Saturday, 28 March 2015

White Collar

A white collar criminal agrees to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals using his expertise as an art and securities thief, counterfeiter, and conman.

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I finally finished watching this show. I must say I had a few problems with the series finale but I will get to that later on. From the first moment I watched White Collar, it quickly became one of my favourite TV shows. The characters are fantastic, my favourite one has always been Mozzie, but to be honest almost every regular on that show is so easy to love: Neal, Peter, Elizabeth, Diana, Jones, June and even Sara.

This show has got it all, it is full of mysteries, it has a police series vibe but with a twist: the FBI is working with a criminal to solve cases. This turned out to be a very successful formula. I'm actually quite shocked that I don't know that many people who watch this show, because it is amazing! I do feel that White Collar tends to focus a lot on the relationships between the main characters, which I like. I also want to comment on what a adorable couple Peter and Elizabeth are, you don't see that many couples in TV shows who were together from the beginning and stay that way. The only exception I can come up with are Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother

The thievery is also a lot fun to watch, Neal and Mozzie can do just about anything they want. White Collar is full of exciting cases, suspenseful chases, action-packed mysteries and heartwarming moments. Plus, it is always fun to see how Neal will get out of his tricky situations. 

I highly recommend this show, it is a nice twist on a police procedural and absolute fun to watch. It can be suspenseful but also light at times. I don't doubt once you start watching White Collar you will like the characters as much as I do. They are hard to say goodbye to. I would have watched a few seasons more if they had them.

Warning, possible spoilers for the series finale below! (series finale discussion)

I was a little bit disappointed with the series finale, the ending looked so fake, it was clear early on that the shocking part was not real but still they could have done a better job with it. I didn't buy it at all! I was a little bit dissatisfied we didn't get to see more Mozzie and Neal in the end. Especially Mozzie. His ending was confusing. It wouldn't have hurt to writers to give him a slightly better exit. But still, I highly recommend this show anyway. If you haven't already, you should watch it right away! 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Being a succubus sounds pretty glamorous. Shape-shifting, killer wardrobe, what's not to like? But Georgina Kincaid's life is far from exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies, and she can't have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy's life, which means her crush on sexy writer Seth Mortensen is going nowhere fast. But all of that pales in significance when an unknown entity "helpfully" begins killing her immortal adversaries. For once, all her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help, because there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...

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I was pleasantly surprised by Succubus Blues. I decided to read this book because it had a lot of good reviews. Previously, I've read a few of Richelle Mead's young adult series, they were enjoyable but at times I had some problems with them. This is one of her adult books and I liked it a lot. At first I didn't think a succubus story would interest me, I got over it and stared reading this book. And I was hooked! There are some amazing characters in this book, but frankly, likable or enjoyable characters always has been one of Mead's biggest strengths. This book was no exception. Succubus Blues is the first book in a six book series, called Georgina Kincaid. Normally, I have a few problems with the first books in Richelle Mead series but this one blew me away. I enjoyed it quite a bit more than her young adult series. Once again, there is a lot of action in her book. The mystery was awesome as well, although I kind of figured it out quite quickly but I seemed to be quite good at figuring out those kind of mysteries. I love the way the book ended, I like the where the story is going. I also like the new world Richelle Mead has created, it is quite different from the Vampire Academy world.

I highly recommend this book to adults and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars! Can't wait to read the next one!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere. 

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? 

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

-- description --

This book was amazing! I'm interested in reading books about this topic: kidnapping (and stalking). This is the first book I read about it though and I wasn't disappointed. First of all, I have to mention the beautiful cover, simple but gorgeous! Secondly, this book is written in second person, which is something I don't have a lot of experience with. However, in this book it worked! It was really cleverly done and I highly recommend it! The title Stolen is sometimes accompanied by the subtitle: a letter to my captor, which explains why it is written in second person. It isn't really obvious in the beginning that Gemma is writing this letter to her captor but the way it is revealed in the end really wraps it up beautifully. I hesitated to read this book at first because it is implied that Gemma might fall in love with her captor. I immediately suspected that this book would be about the romance of the stalking and the kidnapping but luckily I was entirely wrong about it. Gemma tries everything she can to escape, so this isn't a love story at all. However, near the end of the book, Gemma experiences Stockholm syndrome, the reader experiences that as well to an extend. That was also an interesting twist in the plot. 

Furthermore, this book felt incredibly real, the characters, the surroundings were all perfectly described. It was suspenseful and I was so curious to see how it would all turn out. It kept me on the edge of my seat. The mental aspect of the book is also not to be underestimated. I couldn't find one flaw in the story or in the writing.

The only negative thing I have to mention is that my copy of the book was difficult to read because it was like reading a book with water damage, the pages stuck together and were difficult to bend. It was quite a task to turn the pages, however there were no real physical indications as to why this was the case. Weird. And annoying!

Ultimately, this book was everything I hoped it would be! Stolen is unique and if you are interested in this topic don't hesitate to pick it up! And even if this topic doesn't interest you that much, you should still give it a try. The fact that this is technically a young adult book shouldn't stop you either. I highly recommend Stolen! And that is why I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines 2) by Richelle Mead

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.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

-- description --

Warning this review might contain spoilers for the Vampire Academy series and Bloodlines (book 1)!

After reading Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, I immediately picked up The Golden Lily, the second book in the series. Once again, I liked this book, it wasn't mind blowing but it wasn't bad either. I hoped things would have picked up a little more than they did, however. But this was still a fun read! The characters in Palm Spings got a visit from some old friends: Sonya Karp and Dimitri Belikov. I found it very interesting to read about Dimitri in Sydney's point of view. She sees him differently than Rose does, obviously, which made it quite fun.

Besides that, the book also has a new mystery which I didn't think was all that exciting but still just fun to read about. However, some relationships between the characters made up for that. And wow, Brayden was such a boring character! Some parts of the book were annoyingly predictable, which is something I rarely appreciate in any books.

I gave The Golden Lily 3 out of 5 stars as well. It was nice and fun but not great. I am going to read the rest of the series though, in part because I heard amazing things about the third book and in part because I really like the characters and I am not ready to give up on them.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Blood doesn't lie...

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They 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 last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

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Warning this review might contain spoilers for the Vampire Academy series!

After finishing The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, I decided to read her Bloodlines series as well. This series is told in the point of view of Sydney Sage, the alchemist who helped Rose out a number of times. Whilst reading the Vampire Academy series I didn't really have a special connection to her, she wasn't one of the characters that stood out. However, I did like her, especially in Last Sacrifice! Other characters known from the Vampire Academy series are focused on in this series, in particular Eddie, Jill and Adrian. Other beloved characters do show up from time to time in this series, which is quite fun to read about, especially because they now are described in a new and different way.

This book wasn't as action-packed as the previous series was. But to be fair, the first book in the Vampire Academy series wasn't like that for me as well. In my opinion, Bloodlines was a bit more slow and calm, because the author wanted to use this book primarily as a set up for the others to follow. However, I did get attached to Sydney very early on. I relate to her more than Rose, they are both kick-ass characters just in different ways. It is actually refreshing to have a smart heroine! And this time around, there was a major plot twist I didn't see coming. I had my suspicions but I never would have guessed it! I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by it!

All in all, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. I liked it, it was a nice set up for the series and I am confident the next books are going to be amazing!

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

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.

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I finally gave in and read this young adult series. After seeing the movie (which was incredibly bad) I actually did not want to but I got the e-books for a good price and couldn't resist. I have now read all six books and below I will briefly review each of them. These reviews will not contain any spoilers, so if you want you can read all six of them.

The first book Vampire Academy was a bit boring for me, because like I mentioned before I'd already seen the movie and I remembered way too much of it. Near the end of it, though, I started to enjoy it more, and that's why I decided to read the second book as well.

I liked Frostbite, the second book in the series, a lot more. That probably had something to do with not knowing what would happen because there doesn't exist a movie to spoil me. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! Another reason that I liked this book better was that there was less teenage high school drama involved (if you read the first book, you might know what I mean). However, I should really remember not to start reading the last chapters of these books when I actually should be sleeping because if I do, I won't be able to sleep at all. All the books in this series have this quality, the ending is awesome and makes you want to read what happens next.
However, in the beginning of each book it's the other way around, they are mostly very slow, and for me at times hard to get into (even though, I read one after the other). 

Shadow Kiss, the third book in the series, is my absolute favourite of the six! None of the others even come close to this one, which is a shame. This book has it all, action, romance, friendship, drama, mystery, ghosts and some heartbreaking moments. Man, it gave me a lot of feels! I don't think I have negative things to say about it. I am glad to have read this series just because of this book. It was amazing!

Despite loving the third book so much, Blood Promise almost made me give up on the series after all. The fourth installment in the series counts 500 pages but could and should have been shorter. Only the last part of book was worth reading. The first 2/3 of the book were boring as hell. It was even worse than the first book! Again, the ending had some redeeming qualities and made me want to read the next two books. So that's what I did. 

Book five, Spirit Bound was better, though not great. I liked that there were more shocking, action-packed things happening. However, I got annoyed at some of the decisions certain characters made. It made the story drag on at times. The only thing that made me read on was the cliffhanger at the end. 

Last Sacrifice is the final installment in the series. Although I became really attached to all the characters, I really didn't like this book. Again as with Blood Promise, this book was too long. Furthermore, as the last book in the series,  I expected a lot more from it. There were still some shocking twists I didn't see coming but all in all I was dissatisfied with this book. The way some things were resolved just didn't feel right to me. This should have amazing but I thought this book lacked in every aspect: the characters behaved too uncharacteristically at times and in my opinion there really wasn't any romantic scene that worked (even though I wanted things like that to happen, the way it happened didn't work for me). Furthermore, this book the most predictable one in the series, which was also a little bit disappointing.

All in all, I gave Vampire Academy 2,5 out of 5 stars and Frostbite 3 out of 5 stars. Shadow Kiss, my favourite book in the series gets 4 out of 5 stars. Blood Promise also gets 2,5 stars, Spirit Bound is a 3 star book to me and Last Sacrifice also get 2,5 out of 5 stars.

Looking back, I'm glad to have read this series, most of the time I really loved the characters and I do feel sad to leave them behind. I think I would have enjoyed some of the books more if they had been shorter. Since I really loved Shadow Kiss, I am giving this series 3,5 out of 5 stars.
The books are exciting and tense at times but at some points still a little bit on the boring side for me. I do recommend this series if you already want to read it. If you have doubts about this series try to borrow them from the library or friends because you might be a little disappointed by them.

Just to be serious though, Rose Hathaway is probably one of my favourite characters of all time. She is one character you don't want to mess with! Rose is witty, funny and kick-ass! What's not to love?

The spin-off series Bloodlines follows Sydney, one of the characters from book 4 and 6. I do really like the characters of these series, that's why I decided to read the next series as well. So look out for that review!