Tuesday Review Day: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

So I FINALLY got around to reading Silver Shadows, book 5 in Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series (you can see my review for books 1-4 here) and am feeling very conflicted. I loved the Vampire Academy series and have really enjoyed this one up until this point, as well, but I’m starting to feel as though Richelle Mead is grasping at straws with some of the twists she adds in.

This one gets a bit spoilery!

Silver Shadows
Series: Bloodlines
Author: Richelle Mead
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Pages: 416
Rating:3.5 stars

Book 4, The Fiery Heart, left off with Sydney Sage being sold out by her sister and carted off to an Alchemist re-education center to have who-knows-what done to her in the hopes of re-brainwashing her into towing the Alchemist line. Silver Shadows picks up not long after she gets taken into the initial stage of re-education, in which prisoners are denied anything relating to comfort – they’re kept in the dark, food is bland, there is no bed, there is only a sink with cold water for bathing, etc.

Once Sydney earns her way out of this area she is deposited onto a floor with others who are being re-educated/brainwashed. Re-education turns out to be everything Sydney feared it was and more. The brainwashing is not only psychological and physical but also chemical. Nausea is induced as images of moroi flash across a screen, burns are inflicted to force confessions, and “re-inkings” occur when a prisoner gets especially out of hand. But Sydney’s main goal is to escape and find her way back to her boyfriend Adrian.

Unfortuantely Adrian has slipped back into his party boy ways. Once he realizes he is unable to reach Sydney via spirit dreams (in which he visits her in her dreams), he lets spirit drag him down into a deep depression. He drinks his sorrows away and spends all of his time partying. Only once he is finally able to reach her does he realize just how far he has fallen and how much he risked in ignoring his need for help. But it also gives  him the kick in the butt that he needs in order to get back on track to finding her. Once he does, their escape begins to take on a very Rose and Dimitri feel and leads to a major plot twist and a huge (albeit somewhat predictable) cliffhanger ending.

Minor spoilers ahead!

What I Liked:

1. Richelle Mead is really good at using alternating voices between chapters. Sydney is very precise and methodical, Adrian is very whiney, dreamy, and broody. Normally I’m not crazy about alternating perspectives but she makes it work.

2. Maybe this should’ve been obvious when I read the VA series, but they finally clarified exactly why a moroi royal needs one living family member in order to qualify as a candidate for king or queen. It’s because if that person dies, there needs to be a family member to succeed them. I feel like this should’ve had “duh” written all over it, but it was never explained that the monarchy was at one time hereditary, not the product of a council vote.

3. Sydney wasn’t spared “just in time.” She went through months of torture before being rescued. It may sound weird to have this on the “what I liked” section, but I think it was necessary for a few reasons. First, it caused doubt. It left the question as to how Sydney would handle it wide open. Yes, we’d all like to assume a happy ending. But there’s still another book coming, so things could’ve easily gone much differently. Second, it shows Sydney’s strength of character both before and after her ordeal. Third, it emphacized just how detrimental Adrian’s spirit use and alcohol abuse is to those around him. And lastly, it finally showed just how bad the “Reeducation” we’ve been hearing about all along really is.

What I Didn’t Like (Spoilers ahead!):

1. As I mentioned in my review of books 1-4, things always fall into place too neatly. Without getting too spoilery, Sydney just happens to stumble across the right prisoners to help in her plans, she almost never runs into any hitches with her crazy plans, and for a super-secret compound that supposedly doesn’t exist, it’s awfully easy to break into and out of.

2. Fleeing to the nearest town after a daring escape probably isn’t the best idea.

3. The big twist. This knocked off at least one star from my review. I won’t give it away, but it’s definitely Adrian’s most insane idea to date and I don’t really think it works with the story. Paranormal aspects aside, logically it just doesn’t make sense and makes Adrian look like an idiot once again because he’s caused significantly larger problems for the moroi than there were before.

While this one wasn’t my favorite by far, the entire series as a whole is still really good. But while I’m hoping the final book is better than this one and is able to take the big twist and spin it so it works better, I’m  unfortunately not optimistic.

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Thrifty Thursday: October 9th Edition

Here are some cheap or free ebooks that are worth checking out if you’re in the market for some new reading material! Enjoy!

EtherealWater waves and bubbles in blue

Topping off the list this week are the first two books in Addison Moore’s Celestra series – Ethereal and Tremble. They’re free for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and on Google Play and Kobo. What’s more, if you’re a Kindle or Kindle app user you can get the first 3 books – Ethereal, Tremble, and Burn for only $.99 on Amazon. It centers around a girl named Skyla (a mind-reader) who moves into a supposedly haunted house with her mother, only to discover that a legion of angels in out to get her. With the help of her new friend Logan, also a mind-reader, she hopes to solve the mysteries that seem to be plaguing her life. There are 8 books in the series so if you’re out to find a new series to read, this might be a good option.

Time and Again

Time and Again by Jack Finney blends time travel, mystery, and love to create a story in which a man must decide where – and when – he wants to live his life. It’s $1.99 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, on Google Play, and on Kobo.

The 100

If you’re into the CW series The 100 you might want to check out the first book in the series by Kass Morgan. The TV series is pretty cool, but I haven’t read the book so I’m not sure how true to them the show is. But I like the show enough that the books might be worth a read. It’s currently $2.99 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, on Google Play, and on Kobo.

The Unquiet

If you’re looking for something a little spooky, check out Jeannine Garsee’s ghost story romance The Unquiet. It’s only $1.99 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and on Kobo.

So there they are! Happy Reading!

 

 

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Tuesday Review Day: The Bloodlines series 1-4 by Richelle Mead

I’m currently in the process of re-reading the first 4 books of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series (Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell, and The Fiery Heart), the Vampire Academy spinoff featuring several key characters from that series. The 5th book in the series, Silver Shadows, was released this summer and I’ve been itching to read it. But, like other book series in which I read each one as it’s published, I forgot most of what I read in the previous book once the newest one came out. So I decided to do a reread so I could give a review on the first 4 books before doing a review on Silver Shadows.

bloodlines 1-4

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one member of a large and very powerful group of humans tasked with keeping the human race ignorant to the existence of moroi, the living and peaceful vampires, strigoi, the dead vampires who almost always kill their victims, and dhampirs, the moroi and human hybrids who live to serve and protect the moroi from strigoi.

After a long stint with the infamous Rose Hathaway in the last few books of the VA series, Sydney gains a somewhat unfavorable reputation due to her seeming ability and willingness to sympathize with moroi and dhampirs. However, due to her ability to tolerate living in such close proximity to these “evil creatures of the night,” she lands a post in Palm Springs helping to protect Jill Mostrano, the only living relative of the moroi queen. Together with Jill, dhampir Eddie Castile, and moroi playboy Adrian Ivashkov, they move to Palm Springs to pose as the Melbourne family, and, with the exception of Adrian, enroll at Amberwood Academy to pose as students.

Throughout the first four books Sydney goes through several dramatic transformations. She must battle her deeply engrained beliefs that moroi and dhampirs are disgusting creatures that violate nature and her ideas that all magic – human or vampire – is bad. She discovers that the Alchemists did very little to actually prepare her to survive in a world that is centered around social interactions and interpersonal relations. And most importantly, she is forced to learn that the group she has so long revered as the light battling the dark may have its own forms of darkness and that their beliefs may not necessarily be the right ones for her.

What I Like So Far:

1. I rooted for Adrian big time in the Vampire Academy series, so I was excited to be able to get more of his story. The same goes for Sydney and Jill – they clearly played very important roles in the VA series and I felt they deserved extended storylines.

2. It’s really fast paced. These were the kind of books that kept me up all night because I couldn’t find a good stopping point.

3. This is a true spinoff. The stories of multiple characters from the VA series were continued thoroughly in Bloodlines. It wasn’t just Sydney’s story; it was Eddie’s, Jill’s, Adrian’s, Angeline’s, and there was good tie in with the original cast of characters with several trips back to court for weddings and work studying spirit.

My major gripes with the series thus far:

1. Everything that happens is way too convenient. It just so happens that there is a restored strigoi near Palm Springs, her teacher is a witch who knows all about Sydney’s world, her classmate is a vampire hunter, and many of the Amberwood students get magic tattoos that for some reason are considered perfectly normal and are supplied by a rogue Alchemist she has close ties to.

2. This series was really hard to binge-read like many others, which may or may not be a problem for some. Each book is a continuation of the previous one, and the theme of Sydney coming into her own continues throughout the series, but whatever major obstacle they face in one book is done and over with by the end and doesn’t carry over. The bad guy gets caught, there is some mention in the next book, and that’s that. The only one that I’ve been super bummed to see end was Fiery Heart because there was such a cliffhanger at the end.

If you were a fan of the Vampire Academy series, you need to read the Bloodlines series. The final book, The Ruby Circle, will be out in February, so if you’re like me and want to read all the books back to back it might be worth waiting for. In the meantime, brush up on the background story to this series and check out Vampire Academy, which focuses on the exploits of dhampir Rose Hathaway and her best friend Vasilisa Dragomir. That’s another fast-paced series, but each book fades nicely into the next so it’s easier to read back-to-back if that’s what you’re into.

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Thrifty Thursday: September 25th

Here are a few great deals going on right now. Some are ongoing, others will only be for a limited time. Happy Reading!

Captivate

If you like fairies or were a fan of Need, book 2 of Carrie Jones’ Need series is up for only $1.99 on Amazon. Unfortunately this deal is only good for Kindle users, but if you have a smartphone it’s easy enough to get the Kindle app and have it handy when great deals like this come along.

 

Mindjack trilogy

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Mindjack Trilogy is only $6.99 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and through Kobo, and only $7.99 through Google Play. I just reviewed the first book in the seriesOpen Minds, and it was really good, so this is a great price if you’re interested in the entire series.

 

Awaken

If you’re into mermaids, you might want to check out Awaken, book 1 of the Awakened Fate series written by Skye Malone. It’s currently only $.99 straight across the board: Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo are all offering it super cheap.

 

Children of the After

This week’s freebie is dystopian series-starter Awakening, book 1 of Jeremy Laszlo’s Children of the After series. It’s free for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. This is a great option if you’re looking for a new dystopian series to get into.

 

In Between

A bonus freebie for this week is In Between, the first book in Jenny B. Jones’ Katie Parker Production series. This one is a free-for-all: Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo are all offering it up for free. Check this one out if you’re looking for something YA that isn’t paranormal or super serious.

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What’s Up Wednesday: The Liebster Award

Ok, I’ll admit, I’ve been slacking on this one for quite some time. I’ve been nominated for the Liebster award three times and keep forgetting and putting off reposting the questions.

Liebster

Recently I received an email telling me that someone had commented on my blog post (woohoo!!). When I was surprised to find that I saw that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award by Klara Parker, whose blog is titled Book Addict. Not knowing what this “Liebster Award” thing was, I did a bit of research to find out the origins of this mysterious award.

Basically, the Liebster Award is a blogging award that has been floating around for several years now. Bloggers nominate fellow bloggers with fewer than 300 followers to answer the 11 questions that they’ve posted, and in return nominate 11 more bloggers and have them answer 11 new questions that you’ve created. It seems like a great way to discover some new blogs to follow and gain some new followers in the process.

So, here we go.

The rules are as follows:

  1. List 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked by whoever nominated you.
  3. Nominate 9 bloggers with less than 300 followers and leave them a comment saying they’ve been nominated.
  4. Ask 11 new questions for your chosen nominees.
  5. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you

My Facts:

1. I have a 21 month old daughter.

2. I changed my college major 4 times and minor 3.

3. I’m an only child.

4. I’ve never been further west in the US than PA, but I’ve spent 6 weeks in South American and 10 days in Italy.

5. If I could be a professional student, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

6. My dream job is to be a fact-checker.

7. I minored in anthropology

8. I work in special education

9. My favorite American city is Washington, D.C.

10. I was a waitress for 15 years.

11. I’m a night person, but love having the mornings to myself.

My answers (and some of these were tough!):

1. What is your favorite book series of all time ?

I’ve just completed the Harry Potter series and can easily say it has become my favorite series. I’m currently on my second read-through.

2. Your favorite book couple ?

Ron and Hermione. Their romance was an incredibly minor part of the series, but what I liked was that Ron got the girl, not Harry. It was obvious from early on that they would get together, but what was nice was that there really was never a thought that she might end up with the hero of the story.

3. What was the first book you read ?

First chapter book? Kristy’s Great Idea, book 1 of The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. I was 7.

4. Who is your favorite character of all time ?

Is this a trick question?

5. What is your favorite book genre ?

It really varies. For a while it was YA paranormal, sometimes it’s NA comedy/romance, but most often I enjoy dystopian works, preferably ones that don’t center around teenagers in love.

6. Do you like reading books before watching the movie adaptation, or watch the movie and then read the books ?

I actually just came to the conclusion on this after watching the Harry Potter movies. I’ve decided that seeing the movies first is best (as long as they’re decent adaptations) because when I read the books after, I get so much more, almost like getting that additional book or two in the series that I inevitably want.

7. Who is your favorite author ?

I can’t name just one. Richelle Mead and J.K. Rowling are great for paranormal, Kristan Higgins for comedy romance, and Dan Wells is good for dystopian that doesn’t center around love triangles.

8. Your favorite book quote ?

Pretty much anything from The Tao of Pooh. Never have I marked up a book as much as I did that one.

9. Three books that made you cry ?

Where the Red Fern Grows, most of the Harry Potter series, and The Art of Racing in the Rain.

10. Do you prefer e-books or “physical books” ?

Its a toss up. I love seeing the books stacked on my shelves and being able to make notations in physical books. But I also love not having to always carry one with me and not being stuck sitting in the doctor’s office with a book I don’t like.

11. Best book vilain ever ?

It’s a tie between Dimitri Belakov from Vampire Academy and Gollum.

 

My questions for nominees:

1. What is your dream job?

2. Could you live in your hometown your entire life?

3. What was your first job?

4. If you went to college right now, what would you major in?

5. What is your favorite scene from a book?

6. What movie adaptation would’ve been better as a TV series?

7. What book is closest to you right now? Or, what ebook is first in your library?

8. Did you have a favorite book series growing up?

9. Favorite painting?

10. What is your favorite book location (city, state, country, planet, etc.)?

11. What author would you like to hang out with for a day or two?

 

Nominees:

Sky Hegyes http://skyehegyes.com/

A Novel Adventure http://anoveladventurebegins.blogspot.com/

Books With Pizzazz http://bookswithpizzazz.blogspot.com/

Fictionally Obsessed http://fictionallyobsessed.blogspot.com/

Gizzimomo’s Book Shelf http://gizzimomosbookshelf.blogspot.com/

Where Books Lead Us http://wherebooksleadus.blogspot.com/

Gorgeous Books http://gorgeousbooks.wordpress.com/

A Perfection Called Books http://aperfectioncalledbooks.blogspot.com/

Benni’s Bookbiters http://bennitheblog.com/bookbiters/

 

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Tuesday Review Day: Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Open Minds is another one that was on my 2014 Goals list that I’ve finally been able to cross off. I actually bought it quite some time ago because it was free for Kindle, but it, along with all of the other books I grab just because they’re free, sat in my Kindle library gathering theoretical dust. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading it, but I’m thrilled I did because it was a really great book.

Open Minds

Series: Mindjack
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Pages: 326
Rating: 4 stars

In 16 year-old Kira’s world, not being able to read minds makes you a freak. She has been waiting for her mind-reading powers to kick in so she can finally be a functioning part of society, but being 16 with no powers pretty much means they aren’t going to appear – she’s destined to be a “zero” forever. However, she soon discovers that while she doesn’t have the power to read minds, she does have the power to control, or “jack” them. With her fellow jacker Simon, she enters into a new world full of things she could have only dreamed of had she gotten the same powers as everyone else. But while at first her jacking abilities seem awesome, it quickly becomes apparent that there are those out there who would like to use the jackers for purposes much more sinister than just trying to fit in. Finding a fellow jacker to show her the ropes seems like a great idea at first, but that friendship ultimately lands her in places she thought could only exist in science fiction, places she must fight her way out of in order to keep her life and the lives of her loved ones in tact.

What I Liked:

1. That the mind-reading aspect was done well.  It was creepy, no doubt about that, but Ms. Quinn did a great job of making it seem like a perfectly normal aspect of every day life.

2.  Romance isn’t a big thing in this one, although it was still a functional part of the plot. Kira’s relationship with Simon was certainly flawed, but it gave her the opportunity to discover more about herself than she would have otherwise.

3. The reason she was different was very basic, no supernatural force necessary. Genetics were the driving force behind her differences, not some magic potion or monster bite.

What I Didn’t Like:

1. The physical descriptions of characters was somewhat lacking. We knew about hair color for a few, and some characters had some defining traits, like Raf’s Latino hotness, but for the most part there wasn’t really much to go on, nothing to really fuel the imagination and draw up pictures of the characters.

2. Minor thing: it was way too easy to get away with the whole Kestril confrontation. He knew exactly how powerful Kira was and how much control she could exert, so you’d think he’d be more on his guard.

3. The words the author created for the story – “demens,” “mesh,” “scrit,” etc. – were an ok touch but also kind of annoying. She described everything else about the world, so the language could have been explained, too.

I recommend this book to anyone who is into a more sci-fi young adult theme than paranormal. It doesn’t focus on a person who has super powers because they’ve been cursed/bitten/whathaveyou.  Kira, like everyone else in her world, was born with her powers. They just happen to be a bit different than the norm. It made for a really entertaining and quick read, so if you’re looking for something you can get through in a few days, this is a great option. It’s still free for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and on Google Play, so if you’re curious it’s a great time to grab it.

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Monday’s Musings: Futurism and Creativity

“…I urge you to get to work with all your heart, resolute on being bolder, crazier, more advanced, surprising, eccentric, incomprehensible, and grotesque than anybody else in music. I urge you to be a madman.”

-F.T. Marinetti, to composer Francesco Pratella

Marinetti

I took my second of two senior seminars this past semester, and in it we spent a good chunk of time focusing on Italian Futurism, the movement spearheaded by F. T. Marinetti in the early 20th century. Futurists, put simply, had a strong desire to move away from the safety and sameness of past art and literature and dive into more dangerous and unexplained territory. They had a love of speed, danger, and violence, and some of the things Marinetti spoke out on in his Futurist Manifesto made him seem more than a bit unstable. He wrote about the need to move away from cliches (which I mentioned in my post on Dan Wells’ Partials a while back), away from the things considered “safe” in art, things guaranteed to please the masses, and away from the simple retelling of past stories (seriously – how many versions of Romeo & Juliet are out there this point?).

 

But there is one quote of his I find very relevant to anyone who hopes to pursue an art form, be in painting, writing, singing, etc. He believed that, in order to be seen as an innovator in art, in order to stand out, you must tap into your inner madman and find the good material hidden there. This bit of advice that he offered to composer Francesco Pratella when he joined the Futurist movement was intended to aide him in his pursuits in the Parisian and European art world. But it holds true for anyone who hopes to become successful in art. Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing; be an innovator, do something new, and don’t be afraid to stand out, because otherwise, how will you ever get noticed?

 

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