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.