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Vampire Academy (2014)

The Grand Shuckett

Official Website

Plot Summary: Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, half human/vampire, guardians of the Moroi, peaceful, mortal vampires living discretely within our world. Her legacy is to protect the Moroi from bloodthirsty, immortal Vampires, the Strigoi. This is her story.

Director: Mark Waters

Writers: Richelle Mead (novel), Daniel Waters (screenplay)

Runtime: 104 min

Main Cast:

  •  Zoey Deutch as Rose hathaway
  • Lucy Fry as Lissa Dragomir
  • Danila Kozlovsky as Dimitri Belikov
  • Gabriel Byrne as Victor Dashkov

Group Review: by Anthony, Lee, Nena, Erika and Tiffany

As a collaboration with our friends, Tiffany and Erika, we thought it would be fun to all read Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, watch the movie, and do a review on the two combined.

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UPDATE YOUR BOOKMARKS! I HAVE A NEW SITE!

ATTENTION WORDPRESS FOLLOWERS! Hi everyone! I apologize if you’re receiving this twice, but this is my post from the old blog. I have a new site, though things look similar.  If you follow my site through wordpress.com, please follow me at my new address http://www.YourUrbanFantasy.com .

If you follow my blog by email you should get this automatically.  Please update your bookmarks. It’s still a work in progress, but all should be well soon. Thanks!

Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina Halle – You’ll want the next book ASAP!

Sins & Needles, Sins and Needles, Karina Halle, The Artists TrilogySynopsis: Ellie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents’ latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.

Review: When it comes to books I rarely venture into contemporary territory, but after enjoying Karina Halle’s Experiment in Terror series, I decided to give her new Artist Trilogy a chance.  The gritty and offbeat theme seemed particularly enticing, and after diving into the unpredictable and tumultuous world, you don’t really want to come out.
Ellie is definitely one of the darker protagonists, but it makes her decisions all the more interesting.  Though she does bad things, she is sympathetic character.  Though you can’t excuse some of her actions, she never really had a chance and just survives as best she can with the cards she’s been dealt. After such a tragic childhood, she could easily be worse.

Camden is even more intriguing. Since the book is not from his POV his decisions and reactions can be harder to gauge.  Based on the synopsis he definitely has a dark streak and you never really know what will set him off. That said, as I read the actual book he wasn’t as dark as I thought he’d be based on the synopsis.  It was more about what was going on around him as opposed to the character himself. I didn’t come into this expecting to like Camden but you can’t help but fall for him over time.

There’s a lot of chemistry between Camden and Ellie and the flashbacks to their past were a good device to cement the relationship and allow the reader to become invested in where things can go from here.  In the life of crime, there are forces bigger than the both of them that can change everything, but their moments are far from cliche and corny.  That’s one of Karina Halle’s best qualities as an author. Her main characters and their relationships are rarely cookie-cutter, conventional, or contrived.

Based on the subject matter and the main characters with questionable morals, I am not sure if this book is for everyone.  It might be too dark and times are rarely happy, but I enjoyed it a great deal.  It is one of my favorite contemporary series now and I am thrilled that she writes fast enough so that the second book isn’t too far behind.

*ARC provided by the author.

Once Burned (Night Prince #1) – Jeaniene Frost – Vlad Vlad Vlad!

Night Prince, Once Burned, Jeaniene FrostWhile Vlad Tepesh lends himself as a fantastic supporting character in the Night Huntress series, his personality has the word “lead” written all over it, and Jeaniene Frost was smart to take advantage of it.

He gets his own storyline that introduces his potential better half, Leila.  Though mortal, a freak accident as a child leaves her with the unusual ability to channel electricity into psychic powers. Her powers are attractive to a group of vampires with malicious intentions who need her abilities to reach out to Vlad, the most infamous of them all.  His power to wield fire gives him a significant upper hand, but everyone has a weakness and his adversaries may have found his through Leila.  However when they meet, you don’t need chemistry lessons to know that fire + electricity = one dangerous combo.

On the heels of a Vlad-less Night Huntress book #6, I wasted no time getting to this spin-off to get my fix.  Though this series is the Night Prince, the story is told from Laila’s POV, so we can’t get into his mind quite as much as fans were likely hoping. I didn’t mind it much because I actually liked Laila’s character.  Though tragic and sympathetic, she’s not helpless.  I look forward to the evolution of her powers over the course of this series.  Sparks were certainly flying between her and Vlad, and so far I approve.  There appears to be substance to her which I’ll take any day over the typical disposable heroine.  Her powers at times reminded me of Rogue from X-Men, who also wears gloves to protect those close to her. She is one of my favorite characters and Rogue/Gambit is one of my favorite all-time fictional ships.  It’s just that while Gambit couldn’t handle Rogue’s power; Vlad can handle Laila’s, allowing them to be more tactile.

Vlad himself is everything I wanted and then some.  I feel like Frost wanted to let loose a bit more with him here.  He’s sexy, hilarious, frustrating, and terrifying all at the same time.  I love those types of dynamic characters in literature.  However, this book was written making it clear that there would be more to come.  Vlad is extremely private and even though he heats up the sheets, it’s a taller order to heat up his heart. With centuries of success comes centuries of pain, so I’m glad it may take multiple books for this resolution.  I like it when my characters truly earn their happiness, and standalone books rarely cut the mustard or me when it comes to that.

There could have been a bit more development with the story, but the characters carried it enough that I found the read satisfying and refreshing from Cat & Bones’s world.  It’s part one of a trilogy after all. I’m just glad I don’t have a long wait for the next one.

 

One Grave at a Time (Night Huntress #6) by Jeaniene Frost – Finally All Caught Up!

It’s tough enough trying to take down vampires and ghouls galore, but what about ghosts? Particularly ones that continue to wreak havoc beyond the grave for centuries on end? It’s not an easy fix, but Cat and Bones are determined to do it. Heinrich Kramer, a witch hunter who’s been dead for centuries, has the ability to become corporeal for one night of the year every All Hallows Eve.  This allows him to torment and murder innocent women.  One of his victims turns to our favorite vampire duo for help because they may be the only ones who can put a stop to it once and for all.

I’ve stated how I tend to like the odd books with this series.  As an even numbered book this sort of broke that pattern, though it’s not really a favorite.  I am not typically a ghost person, so I believe it says something when I can be engrossed enough to want to see what happens next.  Frost makes it very easy to hate the villain and want to see him get his loooong overdue comeuppance.

The story was okay, but I admit that I missed Vlad somethin’ awful this time around. I know that he gets his own novel, but he’s become the character I most look forward to reading about in this series. I understand it’s Cat and Bones’s story but the heart wants what it wants.

Cat has been mellowing out a little more lately, in turn making her less annoying to me, but there were a couple of eye-roll inducing instances, particularly when she harps on how she was apart from Bones for 4 years.  I just didn’t connect with that “angst” because they’re  together now, have been for a few years, and will probably be together for centuries to come–a luxury (or curse) most couples won’t have.

All in all, while I didn’t have the Fever experience with this  series (I read all 5 books in 6 days), I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking it out and getting it done.  Now I look forward to Vlad’s book!

Happy Happy HOLLOWS DAY!!

Hi everyone! Today is the big day! Ever After (The Hollows #11) is out a whole month early for our reading pleasure. Since I pre-ordered the hardcover through Amazon, I actually received my book yesterday, which was pretty sweet! And while I can’t wait to read the final product, I have decided to repost my review of the ARC for this book that I read back in October.  So yeah, I think it’s been long enough that is refresher is in order, not that I could forget much ~_^! I doubt my sentiments will change. Thank you all for voting on my poll from this weekend. The strength of ebooks is really telling, especially for a series that was established well before this format came to fruition! I myself prefer reading ebooks these days, but I started reading and collecting The Hollows in paper form and I own every hardcover since Book 5 (For a Few Demons More), so I think it only fitting that I collect them all. There are only TWO books left after all. I hope you all enjoy it. I guarantee most of you will, and I encourage you to share your thoughts! HAPPY HAPPY HOLLOWS DAY!!

Review: Ever After – Like the finest of wines, The Hollows gets better with age

As you can see, I present definitive proof that I’ve indeed read the book! And man oh man is it fantastic! It’s my new favorite! I normally worry about using that term too loosely because it could diminish the potential quality of the series as a whole, but I genuinely think it’s the best book thus far.  Kim Harrison has done it yet again and all signs point to her doing it two more times, and in epic proportions.

This time the Ever After, home of the demons, is shrinking at an alarmingly fast rate, placing the existence of magic in a pretty vulnerable position; without one there couldn’t be the other.  So as if our favorite itchy witch, Rachel Morgan, didn’t have enough problems, this just sprang up to #1.  If she can’t solve this one, she won’t have any others.  If she can’t fix it, the demons want her head as her botched leyline creation caused this mess in the first place.  And no one wants to see that happen more than her old buddy, Ku’Sox, the former day walking demon who had the misfortune to cross Rachel and lose.  He even resorts to abducting her friend and goddaughter as insurance…and boy is it effective.  Thankfully she’s got Trent Kalamack and Algaliarept by her side to restore balance and take him down once and for all. But the price may be too high for things to ever be the same again.

I know there was criticism about not a lot happening in A Perfect Blood, though I personally enjoyed the old-school Hollows style mystery. But for those of you who didn’t, for EVER AFTER I think a better question is what didn’t happen!  There was so much going on that I genuinely can’t recall a dull moment. I think I felt and continue to feel every emotion possible, but I ultimately finished the book in pure euphoria.  In case you needed a little reminding, Harrison presents really harsh realities and difficult decisions that prove she’s an author with guts. I don’t think I’ve experienced so many pulse pounding moments since For a Few Demons More (book 5). This book left me reeling like no other.

The scenes that take place in the Ever-After were some of the best of the series. The race against the clock really made this book so intense. Learning the history of the demons and the elves and the eventual degradation of their relationship was great, though I would have loved even more insight.  I just can’t get enough of it.

And that brings me to Big Al, who was totally amazing. Fans will absolutely adore him in this book as we learn more about his personal back story.  He’s much more prominent here than in A Perfect Blood and that’s fine by me because he literally lights up the pages and keeps things exciting in his own peculiar way.

After having read Trent’s POV in the bonus chapter of A Perfect Blood, I saw everything he did in a whole new light, and boy was it refreshing.  He’s got his own personal demons to work through and it really makes you feel for the guy.  He is in a rock and a hard place, accepting his actions that have led to certain consequences while still working to find the best solution possible. I loved seeing him use more magic. I feel like elves have a pretty powerful arsenal that deserve more exploration, so it was nice to see Harrison skim the surface here with the insinuation of even greater things.  Magic is amped up for the elves, while more human qualities are amped up for the demons, so it was an interesting trade off.

His teamwork with Rachel was one of my favorite parts of the book.  The tension was insane and placed so well all throughout. It’s seriously amazing to go back and read passages from Dead Witch Walking and then look at them now. Their progress is usually one step forward, two steps back, but the slow burn for this ship is probably what will make it my all-time #1 favorite if they end up together *fingers crossed*.

This book was just about everything I could ask for, but it wasn’t 100% flawless. With so much ever after, elf and demon action, the story manages to throw in a smidgeon of development in vampire politics. Unfortunately it felt very much like an afterthought and briefly broke the overall flow.  We know vampires won’t get a lot of focus until the final book 13, so 10 or so pages of development came off a random at best and forgettable at worst.

All in all, this is an absolute MUST READ for fans of the series.  Since Black Magic Sanction and Pale Demon the series has been invigorated and manages to improve as we reach the final stretch.  That is a rarity for 95% of series that make it this far.  I think it helps a lot that Kim Harrison has an end in sight and continues to write towards that.  Many others have jumped-the-shark by this point. The Hollows is absolutely revving up for a grande finale and I cannot wait to be there.

Poll: How will you be purchasing EVER AFTER (The Hollows #11) on or after this Tuesday?

It’s no secret that we’re all Hollows nuts around these parts.  I’ve actually been noticing a bit of a calm before the storm when it comes to the interwebs.  Though I didn’t have time to hold a proper giveaway (though I hope you’ll like the consolation prize), I am a little curious about evolving buying habits and want to know how you all plan to get your mits on your copy. I’ve been pre-ordering hardcovers since my closest bookstore closed down,  and same day delivery means it works out pretty well.

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress #5) by Jeaniene Frost – Better than the previous book

Though vampires are arguably at the top of the food chain, somehow they are turning up missing.  It becomes doubly suspicious after rumors circulate about an impending ghoul/vampire war. It takes a ghoul to know a ghoul, and Cat and Bones will need to enlist help from the ghoul queen of New Orleans, but is she a friend or foe? There’s no real time to find out.

I am noticing a fairly bizarre pattern for myself with this series; I tend to enjoy the odd books much better than their even counterparts.  Though I wasn’t completely on board with the premise this time around, I was much more engaged than during the prior installment.  Unless I was just getting used to thing, I had noticed the amount of humor slipping a bit with this series.  I can safely say that it was a bit more prominent this time, or at least it struck the right cord with me, which I hadn’t been experiencing for a little while.

Cat seems to be adjusting to her full vampire status better, along with some pretty cool upgrades, inadvertent as they may be.  I am finding her slightly less annoying since the change.  Bones had me laughing a couple of times too (poking fun at Twilight), but, again, Vlad Vlad Vlad steals the show for me.  He probably has my favorite quote of the novel. It’s making me smirk just thinking about it:

“Premature inflammation! Very embarrassing, I don’t like to talk about it!”

It’s okay, Vlad.  Happens to the best of us.

Even though I had a few laughs, overall this definitely is not the series at its best. The end was pretty predictable which cost it some points for me, but it sets up the future books to potentially be more interesting.

Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4) – Felt like filler

Cat and Bones have more than earned a vacation. Away from their tough jobs, away from the politics, away from danger.  But while Paris starts off as the perfect getaway, peculiar dreams (or are they memories?) have been haunting Cat night after night.  It turns out she may be married to Gregor, a powerful vampire, and has been since long before she met Bones.  Hubby #1 wants his wife back.  Needless to say, that doesn’t go over well with Cat or Bones, but Gregor’s power is greater than theirs combined.

The title says it all.  This book felt like filler to me.  The premise didn’t really lend itself well to future plot development, at least not in a sense that rings true.  It technically does because there is a huge change, but I feel like practically anything could have spurred that major change along.  I never felt like Cat and Bones’s’ relationship was truly threatened so there was no tension or suspense, just contrived melodrama.  Just about everything is forgettable about this story save for the final 25%.

There is one plus, I think Vlad has emerged as my favorite character of this series.  He’s witty, fun, badass, and overall a well-done interpretation of Dracula. It’s a difficult character to really harness and make unique, but I think Jeaniene Frost does a great job with him.  It’s just never enough.  But knowing he has his own spinoff, makes me feel much better.

Ever After Chapters 1-6! You want it, You got! And a note to followers…

It’s taking a slightly different approach than the usual Harper Voyager link, but it’s easy to access all the same to read chapter 3:

http://harpervoyagerbooks.com/2013/01/15/exclusive-chapter-three-of-kim-harrisons-ever-after-122/

Of course if you’d rather read through part of chapter 6, then by all means go here:
http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061957918

Enjoy!

P.S. And forgive me for being a little slow on the posts lately.  Assassin’s Creed has pretty much occupied all of my free time! Ezio Auditore is just that amazing (and hott).  And this is why I’m glad I’m not a big gamer.  But I’ve finished his trilogy and things should return to normal soon (because I doubt Assassin’s Creed 3 will be as addictive)!

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