Category Archives: Vampires

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, New releases, Paranormal, Romance, Series, Vampires, YA

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, First in series, Paranormal, Romance, Series, Vampires, YA

Thrifty Thursday: June 5, 2014

Here’s a look at some of this week’s cheap and free reads. All are available for Kindle, some are available for Nook or through Google Play and iTunes. Enjoy!

1.

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

It’s always nice when you find a 6-book series that is halfway decent for less than $25 total. Bella Forrest’s A Shade of Vampire series tops out at $3.99 in price for books 2-6 but book 1,  A Shade of Vampire, is only $.99 on Amazon for Kindle. It’s relatively short and seems to be the start of a pretty good series, based on other reviews. You can read my review for it here. Unfortunately, it is still unavailable for the Nook and Apple (boo), and is priced quite a bit higher on Google Play at $4.61.

2.

Under the Never Sky

Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky, the first in the trilogy, is available for $5.63 on Amazon and $5.36 on Google Play (compared to $9.99 for Nook and iBooks). It’s a really interesting take on post-apocalyptic worlds, and best of all, no love triangle! (At least not yet, anyway). It’s also available to borrow for free through Overdrive, an ebook service utilized by many public libraries. Just click the ‘Borrow’ button to see if your library uses it.

3.

The Haunting of Pico

We just missed Patrick Kampman’s  The Haunting of Pico at the awesome price of $.99, but at $2.99 for Kindle it’s still a great price. I’m sure if you keep your eye out it’ll go on sale again. As of now, it’s still unavailable through Google Play, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.

4.

The Lake

The freebie for this week is AnnaLisa Grant’s The Lake, book 1 of The Lake Trilogy. It’s free on both Kindle and Nook, so this one is good for everyone. The other two books in the series, Safe Harbor and Troubled Waters, are going for $2.99, so the whole series can be had for a pretty low price.

5.

Touching Smoke

I’m definitely partial to Airicka Phoenix’s Touching Smoke because it’s one of my favorite self-published series so far. You can read my review for it here. It’s only $2.99 on both Nook and Kindle. The second book in the series, Touching Fire (review here), is also only $2.99. The third book hasn’t been published yet, but if it’s anything like the first two, it’ll be great!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book lists, Cheap reads, Fiction, First in series, Paranormal, Self Publishing, Series, Vampires, YA

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

This week’s review is on A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest, book 1 in the Shade of Vampire series. I’ve been looking for a new series to read for some time now, and I’m really happy I came across this one. Its been sitting in my Kindle library for months now, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. That’s one of the bad things about eReaders – I’ll see a book on sale super cheap (this one is $.99 on Amazon) so I’ll buy it and then promptly forget about it because it’s not staring me in the face like a physical book. By the time I actually get around to reading some of the books I buy they’ve usually been sitting in my library for months. I’ve probably got about 10 that are still waiting to be acknowledged.

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Author: Bella Forrest
Series: A Shade of Vampire
Published: October, 2012
Pages: 152
Rating3.5 stars

One evening after having an unhappy conversation with her best friend / crush, Ben, Sofia goes for a walk on the beach to decompress and feel sorry for herself. While there, she gets captured by a vampire named Lucas and is taken to reside in a vampire fortress called The Shade as a slave to his yet-to-be-awakened brother, Derek. Once Derek is awakened, he is drawn to Sofia because of her compassionate nature toward the other girls who have been taken captive. He chooses her to be his personal slave but treats her more like a princess than anything, protecting her from those in The Shade who would wish to harm her. After her first attempt at escape nearly results in her death, Sofia chooses to bide her time and hopefully come up with a newer more foolproof escape plan later on. After awhile, and although Sofia still harbors feelings for her old life, she slowly finds herself falling for Derek and begins to feel as though she would be unhappy without him should she be allowed to go free. When certain bizarre and unforeseen circumstances lead to her chance at freedom, she must make a decision that will change the course of her life, and the lives of those around her, permanently.

What I liked:

1. It was short. Normally that bothers me – the last time I read a super short series-opener was Morgan Rice’s Turned (see my review here) and I wanted to throw it (and the Nook it was on) out the window when I finished. This one managed to pack a lot into a short space, leaving me wanting to scoop up the second book as soon as I finished. This leads me to the second thing I liked…

2. Not a lot of filler. This goes hand in hand with its length. Because it was short, a lot of unnecessary talk and explanation was left out. A lot of times that kind of thing ends up seeming like padding, so even though this one was short, the lack of fluff made it good.

3. Sofia wasn’t a weakling. She fell in love with a vampire, but she didn’t become a completely different person (relatively speaking) in doing so. She made some pretty drastic changes to her life, but they were all because she wanted to and because she wanted to make the best of a crappy situation, not because she was talked into it by a good-looking vampire.

What I didn’t like:

1. Sofia’s LLI (Low Latent Inhibition) disease/disorder/whatever. I still don’t really see the point, other than it keeps her calm and focused. It seems more like a way to make her “special” and explain away her lack of freaking out than anything else. Hopefully it’ll get developed a bit more in the rest of the books.

2. The characters were pretty 2-Dimensional. They would say that they were sad/happy/angry/etc., but it didn’t really come through in the things they said and did. Maybe if the book had been a bit longer the characters could’ve been developed better, but as it was, they were pretty blah.

3. Talk and thoughts of escape were out the window pretty quickly. True, the likelihood of escaping from a treetop vampire fortress under a spell of darkness is pretty slim, but after Sofia’s first attempt at escaping, the reader no longer had any insight into plans to escape. Sofia said that she and the girls sometimes talked about it, but for the most part they seemed to write it off as impossible and focus on how to have fun in The Shade.

I’m usually pretty picky about vampire series. It’s really hard for authors to make them not cheesy, and while this one teeters on the edge of cheesy, it’s still pretty good. I’ve got a couple of other books lined up to read, so I’ll probably get to the rest of the series within the next month or two. Until then, this one is definitely worth checking out. It’s short, so even if you hate it, you won’t have wasted a huge amount of time on it.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, First in series, Paranormal, Romance, Self Publishing, Series, Vampires, YA

Vampire Origins – Project Ichorous (The Strigoi #1) by Riley Banks

Vampire Origins

Author: Riley Banks
Published: April 20, 2013
Pages: 377
Rating3 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via Read it and Reap #249 on the Shut Up and Read group on Goodreads.

This was one of the better ARC books I’ve read so far. As of now, my #1 is still Touching Smoke by Airicka Phoenix, but this might be a close second.

Vampire Origins – Project Ichorous is the first in The Strigoi series by author Riley Banks. It centers on a teenage girl, Scarlett Fraser, her family, and the family of supernatural creatures they (unknowingly) move in with in a castle in Romania. Simon, her father and an architect, has been hired by Vlad, owner of the castle and an “original” vampire (aka, strigoi), to renovate the castle. Despite Vlad giving very specific instructions to his family that the Fraser’s and all human guests be left alone because he’s got bigger plans for them, by the end of the story, several characters have been either killed, turned, or worse. Vlad then learns something about Scarlett’s family that could threaten not only his livelihood but the existence of the race of strigoi he is a part of, forcing him to change his plans for two of the Fraser family members. However, his nephew Lachlan, who he has an antagonistic relationship with at best, has taken an interest in Scarlett as a plaything. Once he discovers that Vlad has specific ideas about her and her family’s future, he uses that to his advantage and moves ahead with plans to take out his uncle – as well as the rest of the original vampires – and become ruler of the entire strigoi race.

What I liked:

1. The story has a certain “6 degrees of separation” about it. There are a ton of characters whose lives intertwine in some way, shape, or form, which made it kind of interesting and led to a few plot twists.

2. This was much darker than your typical YA/NA vampire series. Vlad and his family are the vampires you’d read about long before the vegetarians of today’s YA genre came about. They’re evil, sadistic, have no remorse, and maintain little or none of their humanity.  There was no hope that one might regain his or her humanity and fall in love with a human, abandoning their vampiric ways. It was very cut and dry – vampires are evil and will always be evil. It was kind of refreshing compared to all of the other paranormal YA series that are out there.

3. Excessive plot points aside, I got into reading this book almost immediately. It’s definitely a decent story that I could see having a really interesting path to the end. I’m curious enough about where everyone is headed to read the next one.

4. The historical aspect. Bringing in the Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, was pretty interesting. I think she could’ve gone further with it, but the idea was still worth exploring.

What I didn’t like:

1. The number of characters often made things confusing. In some cases I had to stop and try to remember what had been happening with a specific character previously because so much time had passed since I’d seen him or her. For example, I don’t think Scarlett needed to be one of a set of quadruplets. Yes, all four had their own personalities, but two of them (Nate and Max) seemed interchangeable at times, making at least one unnecessary (probably Nate, but that’s just my opinion). There were also a couple of supporting characters that didn’t really seem to have much of a purpose. They were there, but were killed off or done away with without having any real influence on the story. The only thing I can think of is that they figured out the true identities of the vampires, but why not just do a bit more memory erasing? It would seem like missing persons would be more noticeable than some fuzzy memories.

2. The humans just seemed dumb. Bizarre things would happen that they would just write off as “weird,” like the constant blood drinking, memory loss (courtesy of a mind-wiping vamp named Alex), and out-of-place mix of animals in the woods (actually lycanthropes in their animal forms). Only one thought it all odd enough to check out, and we didn’t even see him actually doing any digging until pretty late in the book.

3. The ending left little hope for any of the human characters. I’m sure (hoping) that’s not the case and that the author had good reasoning for putting them on the path she did, but it just seemed like all was lost for them.

4. Much of the book’s description is misleading. Its first lines are “From the Christian Crusades to the war in Afghanistan, the Vampire Origins series seamlessly weaves historical fact with vampire fiction.” This makes it seem as though this might be more along the lines of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter or Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, which are entirely centered around historical figures. But unfortunately that’s not the case with this series. Historical information was used, but very little was truly worked into the story. The details it provides about Scarlett are also misleading, but that could get spoilery so I won’t get into those.

This likely won’t go on my “Read it again” shelf, but I don’t feel as though I wasted my time with this one. The plot was really detailed, the vampires were more of the traditional variety, and it left me interested enough to move on to book 2 – although I’m not sure when that will be out. If you’re looking for an easy read, this isn’t for you because of all of the information you need to keep track of as you read. But if you’re looking for a decent story, it’s worth giving a look.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, First in series, NA, Paranormal, Series, Vampires, YA