Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Picture 1Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, Bk 3) by Richelle Mead

Is Rose’s fate to kill the person she loves most? It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason’s death, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can’t concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret . . . .She’s in love with Dimitri. And this time, it’s way more than a crush.

Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever.

I am definitely still loving this series, but I have to say I didn’t like this book as much as the first two.  I still liked it a lot.  I felt the middle of the book dragged a little.  I kept waiting for the action.  When the action showed up, it definitely didn’t disappoint.  Rose is still awesome.  I was accidentally spoiled about what happens at the end, which I think hurt my enjoyment of it a little.  I bought the fourth book from Amazon and when I opened the box, the back of the book was facing me.  It has a big spoiler in big letters.  Very sad.  But I am excited to read it.  I’m trying to not read the series too close together so that I don’t have to wait forever for the fifth book to come out!

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Picture 6Ballad: The Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James’ musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

Hm, where to start… I really liked this book.  REALLY liked it.  I would like a James of my very own, please.   I loved James’ sarcasm and attitude.  I liked his snarky comments and outside persona, but I loved that we also got to know his inner vulnerability.  Same for Nuala.  Nuala was really cool, tough, and strong, but she had a softer, more unsure side.  I liked her a lot more than I liked Luke in Lament.  With Luke, I had a hard time feeling he was really telling Dee the truth, but I never doubted Nuala.

I really liked the story and the new cast of characters, especially Paul and Sullivan.  Dee annoyed me in this book, though.  It stinks because I really liked her in Lament, but she was so whiny in Ballad.  I know she’s been through a lot (to say the least), but I hated that she was still jerking James around and she was so mopey.  I wanted to feel more sorry for her because I liked her so much, but I just didn’t.

So in conclusion – read this book!  It is good. :)

Oh, by the way, this was the 100th book I’ve read this year!  I never expected I would read so many books in a year.

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Picture 1My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, Bk 1) by Rachel Vincent

She doesn’t see dead people, but…

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who’ll be next…

I kind of have mixed feelings on this book.  On one hand, I thought the story was really interesting.  Bean sidhe (banshees) are not exactly everyday fare.  The mythology was different and kept me reading.  But on the other hand, I didn’t like the characters.  I can’t explain exactly why, but I really couldn’t stand Nash.  I guess a big part of it is how he goes through girls at school like they’re lollipops, then suddenly he’s reformed because he meets Kaylee?  Um, sure.  He also just kind of annoyed me.  Also Kaylee goes from not knowing him to completely trusting him and being so in love in like 3 days.  Whatever.  I didn’t like the stereotypical family, either, with the golden child and the ugly stepsister, er, niece.

I really wanted to like this book, and I did to an extent.  I’ll definitely interested enough to read the next one when it comes out.

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

lamentLament by Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. When a mysterious boy enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of nowhere, Deirdre finds herself infatuated. Trouble is, the enigmatic and conflicted Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin – and Deirdre is meant to be his next mark. Deirdre has to decide if Luke’s feelings towards her are real, or only a way to lure her deeper into the world of Faerie.

Luke isn’t her only problem. A sinister faerie named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Long-time enemies with a common goal, Luke and Aodhan carry the same assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen’s sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is her best friend James whose devotion has been teetering precariously on the line between friendship and love for months – a feeling that Dee doesn’t quite reciprocate. It’s Luke she can’t stop thinking about: Luke, who was supposed to kill her immediately but hasn’t. Luke, who cannot refuse the Queen’s orders without paying an unimaginable price. Deirdre ultimately must confront the Faerie Queen before she loses everyone she loves.

I wasn’t really sure what to think of this book going in.  I can’t really think of many books about faeries I’ve really liked.  However, I am now a huge fan of homocidal faeries.  I really liked this book!  I loved Deirdre.  She was a fantastic heroine.  I liked that she wasn’t the most popular girl, but she was okay with that.  She’s smart, talented, and best of all, she didn’t expect to be rescued.  She found her own way out of the trouble she found herself in multiple times.  Luke was a conundrum.  Is he good or is he bad?  For much of the book, I wasn’t convinced one way or the other.  I liked that, and I liked discovering his story throughout the book.

The book was beautifully written and fascinating.  I read a lot of the book while eating lunch this week and when I went back to work, I couldn’t get the story out of my head.  There were also several laugh out loud moments.  Some of them were completely unexpected, but it kept me on my toes.  I loved how important the music was to this book.  It was described so well that I could hear it as I read.

I am very excited to read Ballad when it comes out and find out what happens.  I liked James and want to hear his story!

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Picture 4Frostbite (Vampire Academy, Bk 2) by Richelle Mead

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians–including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks….This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…

I love this series!  Seriously – this book was even better than the first one.  I like Rose a lot… and Dimitri and Christian and Adrian… and a lot of other characters.  This book had more action, which I really liked.  I loved Rose’s growth with her mother.  Well, really I just liked Rose’s growth in general.  She’s a great character!

I did have a little trouble getting into the book.  The first chapter is a recap of the previous book and it was kind of annoying.  I guess the author has to explain things for the people that haven’t read the first book, but they should have!  And I felt like we learned things through through relevant conversation or commentary in the first book instead of just exposition by Rose.  But that was my only complaint!  I am excited to read the next book!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Picture 2Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Bk 1) by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I’ve heard that this series was good for a while and have had the first book for about a month, but honestly, I’m getting a little tired of all the vampires in YA books.  I think Twilight and House of Night burned me out and left me uninterested.  I’ve started the Morganville Vampire series and thought it was alright, but I couldn’t bring myself to start this series.

So after much prompting from my friend Nicole, I started it.  I’m so glad I did!  This book is so different from any of the other vampire books I’ve read recently.  I really liked Rose.  I like that she’s strong and a fighter.  She’s willing to put “normal teenage things” on hold to be better a better guardian.  There were a couple times when Lissa annoyed me, but for the most part, I liked her.  I love Dimitri, too.  I am excited to read the rest of the series!

Richelle Mead is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Picture 1 Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

16-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science…and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she’s happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother’s estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can’t make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship…and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I loved the idea.  A big house on the beach, a mysterious island (off the coast of Georgia!), merfolk and other mythological creatures… it sounds fantastic.  There were parts that I really did like, but there were things I didn’t like as well.  The book just seemed to be lacking something.  I felt the end wrapped up to quickly and it left me feeling a big unresolved.  I turned the page at the end and thought, “Wait, that’s it?”

The “romance” happened too fast – from “I don’t know you” to “I love you” in like a day.  The summer people were cliche and kind of annoying.  I didn’t understand or like Miranda’s mother.  Her behavior seems so out of character from what Miranda explains at the beginning of the book and I didn’t feel like it was explained why she suddenly behaved differently because she was on the island.

Maybe there will be a sequel because I liked it well enough, but I’d like to know what happens next.

Aimee Friedman is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Picture 1 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that the writing is incredibly captivating.  I decided to start reading as I was going to bed a couple nights ago.  I was only going to read for 15 minutes or so, but I found that I couldn’t put the book down and ended up finishing 80 pages and staying up later than I had planned.

In the beginning, the chapters are short and alternate between Grace’s POV and Sam’s POV.  Later, the chapters get longer and several chapters will stay with one character for a while.  I really liked getting both characters’ perspective and thoughts.  It made both characters (and the book) seem more well rounded.   A few parts in the middle were a little slow, but overall I liked the book.

I have seen this book compared to New Moon by Stephenie Meyer and I really disagree with the association.  Yes, it’s about a girl and a werewolf, but Grace is much more likable than Bella.  The drama that Grace and Sam faced was much more interesting in my mind than what Bella and Jacob dealt with.

One last thing – it was really weird reading about (and worrying about) the cold while enduring August in Georgia.

Maggie Stiefvater is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.