The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead My rating: 4 of 5 stars For the most part, I thought this was a really great book. It definitely is worthy of the four stars that I’m giving it, but it is the worst book (so far) in the Bloodlines series. I really enjoy the series and Mead’s writing, but this book just didn’t make me feel the same kind of rush that the previous 3 books did. That doesn’t mean that I won’t end up loving the last two books, especially considering that in the Vampire Academy series, my least favorite book was the fourth book. Maybe I just have a problem with that part of the arc in stories? Anyway, I digress. The story was intriguing and it was definitely filled with drama, which was in keeping with the past stories. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same level of wit that I had come to expect. It was rather dry when it came to that, and the drama that happened was a lot more predictable than it should have been. The whole series has sort of been building to what happened in this book, so it didn’t end up really shocking me or anything. I can say, without a doubt, that I absolutely hate Zoe and think that both she and Sydney’s father are extremely most despicable characters. I know that Zoe is motivated by jealousy and was raised by a bigot, so her motives might not completely be her own, but she was given a chance to grow and change and she didn’t, which makes her actions that much more abhorrent. I already knew I didn’t like Sydney’s father before this book, with his previous love of a rapist and his somewhat subtle emotional abuse of his daughters, but this book made me realize what a schmuck the dude really is. I hope that Sydney’s mom gets custody of Zoe, if for no other reason than I know it would make Zoe and Jared so horribly miserable. I’m glad that Adrian was finally coming to terms with the fact that he had been living an extremely self-destructive life. I hope that he can learn how to use spirit while being on medication at some point because he really deserves to have some sort of normal life. I’m sure that his decisions to go on the medicine and, later, to go back off it will be dealt with more in the fifth or sixth book…or at least, I hope that that’s the case. I think that the way his lack of faith in himself was portrayed was extremely poignant. A lot of times when writers choose to write about a mentally ill character, they don’t completely “get” what having a mental illness is like, but Mead did an excellent job in portraying what it was like for him. Kudos for that. There seemed to be too many characters in the story. I know that all of the VA and Bloodlines stories have featured multitudes of characters, but there were so many in this book that it felt like some weren’t getting the level of attention that they deserved. Hopefully that won’t be an issue in the next two books. Overall, even with the stuff that I didn’t like about this book, I found it entertaining, easy to get into, and easy to read. I think it is definitely worth reading and I’m glad to see at least one paranormal romance series writer getting it right. (Some of the fails that have befallen other writers in the genre had made me start to lose hope.) I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance stories, especially within the young adult age group. View all my reviews

Review: The Fiery Heart

Marked by P.C. Cast My rating: 1 of 5 stars Once upon a time, I gave this book a five-star rating. After doing a re-read this past week, I’m wondering why I ever gave it such a high rating. It definitely doesn’t deserve it. Maybe I was just so enamored by vampire novels at that point that I thought anything with a little fang or a little blood was awesome. Obviously, I was wrong. As is typical with the young adult vampire novel, the heroine considers herself to be a freak and lives in some sort of broken home/recently remarried type situation. As is also typical, said heroine is having boy troubles. Apparently, vampire novel heroines are always having some kind of heartache/heart-break issue. Maybe it’s actually heartburn and they need some kind of acid reliever. Honestly, that would make more sense in a lot of cases within this genre. I was intrigued that the story dealt with segregation. Once teenagers find out that they are vampyres, as they spell it in this book, they have to give up their old life and move into a special boarding school for other people who have been marked. I know that might sound a lot like Harry Potter, but instead of being just a tradition, this is something that seems to be legally required of newly marked. It is also apparent that this is different from the HP books in that the outside world knows about vampyres existing and they treat them as being lesser creatures because they are no longer human. (To be fair, the vampyres call humans ‘refrigerators’, so there really is no love lost.) Zoey Redbird, this novel’s heroine and narrator, is a bit of a queen of exaggeration and immaturity. She says that she has limited math skills, but makes fun of her best friend’s worse one when the friend exaggerates a number. It makes Zoey seem very haughty. It was the kind of attitude that you might see someone display right before someone punched them in the face. And she really has no right to be so, since, like I said, she’s got some problems with immaturity. She uses words like “boobie” and “poopie” regularly. And she gets distracted whenever she thinks about those words. It’s very annoying. She’s also a hypocrite. She will ridicule someone else in one paragraph for a particular behavior and then turn around and do the exact same behavior just a few paragraphs later. Zoey and her friends like to partake in the hobby of slut-shaming. There was honestly more slut-shaming in this book than I was ever exposed to in high school. It was very alarming to see two female writers propagating the idea that girls who have sex or who enjoy being sexual in any way deserve to be treated with less respect and with continued ridicule. What does that teach the readers of these novels to think about sex and sexuality? Zoey also uses other ways of insulting people through slurs and stereotypes. Negative remarks that she makes about others often relate to the person’s sex life or their body shape and size. And do not get me started on how Damien is described. Zoey actually mentions something about not hearing a lisp. And the story goes out of the way to make him seem like he’s different from every other gay guy in the world. Instead of making the story seem more inclusive by having a gay character, it actually feels more like they’re being even more ignorant and anti-LGBTQ. She calls another character a “retard” and makes fun of friends of her stepfather as being “beady-eyed pedophile husbands”. Both of these things disgusted me. There is even racist wording used to describe a fellow student’s hair. I know that Zoey cannot and shouldn’t be a perfect character. Flaws are what make characters great, but there’s a point when it becomes obvious that it’s more than just a flawed character–it’s a flawed book. The writing quality of the book is poor. Before Zoey goes to the House of Night, there’s a scene where her mother and stepfather are talking…and they seem to only talk in cliches. The mother actually makes a comment about “what will the neighbors say.” It was ridiculous. Throughout the book, it felt like the writers are trying really hard to be young and fresh. That was disconcerting to me because one of the authors is young enough that she shouldn’t have had to try very hard to sound young. And, as I think I’ve pointed out by now, the book is filled with ignorance and bigotry. Instead of being an interesting story, it just comes across as disgusting. View all my reviews

Review: Marked

Fall of Night by Rachel Caine My rating: 2 of 5 stars I haven’t enjoyed this series as much as I probably should have. After all, it is fully of vampires, and those are sort of my thing. Between the dragging feeling that was present in almost every book, the times when chapters would be 40-50 pages long (for a 300-400 page book), and the switching perspectives in almost every other chapter (and going from 3rd person to 1st person in those chapters) in the last few books, I have been feeling more and more disenchanted. This book definitely would not make my list of awesome books. It isn’t even one of the better ones in the series. For one thing, part of what made me keep coming back to these books were the characters Eve, Amelie, and Myrnin. Well, in this book, Eve and Myrnin barely have any part at all, while Amelie has none. Eve and Myrnin always provided some of the most humorous comments in the other books, while Amelie would provide some of the best insight; without these three, the books aren’t as funny and they don’t seem as philosophical/insightful. It’s amazing how not having them makes the story so very flat. Another thing I disliked was the continuation of the bad guy being the person you should least expect. For 14 books, that has been the case, whether it was Oliver, a puddle/the rain/Magnus, Naomi, or mad scientists. With every book, I thought the way villains were written would change. With every book, it became more and more obvious that it wouldn’t change. It would have been okay if it had been an occasional thing, but 14 books that are built on the suspense of figuring out who the big bad is made this formula a really bad idea. Everything that happened in the story made it so obvious that this story was going to be like the other 13. It is good that this is only a 15 book series. I think that, at least when it comes to the Morganville series, Caine has lost her spark. View all my reviews

Review: Fall of Night

This afternoon after watching Shame, which is the movie where you see Michael Fassbender’s penis a lot of times, I was watching CNN for a few seconds and I nearly passed out. There was a clip of “Bye Bye Bye” by *NSYNC and my heart dropped because I figured that this would be some story where Chris or Joey or Lance or JC was found dead somewhere. (If it was Justin, then they’d show one of his movies or solo music videos.) But I was relieved when they started talking about a possible reunion. No, relieved is not the appropriate word for it. I believe overjoyed and exuberant is more like it. I even felt a squee coming on, which has only happened on one occasion since my teen years–when Kate Winslet won the Academy Award. Who am I kidding? A squee did actually come out of my mouth. Poor Amy was so scared hearing me squeal like a teenybopper. *NSYNC may actually be getting back together. It’s only for the one night, but that’s still worthy of excitement. Hell, I think it’s worthy of a parade, fireworks, and possibly a national holiday. I mean, this is *NSYNC. This is like the best boyband ever. I don’t like NKOTB. Backstreet Boys are okay 98° are probably second best. And the newer boybands just make me really sad because it’s like they aren’t even trying. (I semi-secretly prefer The Wanted to One Direction, though.) I have been waiting for these guys to get back together in some way since I was a teenager. I mean, I was so upset when Celebrity was their last real release. I had hoped for more from them, though. I guess it’s good that they didn’t get back together before now, because I can’t imagine how much money I would have spent on procuring releases by them. By the time they split, I had every album they’d released in the United States, plus their German debut, their European “Winter Album”, the maxi single of God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You, the US single for another song, the European singles from their first and second albums, the Britney/*NSYNC McDonalds album, and pretty much every compilation/soundtrack that they were on. (There were some that I couldn’t get a hold of.) Then there are the Barbies, the marionettes, some books about them, the t-shirt from their (May 7, 2000) concert, the concert program from that same concert, the ticket from that concert, the *N the Mix video, an interview CD, every magazine they were in, video recordings of any appearance they made on television (from interviews to Pop Up Video and Before They Were Stars) ,and various *NSYNC toys. I used to joke with my parents that the economy started going downhill when *NSYNC broke up. So I guess I’ll be watching the Video Music Awards to see if they really do reunite. And if you hear squealing coming from my little corner of the world, then you’ll know it’s just the inner fangirl going crazy again. If I hadn’t watched Shame, I wouldn’t have known about the boys getting back together. So, way to go Tumblr for promoting that movie. It was an interesting distraction from real life stuff and the semi-drama on Tumblr over the fate of Eric Northman and whether or not Alexander Skarsgård happens to be circumcised caused by the True Blood season finale.

Get Together Naturally

Gates of Paradise by Melissa de la Cruz My rating: 5 of 5 stars I wasn’t always enthralled by this series. Some of the stories about the Blue Bloods teens were better than the others. This one actually one of the good ones. Like the previous books, the first several chapters had a dragging quality. But it DID get much better. The reveals in the story weren’t really all that shocking, especially if you had paid attention to the previous books. It was nice to see so many characters and relationships get happy endings. I wish that the other books in the series had been as high in quality as this last one. View all my reviews

Review: Gates of Paradise

Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine My rating: 3 of 5 stars Kiss of Death is a lot like other books in the Morganville Vampires series. It was interesting and had the potential to be awesome, but somehow fell short. That seems to the be the norm in this series. The book was a little different in that the four residents of the Glass House (plus Oliver) leave Morganville to go to Dallas. Of course, vampire-related chaos and drama ensues. Unfortunately, the chaos isn’t really all that interesting, as usual. I always seem to enjoy the chapters leading up to the chaos, but find the actual action in the books to be boring. It is nice to see Claire coming out of her shell more with each book. I like that the heroine of the series can be geeky and kickass. That is rather empowering. The interactions among the characters are always entertaining. (They’re the best part of the whole series.) I especially love the snarky sibling-like relationship between Shane and Eve. It can always provide a laugh or two. It’s also cool to see the romances between the characters developing. I would say that I hope weaker parts of the stories improve, but I figure that this far into the series, that seems unlikely. I guess I might grow accustomed to it soon. Either that or I’ll just continue to feel a bit disappointed in the series. View all my reviews

Review: Kiss of Death

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz My rating: 4 of 5 stars Melissa De La Cruz has written an interesting novel with Blue Bloods, the first in the series of the same name. The book is basically a young adult vampire novel. The book has some major similarities to other books within the young adult world, which might be completely unintentional, but it was on the annoying side to be reminded of other stories. The big one is that it reminds me a lot of Gossip Girl, only instead of the characters just being filthy rich Upper East Side teenagers, they have the added benefit of being gorgeous, immortal, and powerful due to their vampire heritage. When I say vampire heritage, I mean actual heritage. These kids are born vampires, though they don’t find out until they reach their teens. There are several main characters within the story, each with his or her own personality, agenda, and background. The main characters appear to be Schuyler, Oliver, Bliss, Mimi, and Jack. Bliss, Mimi, and Jack are full-blooded vampires, while Schuyler is a half-blood and her best friend Oliver is sort of like her trusted sidekick that was assigned to her as an infant. All of the main characters are easy to empathize with, with the exception of Mimi who comes off as the stereotypical popular, vapid, rich girl. Her character could possibly improve in future books, and I hope she does, because I don’t want to root for her to die or anything. It kind of sucks when you have to do that with a protagonist. Although the book is interesting and could even be considered good, I don’t think it’s all that remarkable. In some parts of the book, it was extremely easy to read and fun, but other parts just seemed to fall a bit flat. I think that the struggle between some of the protagonists and the Wardens/Conclave (vampires in power) over the issue of Silver Bloods (the Big Bad) was intriguing, though some of it was almost predictable. I found it a little hard to believe that Jack didn’t realize his own “father”‘s origins. I know that he hasn’t looked into his past life memories as much as his twin/bondmate, but it seems like he would have known who he was. I have to wonder if Mimi knows, since she acts like she knows everything. I was irked by the idea of twins, even of a different species, being attracted to one another and being in romantic relationships with one another. Even when explained, it irked me out, but I guess I will never get the appeal of incest in fantasy stories. (Or other stories.) Maybe if the explanation had been given earlier in the book, when the first hints at incest were made, then it wouldn’t have been quite as hard to swallow, but since it wasn’t, it was more irksome. I’m just glad that other characters, who didn’t know that it was considered the norm for the species, were just as disgusted by it. The interesting might be worth reading, and I think I’ll stick with it for a while to see if it gets better. I hope that it does because it could be great if it actually gets better. Otherwise, it may just be the beginning of some sort of literary trainwreck. View all my reviews

Review: Blue Bloods

Undead and Underwater by MaryJanice Davidson My rating: 2 of 5 stars If you look at the title of the book, you think that it’s going to be about the world of Betsy Taylor, vampire queen extraordinaire. Looks can be deceiving. Yes, I knew that it would have novellas, but I figured that since it’s an “Undead and…” book that the stories might actually fit within the Undead series. Just one of the three stories is, though. The final story does have a connection with the Undead series as well, with a cameo by the queen herself. The stories themselves were somewhat okay. The final one was more enjoyable. It still wasn’t of the quality that I really expect from MJ. All of the stories come across more as writing exercises than actual developed novellas. I wish that they were all a little more developed, so that they all would have felt less like a waste of time. View all my reviews

Review: Undead and Underwater