Blood Promise - Richelle Mead

Blood Promise is the fourth installment of the Vampire Academy series.  Rose has made her decision and this time we follow her off school grounds on her journey to find her beloved Dimitri, leaving her best friend Lissa behind. She travels all the way to Siberia in hopes of finding him but is she strong enough to follow through with the mission she has set out to complete?

I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to the series.  It centers around Rose but because of her unique bond with Lissa we are able to see what is going on back at the academy.  Lissa usually tries so hard to be the "good girl" pleasing everyone but she basically spirals out of control without Rose around to take care of her.  It's sad really but in previous books where she was boring, in  this one her drunken antics and failure to deal with her loss is a little obnoxious.  I wish she could've found a better way to deal with her grief. However, I can say I have finally begun to gain some respect for her abilities but not necessarily for her character.  Without Rose, she is completely worthless.  

Despite my issues with Lissa, this is a great story! We are introduced to many new characters and get more insight into the bond between her and Lissa along with Dimitri's past. Rose is continuing to grow as a person and is learning more and more about herself, which is wonderful and at the same time tough.  As a reader, I feel for her and believe that she is a very relate-able character especially since most people know what it's like to feel love and guilt.  If you've already read the book, then you'll know what I mean by this next statement.  I think she spent a little too much time in the dazed state where she is just not quite herself.  It dragged on a little too long.  This doesn't change the fact that she is the best character of the entire series.  As with previous books, the ending is absolutely amazing! It isn't quite as shocking as the last two but the twist at the end still gives me hope.

I'm very anxious to get my hands on the next installment.  I can't wait to see what happens next.

4.5 out of 5 STARS

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Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead

As the midway point through the Vampire Academy series, Shadow Kiss starts a few weeks after Rose kills her first Strigoi and is witness to the shocking death of a fellow comrade.  Since these traumatic events, she hasn't felt right and to top it off she may be seeing ghosts!  Her best friend Lissa has decided to stop taking her meds and experiment with her unique magic.  Old enemy, Victor Dashkov, may be getting off the hook for the crimes he committed.  As if things couldn't get worse, her and Dimitri's forbidden love affair is heating up once more.  An unanticipated threat may force Rose to choose between the two people she loves most: her best friend and the love of her life.

I really love these books and they keep on getting better and better!  This one is definitely darker than the previous books because Rose is dealing with the death of Mason and learning more about her bond with Lissa. Rose is still the sassy, strong young lady that we have fallen in love with but her growth is very apparent.  One of the things that I liked most about this book is that Rose begins to question whether or not she wants to follow the path of being the guardian she has trained her whole life to be.  She may not want to spend her life protecting Lissa in the shadows while sacrificing her own personal happiness.   I'm still not very impressed with Lissa.  I think that she has potential but she is not quite there yet for me.  I find her extremely annoying.  She is definitely not a memorable character in the least.  On the other hand, there's the Rose and Dimitri saga.  I like Dimitri and how he tries to repress and deny his feelings for Rose.  Things get really hot between the two! I don't want to give anything away so I will leave it at that. 

At first, I didn't know how Adrian would fit in to these books.  Honestly, I didn't think that I would like him and I thought that he would be a creep.  Now, I see that despite his flaws I actually do kind of really like him.  I like that he is a spirit user and it is evident that he does genuinely care about Rose.  Part of me would like to see her try to be with him but a bigger part of me knows that it wouldn't be right.  Ultimately, Rose belongs with Dimitri.  

  Ultimately, this book left me at the edge of my seat and pretty heartbroken.  This is definitely the best book in this series so far and I have to imagine that it will only get better from here. The ending is definitely another shocker that leaves the reader dying to get their hands on the next one!! Needless to say, I will own this series.

5 out of 5 STARS

There are some people who are disgruntled about the age difference between Dimitri and Rose.  Personally, I don't think it's a big deal nor do I think that it sends teens the wrong message because the age group these books are meant for should know and understand that this is a work of fiction. Not to mention I think a situation such as this rarely happens in the realm of reality. This book is meant for YOUNG ADULTS so parents should monitor what their younger more impressionable kids are reading and not take fiction so seriously. 

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Black and White - Malorie Blackman

NOTE: The other name for this series is Naughts and Crosses. 

Sephy and Callum. One is a Naught while the other is a Cross.  They are childhood friends who have grown to love one another in a way that is not acceptable in their society.  It's simple: Naughts and Crosses do not mix. They desperately want to be with each other but first they must fight against the world and possibly even risk their lives for a forbidden love.  

This was an amazing book!  I don't want to take away any elements of surprise for the readers who have not yet read this one.  This is more than just a tragic love story.  Both of the main characters start off innocent and unaware of the hatred present in their society.  It is very relevant to the world as we know it and really made me think about the what ifs. Some people are more well off than others and some unfortunately are forced to grow up earlier in life.  This book shows that we should not judge people and also that your experiences shape who you are as a person. I was inspired to pay attention to how people around me stereotype others.   The author did a very good job tackling racism in a new  and different way.  

From the moment I started this book, it hooked me in and I never wanted to put it down.  All readers could relate to either one of the characters.  The story itself was very powerful and thought-provoking.  There were shocking twists and turns that kept me reading for hours.  I was very saddened by this book and almost brought to tears, but I loved it nonetheless.  It shows a hard, terrible, and unfortunate truth.  I loved that I was able to feel what the characters were going through.  People really need to look past the color of ones skin because we are all the made the same on the inside.  This is only the first in a trilogy  and needless to say I can't wait to get my hands on the next one (Knife Edge)

5 out of 5 STARS

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The Last Olympian - Rick Riordan

Everything that has happened up to this point, has been building up to this book.  All of the demigods and their allies have been preparing, as  best they can, for the final showdown with Kronos.  The prophesy has been revealed and Percy has some life-altering decisions to make.  Kronos' army is stronger than ever and they know their chances of defeating him are slim, especially with the Ares cabin refusing to fight.  In addition, there is a mole within the group feeding information directly back to Kronos! The gods are busy fighting the titan Typhon who is rampaging across the country headed for Mount Olympus while Poseidon is fighting another titan Oceanus.  Our favorite group of heroes are on their own to stop the titan god of time in the conclusion to this epic story. 

Sadly, this marks the end of the Percy Jackson series.  Let me just say, this has quickly become one of my favorites!  From beginning to end, the books got increasingly good.  Despite minor complaints, this is a great story that anyone can enjoy: young and old alike.  From the first chapter and throughout, there was not a dull moment in this book.  You got action from beginning to end.  I know we are used to some comedic relief or banter between the main characters but there really wasn't any room for that in this book.  No complaints here because that definitely should be expected with a war raging and the possibility of the world ending based on the actions of a group of teenagers.  More people die and I was at the edge of my seat hoping that all of the main characters survive.  I liked the way the story unfolded and the wrap up left me feeling like reading this the whole series was totally worth it.  

If I had one complaint it would be that the battle seemed to be a bit choppy.  They would start fighting and stop and start again.  My one and only wish is that the fighting would have been a little more smoother.  That being said, I understand why it had to be broken up that way as well as it can't be expected for them to fight non-stop without at least taking a break to tend to the wounded.  Still, it felt a little choppy.  There was a couple of nice twists at the end, some of which I saw coming while others were a good surprise.  I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes young adult and even adults too! 

There is a teaser at the very end alluding to another series he is doing set in the same world but around different characters.  No doubt I plan on reading that one too. 

5 out of 5 STARS

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Frostbite - Richelle Mead

This is the second book in the Vampire Academy series.  Rose is witness to the aftermath of a terrible Strigoi attack and news of this attack spreads quickly.  To keep the students at St. Vladimir's safe, everyone is sent to a ski resort for Christmas break instead of staying on school grounds.  The vampire community is on high alert and tempers are flaring over the debate on whether or not Moroi should be allowed to use their powers and fight alongside dhampirs.  When Rose tells a group of her friends that there may be a group of Strigoi nearby, she finds herself in a jam when they decide to go after them on their own.  It is up to her and an unlikely friend to go after them and bring them back before they get themselves killed.   

Again, I must say that this series has surprised me.  Once I started reading, it didn't  take me long to finish!  Everyone's favorite character is Rose Hathaway and for good reason! It was so nice to see Rose get down and dirty and kick some serious butt!  I really liked that she had the opportunity to be an unlikely voice of reason though the situation was brought on by her own foolishness. It was nice to get closer to Rose as she has to deal with some life changing events.  She is tough enough to hang with the guys but underneath it all she's kind hearted and willing to risk her own life to help others.  We are introduced to Rose's mother, Janine Hathaway.  I think the interactions between the two was done very well and seemed realistic.  It's not surprising  that there are a lot of similarities between the two.  I also like the uniqueness of the bond that she and Lissa share.  It's a little odd that it's only one way but for the story, it works.  As far as Lissa goes, she is okay but she has a long way to go to convince me that she isn't just another helpless Moroi.  Her ability to control spirit is neat and I hope it is explored further in the next  book; otherwise what would be the point of her having it?  She and Christian's relationship is cute and almost too perfect.  Though, I like Christian (possibly more than Lissa), their relationship wasn't all that interesting, in fact,  it was more entertaining to see him interact with the other characters. 

I LOVE how Rose acts when she is around Dimitri, especially after what happened at the end of the last book.  There is this sort of weird, awkward, sexual tension that was great to see.  Rose, however, does get annoying at times because she shows that she is young needs more time to mature.  In addition to Mason, Adrian Ivashkov was a nice monkey wrench thrown in there trying to steal some attention from our heroine.  However, I think her heart is with Dimitri despite all the distractions.  

 I enjoyed the plot of this one, though nothing much happens until about midway to the end.  The ending however is a huge shocker and I think readers will be blind-sighted by it.  The second  book was worth reading for the Rose/Dimitri drama and for the ending.  So far this series has proved to be much better than anyone could have expected.  It's a great balance of action and romance, with interesting characters who get themselves into a whole lot of trouble. If you like this genre of books then trust me you'll be hooked.  

I must address how stupid all the covers are in this series.  This series is too good for people to be deterred from reading it simply because the cover looks dumb. 

4 out of 5 STARS

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Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway is a dhampir- meaning that she is half vampire and half human.  The Vampire Academy is a secluded school designed to protect and teach the Moroi to learn how to control their magic and dhampirs the skills they need to protect them from the evil red-eyed Strigoi vampires.  Fear that they are in danger, Rose and Lissa have been on the run for two years and have finally been caught and dragged back to the academy.  They, once again, have to face their peers and deal with the drama of social politics.  Is Rose strong enough to keep Lissa safe behind the school walls?

Rose Hathaway is the strong female lead.  She is a straightforward, blunt, a bit sarcastic but is willing to go to extraordinary lengths for those she cares about.  It's hard not to like Rose; she says things that most people are too afraid to say and stands up for what she believes.  Her best friend Lissa, on the other hand, is timid, shy, and smart.  She is the complete opposite of Rose and her character was bit flat at times.  Her worry about a lot of things got slightly annoying and it was obvious that she was dealing with some depression issues. However, it was nice to see she had a dark side and her behavior is justified with the things that she went though.  And who can forget Dimitri?  A hot teacher whose reputation proceeds him.  He is the strong , silent type who genuinely wants to do the right thing.   It's no surprise that Rose is falling for him though it's against the rules.

One of the lessons I learned was "You can't judge a book by it's cover."  I thought this book was going to suck not only because of the cover but also because of the title.  I thought it was going to be a lame Harry Potter wannabe with a vampy twist.  I will be the first to admit that I was very wrong!  I absolutely loved all the characters, especially Rose.  This story is new and original; it had me hooked from the beginning.  The story was fast paced with some nice twists.  There is no doubt about whether I will be reading the next installment to this series.   
PS - the chick on the cover looks like Angeline Jolie

4 out of 5 STARS

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The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan

As this series draws closer to the end, we follow our friends, Percy and Annabeth, on a dangerous journey through the Labyrinth.  Annabeth gets to take charge and lead her own mission.  She chooses Percy, Grover, and Tyson as her companions. They have to find Daedalus to get Ariadne's string before Luke does and navigate through the labyrinth that could potentially drive them all insane.  Meanwhile, minor gods and demigods alike are joining forces with Kronos and people are already dying in a war that has only just started.  Things get a little messy as Rachael Elizabeth Dare is reintroduced and poor Percy doesn't quite know why Annabeth and Rachael are butting heads.  Percy, Annabeth, and Rachael must work together to stop Kronos from taking over Camp Half-Blood. 

I was a little worried after reading the last book but this one made it all worth it. There was a lot of developments along with heart pounding action.  This book had the potential to get really confusing since so much does happen but it was very easy to follow. One of the things I really enjoy about this series is how the relationships between Percy and the other characters develop.  I love the comedic banter and I can see Percy as a somewhat normal, clueless teenage boy.  The tension between Annabeth and Rachael is pretty funny.  I liked that we got to delve deeper into the plot and that it has gotten darker and a little more serious.   This book is now my favorite book in the series and I cannot wait to get my hands on the final installment!! 

5 out of 5 STARS

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Planning A Return

This year has turned out way differently than I expected it to.  So much has changed and I can honestly say that my life is completely different now than when the year first started.  I went through a break-up ... those are never easy ... but I am recovering and slowing rediscovering myself again. I got into a really bad car accident ... completely totaled my car  and still saving for a new one -- I am grateful to be alive and well . Surprisingly, despite being rushed to the hospital, I walked away from the accident with a little bruising and minor scrapes.  Went from living with my ex-boyfriend to living by myself to planning on living with a roommate to living back home with my mom (temporarily)  On a bright side, the year had lots of ups ... I reconnected with a bunch of old friends and met lots of new people in the process- some of which have become very close friends.  Realizing that I'm still young has lead me to partying till all hours of the night, being more spontaneous, and learning to love myself.  To some it all up, this has been one of the best and worse years of my life!!

Books ... Oh how I haven't forgotten you!! (after all this is a blog dedicated to books)  Amidst all the action of my life I have found time to read.  As of today, the first of December, I have officially completed 43 books and reviewed 36 of them here.  This was my first time attempting a book challenge and it is becoming clearer and clearer that I won't be completing either one.  I guess I was a little too ambitious but I will be trying again next year!!  Considering all my life experiences, I am still very proud of myself.  I have successfully achieved one of my goals which was to consistently read throughout the year. In 2010, I broke out of that post-winter funk that I always tend to get into and that has made starting this blog worth it!  

Happy Reading!! ♥ Sunshine

PS. There are seven books that I have read but not reviewed. (still added to the list of books for the challenges in the sidebar)  I will do my best to post reviews of them but no guarantees. 

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