Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund - Review

Product Description:

Academy 7With a past too terrible to speak of, and a bleak, lonely future ahead of her, Aerin Renning is shocked to find she has earned a place at the most exclusive school in the universe. Aerin excels at Academy 7 in all but debate, where Dane Madousin—son of one of the most powerful men in the Alliance— consistently outtalks her. Fortunately Aerin consistently outwits him at sparring. They are at the top of their class until Dane jeopardizes everything and Aerin is unintentionally dragged down with him. When the pair is given a joint punishment, an unexpected friendship, and romance, begins to form. But Dane and Aerin both harbor dangerous secrets, and the two are linked in ways neither of them could ever have imagined. . . .

This book was recommended to me by one of my best friends. We tend to have the exact same taste in books and movies, therefore when she called me up and told me to hurry up and read Academy 7, so we could stalk the author about writing a sequel, I should have complied immediately. I didn't. I put the book in my TBR pile and there it stayed. But when I befriended Anne Osterlund on Good Reads, I knew then the time had come for me to sit my ass down and read it. I did so late last night. I got comfortable and bought the Kindle version of the novel. Big mistake. Once again I stayed up all night devouring a book (I have to learn to start books in the afternoon and not late at night).

The novel capture my attention from the very beginning. I was entranced. The description might make it sound like a stereotypical YA story, but the book is anything but.

Aerin Renning is 17 years old and a former slave. She managed to escape the horrible planet Vizhan in a damaged vessel. She is rescued by an Allied ship. Since every young citizen of the Alliance between the ages of sixteen and seventeen is required to take the A.E.E (Academy Entrance Exam), the Captain makes her take it. Her scores are so high that she ends up being accepted into Academy 7, the best school in the universe. There is only a small problem: She is not a citizen of The Alliance, but a fugitive from one of the outer planets. Attending Academy 7 is the chance of a lifetime, plus she doesn't have anywhere else to go. However, she knows that if she is found out it will probably mean her death or an even worse punishment. She knows she doesn't belong, but she has no other choice but to keep her secret and try to blend in. 

Dane Madousin is the son of one of the most powerful men in The Alliance, but he's the black sheep of the family. He always manages to get into trouble, add that to his parentage, it causes him to be somewhat of a celebrity. He aces his A.E.E., thus getting into Academy 7, much to his father's distaste, since he has his own plans for him. He defies him and decides to take control of his life by attending the school. Dane is also hiding a painful past and has his own secrets to keep.

Both Dane and Aerin excel at their studies and keep to themselves, but because of a misunderstanding Aerin dislikes Dane intensely. When Dane accidentally gets her in trouble, it only makes things worse. However when they are forced to spend time together because of their punishment, things slowly begin to change. At first it may seem like they have nothing in common, but they are way more alike than they realize.

The story is set in the future in a Galaxy far away. The author herself had said it is a mixture of Star Wars and The Outsiders. But don't let the sci-fi elements scare you away, if you are not into that. This is a very character driven book. The main characters, Aerin and Dane, are so well flesh out that you can't help falling in love with them. They jump off the page. Right away I felt a connection to both of them, and I couldn't wait to find out more. The more I learned, the more I loved them. Anne Osterlund could have set their tale anywhere, anytime, and it would still work, because they are the driving force behind this book. She could have set this book in England during the Industrial Revolution, or she could have set them in the present in a high school in middle America. Their tale has an universal appeal, but having space and the future as a background only made it more interesting, in my opinion.

It being an YA book could fool you into thinking the romance would be a cliché, but it totally isn't. In most young adult books the heroine falls in love with a boy because he is gorgeous and aloof, which usually results in the relationship being shallow, and the reader feeling like he is missing something. That is so not the case here. It's the complete opposite. The romance takes a back seat to character development. Aerin and Dane's relationship begins as a tentative friendship and from there it grows, as do their characters. There is nothing superficial about it, quite the contrary. First they have to learn to like each other, then trust becomes the most important thing they share. Love, therefore, is only the natural consequence of all they go through together. It makes it so much more believable and enjoyable to us readers. Also, quite mature and refreshing, since that is not the norm in teen novels.

This is a coming of age story. Aerin and Dane's journey to find themselves and finally become who they're suppose to be is captivating and a joy to read. Everything else in the story, although quite enjoyable, became secondary to me. I just wanted to see them grow and reach an understanding. I was not disappointed.

The plot is full of intrigue, political agendas and painful secrets, which makes it an engaging read. It's fast paced and keeps you in the edge of your seat. It's almost impossible to put it down, once you start it. Although all pending issues are resolved by the end of the book, it begs for a sequel, because you just don't want to say good bye to Aerin and Dane, and there are so many wonderful places the author can take them from here.

My rating:

So, now it's my turn to ask you. Please, read this book and help me and my friend stalk Anne Osterlund and convince her publishers to let her write a sequel to this delightful story. She has said that in her mind Aerin and Dane' story is a trilogy, but she hasn't been contracted to write the next two books yet. I say we should change that. Who's with me?

Also, Anne has kindly agreed to be interviewed by me for this blog. I'm working on the questions to ask her right now, and her interview will probably be my next post. She is also the author of the book Aurelia, which you might know. If you have any questions you want her to answer, about Academy 7 or the Aurelia series, leave them in a comment below and I'll add them to my own. Also, don't forget to check back to read the interview. It's coming soon!

Books by Anne Osterlund:

Academy 7Aurelia

Monday, June 28, 2010

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - Review

Product Description:

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge!

This is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, and just like the first it's an emotional roller-coaster ride.

After winning the The Hunger Games together, much to the Capitol's distaste, Katniss and Peeta must deal with the aftermath of their defiance. Katniss has become the symbol of the Districts unhappiness with the Capitol, and uprisings are threatening to occur. The Capitol must crush the rebellion, and to do that they need Peeta and Katniss to play by their rules. The pair tries, but it seems that nothing they do can squash the stirrings of a revolution. 

In a plot twist so horrible and heart breaking that you would never have guessed (and that I won't tell you about), they must again fight for their lives and everything and everyone they hold dear.

Catching Fire has all the qualities that made The Hunger Games such a thought provoking and wonderful book, the same elements are there, but I have to say I liked the first novel a little more. I cried reading it, but not as much as I did in the first one. The story is still powerful, brutal, engaging, and there is a little more humor in it, but not much.

My only complaint about it is that Katniss can't make up her mind about which guy she wants. This is a very popular plot device in YA books, but one that annoys the hell out of me. It's been done a lot, but that doesn't make it any less irritating. Am I the only one that thinks this way? I just like my heroines to know what and who they want. I don't even care if their choice is the one I would make, but the indecisiveness gets on my nerves. This brings me to my favorite quote in the book:

"You know you could live a thousand lifetimes and not deserve him."

Hear, hear, I say.

The book ends with an evil cliffhanger, something that makes me want to beat someone to death. What is it with authors and cruel cliffhangers? I'm looking at you, Karen Marie Moning!

All in all, the book is a must read, like the first one. I'm counting the days to the release of Mockingjay, the third and last installment in The Hunger Games series. It is scheduled to be publish in August 24th, 2010.

My rating: 

The Hunger Games Trilogy:
The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Review

Product Description:

The Hunger Games
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before -- and survival.

This book has been in my TBR pile for a long time, so Friday night right before going to bed I decided to start it. That was a mistake. I read the book all night long, I just couldn't stop. When I was done with it in the morning, I started the second one in the series, Catching Fire, and read it all day long. I read both books back to back, no breaks. That should tell you something about how good these books are.

I won't do my usual recap of the book before writing my impressions because I don't want to spoil you, even a tiny bit. I was spoiled about the ending a little while back (Missie, I'm looking at you), but it didn't diminish my enjoyment of reading this novel. I'd probably have enjoyed it a little more (although I don't know if that is possible), if I didn't know how everything would turn out, nonetheless I'll spare you the details.

At first, I had a little trouble getting into it, because it's all written in the present tense, but after a few pages I got used to it and so will you. The story just sucks you in.

This is the first Dystopian Fiction novel that I've tried, but I've enjoyed it so much that I'll be looking into more of them.

Katniss Everdeen is a great heroine. She is a survivor. She is fierce. She is strong, courageous, determined, skilled, an all around bad-ass in the best sense of the word. But to me the heart of the book is Peeta Mellark, the boy with the bread.

Peeta and Katniss are the tributes from District 12, the boy and girl who are going to participate in The Hunger Games. They knew each other from school, but they have never been close. However, Katniss owes Peeta, since an act of kindness on his part a long time ago saved her and shaped her to be who she is now. Katniss is all hard edges, but Peeta delivers some of the much needed heart warming moments in the novel.

I really don't understand how this can be labeled as an YA book. This novel is dark, heart-breaking, and brutal. In my opinion, this is an adult book, and a very overwhelming one at that.

I cried all throughout the book. I really did. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to add that I'a cryer. I get very emotional reading books, or watching movies, although I'm not so emotional in real life. Go figure. Anyway, the book really moved me. It's engaging, fast paced, action packed, very violent, and gut wrenching. It's one of the most powerful books I've read in ages. It's the type of book that once you are done with it, it stays with you for a long time. You just can't stop thinking about it.

It's a must read. So, grab a box of tissues, clear your calendar, and get comfortable, but please read it as soon as possible. You won't regret it. Just remember to have the sequel, Catching Fire, close by because you'll need it.

My rating: 

The Hunger Games Trilogy:

The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Follow My Book Blog Friday

Parajunkee from the awesome Parajunkee's View is hosting Follow My Book Blog Friday and I just joined. Hopefully it will increase my readership and I'll meet new people!

*looks around and waves* Hello! Welcome! I'm VampAngel and this is my blog. I hope you'll enjoy it. Let me know you stopped by and what you think about my place. *smiles shyly*

Anyway, to join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host ( and any one else you want to follow on the list
  2. Follow the Featured Bloggers.
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing
  4. Grab the button and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!  

Crazy for Books is also doing a Blog Hop. Please, make sure to stop by and check out some other incredible blogs!

Soulless by Gail Carriger - Review

Product Description:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Favorite Book Series Part 1 - The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

I was thinking (never a good thing, I'm told). Since this is a spanking brand new book blog, you probably have no idea how my tastes run. So, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of my favorite book series, that way you can get a picture of what I like, and see if we have similar interests or not. The list I'm going to be posting in the next several days are in no way comprehensive and are not listed in any particular order. They are just some of the stories I have enjoyed lately. I won't be reviewing each individual book here, unless I reread them. But, I'll probably be reviewing the next installments in each series, as soon as they are published. I'm waiting for them with bated breath, hopefully you will be too.

If you haven't read any of the series that are going to be enumerated here in the next few days, I strongly suggest you do so as soon as possible.

You ready? Here we go. 


Product Description:
(Taken from the author's website:

The Dresden Files are set in a "alternate" Chicago where magic is real, but only a few actually believe in it; it's a first-person tale told by an irascible wizard named Harry Dresden, who regularly gives the magical establishment indigestion — and the police, the same. Take Sam Spade, your Average Joe Underdog Action Star, and toss in some spellcraft, and you get Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Heck of a guy.

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties or Other Entertainment

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins - Review

Product Description:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father -- an elusive European warlock -- only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Welcome to my madness!


Hello there!

I'm woman in my thirties and I'm an avid reader. I spend most hours of my day with my nose buried in a book, or more recently in my Kindle. I'll read almost anything, but lately my favorite genre has been Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. I love to get lost in fantasy worlds and be a part of an universe that is very different from my own reality. The truth is my own life is boring, so I want to escape. Books are my tickets out of boredom and my drug of choice. They take me all over the globe, and sometimes even out of this planet or to alternative worlds. I just buckle up and enjoy the ride. And when said ride is good, I really don't want to leave.

So, this blog is my attempt to share my trips with you. Like a friend sharing the pictures and stories of their travelings, making you feel like you want to visit that exotic location one day too. Or maybe not. Maybe that location won't be agreeable to you, or maybe the voyage won't be worth it. I'll try to steer you right, but as with most things in life, that is open to interpretation. Since this is my personal blog, it will be filled with my own humble opinions.

Anyway, I'm VampAngel and I'll be your tour guide. Please, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

After all, to read, or not to read it: that is the question.

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