Frostbite by Richelle Mead

•June 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Frostbite begins with Rose and her trainer Dimitri going to meet Arthur Schoenberg, a legendary guardian, for her qualifier. During their long drive to the Moroi home that he works for, they have a long conversation about what went down in Vampire Academy between the two of them, among other things. They arrive and discover the entire Moroi family, plus Arthur, were slaughtered by Strigoi. Rose discovers a silver stake, the only means of effectively killing a Strigoi without decapitation or burning them, thrown through the debris so the Strigoi could cross, breaking the magical barrier. Since Strigoi can’t touch the stakes, it means that humans are aiding the Strigoi.

Thus instigates the Vampire Community going on High Alert through the Holidays. Instead of sending the kids at St. Vladimir’s home for the Winter Holidays, they are sent to a ski lodge, where they can be guarded effectively against Strigoi. During the first few days of the Winter Holiday, it’s made public that Mia’s mother has been killed by Strigoi. She is noticeably upset and begins to discuss things that Moroi can do to fight against Strigoi with others.

Rose meets a very swaggery-type royal named Adrian Ivashkov, nephew to the queen, who shows an immediate interest in her and then becomes friends with Lissa since they are both Spirit users. Tasha Ozera is introduced, Christian’s sole remaining relative, his Aunt. I liked her the most- she’s Moroi, was attacked by Christian’s parents as they turned and is now scarred, but she is tough and smart and likeable, although she strikes a sour note with Rose when she becomes friends with Dimitri. She is definitely one of my favorite characters in the series. She plants the idea that Moroi should go back to their old ways of fighting along side the Dhampirs instead of making the Dhampirs do all the work to ensure their survival.

Things get out of control when Mia, Eddie and Mason sneak out of the ski lodge to hunt down Strigoi themselves. Rose and Christian must stop them before they become Strigoi dinner.

Similiarities to Twilight:

The similarities seem to be fading away with this engrossing series. Richelle Mead has over 100 characters she’s keeping straight in her head that are all individuals and non-stereotypical, like JK Rowling. I know Stephenie has been called America’s JK Rowling, but story-wise, she didn’t have that many characters through the entire series like JK did. And there was no real practical magic, asides from Shapeshifting and Vampires. They didn’t work magic in the Twilight Saga to manipulate the outcome of the story. The supernatural was just there. Magic is part of the community in the Vampire Academy novels- and Spirit is beginning to be recognized as a part of the Moroi community. And I like Rose- she’s funny and kicks ass. Bella was wishy-washy and whiny.

The Edward Cullen Similarity rating:

Vampires: Check, but the Strigoi are caratoid-chomping villans. The Moroi are the classy, better-than-you blue bloods who drink blood, but are really kinda nasty underneath it all.

Mind-Reading: It’s there, but only between Lissa and Rose.

So I give it: 2 out of 10 in similarity.

Overall readability: 9 out of  10. This series is completely worth the read!

Next up: Shadow Kiss, Vampire Academy #3 by Richelle Mead

The Mediator: Reunion by Meg Cabot

•May 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

Meg Cabot is back with a new Suze Simon adventure, Reunion/Mean Spirits.

It’s spring break and everything’s going great; Suze’s best friend from Brooklyn, Gina, is here for the week. It’s nothing but sun, fun and the beach.

As Gina and Suze go to the store to get some drinks one day at the beach, and she’s confronted with a quartet of teen ghosts in formal wear trying to steal beer. She recognizes them as The Robert Louis Stevenson High School “Angels–” the kids that died on prom night.

They are anything but “angels” because they want to destroy Suze’s classmate Michael Meducci. Michael’s a little strange, a little geeky, but Suze and Jesse must ward off every attack that the RLS Angels make on his life. Through this, Michael begins to believe that Suze likes him. Suze uses this opportunity to find out why the RLS Angels are attacking him, despite Father Dom’s warnings.

My Thoughts:

This was worth it as well as the other two prior books. Suze is, as always, an ass-kicking chick.  I liked this one more than the Ninth Key. While Suze doesn’t find her identity through the boys who like her, she is nursing along a great relationship with Jesse. I start loving Jesse more and more in these books.

Similarities:

Relationship Tearing them Apart: Yes, it’s still there. Suze and Jesse continually confront he problem that Jesse will not age, but Suze will. That does count towards the similarities between The Mediator and Twilight. Another problem is that no one can see Jesse except Suze and Father Dom.

So, I’d only give the similarities 1 out of 10. Maybe 1/2 out of 10.

Next up with the Mediator reviews is one of my favorites in the series, Darkest Hour(USA)/Young Blood(UK), book #4.

Need by Carrie Jones

•April 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

Happy 420 everybody! Ha ha ha, I kill myself. Hopefully my young, innocent readers don’t know what that means and if you do and you’re under the age of 16, shame, shame!

Today, we’re discussing Faeries, more importantly, Pixies. I have to admit, I was expecting to learn more about faerie lore picking up Carrie Jones’s Need. Unlike a lot of faerie books in YA, the author doesn’t write assuming you understand faerie courts already when she writes. Jones took us on a discovery journey of the Pixie courts and faerie legends for the uninitiated.

The book opens with a morose Zara landing in Maine. She is in a deep depression after watching her stepfather die a painful death in Charleston. Upon his death, she saw a particular man in the window but he disappeared. She sees him again upon landing in Maine.

Her stepfather’s mother, Betty, picks her up and takes her to her house. Zara ends up in her new school and quickly makes friends with Devyn, Issie and Nick, while the cute boy who shows her around school, Ian, seems to like both her and the evil mean popular girl at school, Megan. All the while, a strange voice beckons her from the woods, while Zara’s Gram, Betty, encourages her not to go out at night for some mysterious unknown reason. Zara notices gold dust around her car and on her front lawn in the snow the next morning after she hears the voice.

Devyn and Issie are quick to point out that the strange occurrences have been going on around town for a while- like when boys started disappearing. They share with Zara their conspiracy theory that it’s pixies behind it all and that only werewolves could destroy them.

Spoilers:

I thought the book was going pretty well until pixies were compared to vampires. I rolled my eyes and thought, “Here we go… the Twilight-rip off” and that the pixie king needed the blood of young boys if they went longer and longer without their queen. At least Jones developed a were-kind to deal with them.

Zara seemed to know what to do to stop them, but it seemed out of character for her. We were lead about halfway through the book before the “good guy” was exposed, so that helped.

Edward Cullen Similarity ranking: 3 out of 10

Heroine being the reason for everything happening, but doesn’t mean to start stuff (damsel in distress): nada. Zara was not the catalyst in this story and she’s actually kind of tough, if not dead in emotion after her stepfather’s death.

Stupid heroine that knows less than the reader, but maintains a 4.0 GPA: negative. Zara knew what was going on at an acceptable point, but refused to believe it.

Getting a lame, but cool, older car: Yes, yes you did, Zara, even if you named it.

Vampires: parading as Pixies, yes.

Werewolves: And weretigers and werebears, oh my!

Was it worth the read? Yes. Zara’s got her own loves and hobbies- she loves writing letters for Amnesty International and gets her friends involved. Her human friends are important and they don’t fall away when she ends up in a relationship, unlike Bella. She loves to run- that’s what she does when she stressed out, angry, tired. She was her own person early on.

I definitely liked Zara, except she was so depressed, but instantly made friends, which seemed a little unrealistic to me. She wasn’t the Shiny New Toy at her new school like Bella was at Forks High School. The ending was a little rushed, I felt like she could have written a little more detail into it and used Jay Dahlberg a little more. I wish I knew what the Pixie King’s house looked like, too, and more of the inside, but she never described it.

Rating: 8 out of 10, taking one star off for the “Pixies are like vampires!” thing.

Shadow of the Sun by Laura Kreitzer

•April 16, 2010 • 1 Comment

With no memory of her past, Doctor Gabriella Moretti throws herself into her present. Intelligent, anti-social, quiet Gabriella is a supernatural specialist who works at Zelko Corporation in an extraordinary lab nicknamed “the fishbowl.” Within the glass walls of the lab, Gabriella attempts to uncover the truth about legends and myths by unearthing answers to the bizarre and abnormal. Zelko Corp.’s investors have yet to throw her a curve ball she can’t handle until three bodies from Italy arrive that look awfully alive for being two thousand years old. What she reveals both frightens and intrigues her, but fear wins out and Gabriella flees to the comfort of her office.

As the hours pass, Gabriella tries to gather her wits for the impending storm of her newest revelation—the bodies are regenerating. Her peace is short-lived when a shadow-like creature destroys her office in a black windstorm as it warns her about “waking the angels.” Confused and terrified, Gabriella tries to question the dark creature but is only told that they should be “buried back in the earth where they belong.” When her boss opens the door, everything returns to normal as if the event had never happened. Shaken, Gabriella is now anxious at what the bodies could possibly be hiding. Surprisingly, she finds solace in those three beings locked in the fishbowl; those same three beings that the dark creature warned her about. Angels can’t be too bad, can they? Reassured by this thought, she feels the need to protect them.

Unfortunately, the dark creature is only the beginning of Gabriella’s problems. FBI agents swarm the lab to seize and deliver the bodies to a Paranormal Investigations lab in Washington, D.C., where Gabriella will accompany them to continue her research. Karen, a very stunning and calming FBI agent, approaches Gabriella and soon reveals to her that she is an angel that has been tasked with guarding her. It isn’t long before our heroine’s life veers off track and spins wildly out of control in an unexpected twist. A group of angels called the Elders are summoned to her house by Karen. Gabriella discovers that extreme intelligence is not her only gift; she also holds a unique power that will save the angels, the gift of light. She is the Illuminator, the chosen one, the one prophecies are written about. More than that, she is the one who will stop the Shadow of the Sun, beings that were once part of the sun—the light—cast out to forever be a shadow of the blazing sun, who are consumed by nothing but darkness.

When your world starts crumbling around you, what do you do? Persevere. And that is exactly what Gabriella does as she packs her suitcase and heads straight to the air field where she meets none other than intriguing FBI agent Joseph Carter. He is witty and charming, and even when the very plane they are flying on literally somersaults out of the air and rockets to Earth, he remains steadfast in his uncanny ability to become a rock for Gabriella to lean on. In a plea of desperation, Gabriella begs Karen to help, but Karen is at a loss; her gift is empathy. Golden tears streak down Karen’s face as all is revealed right in front of Joseph. Angels are real. They are so real, in fact, that the three bodies come back to life to save them all just seconds before the plane crashes to the ground.

Andrew, Ehno, and Lucia, the now-alive angels, are thrust into this new, strange, and frightening world. Within minutes Karen has informed them that Gabriella is the Illuminator. They are startled by the insight and everything else around them, especially the heavily armed FBI agents that surround the survivors, who are assumed to be terrorists. Andrew, the only angel that can fly, seizes Gabriella and flies away in front of the stunned agents, leaving everyone else behind.

The bond between Gabriella and Andrew is instant and undeniable, but there is no time for pleasantries because they are now on the run. The supernatural world has only begun to unfold before her as more angels appear, her dreams start to haunt her, and the very past she has forgotten comes back with startling clarity. Romance blooms, escape plans are made, and an assassin is out to kill her. Death itself is just around the corner. But what is more terrifying than all of this is the fact Gabriella is supposed to be the chosen one, the Illuminator, the one who will save them all—and she has no clue where to start.

Shadow of the Sun, the first book in The Timeless Series, will grab your attention from the very first page; the story and the characters are so amazing and alluring that you will hardly be able to put it down. Unlike many novels that start out slowly and just pile on background information, this story starts out with action and brilliantly develops the characters as the story progresses. It’s a guarantee that you won’t be able to predict any of the dramatic twists and turns that this story will take.

Laura Kreitzer is a master at bringing stories to life and creating stunning imagery. The entire novel plays like a movie in your head.

This book has it all: romance, mystery, suspense, action, and supernatural lore.
Other than the fact that Twilight and Shadow of the Sun cast immortals as their main characters, there aren’t many similarities in the story line.

Edward vs. Andrew: Andrew, the main characters love interest, is a regular angel (no fallen angels here). Andrew and Edward are similar in two ways: immortality and their pure love.

The differences between the two are vastly different. The main character, Gabriella, can share her thoughts with Andrew via her electrical touch. I have a feeling that this is going to lead into some smokin’ hot lovin’ later on—he’ll know exactly what makes her tick *wink wink*. Unlike Edward, Andrew is Italian with dark skin, is warm blooded (with a heartbeat), tender, sexy as hell (well, Edward is too), and his accent could bring the strongest woman to her knees! By the end of this book, you’ll be saying “Edward, who?”

Bella vs Gabriella: Their names are similar in two ways: they both end in “ella” and are both Italian. But, of course, what else would you expect from an Italian main character? Gabriella and Bella also share a passion for reading, care deeply for their families, and love with unwavering devotion. Gabriella is uncannily brilliant; graduating high school at the young age of 12 and earning her Ph.D. at 19. Gabriella never quite fit in with her peer group (sound like Bella?), but it was based on age difference in school, she was not an outcast. Gabriella is a strong, independent, brilliant young woman who knows what she wants and pursues her goals with passion.

While this book does fall into the Young Adult genre, the main characters are a bit older which make it more appealing to an older crowd (and make some of us feel less like perverts for ogling high school students), but will still appeal greatly to junior high and high school students. The best part about the characters being a bit older is that we can skip the “high school drama” and focus on an outstanding story line (while ogling the angels & delicious FBI agents that grace the pages). You will laugh throughout the book, but keep the tissue handy because you’ll probably shed some tears, too!

In terms of similarities to Twilight, I’d give this a 1 out of 10.

When you compare this book to other “angel” novels, this one differs entirely because the world is nothing like the Bible, there are no fallen angels, and, because of that, there is no other like it.

Overall ranking: 10 (there wasn’t a higher ranking.)

I see a very bright future for this up and coming author!

To find out more about Laura Kreitzer and The Timeless Series, visit http://www.laurakreitzer.com or @laurakreitzer on twitter.

New Guest Blogger!

•April 12, 2010 • 1 Comment

I finally found a Young Adult enthusiast who is going to begin blogging on WtRAT! We’ll just call her ‘L’ and she’s currently wishing to review Shadow of the Sun by Laura Kreitzer, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Get excited everyone!

E

The Mediator: The Ninth Key by Meg Cabot

•April 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Again, I’m writing another post on The Mediator series. This is book #2, The Ninth Key, is the sequel to Shadowland.

Again, Cabot writes Suze as a likeable, strong female lead. Things are going great in Carmel-by-the-Sea, she’s happy about sharing her room with a 19th-Century hottie, even if he is dead and the hottest guy in town, Tad, is asking her out. She’s torn, but just the fact that she will age and Jesse will not keeps them at a distance, like Bella and Edward.

Tad seems to be a nice guy who takes her out on a few dates, but Jesse shows up on them. Suze is not happy when Jesse begins to act like a jealous boyfriend. Suze and Jesse argue a bit. Father Dominic, ever the good-hearted Mentor, advises Suze not to get involved with Jesse. This sends Suze towards dating Tad.

Spoilers:

Tad’s father seems to be a bit odd, which puts Suze off a bit. She discovers that he believes himself to be a vampire, thus the UK Title: High Stakes.

I thought Tad was a bit shallow of a character, but Suze pointed out that there wasn’t much to him anyway.

And, unlike the Immortals series, her best friends Cee Cee (an Albino) and Adam (a slightly geeky kid) who are great friends to her. Cee Cee introduces her to her Aunt, a Psychic, who reads her tarot cards- the 9th Key is the major card in her reading, telling her that she is going to have one love her entire life.

My thoughts:

This book was worth reading, certainly, but it’s not my favorite. While Suze follows her heart, she doesn’t go about abandoning every other relationship she has to be in Jesse’s world. She attempts go on with her life and date other boys, but Jesse can’t leave her life. It’s definitely a conundrum for their relationship.

Similarities:

Relationship tearing them apart: It’s there.

Vampires: They are there, but it’s not the main thing in the story.

Overall, I’d give the similarities a 2 of 10. Really, it’s not similar at all.

My recommendation is 9 of 10 stars. Like I said, not my favorite book in the series, but definitely worth reading for the larger arch in the story.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

With Nephelem taking over in place of vampires (sigh- again?) in Young Adult Literature. Thea debut novel by Becca Fitzpatrick came about in Hush, Hush.

The cover is really cool-looking, but the story rings close to Fallen by Lauren Kate. A new kid comes to school. Said lead has the mysterious guy fall in love with her. Although, instead of trying to stay away from the heroine like Edward, he chases her.

Nora Grey is your “normal” high school girl trying to just get through life who doesn’t seem like a girlfriend kind of girl. Her best friend, Vee, is boy-crazy and that leads herself and Nora, into trouble. One day in bio, Vee and Nora get broken up from their lab partner status, and Nora has to be partners with Patch. Patch is mysterious, sexually agressive, and Nora runs from that, but keeps on getting stuck with him.

Just when things are turning around, Nora gets attacked by a masked stalker. This masked stalker seems to be trying to kill her.

The characters didn’t seem too deep, in my opinion. Nora’s mother, while widowed, wouldn’t let Nora have a job, yet they were in danger of losing their New England farm house. It was pretty obvious Patch was other-worldly, but Nora was another heroine, like Luce, who knew less than the reader did, but was supposedly incredibly smart, trying to get into an Ivy. Vee was your average token best friend; like Arianne, she was outgoing and loud-mouthed. Like Fallen, there was an opening prologue that showed the hero in the past that came together at the end. I have to give Becca Fitzpatrick credit for keeping me guessing who was the real villain, although I knew it wasn’t Patch, but I had two ideas who. I almost didn’t like Patch because of his aggressive, snarky behavior, but at least he was consistent.

While Becca Fitzpatrick is a good writer, her prose wasn’t as pretty as Lauren Kate’s. Both are working on sequels. The sequel to Hush, Hush is going to be titled Crescendo, and the cover will be revealed later this month, on April 10, on Becca’s website.

Overall thoughts:

These books seemed a little too similar. I read them back-to-back. It seemed like it was two different publishers trying to get in on the same market with similar books. It’s hard to say who had the idea first, Lauren Kate or Becca Fitzpatrick, so the sequels will tell us more in the long run.

I also felt a little weird with Patch’s sexual aggression toward Nora. The comments he made would be considered pretty offensive in real life. If I had a daughter and she said that a boy in her class was saying things like what Patch says to Nora, I’d be calling the Principal demanding that the boy be moved from all her classes and to make a complaint against the teacher who allowed it. It brought me to wonder, is the idea that it’s okay to sexually harass someone if you happen to be attractive what Fitzpatrick is trying to unintentionally push? Is sexual harassment the newest form of flirting? I don’t think so and I don’t agree. There’s a way to flirt without making gross comments. I don’t find that attractive, even if he’s Brad Pitt.

Edward Cullen similarity rankings:

Old, historic, pretty name for the hero: Negative. Patch? Not nearly as romantic as Edward or Daniel, but somewhat refreshing. Like Edward and Daniel, he was definitely a rebel.

Heroine with an old fashioned-name: Nora’s pretty old-fashioned, but it’s making a come-back, like Bella/Isabella.

Stupid as hell heroine who still had a 4.0 GPA: Check mark.

An almost matching plot line from Twilight: Halfway Check.

Overall, I’d have to give this a similarity ranking of maybe 3 of 10 to Twilight. If I compared it to Fallen, I’d have to give it an 7 of 10.

It was enjoyable, although the prose wasn’t as pretty as the two books I’m comparing it to.

Would I recommend it? Maybe 7 out of 10. Hey, I’m a tough critic, but this is far superior to that hot mess that was the Immortals Series. I will be reading the sequel for you all to read about.

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If you want to get in touch with Becca Fitzpatrick, she keeps an active Facebook account, a Live Journal, and Twitter as well. She’s pretty friendly, so feel free to reach out to her. She as an author happens to be very nice.