Blogtober Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

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GoodReads Summary:
Fried Green Tomatoes and “Steel Magnolias” meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresReview:
I read this book for my local book club. It’s not something I probably would have picked up otherwise. This book was really something else. I didn’t love the overly grotesque parts of the book (but that’s just why I don’t generally read horror.) But I was fascinated by the dynamics of the women we read about. Their relationships with one another and their relationships with their husbands. This book really made a strong statement about how the world was in the late 80s and early 90s and it honestly just made my heart sad.
Overall, this book was a wild ride. The twists and turns, the way the author had me back and forth believing the main character and then not believing her. I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t have all that much to say about it. But, dude this book was a ride I don’t think I’d ride again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

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GoodReads Summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.
Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series.
When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.
Don’t miss their unforgettable final chapter…
The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines, #6)Review:
The final book in this series, The Ruby Circle, was not my favorite. Honestly, I think things could have ended at book four with a great happily ever after. I still enjoyed it because I’m obsessed with these characters.
I’m going to start here and say like I did in my last review that if you haven’t read any of the books in this series you should stop reading now. I would write this without spoilers but that’s pretty much impossible at this point. So, if you don’t want to be spoiled please stop reading here.
Sydney really started to stand up for herself and I loved that. She asked for help when she needed it. She made deals where she saw they would benefit her and her loved ones. I just really love her. She’s brave and stubborn and does whatever it takes to reach her goals and protect those she cares about.
Adrian was honestly kind of losing it in this book. Spirit is starting to take over and I hated that. I hated that he let it get to this point, but I loved the way things ended. He proves again and again how strong he is, and that he won’t let spirit win.
The part of this book that I didn’t like about this book was Jill. She’s been kidnapped at the end of Silver Shadows and while it’s obviously a big deal, they basically do nothing about it until the end of The Ruby Circle. I just didn’t feel like it was a big of a deal as it was supposed to be. Everything else kept getting in the way. I think maybe this was because Sydney and Adrian weren’t allowed to help, so we didn’t get to see the start of others looking for Jill.
Overall, I still enjoyed this book. This series is one of my favorites and I’m really glad they have withstood time, unlike many other books. Richelle Mead is an incredible writer. She’s created such a loveable group of friends that manage to work past their differences and care about each other anyway. Also, Richelle, when are we going to get a series about Declan as an adult? Because I would make some serious sacrifices to the gods for another series in this world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

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GoodReads Summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.
Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)Review:
Man am I a sucker for a forbidden love. I’m just going to go ahead and say that if you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series or any of the books in the Bloodlines series you should stop reading this review now. It’s practically impossible for me to say anything about this book without spoiling things in the previous books. So, stop reading now and come back when you’ve read the books.
Sydney really broke my heart in this one. Not because of anything she did, but because of the things she had to deal with. She’s been taken by the Alchemists and sent to reeducation, a place that is basically the worst nightmare of the Alchemists. She endures it to the best of her ability. She’s stubborn and determined to help anyone that she can that happens to cross her path. Despite literally being tortured, she still manages to help her fellow Alchemists that have been sent to reeducation. I just love her more and more in each book.
Then there’s Adrian, who does not handle things as well at Sydney does. He basically loses his shit and I really had a hard time with his chapters. I was so mad at him that I didn’t even want to listen. I was so glad when he finally pulled his life together and came up with a plan to save Sydney.
As always, I adore all of the supporting characters. They’re such a tight-knit group of friends and I just really love them.
Overall, this one was probably my least favorite in the series, but that’s not to say it was bad. It was a four-star read, but I just didn’t love it because Sydney and Adrian were apart for most of the book. I did however absolutely adore the turn their relationship took after Sydney was away from reeducation. The end of this book was terrible. I just want them all to be safe and happy already. Richelle Mead really has a way of ending a book leaving me shrieking into the void. I’m actually listening to the final book in the series as I type this review because I just couldn’t wait.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

GoodReads Summary:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
The Coldest Girl in ColdtownReview:
Honestly, I am living for all of these backlist vampire stories that I somehow never read. To those that think the vampire craze had ended, they are completely wrong and should go away. I will be obsessed with vampires forever. My husband likes to joke that I have a fetish. (Really a joke or not? We may never know).
Tana was a main character I could get behind. She’s got trauma in her past, and because of that she’s trying to the right thing for her dad and her little sister. But also, she’s beyond intrigued by Gavriel, the mysterious vampire that she rescued along with her ex-boyfriend Aidan. I liked Tana. She never gave up even when it seemed like things just could not get any worse, the did. But that didn’t stop her. She made this story what it was.
Gavriel was interesting. I really enjoyed that we got his history throughout the story. It really gave us a better understanding of who he was and how he got where he is now. I couldn’t help but like him, even though he was kind of crazy.
Adian was an idiot. He was also kind of a jerk. I just wanted him to F off. I mostly liked the rest of the supporting characters. They were well developed and added the right stuff to the story. Except Pearl. Every time I read about her I couldn’t help but shake my head. I get that she’s just a little girl, raised in a world that glamorized vampires, but she was just too much.
Overall, I really loved this book. It was perfect for October. I loved the twist on vampire lore and the way the vampires changed the modern world. The only thing I didn’t like was the final chapter. I was left with just one question. Which was better than lots of questions, but it was a pretty important question. Despite that, I still loved this book.

Quotes:

“Every hero is the villain of his own story.”

“Even from the beginning, that was the problem. People liked pretty things. People even liked pretty things that wanted to kill and eat them.”

“We labor under so many illusions about ourselves until we’re stripped bare. Being infected, being a vampire, it’s always you. Maybe it’s more you than ever before. You, distilled. You, boiled down like a sauce. But it’s you as you always were, deep down inside.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Vampires are Forever by Lynsay Sands

GoodReads Summary:
Vampires Don’t Exist…Do They?
Inez Urso is beginning to have her doubts. Her business associate Thomas Argeneau has some interesting traits, like an allergic reaction to the sun, excellent night vision, and not much of an appetite for food. And to top it all off, he just tried to bite her neck…but maybe that was a sign of passion. If so, she’d be happy to experience more, despite her determination not to mix business with pleasure.
He’s Been Waiting Forever For A Woman Like Her…
Well, if not forever, at least two hundred years. Inez is the most beautiful woman he’s seen in centuries. Those luscious lips, seductive curves, and her elegant neck…he just couldn’t resist the temptation of one little bite. Now Thomas will do anything to convince her that only an immortal like him can satisfy her all night long…
Vampires are Forever (Argeneau #8)Review:
In this installment of the Argeneau series, we follow Thomas. He’s the kid brother that no one takes seriously. I was excited to finally get his story. He had to watch all of his siblings find their lifemates and fully expected to wait 100+ years to find one for himself.
I adored Thomas. He learned some things about his family, that maybe know him a little better than he thought they did. He secretly writes music, something he’s pretty successful at. But hides this from his older brothers. Until he finds out they all already know about it. I liked the familial growth that we got to see. I think the family dynamic is one of my favorite parts of this series.
Then there’s Inez, she’s the new vice president of the British branches of Argeneau Enterprises, but because of Bastien’s being a bit too wrapped up in his lifemate, Terri. So, he sort of forgets to tell her the big vampire secret when he promotes her. Thomas is left with that responsibility. He bites her and then, too late, realizes he can’t read her mind to wipe her memories. Then the lifemate antics ensue. I liked Inez. She was very logical. She’s smart and capable, but also way too judgmental of herself. I didn’t love how much she criticized herself. Her looks, her weight, etc, I didn’t love that at all.
I did love the pair galivanting all over Europe attempting to find Marguerite. The mystery of what happened to her was interesting enough to keep me invested in the story. Though I was a little annoyed that we never really get an answer as to what’s going on with her.
Overall, I enjoyed Vampires are Forever. I love the twist on vampires. I love Thomas with my whole heart. I love him with Inez. I just loved it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Accidental Vampire by Lynsay Sands

Goodreads Summary:
FATE GAVE HER FANGS…
Ever since an accident turned her into a knockout vamp, Elvi Black’s been catching her z’s in a coffin, staying out of the sun, and giving up garlic. She knows there’s more to being undead than what she saw in Dracula, but she can’t very well ask her mortal friends about proper biting etiquette. But when her neighbors placed a personal ad for her in the local paper, she never imagined she’d meet Victor Argeneau, a vampire who could have his pick of any woman – dead or alive.
HE’LL SHOW HER HOW TO USE THEM…
Rich, powerful, and drop—dead gorgeous, Victor’s the perfect man for a novice neck—biter like Elvi. He’s willing to teach her everything he knows, but he’ll have to do it fast. Someone’s out to put a stake through her new vamp life, and only Victor can keep her safe – and satisfied – for all eternity.
The Accidental Vampire (Argeneau #7)Review:
The Accidental Vampire is now my favorite of the series. It’s so hard for me to decide which is my favorite because I have so much fun each time I read the next book in the series. But this one, man, this one had me laughing so hard that I actually woke my sleeping baby. I just couldn’t stop laughing.
We follow Victor who is related to a different character from a previous book which is something I didn’t realize until over halfway through the book but warmed my little heart when I did learn it. I really liked Victor. He wanted to give Elvi the benefit of the doubt, even though that wasn’t quite his job. Then he learns he can’t read her, and things take a turn for the romantic.
Elvi is the ‘town vampire.’ She was accidentally turned while on vacation in Mexico. The town gets behind her and supports her by donating blood for her. But the funny thing is…everything Elvi knows about being a vampire she’s learned from movies and mythology. It was the perfect set up for absolute hilarity.
Her best friend, Mabel, sets things up so six men (vampires) come to stay at their bed and breakfast, just setting up for more hilarity. It ends up being four suitors and a friend. They all know each other and it was just absolutely great.
I love the twist on the vampire mythology. It’s science-based and I just adore this aspect of the series. I also really loved the dynamic between all of the characters. They were from all different backgrounds and time periods and their personalities were all so different. I just think this one was done so well. With Elvi learning that everything she thought she knew was wrong, these men teaching her the truth was just absolute gold.
I loved this book. I love this series. I love everything about it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Series Review)

GoodReads Summary:
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.
Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Review:
I loved Vampire Academy just as much as I did the first time I read it. I love everything about it. I love the vampire lore, the characters, literally everything. I know this isn’t a perfect book. But it’s nostalgic and it’s perfect.
I love Rose. She’s kickass, loyal as hell, and doesn’t take anyone’s shit. I love how much she loves Lissa. I also really enjoyed the fact that she learned she was wrong, accepted it, and tried to make amends for it. Rose is just one of my favorite fierce females.
Lissa was more complex. She’s got some serious issues, and Rose is the only reason she gets through them. I don’t know why I’d completely forgotten about the self-harming aspect of this story, but it’s there and it really showed the severity of Lissa’s issues.
Then there’s my favorite, Dimitri. My favorite book boyfriend. I love him. He’s strong and powerful, plus really hot. I love that he looked out for and mentors Rose.
Overall, this is still one of my favorite books. I’m interested to see how well the rest of the series holds up. I loved this first book, and I’m excited to continue on with the next.

But wait! There’s more! — So, I managed to finish the rest of the series on audiobook while I was on vacation and didn’t really have time to give a review for each book. So, I’m going to do a series review for the rest of the book. There are potential spoilers for all the books after the first one. So, if you’ve only read the first and don’t want to be spoiled, STOP HERE.

I love everything about this series. The second and third books, Frostbite and Shadowkiss, are my favorite and I honestly believe they could have ended Rose and Lissa’s story right there. Rose had so much incredible character development. She really grew into herself. But then book four comes around and her life goes to shit and she regresses. I understand that parts of that were Rose taking spirit’s effect from Lissa, but it just made me mad. I also absolutely HATED the fact that they made Dimitri a Strigoi. I understand the reasoning behind everything in books four, five, and six. But I just don’t know that it was needed. I think Richelle Mead could have made VA a trilogy and then had another trilogy with other characters. That’s complicated and probably over convoluted though. If that was the case, I’d probably be complaining that I hadn’t gotten enough of Rose and Lissa and the gang.
The gang was definitely my favorite part of this series. I loved Mason and he deserved better. I loved Eddie (and I’m still loving him in Bloodlines). I even adored Christian. I hated it when he and Lissa weren’t together. I adored Adrian as well. I love the bond they all form and how they become their own little family.
I really really didn’t like Rose and Adrian together. I felt like this was added just to have a love triangle. It wasn’t fair to Adrian for Rose to do him dirty the way she did. I really feel for the guy because everyone in the world (not really, like at all) knew that Rose and Dimitri were endgame. I just feel bad for him.
Overall, this is still an all-time favorite series of mine and I’m really glad it’s held up so well over the years.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Single White Vampire by Lynsay Sands

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GoodReads Summary:
SWM – “Lucern.” Successful biographer of family, books recently categorized as “paranormal romance.” Something of a recluse. Hates crowds, aggressive women. Doesn’t like sunbathing, garlicky dinners or religious symbols. Likes old-fashioned values; spicy Mexican dishes; warm, nice-smelling neck; and plump red lips. Stronger than ten men and can vanish in the blink of an eye. Currently unaware he’s seeking a woman to share eternity.
SWF – “Kate C. Leever.” Newest editor of Romance at Roundhouse Publishing. Perky, fun. Has recently discovered a legacy author just dying to be broken out. In fact, her career could take off from it. (The tall, dark, handsome writer just needs to be taken to several romance conventions and introduced to his fans…and stopped from acting so strange in public.) Dislikes “difficult, rude, obnoxious, pig-headed writers.” Currently unaware she’s met the man of her wildest dreams.
OH, DEAR.
Single White Vampire (Argeneau #3)Review:
Single White Vampire had the potential to be a favorite. But sadly, it wasn’t. It was actually my least liked book of the series so far. I blame that entirely on Lucern.
Lucern is basically an old grumpy man stuck in his ways. He ‘doesn’t like outgoing women’ and his mind is stuck in the 1800s. He’s constantly talking about how ‘women shouldn’t act this or that way’ which I really didn’t like. He is not as bad in the latter half of the book. But I just didn’t like his old-fashioned thinking. Though I could respect him keeping his word to go to the conference even though he’d sort of been lied to about what he was agreeing to do.
Kate, however, was the best. I adored her. She’s an editor at a publishing house and she makes sure to get what she wants. She’ll do anything for her authors and I loved her passion for her job. I loved this aspect of the story, as well as the romance conference. This was when Lucern and Kate’s relationship started. I really enjoyed the things he got her to do.
Overall, not my favorite Argeneau book, but I liked Kate enough to bump up my overall enjoyment.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands

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GoodReads Summary:
Lissianna has been spending her centuries pining for Mr. Right, not just a quick snack, and this sexy guy she finds in her bed looks like he might be a candidate. But there’s another, more pressing issue: her tendency to faint at the sight of blood…an especially annoying quirk for a vampire. Of course it doesn’t hurt that this man has a delicious-looking neck. What kind of cold-blooded vampire woman could resist a bite of that?
Dr. Gregory Hewitt recovers from the shock of waking up in a stranger’s bedroom pretty quickly – once he sees a gorgeous woman about to treat him to a wild night of passion. But is it possible for the good doctor to find true love with a vampire vixen, or will he be just a good meal? That’s a question Dr. Greg might be willing to sink his teeth into…if he can just get Lissianna to bite.
A Quick Bite (Argeneau #1)Review:
A Quick Bite is the first book in an extremely long and ongoing vampire romance series. So, as I will be attempting to review each of them, and romance books tend to follow a similar outline for the direction of the story, I will be keeping these reviews on the shorter side so I’m not repeating myself in each one.
I read parts of this series when I was in high school and adored it. I love the twist on the vampire origin story. It’s one that I’ve never heard before. Vampire are a creation of science instead of magic or myth. I thought it was a nice twist on the traditional vampire.
I loved Greg. He had me cracking up with his inner dialogue. Trying to explain his actions when he’d been mind-controlled and didn’t know it was hilarious. He was in the dark about essentially everything while in Margurite’s house and it was beyond funny seeing him trying to put the pieces together.
Lissianna was sweet. I liked her and her phobia was interesting. It certainly made for a complicated story. I would have liked to see her actually working on her phobia though.
I love the Argeneau family. They’re all so different with interesting dynamics. I love that they all come together for one another. The family aspect of this series is one of my favorite parts.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I remembered. It was an average romance. I liked it but didn’t love it. I’m noticing this is changing as I get into newer books (I’ve already read the first five or so.) There is definitely some sex in these books, so the romance readers that don’t like smut should not try these ones out. I rather enjoy the sex scenes, but some of the words used make me giggle. Give this one a try if you like smutty romance and vampires!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eight: Paranormal Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Today the topic of conversation is paranormal books! October is the perfect time of year to read some good (or not so good) paranormal stories. Ghosts, witches, and vampires, what more could a girl ask for?

Spell on Wheels by Kath Leth, Megan Levens, & Marissa Louise
This graphic novel was the perfect start to my spooky season. Kickass witches that meet all sorts of creatures. It was everything I wanted and way better than I expected.

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
This one is definitely angsty YA paranormal, but I had to have a few of those on this list of course.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
This middle-grade story about a girl that sees ghosts is just the perfect Spooktober read.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Dystopian vampires. That is all.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
This one is technically horror, but I don’t read enough horror to make a whole list so I’m including it here. This has the best atmosphere for autumn and mystery galore.

Moonstruck Vol 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle
Such a fun and diverse graphic novel. I loved this first installment.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Gansey Gang and their antics are best read in the spooky season. The atmospheric setting and adventures are so fitting for this time of year.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
This one doubles as a great summer read and an equally great fall read. Witches and ghosts, drowning, oh my!

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
This addicting series is full of mythical creatures you’ve never even thought about. With 30+ books in the series, this is a great one for some binge-reading.

Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
Supernatural summer camp? Great for the fall, but the summer too.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
If you don’t read at least one vampire book this month, who are you?

The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts
Witches and mystery and hot dudes. Yes, please.

A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands
This one fulfills any romance lovers need for some smutty vampires. There are about a zillion books in this series too, so get cracking!

The Devil Inside by Jenna Black
I’ll admit that I haven’t actually read this book or series is quite a few years, but I really remember loving them.

What books of the paranormal variety would you have included on this list? Leave a comment and let me know! Have you read any that made my list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Silver Queen by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: The last city on Earth is contaminated. Now blood is the only thing that can wash it clean.

Julia is trapped inside the Blue as the Nobles fight over the few humans who are still alive. When the dust settles and she finds herself shackled to a new master, she knows she must escape or die.

Meanwhile, Cam has gathered a handful of comrades and is on his way into the Red to rescue his queen. But not all of his friends can be trusted, and not all of them will make it back alive.

The Silver Queen is the second book in Josie Jaffrey’s Sovereign trilogy, set in a dystopian Europe where vampiric Nobles control the last remnants of the human race.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
This is the second book in the Sovereign series. You can read my review of the first book here.
So I just reread my review of the first book to remind myself of which points I’ve already spoken about so I don’t repeat myself too much but I’ve just confused myself more. My feelings about the second book are practically opposite of what they were from the first; at least as far as the characters are concerned.
Originally I felt more connected with Cam and Felix’s relationship than I did Julia and Lucas’s. However, after the second book that’s been reversed for me. Maybe it’s because I started liking Felix less and less the more I read but I no longer support their relationship.
My favorite part of Julia and Lucas’s relationship is that, after he abandoned her in the Blue, she still loves him but no longer trusts him the same way. She’s learned to be independent and even after they’re reunited she questions their relationship. Not just because of the way he left her but because she realizes they’re different people now.
That being said, the romances are still my least favorite part of these books. They feel a little forced to me and I would’ve liked the story more if they weren’t part of it at all.
I like Julia even more now than I did after the first book. Things have changed. She’s had to learn things about herself and the world the hard way, make tough choices, fend for herself. I really admire the strength of her character after everything she’s been through.
Cam is still one of my favorites (except where Felix is concerned). Even after all this time he still tries to believe the best in people. He’s a soldier but doesn’t really want to be and I think those two aspects of his personality were blended really well. I can’t wait to see how the events of this book affect him in the next one.
Another problem I had was the maturity of the characters. Julia, Claudia, Lucas being immature sometimes I can understand. They’re young and emotional, it makes sense. Cameron and the other immortals being immature though? Many of these characters are close to a thousand years old. I could forgive it once or twice, especially where love is involved because people do stupid things when they’re in love and I don’t believe that gets better with age. That wasn’t the case here though. The immortals made the same kinds of decisions that the teenagers did and that didn’t seem realistic to me at all. It felt like some of their actions were forced to steer the plot in a certain direction and not because it was natural for that particular character.
My absolute favorite part of the book was the world-building. It really feels like a dystopian world. Travel takes weeks or even months because the closest thing to vehicles they have are horses and there aren’t many of them. There is no communication over distances because there’s no internet or mail system and they can’t train birds to send messages because animals have contaminated blood.
Even the different cures and contaminations were well thought out and interesting. (I won’t go into too much detail about that though to avoid spoilers.) I think Jaffrey did an amazing job on the world-building aspect of it and kept really great continuity throughout.
I only wish I could have seen some of what’s happening in other parts of the world. We really only get glimpses into a handful of settlements in what seems to be Europe. I’d love to know what’s happening in America and Africa and to find out how different places might be handling this new world. I can’t really be mad about it though because it would ruin that communication continuity I was just talking about.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I had a few problems with the characters but the plot and world-building more than made up for it. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, dystopian, and paranormal. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I’m so glad she reached out to us about it; this book (and the prequel series Solis Invicti) hadn’t been on my radar yet and I’m so excited about them.
The Gilded King is the first book in Jaffrey’s Sovereign series. One thought I had throughout this book was that I really wished I’d read the Solis Invicti series first. The Sovereign series is meant to be standalone but I had so many questions about the history of this world and the way everything worked. Usually I like when world-building is added gradually to a story. I hate when a book starts with a giant chunk to explain the basics of that world to you. It’s frequently tedious and boring. With this book though, those details were added too slowly; I didn’t understand important details about this world until very late in the book. This just left me feeling confused for a lot of it and I kept going back and rereading sections to try to understand.
That being said, once I understood the world better I really enjoyed how unique it was. We’ve all seen enough dystopians that start with terrible plagues and vaccines that have unforeseen consequences but I thought the twist with the paranormal added a lot to it. The fact that the cure for the humans made their blood poisonous to vampires was something I wouldn’t have expected.
Another thing I thought was unique (at least from books I’ve read personally) was that humans have essentially become a slave race in certain parts of the world. There are still human settlements but in places where the Nobles (also called the Silver, depending on who’s talking) live, humans are treated like dirt. They’re called Servants but they have no rights. They’re not paid for their services and they have no choice in what they do. When Julia’s sent to serve Lucas, she’s going so he can drink her blood and she’s not allowed to say no. If they do, they’re exiled from the city which, as far as they know, is a death sentence.
I liked Julia for the most part. She was tough and intelligent. I liked that she questioned what the Nobles told the humans. One of the biggest problems for the humans living in the Blue was that the only information they’ve been given for centuries has been what the Nobles wanted them to think. Julia doesn’t always ask the right questions but at least she keeps asking them. The only thing I didn’t like about Julia was her behavior where Lucas was involved.
Lucas was a good character. He’s sweet, considerate, and tries to be true to himself even if it goes against the way Nobles are supposed to act. I was mildly annoyed that Julia happens to meet the only Noble who’s kind to humans; it’s a trope I’m a little sick of. When you have an entire race of people it’s not logical to think only one of them is morally good.
My main problem with Julia and Lucas though is their romance. First of all, it happens too quickly. Julia’s terrified of Nobles but is instantly attracted to Lucas and vice versa. Their relationship makes the mistake so common in YA, in that it progresses at an unrealistic rate. I also felt that I was being told-not-shown, if that makes sense. For most of the book, the romances (I’ll talk about Cameron and Felix later) felt very forced. I was not emotionally invested in these relationships.
Cameron was a really interesting character. He’s a member of the Solis Invicti, basically the guards of the Blue. For centuries he’s been exploring the Red (anything outside the Blue) looking for the lost queen, his friend Emmy. I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. No matter how long it’s been, he never gives up on Emmy or stops looking for her even when everyone else has. I’ve seen other reviews from people saying they were bored during Cameron’s parts but I didn’t have that problem at all. He was my favorite character so far.
I liked Felix for the most part. Seeing the difference between humans of the Blue and humans of the Red was really interesting. His attitude is bitter and resigned because he understands more about this world than others, like Julia. I particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast between them. He was also so mysterious that I just wanted to know more. His relationship with Cameron was also more believable, at least after the beginning. There was a sudden twist at the end about Felix (no spoilers, I swear) that I was extremely frustrated about. It just seemed so unnecessary.
Now to the part I loved: the plot. It was surprisingly intricate for the genre. There were times when I brushed something off as irrelevant or unimportant then it would suddenly tie into something later. It was also really cool watching Julia and Cameron’s opposite journeys. They never meet in this book and a lot of what happens to one sort of parallels the other but they almost always have one-half of certain information and the other has the rest. By the end I was screaming “If they could just have a conversation then everything would be okay”. It was infuriating but in a good way. I always like when I know more than the characters do. The ending also left me with so many questions half answered. It feels like this first book was just an opening for the second; it set the scene for all the craziness that’s going to happen next.
I wasn’t sure how much I liked this book and I definitely had some problems with it, but the ending made me really excited for the rest of the series. I think I’ll read the Solis Invicti series before the next book comes out and hopefully that will solve some of my confusion.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes YA, paranormal, or dystopian, though if you’re a reader who doesn’t like being left with tons of questions, this might not be the book for you. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic an serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. Alchemists protect vampire secrets-and human lives.
When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir-the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir-is in mortal danger and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.
The Moroi court believes Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside-and within-the school grounds. Now that they’re in hiding, the drama is only just beginning.
Review:
This book was nothing short of the wonderfulness I expected from Richelle Mead. Although, this is my second time reading Bloodlines (so that I can refresh my memory to read the third, Indigo Spell) I enjoyed it the same amount if not more. Richelle Mead just has a way of sucking you into her books and spitting you out when its over. Leaving you wanting so much more. I love everything about this book. The plot, the characters, everything.
My favorite thing about this book is probably Sydney Sage herself. She’s around eighteen and all she does is take responsibility for everyone else. I don’t know many eighteen-year-olds that are like that. She’s selfless; she doesn’t even see that in taking care of everyone else she sometimes forgets that she needs to take care of herself too. But what makes me love her so much is that even though she’s not supposed to ‘sympathize’ with vampires, the whole reason she takes care of the group is that she’s come to care about them. They’re her friends regardless of the fact that she’s supposed to hate them. Which brings me to something else that I like about Sydney. She does what she’s told, most of the time. But she knows when she can get away with being her usual sassy self and how much sass to give. She follows all the rules, but only if she thinks it’s the right thing to do. Sydney never does anything unless its the right thing to do. There’s only one thing that I don’t like about her and that’s the fact that Sydney is almost always berating herself for doing something wrong. She could have done it better, differently, even when everything worked out perfectly. She’s so hard on herself and I didn’t like that. I just wanted to yell at her! But, despite that one thing, Sydney’s my favorite.
Then there’s Adrian, Jill, and Eddie, the gang. They all add perfectly to the story in their own way. Adrian with his sarcastic remarks and all his quirks. I fell in love with Adrian while reading the Vampire Academy Series, but I fell deeper with this book. You see so much more of him and I love it. Jill’s quiet and kind of timid nature. I like Jill well enough, but sometimes she just irritated me. She never stuck up for herself and was always too concerned with being different than everyone else. Yeah, Jill, you’re different. You’re kind of a Moroi fucking princess, ACT LIKE ONE. Toward the end of the book, Jill is definitely better about her poor me attitude, not until after Sydney yells at her of course. And then there’s Eddie. Eddie’s also someone I got to know in the Vampire Academy books. But in Bloodlines, his character is developed a lot more., which I liked. The way Eddie thinks is duty over everything. Even if duty means watching the girl you love hangout with a guy that looks like a dead friend of yours. You can tell Eddie cares about all the people in his life, even if he doesn’t say it, I love this about him. Basically, I love all the characters in this book.
All in all, I really loved this book and its one I would definitely suggest to everyone, everywhere. Go get it, and read it. Now. Although, if you really like vampire/love stories, you should probably read the Vampire Academy series first.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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