Thursday, 29 March 2012

Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Book:  Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead, August 2007, Razorbil, 332 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

My Thoughts:
I have shied away from vampire books as they generally are not for me, but I kept hearing about Vampire Academy from different people, so decided to try it and was pleasantly surprised.  Maybe because it is about vampires in a whole vampire society, not how they interact with humans, I'm not sure, but the vampire part of the story was not in the forefront.  Instead, it was about these kids with unique challenges in a boarding school, who happen to be vampires and half-humans training to protect the vampires.

Mead does a good job of creating the world of this boarding school, the routines, the cliques, the bullying, the politics and the pettiness.  Even though many of these are taken to the extreme, I'm sure most teenagers will relate to these characters.  There is even romance and adventure.

I really liked Rose and the story is told from her point of view.  She is strong, gutsy, feisty, and no nonsense.  She also shows some really good growth in the book.  I loved her friendship with Lissa, her best friend.  Their connection is so interesting, but I also loved reading a book that is largely about the friendship of these two girls.  All of the other story lines, the romances and the drama, supported this major theme.

Lissa is a great foil for Rose, part of a whole other social circle.  There is a story line where she has self destructive tendencies that I think the author handles really well and matter of factly.  She goes into the reasons, the emotions, and the fact that she ultimately needs help beyond what her friend can give her.

Actually, there are several issues mentioned in the book, such as sex, drugs and drinking.  These seemed authentic to me to how teens act and I liked how Rose thought about where her boundaries were for these things.

I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it, especially to teen girls.

To find the author:  Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards


Hello Everyone,
I didn't have another post for Middle Grade Monday, but then thought it would be a good time to share some exciting news:  My middle grade novel, The Prophesy of Ilverzah, made it to the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (I still can't believe it myself).

Honestly, I was stunned when I saw my name on the list, as well as humbled and excited.  This seems like such a big step for me.  This is the first novel I wrote - it started two and a half years ago as an ill thought out decision to do National Novel Writing Month (for those of you who don't know, you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November).  I sat down November first, not knowing what to write, not having a plot, but only some notion of a main character.  In fact, it took me several days to come up with a plot, but, I sat down each day and wrote my (absolutely terrible) 50,000 words.  I have then spent the last two and a half years editing the book and making it into something, I hope, other people would like to read.

So, for those of who are interested, you can go to Amazon and read the first 5000 words of my novel, as well as leave comments (for which I would be very grateful, I would love the feedback).

Here is the synopsis:
The Prophesy of Ilverzah is the story of four children who become immersed in a fantastic, beautiful, yet war torn magical parallel universe called Ilverzah - a universe that needs their unique talents in order to regain peace.

After shy, bookish, thirteen year old Mara finds a faerie in an energy field she created after a science experiment, her whole world changes. Along with her brother, Tom, and their friends Rose and Jason, Mara gets pulled into Ilverzah, unable to leave despite the efforts of the best magicians in the land. As idyllic and seductive as Ilverzah is, all the children want is the one thing that eludes them, to return home.

However, Mara and her friends soon find that Ilverzah is also a dangerous place. The land has been ravaged by a devastating, generation long, civil war. To make matters worse, the leader of the Demetros, the deranged centaur, Prince Carolos, believes that the children hold the key to winning the war and will not rest until he has them in his grasp. Then there is Ilverzah itself, the world has closed the portals home to the four friends. Perhaps there is some truth to the ancient prophesy that four children will tip the balance in the war and must play their part. If this is true, then Mara and her friends must each learn to use their unique gifts before it is too late.

The Prophesy of Ilverzah is an upper middle school fantasy novel, complete at 60,000 words, which I humbly compare to Narnia meets the Trojan War. It is a story of magic, prophesies, unexpected talents and trust in a chaotic and dangerous world.

Middle Grade Monday is a meme sponsored by Shannon Messenger.  You can go to her blog to get a list of all the great blogs participating.