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Saturday, 6 December 2014

8709526 
 
The Indigo Spell – Book Review
Richelle Mead
YA Paranormal
Bloodlines Book # 3

Synopsis:

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

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch – a former alchemist who escaped against all odds and is now on the run.

Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realises that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood – or else she might be next.

Review:

Another fabulous addition to the series, this book was difficult to put down and I really enjoyed every minute of it. Although, I was slightly disappointed that some characters only got to play small parts.


When a frantic phone call wakes Sydney in the middle of the night, she never imagines that she will be pulled even deeper into the world of vampires and magic. Yet now, with her life in danger, Sydney finds magic is the only way to protect herself and despite her original reluctance to use it, she is finding a surprising thrill in her new found power. But it is just one more secret she must keep from the alchemists. And now, with each new question she asks, Sydney’s fear of re-education grows.

Because the alchemists have been lying to her! And now Sydney has proof. But what to do with the information? Should she confront the alchemists, or run away and become an outcast, giving up her mission to protect the Moroi Princess… and her sinful feelings for Adrian, a gorgeous and sarcastic vampire royal. Torn between heart, head and ingrained duty, Sydney must make the ultimate choice, to stand her ground and risk exposure, or do nothing and risk losing everything…

What first struck me about this book was how nearly the whole plot centred around magic and Sydney’s progression with witchcraft. It was also the first book in the series that revolved completely around Sydney and her problems – which is partly why I think most of the secondary characters didn’t get much of a look in. While definitely a page turning story, I was still a little sad the Eddie, Angeline, Jill and the rest of the team got sidelined.

However Sydney’s story is without doubt a riveting one. The plot is fast paced with plenty of drama, revelations and nail biting moments. Yet I think the biggest attraction to this book lay in the fact that Sydney and Adrian finally got some lip-locking action!

Their romance is sweet yet passionate, and of course, completely forbidden. Not only does it up the stakes of the story, but I like how it’s clear to see that both Sydney and Adrian bring out the best in each other. I really can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this star crossed couple.

Otherwise I liked seeing the deeper side of mortal magic. This was something never explored in the vampire academy and is unique to the bloodlines series. I’m also curious to see how Sydney’s magic will help her in freeing herself of  the alchemists control, while also empowering her to get into more action based conflicts.

So overall, I really enjoyed this book, including the somewhat cliff hanger of an ending. A fantastic story, this is a series all vampire academy fans need to check out. 4 Stars!
 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Year of the Rat - Book Review

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The Year of the Rat – Book Review
Clare Furniss
YA Contemporary

Synopsis:

Grappling with grief is hard enough without repeat visits from the deceased. Pearl deals with death, life and family in this haunting, humorous and poignant debut.

The world can tip at any moment… a fact that fifteen year old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister, Rose.

Rose, who looks exactly like a baby rat, all pink and wrinkled and writhing. This little rat has destroyed everything, even ruined the wonderful relationship Pearl had with her stepfather, the Rat’s biological father.
Mum, though… mum’s dead but she can’t seem to leave. She keeps visiting Pearl, smoking, cursing, guiding…

Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mother, but also the fact the her sister – The Rat – is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around.

Review:

The year of the Rat is a deeply moving book that will definitely tug at the heart strings. And while I’m not generally a fan of contemporary reads, I had heard that this book was quite the emotional rollercoaster, and despite my reluctance for the genre, my curiosity eventually got the best of me. However while I didn’t exactly fall in love with the story, the book really did pack a huge punch that caused me to shed more than a few tears.

The story follows the life of fifteen year old Pearl. Opening on the day of her mother’s funeral, the reader is immediately informed of the close bond Pearl shared with her mother, and Pearl’s bitterness towards her newborn sister, Rose, aka ‘The Rat’ of whom she blames for her mother’s death.

Spanning the space of a year, the book takes you on Pearl’s journey through each stage of her grief. The denial, the guilt, the misplaced blame and of course, that anger than comes with a sudden loss. Yet what I found most interesting was the sporadic appearances of Pearl’s mother in ghost form. For me it was these beyond the grave conversations that helped make this story special.

As a main character Pearl is really complex. In the beginning her emotions are very raw but as the story is told in first person, it’s easy to relate to her mood swings and understand her perspective.

Yet watching Pearl’s slow acceptance of ‘The Rat’ also kept me turning the pages. While at times, I found Pearl’s actions horrifying, they were undeniably human and my heart would bleed for her with each new wall she would throw up between her and the world. So while by no means a happy story, ‘The Year of the Rat’ is without doubt one of depth and feeling.

What most drove me to keep reading the book though was its blatant honesty towards family life. Every family is special; whether that family is connected by blood, friendship or marriage. And as most parents keep some truths hidden from their children, this book shows how such things can lead to the children misunderstanding and making bad decisions, such was the case with Pearl.

Furthermore this book also explores the darker element of women who don’t initially bond with their children. Yet I also liked how these symptoms echoed in Pearl, especially when she accepts that her feelings of rejection and hate towards ‘the rat’ are abnormal. Nonetheless, she can’t help but blame her mother’s death on her innocent sister.  

As the story goes on, Pearl isolates herself more and more. Losing interest in her old life, she cuts herself off from her friends, skips school and begins to turn to alcohol to deal with her problems. All in all, it is a crazy year of ups and downs for Pearl that have a significant impact on the adult she is turning into. This book, especially for a debut novel, is a truly powerful read.

Overall, a gripping and beautifully written story that captures a young girl’s grief and tragedy. ‘The Year of the Rat’ will take you on a heartfelt journey that will teach you to let go of the past, cope with loss and remind you to keep on living. Truly spectacular! 4 Stars!

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Golden Lily - Book Review

8709523 


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!