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Monday, 24 November 2014

The Golden Lily - Book Review

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The Golden Lily – Book Review

Richelle Mead

YA Paranormal

Book #2 in the Bloodlines series


Synopsis:

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California – tasked with protecting Moroi Princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age old alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi – the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that – special, magical, powerful – that scares her more than anything. 

Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else – someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking new secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the alchemists – or her heart?

Review:

Normally when it comes to reading a series, I like to take a break between each book. However after finishing Bloodlines, I couldn’t help but dive straight into The Golden Lily, and I’m pleased to say, I’m still hooked and enjoying the series.

In this second novel, we see Sydney get a boyfriend which helps reveal just how awkward and socially naive she really is. Yet handsome distractions aside, there is once again trouble brewing in Palm Springs.

When her Moroi friend, Sonya, is attacked and taken captive by a mysterious band of ‘vampire hunters’ suddenly the crazy myths about them no longer seem quite so crazy. Yet when conventional means to find Sonya fail them, Sydney must put aside every one of her fears and ingrained beliefs towards magic. Seeking out the help of her history teacher, the local witch, Sydney finally accepts that magic may just have a place in the mortal world. But just what are these secrets the alchemists have been hiding? And why is Adrian, a moroi vampire playboy constantly plaguing her thoughts?

As one by one, the walls of her belief system begin to crumble, Sydney finds herself thrown by a choice she never thought she would have to make. Who to trust? The alchemists, the moroi… or herself?

Once again, I really have fallen in love with yet another one of Richelle Meads fabulous series. I devoured this book in less than a day and am trying really hard to give myself some space before I dive into the next book.

In this second novel, we see the action begin to pick up as Sydney becomes more relaxed with breaking rules. Not only is she willingly spending time with Adrian, a cute Moroi vampire, but despite her resistance to learn magic, a secret part of her thrills in the power and finds the practicalities of it fascinating.

In this book Sydney also gets herself a boyfriend, much to her surprise as everyone else’s. And while I love that her boyfriend has a similar love of academia as her, I loved Sydney’s approach to the relationship more. As in, when it comes to dates and kissing, she would research the theory before hand in a book.

Yet humor aside, Sydney really has grown as a character. She is more adept with school based social situations and is finally beginning to see her own worth as something other than an alchemist.

Some of the characters from the Vampire Academy series, mainly Dimitri and Sonya, get to play much bigger parts in this book too – and it was nice to see such old and familiar faces return. Yet I felt like this series secondary characters, such as Jill and Eddie, took a more backseat role which I found strange in hindsight as Jill in particular is the whole reason Sydney is living the ‘high school life’ in the first place. I really hope these characters get a bigger role in the next book.

Otherwise the plot moved quickly and had plenty of mystery woven in to keep you guessing. There were some interesting new developments as well as some unique new characters, and while not quite a cliff hanger, the book definitely leaves you with many unanswered questions.

All in all, a fabulous read. I can’t wait to continue this series. 4 stars!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Trial by Fire - Book Review

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Trial by Fire – Book Review

Josephine Angelini

YA Fantasy

The World Walker Trilogy Book #1



Synopsis:

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying the experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and long time crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.


Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of them all is Lillian… Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected…



Review:

I’m a huge fan of Josephine Angelini and I found this book was exactly the gripping kind of read that I have come to expect from this author.

Starting out in the real world, the story follows Lily, a 16year old girl who has never had the luxury of good health. Instead she has been forced to live her life one doctor’s appointment after the other. A life made harder by the fact she and her older sister are also full time carers for her mentally challenged mother. All Lily wants is one normal, sick free day.

Yet when her dream of attending a high school party falls apart after she finds her best friend/ boyfriend cheating on her, Lily finally says yes to the little nagging voice in the back of her mind. The one that has been begging her to let go of all her problems and escape.

And so Lily finds herself in an alternate world, summoned and trapped there by the all powerful Salem witch, Lillian – Lily’s other self. Yet Lillian’s motives are unclear and as Lily begins to discover, in this world, Lily is no helpless maiden.

She is a crucible, a powerful Witch cable of turning heat and substance into a raging force that she can shape to her will. But first – she needs training, and a lot of it if she ever hopes to see her world again…

This was an amazing read. Science vs Magic set in a fantasy land where witches rules and most of the population are shunned, left to fend for themselves in a harsh world where science and medicine are outlawed. It is a truly brilliant concept for a story and I feel that Josephine Angelini pulled it off spectacularly!

The heroine Lily is a compassionate yet slightly clueless sort of girl who does her best to survive and adjust to the strangeness of this new world. She rarely complains and relies heavily on Rowan, her mechanic and healer, to support her.

I must however admit that I am unsure how I feel about the romance that blossomed between them. While it was far from instant love, I didn’t really feel their connection, and given Lillian and Rowans romantic history, I worry for Lily and Rowan as sometimes it seems he looks upon her as a copy of his ‘old’ Lillian – which in turn makes me feel sorry for Lily.

As for the other characters though, I really liked them. While the idea of many versions of yourself spread through various worlds is alone an interesting idea, I like the contrasts found between each version depending on their own individual upbringings and surroundings. I also like that Lily gets to see  both the differences and shared personality traits between the friends and family of her world, against the same versions of these people in this new world.

As for the plot, it moves at a fast pace with plenty of action and drama to keep me turning the pages. A few twists and turns gave some surprises along the way and I like how Lillian’s true agenda has been left vague to help keep the reader guessing. I will definitely be reading the next book to find out what happens next.

With brilliant concepts, fantastical world building and some scientific grounding thrown in, Trial of Fire is every fantasy lover’s dream come true. 4 stars!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Bloodlines - Book Review

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Bloodlines – Book Review 

Richelle Mead

YA Paranormal

Book #1 of the Bloodlines Series – A spin off from Vampire Academy


Synopsis:
Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect Vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. 

Jill Dragomir – the sister of the Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydeny is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

Review:

I adored the Vampire Academy series and was delighted to hear about this spin off. And while I feel the plot was very predictable – especially as I’ve read the vampire academy books, I still found Bloodlines and enjoyable read.

Following the life of Sydney, an eighteen year old alchemist with a fear of magic and an even larger fear of vampires, this first book sees Sydney overwhelmed by both. Yet she is willing to do anything to protect her younger sister, Zoe, from the regimental clutches of the alchemists. Even if that means accepting a job that sees her relocating to a boarding school where she will room and pose as the sister of a Moroi Vampire Princess. 

However Sydney is soon surprised to learn that vampires – at least the Moroi – really aren’t so bad after all, but despite her newly made friendships, Sydney can’t allow the alchemists to discover her newly changed attitude. 

If it became known she sympathised with vampires, the alchemists would see fit to initiate Zoe into their order and have Sydney replaced and sent to the re-education centre – essentially, a prison for alchemists. 

However between keeping the Princess safe, learning to navigate the high school social scene and keeping Adrian, a party loving Moroi in check, Sydney has her work cut out for her. Especially as it seems someone seems to have stolen the alchemists’ sacred art of magical tattooing. 

Now with students popping up with heightened abilities all over campus, Sydney must battle to protect the princess, stay under cover as a loyal vampire hating alchemist and uncover the truth behind the mysterious tattoos. But someone from her past has it in for her and Sydney risks losing everything. Her future, her sister and maybe even her life…

I really, really enjoyed this book. As well as being its own unique story, it also gives an in depth look into what happened after the events in vampire academy. I particularly liked that many of the characters from the previous series also got to make cameo appearances. 

In terms of the plot, I found 2/3s of it very predictable, however I never would have guessed such outcomes had I not followed vampire academy. Still there were a few surprises, yet even being able to predict the ‘plot twists’ I still immensely enjoyed the story. In fact I actually just felt smug that I figured most of it out lol.

However my one criticism of the plot is that I didn’t feel like it was very action based. While plenty of drama unfolded to keep me happy, I felt that this story lacked the kick ass action that I have come to expect from Richelle Meads leading ladies. Yet saying that, unlike her other heroines, Sydney is a much more subdued character.

Her strengths lie in her smarts, and her ability to think on her feet. She is no warrior but is still the back bone of their little group. Rationalising her actions, she is trustworthy and responsible, yet we see glimpses of a potential spit fire smouldering beneath her straight laced upbringing. Her small eating disorder aside, she is a character I both respected and loved. I can’t wait to see how she develops in the next book.

The other characters were also plenty interesting. Jill, Eddie and Adrian all shine in their new leading roles and I hope we get to uncover more about their pasts as the series unfolds.

I also like how this book left many questions unanswered yet also gave small hints of things to come. For example Sydney’s history teacher being a potential witch, Sydney’s bad tasting blood, not to mention the potential romantic spark kindling between her and Adrian. I really can’t wait to dive into the next book.

So overall a great read and a terrific start to what promises to be yet another marvellous series from Richelle Mead. I give bloodlines 4stars! Oh and if you haven’t already, I would totally recommend checking out Vampire Academy!