Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6)

vampire_academy_06_last_sacrificeFirst Lines: I don’t like cages.  I don’t even like going to zoos.  The first time I went to one, I almost had a claustrophobic attack looking at those poor animals.  I couldn’t imagine any creature living that way.

Lookee here, we’re on the last one!  Oh my gosh, so I had to start this one immediately after finishing the fifth one because, well, when you’re bingeing on something, why would you pause before the final one?  You’re committed at that point.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

If there’s one thing Rose is known for, it’s playing by her own rules.  She doesn’t care that it’s against the rules to remove her best friend from a bad situation or crush on her older instructor or even yell profanity at the Moroi Queen.  Rose does what she does because she’s got a good reason, and the rules aren’t going to stand in her way.  But all that rule–and sometimes law–breaking has finally caught up to Rose.  Too bad she didn’t commit the crime they’re accusing her of.  Accused of killing the Queen, Rose is going to need all the help she can get to prove her innocence.  The only person who can actually save Rose is her best friend, Lissa, should she become the new Queen.  But time it running out for Rose.  The realm of the dead let Rose go once, but they won’t again.  When your life is all about saving others, who will save you?

Can I just say that this book is kind of brilliant?  First of all, having read the Bloodlines series, this book does a nice job of setting things up for that series.  There’s the reintroduction of Sydney Sage in all of her Alchemist glory, the introduction to the feisty Angeline, and the remarkable downward spiral of Adrian.  It all builds so well to what I remember of the beginning of Bloodlines.

Again, this book shows so much character growth.  And obviously, Rose in particular has a lot of growing to do.  She’s facing a lot of problems this time that she’s can’t fight with her fists and problems that she needs to let someone else handle for her.  (She really doesn’t like that part.)  And Dimitri has a huge transformation in this one, though perhaps not as big as the one he had in the last book.

Here’s where things get a bit tricky for me, though: Lissa’s character.  Lissa does go through a lot of growth as well, but I literally do not care about her one iota in this book.  I attribute this to two things: 1) I’m too invested in Rose’s side of the story so every minute with Lissa feels like it’s taking away from that and 2) Lissa is slowly turning into a politician.  Yes, I know it has to happen, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

But Sydney, on the other hand, makes up for a lot of what I feel about Lissa.  This is the point where I truly started liking Sydney enough to be invested in a new series all about her.

Rose’s trademark snark is ever present here, which is truly a gift.  I love her humor.  But Rose also has some really great wise moments in this book as well, and that’s great as well.  I love seeing that.  But, in honor of crazy Rose, here’s one of her funnier quotes from this book:

“Dimitri was at a total loss. It was a common reaction for people when I agreed to do something reasonable.”

I should probably stop talking about characters now, shouldn’t I?  The plot for this one is tricky and I love it.  There are many twists and turns that you never quite expect (unless you’ve read this series before, of course).  But those twists are gorgeously done because you never really expect them to turn out the way they do.  Surprises around every chapter.

There are so many heartbreaking/breath taking/sweet scenes in this book.  I forgot how much love comes out of this book, and I’ve mentally flagged a few of the best scenes to return to when I’m feeling low.  That was a definite perk of rereading.

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5)

spirit_boundFirst Lines: There’s a big difference between death threats and love letters–even if the person writing the death threats still claims to actually love you.  Of course, considering I once tried to kill someone I loved, maybe I had no right to judge.

First of all, let me just say that this is my favorite VA cover.  Talk about hawt.  The dude’s scruff, the girl’s hair…oh my gosh I have a girl crush on this girl’s hair…and her make up…

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead* (The snark is simply a bonus.)

After battling her old flame in a dangerous fight that nearly killed both of them, Rose returns to St. Vladimir’s and Lissa.  Though it’s nearly graduation, Rose can’t find the same joy in it she used to.  Life outside of school?  It can’t compare to the life she once imagined with Dimitri, with both of them as Lissa’s guardians.  But she knows he’s out there, somewhere.  Waiting.  Hunting her.  Her worst fears become real when she realizes that her failed attempt to kill Dimitri is now causing more destruction than she could have ever imagined…

I feel a bit like a broken record (of which I’ve never actually seen, having been born in the age of the cassette tape), but the characters in this series…oh the characters!  God, how I love them.  What’s fabulous about this book is, again, how Rose grows so much.  We’re used to Rose being funny and living on the line between sane and have-you-lost-your-mind?!, but the stakes (*snort* no pun intended) are so much higher here.  Her actions have more extreme consequences.  And it feels so much more real because those consequences aren’t just detention anymore.  Sometimes, those consequences mean death.

Actually, one of the most interesting characters this time around is Lissa.  She goes from being timid but loyal to being strong and determined.  Her transformation was actually one of my favorite things about this book because she’s always just been Rose’s best friend/sidekick until now.  Now, she steps it up and I respect her for that.

Of course, there are returning characters that are just delightful.  Abe Mazur.  Soulless Dimitri.  Adrian.  Queen Tatiana, the royal B.  Christian Ozera.  MIKHAIL TANNER.  Even Janine Hathaway can spark some interesting feelings.

I noted this in my original review of this book 7 years ago, but I spend the end of this book just giggling like crazy.  The first half is definitely all about consequences, but then it’s like Rose just decides to throw caution to the wind and blurt out anything and everything she’s thinking.  It’s hilarious.  While it may not exactly be described as “feel good,” it’s definitely more light-hearted than some of the previous books.

How funny is it?  Let’s check in with Rose and Adrian:

“Damn it,” I muttered.

“What?” asked Adrian.

“I hate when you’re the sane one. That’s my job.”

“Rose,” he said, forcibly trying to keep a serious tone, “I can think of many words to describe you, sexy and hot being at the top of the list. You know what’s not on the list? Sane.”

The plot is great.  There are a few twists you’re going to see coming (and some of those are ones you’ve been hoping for!), but some you’d never expect.  And that’s what I love.  The surprises bring out the best in Rose.

I think this one is at least my 2nd favorite book in this series.

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)

blood-promiseFirst Lines: Once when I was in ninth grade, I had to write a paper on a poem.  One of the lines was, “If your eyes weren’t open, you wouldn’t know the difference between dreaming and waking.”  It hadn’t meant much to me at the time.

We are over halfway done with this VA takeover!  The best part about this is that this book, Blood Promise, is where I hit the books that I’ve only read once.  So from this point on, more of the story is fuzzy for me.  I was quite excited to see what I’d forgotten.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

The attack on St. Vladimir’s has devastated many, Moroi and dhampir alike.  With so many lives lost, it would be impossible to simply forget about it.  But for Rose, it’s not just impossible to forget; it’s impossible to move on.  One of the victims was Dimitri Belikov, the man Rose loves.  Now, he’s been turned Strigoi and Rose knows it’s her responsibility to hunt him down before he does too much damage…because alive or undead, Dimitri is a god.  She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to keep her promise to him.  But when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

This is the legitimate turning point in the series.  The first books are more light-hearted, more about high school life and teenage drama.  But this one?  This one goes dark.  Big time.  Thankfully, though, it does still retain its sense of humor.  Gotta love Rose’s ability to turn everything into a joke, whether it’s appropriate or not.

What I was most excited about with rereading this book was the introduction of two of the more awesome characters in this series: Sydney Sage (of Bloodlines fame) and the ever-entertaining Abe Mazur.  It’s so funny to read about Sydney again, knowing what I know about her from the spin-off series.  Her habits are still all here.  It’s still 100% Sydney, and that’s party of what makes Richelle Mead a genius of an author.  And Abe just steals every scene he’s in, creepy Mafia-type that he is.  (I kind of love him.)

But there are so many great things that happen character-wise in this book.  Rose goes through so much change as she battles the darkness inside of her from her grief and guilt about Dimitri.  And Dimitri…it’s eerie.  He’s Dimitri, but he’s not.  I like to equate this to Sam Winchester of Supernatural, in those times when you know he’s Sam but he’s also not?  OH, HE’S SOULLESS SAM!  That’s it!  BOOM!

….*ahem*

The plot is gripping.  There’s a lot of build-up to the ending and it’s gloriously done.  The ending of this book is something I’ve never completely forgotten, even 6-7 years later.  I knew what was going to happen and I awaited it eagerly.  It’s so pivotal to the series.

The only real strike I have against this book is its pacing.  Even though it does have suspense and action and a lot of tension, it just moves so slow at the beginning.  I constantly struggle with balancing all the character development with my thirst for action.  Obviously, there has to be some give and take.  It’s just…there’s a lot of waiting in this book.  And part of that comes from Rose constantly looking in on Lissa.  It’s boring.  I really don’t care what’s going on with Lissa when I want to see what Rose does next.

Let’s wrap this up with a delightful Rose Hathaway quote:

Okay, God, I thought. Get me out of this and I’ll stop my half-assed church-going ways. You got me past a pack of Strigoi tonight. I mean, trapping that one between the doors really shouldn’t have worked, so clearly you’re on board. Let me get out of here, and I’ll…I don’t know. Donate Adrian’s money to the poor. Get baptized. Join a convent. Well, no. Not that last one.”

(That quote actually made my school notebook for a couple of years because it made me laugh so much.)

Shadow Kissed (Vampire Academy, #3)

shadowkissFirst Lines: His fingertips slid along my back, applying hardly any pressure, yet sending shock waves over my flesh.

For those of you who are getting kind of sick of my Vampire Academy posts, I have two things to say: 1) *in my best Gretchen Weiners voice* I’m sorry that you’re jealous, but I can’t help that they’re so good. And 2) Ok, really, we’re almost done with them.  This is the halfway point in the series and I did manage to slip something else in with all the VA.  That’s for tomorrow.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Until now, Rose had thought that the toughest struggles were coming from without: Strigio attacks, the struggle to keep her feelings for Dimitri hidden, and trying not to beat up catty high schoolers.  But now, now Rose isn’t so sure.  A darkness has settled over Rose, one that she can’t shake…and may be making her crazy.  She’s a loose cannon of aggression and snap, dangerous decisions.  (Although, to be fair, that was kind of her MO before this.)  However, seeing ghosts…not normal.  Possibly a sign of insanity.  Rose is fairly sure she’s not crazy, but when no one seems to be believing her, could it be possible that she’s…well, losing it?  Or is something more going on and Rose is the only one who can stop it?

Bar none (so far), this is my favorite book in the series.  While I’ve only officially reread it 3 times now, I have reread certain scenes (*cough* cabin *cough*) multiple times.  For me, this is one of the most emotional books in the whole series.

Honestly, this is Rose at her finest.  No, she may not be at her snarkiest, most powerful, or smartest, but this book has something the other books lack in this quantity: her vulnerability.  This is Rose at her most vulnerable.  When everyone around you assumes you’re going crazy (and honestly, you kind of are starting to believe it yourself), how do you prove to them that you’re not?  This, as well as Rose’s growing feelings for Dimitri, her trust issues, and her constant fear of losing everything make this one of the more heartbreaking books in the series.

The plot is also stellar.  The ghost aspect is new to the series at this point, and it’s incorporated well and believably.  Plus, there are some great twists that come from unexpected happenstances, like something involving Queen Tatiana that just makes me giggle every time.  But there are also truly heartbreaking twists as well.  I will repeat from yesterday: DAT ENDING.

The more I keep reading this series, the more I remember just how much I love Rose.  It’s not even for the romance angle (though there is that).  I just truly adore Rose’s strength, tenacity, and bravery.  She’s the kind of person who says what everyone else is too afraid to say.  She’ll be the first to jump into a fight if it means protecting someone who can’t protect themselves. She’s admirable.  I know I’ve said before that I relate to Sydney better, but Rose is the kind of person I want to be.  …Even if she’s usually associated with stupidity after most of her stunts.

Anyway, this series is boss.  Only 3 more books to go!

Oh, and I nearly forgot the awesome quote to go along with this one!  Let me pick…Ok, courtesy of Rose, of course:

“And I thought the whole point of my education was that violence IS the answer.”

 

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2)

frostbite-richelle-meadFirst Lines: Things die.  But they don’t always stay dead.  Believe me, I know.

I wasn’t kidding yesterday when I said I’m rereading the whole VA series.  Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve actually read these books?  SINCE BEFORE I STARTED THIS BLOG!  It’s partly like rediscovering the magic and it’s partly reconnecting with old friends.  God, I love this.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

For Rose, her current biggest issue is dealing with the guys in her life.  Her total hottie of a tutor, Dimitri, who Rose is crushing on hard, has his eye on someone else.  And Mason, Rose’s friend, is letting his crush for her be known.  But the worst is when Rose finds herself in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian.  But life gets a lot more complicated at St. Vladimir’s when a nearby Strigoi attack puts the Academy on high alert and forces everyone into a mandatory ski trip over winter break.  Safety is only an illusion here.  When three students run away to get their revenge on the Strigoi, Rose must team up with Christian to bring them back.  This time, though, there’s more at stake than any of them can imagine…

There’s so much that’s good about this one.  I mean, the first book is good, but this one I always tend to like a little more for a few reasons.

Reason 1: Enter Adrian Ivashkov.  After reading the whole Bloodlines series, it’s so funny to go back to this and see how different (and how very very similar) he is to the way he is later.  I love his attitude and personality, even though he constantly annoys Rose.  I can’t believe how much I hated him reading this the first time through!

Reason 2: Increased tension.  In every sense of the word.  With Strigoi upping their attacks, everyone’s nervous.  It makes for an interesting backdrop to the story, one that always seems to flirt with danger without actually doing anything dangerous most of the time.  And then there’s the tension between Dimitri and Rose, which, let’s face it, is why most of us read this book.  So little actually happens in their relationship in the way you really want it to, but they still go through so much.  LOVE

Reason 3: DAT ENDING.  The last like, quarter of this book is just amazeballs.  (You know something is good when I start slipping into slang like this.)  It’s one of those endings where you just totally have no idea how things are going to go.  It’s heartbreaking and emotionally trying, but also manages to be kind of cute?  God, I’m swooning again.

Reason 4: Rose.  This girl goes through such a transformation in this book, both intentionally and unintentionally.  Some of it, like trying to act more mature for Dimitri, is actually kind of comical while still showing her growth as a person.  Other times, like seeing tragedy or having to make snap decisions, show how much she is actually growing.  She’s not as impulsive, but she retains her trademark sass.  And that, my friends, is why Rose Hathaway is my spirit animal.

It’s surprising how magical this whole reread has been.  I totally remembered what happened in the story, but just reconnecting with them is something special.  Oh, and like yesterday, I wanted to share another of my favorite quotes from this book:

“What’s your name?”
“What?” I asked, squinting at the light.
“Your name.” I recognized Dr. Olendzki peering over me.
“You know my name.”
“I want you to tell me.”
“Rose. Rose Hathaway.”
“Do you know your birthday?”
“Of course I do. Why are you asking me such stupid things? Did you lose my records?”
Dr. Olendzki gave an exasperated sigh and walked off, taking the annoying light with her. “I think she’s fine.”

Rose Hathaway, ladies and gentleman.  She’ll be here all week.

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)

vampireacademyrichellemead1First Lines: I felt her fear before I heard her screams.  Her nightmare pushed into me, shaking me out of my own dreams, which had had something to do with a beach and some hot guy rubbing suntan oil on me.

I know that I cannot be the only one this happens to: I watched the movie for this book and it reminded me of how awesome the series is and I’m now in the process of rereading the whole thing.  And seeing as I got started on this series in 2007 (4 years before I started this blog), then there are no reviews for it.  THIS IS A CRIME!

(I’m going to make this better than yesterday’s plot description.)  As a Moroi princess, Lissa Dragomir needs constant protection from the dangerous of bad vampires called Strigoi…as well as protection things like catty high school girls.  Good thing her best friend Rose, a mix of Moroi and human called a dhampir, is there to protect her.  She’s dedicating her life to protecting Lissa, but who says there can’t be perks involved in guarding your best friend?  After two years on the run, Lissa and Rose are brought back to St. Vladimir’s Academy in Montana, their school.  But being back does not mean that they are safe.  There are dangers inside that no one saw coming…

This was my 4th time reading this book and I tell ya, I still love it.  It’s magical.  I love the characters, everyone from the obvious to the minor characters.  I’ve said it once before on here, but I’m going to say it again: Rose Hathaway is my spirit animal.

Alright, I’m going to try to cool it on my fangirling a little and just tell you what makes this book so spectacular.  “Try” being the key word here.  I already feel a fail coming on.

So the characters are just so well written.  Rose is this snarky, sassy fighter who really does enjoy speaking with her fists rather than her words.  You know in two minutes that she has attitude.  But she’s also go this soft side that comes out around Lissa (and later around Dimitri, her older instructor who is fierce and hot and totally swoon-worthy).  And you can just feel how Lissa is scrambling to find a way to stand on her own two feet without Rose being next to her every minute.

But admittedly, the best part of this book is the tension between Rose and Dimitri.  There’s so much that should keep them apart: their jobs as Lissa’s guardians, their age gap (7 years), his role as instructor and hers as student, and more.  But there’s still just something that when you see them together, you want them to be together.  They fit.

The plot is always interesting as well.  If it’s not high school drama like catty girls and a vicious rumor mill, then it’s vampire drama or actual fights.  There is always something going on.

And I tell you, some of the best quotes come from this book.  Here’s one of my favorites (though I have many):

“Oh, so that’s why you’re up here. For a pity party.”

“This isn’t a joke. I’m serious.” I could tell Lissa was getting angry. It was trumping her earlier distress.

He shrugged and leaned casually against the sloping wall. “So am I. I love pity parties. I wish I’d brought the hats. What do you want to mope about first? How it’s going to take you a whole day to be popular and loved again? How you’ll have to wait a couple weeks before Hollister can ship out some new clothes? If you spring for rush shipping, it might not be so long.”

Seriously.  This series is the bomb, even if vampires aren’t cool right now.  Richelle Mead will hook you and then never let go.