Sunday, February 28, 2016

Book Review: Blood Promise, by Richelle Mead (Second Review for the 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Here's my second review for this AWESOME challenge,
hosted by Evie @ Bookish Lifestyle!

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participating blogs,
Just click on the link above!
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Blood Promise
(Vampire Academy, Book 4)
Richelle Mead
Hardcover, 503 pages
Penguin Razorbill
August 29, 2009
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis

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: honoring 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?

I enjoyed this installment of the Vampire Academy series almost as much as the previous three. I did have to struggle through some chapters. The book is full of surprises and twists, and not all of them are pleasant

Although all the books in the series so far have contained dark sections, in which the evil vampires, the Strigoi, have done horrible things,  Blood Promise was an even darker read. It was also a very difficult one for me, emotionally speaking. I was only able to tolerate it because I had already read ahead, and had also checked Wikipedia to find out how things ultimately turned out. Call me crazy for doing these things, but I just couldn't stand the suspense!

The thing about this book is, we get to see what Dimitri is like as......HORRORS! .....a STRIGOI. And it's not a pretty picture at all. His character has been transformed, and he now looks at the world in terms of predators and prey. He still loves Rose, but his love is twisted. He wants her to "awaken"; that is, he wants her to join him as a Strigoi, so that they can then both rule -- ruthlessly, of course -- the Strigoi empire.

In spite of the fact that I did read ahead,  I still don't know how I was able to endure seeing the frightening changes In Dimitri. I can just imagine how terrible and sickening it would have been if Edward Cullen had turned into one of the Volturi...

Amidst all the darkness, however, there is a faint ray of hope. I won't say anything about it, except that all is not lost for Dimitri and Rose, although she thinks it is. One thing I can say is that there's a moment during one of their conversations in which she can see Dimitri's real character coming through, as he reminisces about his family. It doesn't last long, but it does give the reader reason to hope....

One thing I loved about this book was meeting Dimitri's family. I especially loved Dimitri's mom. She actually became a surrogate mother to Rose, whose own mother, Janine Hathaway, has never been very involved with Rose's upbringing, because she (Janine) decided to become a guardian. Dimitri's sisters are wonderful, as well! They all immediately accept Rose as a member of their family, just because she is Dimitri's girlfriend.

The chapters dealing with Dimitri's family also helped me get through the ones describing Dimitri as a Strigoi. These chapters also contributed to that faint ray of hope I hung onto for dear life. I figured that Rose meeting his family had to be something with positive implications for the future.

There are some other new characters in this book, such as Sydney, the Alchemist, and the very mysterious Abe Mazur, who takes a great interest in Rose's mission in Russia. 

Back at St. Vladimir's, other new characters appear, such as Avery, whom Lissa thinks might have been sent by Queen Tatiana (whom I absolutely detest) to spy on her. Avery turns out to be into fun, fun, fun, and gets Lissa into some wild adventures. 

The irrepressible Adrian Ivashkov is back, of course! I love him as much as I love Dimitri! They're very different people, but each is wonderful in his own way. Beneath Adrian's constantly joking behavior there's a tenderness and seriousness that surprise Rose when she begins to get to know him better.  He's always had a major crush on her. So he continues to hope that, with Dimitri seemingly out of the picture, he'll have a chance to win Rose's affections. 

This novel is also different from the previous three in that the beginning starts out with some action. Then there's a section -- when Rose meets and gets to know Dimitri's family -- where the action slows down, only to pick up again when she finally encounters Dimitri the Strigoi.

Rose is as much of a kick-butt, strong character, as ever, and her resourcefulness and integrity really shine through on every page. Her relationship with Lissa is also very touching. More than best friends, they're more like sisters, and Rose comes through for her when things back home get too crazy, and Lissa's life is actually in danger. Christian, with whom Lissa had been experiencing some tension, also gets in on the action. This part of the book was just breathtakingly GOOD. Richelle Mead has an incredible imagination, as all of us fans know!

Now that I've mentioned Christian, I have to say that I'm very happy that he and Rose are now really getting along. They both have Lissa's best interests at heart, after all, so it's great that they've become friends and allies.

The book does end on a positive note, in spite of everything. In short, this is another great installment in this incredibly awesome series! I would just caution younger readers that the chapters dealing with the Strigoi are pretty frightening and unpleasant to get through, and pretty violent, as well. I think that Mead should have shortened this part of the book, as I did not enjoy being exposed to such evil for that long. 

Another problem I had with the book was the ease with which Rose got to Russia, and made her way through the country, alone, without knowing the language. She just happened to encounter people who spoke English. This was not very believable. 

 Other than the above objections, I thought the book was well-paced, and everything was tied up neatly at the end, for the most part; there's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this one, as well.         




Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Girl of Myth and Legend Tour: Mini-Review & Excerpt

Welcome to the Girl of Myth 
and Legend Tour,
sponsored by
YA Bound Book Tours!!

For my stop, I'm featuring  a
mini-review and excerpt!

Girl of Myth and Legend
(The Chosen Saga, Book 1)
Giselle Simlett
Trade Paperback, 426 pages
WWS Publishing, Ltd.
January 1, 2016
Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction, Science Fiction, 
Young Adult Fiction

A girl with a past she tries to forget, and a future she can’t even imagine.
Leonie Woodville wants to live an unremarkable life. She wants routine, she wants repetition, she wants predictability. So when she explodes in a blaze of light one morning on the way to her college, it’s enough to put a real crimp in her day.

And things only get weirder…

Leonie learns from her father that she is last of the Pulsar, a phenomenally powerful member of a magical species called the Chosen. It will be her sole duty to protect the Imperium, a governing hierarchy, from all enemies, and to exceed the reputation of the Pulsar before her. So – no pressure there, then.

Leonie is swept away from her rigorous normality and taken to a world of magic. There, she is forced into a ceremony to join her soul to a guardian, Korren, who is both incredibly handsome and intensely troubled, a relationship for which ‘it’s complicated’ just really doesn’t cut it.

But Leonie is soon to learn that this ancient world is no paradise. With violent dissidents intent to overthrow the Imperium, and dark entities with their own agenda, she and Korren find themselves caught in a war where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to survive.
Dare to dream. Dare to hope. Dare to be a legend.

I LOVED this excerpt! The mood is mysterious, there's a sense of impending danger, and the night is very still as the narrator -- Leonie -- sneaks out of her room and outside to visit a creature that looks like a human man, and yet isn't. 
I don't know much about this fantasy realm she's in yet, but it sounds very magical! She mentions 'Thrones', whatever they are, and an 'arux'. The creature she's going to visit is called a 'kytaen'. (I'm wondering if this is some sort of kitten. Lol.
Whatever is going on here, I am really fascinated and intrigued! I want more! The synopsis attracted me, and now this excerpt has enchanted me! Needless to say, I MUST read this book!!

Labyrinths of Chaos

At midnight I decide to go to the kytaen. I get a blanket from the bed. Sneaking out isn't as hard as I thought. Though I see Thrones guarding certain shadowed hallways that lead to my room, there are enough opportunities to get by them unnoticed. I sneak by, my feet silent against the marble, and whenever one of the Thrones turns in my direction, I quickly hide behind one of the walls or statues. I manage to get to a hallway where there are no Thrones and tiptoe towards where the Breakfast Room is. The doors to the room open like they did before, and I hush them as they creak. It's not dark inside the room, the fake stars glinting above my head. There isn't any food left on the table, so I go to where the Magen exited with our breakfast this morning. The kitchen is smaller than I thought it would be, resembling the old kitchens I remember seeing in Windsor Castle. I guess Magen like things the old way. I grab a piece of leftover bread I find and make my way out of the kitchen. 

I gasp when I see a flash of black, and hide behind the door. I let my heart steady itself before peering out. There's a man wearing a black cloak, his face concealed by a scarf and hood. He stands near the table, looking up at the stars. After a moment, he turns away and exits the room. I sigh in relief that he didn't see me. 

I leave the room and go down the darkened hallways. I can hear the distant sound of hymns, and I shiver. Why do Magen have to be so creepy? I see the doors that lead outside, and slowly open one of them.

I regret being in my pyjamas as soon as the wind hits me. I'm about to reach the shed -- I refuse to call it an arux, since I'm sure 'slumber' doesn't come easily there -- when three silver orbs draw my gaze. Except, they're not orbs.

They are moons.


Harriad told me about the moons before, and to be honest I didn't think too much of it, but looking at them now, standing under their soft, glittering light, I can't turn away. They are smaller than the moon in the human realm, and each one hangs behind the other. I had thought that Duwyn was another planet, but Dad said it was another realm. Well, you don't need to look around to see how different this realm is to the one I grew up in; the air itself tastes of magic and stardust. It's hard to imagine that if I were to walk outside the Temples of Elswyr's vicinity, such a beautiful night would be full of terror.

The cold bites at me again, so I force myself to look away and run towards the shed. I open the door without knocking. It's dark, but the moonlight filtering through the small window provides enough light for me to make the kytaen out. He's not looking at me, though he seems annoyed at my presence.

I stand stiff, my earlier confidence waning. It's not his beauty that reminds me to be nervous of him, but his unknowness. It's easy to forget he isn't human when he looks human, and that he is in fact another being altogether, one I didn't know existed until yesterday. I remember the fiery gaze of his bestial form, hostile and unrelenting, enough to set me alight. His eyes still reflect this aggression, but it's not as severe. I squash the anxiousness down into a dark place, and smile. 

"I sneaked you these," I say. I show him the bread and blanket.

He glances at them. "Why?"

I raise an eyebrow. "Unless surviving's become an old fad, I was brought up to believe eating is kind of a priority."

He stares at me for a moment. "I don't eat."

"Wow! Wish I could be a hard-core dieter like you, but then, I kind of enjoy living."

He answers me with a dark look. I stay unflinching. I will not be intimidated.

"If you don't eat, what then? D'you leech off me?" I ask. "Drink my blood?"

He says nothing in reply, but his nose crinkles as if in irritation.

"Don't talk much, I see," I say. "Hey, don't worry, I may be the great, extraordinary, phenomenal Pulsar, but I don't bite."

He narrows his eyes. Well, it's something, at least. I'm determined to get him to talk, or at least to grumble.    

Giselle Simlett was born in England. She has studied Creative Writing at both Gloucestershire University and the Open University. She has a diploma in Creative Writing, Language and Literature, and will soon complete her BA Hons Open Degree.


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