Monthly Archives: August 2014

‘Spirit Bound’ by Richelle Mead

225px-SpiritBound_Novel★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I have been on a week long hiatus from blogging. A side note: how terrible is having a full time job to your writing career/hobby? I started having creative writing withdrawals. My reports for said job started getting a little too creative. In a request for more cake knives for my events, I literally used the phrase “I have been borrowing the kitchen knives for the functions and they look unreasonably lethal for a simple mud cake massacre.” Though I am fairly sure no one actually reads my reports.  Luckily creativity doesn’t disparage the wee hours.

As a result I took a while to do my review for Spirit Bound. I may have even forgotten what happens… Life got in the way of me starting the next book. Mid series. Mid-obsessive-fan-girling-series, I, Amy Wallin, stopped to attend work, build Ikea couches and squat some kettlebells. I sound like a grownup right? Don’t worry, I still don’t reverse park.

 Spirit Bound, just like ‘Silver Shadows’ there was a chapter, or a million….on Rose being imprisoned. Not half as interesting as Sydney’s. I wonder if Mead has just discovered a formula of success which requires the 5th book to have some form of imprisonment and then a dramatic romantic escape. I must say, Mead is a bit of a genius for introducing the shadow kissed connection that allows Lissa to show her point of view. I know she misses it when she has to write Sydney. Vampire Academy has such a smooth presence across the characters.

It occurred to me while reading Spirit Bound that Richelle may have not been making grammatical errors whilst typing dhampir. Has anyone else ever noticed dhampir is always in lower case, unless of course it starts a sentence, while Moroi is always capitalised. Ah. Clever. Mead cunningly using grammar to emphasise the discrimination between the two races. Dhampirs are so naturally second-rate that they don’t even deserve the capitalisation of a proper noun! It is madness.

But focus Amy. Much sporadic. Such crazy. Many madness. Spirit Bound also delivered an excellent psychopath in literature. Dimitri was honestly a bit of a bore when he was human. Or half human. Then he became a Strigoi and got awesome. My favourite line was probably his creepy, cute, funny (was the funny just me?) note:

 “You forgot another lesson: Never turn your back until you know your enemy is dead. Looks like we’ll have to go over the lesson again the next time I see you-which will be soon.

Love, D”

Ha. So cute. ‘Love D’. When did you get so funny Dimitri? So cool? Clearly when immortality removed your stick-it-up-your-ass honour. Honourable people might make excellent friends, but dull, two dimensional travel companions. Anyway. One review (if you could even call it that) out of the way.

Side note: I wrote the note on my hand to remind myself to write this review. Then I took a strategic nap. Then I tried to read a backwards reminder off my face. Succeeded.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Colleagues or Comrades?

It was the twelfth hour of work on a Saturday morning, at, you guessed it, 3am that I had an epiphany. This was a miracle in itself seeing as I had stopped thinking a few hours back.  I kid you not, someone said my name and I had to think for a minute why the random sounds coming out of that human’s mouth meant something to me.  It occurred to me that I loved the people around me, when earlier in the day had meant nothing really to me. These were my work mates. We had suffered the similar lashings of a 12+ hour shift of break-less, food-less, sober-less trappings that I believe could kill a lesser man.

I appreciated those motherfuckers like you wouldn’t believe. Every tired smile, and half assed attempt at heavy metal dancing. In fact, every movement they made that went towards the overall mission of my team. By the 13th hour, I would have taken a non-lethal bullet for those people.

In the same way you feel like your classmates are family after a school camp, or you miss your uni peers after a particularly gruelling group assignment that stretches beyond the 9 hour mark – they have seen you at your worst. Your dumbest, your ugliest, your angriest. They have also seen you at your best – when you have no juice left in your system, no energy to spare, no marrow in your bones (probably) and you can keep going.

So that was my weekend.

I came out the other side, not sure of what day it was. I thought back to when I started my shift, convinced that everything that had happened in those naive first few hours was in fact a week ago.  I write a lot of posts about how things change me – books – cocktails – a particular brutal hangover. This is different. I came out of the shower that evening morning feeling like ill sleep hereI was exiting the womb. How’s that for your Freud? I was weak, I hurt, I didn’t know what I was anymore, I didn’t have a damn thought in my brain. I was brand new. I mean I thought so, until I landed on my bed in a clumsy new born sort of way and dreamt of work.

Jesus H. Christ (What is jesus’s middle name?) I finished work and now when I think I’m able to spend some final moments of recovering before I have to get up in <check watch> two hours –and I’m working in my sleep. It’s just not right. I watched a video on the internet machine last night – to stop thinking about work before I went to bed (didn’t help) and VSauce semi explained this awful phenomenon. ‘Why do we dream?’ informed me of a theory to my work-dreams.  VSauce man tells me that when we learn a new skill (which I constantly am at my place of work) or face new fears (customers are actually an old fear) our brains repeat the same processes when we were learning the skill and the side effect of this brain activity is passed off as a dream. Another theory is that our fears in the waking world are replayed in dream form so that we are more adept at handling them when confronted in the real world.

What an excellent way to look at it. I would have said something like: I dream of work because I forget there was a human living under my job title.

I dunno you guys…

Okay Smokey. So this week’s theme over at a la Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten books you aren’t sure you want to read. If you’re the skimming type, I have put my major reason in the title – but I promise I validate my thoughts if you’re the deep reader type.

  1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – It just feels awkward when I hold it

Nothing puts me off like a plain hardcover that has a bitchy plastic sleeve that always falls off. In the brief few moments of picking it up and putting it onto my bookshelf it felt awkward in my hand.tangled  I’ve had it since 2013 and I can’t remember why I got it, or where I got it.  I have a terrible memory. Not only that, but I have literally never had anyone recommend it to me, or read a single review or mention of it.

  1. Adam Bede by George Eliot (Pen Name) – I’m not a romance kinda gal

For my twelfth birthday I got a set of six romance classics from my grandparents. The first one I read was Little Women. I loved it so much that I have read it once a year since then. Due to the unusually high expectations set by Louisa May Alcott; Jane Eyre, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Wuthering Heights, all fell a little short. Finally after I struggled my way through Emma, AKA the bitchiest girl in all the land I couldn’t bear the thought of starting the last one. And now… I have never heard anyone mention it. It’s a sign.

  1. If I stay by Gayle Forman – Will make my face all cry-y

I usually attempt to read a book before it comes out in the cinemas, primarily so I can (in my head) lord it over the rest of the uneducated audience. Or so I have a reason to see the movie at all. But I read ‘The Fault in our Stars’ for this reason and the thought of crying that much again – in public, stopped me from seeing the movie. Is this book really worth my tears! I don’t know if I can go through the heartache (that I know this book will have) again.

  1. The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare – Maybe shoulda stopped by now

So far, this lady has three series out all surrounding the one world. I have read and loved: the Infernal Devices and the Mortal Instruments. But I haven’t been bothered with the Bane Chronicals, and the thought of another Shadowhunter joining the already packed space for Shadowhunters in my heart is a bit daunting. I think I’ll wait for the other reviewers (Becky) to get me re-hyped.tumblr_n95wmqWmoZ1tega6oo1_500

  1. Clockwork Orange – The movie made me feel ill

I can only imagine the effect of a book is a million times that.

  1. Percy Jackson – The entire shitting series

These books came into my life by way of a little sister. I think I may have missed the age train on the first one. By a long shot. I tried to read it and just felt everything was terrible. It may have just been the first book that was a little immature. But I really didn’t want to commit to reading the rest of the first one if I have what looks like 77 other books in the series.  What if the rest are just as bad?

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich – What’s with all the assonance

tumblr_inline_mtjze0L3iJ1rgo5sbHonestly no other author has sounded so much like a supervillain in the history of the world.  You might think I wouldn’t want to read Lolita because of the whole sexualising of a child stuff. But it isn’t that. I just don’t know if the plot is going to interest me enough. It seems like one big road trip, and it sounds like a gothic on top of that. They have a habit of being dull. Creepy. But dull.

  1. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – I don’t want to be let down

I’ve heard some pretty serious raves about this book all throughout my literary degree. I read a chapter in class once – I forget what I was meant to be learning from it. The writing was beautiful and sincere. It almost reminded me of Atonement, like a period piece but written with honey instead of ink. But what if it was just that one chapter that was good? I’ve been fooled before. I loved the first chapter of Wuthering Heights, but not a minute more.

  1. Elanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Is she a Powerpuff girl?tumblr_mqgeai2tOb1scu3llo1_400

If Vlad Vlad is a super villain, Rainbow Rowell is Powerpuff girl. I feel like everything she will write will be in that theme of sugar and spice and all things nice. I don’t so much mind cutesy books. But I don’t particularly enjoy them either. People say don’t judge a book by its cover – I’ve judged you on your name alone.

  1. The Vampire Academy – Its just so….

HA totally kidding, had you fooled.

Feel free to give me a reason to read, or not to read any of the books. I would really like to make the executive decision one way or another. I really dislike having books on my shelf that I haven’t read. Though most of these are not on my shelf at all. Don’t forget to link up your lists!

‘Blood Promise’ by Richelle Mead

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It has been less than a day since I finished Shadow Kiss and here I am writing my next review. I swear there is more to my life than reading the Vampire Academy, I just can’t remember at the present time.books_bloodpromise_big

Despite all the darkness of Rose the spirit sucker that was present in the last book, we do get to see Rose come back with a little more sarcasm and vivaciousness that we have all come to know and love.  I was very apprehensive starting Blood Promise, because I knew Rose would be beyond depressed now that she has lost the love of her life, and is stuck in Russia and is shit at speaking Russian. It would get to the best of us.

I was so happy when we finally came into contact with the Bloodines protagonist Sydney Sage. It is so interesting seeing her from the outside. She is bitchy and cold, but Mead still makes the reader like her with Rose’s attitude towards her. Maybe it’s just me because I knew Sydney so well before I even met her. Rose and Sydney are just the cutest frenemies, I hope I get to see more of them together in the later books.

Her face stayed bland. “Moroi drink blood. Dhampirs are the unnatural offspring of them and humans.”

No one had ever called me unnatural before, except for the time I put ketchup on a taco. But seriously, we’d been out of salsa, so what else was I supposed to do? “Moroi and Dhampirs are not evil,” I told Sydney. “Not like Strigoi.”

“That’s true,” she concede. “Strigoi are more evil.”

“Hey, that’s not what I-“

(p. 38, Sydney and Rose)

I really really wish I had read Vampire Academy before I read Bloodlines so that most of the plot wasn’t spoiled for me. I’m always interested when a new character comes into the novels, like Avery Lazar. I know nothing about her or her storyline. So that was a nice little reprieve while it lasted…

There is something that has been plaguing me for a few novels now. What is the go with the tattoos? Dhampirs get molnija marks on the back of their necks when they kill a Strigoi. Rose got tumblr_n7hknfrTon1sx948ro1_250her first one after the Mason incident in Frost Bite. They had big tattooing scene with guardian kisses and love etcetera.  I don’t understand if I have missed something. But Rose has many marks now, yet no visits to tattoo parlours. Mead didn’t give me the impression Rose made any stops from the battle grounds to running away to Strigoi hunting, yet more molniga tattoos keep appearing. Did Mead leave it out? Does Rose get humans to tattoo it when she makes a new kill whilst on the run? Is it magical ink that just appears when she has killed a new one? I NEED ANSWERS!

Also is it just me or does Mead have a thing for flowers? In all of her novels, I feel like 50% of the time I have the imaginary cloying smell of roses in my nose. Rose is a flower, Sydney has a lily tattooed on her cheek. Adrian is just always bringing flowers. They seem to be everywhere and I feel like I’ve got hay fever just from reading – and I don’t even get hay fever.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Shadow Kiss’ by Richelle Mead

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Do you ever feel like you are the only person who has ever, in the history of being, read the book you just finished? Including the author. More specifically, do you ever feel like you are the only person who could ever possibly grieve over the loss of a two dimensional character so you curl ShadowKiss_Novelup in someone, anyone’s, lap and just think about the world?  This is all hypothetical of course, I was a total adult when I finished Shadow Kiss. I ate five serves of vegetables and did my taxes.

I don’t remember who I was before I started Shadow Kiss. When I look back on young, naive Amy, I picture someone in pigtails who skipped everywhere with a picnic basket – because she always had picnics to go to. Post Shadow-Kiss-Amy won’t be attending anymore picnics. She really isn’t up to it. Dimitri is gone from the world, Rose is a crazy lady who is being haunted by the ghosts of her dead almost-lovers, Tatiana is a literal royal bitch, and Christian is on the verge of being my new favourite person… What….How… How do I even go on with my life from here. Well, the obvious answer is move along to Blood Promise. But guys, I have a review to write in the meantime. The few hours of not reading in between the two books has seriously done my head in. My dinner of drunken kebab, I mean…steamed vegetables and a large drink of water, was tasteless in my mouth. Alcohol wouldn’t numb the pain – Adrian taught me wrong.

There is so much I need to talk to you guys about. First of all, lets discuss how this gigantor bitch Tatiana ever got a tiara on that idiot head of hers? How do people like that get into power? Why did Adrian ever defend her! She bitches out Vasilisa in the first book, in front of the world – pretty much how we all see high school, then in Shadow Kiss she places love bans all over the shop, no Adrian for Rose, no Christian for Vasilisa. Then the absolute worst:

“Christian Ozera?” That condescending smile of hers tightened. “There is no way Vasilisa Dragomir is going to marry him.”

“Well, yeah. Not anytime soon. I mean, they’re going to college and-“

“Not now, not ever,” interrupted Tatiana. “The Dragomirs are an ancient and exalted line of royalty. Their last descendent is not going to attach herself to someone like him.”

(p 212, Tatiana the bitch and Rose)

Rose went along and defended his royal-ness which didn’t suit me at all. I have compiled a short list of more appropriate retorts that I give Mead full leeway to use in any reprints that may happen in the future.

  1. Rose: You mean like you attach yourself to being a psychotic bitch?
  2. Rose: I think the line of royalty has been well ‘assaulted’ when you were appointed Queen.
  3. Rose: Did you get your normal and adjusted ideas of love from your husband?… Oh you don’t have one.
  4. Rose: ha ha ha – swift punch in the face.

tumblr_n0zn3jeUgj1sejk9do2_250Like I mentioned earlier in my rant, Christian is quickly becoming my favourite character. With Rose on her anti-happy moods, Christian the emo is the light-hearted joker in this series. He fights for the good of the world, unlike everyone else in his own elitist race. Christian is why I’m going to go back to this series with hope in my heart. Wish me luck.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Frost Bite’ by Richelle Mead

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Well. That didn’t take long. I’m almost ashamed at how fast I am managing to get through these books. How can I call myself a reader when I just fly through them. I almost feel like I have just downloaded the book into my brain and that’s how it got there. I certainly don’tFrostbite_Novel remember hours passing. I think that’s the moment when you know it’s going to be yet another five star book. I don’t know why I am even bothering with the pretence that the rest of the series will be anything but. From now on, reader, just assume that the rest of the collection will have five stars and I will just write a review (hardly what you would call a review) to back up my adoration.

I was right in my earlier assumption of Mead ability to grow as a writer. Not one book later and she is already getting better with the descriptions and character building. From what I can garner, Rose has taken on the darkness of Lissa due to her Spirit side effect. Mead doesn’t make it blindingly obvious that Rose has started suffering. But as a reader you notice her quips become few and far between for a few days. She always seems a bit angsty and struggles to get any sort of sleep despite the fact that she is a physical wreck the majority of her time. Though she is still angstvery ‘physical presence’ with depression description. It’s a smoke or a liquid, leaking through the bond, surrounding her like a dark cloud, the whole shebang – it doesn’t help that Adrian the aura reading Moroi has entered the scene. Now he really does see everything in cloudy colours.

With his cute little ‘Hey, little Dhampir’, this is where most people first meet Adrian the human (not even slightly human) swagger-bomb. I don’t know how I didn’t pick up on it before. But he is the male version of Rose. No wonder he liked her so much. He loves himself! They are witty and charming and gods of flirtation. Though I know they don’t belong together I am very interested to see how this little fling of theirs goes. I’m glad I have this prior knowledge that it all ends happily for him and Rose in the relationship department otherwise I might be in some serious shambles over Rose picking the wrong guy in this new relationship I sense – about to form.

Also I must make a confession. SPOILER! I am glad Mason died. I knew it was coming. They spoke of it in Bloodlines. I really didn’t want to have to get more attached to him than I already was. I knew that is how it would end and I wanted to be rid of the weight on my shoulders every time he appeared in a scene, with the Grim Reaper hovering by his side. It was just too much pressure! But as the books go on, I realise I will slowly run out of Bloodline-told secrets. Then I will just be reading like a normal person. Well… almost normal.tumblr_inline_n88rfsk5R81sb080b

Okay enough typey typey. Must start the next one before the sun comes up and ruins my reading streak and forces me to go to work. Eugh.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

As per usual, gifs from Tumblr!

‘Vampire Academy’ by Richelle Mead

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

When Dymocks says 5-7 days, they actually mean 7, at the earliest. I lost count of how many days or years I waited for Vampire Academy. Though I can confidently say I feel much older and wiser having gone through such hardship. I read Bloodlines by Richelle Mead first – Vampire_Academywhich is actually the spin off series to Vampire Academy. I didn’t realise at the time, but when I did realise – on the first page of Bloodlines, it was already too late to turn back.

While some of Mead’s writing style is similar it pleases me immensely that she has such a different set of protagonists. Rose Hathaway is spunky and sassy and swears and sluts around. She fears no man. Really. She rarely seems to be afraid in the novel, which is what I think is missing from her character – a little more ability to be human. There were some scenes where she was getting beaten up and the way Mead told it was so passive and la de da that I wondered if perhaps she hadn’t quite grasped the calamity of the situation. Maybe I was reading it too fast.

That’s another thing. I finished this bad boy way too quickly. The story was fast paced the whole way through, which when combined with my overwhelming desire to read all the things made for an eventful evening but didn’t last me more than a night. Not to say the story was bad – it wasn’t – obvi I gave it five stars.  Though in this first novel you can really tell that Mead’s style has matured when she wrote Bloodlines. I think I will see her progress as I get further into the Vampire Academy series.

tumblr_n8xfigdBTw1sjz1mjo3_250The first thing that hit me when I read it was how angry the book fans must have been when they saw the movie. So many things the movie did was so tacky and inserted in for stupidity’s sake. But my goodness they did get one thing right – the bitchiness of St. Vladimir’s. I felt like I was right back at high school. The strangest thing was, with most
high school stories, the protagonist has an adult view tumblr_n8xfigdBTw1sjz1mjo4_250of things. Rose and her companions are actual teenagers. They plot ways to get back at people, they spread rumours and conduct evil social experiments. So many times, authors ignore the faults in their protagonists – teenage faults. I think perhaps that they don’t remember what high school was like, or they want to believe that they weren’t that way. Mead remembers. It pleases me beyond belief that she has the characters acting their age in many scenarios.

“Yeah, but did you know that her parents are practically custodians for the Drozdovs?”

The hand on my leg stopped. I’d exaggerated, but he was a sucker for gossip-and notorious for spreading it.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. Scrubbing floors and stuff like that.”

“Huh.”

I could see the wheels turning in his dark blue eyes and had to hide a smile. The seed was planted.

(p.117, Rose and Jesse)

The darkness that is enveloping Vasilisa (great name) is completely underwhelmed in this book. tumblr_n98n6w4zSj1rkt608o3_250Rose has a habit of describing the dark moods in a way that reminds me of smoke settling through her body. Which is a great image though doesn’t fully grasp the intensity or hopelessness of it all quite the way it does for Adrian (another spirit user) when I read Bloodlines.  I wonder if anyone else had these issues when reading the books. My guess is no, because they read them in the correct order.

Besides the faults that I found in the writing style, as ever, Mead’s imagination more than makes up for it. I know that she will have already improved by the time I settle into Frostbite – it’s laying inches away from me, waiting for the exact second I post this. And I’m a writing fury right now. Must get this out while I remember!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★