore.

Little Life Lesson:  locking someone  up in what’s the equivalent to the Plaza’s version of a padded cell then taking your blood each night to slowly coerce you into becoming a blood thirsty monster does not establish a good relationship.  Especially when you never really touch upon this issue in the later book.  And.  You.  Have.  A. Guy. Like. Adrian.

Yeah, my frustration with Dose is obvious.  But even if it wasn’t for the painful destruction of the Dose relationship in this book, it still would be my least favorite.

As I said before, pacing is horrendous.  While I do like the introduction to both Sydney and Abe, I really could’ve cared less about Dimitri’s family and their mourning-really, a guardian didn’t break the news to them- and the Lissa subplot was a snooze fest at best.

Blood Promise, unfortunately, is just one of those books that has middle book syndrome all over it.

Rating: C.

Spirit Bound: The Book Where I Let Fan Fic Take Over

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won’t rest until Rose joins him… forever.

Source: GoodReads

Better than Blood Promise.

But once again, about a hundred or so pages could’ve been easily cut. Especially at the end.

Honestly, I would’ve been fine had this been the series ender.  I thought the Dose relationship could’ve ended quite nicely here.

Yeah, there I am going off about Dose again.

But seriously…

All Dimitri is, is a prize.  And this book sort of solidifies that.

While Adrian is a real character…

Well, his romance with Rose lasts more than half a page

Sour ships….I swear.

I will give Dimitri this, when he’s crazy.  I like him and Rose better.  I think mainly because they work well as antagonists.  The fact that they are so in sync with each other makes them great adversaries.  I think that same reason is why I don’t see them so much together.

That aside though, I did like parts of Spirit Bound the side characters once again stole the show.  I grew to like Lissa a bit more with this installment and Eddie also grew on me.

I also liked the development on spirit magic.  The world building aspects here were quite well done.

Additionally, I liked the whole quest that took up the first 2/3 of the novel.  However, once that part of the book is over.  It takes a nose dive to make a plot device for what really is an unnecessary six book.  Which is a shame.

Overall Rating: B

 

Last Sacrifice: The Book Where I Wonder Why it Ever Exists

They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Join Rose, Dimitri, Adrian, and Lissa in Last Sacrifice, the epic, unforgettable finale to Richelle Mead’s international #1 bestsellingVampire Academy series.

Source:  GoodReads

And this is where I get nasty.

Why?

I have so many problems with this particular installment (though it’s still better than Blood Promise) but so much of it is unnecessary.  And Rose has regressed and is now constantly pissing me off.

Thank God for the side characters.

Particularly Adrian and Sydney.

So, yeah.  Sort of glad Sydney is getting her own spinoff (with Adrian).

Unlike Rose, she’s a little bit more pragmatic and not ridiculously impulsive.  So that’s a good thing.

I give Adrian points for being Adrian and telling off Rose, the way I wanted to tell off Rose for about three hundred pages.

Seriously, girl, you were being ridiculous.  And it’s not just because my ship sank.

But God….

I swear I wanted to pound you a lot in this unnecessary volume.

And your response was so cliche, so self absorbed, well, I’m glad we’re done so I won’t have to take you off of my favorite YA MCs list because you were really  not going to be there anymore.

Anger with Rose aside, the book really felt unnecessary.  The whole plot just sort of seemed thrown together to have a sixth book and honestly I don’t want to read a sixth book unless there’s a purpose-that is other than to get a slightly icky couple together.

Overall Rating: C+

Overall Thoughts:

The first half of Vampire Academy is outright fantastic.  It reminds me of a vampire version of The Mediator.  It’s that good.  However, the second half of the series (while having its moments) does drag. And I feel like Rose has regressed as a character.

And it’s not me having sour ships.

I just feel like the series was more evolved than its ending.  And that to ge tthe ending that was intended, Mead had to regress the characters a bit.

Does that mean I regret reading this series?

Hell no.

It’s entertaining.  Rose can occasionally have a quip that isn’t eye roll worthy and the action sequences can be mildly entertaining.  Even exhilarating at time.  But I feel like it was dragged out too long.  Some editing was definitely needed.

And yeah, not that happy with the endgame, but I’ll live.

Series Rating: A solid B.  While the first half kicked my ass, I wanted to kick the ass of the second half.

Frostbite: Richelle Mead

My introduction to paranormal YA was two amazing series.  The Mediator and 1800 Where R U by Meg Cabot.  I enjoyed these books because they had spunky heroines that could kick ass.  Unfortunately,  most YA books have gone the route of The Twilight Saga rather than the route of The Mediator which is a shame.  Even Cabot’s recent paranormals fall more in the mode of Bella Swan than Suze Simon which sucks.  Vampire Academy, however, goes that old school Cabot which is just awesome.

General Summary: It’s Christmas time at Vampire Academy and what does that mean….ski trip.  Well, a ski trip with hot mysterious guys, vampires being killed left and right, and Rose’s mom popping up out of the blue.  And of course, Rose is still going all gaga over Dimitri when she knows she shouldn’t.

Review:

Wow.  Just wow.  This is an amazing followup.  And usually second books in series suck.  But this is an exception.

I think what makes Frostbite different from a lot of the placeholders other sequels I’ve read is that it really doesn’t focus on drilling in our head what happened in previous installments.  Rather after a quick recap in the prologue we get down to business to defeat…okay, why is that stupid song stuck in my head?

But yeah, the novel is action pack from the first to the last page.  Shit happens.  And it’s not random shit either.  You can totally see that Mead is building her series, but not forcing it down the reader’s throat which I like.

As I mentioned in my introduction for this review, this series reminds me a lot of old school Meg Cabot.  In particular, The Mediator series.  And in a lot of ways this book reminds me of the second book in that series.  Not because the plot’s similar or anything like that, though there is that thing with the fish tank…but because both books were important to their respective series but didn’t seem important.  Because you didn’t feel like you were being forced fed a lot of information.  In this installment of Vampire Academy you find a lot of things about Rose, about Lissa, about Christian, about everyone really.  But your left with wanting more.  And it’s not through the usual I’m going to info dump you a lot of new stuff sort of way.  It was through action and that’s always nice.

And I liked the fact that Mead wasn’t afraid to kill off characters at this point in the game.  Yep, characters die.  Right from the first page.  And there’s one death that I think will actually have an impact  Rose in book three and I’m excited to read about it because of that.

Best Feature: New characters that actually serve a purpose.  Usually I get really annoyed when new characters are introduced, but in Vampire Academy it works.  Maybe because both of these characters, Rose’s mom and Adrian, serve a purposes.  And even though normally a character like Adrian would’ve annoyed me-because it’s sort of obvious where Mead is going here-I can’t help but enjoy him.  Dare I say it, in some ways I like him better than Dimitri.  And Rose’s mom, I really think bringing her in the series gave us some insight into Rose which was nice.

Worst Feature: Sexual Harassment Panda.  I’ll probably never get over the fact that Dimitri is seven years older than Rose and that he’s her teacher.  I think it’s the teacher thing that really bothers me because I can totally get the whole Rose being into older guys thing.  Do I approve of it?   No.  But it’s obviously a part of the character.  I just the teacher thing….The age thing is bad enough, but the teacher thing just really is a power play if there ever was one.  And honestly, while I’m glad he rebuts her pursuing him at times I get mad at the way he treats her and…it works though.  These two have amazing chemistry, like Suze Simon and Jesse and that’s why I like them.  It’s just….just Sexual Harassment Panda.

Appropriateness: These books are pretty panty melting worthy.  Two characters obviously have sex, though we don’t get an actual depiction of the act.  Rose likes to make out with guys too.  And obviously some of this flirting made me a bit squeamish because she’s like seventeen and Dimitri is twenty-five/twenty-six.  There are a couple of f bombs there and there too.  And drug use and cutting are also discussed.  So definitely for the mature teen.

Blockbuster Worthy: Oh, God yes.  And there’s going to be a movie (for at least the first book), so I guess I don’t have to dream cast this book.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this one a nine out of ten.  I really enjoyed it.  It was a great follow up and very action packed.  The romance still bothers me a little bit, but honestly I’m sort of okay with it because Dimitri shows self restraint (for the most part).  And there’s actually chemistry between these two characters so that helps too.

Vampire Academy: Richelle Mead

I think we can all admit that the title and cover are a little embarrassing.

General Summary: After being on the run for two plus years Rose and her b.f.f. Lissa are caught and get sent back to The Academy, so that Lissa can become a vampire princess and Rose can become her guardian.  However, coming back to the academy might put Rose and Lissa in more danger than they realize.

Review:

This is one of those books that I wish I would’ve read sooner.  I have a new series, peeps.  And it’s a vampire series too imagine that.

Okay, I’ll admit it at the height of the Twilight book craze I was a bit of a vampire book whore.  I read some vampire books that I wish I wouldn’t have (most infamously the House of Night books which I’m forcing myself to reread in part as a sociological study).  However, I skipped over Vampire Academy.  Maybe because House of Night made me shudder at vampire boarding schools.  However, since I’ve decided to give that series a second chance if only to mock it, I felt it was fair to give Vampire Academy the chance it never got and I’m glad I did.

See something good did happen from  forcing myself to reread/read these books.

I have to say the best thing about Vampire Academy is its world.  It seems sort of ridiculous at first since there’s like three types of vampires and only the crazy ones are immortals and the whole vampire community doesn’t make much sense itself, but Mead has a knack at world building and all this craziness somehow pulls itself together.  I actually enjoyed the whole spirit element concept here.  And usually I find spirit elements to be cliche.  But it actually serves a purpose here that works.

Another thing this book had going for it was its characters.  I go all fan girl on Rose in the best feature part of the review, but I also like the supporting characters particularly Lissa.  This is how YA friends should be.  She serves a purpose other than pimping out Rose’s romantic relationships and I have to say I was sort of crushing on her boyfriend too.  And you know crushing on supporting characters, in this case Christian, definitely gives the book an extra star.

So faults.  I really couldn’t get into Rose’s guy that much.  I’ll talk about that more in the worst feature section of the review, but even though the chemistry was definitely there the ickiness was also there as well.  Also, I wish there would’ve been a bit more action in this installment.  While I understand it was the first book in the series there were times I just wanted the story to pick up a little bit.

Best Feature: Kick ass heroine. I love Rose.  She’s a great character because I don’t like her all the time.  And usually you’d think, oh that’s bad, but it really works here because it shows how realistic Rose is.  She’s not perfect.  She’s pretty much like your typical teenager.  Typical teenager that can kick ass that is.  And I like how she’s confident in herself.  It’s nice for once having a YA MC who feels like she’s in control of her own abilities and for the most part is, even though she might have an occasional slip up.

Worst Feature: Sexual Harassment Panda.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is with all these vampire boarding schools and their lack of sexual harassment policies, but I have to say the romance in this book creeped me out a little bit.  And it wasn’t the fact that I found Dimitri particularly creepy more like I actually liked him and sort of want him and Rose to be together despite the ickiness.  Though seven years….that’s too much even for Rose who I think is mature for her age.  Maybe if he was in his early twenties I could sort of understand, but Dimitri is about my age and that’s just nasty.

Appropriateness: There’s some violence in this one, some hot and heavy kissing that almost leads to more, some talk about sexual situations,  and teacher/student romance.   Definitely more for the older teen set than younger teens.

Blockbuster Worthy: It’s actually being made into a movie so there’s not much for me to discuss.  And I think their choices have been okay.  Though it will be interesting to see how the final product is since the script is written by the guy who wrote Mean Girls.  

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten stakes.  I liked this one a lot.  The romance was probably the biggest issue I had and that didn’t even deter me from liking this book.  I think the set up was cleverly done and I’m looking forward to reading the next one.  I think what this series shows is that you can take a set up that looks sort of ridiculous (vampires and boarding schools) and turn it into something that’s pretty amazing.