Reading Challenge for 2016 and what I’m currently reading

Everyone has challenges in the new year. Lose weight, find love of life, clean your room regularly, etc. While I completely share these dedications, I would also like to declare my dedications to my reading addiction this year. Below is a challenge I am going to take, and following that is the books I currently have that I want to finish. Comment, please!

readin list 2016

  1. A book published this year: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
  2. A book you can finish in a day: (still looking for one)
  3. A Book you’ve been meaning to read: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
  4. A book recommended by a local librarian or bookseller: Brida by Paulo Coelho
  5. A book chosen by your BFF: BFF, tell me!
  6. A book published before you were born: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. A book that was banned at some point: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossini
  8. A book you previously abandoned: Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes
  9. A Book you own but have never read: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  10. A book that intimidates you: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  11. A book you’ve read at least once: Emma by Jane Austen

Currently on my bookshelf waiting to be read:

  1. Currently reading: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have so much love for this writer and the book at this point. Really having a fantastic time. I can’t read too much at a time, because the book simply has such big ideas.
  2. Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding. I really do love the original Bridget Jones, so quite interested to see what this is about.
  3. Brida by Paulo Coelho. Coelho is such an obscure, strange author. I’m never really sure what to make of his work.
  4. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks. Oh, because I need cheese in my life.
  5. Live in Dreams by Josephine Cox. Started it and put it down again, but I will finish it just to be scathing.
  6. Indelible by Karin Slaughter. To continue the series.
  7. The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead. Because it was a mad hunt to get a copy and I want to be able to say that I’m done with the series.

What are your reading plans for the year?

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5 Things Friday: 5 Books I plan to read in the next few months

Happy Friday everyone!

I am totally getting my book reading vibe back. I’ve been reading some Nora Roberts and John Green, as well as finishing the Davinci Code. Here’s a list of the next few books I’m planning to read. Let me know if you’ve read them and what your opinions have been about it 🙂

1. Looking for Alaska: John Green

Looking-for-Alaska-UK

Since this book is busy getting organised into a movie, I really want to read the book beforehand to be able to properly compare. I really enjoy John Green’s writing as well – he is such a brilliant author!

2. The Woman Who Stole my Life: Marian Keyes

marian

I’m always really excited when one of my favorite authors brings out a new book. YAY!

3. The Ruby Circle: Richelle Mead

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I just really want to finish the series and see what happens to Sydney and Adrian!

4. Angels and Demons: Dan Brown

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I really didn’t like The DaVinci code. However, I’ve heard that Angels in Demons is actually much better, so I am willing to give it a try.

5. Atonement: Ian McEwan

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The movie is just the saddest watching experience ever, and I just really want to see how everything unfolds in the book, even if I know the end.

What books are you planning to read?

Book Review: Silver Shadows (Richelle Mead)

silvershadows

Sydney Sage is kept captive by the people she’s devoted her life to – the Alchemists, an ancient society sworn to keep the Vampire population hidden from the human race. Sydney, who was raised an Alchemist by her strict and domineering father, did the one thing the Alchemists find truly unforgivable – she fell in love with Moroi Vampire Adrian Ivashkov. Her sister betrayed her and Sydney was taken to reeducation – a place where Alchemists are kept and “persuaded” to become “good” again.

As months pass, Sydney knows she needs to at least pretend to bend in her beliefs. She is introduced into the group life stage of reeducation, where she meets other Alchemists in the same position as her. At first they all treat her life a pariah, but slowly Sydney gets included and manages to make a few friends.

Adrian Ivashkov is meanwhile working hard to find Sydney. He is already unstable due to his Spirit abilities – a magical element that makes him see people’s auras and visit dreams, but Sydney’s disappearance has driven him even further into destructive behavior. He is aided by Marcus, a rouge Alchemist who has contacts all over the world and also wants to see Sydney safe. Even though Jill Dragomir, the only living relative to Queen Vasalisa Dragomir, is the one who needs to be kept under constant protection, she insists that two of her Guardians help save Lissa should they find a lead.

Sydney discovers the reason Adrian hasn’t been able to visit her in her dreams – she and her fellow inmates are being drugged with gas each night and Adrian can’t penetrate it. She employs the help of her newfound friends to stop the gas flow, enabling Adrian to visit her. It gives them both hope to see each other again, but it is still frustrating because Sydney has no idea where she is based.

Through meticulous work Marcus finally finds venues where Sydney could possibly be based, but Adrian has to resort to visiting other detainees in their dreams for information when Sydney gets caught using magic.

Can Adrian, Marcus and Eddie save Sydney? How will they possibly stay away from recapture? What psychological scars does Sydney carry from her incarceration time? Is Jill as safe as she believes she is? What will the Moroi royal court do when they finally learn Adrian is in love with a human?

Rating: 6.5/10

I’ve been following this series from the beginning rather religiously, and after each new release would mope when I the book was finished – the series always had a few books outstanding. I kept off reading Silver Shadows with the idea to leave it until closer to the time for the last book of the series, Ruby Circle. I think RC is being released early next month so I managed quite well!

I enjoyed Silver Shadows. It is written in first person with sections dedicated to Sydney and Adrian – essential, so you can have a look at Sydney’s captivity and the budding rescue mission. Sydney’s capture was beginning to feel long, as were her many setbacks and determination to not shut up – something I respect but there is a time and place for everything, you know?

The love story is completely ridiculous – the extremely sciency good girl falls for a borderline alcoholic with mental problems. Okay, maybe that has happened, but I think in the long run two such extremes won’t make the world’s most stable couple. I like both Adrian and Sydney – neither is overly whiney or childish and they don’t have the frustrating petulance often found in YA.

The book is decently written, especially compared to other YA books out there. It is miles better than Vampire Academy, the series on which Bloodlines stems from, and I think Mead has genuinely grown as a writer.

If you look beneath the frothy vampire story you might find what I did – these books are about social injustice and I even want to say racism – the class systems used in these books are unfair and based solely on race.

This is a fun series, but don’t expect the world’s tightest plot and superb writing though. (And I can’t wait for the next one!)

Life Lately: 15.1.30

life lately 30.1.15pic1

BIRTHDAY!!

I’m super old now, but somehow I’m not really feeling any different. The only strange thing this year is that I’m very relaxed over my birthday – I just want happiness and peace and not a lot of fuss. We went to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens on Sunday and it was very lovely. The weather agreed and it was all sunny and pretty and green. I consider those Gardens as my second favorite place to go to in Johannesburg and it was so nice to visit there again.

House Break in and other criminal activities

I don’t think any particular law abiding South-African will take offence when I say that we have a huge problem with crime in our country. We have so much amazing things in our country to be proud of, yet we are still faced with senseless crimes that mostly gets justified or ignored by our ruling party. My big issue with the world, but South-Africa in particular, is how easy we can ignore or forget crimes we’ve heard of. Look, if you live in my country you do need to somehow block out all the negativity you hear or you will constantly live in fear, but it is too easy to forget horrific events. What I’m basically trying to say that you feel removed from violence and crime when you are not physically involved.

Earlier this week we heard that one of the ladies at work had been held hostage and that her car had been highjacked when she was sitting with her boyfriend as he was stocktaking at work. I was so furious on her behalf – her car had been her pride and joy and she had only had it and her license for about three months before this happened.  I am so relieved that she and her boyfriend made it out unharmed – shaken, sure, but not raped or killed, which is very rare nowadays.

Just as I was getting over my anger for that incident, we received a phone call from my brother in law. He had just gotten home and the second he walked in he noticed that their television was missing. Further investigation showed that the house had been ransacked and numerous precious items were taken – the TV, his computer screen, his brother’s home and work laptop and a large amount inherited jewelry that had been in the family for decades. There are miracles in this horrible tale: miraculously the cats and dog are fine, they weren’t hurt, the thieves couldn’t access the safe that holds the family guns and cameras, the thieves didn’t find  the (a spectacularly large and irresponsible amount of) cash. My sister’s brother in law’s girlfriend usually stays there in the week and works from there but she was home with her parents – another miracle that can’t be ignored.

So I am relieved but I am furious. My friends and family work hard for what they have and take pride in what they’ve accomplished for themselves and then some entitled idiot walks in and takes everything just like that (The security footage showed this went down in all of ten minutes)

Another disgraceful talking point is our Police Service. There is a station less than fifteen minutes where my sister lives and the police took AN HOUR to get there, because they “couldn’t find the place then turned back” Yep, those were actual words. They’ve obviously never heard of these miraculous inventions called cell phones or GPS because who could have possibly used those to quickly get the directions again that had already been given?

After this I heard that a girl I’ve known for years had been attacked while jogging close to my house. The area I’m living in is supposed to be extremely safe, so I went through such a crisis after this attack.

Oh, a note to everyone out there: Don’t ever tell a person that they need to be thankful in such situations. Yes, these were all miracles, but I personally feel that the notion that we have to be thankful that our houses were only partially ransacked is mad.

Some questions asked by the police:

“Did you give anyone permission to break into your home?”

“Did you see any fingerprints?”

That is not to mention that the one officer sat texting for ten minutes before she even got out of the police vehicle.

So yeah, I’m pissy about this. We live in a country that tells you when you get robbed that it happens to everyone, be glad you’re alive. OR: you should protect your house enough that no one can break in. This sounds exactly like the type of culture that teaches women to not get raped instead of teaching men not to rape (that is another mindset you get in this country)

So here’s a notion:

What about we get a police chief with actual credentials instead of a membership with the ruling party?

What if we train police officers properly, teach them how to appropriately react in crisis situations?

Actually work on stopping crime instead of sympathizing with perpetrators?

Okay, now that that is off my chest, I will stop moaning and somehow remember how miraculous my country really is.

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Housesitting and Kitler the Cat

I am currently housesitting for a friend and having loads of fun. It is quite lovely to be on my own and do whatever I want. I have to admit that it’s a huge adjustment to be solely responsible for feeding myself! I’m getting better at it but I can see when I have my own place there won’t be a lot of cooking going on. Also, washing clothes is such a schlep.I am also the current feeder of Kitler, my friend’s kitten. We have a very abusive relationship. I am scratched all over and regularly get jumped against.

 TBS5

True Blood Season Five:

People really weren’t exaggerating when they said this is the worst season of the lot. It is SO bad. Every character is up to his own business, the plot does not thicken it just becomes painful and unbearable; the acting becomes worse and suddenly the vampires’ eyes bulge when they get killed. I finished it by watching it and alternating with other stuff just to give my brain a rest from all the “What the fucks” that were running around. I’ve started Season six now which is miraculously better than season five.

silvershadows

Reading:

I’m still reading Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead. It’s not bad, I’m just not really focused on reading right now while I have so much going on at the moment. I’m probably going to try and read the Night’s Circus first to understand what Zoë is trying to express about it 😀

Watching:

Series wise I’m going to trick myself into watching True Blood Season 6. I have a yen to watch Game of Thrones again before the new season airs and the same goes for Sherlock (although there is still way too much time left before the new season starts). Someone let it slip to my sister that Rob Stark dies and now she’s refusing to continue with it. I don’t even blame her, though.  #FuckFiltch

As for movies I’m steering clear of the cinema until the Jan/Feb slump is over. I have a few films of 2014 I still want to watch and am nearly finished with the Theory of Everything (Sob, it’s fucking glorious).

Unisa

I’m hopeful that this is my second last year with Unisa. I have two practicals this year and it is quite debatable how I will get everything done, but hopefully with some super hard work and excellent planning I can master it all!

And some True Blood Memes, because it’s weekend

Bill drinking game bill meme

(You’d think for such a ridiculous show there’d be more memes around)

What’s up in your life?

Have a great weekend!

 

Book Reading List November/December 2014

I haven’t done one of these in a while, mainly because I’ve been busy studying my butt off and living life and such, and didn’t have any real time for reading new material. I’ve been rehashing some of my favourites, but hey, I need to explore new things in order to have new favourites, you know? I recently did a bit of reading what all my favourite authors have out there, and compiled this shiny and ambitious list today so I can remember everything and refer back #oldage

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Malala

When I first heard the story about the young Pakistani girl that got shot in the head by the Taliban because she believed in education, it felt a little unreal and horrible. I cannot imagine that life, daily horror and constant worry. Miraculously, Malala survived and is now an international symbol for female and children rights. I need to read this book because Malala makes me believe for the survival of the human race and gives me the courage to keep on studying. She humbles me in every way possible, because even though I never make light of my access to education, it is too easy to forget how easy Westerners have access to education.

Nora Roberts: Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (all descriptions were taken from the author’s site)

Why? Well, I adore Nora Roberts (I’ve certainly never kept it a secret). She is excellent in what she does and covers every genre she tackles so well. I’ve read most of her books – and she’s well over 200 novels, and I enjoyed at least 90% of them. Her latest reads also includes Whiskey Beach, The Witness, The Search and Black Hills and I LOVED all of those. This series seems like it has a romantic bent as well as some spooky stuff, which sounds like just the right treat to me!

nora roberts o dwyer trilogy

#1 Dark Witch

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends. Ireland – County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives. When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope-and love-alive.

#2 Shadow Spell

With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…
A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.
Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.
Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

#3 Blood Magick

County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.

Branna’s strength and seflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family – along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound.  But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…

She had it once – for a moment – with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood.  Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

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Marian Keyes is another favourite female literature author of mine. Her books always address serious issues like drug abuse, spousal abuse and insecurities, and they aren’t always light hearted reading. This book promises to be yet another good read by the talented lady. I can’t wait to see what she pulls out of her hat this time!

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

silvershadows

I have to admit that I am not crazy about all the material the author writes, but Vampire Academy grabbed me enough to read the series (but NOT love the movie), and I found true addiction when I read her Bloodlines series, the series that follows the adventures of Sydney Sage, the Alchemist that has troubles reconciling her beliefs with her feelings. This is the next instalment of the series, and I am quite excited as to what it holds for Sydney and Adrian!

Currently reading: Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris (Book #6 of the Southern Vampires Series)  

stackhouse novels

Hmm, even though I am slightly ashamed these are so addictive, I can’t stop. (that sentence really doesn’t make sense, does it) I don’t want to stop, so I won’t, but I can see myself being a bit scathy in the interview because this book sure leaves a lot to be desired for the sake of literature!

5 Things Friday: 5 Best book series

Happy Friday!

Harry Potter: JK Rowling

harry potter

Reading Harry Potter is not merely a simple pleasure anymore; I need to do it at least twice a year to ensure my eternal happiness. I have to start from the beginning, at The Philosopher’s Stone, and work through to the Deathly Hallows, or it feels like a fake book run.

A study recently found that children who read Harry Potter grew up to be more open-minded and liberal. I can really agree and that might even explain why I am a person who thinks everyone should be left alone to do whatever the hell they want, unless it actively harms other people.

Harry Potter has it all – the books are excellently written, the story unique and touching, the characters ridiculously funny. Rowling created magic with these books, and I am eternally grateful for it.

Bloodlines: Richelle Mead

bloodlines

For a while there it did feel like VAMPIRES, VAMPIRES EVERYWHERE type of situation in the entertainment industry. The dawn of Twilight heralded the universe desperately seeking fanged romance, and eyes were rolled by people who are desperately against the mainstream.

Every aspiring writer tried to recreate a world similar to Twilight, with enough changes to prevent a law suit. Most books failed and spectacularly so, because you will generally fail if you copy other people’s work.

However, Richelle Mead firstly came along and wrote Vampire Academy. Although not the best series on the planet, it was fresh and interesting and original. Then she wrote Bloodlines and I became successfully addicted.

My attachment to this series stems from my admiration of its lead female lead. Sydney Sage is intelligent, a leader and a problem solver and she will take action if needs be. The love story is developed at a fantastic rate and worked out really well, and the unlikely couple’s journey to finding each other is really nice to read.

Walsh Family Series: Marian Keyes

The series has a book for each Welsh sister: Rachel stars in Rachel’s holiday, Clare’s story is told in Watermelon, Anna’s in Is Anybody Out There? Helen has the lead in The Mystery of Mercy Close and Margaret is the main protagonist in Angels.

The Walsh sisters are incredibly messed up. Their mother, although meaning well, had a recurring tendency to put her feet in her mouth as her daughters grew up, and managed to pass on her bad self-image to all her daughters. As they all stumble in their lives, catastrophes happen, and they all have an incredible journey to get through.

Marian Keyes is an excellent writer, producing hilarious books that are full of detail as well. My favourite of the series is most likely Rachel’s holiday, and as it was the first book of Keyes that I ever read, the one I have read the most.

The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins

hunger games trilogy bookset

After the Vampire craze passed, Suzanne Collins created The Hunger Games, and dystopian fiction became all the rage. The world quickly changed its focus, and soon there were movies on the cards. The movies, including the books, are exceptional. Collins had a chilling idea and wrote to produce a truly scary story, and the world was fascinated by a post-apocalyptic place where people killed each other off in a televised “Games” broadcasted for all to see. While this book series is a great read and very compelling, it is also one of the few trilogies I have stumbled across where the movies are nearly as good as the books.

The Lord of the Rings: JRR Tolkien

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Say what you want about the length of the books or the tedious amount of details, the Lord of The Rings was the Harry Potter of its time. Tolkien is also the creator of magic and it cannot be forgotten that he is the reason those EPIC movies exist. I only read this when I have a month of vacation time or something, you cannot be tired at all and have a drifting mind when attempting this.

Honourable mentions:

Divergent: Veronica Roth

Twilight: Stephanie Meyer

Vampire Academy: Richelle Mead

Those I want to read but haven’t started yet

A Song of Fire and Ice: George R. Martin

Southern Vampires: Charlaine Harris (I am actually starting this soon!)

What is your favourite book series? Tell me!

5 Things Friday: 5 Movies I’m totally excited about for 2014

Happy Friday!

For today: Five Movies being released in 2014 I am so excited about.

Enjoy!

Vampire Academy

So you thought the Vampire craze was dead? Nope. It is here and it is happening. Based on the best selling series of the same name by Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy focuses on Dhampir Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and Moroi Princess Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry). I am really excited that it is being released within a respectable time frame in SA (next week).

VA

Divergent

Divergent

The Fault in Our Stars

It is definitely Shailene Woodley’s year. Starring in both the FiOS and Divergent, Shailene is set to rocket to stardom. I haven’t seen anything of her yet, but since both these movies are being made from two of my favorite books, I am putting a lot of trust in her acting abilities.

TFIOS

The Mockingjay Part one

mockingjay

Captain America: Winter Soldier

Captain America

What movies are you excited about for 2014?

PS: I linked the respective movies to their books, so go take a look 🙂

 

Book Review: The Fiery Heart (Richelle Mead)

fiery heart

Book: 77/100

I’ve been so excited to read this book. I should really start sticking to my rule of only reading a series when all the books have been released, because this waiting for books is really not for me. I found this book as enjoyable as all the other books in the Bloodlines series.

Sydney has finally stopped feeling guilty for loving Moroi vampire Adrian – even if it is something the Alchemists, of which she is a part of, would never accept and that the consequences of them finding out would be dire. When her younger and very competitive sister, Zoe, arrives as a back-up Alchemist, she knows she needs to be very careful how she goes about things.  She constantly sneaks away to be with Adrian, finding ways to break the hold the Alchemist tattoo hold on its members and her witch/coven activities – another thing the Alchemists wouldn’t appreciate – by claiming she is doing extracurricular activities for her teacher Ms. Terwillinger, who started Sydney with the whole witching business. Zoe becomes increasingly irritated by her sister’s disappearance, but has no reason to suspect more than the dire need of good education Sydney claims to have.

Adrian is still struggling with his Spirit induced depression and madness, and eventually agrees to go on anti depressants after a drunken rampage. With the right medicine, Adrian becomes a stable person, although he is not able to access any of his powers. He secretly fears that he will not be able to heal someone he loves if they are ever fatally wounded, but keeps on taking the medicine so he can be the least of things Sydney worries about.

Jill Dragomir is still finding a way to deal with the fact that she is the illegitimate child of a royal Moroi bloodline. Sent away into hiding for her own safety by the Queen of their race, who is also her sister, Jill finally adjusts to a human schedule after months of drama. Her attraction to her bodyguard, Eddie Castile, still remains, but she tries to ignore it because he makes it clear he doesn’t deserve her.  Strangely enough, the girl who found out she is actually Royal is the most sane of everyone hidden away in Palm Springs.

As things heat up in Sydney’s world, will she be able to hide her relationship from her sister and the Alchemists? What will happen if they find out? And will Adrian be able to keep insanity at bay?

Rating: 7/10

The Fiery Heart was everything I hoped it would be. I knew that some things was certain to happen, so I wasn’t overly surprised, but I found the way it ended to be very sneaky – no one will be missing the next book.

I applauded that Sydney didn’t take another whole book to deny her feelings – that would have been exhausting. I‘ve found her enjoyable from the start – the passionate scholar who is able to do and be things no one will ever think of. Writing witchcraft into the books was risky, but it turned out to be a tool that leads Sydney towards her own empowerment, and isn’t overbearing to the original storyline.

Adrian is such a fascinating male lead. I find this series really cool because he is such a messed up guy. He isn’t this ridiculously brave and strong traditional lead – he is a guy who finds his power through so many other things, and is still learning a lot about himself. Richelle Mead really describes his crazy very well, and how he is in need of real help. His struggle with alcohol brings some real life issues into the mix too. His love for Sydney is so strong and tangible. She is the perfect girl for him – and that is so amazing because no one would ever be able to realistically expect the logical Sydney to fall for artistic, crazy Adrian.

Lastly, I think I need to mention that I thought switching the story between Adrian and Sydney’s POV worked out fine. It was obviously risky, and I’ve found it annoying in other books.

It is clearly recommended that you read the previous books in the series before this one, but the book is very much recommended if you are a YA reader.

Best of 2013: Books

2013 has been the year of books for me. I have always been an obsessed reader, but when I created and took on my own challenge to read 100 books, I realized that while I would have to stay dedicated, it was actually possible. I think in a year’s cycle I would normally read about 80 books, so if I worked a little harder, 20 extra isn’t that much more. It is challenging to find new, interesting material all the time. With my book challenge, I promised to explore books I haven’t read yet, discover authors I haven’t tried yet, and look into genres I’m sure I wouldn’t love.

Here is my list of the best books I read so far in 2013 

*These are all books I read for the first time this year, not necessarily brought out within 2013.

The Indigo Spell – Richelle Mead (2013)

Book three in the Bloodlines trilogy. I read the first two and anxiously waited for this one’s release. It was as good as I hoped it would be. Bloodlines is mostly about Sydney Sage, an Alchemist that had been taught to hate vampires, is forced to live with them to do her job. It puts a new twist on the vampire/human romance, because she really hates vampires. Her love story with Adrian keeps me glued to the pages. The latest book in the series, the Fiery Heart, has just been released, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Witness – Nora Roberts (2012)

Nora Roberts have written enough books to create her own universe. With over two hundred books her universe has good and bad parts. The Witness falls into the part which is equivalent to the Maldives – it is beautiful and brilliantly written. Elizabeth Fitch’s life goes horribly wrong the one night she chooses to defy her mother. She witnesses Mafia murders and is forced into witness protection. Her mother deserts her, and after the murder of the two Marshalls she trusted, she knows she must escape her name or die. Years later, Elizabeth has turned into Abigail Lowry, a brilliant computer hacker. She meets Brooks Gleason and has to decide whether she will hide forever, or come forward and imprison Ilya Volkov for his crimes.

The book is suspenseful and emotional. I pitied Elizabeth Fitch, a true pawn in her mother’s master plan. Nora Roberts spins a tale that keeps you up at night that haunts you until you finish it. This is one of the books I would really recommend to her new readers.

The Villa – Nora Roberts (2002)

Another brilliant book by Ms. Roberts, the Villa is about Sophia Giambelli and the Giambelli-MacMillan wine empire she will inherit one day. When it becomes obvious that someone is out to get her and her family, Sophia realizes she is in great danger and must be careful with her trust. Her love interest with Tyler MacMillan becomes intense, and together they must field the danger directed at their heritage.

The Villa is superb with its superb description of details, and an interesting mix of strong and weak female characters.  I am so glad I stumbled upon this book. It is a fantastic read and I would recommend it to everyone.

Veronica Roth – Divergent (2011)

Instead of being another Hunger Games knock-off, Divergent and the two other books in the series is original. Set in Dystopian Chicago, society is divided into factions – traits that represents the good in society. Beatrice, of Abnegation, is the main protagonist and Divergent follows her story how she changed factions to become Dauntless, what it means to be Divergent and how she witnessed the demise of her world.

Veronica Roth – Allegiant (2013)

This is the last book in the Divergent series. It is better than Insurgent,  and I enjoyed it more. Tris and her boyfriend Four help lead the resistance against Jeanine Matthews and the Er Finally,

Honorable mentions

*These are books I have read for a second time and enjoyed it more this time around (or books that simply didn’t make the first 5)

  1. Eat, Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
  2. Insurgent – Veronica Roth (2012)
  3. Carnal Innocence – Nora Roberts (1991)
  4. The Mystery of Mercy Close – Marian Keyes (2012)

Book Review: The Last Sacrifice (Richelle Mead)

Book: 62/100

Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy Last Sacrifice

Rose Hathaway has been framed for the murder of the Moroi Queen, Tatiana Ivashkov. She has damning evidence against her – the Queen was murdered with Rose’s own stake after Rose threatened her before the entire Moroi Royal Court. Set for trial and a definite execution, she relies on her father, the shady Abe Mazur, to get her out. He manages to buy more time for his investigation by enabling her to escape from jail, with the help of her friends, and her current and former boyfriends, Adrian Ivashkov and Dimitri Belikov, the Dhampir who was forced to turn into a Strigoi and then returned to his Dhampir form by Lissa, a Spirit user and Rose’s best friend. Dimitri runs away with her, because he is the one already under suspicion, and clears her other friends. They meet up with Sydney Sage, a friend of Rose who is an Alchemist, people working to keep the supernatural world secret. They go to a remote location to hide while Abe clears Rose’s name, but she isn’t content to just sit and wait. She tells them the letter she received – a letter by Tatiana herself, telling Rose that Lissa has an illegitimate family member somewhere. This crucial information means that Lissa can run in the election for the next Queen, which wouldn’t have been possible without other family members.

When Adrian visits Rose during a Spirit dream, she tells him that they should nominate Lissa as a candidate, certain that the shock in their world will slow down the hunt for herself. She is right, the people are furious. They feel that she is only eighteen, linked to the previous’ Queen killer and her Spirit magic makes her unstable. Lissa starts doing the tests, and she does them remarkably well, gaining support as she goes further. For her, it is a promise to keep her family’s name high where it belongs, and a matter of pride, but to the Moroi she is a valid and loved candidate.

When Rose causes a scene at the motel she is hiding with Dimitri and Sydney, they are forced to leave their location. They head to a secret community, the Keepers that is composed of humans, Moroi and Dhampirs who are very primitive. There Rose gets another follower and has to make it clear she isn’t interested. While there, they realize that the only person who might know of Lissa’s illegitimate family member is Sonya Karp, Rose and Lissa’s old teacher who turned into a Strigoi to get away from her Spirit induced insanity. Dimitri uses his old connections to find out where she is living, and they go to find her. They are soon joined by Victor Dashkov and his half-brother Robert Doru, a crazy Spirit user. They turn Sonya back into a Moroi, and she is able to help them track down Lissa’s family.

Rose is shocked when it turns out that Jill Mastrano, a younger Moroi and one of her friends is Lissa’s half-sister. Jill agrees to head to court and openly admit it, but she is kidnapped by Victor and Robert, and the Guardians storm the Mastrano’s house after Victor tipped them off.

They hunt Victor, Robert and Jill down, and Rose kills Victor. She is terrified that she is going crazy from her bond with Lissa, and it takes a while to calm her down. She and Dimitri sleep together afterwards and head to court to take Jill in. Adrian realizes that Rose cheated on him and things are very awkward, but he is still kind towards Jill.

Rose, Dimitri and Lissa enters Court, where Lissa is one of two candidates left for the Monarchy. She declares Lissa has a sister, meaning she can be Queen if she gets voted in. Rose reveals herself, and tells the Court the evidence clearing her name – how Tasha Ozera framed her after killing the Queen, how Tasha hated the Queen and Rose as well, because Dimitri had only ever loved Rose and not her. Tasha is furious and denies it, but it is obvious that she is guilty. She tries to shoot Lissa, but Rose does one last heroic deed and just in front of her best friend, and getting critically injured.

Days later, Rose wakes up and discovers that 1) she’s alive 2) Lissa is Queen and 3) when she was shot and her body repaired itself, the bond she had with Lissa disappeared. She is reunited with the love of her life Dimitri, and her best friend is not only safe, but the ruler of their world.

Rating: 7/10

I enjoyed the last book in the series, even though it felt like I had to run a marathon to get through it. Last Sacrifice manages to tie up loose ends, finish off the appropriate people stories and leaves a few things untouched that gets picked up in the sister series, Bloodlines.

Once again, Rose is her single minded self. It is unfair to claim she is selfish, because she offers up so much of her time to protect her closest friend. She can rather be perceived as someone who only cares what happens to the people she loves the most – Lissa and Dimitri. I felt very sorry for Adrian at the end. He is already fragile of mind and then instead of dumping him when she knows it won’t work, she strings him along with false promises and then cheats of him. Not very nice.

Lissa was much more enjoyable in the last book. She finally found pride and a little backbone, which is a huge improvement from the fragile thing we met in Vampire Academy.

The series Vampire Academy is in my opinion something worth reading if you like YA fiction. It is better than most material out there, original and exciting.

Have you read the series? What did you think?