Vampire Academy #1 by Richelle Mead | Book Review

Vampire Academy booksBook Title/Author: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Publisher/Year
: Razorbill 2007
Genre: Paranormal YA
Series: Yes
Other Books From Author: the rest of the VA series, Bloodlines series, Georgina Kincaid series, Dark Swan series

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Rose is a Dhampir — half human and half vampire — and she and Lissa, the vampire princess she’s been trained to protect, left St. Vladimir’s Academy boarding school and have been on the run to keep away from the danger looming there. They have finally been caught and find themselves back at St. Vladimir’s Academy where they try to get back into the swing of training and magic classes and social life but there are quite a few obstacles — rumors, romances they know they shouldn’t be involved in and something dark that puts Lissa in danger.

*This isn’t really going to be a thorough review because everyone and there mom has read this*

So, yes, I’ve finally read Vampire Academy! I will wait for your applause, those of you who have been waiting for me to read this! It’s a HUGE series and I’ve been putting it off because of a) hype and b) if you read this blog you know I don’t read a ton of paranormal. Especially NOT vampires. But here we are…I’ve read book 1 of the series!

Vampire Academy started out VERY slow for me. I just wanted to not read it anymore but I kept going because people said the series got better after book 1. If I didn’t have that knowledge? I would have probably put it down. I just wasn’t feeling it and the pacing was sloooow. I just felt like some of the worldbuilding was dumped on me and I was waiting for a discernible plot.

Rose made me giggle a bit because of her sassy attitude but there were things that really irritated me about her and also I felt like she was a bit one dimensional in the beginning. While she isn’t altogether LIKEABLE, I appreciate a flawed character and she grew on me more and I’m certain there is more to her. The development for some of the other characters was a little bland — especially for Lissa. She was seriously a SNORE.

Despite the shaky start, it become a really addictive read. Even when I was unsure about this one, there was this draw (besides all of the praise) made me stick with it…to see it through. I definitely think I was rewarded a little more than midway through and I couldn’t put this down AT ALL. The plot surges forward and twists abound and I became thoroughly engaged in it all. I loved watching Rose’s skills get better to protect Lissa and learning more about the vampire society. I’m chomping at the bit to head over to the library and get book 2. Especially because I hear the series just gets better and better..which is a relief because I’d say I was a little disappointed not to LOVE this book like everyone else.

OH HEY. I betcha you’ve been waiting for me to talk about Dimitri. I DIDN’T FORGET. I wanted to save the panty throwing for last. So Dimitri, yah? Let’s talk about how Richelle gets a gold star for the best romantic/sexual tension ever. Like seriously. Panty melting! In the beginning I just wasn’t getting the appeal of Dimitri because all we really knew about him was that he had a ponytail, was a powerful guardian and was Russian..oh and wears a duster lol. It seemed obvious that Rose, flirt extraordinaire, was going to totally go for her older “teacher” and I was nervous there would be NO believeable connection between them. But then suddenly Richelle started writing Dimitri in a way where I was like HEYYYY. I actually really grew to love Dimitri and am excited to see what happens between the two of them. Also, I had to fan myself during a certain scene. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. Compulsion. That.Is.All.

I wish the whole book could have been as good as the last half or so. I will still definitely be continuing on with the series because it really took a hold of me by the end and I heard the series only gets better. If I didn’t know this, I’m not sure if I would be continuing on because I’m super picky about my paranormal.

 

Vampire Academy

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Was I the only one that thought this one wasn’t amazing? Are you excited for the movie? Thoughts on casting? I have specifically NOT looked at any pictures/trailers because I want to read for a while with my own image of Dimitri.

Ashes On The Waves by Mary Lindsey | Book Review

Ashes on the Waves by Mary LindseyBook Title/Author: Ashes On The Waves by Mary Lindsey
Publisher/Year
: Penguin June 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Shattered Souls

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Liam lives on the island of Dochas  where he is a complete outcast — everyone calls him a demon, his own father hates him and he seems to be cursed. When a childhood friend named Annabel Leighton, the daughter of a family who owns an estate on the island, returns to Dochas things seem to be looking up for him as they their relationship grows. The Otherworlders, the mythical beings that live in the sea, make a wager that human love can’t endure in the face of suffering and trials and put the strength of Liam & Annabel’s love to the test with these terrible obstacles.

I’m so conflicted on this one and I seem to be in the minority as I scanned all the glowing 4 & 5 star reviews of people who seemed to not feel conflicted. Ashes On The Waves was definitely unique compared to what I’ve encountered in paranormal YA with being based off of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” and infused with Celtic lore. I appreciated the fresh feeling the story had but it lacked something for me and I’m going to attempt to explain it though I’m not sure that I’ve quite put my finger on it even still so I’m listing it all out.

What I Liked:

1. The premise: I LOVE LOVE LOVED Annabel Lee when I had to read it in college and thought it was an amazing inspiration for a paranormal story. I loved the way Mary Lindsey took the bare bones of that poem to write a truly compelling story about true love and infused it with Celtic lore and these otherworldly creatures that were testing the love of Liam and Annabel. The story really got interesting when the wager was made and it was so heartbreaking to watch Liam and Annabel’s love being messed with by the Otherworld. You couldn’t help but root for them to conquer all. It was a nail-biter until the very end as we watch the bet get uglier and uglier as Liam and Annabel prevail.

2. The setting: The island of Dochas was creepy — it’s this island that isn’t up to speed with modern life. So everywhere else is much like our contemporary society and Dochas is just archaic and still clinging on to its old ways — including very old superstitions. The writing of Dochas was incredible because it was so atmospheric and haunting and I honestly almost forget this book was set in present day. Dochas definitely took on a life of its own and it was easy to picture this creepy place!

3. The lore: The celtic lore was so interesting to me and I was quickly pulled into all of the otherworldly, mystical beings. It was so refreshing and unique!

4. Liam: I really liked reading this from Liam’s point of view and I really felt for him. He was such an outcast and people were SO cruel to him and he lived with a lot of guilt, a father who hated him and, aside from his boss who I LOVED, he was just so alone. This is one character who I felt like my heart kept breaking for throughout the course of the novel. I was happy that he had Annabel (for his sake) and as soon as that wager was made I was LIKE COME ON LET HIM HAVE SOMETHING GOOD IN HIS LIFE.

What Didn’t Work So Much For Me:


1. Annabel & Liam (and my connection to them):
OK, so from the get go we know this is an epic love story that is being tested by the Otherworld. We are supposed to root for them because they are being put through the ringer and we want love to prevail. To some degree, I really did root for them but more so on principle and not because I really FELT their relationship. I really didn’t FEEL connected to their love story it just honestly didn’t do much for me maybe until the end but at that point I already felt like a fly on the wall rooting for them rather than feeling the passion they had for each other. It’s going to come down to, I think, whether or not you connect with their love story. I can’t tell if my disconnect was because I didn’t GET Liam’s intense love for Annabel after really only knowing her as a little girl but following all the news stories about her crazy, socialite life or if I just didn’t GET Annabel and if I really felt her passion for him like I did Liam’s.

2. The pacing: I understand the beginning was setting up Dochas, Liam’s life and Annabel’s return to Dochas but it CRAWLED for me. There was no pull for me to read other than knowing I was promised an awesome premise. I seriously kept sideeying the book for a bit because I was bored to tears and almost got sunburnt because I fell asleep reading. HOWEVER, I will say once the wager is made…BOOM. You won’t be able to put it down. The mystery pulls you in and you are so invested in seeing how the wager affects Liam and Annabel.

If you are looking for a fresh YA paranormal novel that is NOT part of a series, Ashes on Waves is a good one! It’s well written, the setting is one that you feel transported to easily with its creepy and haunting atmosphere and its a tale of epic love that is being challenged by Otherworldly creatures who try to break them apart because of a wager. The Celtic lore was fascinating as well and I was quickly sucked into this story. HOWEVER, being that this is a tale of epic love, my problem was that I never connected or felt ANYTHING towards their love story until maybe the very end which made me feel quite distanced from this read. However, I’d still recommend and hope that you connect to their love more than I did.

 

 

ashes-on-waves-mary-lindsey


Let’s Talk: Have you read of this one? Heard of it or is it on your TBR? If you have read it, did you enjoy it or no? Did you feel connected to the romance? Anybody know of any other Poe inspired stories?

Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

10861195Book Title/Author: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Publisher/Release Date
: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – January 15, 2013
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Paranormal (hard to say because I thought it would be way more science fiction-y than it was but there are paranormal elements)
Series: Yes. It’s book 1 of The Memory Chronicles
Other Books From Author: None — it’s her debut!

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear! And full disclosure: Lenore is a fellow blogger and friend but I have written my full and honest opinion of the book that has not been swayed by my relationship with author.

When Felicia dies, she finds herself in Level 2 — an afterlife that isn’t quite disconnected from the living but isn’t quite the “next life.”  She and the others in her chamber spend their day plugged into computers where they have access to view all their old memories or the memories of others by way of a very elaborate system of credits. When a girl in Felicia’s chamber suddenly vanishes and a very dark piece of her past enters the chamber, a chamber that nobody on the outside had ever come in, and tells her there is an uprising and rebellion happening against those running the show in Level 2. Felicia isn’t sure whether or not she can trust this mysterious guy, Julian, from her past but her curiosity about what lies outside her chamber, and Julian’s promise to reunite her with somebody important, just might be the push she needs to follow him and align with the rebellion that is taking place.

Truly, Level 2 was one of the most unique and refreshing books I’ve read in a while!  I loved the concept from the start — dying and then your sort of afterlife consists of this “in-between” place where you have access to all your old memories to revisit and there is a credit system wherein your memories can be loaned out and you can borrow other peoples memories. It was interesting to think about which memories I would never want to relive and which ones I’d find myself watching over and over again. I kept thinking about which sorts of memories I’d want to borrow from other people — probably some good travel memories, memories of reading books so I could experience those and probably all sorts of lovely dovey memories because in the afterlife I’m sure I’d still be a sap like that.  So, obviously, I was instantly intrigued from page one as to what Level 2 was and why Felicia was there.

It was just unlike anything I’ve ever read before! The world-building was fantastic! I loved learning how things worked and could picture the pods and the rooms so easily– although I will be honest that at first it was A LOT of information to absorb. But the world is intricate and well built and I loved the pace at which we learned more about what Level 2 is right alongside Felicia as she learns from Julian that there is way more to Level 2 than she knows. I know I couldn’t stop turning the pages just anticipating what the deal with Level 2 was and why there was a rebellion and WHO controlled it. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I loved, loved loved how the story builds through Felicia’s access to her memories and we get to learn more about her through these memories of her life that she chooses to access and through her response to them. More of the pieces start to come together through these memories  and I loved trying to figure out what the deal was with Julian and why he got her in trouble in the past. Lenore moves you seamlessly through the past and the present and I loved that because sometimes flashbacks can be troublesome.  I’d say that the first part of the novel really is less ACTION and more memories and introducing you to the world and then from there there is more movement outside of the chambers and plot twists to boot!

I found myself really attune to  the emotions of this novel.  I felt such a deep sense of sadness at points, I felt anger, the pain of betrayal, longing for what was  lost, the tension, etc. Through the memories we are able to experience the sweetness of how Felicia and Neil fell in love, the shame  and guilt Felicia had for the mistakes she made that hurt her best friend when Julian was in the picture, the intensity Felicia felt when reliving her death, etc. Felicia isn’t perfect and she isn’t always likeable but she felt SO real and well fleshed out and I really enjoyed her perspective.

Up until the end, Level 2 and I were were moving in the right direction and I was thoroughly enjoying it. And then the big climax came and I found myself thoroughly confused. Like I honestly re-read it and still couldn’t really figure out what happened. I don’t know if it changed in the final copy, which I plan to buy so I can re-read, but I felt like we are moving along at a certain pace and then the ending came and there was this flurry of THINGS happening really fast and I just couldn’t keep up or picture what was going on. Remember in cartoons when a scuffle or something would happen and all you would see is a whirlwind of dust and occasionally a splintered chair would fly out or we’d see a pot or pan come outside the dust and then after the dust settles we see a disheveled character with bumps and bruises or something wearing a dress or something. I don’t know if I explained that well but THAT’S how I felt. I have NO idea what was going on there behind the “dust” when the action was happening, but would  catch one or two things, but then when it ended I guess I knew technically WHAT happened but everything was very hazy leading up to it. I really don’t get what happened.

EDIT: I meant to add this in my review but forgot initially. I will let you know that there ARE a lot of religious aspects to this novel. I didn’t personally find this got in the way but others I spoke to did. Just a warning!

Level 2 was a really strong debut — refreshing and unique with great characterization and an intricately built, imaginative world. The presentation of information through the past memories and the present was evenly handled and made for a great page-turner that was a blend of a contemporary novel, science fiction and a paranormal-y sort of afterlife. There were perfectly placed plot twists and revelations and I can honestly say I never knew what to expect from the time I cracked open the book until the very climatic end. I will say that towards the end things sped up and the final scene is a complete blur to me because I have no idea what happened as it happened at break-neck speed for me but that wouldn’t deter me from recommending this! Can’t wait for Level 3 because there is still SO much more to learn and I need to  know what happens to Felicia!

For Fans  Of: unique afterlife stories, YA science fiction/paranormal with a contemporary balance via flashbacks, great worldbuilding

Level-2-Lenore-Appelhans

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Were your thoughts similar to mine or different? Did anyone else have a hard time knowing what was going on in that least scene?  And did anyone else have some serious thinking about which memories you’d never ever want to relive again? And which ones you’d keep replaying over and over again? I pretty much would never want to experience my mother’s death or funeral ever again. On the less serious side, I would not want to relive a breakup or the time I had toilet paper stuck in my pants and flapping behind me as a tween. I’d love to relive some great dates, first kisses, my travels to Europe, sweet moments with my niece, my wedding day and some really fun moments with friends. I have a feeling I’d probably analyze some “what went wrong moments’ in my life. lol

Review: Beyond by Graham McNamee

Book Title/Author: Beyond: A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee
Publisher/Year: Wendy Lamb Books (imprint of Random House) 2012
Genre: YA Horror/Paranormal
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: Acceleration, Bonechiller, Hate You

Amazon| Goodreads | About Graham McNamee

 

On the outside it may appear to people that Jane is clumsy, reckless or maybe suicidal. After all, she’s had some near fatal accidents. But only Jane and her best friend, Lexi, know the truth about all Jane’s “accidents” and how it’s her own shadow that take hold of her body and guides her to do these things. As Jane and Lexi work to figure out what’s happening to Jane they find a connection to Jane’s shadow mystery they would have never believed.

I thought this book was really creepy — not scary — but just plain ol’ creepy. I mean, I just think about the premise of your shadow warring against you and making you do things that you don’t want to do and it gives me the heebie jeebies. So many of the things that go bump in the night are outside forces and this one is something that is inside you and you can’t even control! Seriously, it could be a cool movie, I think. I mean, let’s recap here: HER SHADOW IS TRYING TO KILL HER. The premise alone simultaneously creeped me out yet thrilled me.

Beyond by Graham McNamee was very slim in size but it was one of those books that you really felt like you got this very whole and complete story — which was nice considering I’ve been reading SO many series. It was just darn nice to have a paranormal-like story and have it be a standalone. I read this SO quickly because it’s pacing is so great! I just kept wondering — is she possessed or is it a ghost or is her shadow an actual entity. And then when other things were revealed I was  even more intrigued! I did think that they ending was a little predictable, at least to me, but it still was enjoyable nonetheless.

And let me tell you, I love Jane and Lexi! They were awesome characters and I love seeing a pair of besties who are THIS close. They had a really awesome bond and I have to say that I loved that a romance didn’t get inserted as the main plot in this book. I don’t want to give anything away regarding the plot but I’ll say there is somebody Jane has her eye on but it’s not a driving force of this novel!

This was a perfect addition to my Halloween reading! It was a quick and creepy read that gave me something more unusual to read about! I mean, your own shadow tries to kill you on multiple occasions? I loved the path to figuring out the how’s and why’s of Jane’s shadow and was thoroughly engaged the whole time. If you are looking for a quick ghost-y/paranormal book that’s creepy, but not scary, and is NOT a series, I’d say pick this one up! Also, if you are wanting a break from a romance or a love triangle plot, this might be your thang.

 

For Fans Of: YA Horror, ghost stories, paranormal type stories without the romance focus (there IS a love interest but it’s not the focus), love triangles or sequels

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? What other good, truly creepy reads have you encountered? The bigger the creep factor the better!

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