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Richelle Mead Archives - Canadian eReader

Author: Richelle Mead

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015

The final part of my reading catchup series in which I discuss Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Winter by Marissa Meyer and Soundless by Richelle Mead.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a new series set in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy, which I loved.  One of Bardugo’s strengths as a writer is her worldbuilding – and that continues in this new outing.  Instead of a Russianesque setting, the action moves to a place reminiscent of Amsterdam in its Golden Age.  The characters were interesting, but in an ensemble book like this, they aren’t always given the time to be as fully developed as a single protagonist novel.  I look forward to seeing where the series goes and will certainly keep up with it.

I gave Six of Crows four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Winter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 23 hrs and 30 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Winter by Marissa Meyer is the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series and was one of my most anticipated reads of the year.  This final book was loosely based on the Snow White fairytale and tells the story of Princess Winter of Luna as well as continuing the stories of Cinder, Scarlet and Cress and their attempt to overthrow the evil Queen Levana.  I must admit I was ever so slightly disappointed in Winter – perhaps my expectations were a little too high.  Meyer had done her setup so well in the previous books, so at times it felt as if I was just watching things play out as expected.  On the other hand, this being the last book in the series did mean that all bets were off and I was concerned for our protagonists’ survival at various points.  Once again though I did love the fairytale mashup – the way in which Meyer has adapted the various fairytale tropes – like Snow White’s glass coffin into a sci-fi setting is brilliant.  Our heroines continue to be kick-ass and I did enjoy how it all came together.

I gave Winter five stars out of five, mainly for my love of the series as a whole.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Soundless by Richelle Mead
Format: eBook
Pages: 272 pages
Genres: Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

I admit I’d been initially reluctant to pick up Soundless by Richelle Mead, despite my love of her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series.  This is because some of the reviews I’d read were mixed at best. I had originally been intrigued by the concept of a deaf girl living in a soundless world begins to hear again and embarks on an adventure to save her community.  

As an exploration into discovering a sense of which your community has no concept, the book is wonderful.  I just loved the way in which Fei comes to terms with her new hearing.  The way in which she struggled to conceptualise the new experience was beautifully written.  I’d have liked to have read more of this.

However the whole community rescue plotline is not developed to nearly the same extent.  The book is very short – well under three hundred pages – and this is the aspect which suffered the most.  The book could have done to have been twice as long.

I gave Soundless three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I am particularly excited this week as my husband and I have booked our tickets for Chicago in May 2016 to attend BEA, the Book Expo of America.  Yay!  This will be my first time attending and I’m so looking forward to it – I’ve heard BEA described as Disneyland for book nerds. If any of you have been before and have tips, please let me know in the comments.

four-stars

Reading Roundup – 23rd May 2014

Next week sees the release of City of Heavenly Fire – the last in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series and the marketing is in full swing.  The book trailer was released recently – check it out.

For me the most interesting thing about it was Sophie Turner’s voiceover – I had been intrigued to see how she handles the audiobook narration.  From what I see she will do well.  I’m really excited to listen to the audiobook, now.  Simon and Schuster has released a snippet of the audiobook which you can listen to below.

Again this has whetted my appetite for the book.  I’m not familiar with Jason Dohring, so I can’t say what his narration will be like, but I’m looking forward to it anyway.

Kat of Katytastic and Christine of PolandBananasBOOKS have come up with some theories.  I’m not entirely sold on their Izzy theory, but their enthusiasm for the book is so infectious.  Go check it out if you want some ideas.

On Tor.com this week you can find an excerpt of upcoming YA fantasy Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.  It tells the story of Kelsea, a princess in hiding who must now take back her mother’s throne and deal with the legacy of her mother’s rule.  This has been generating considerable buzz and it has been on my radar for a while.  The excerpt caught my attention and I will certainly be picking this one up, likely in audiobook as it’s been narrated by one of my favourite narrators Katherine Kellgren.

Another book that has been gaining rave reviews this week is The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet: A Novel, the novelisation of Bernie Su’s transmedia hit The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  Here are my thoughts on why you need to go watch this.  It was recently announced that Ashley Clement, who played the titular Lizzie Bennet, is narrating the audiobook version, so I definitely will pick that up.

I was excited to hear this week that the third book in D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker chronicles is coming out next month!  I’ve really loved this series about a thieftaker/conjurer in 18th century Boston and I will certainly be checking out A Plunder of Souls.

Reading Roundup – 23rd May 2014Gameboards of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 462 pages
Genres: New Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: two-stars

I had wanted to check out Richelle Mead’s (of Vampire Academy fame) new series Age of X but I hadn’t been too impressed with the sample I downloaded.  When I saw Gameboard of the Gods was available in ebook format from my local library I was happy to take the chance.  I’m about a third of the way through it and in all honestly I am not going to finish it.  First I should point out that this is what is called a New Adult book.  The protagonists are a little older than in YA and their concerns tend to be a little more adult than those in YA.  

I really wanted to like the book given how much I enjoyed Vampire Academy, but I really struggled with the painfully slow pacing, and confusing worldbuilding.  One of the things Mead does exceptionally well is writing character relationships and I felt she was handicapping herself unnecessarily by giving us two protagonists in Justin and Mae who are essentially loners.  I really missed the snarky interactions of Vampire Academy that come from knowing someone intimately.

Perhaps if I’d persevered with this, it might have got interesting – certainly, the whole mythos of the gods returning (at least that’s what I get from the blurb – at a third of the way through that has not even been hinted at.  Sorry but this is going in my did not finish pile.

Added to my library this week

Amazon had the first three chapters of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane free, so I picked that up.  My local library had the audiobook of Gaiman’s own narration so I decided to give that a go.  I’ve only read a couple of Gaiman’s books and have found that I either love them (Neverwhere) or really don’t enjoy them at all (American Gods) so we’ll see how I find this one.

My biggest splurge of the week though came with the announcement that the first seven Dresden Files by books were all available for $1.99 each!  The entire series is on my wish list so this was too good an offer to pass up.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, it’s about wizard Harry Dresden  who lives in Chicago and has to contend with the supernatural world while eking out a living.  I had the first five already, so I picked up numbers six and seven.  These books are all Whispersync for Voice enabled, so I took the opportunity to get James Marsters’ narration for a considerably reduced price.  

I’ve heard good things about Trudi Cavanagh’s writing so when I saw her latest book, Thief’s Magic, was on special offer for $2.80 I was excited to try it.  The premise seemed intriguing – a sentient book! – so I look forward to reading it.

two-stars

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – Review

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – ReviewBloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 448 pages
Genres: Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is the first in the Bloodlines series, the spinoff from Vampire Academy.  It follows the story of young Alchemist Sydney Sage whom we met in the Vampire Academy series.  In it, Sydney is tasked with protecting Jill Mastrano in Palm Springs and in order to do so attends an elite boarding school with her.  We learn more about the Alchemists and also some secrets about Vampire Academy characters are revealed.

To be honest, Bloodlines didn’t grab me nearly as much as Vampire Academy did.  With VA we were introduced to interesting characters and they drew us into their fascinating world.  While reading VA I had been interested to learn more about the Alchemists, but other than Sydney the Alchemists we meet in Bloodlines are very unsympathetic characters which killed any interest I had in learning about their organisation.

What I liked

Sydney.  I did like Sydney in Bloodlines, and I feel her character has great scope for development.  I would love to see her develop from a competent if anxious and insecure operative to the kick ass Alchemist we know she can be.  I would also enjoy seeing her deal with the prejudices she’s carrying around from her upbringing.  However, I’m not sure that that is enough to make me want to continue with this series.

The magic.  There were some new forms of magic hinted at in this book and I was intrigued by these.  What is the story with Sydney’s blood and what’s up with Ms Terwilliger?  These are intriguing hooks for the rest of the series.

Pacing.  Once again Mead kept the story moving along.  There were no points at which it dragged for me.

What I didn’t like

Unsympathetic characters.  Poor Sydney does seem to be involved with some unsavoury characters within the Alchemists.  While I can empathise with her, I really don’t feel like learning more about this narrow-minded, cruel group.

While I enjoyed Bloodlines to some extent and it contained some intriguing hooks for the rest of the series, for me personally at this point I probably won’t be continuing with it.  That could change; initially I didn’t warm to Vampire Academy.

I gave Bloodlines three stars out of five.

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three-stars

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle Mead

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle MeadLast Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #5
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound
Format: eBook
Pages: 608 pages
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead is the sixth and final book in the Vampire Academy series.  It is an excellent end to the series, and ties up a lot of loose ends.  In it Rose must go on the run to avoid execution on false charges.  Meanwhile Lissa must navigate the murky waters of Moroi politics.  

What I liked

Culmination of foreshadowing.  As the final chapter of the story unfolds, it’s clear Mead had everything well planned out from the beginning.  Throwaway lines from earlier books take on major significance.  We also get to meet characters who have only been mentioned in passing.

Lissa’s character development.  By this book Rose’s character has already matured significantly, and in terms of character the spotlight is more on Lissa in this book as she navigates Moroi politics.  She learns a good deal about herself and her future role in society.  Of course it doesn’t quite mitigate my personal gripe of teenage characters being given real power despite their limited life experience.

The Alchemists.  I loved what we learned about the Alchemists and I look forward to reading the spinoff series, Bloodlines.

What I didn’t like

The Rose/Lissa bond development.  I really didn’t like how that was ended.  I suspect Mead was trying to show that both characters have developed sufficiently to adjust to the change, but I don’t quite buy that.  St Vladimir, a saint, was unable to manage; I really have concerns for Lissa’s future.

All in all, I gave Last Sacrifice five stars out of five. 

Incidentally, the entire series is currently on special offer over at Amazon Kindle – they’re $3 each! 

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five-stars

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5) by Richelle Mead

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5) by Richelle MeadSpirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #5
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Last Sacrifice
Format: eBook
Pages: 496 pages
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead is the fifth and penultimate book in the Vampire Academy series.  It concludes the story arc of Rose in Siberia and what she is trying to do for Dimitri and sets up the final arc of the series.

For me this was the weakest of the Vampire Academy novels.  My biggest issue was that the pacing was off.  It seemed there was a large gap between the climax of the Rose/Dimitri/Siberia storyline and the kickoff of the final vampire politics act.  Clearly, this section is intended to explore Dimitri’s emotional state after all that’s happened to him, but as we don’t really get his point of view, only Rose’s and through the bond, Lissa’s, the whole impact of that is drastically lessened and loses immediacy.  It becomes about how his attitude affects Rose, not what Dimitri himself is going through.

What I liked

Moroi finally getting off their arses and taking action.  I really loved Lissa’s and Christian’s part in the resolution of the Dimitri storyline.  It was great to see that some Moroi at least are not willing to allow dhampirs to take the full brunt of protection from Strigoi.  I would have liked to have seen that co-operation taken a little further perhaps, but I appreciated what we got.

Moroi politics.  We are starting to learn more and more about Moroi politics and I really enjoyed how that was developed.  One of my annoyances about the culture had been the Moroi attitude to dhampirs, and I was really  happy seeing that some of the characters are working to change the common perceptions.

Rose’s character development.  Again Rose continues to develop as a character.  She is seen to act far more rationally and to think before she acts which is good to see.

What I didn’t like

The pacing.  As I mentioned, I felt that the pacing was very much off in this novel.  There was the whole section between the confrontation midway through the book and the ending cliffhanger.  I suppose it was intended to be character development for Dimitri, but it didn’t come off that way for me at least.

In the end though a week Vampire Academy novel is still an excellent read and I gave Spirit Bound four stars out of five.

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four-stars

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4) by Richelle Mead

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4) by Richelle MeadBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #4
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice
Format: eBook
Pages: 496 pages
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Blood Promise is the fourth in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.  In it our protagonist, Rose Hathaway, travels to Dimitri’s hometown in Siberia to try to keep a promise she made to him.  Meanwhile back at St Vladimir’s, Lissa faces a hidden threat.

This novel is very much a journey novel both physically and emotionally as Rose struggles to deal with the events of Frostbite and Shadow Kiss.  During this journey she meets various people who help or hinder her, and who, interestingly, could have been her if she’d made different life choices.

What i liked

The Alchemists.  Rose his helped by young Alchemist, Sydney, which is our first introduction to this secretive organisation.  Sydney is also the protagonist of the spinoff series Bloodlines.  I was intrigued by what I read about them and look forward to reading more in Bloodlines.  Handy tip: don’t read the preview of the new series at the end of the ebook if you don’t want to be spoiled about the rest of the VA series.  I hate it when publishers do that!  Anyway… I enjoyed how Sydney’s friendship with and understanding of Rose grew as they worked together.

What-ifs.  I really enjoyed how the people Rose meets could easily have been her in other circumstances.  We meet a young spirit bonded couple living a quiet life out of the limelight, young women with varying relationships with Moroi from a loving and stable relationship, to the more traditional left holding the baby.  We also meet a group of youngsters desperate to go out and fight Strigoi even though they are not well prepared.  It shows a lot for Rose’s character development that she acts as the sane voice in that group.

Supporting characters.  I really liked some of the supporting characters we meet this book, including Sydney, Abe, Mark and Oksana and Abe.  They added an interesting new dynamic to the tale.  

What I didn’t like

Rose’s selfishness with Lissa.  True, she came through for her in the end, but I’m not certain that justifies her abandonment of her to go off and do her own thing.  Whatever happened to “they come first”?

The pacing.  The pacing in this one felt slightly slower to me.  Too much time was spent in the whole Rose-as-prisoner scenario and the final action sequence just seemed to go on and on.

Despite these minor quibbles I gave Blood Promise five stars out of five.

PS, if you’re enjoying Vampire Academy, don’t forget to check out my giveaway.

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five-stars

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle MeadShadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #3
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice
Format: eBook
Pages: 448 pages
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead is the third of six books in the Vampire Academy series.  In it Rose Hathaway must deal with the consequences of the events of Frostbite and learns more about the bond between Lissa Dragomir and her and the effects of being shadow kissed.  Her relationship with instructor Dimitri develops, but then tragedy strikes.

Having read the entire Vampire Academy series now I consider Shadow Kiss as kind of a transition book in the way that Goblet of Fire is a major turning point for Harry in the Harry Potter series.  Up to and including Shadow Kiss Rose’s main preoccupations other than protecting Lissa are more normal teen concerns; her crush on Dimitri, getting enough good grades to pass class, not getting into trouble with the teachers, future career options, dealing with class bullies.  After the events of Shadow Kiss, she takes responsibility for herself and goes off into the adult world, with more adult cares and preoccupations.  The scope also expands to include the whole of Moroi society including the Court.

 What I liked

Character development.  Both Rose and Lissa continue to develop in interesting ways.  I liked how their knowledge of spirit increased, even though it was fairly obvious to the reader that Rose’s bad temper was due to spirit’s influence long before the characters realised it.  I also finally was able to believe that Rose’s love for Dimitri was more than just a crush.

Learning more about Moroi culture.  We visit the Moroi court and start to learn more about its politics which will be more important later in the series.  

Holy crap ending.  That ending really is a game changer.

What I didn’t like

I really didn’t like where Mead went with the character of Ambrose.  It just emphasised my frustration at the limited choices available to dhampirs.

Spoilers.  For those of you reading the ebook version, be aware.  There is a preview of the companion series Bloodlines at the end of the books.  Do NOT read this if you want to remain spoiler free about Rose and Lissa’s ultimate fate.

I continue to love the series though and gave Shadow Kiss 5 stars out of five.

If you’re enjoying the reviews, please check out my Vampire Academy giveaway.

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five-stars

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle Mead

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle MeadFrostbite by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #2
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Frostbite by Richelle Mead is the second in the Vampire Academy series of books and continues the story of Rose and Lissa.  We learn more about their bond and about the spirit magic that Lissa wields.  We also get to meet Rose’s mother, legendary dhampir guardian Janine Hathaway and we see the less than warm relationship the two share.  The attitude of Moroi towards their dhampir protectors and their lack of responsibility for their own safety is started to be explored through the character of Tasha Ozera.

What I liked

Character and relationship development.  I liked how the bond between Rose and Lissa continued to be explored. it was interesting that Mead presented the developments in such a way that Rose’s absorbing Lissa’s spirit darkness was obvious to the reader long before the characters themselves worked it out.  That is a technique used rather a lot by Mead.  Another example would be Adrian’s use of alcohol and drugs to counter spirit magic’s unwelcome side effects.  For me that worked well, although some readers may be rather irritated by the characters’ blindness to these developments.

I also liked Rose’s realisation that killing Strigoi is not as glorious as it sounds in direct contrast to Mason’s attitude.  She also has to learn that there are real consequences to her actions which are all part of growing up.  While the development in Lissa’s character isn’t as noticeable, she too has to step up to the role her position in Moroi society demands.

The developments in Rose’s relationship with Dimitri are well done, too.  It’s not yet at the stage where I can believe it’s more than a teen crush on an older guy, it’s becoming clear that Dimitri is beginning to respect her growing maturity.

What I didn’t like

I didn’t mention it in my review of Vampire Academy, but I’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming movie and, while it’s difficult to judge on a two minute trailer, it really doesn’t seem to do justice to Mead’s wonderful world.  It seems to focus on the cheesier aspects of  the vampires without the depth of characters in the book.  I also felt the actress playing Lissa was having trouble with her fangs which was very distracting.  I’m not certain if I’ll go and see it – I don’t want to be disappointed the way I was in the awful Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief movie.  Are you looking forward to the movie?  Let me know in the comments.

All in all, I gave Frostbite five stars out of five.

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five-stars

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Also in this series: Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice
Format: eBook
Pages: 340 pages
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

In Mead’s world there are two kinds of vampires – the “good” mortal vampires known as Moroi and the evil undead bloodsucking amoral Strigoi.  Vampire Academy tells the story of Vasilisa Dragomir, a Moroi princess, and her half vampire half human guardian Rose Hathaway and the bond they share.  This is actually the second time I have read Vampire Academy.  The first time I read it was a few years ago, I remember thinking it was a fun read and that I would perhaps get round to reading the rest of the series some day.  The second time I read it though, maybe in contrast to some of the books I’ve read recently, the characters just leapt off the page at me.  I became so hooked on the series that I have been marathoning it.  I’m currently on book four of six, with spinoff series Bloodlines in prospect.  Expect more Vampire Academy reviews to follow.

What I liked

Three dimensional characters.  I loved how Mead wrote both Lissa and Rose.  I felt it was a very realistic depiction of young women on the cusp of adulthood, learning to deal with issues of love and life.  Setting aside all the vampire issues, this series is grounded in the more global issues facing young people learning to deal with the adult world and adult relationships and moving away their families of origin emotionally.  In a recent interview with Mead I learned that she was a teacher in a former life.  I found myself nodding at that thinking that, yep, she really gets young people.

The worldbuilding.  I understand Mead based her world on some old European legends of different types of vampires.  I found the world she created fascinating and loved learning about it.  It was nicely done that Lissa and Rose’s bond and Lissa’s magic is unusual in world so the reader is learning about it at the same time as them – often faster.  I liked that the magic had real and lasting consequences and that they had to learn how to deal with those.

What I didn’t like

Dhampir career choices.  It may seem strange but the one thing that had me ready to throw my eReader out the window was was the limited choice of career options for half human/half vampires like Rose.  It’s made clear several times that the only choices a female dhampir has is a) to be a bodyguard for Moroi, b) to raise lots of dhampir kids as a single mum or c) to become a junkie prostitute.  It was also rather disturbing just how subservient dhampir act around Moroi “they come first.”  And very few dhampirs seem to question this?!?  I mean, really, come on!  Mead has said she based the world on early eighteenth century European legends.  Those career options would make perfect sense in that time period. Of course, that is partly the point that Mead is trying to get across that dhampir/Moroi society hasn’t really evolved all that much since they originally came over from Europe.  Presumably Lissa and Rose will be catalysts for change later in the series.

Of course the fact that I became so angry at the lack of career paths for, let me remind you, FICTIONAL characters, shows just how well Mead has done her job.  If I weren’t so invested in the characters and the story I wouldn’t care.

Given the fact that I’m now marathoning the rest of the series it can hardly come as a surprise that I loved Vampire Academy and gave it five stars out of five.

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five-stars
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