Vampire Academy (#1) by Richelle Mead

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Vampire Academy (#1) by Richelle Mead
Young Adult Paranormal
Paperback, 332 pages 
Published 2013 by Razorbill 
If we’re being completely honest, I thought these books sounded silly and had no intention of ever reading them. Then I discovered BookTube and all my favourite booktubers raved about this series as well as Bloodlines (its spin off series). I thought, what the heck, and decided to give it a shot. 

I managed to grab a boxset of the first three books on BookOutlet for $8.99. Not bad, amiright? 

I immediately dove in to the first book. 


As you’d expect for a book titled Vampire Academy, the story is about vampires and it’s set in a boarding school. Mead takes the legend of the vampire and gives it her own spin. Here, there are more than one kind of vampire—there are three (sort of). There are Moroi, your regular vampire. They feed on blood, don’t do to well in sunlight, etc. But here’s the kicker—they are still alive. They can procreate. Then there are Strigoi. These are the more sinister vampires. These are Moroi that have killed someone purposely in their feeding. They become evil and dead, do even worse in sunlight, become stronger, and have a thirst for killing. Finally we have Dhampirs. These are half human and half vampire. They are human in most aspects, but they are stronger with heightened senses. It is their job to protect the Moroi. Both of their survival depends on it. Dhampirs can not procreate on their own. They need Moroi.

Our main characters are Rose and Lissa. They have been best friends for as long as they can remember and would do anything for one another. Rose is a dhampir and Lissa is Moroi. They have a special and unique bond that goes further than their friendship. 

These girls start out on the run, but end up back at the Academy where they train for their future roles. Lissa is quiet, subdued, and compassionate, while Rose is ferocious and sarcastic, with a biting attitude. They may be different, but they complement each other. 

As they struggle to fit in back at the Academy, they fight to keep their secrets, their friendship, and their lives.

While I enjoyed this book for the most part, it’s not what I expected. Well, it’s exactly what I originally expected but not what BookTube led me to expect. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot. It seemed like something my 14 year old self would have enjoyed. My current adult self though? Not as much. It felt so juvenile at times—like, all the boys were “hot” etc. I also found Lissa kind of a flat character. She always felt like this kind of boring damsel in distress. Hopefully she’ll develop more in the later books. Also, hopefully Rose will grow up a bit. She could be funny at times, but I mostly found her to be kind of annoying in her angsty-ness and schoolgirl drama. 

However, like I said, I did still enjoy it over all. I don’t see what everyone seems to love so much, but maybe it will pick up in the other books in the series. I do think I will continue on at least to book three (since I have them). Then I will reevaluate. I do like the whole vampire system and hierarchy. It’s pretty neat. 

I recommend this book to those that really like young adult books and don’t mind the vampire stuff. If you’re not into young adult books, you probably won’t like this. 

Storyline B-
Structure/Execution B
Writing B+
Characters C+
Conclusion B+
Enjoyment B
————————
My Rating B-

Diamond Head by Cecily Wong: TLC Book Tour REVIEW + GIVEAWAY [closed]!

Diamond Head by Cecily Wong
Historical Literary Family Saga
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 14th, 2015 by HarperCollins
Purchase [Amazon] [Book Depository]

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my participation in the tour. All opinions I’ve expressed here are completely honest and completely my own

Diamond Head is the beautiful, sprawling history of the Leong family and their journey with fate. Told through the eyes of the Leong women, Diamond Head is an intricately weaved and incredibly rich tale of fate, love, and consequences.

There is a tale in Chinese culture—the red string of fate. Each person has a red string tied to their ankles, and attached to the other end is their fated soulmate. However, every mistake you make in love causes the string to knot, making it harder to to find the person at the end of it. These knots may even be passed to your children.

The year is 1964, and today is the day of Bohai Leong’s funeral. His wife Amy and his pregnant teenage daughter Theresa make their way to the Leong family home on Diamond Head. This day, this man, is what binds the story together.

As the day goes on, more of the past is revealed. Through the perspectives of Theresa, Amy, Lin and Hong, we go back and forth in time learning about the story of the Leongs and the life of Bohai. We learn who these women are and how they came to be a part of Bohai’s life.

The story of the Leongs begins in southern China in the early 20th century. Theresa tells us of her Ye Ye (her grandfather, Frank) and her Nai Nai (her grandmother, Lin). We learn of the birth of her father, Bohai, and the death of the concubine Hailee who bore him.

Hong, Bohai’s aunt, joins the Leong the family during the Boxer Uprising in China when her husband, Frank’s brother, is killed. Soon, Lin and Hong become inseparable. When Bohai comes along, they raise him together.

In 1914, the impending war causes Frank to move his family to Oahu. He, Lin, Hong, and Bohai, quickly gather their things and make their way across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. There they hope to make a fresh start. Lin hopes this especially for Bohai. He is a very quiet and subdued child—too much so. Lin is frightened that something is wrong with him. 

Hawaii does not enliven Bohai. He grows into a quiet man, more inclined to read a book indoors then spend any time in the sun. This is especially obvious in comparison to his brother Kaipo who was born a few years after the Leongs arrived on Oahu.

As the secretive Leong women tell their tales, we see a family that is not what it seems. We see a family shrouded in lies and half-truths, all intertwined with the red string of fate.

Each of the Leong women is remarkable in her own way. They are strong, compelled by what they believe to be fate. Theresa is fiercely loyal to her father. Amy is stoic and enigmatic. Hong is the rock that holds the family together. Lin is the matriarch who began it all.

This book is very hard to summarize—as are most family sagas. I have more sympathy now for the person who wrote the jacket, but I still think you should not read the synopsis! It has so many spoilers!

I gotta tell ya, I loved this book. Family sagas are my jam, and this one is done impeccably. The writing is top notch, the characters are very well developed, and the story is super compelling. All families have secrets and resentments, but the Leongs… Well, you just have to read it to find the skeletons in their closets. I think Amy’s story is my favourite. Again, you just have to read it.

This story is propelled by the characters as you listen to them and watch them develop. I love how in the story, the character development is mainly in the past. Therefore, each part you read gives you more understanding of the women and how they came to be the way they are.

There is mystery involved here, too, both the traditional sense (but I won’t spoil you like the jacket copy!!) and in the way the characters are developed. You only get bits and pieces of them along the way.

Honestly, I can’t say enough about this book. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I put it down. I wish I was still reading it. Also, that endingit was so beautiful and bittersweet. I cried. Books don’t often make me actually cry.

I recommend this book to people who love family sagas, fiction, and general awesomeness. It’s insanely beautiful. Read this book, guys. Just read it. BUY IT NOW! (Amazon, Book Depository).

Storyline A+
Structure/Execution A+
Writing A+
Characters A+
Conclusion A+
Enjoyment A+
———————
My Rating A+


About The Author
Cecily Wong is Chinese-Hawaiian. She was born on Oahu and raised in Oregon. Diamond Head grew from family stories told to her by her parents and grandparents. Wong graduated from Barnard College, where the first pages of this novel won the Peter S. Prescott Prize for Prose Writing. She lives in New York City.
Find out more about Cecily at her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Cecily’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, April 14th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Wednesday, April 15th: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, April 16th: Literary Feline
Friday, April 17th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, April 22nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Tuesday, April 28th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, April 29th: Fuelled by Fiction
Monday, May 4th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, May 5th: Mom’s Small Victories
Wednesday, May 6th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, May 7th: Unshelfish
Monday, May 11th: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, May 12th: Doing Dewey
Thursday, May 14th: Drey’s Library
Want to win a copy of Diamond Head
This giveaway is brought to you by Harper and TLC Book Tours!
– It is open to residents of Canada and the US.
– Please be sure to read the Terms and conditions. It’s not very long and you want to
make sure that you are eligible and that your entries will not be disqualified!


Introducing: Fuelled by Fiction’s GENRE GLOSSARY

Do you find sometimes that there are so many book genres these days that their pesky definitions allude you? You’re not alone. To make differentiating and defining genres easier, I have complied a comprehensive master glossary! Introducing Fuelled By Fiction’s Genre GlossaryYou can find it easily by tapping on FEATURES and scrolling down to Genre Glossary.


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The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro Buried Giant Fuelled by fiction Review Book Blog

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Literary

Hardcover, 345 pages
Published 3 March 2015 by Knopf Canada

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book! And I’ve sure picked a doozy. I meant to review this one about a month ago, but time just kept passing, and I kept forgetting… Perhaps I too have become a victim of the mist… hmm? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though! 

This is Ishiguro’s first book in TEN YEARS—Ishiguro,the beloved and renowned Booker Prize winning author. All his books are different, and many of his books tend to bend genres. He does that again now with The Buried Giant. 


The Buried Giant  is a tale with many, many different layers, just as you would expect from Ishiguro. However, it begins with an opening you most certainly wouldn’t expect from him, the first paragraph including snippets such as this: “Icy fogs hung over rivers and marshes, serving all too well the ogres that were then still native to this land.” Yes, there are ogres in this book. And a dragon.

Set in medieval times in the abandoned Roman province of Britain, Anglo Saxons and Britons are bound in a shaky peace. Our main characters are an elderly couple of Britons called Axl and Beatrice. They live in an underground village, lamenting their age and position. Time has an interesting effect upon the villagers, Axl notices. They seem to forget things. Everyone does. They call it the mist. 

For a while now, Axl and Beatrice have been wanting to visit their son who lives in another village. It would be quite a journey for them, especially in their old age. They keep meaning to go—and keep forgetting. They do, however, eventually set out on this journey and encounter many obstacles along the way. They also make friends—a Saxon warrior, and a young Saxon boy, as well as an elderly Sir Gawain the green knight! 

On their quest, they know that they want to rid Britain of the mist that clouds its people’s minds. Even Axl and Beatrice cannot recall the details of their long life together—they know only that they love one another. But what is it that the mist is trying to hide from Britain’s memory? Is is best left forgotten? 

This is very much a genre-driven book, focusing on the late Arthurian period, drawing on legends and fantasy. Ishiguro takes that and fills it with deeper meaning, spinning his story into one of love, loss, and revenge. 

This book, in Ishiguro fashion, is written in an incredibly beautiful way, making even the most inconsequential moments moving. Ishiguro manages to somehow make this strange and beautiful story work, blending history and fantasy into this literary work. 

Like I said earlier, this book is a doozy. It’s not too long, 345 pages, but it took me quite a while to read. It has the feel of an allegory, often reminding me of The Pilgrim’s Progress (though not as obvious). It brought back memories from university and the time spent reading Saxon writings. I found it hard to get through this book. It is beautiful and enjoyable, but I found it to be a heavy read. This is the kind of thing I wish I had a professor talking to me about, telling me what everything meant!  It would have made the going a lot quicker 😉 

That being said, I did still enjoy it, though I often had to take breaks to read something lighter alongside it. 

I recommend this book to only to those who like literary fiction or who are really interested in this genre. Ishiguro brings new life to the genre and makes it interesting and complex. However, if you’re not into the genre or into a complex read, you might want to skip over this one. 

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions I’ve expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.  

24 Hour Readathon Wrap Up

At the last minute, I decided to participate in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. This took place yesterday, and I introduced the readathon in my previous two posts. I didn’t know much about the readathon when I jumped into it, so I didn’t end up participating in any of the mini-challenges or the like. Not only that, but I didn’t have my day planned to maximize reading time…

I thought that yesterday would be a totally fine day for a readathon. I thought, Hey, I only work until 12:30, then I’m home free! Nope. That’s not what happened. I did work until 12:30pm, but then ended up having a thing a 2pm. I read for a little bit in between, but not all that much. I ended up not getting home until 3pm.

140/320 pages

I thought, Okay, well there’s still plenty left of the day! Yes, and no. I had stayed up late the night before finishing a book because I just had to finish it, you know? So, while reading yesterday afternoon, I was overcome by sleepiness and had to have a nap. When I woke up, it turned out my parents were having company for dinner. So, I joined them. THEN I went and babysat my nephew! He’s only 11 months old so he was asleep around 9pm but still. I read for a couple hours there, but then fell asleep again…

So, not the most successful readathon, but I did have reading on my mind a lot! All in all, I read about half of Diamond Head–140 pages. That’s still pretty decent though, right? Considering? I didn’t complete a whole book or anything, let alone multiple like some people, but that’s okay! I made sure I read every spare moment I could and read when I might have otherwise watched TV 😀

This readathon is happening again in October. Now that I know that, I will plan ahead! I will make sure I know when it’s happening and clear my schedule. It’s such a fun idea. I loved all the discussion on social media with the hashtag #Readathon!

Thanks to everyone who works so hard making the readathon such a success and to all those who participated, making it so much fun! See you next time!!!!

Did you participate? Will you participate next time? 


Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon!

Hey guys,

I have decided to join in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! This will be my second readathon this year (my first being Bout of Books), which actually makes it my second readathon ever. I really enjoyed my first one so I can’t wait for this one! I have to work tomorrow morning, but other than that, tomorrow should be smooth sailing! Yay!


I’m really excited! I had heard of this readathon before, but didn’t know it was so soon! So, last minute sign up. Better late than never!

Here’s what I have lined up to read tomorrow:

I’m going to finish up Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, then start on Diamond Head by Cecily Wong, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, and Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (if I finish the others). Should be a good time! I’m very excited 🙂

I will be posting updates throughout the day on social media and will do a wrap up post on here! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram! Check it out at #readathon!

Are you participating? 

Fangirl Favourites Friday: ORPHAN BLACK

If you haven’t heard of Orphan Black, you seriously have been living under a rock. It is one of the best shows on TV todaycertainly the most original. And just the coolest.

BEST OF ALL, SEASON THREE STARTED LAST WEEK! WEE!

For posterity sake, I’ll tell you what it’s about.

It all starts with a young woman named Sarah Manning. She’s the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. She’s a hustler. She’s on the run. While at a train station, she witnesses somethingsomething that changes everything. A woman who looked exactly like her jumps in front of a train. Sarah grabs her bag and rifles through it. Her name is Beth Childs. Sarah thinks that she might be able to escape her own life if she tries to take over Beth’s. It’s harder than she thinks, and leads to the uncovering of more secrets than she can count. Mainly, she’s part of a very exclusive club—Clone club!


If you haven’t started watching Orphan Black yet, you need to start. ASAP!  

The thing that most people talk about when it comes to Orphan Black  is the amazing performance of star Tatiana Maslany. She plays all of the clones. And they are in the same scenes all the time! So far there have been about nine clones, all played by Maslany. Each clone is very different, and Maslany does an amazing amazing amazing job of playing them. The characters all feel like their own people—you totally forget that they are all really the same one! 


There’s Sarah—British wild child.

There’s Cosima—Science rockstar.
There’s Alison—All American soccer mom.
There’s Helena—Ukrainian psychopath. 
There’s Rachel—Über b*tch extraordinaire. 
There’re all the others in between. 

This is seriously the coolest show. There’s clones, there’s sass, there’re Brits, there’re conspiracies, murder, cults, super secretive institutes, you name it. And it’s all done so brilliantly. Each character is so different and so amazing. Even the non-Tatiana Maslany ones. Like Felix, for example. He is so sassy and fun and always there for his sisters. 
If I had to pick a favourite clone, I would say Cosima. They are all such complex characters, but I love the layers to Cosima. She’s fun, funky, smart, cool, genuine, she’s got great style… She’s just awesome. If I were to cosplay, I would totally be her! If I could manage to do my hair like her’s. 

Alison pretending to be Sarah
This show… it just makes me fangirl so hard. So hard. 

Let’s talk about Tatiana Maslany again for a second. She is the show, really. She does each of these complex women justice when she portrays them! The best is when she plays one clone pretending to be another clone. She does such a good job layering their characteristics! What I just don’t understand is how she has yet to win a Golden Globe or an Emmy. Seriously. People are always raving about her performance in this show, but it’s just not showing on the award circuit! She hasn’t even been nominated for an Emmy yet! She was nominated for a Golden Globe last year and somehow didn’t win. She wasn’t even nominated this year! I CAN’T EVEN. 
The cosmetic and technical team also do amazing. They give her unique looks for each character and do such a great job putting them all in scenes together! (How they do it!)

Oh, and they are coming out with Orphan Black Funko Pop vinyl figurines! Woohoo! Let the obsession continue!


Now we’re getting into the spoiler-y stuff, so be warned!

What did you think of the season three premiere? There was a lot going on in this one. I loved the opening with Helena’s dream sequence and then the switch to her in a wooden crate… Poor girl. I’m also really feeling Cosima and Kira’s bond. It’s so cute! They are getting closer as they are both stuck at home. 
Clones pretending to be other clones was a big theme in this episode. I love when Alison plays Sarah! She is so funny and goes way over the top in her cockney accent. It’s hilarious. It was also really interesting to see Sarah pretend to be Rachel. It was intense. 
I’ve got to say, it’s also pretty fun seeing Delphine as the big bad boss lady now that Rachel has been… incapacitated. She started off as Cosima’s cute monitor, and now she’s the smoking’ badass head honcho of Dyad. I’m interested to see how that plays out.  
Sarah’s already rocky relationship with S has been strained yet again… What would you have done if you were her? Would you have given up Helena? I think that S definitely had her reasons, but she doesn’t seem to be able to use both her strategic head and emotional heart properly at the same time. It’s all about the balance. Hopefully she hasn’t completely ostracized Sarah this time. And Felix! He’s so much more than comic relief. Love that kid. 
Donnie and Alison are such a funny couple. They totally complete each other. I can’t wait to see where Alison’s campaign for school trustee goes! #VoteAlsionHendrix! 

What makes you get your fangirl/boy on? Do you just love Orphan Black like me? 

Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favourite Authors!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish!

Today let’s talk about our all time favourite authors! 
Here are mine!


Jane Austen

I feel like this one is just super obvious. I love my girl Jane. Her stories transcend time, yo. You only need to see Clueless to know that. Also the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Or, just read one of her books. I love love love her. 

JRR Tolkien
Again, this one. Super obvious. I am obsessed with LOTR. It’s just such a masterpiece! Tolkien was so creative and amazing at creating the world of Middlearth, all it’s creatures, history, languages, mythology… Amazing. 

AS King
I’ve only read two of King’s books so far, but they were both so amazing. Please Ignore Vera Dietz gave me such a book hangover. AS King is a superstar. 

Edith Wharton
I wrote my thesis about this lady. She was a groundbreaking author. So, so good. She did so much for female authors! 

Sophie Kinsella
I will read any book this woman writes. I know I am sure to laugh and awwww and get the feels. I love her books! Chick lit at its best!

Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go is one of my all-time favourite books. His latest was a little weird, but that’s okay.

Gayle Forman
I have listened to all her books on audiobooks. They are so dang beautiful. 

Philippa Gregory
When I want me some royal historical fiction, she is definitely my go to. I think she is one of my most read authors. 

CS Lewis
While I did enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia, I love CS Lewis more for his other writings, such as The Screwtape Letters, which is one of my all time faves. 

Stephen King
Stephen King is the master. Again one of my most read authors, and I have only read a handful of his books! But he is definitely an auto-buy author for me (though I prefer his older works, so I always grab those at second hand shops—I have quite the collection now!)

Who are your favourites and why?


Let’s Recap!

These are the books that have been in my life the past week:
  • A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell—I finished this one up and did a book tour post on it! Read my review here. 
  • Voyager by Diana Gabaldon—I’ve been plucking away at this one for a few weeks now. I’m really enjoying it, but it’s going to be a long haul! 
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski—I just started this one the other day. A hundred pages in and loving it already! 
  • Ms. Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why by G Willow Wilson—I picked this one up on Friday. I’m so excited! I’ve pretty much gobbled it up though. Only one issue left 🙁 

I’m pretty happy because I’ve gotten out of my reading slump! I had been feeling stressed about my review copy load but I’m feeling much more optimistic now! 

This week has also been a great TV week for me! Orphan Black  is back on (!!!!!!), I’ve been catching up on season 5 of Downton Abbey, and I’ve discovered Happy Endings on Netflix. I’m obsessed with all of these. Are you? You should be. 

This week I had a lot of fun with Top Ten Tuesday, picking 10 quotes! I also had a lot of fun with the book tour for A Reunion of Ghosts! It was a great read. 

I’ve also been pretty wrapped up in planning! My parents and I have begun planning our trip to NYC! We booked our flights and have been scouring Airbnb for a place to stay. I’ve been working on a spreadsheet to schedule my time there for BEA! We’re going to be there from May 26th to June 1st. BEA and Book Con run from the 27th-31st. I’m trying to decide what touristy things I want to do because a lot of my time will be spent at the conference! Have you been to NYC? What do you think are the top things I should check out? I’m a little nervous about BEA—it’s my first time. Do you know any good blog posts about BEA? Do you have any tips for me? 

Here are some of my favourite bookish posts from this week!


Things I’m super excited about coming up on Fuelled by Fiction:
  • TLC Book Tour for Diamond Head by Cecily Wong on April 29th! This book is getting some great buzz! I’m excited to read it:) Oh—there will also be a giveaway!
  • TLC Book Tour for Second Life by SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep! This is a highly anticipated release and I will be hosting the stop for it on June 9th! Again, you will have a chance to WIN A COPY! 
  • Last, but certainly not least, the TLC book tour for The Invasion of the Tearling, the very eagerly anticipated sequel to The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen! I will be hosting the stop for this tour on July 1st, and you will also have the chance to WIN A COPY! Woohoo!!

What have you been up to this week?