Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel SterlingThese Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling
Series: These Witches Don't Burn #1
Published by Razorbill on May 28, 2019
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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"Infused with page-turning suspense, bittersweet romance, shocking twists, and tragic turns, Sterling has written a standout debut." --Dana Mele, author of People Like Us

Hannah's a witch, but not the kind you're thinking of. She's the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she's ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah's concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah's sure it's the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she's going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem's witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling's delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven--and any chance she has with the new girl--is destroyed.

I finished this book over a month ago, and I’m still struggling with reviewing it. It was just SO incredible, I don’t feel any review I write can do it justice. But I NEED to get my feels out there already, so I’ll do the best I can. But this may be a lot of Word Vomit. You’ve been warned!

I’ve been excited for These Witches Don’t Burn ever since it was first announced, and it did NOT disappoint. The writing was incredible and the plot was intense. I loved the magical rules and the different witch clans (Elementals, Blood Witches and Casters).

The characters were incredible, and super relatable – even in small, simple ways. Like Cal attending Salem State, where I almost went. And the fact that Veronica got into Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications and was, therefore, a Parkie (an affectionate nickname for Park students), like I was – studying journalism, of all things, same as I did (at first). And Hannah’s taste in music is a lot like mine – all over the place. I adored Hannah in general. Again, she was a super relatable character and I loved taking this journey with her. I loved her complicated relationships with Veronica and Morgan.

As much as I loved the characters, I also didn’t trust a single one of them except Hannah and Gemma. Everyone else gave me “suspect” vibes. At the same time, some of my “suspects” seemed too obvious, and I questioned whether they were red herrings. When the ACTUAL baddie was revealed, it made such perfect sense, I was mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner.

I don’t know if it was just because it was about witches or what, but I kept picturing most of these characters as the characters from The Secret Circle. Like, Hannah is Cassie (but maybe brunette instead of blonde) and Veronica is Faye, although I kind of also sometimes pictured her as Diana). And I kept picturing Evan as Adam and Savannah as Melissa. And then – not related to The Secret Circle, but just saying in general – I kept picturing Morgan as Danielle Panabaker with red hair.

This book also had INCREDIBLE LGBTQ+ rep. I can’t speak for it personally, but I’ve heard from other bloggers that the rep was well done, and this book meant a lot to a lot of people, and it’s an important book because of that.

So.. Overall, I absolutely 100% LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! I don’t feel like my review is doing it justice, though. It’s definitely in my Top Five for the year and I want to yell at everyone to read it, but I just don’t have much else to say. So rather than ramble on, I’m gonna stop here and just say PLEASE BUY AND READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE WITCHES AND SALEM AND EPIC CHARACTERS AND LGBTQ+ REP AND OMG IT’S JUST SOOOO GOOOOOODDDDDD PLEASE READ IT!!!!!!!


Review: Tarot by Marissa Kennerson

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Tarot by Marissa KennersonTarot by Marissa Kennerson
Published by Razorbill on February 19, 2019
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Anna was never supposed to exist. Born of a forbidden union between the Queen and the tyrannical King’s archnemesis, Anna is forced to live out her days isolated in the Tower, with only her mentors and friends the Hermit, the Fool, and the Magician to keep her company. To pass the time, Anna imagines unique worlds populated by creatives and dreamers—the exact opposite of the King’s land of fixed fates and rigid rules—and weaves them into four glorious tapestries.

But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday and her promised release from the Tower, Anna discovers her true lineage: She’s the daughter of Marco, a powerful magician, and the King is worried that his magical gifts are starting to surface in Anna. Fearing for her life, Anna flees the Tower and finds herself in Cups, a lush, tropical land full of all the adventure, free-spiritedness, and creativity she imagined while weaving.

Anna thinks she’s found paradise in this world of beachside parties, endless food and drink, and exhilarating romance. But when the fabric of Cups begins to unravel, Anna discovers that her tapestries are more than just decoration. They’re the foundation for a new world that she is destined to create—as long as the terrors from the old world don’t catch up with her first.

I finished this awhile go, but waited to review it because I was on the blog tour, and wanted to separate the blog tour from the review. I DID enjoy Tarot, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to. I was left a bit confused at times, and wanting more – more descriptions, more explanations, more.. everything. I think the biggest problem was that this book was pretty short, and things happened very quickly. I think this book could have benefited from being a little longer.

I can’t say whether I loved the characters or not. I liked them for the most part, but again, I wanted MORE. I wanted more of their personalities, their backgrounds, their relationships, etc. The romantic relationships – two in particular – happened WAY too fast. I mean, I LIKED the ships. And I’m not opposed to insta-love, when it’s done well. But this was just SO fast. I wanted more of a build-up, I guess.

I was also really confused, re: the plot and where the tarot cards came in. Anna wove a tapestry and created a world, and then (at the end) created these people (not the people of Cups, the “soldiers”) who.. I guess symbolized the tarot cards? Does that mean she created Tarot cards? Is this the origin story of how Tarot cards came to be? I still haven’t been able to figure this out…

So.. Yeah. I was definitely entertained and intrigued by this book. I didn’t NOT like it, but I’m torn on how much I liked it. I would definitely read a sequel or prequel, or another book by the author. The writing was done well, the world was gorgeous and the characters were still fun and likable.


Review: Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn MarshSong of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Series: Reign of the Fallen #2
Published by Razorbill on January 22, 2019
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: the author
Buy on Amazon

The Dead must stay buried.

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom's borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia's waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.

Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can't help being mesmerized by the new magic--and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.

Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria's mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won't be enough to save their fates.

In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.

This book – this series – was so absolutely amazing, I don’t even know how to put it into words. I’m both immensely satisfied with the way it ended (the book and, consequently, the duology as a whole), yet also heartbroken because I’m not ready to leave this world or these characters. I miss Sparrow, Meredy, Simeon, Danial, Valoria and everyone so much, you’d think they were real people and not characters in a book. I want to be back in Karthia with them. I want to see what lies ahead in their adventures. I don’t want to let them go. I never will. I connected so hard and in so many ways with both Reign of the Fallen and Song of the Dead that I’m not even ready to discuss all the reasons why. It was just That Book for me (or Those Books? Since it was both. I’m not sure of the grammar here..).

Sparrow was an incredible, incredible character. She was more than just a character. She felt so real and I loved everything about her. She kicked butt and took names. I loved her journey and growth from book one to book two, and throughout book two.

Meredy was, by far, my favorite character. She was strong and fierce, yet had some very emotional, vulnerable moments in this book. I loved seeing that side of her.

Danial and Simeon were just… Omg. I don’t even have words.

Another character I really loved was Kasmira. I kept picturing her as an older Uma (China Anne McClain) from the Descendants 2 movie.

ALL MY SHIPS SAILED AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER!!!!!!!!!!! Like, there were some ups and downs with my two favorite ships (I won’t name them right now because spoilers, but those of you who have read the book will know who I mean), but they made it through in the end and my heart is so happy beyond belief, it’s bursting with feels!!!

NIPPER!!!! Omg I adored Nipper. I don’t want to spoil who/what Nipper is, but OMG I WANT HER!!! Haha.

TBH, I enjoyed Song of the Dead so much that I was awful about taking review notes for it… Which made writing this review really difficult (as I’m sure you can tell… Eeek…), but I was just so immersed in the story, I didn’t want to stop and take the time to write anything down – I just wanted to relax and enjoy the story, not pull myself out of it every time I had a thought I wanted to write down. So this review honestly doesn’t even do the book justice. All I can say is READ IT. It was SO good. Sarah Glenn Marsh is DEFINITELY going on my Auto Buy List.

So, overall (if you couldn’t tell, which.. if you couldn’t…????), I LOVED this book. ADORED IT. Can’t put it into words, can’t say it enough. Just go read it as soon as possible. Seriously. Go. Now..!!


Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn MarshReign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Series: Reign of the Fallen #1
Published by Razorbill on January 23, 2018
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Buy on Amazon

Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

I’ve been in and out of a reading slump for nearly two years, so the list of books I’ve loved beyond words (within the time frame of said reading slump) is super small. Reign of the Fallen has made that list. Everything about this book was perfection. The characters were amazing. The plot was amazing. The world was amazing. The writing was amazing.

Basically, everything was amazing.

I’ll start with the world, which was well-developed, lush and intriguing, especially the Deadlands. It gave me major Xena vibes, which probably only makes sense to those who know a lot about Xena and how the Gods and the Underworld are portrayed. It also, (more) obviously, gave me major Greek mythology vibes, which you guys know I LOVE.

I also loved the setting, Karthia. I know it’s weird to like a place in the same way as you would a character, but it’s like Hogwarts or Narnia – it has a personality of its own, with its own rules and quirks. The whole idea that change is forbidden in Karthia was beyond intriguing, and made for some interesting side plots.

I really liked Odessa (Sparrow). She was a strong character who went through a lot of emotional turmoil. I liked the way we saw the stages of her grief. It felt realistic and relatable. She definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite heroines, along with Feyre, Alina, Celaena, Inej and Audrey Rose.

I LOVED Meredy so much. She reminded me of Jules from Three Dark Crowns, especially since she had Lysander, who reminded me of Cam. She was strong and fierce, like Sparrow, but more so. She was a fighter who refused to back down, and she was loyal to those she loved. She and Sparrow had major “hate to love” trope vibes and I was ALL FOR IT.

Another character I really liked was Valoria. I like that she’s a princess but also an inventor, going against the king by trying to bring about change – something that’s forbidden. She’s smart and independent, and stands up for her beliefs. I LOVE that she wears glasses. That’s not something you often see in fantasy books, and certainly not on a young princess – glasses are usually for old men and such. So, as someone who wears glasses (and has for MANY years), I found this very refreshing.

All the shippy feels to Simeon and Danial! I loved these two as the epic individual characters they were, but I also loved their relationship beyond words. Whereas Sparrow and Meredy were “love to hate” shippy goodness, Simeon and Danial were just FEELS FEELS FEELS.

Finally, I never liked or trusted a certain prince. That’s all I’ll say on that.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell (I mean… did you READ my review…?), I LOVED THIS BOOK BEYOND WORDS. I’m pretty sure my review was nothing but ramble, but there’s no way I can truly put my love for this book into actual words that people can comprehend – and trust me, I tried; I’ve been working on this review for FOUR DAYS and I STILL don’t think it’s good enough…

Anyway, back to the review!!

This book had an incredible world, incredible characters with lots of shippy feels, necromancers, rogue necromancers, and an Underworld reminiscent of Xena. If that’s not enough to get you to read, I don’t know what else to say.

Needless to say, I’m already counting down the days to the release of book two, and anything else Sarah Glenn Marsh ever writes. Ever. Period. Auto-Buy List forever.


Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Soundless by Richelle MeadSoundless by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill on November 10, 2015
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

At its core, Soundless has the potential to be an amazing book. First of all, it’s Richelle Mead, which is always an automatic “yes” for me. But beyond that, the plot also sounded intriguing, as did the diverse characters and setting. However, in the end, I was pretty disappointed.

I’ll start with the positive: As always, Mead’s writing was gorgeous. She does an incredible job of showing the reader the world she’s creating, which (usually) really pulls the reader in. At times, I did find myself being pulled in and enjoying the book. But those rare moments were far out-numbered by the meh moments.

I have read four series’ by Mead, both YA and adult. Each series put a unique spin on a common plot and each had a colorful cast of characters that felt like real people – people I cared about and who I rooted for. Sadly, Soundless was lacking both of those trademark Mead elements. Though Soundless had a unique concept, the plot was structured much the same way as all the other Fantasy and Dystopian novels out there (example: The whole “saving my sister” thing reminded me of The Hunger Games and, once that comparison was in my head, I could’t shake it at all). That made things fairly predictable and I was able to guess how several things were going to play out from very early on.

The characters weren’t completely flat – they all had these brilliant moments where I really loved them; however, they were lacking… something… And I really can’t even put my finger on what it was. I guess I’m comparing them to Mead’s other characters from her other books and I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the cast of Soundless in comparison to the cast of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines (I’ll leave out comparisons to Mead’s adult books, to level the playing field a bit).

Fei and Li Wei absolutely had moments of bravery and strength throughout their journey. They experienced growth that the other characters didn’t. But given what they went through and what they learned, I expected more growth – and that didn’t happen. I’m not convinced of their chemistry, either, though they certainly had more chemistry than Fei and Sheng did.

The other characters in this book felt like secondary background characters, even Fei’s sister, because we mostly took this journey with Fei and Li Wei. I will say that I really liked Xiu Mei and couldn’t stand Sheng. But beyond that, I don’t really feel one way or another about any of the characters – even Fei and Li Wei, who are supposed to be the main characters. Beyond their moments of bravery and strength – and the fact that they had the most development of any other characters – nothing about them stood out for me.

Though I’m no expert on Chinese culture and folklore, I skimmed a handful of reviews on Goodreads and was disappointed to discover that those more knowledgable than I had two major issues with this book: the cover model is not Chinese and the Chinese names were done wrong. I’m proud of Mead for stepping out of her comfort zone and writing a book that’s vastly different from her previous ones; however, I’m disappointed she didn’t do more research and that the cover artist didn’t chose a better cover model, one that better represented the culture and the book as a whole.

There was a rushed convenience to the ending. At first, Mead had a logical explanation for the hearing and vision loss, one rooted in science. I actually found this explanation intriguing. But then, almost out of nowhere (I say “almost” because it was hinted at earlier), Mead brought in a (illogical) fantasy/magical element to explain certain things. Now, I’m usually the first person to be like “OMG SUPERNATURAL/FANTASY ELEMENTS!! YAY!!!!” But it didn’t feel necessary in this book. Instead, it felt forced and, in relation to the resolution of the book, entirely too convenient. In my opinion, Mead should have used either the logical explanation OR the illogical explanation, but not both.

Finally, Soundless is a stand-alone, but there was a lack of closure by the end of the book. I feel like the reader is left hanging, with a lot of questions still unanswered. And many plot points tied up quickly and simply, but with a lack of explanation and logic. Really, a lot of things in this book were incredibly illogical and required almost a complete suspension of disbelief. Many books require suspension of disbelief, but Soundless demanded it.

Overall, Soundless was nonsensical and illogical. I found myself asking “why?” too many times. There was no sense of urgency, no heart-pounding or heart-in-throat moments – even when there should have been. If you’re a Mead fan, I still recommend this book – you may enjoy it where I didn’t. However, if you’ve never read any of Mead’s books, I suggest starting with one of her other series’! Her other books, in my opinion, are way better – better plot, better characters. Basically, better all around!

PS: Alyssa @ The Eater of Books! posted a great review of Soundless, explaining the deus ex machina plot device and how it relates to the book. I had to look up what deus ex machina meant, but once I read the explanation and then read the book itself, I completely agreed! Check out Alyssa’s review here!


Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle MeadThe Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #6
Published by Razorbill on February 10, 2015
Pages: 348
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon


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...


Fair Warning: If you haven’t read the Bloodlines series, this review does contain mild (or major, depending on how you feel about it) spoilers. Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled. You have been warned!

As a huge, huge, HUGE Richelle Mead fan, it pains me to say that this was my least favorite book in the Bloodlines series. So many questions were left unanswered and so many things were open-ended. I also didn’t feel the sense of closure I usually feel with Mead’s books. Someone said that Mead hinted at another potential spin-off… If I knew for sure that was happening, I don’t think I’d mind the ending of The Ruby Circle as much. But since it’s still unknown whether another spin-off will actually happen, I’ve got to base this review off the assumption that this is the end. And this was a pretty disappointing end.

Between the six Vampire Academy books and the six Bloodlines book, these characters have done a lot of growing and maturing. But in this final book, it felt like their character growth became stagnant. Sure, they had to “grow up” and take on immense responsibility. They still had to do some self-reflection and make tough decisions. But I didn’t feel like they developed much beyond that. Some of them even seemed to regress a little, which was disappointing. Some of them even seemed to act out of character at times, which was even more disappointing.

I expected there to be more psychological consequences for Sydney in this book, after everything she went through in Silver Shadows. There were some, but not as many as I thought there would be. She was still fierce and badass and, if I compared her present self with how she was in book one, she’s truly changed in remarkable ways. Even thinking back to her role in Vampire Academy, she’s changed so much. But still, something feels… incomplete… with her. And I can’t quite put my finger on what.

I’ve been rooting for Adrian since Vampire Academy, since I adored him and felt bad for him, but couldn’t help but still ship Rose and Dimitri. His character felt a bit disconnected in this book and he did a lot of sitting around or talking to the voice in his head. I just expected him to play a bigger role in this book. He’s one of the characters that I felt regressed a little bit.

Despite all that, I still had some Sydrian feels – not as many as in the previous books, but I still totally ship them like crazy.

I loved seeing Rose and Dimitri in this book, but I felt this weird disconnect from them for some reason. They didn’t feel like the characters I had grown to know and love from Vampire Academy. I’m very pleased with how their story, ended, though.

I wanted more of Lissa, Jill and Eddie. Their stories, more than some of the other characters, REALLY felt incomplete. Crystal and I were discussing it, and we’re wondering if Jill and Eddie will be the focus of the next potential spin-off, if it happens. I’d definitely be interested in that and I feel like, from their story, we would see more closure for them, Lissa and many others (Sonya, Rose, Dimitri, etc).

I also wanted more with Ms. Terwilliger. She kind of just dropped off the face of the earth after her and her coven helped with Alicia. I wanted to see some kind of closure-conversation with her and Sydney. Something, anything!

Considering this was the last book, I felt like many of the secondary plots were unnecessary and took away precious pages that could have gone towards taking care of the “unfinished business” I mentioned above. A lot of things felt like they were not relevant to the end game. The epilogue sort of made up for the rest of the book. There were some intriguing developments and fun character revelations. But I’m still a little disappointed in all the extra, seemingly unnecessary plots. I can’t stress this enough – I wanted more closure.

Overall, if I look back at all six books and think about how it began and how it ended, I’m pretty pleased with the series as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, all of the characters have come a long way. We’ve seen tremendous character growth in them and I’m mostly happy with where their stories ended in The Ruby Circle. I would definitely like to see another spin-off, though, and see some of that closure that The Ruby Circle was lacking. If you’re a Richelle Mead/Vampire Academy fan, you’ll likely love this book and you’ll be begging the Book Gods for more!


Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle MeadSilver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #5
Published by Razorbill on July 29, 2014
Pages: 380
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

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.

Fair Warning: If you haven’t read the Bloodlines series, this review does contain mild (or major, depending on how you feel about it) spoilers. Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled. You have been warned!

As the penultimate book in the Bloodlines series, Silver Shadows had a big job – It had to entertain and stand on its own, but it also had to set up for the final, epic book. And it definitely did NOT disappoint! The books in this series have gradually shifted to darker, heavier plots. But Silver Shadows took a brutal, tragic turn. It put our beloved characters in terrifying, hopeless situations. Though the first half was a bit slow, the second half blew my mind! Silver Shadows had an epic plot, character’s we’ve come to love and the amazing writing that we’ve come to expect from Richelle Mead.

Poor Syndey. Our strong, fierce, Sydney went through hell in Silver Shadows – mentally, physically and emotionally. Most of my status updates while I was reading said just that, “Poor Sydney!” The things that Sydney went through would have cracked a normal person, but our girl stood strong in the face of psychological and bodily torture. She used thoughts of her friends, Adrian especially, to keep herself sane. Some of Sydney’s punishments were really hard to read. And with how long she endured them.. I don’t know how she kept her mind. And I know our girl is strong, but.. I’m definitely expecting some psychological consequences from everything she went through. We saw some at the end of Silver Shadows, but I’m guessing we’ll see more in The Ruby Circle.

As bad as Sydney’s situation was, I almost felt worse for Adrian. Adrian is strong, but Sydney makes him stronger, makes him a better person. Between the reason for her disappearance and the lack of her good influence, Adrian slipped back into old habits. And in a major, epically huge way. Between alcohol and spirit, Adrian let his old vices break him down and take him over. He spiraled so far down, I didn’t think he’d ever come out of it. I definitely breathed a sigh of relief once he and Sydney were reunited.

Despite Sydney and Adrian being apart for over half the book, my Sydrian feels were all over the place. Like.. Richelle Mead messed with our minds and our hearts in this one, more so than any other book in the series. She put our poor Sydrian through an epic, insane, crazy, emotional roller coaster!!! Basically, I got to a point where all my status updates were along the lines of, “Noooo!!!! Haven’t they suffered enough already?!?” and “!!!!!!” So, yeah… But then near the end of the book… OMG THE CRAZY SYDRIAN FEELS!!!!!

I really missed the Palm Springs crew in Silver Shadows. We didn’t see them for the majority of the book. They made small appearences, but I’ve come to love them so much, I really missed seeing the gang all together.

One of my favorite new characters was Duncan. I really liked him a lot, right from the beginning, though I was slow to trust him. I cringed every time Sydney confided too much in him, especially when it came to her thoughts and feelings on Adrian. I was always waiting for Duncan to turn on her. I’m hoping we see a bit more of him in The Ruby Circle, but based on how Silver Shadows ended and the description of The Ruby Circle, I doubt it. I was also very leery of Sydney’s roommate, Emma. Some of the things Sydney said and did in front of her just seemed reckless. And just in general, I couldn’t stand any of the Alchemists, be they the ones in Re-education or the ones in charge of Re-education. But I especially couldn’t stand Sheridan and Harrison. I really, really wanted to punch the crap out of both of them.

This whole book was intense, but the end was ridiculous!!! I seriously wanted to pick up The Ruby Circle right away but, alas, I have to be responsible and read some review books first! *Sobs!!* But the first chance I get, I’m absolutely reading it! Because that ending… *Cue epic fangirling.*

Overall, obviously, I loved Silver Shadows. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Richelle Mead book I don’t like and I don’t think I ever will. She’s an amazing writer and I love this world and these characters so much! I definitely, highly recommend this book and this series and everything Richelle Mead has ever written.. Or will write in the future.. Okay? Okay. *Hugs Adrian*


Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle MeadThe Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #4
Published by Razorbill on November 19, 2013
Pages: 420
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

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 Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

I’m a huge Richelle Mead fan. I’ve loved all of her series’ – Vampire Academy, Georgina Kincaid, Bloodlines, and Dark Swan – so it should come as no surprise that I absolutely loved this book. The writing, the plot, the characters, Sydrian – everything about this book had me dying to read it. And, though it had a few hiccups, it definitely didn’t dissapoint!

Sydney has come such a long way since since we were first introduced to her. To be honest, it’s been so long since I read the Vampire Academy books, I had kind of forgot who Sydney was when I first picked up Bloodlines. It slowly came back to me, though and now I’m at a point where I’d love to re-read Blood Promise and Bloodlines just to see what she was like then versus now. She’s always been a very strong, independent and capable character, but she’s really come into her own and become even stronger. She thinks for herself and she’s a very logical, practical person. She doesn’t do anything without thinking about the potential consequences and she almost always has a Plan B on hand, just in case. Her predicament at the end of The Fiery Heart was horrible and sad and terrifying, but I know Sydney is strong and she’ll get through it.

When we first met Adrian in Vampire Academy, he was… very different… than he is now. Because I shipped Rose and Dimitri, above and beyond all else, he was an obstacle to that and, therefore, I didn’t appreciate him as much as I should have. Yet I’ve always adored him. There was always a small part of me that wanted him and Rose together, just so Adrian wouldn’t have his heart broken. And then Sydney came along. And the rest is history. As much as Sydney has changed, I think Adrian has grown the most of any character in this series. It took a long time, but his personality has done a complete 180. He deserves happiness, so my heart broke into a million pieces for him at the end of The Fiery Heart. Adrian is strong and he’s already survived so much… I know he’ll survive this; I just hope he doesn’t fall into his old, bad habits between now and then.

As I’ve already briefly mentioned, I adore Sydrian (Sydney + Adrian = Sydrian, in case you didn’t know). Honestly, with so many fictional couples out there, you’d think it would be hard to narrow down my favorite. But I’m 98% sure my OTP is Sydrian. They’re complete opposites, yet they complement each other so perfectly, they’re like two side of the same coin, yin and yang, PB and J… Okay, I’m getting ridiculous now.. But hopefully you get the picture! I’m sure Sydrian will prevail in the end. Because, well… There’s no other option. They MUST prevail or my feels will be broken.

I wanted to like Zoe. I really did. I kept hoping she would change, just as Sydney kept hoping. It seemed like it might happen a few times, but then something would drag Zoe back into the claws of the Alchemists. And, of course, in the end… Ugh, I can’t even talk about it cause I’ll end up punching something. Zoe was such a brat… Grrr! I still have my fingers crossed she’ll come to her senses between the beginning of Silver Shadows and the end of The Ruby Circle, but I’m not getting my hopes up. And let’s not even talk about Sydney and Zoe’s father.. Not even going there.. Nope.

Of course, I adore the whole Palm Springs crew – Jill, Angeline, Eddie, Ms. Terwilliger, Trey, even Neil. Richelle Mead is amazing at creating well-rounded and beloved secondary and tertiary characters. And I LOVED seeing Rose, Dimitri, Lissa and Sonya. The Vampire Academy books were one of my first Post-Twilight Vampire Book Reads and they’re very close to my heart. Also, I read Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series first and loved it beyond words, so of course I jumped on board when she wrote a YA vampire book! The characters of Vampire Academy will always have a place in my heart and I love seeing them again in Bloodlines. I have no idea what I’ll do once I finish Bloodlines and we’re done with this incredible world Mead has created.. I’ll cry a lot, I think.

Unfortunately (and this is rare for me when reading a Richelle Mead book, so this is difficult for me..) I did have some issues with this book. First of all, it started off really slow. Like, painfully slow. I had a hard time getting into it. I don’t think it needed to be as long as it was, either. I also felt like it had Second Book Syndrome.. Except, well, it’s book four of the series. But it just kind of felt like filler to me, like it was only meant to bridge the gap from The Indigo Spell to Silver Shadows. I’m also VERY conflicted with the dual POV. On the one hand, I LOVED seeing inside Adrian’s head. I heart him so much, it was fun seeing things from his perspective. On the other hand, some of his chapters – more so in the beginning than the end – felt boring and unnecessary. It truly pains me to say that because, again, I heart Adrian and I ship Sydrian. But.. Just telling it like it is :(

The ending was pretty epic, though I’m not as shocked as some people were. I remember when The Fiery Heart first came out, I couldn’t read it right away but everyone who did was shocked and outraged and freaking out about the “major cliffhanger.” Everyone told me not to read The Fiery Heart until I had Silver Shadows in hand, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the cliffhanger. While the ending was crazy and very insane, I kind of saw it coming from a mile away, so I was prepared for it – at least, a little prepared. Though I was never spoiled on the ending, I just had this feeling that things were moving towards that conclusion, especially with how hard-core people freaked out. It had been hinted at enough times throughout the series and with how The Indigo Spell ended, I just had a sneaking suspicion that it was coming sooner rather than later. So though I’m still upset and dying to see how Sydney and Adrian get out of this mess, it didn’t destroy my feels as much as I thought it would.

Overall, I loved, loved, loved The Fiery Heart. Again, I adore Richelle Mead and everything she writes, so how could I not? Though the book felt slow and filler-ish, I still enjoyed the plot and being back in the VA/Bloodlines world. I love these characters more than anything; they feel so alive to me, I just want to see them get their happy ending already! I’m very excited to get to Silver Shadows, though I’m scared to read The Ruby Circle… *Gulps!* As for recommending this book.. Um, duh! I would highly recommend EVERY book that Richelle Mead HAS written and every book she WILL write. Period. End of story.