Book Review: Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy, #5)

Title: Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy #5) 
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Mythology
Publisher: KTeen (an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Publication Date: 30 July 2013
Pages: 400
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Here we go again …

Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities — until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.

As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast — otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins — and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there …

My Review:

I’ve been a huge fan of the Mythos Academy series since I first read Touch of Frost. It’s got a fantastic mix of mythological creatures, adventure and drama with just a dash of romance to keep things interesting.
Midnight Frost is the fifth book and things just keep getting more dangerous for Gwen Frost and her friends. Gwen’s part-time job at the Library of Antiquities is anything but safe when a Reaper breaks in and tries to poison her. The Reaper may have failed to kill Gwen but Head Librarian Nickamedes was not quite so lucky. With the poison running through his veins and not even the healing gift of Mythos’ own headmistress able to cure him, it’s up to Gwen and the gang to save him. Cue a mission to another campus of the Mythos Academy, this time in the snowy mountains to collect a flower only known to be grown there. Convenient right?

Okay, slightly unbelievable coincidence aside, this was a great instalment to the Mythos series. Gwen and her friends are more becoming more and more capable with every adventure. The gifts from the Gods are helping on their quest to defeat Loki and his followers but sometimes not even Nike can save them from falling into the Reapers evil traps.

Gwen is maturing and finding her feet nicely. She’s gone from the Gypsy girl who took unnecessary risks just because she could to now being a formidable fighter in her own right. And there’s that gorgeous Spartan, Logan Quinn, who may be out of sight but he’s never far from Gwen’s thoughts.

We get to see a different side to the Gypsy girl with some family secrets revealed and Nike enlightening us a little more as to just how she expects Gwen to defeat Loki in the final showdown.

In many ways, this book was slightly less exciting than previous books in the series. It starts slow with a lot of information and whatnot being imparted. But thankfully the second half was fantastic with the adventure and Gwen’s amazing ability to tame the wicked beasts. I thought some parts were rather predictable and was desperately hoping Gwen would work out just what was what before she did. That said, things came to a brilliant climax and I can’t say I was disappointed with how everything went down.

A fantastic addition to the series – I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Estep comes up with next for the Gypsy girl, her Spartan Warrior and all their fighting friends.

Thanks to Kensington Teen and Netgalley for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon || Book Depository 

Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

This review will contain slight spoils of the first book in the series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) 
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: fantasy, angels, young adult, demons, supernatural
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (an imprint of Hachette), Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: November 8th 2012
Pages: 513 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.
And its snap split the world in two.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

My Review:

Karou is still reeling after Akiva and the wishbone revealed their secrets. Her family gone, her heart-broken and she’s now stuck in a war between Angels and Chimera. Feeling betrayed and lonely, Karou tries to find some piece and purpose in the world.

Much like it’s predecessor, this book is beautifully written. It makes reading every page a pleasure. I love the emotions of the characters that come across in thoughts and interactions. The plot is epic. It’s interesting and creative with twists that make perfect sense and yet I never saw coming. This book involves more than just Karou and Akiva – there are scenes with Chimera and Angels along the way that add to the brutality of the war that’s taking place. And there’s also Zuzana. I love the pocket-sized dynamo. She adds comic relief and a few laughs when the tension Karou thrives on gets to be almost too much. Her interactions with Mik are both humorous and delightfully romantic.

Karou is a little darker in this book. The things she does are taking a toll on her soul and she’s devastated about her feelings regarding Akiva. I loved getting some more insight to Akiva and his background. By the end I was feeling equally heartbroken on his behalf as I am for Karou. The world of the Chimera is an interesting one to be a part vicariously though her. There are some truly evil characters in this novel and their actions are at times truly scary.  The Angels are equally fascinating to read.

I have loved every moment I have spent reading this book and am a little devastated that I have to wait till 2014 for the next instalment of this fantastic series.

Many thanks to The Reading Room for providing me with a copy to review

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository

Read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge


Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) 
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: fantasy, angels, young adult, demons, supernatural
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (an imprint of Hachette), Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 432 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My Review:

Karou, the girl with blue hair and mysterious tattoos, has grown up always knowing she was different. Her guardians are part human, part animal creatures anyone else would find scary but she just knows them as family. She’s a girl of two worlds but doesn’t quite fit in either one.

When her worlds collide, Karou finds there more to either of her lives that she ever expected.

The first thing I want to say about this book is how beautifully written I found it. The language is lovely. Reading it was an absolute pleasure. I love Laini Taylor’s style and whilst I could have devoured this book in a matter of hours I wanted to savour the words and make it last.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an original story. With a monster collecting teeth for possibly nefarious purposes, a stalker ex-boyfriend who larks around Prague pretending to be a vampire and a best friend who may be lacking in stature but a giant in soul. The fantasy world in which this book is set is remarkably detailed and beautifully described. I loved following Karou and finding out the secrets along with her.

The characters were fantastically interesting – from the humans Kaz and Zuzana to Brimstone and Issa. Even the mysterious and impossibly beautiful Akiva. These are characters I loved reading about and couldn’t wait to find out what came next for them. Karou is a someone with whom I have next to nothing in common and yet as I read on I found myself seeing myself in her – she’s strong with moments of weakness, scared and yet fearlessly brave. She has her secrets and finding out about her history and present was a fantastic journey.

In this novel, Laini Taylor has written a beautiful tale of fantasy and adventure. There’s romance, heartbreak and a plot that kept me enthralled long after reading the final page. The second book in the series, Days of Blood and Starlightwas released in November 2012 with the third book expected to be published sometime in 2014.

Many thanks to The Reading Room for providing me with a copy to review

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository


Book Review: Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Title: Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy #4) 
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Mythology
Publisher: KTeen (an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Publication Date: 24 December 2012
Pages: 384
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming.

I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…

My Review:

Gwen’s life just keeps getting more complicated by the second. After being tricked into helping Loki escape – the mythological world’s law enforcement officers, The Protectorate, have come to arrest Gwen and make her face trial for her crimes. To add more complexity to the situation, the leader of the Procetorate happens to be the one and only Linus Quinn – Logan’s father. When all this goes down in the first chapter of the novel – and during Logan and Gwen’s first official date – you know that the rest of the novel is going to be action packed and full of surprises and pandemonium.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Mythos Academy and consider it to be one of my favourite YA paranormal series – this latest instalment is no exception. Gwen’s starting to grow up and accept her role in the big battle of good vs. evil. Instead of blaming the gods and circumstances, she’s trying to work out how she can beat Loki – and she realizes she can’t do it alone. Logan, Daphne, Carson, Oliver and Kenzie are all along for the ride along with both new characters and some old faces to help Gwen with the tremendous task in front of her.

This book is less focused on the gang of Mythos students and more on Gwen herself – not to say that there aren’t some fantastic scenes with her friends – but Gwen is more focused on the situation she finds herself in and less preoccupied with the student population of Mythos Academy. I enjoyed Estep’s writing but there were times when I thought some of Gwen’s internal monologues were a little long-winded. The Logan/Gwen interactions were adorable and I loved reading them together.

As in the previous books of the series, I thought the introduction of different mythological creatures, gods and warriors to be incredibly interesting and fantastically woven in with the story. It’s one of my favourite parts of the story to read about stories I know as well as being educated (and entertainingly so) about myths I’m more unfamiliar with.

The climax of the story wasn’t exactly a surprise but – as the saying goes – it’s the journey rather than the destination that is important and I enjoyed how Gwen got there. There was plenty of action, drama and enough romance along the way that kept me reading till the final page.

Midnight Frost, the fifth book in the Mythos Academy, is set to be released in August of 2013 and after reading Crimson Frost I can’t wait to see what happens next in the battle between Gwen, the reapers and Loki – the god of Chaos.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

This review will contain spoilers from the previous five books in the series. I recommend skipping this review if you are intending on reading the Vampire Academy series.

Title: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Magic, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: December 2010
Pages: 594
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offence imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

My Review:

Picking up with Spirit Bound left off, Rose Hathaway is in a LOT of trouble. On trial for a murder she didn’t commit and trying to keep the secret of her best friend’s secret sibling from her, Rose is just trying to stay alive long enough for her friends to clear her name. When everything seems impossible, the unlikeliest of allies come to her aid and together, with Dimitri, Rose risks everything she has to save the ones she loves.

I love this series – and this book is no exception. I think it’s well written with a cast of fantastic characters who are three dimensional and entertaining. Last Sacrifice gives some of the lesser characters time to shine whilst Rose is on the run. Lissa really comes into her own and becomes the royal citizen that she was always meant to be. The bond between Rose and Lissa is such a helpful tool for the reader to be in two places at once – and I much preferred how it was utilized in this novel (especially considering my dislike of the convenience of the bond in Blood Promise).

Despite Rose being a kick arse heroine and one who I really enjoyed watching develop as the series progressed – for me this series’ heart was the love story between Rose and Dimitri (and Adrian). I traditionally despise love-triangles. But I really loved how everything played out. I felt like Rose really earned the relationship and the vampire she ended up with.

This book was a satisfying conclusion to the Vampire Academy series. There’s plenty of drama, action and romance to be enjoyed and I loved how everything played out. It’s a series that I’m thrilled to have discovered this year and can recommend it to all fans of YA paranormal novels.

I’m so excited to have the first two Bloodlines books in my possession so I can start reading the adventures of Sydney, Adrian and Jill as soon as possible.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

I thought I was doing a good job at keeping my vampire/zombie/supernatural obsession at bay… but it turns out everyone I know knows just how much I love things that go bump in the night.

This is a review for the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series, Spirit Bound, but I wanted to share something my sister-in-law made of me last week.

She’s never made a character cake before but she knew just how much I love vampires and zombies so she made this creation:

It’s a Sachertorete – the most delicious chocolate cake ever – complete with lots of m&ms and strawberry jam in the middle because every good zombie and vampire has blood and brains on the inside.

It felt appropriate to show this picture of the best cake ever along with a review for what is quickly becoming my favourite YA paranormal series.

Title: Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Magic, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: May 2010
Pages: 489
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Salvation has its price…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Siberia, Dimitri’s birthplace, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s – and to her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. It’s graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives outside the Academy’s cold iron gates to finally begin. But even with the intrigue and excitement of court life looming, Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri. He’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance, and now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won’t join him, he won’t rest until he has silenced her…forever.

But Rose can’t forget what she learned on her journey – whispers of a magic too impossible and terrifying to comprehend. A magic inextricably tied to Lissa that could hold the answer to all of Rose’s prayers, but not without devastating consequences. Now Rose will have to decide what – and who – matters most to her. And in the end, is true love really worth the price?

My Review:

Spirit Bound is a return to the Rose I had loved from the first few books of the series. She’s still on a mission – and an absolutely crazy one at that – but she’s using the lessons she’s learned from St. Vladamir’s and is starting to think like a Guardian should.

I really enjoyed this book for so many reasons. We’re getting to see more of the world the dhampires and Moroi (and Strigoi) inhabit and how the adults of that world operate.

There’s so much action in this book – and I loved every minute of it. Rose is back to her kick-arse self who is still learning on the job. She’s no perfect and she’s making mistakes but I like that she’s being seen to have grown from her experiences. She’s taking her Guardian training into consideration in the real world – scoping out environments and taking in the minor details that a civilian may have missed.

The other characters are all growing up and growing into the vampires they’re going to be – Christian, Adrian, Eddie and most importantly Lissa. The developments in their powers and personalities are great to read.

Although I’m generally not a fan of love triangles, the tension between Rose, Adrian and Dimitri amuses me. These characters are all so flawed and whilst I have a hope as to how things will end for Rose romantically, I can’t help but appreciate her internal struggle when faced with her relationships with these two very different vampires.

There are some things that were happening that felt like an obvious attempt at setting up for drama and pivotal plot points in the final instalment (Last Sacrifice) but despite these I was impressed as always with the strong writing and attention to detail over the course of the novel.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

This review does contain spoilers of the previous books in the series. It’s just impossible for me to talk about this book without mentioning pivotal events from the first three books of the series. 

Title: Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Magic, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: August 2009
Pages: 512
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Rose Hathaway’s life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose’s neck, a mark that says she’s killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters . . . Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honouring her life’s vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir’s and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

My Review:

After Rose’s secret Guardian boyfriend, Dimitri Belikov, gets turned into an evil Strigoi at the end of the last book, she’s determined to carry out on the promise she made to him – if he ever turned Strigoi, she’d stake him. Without knowing where in the world he is it seems to Rose that the obvious place to start looking is in his native part of the world. Starting in Russia and making her way to Romania, Rose comes across a number of colour characters including an Alchemyst named Sydney, a handful of Strigoi, teenage vampire hunters and a Moroi gangster nicknamed Zmay.

I loved getting to see more of the world that Mead has created outside of the walls of St. Vladimir’s Academy. The people Rose meets on her journey are entertaining and I enjoyed finding out more about the Shadow Kissed, Spirit users and the bond that exists between them.

The bond that Lissa and Rose share was a great way to be able to have a first person story exist on two different continents at the same time but it just felt a little too convenient. Rose looks in every now and it always seemed to be just when something important was happening in Lissa’s life – without Rose feeling anything thought the bond but just because she felt it was about time to check in.

This book is fantastic in terms of getting to know more about Dimitri – his background, his family, and his life now as a Strigoi. I feel like after reading this book I know so much more about him and I like him so much more as a person to see his flaws rather than the mostly perfect being that Rose has considered him to be in the past.

There’s a lot that happens in this book and a lot of secrets/mysteries revealed that I’m sure are pertinent for the final two books in the series. I enjoyed reading it but there were a few things that just took me out of the story and stopped me from enjoying it as much as I have the previous books in the series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository