Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Love by Ivan Turgenev


Classic Literature / Fiction (107 pgs.)

When the down-at-heel Princess Zasyekin moves next door to the country estate of Vladimir Petrovich's parents, he instantly and overwhelmingly falls in love with his neighbor's daughter, Zinaida. But the capricious young woman already has many admirers and, as she plays her suitors against each other, Vladimir's unrequited youthful passion soon turns to torment and despair - although he remains unaware of his true rival for Zinaida's affections. Set in the world of nineteenth-century Russia's fading aristocracy, Turgenev's story depicts a boy's growth of knowledge and mastery over his own heart as he awakens to the complex nature of adult love.

First Love by Ivan Turgenev details the story of Vladimir Petrovich, Russian schoolboy who falls helplessly in love with his neighbor's daughter Zinaida, despite competition from many older suitors. I first discovered this book after watching the move "Lover's Prayer," which is based on this book. I'm so glad that I found this novella... I discovered a hidden gem.

Turgenevs' prose is lilting and intoxicating. Throughout this short read, I felt as if I should have been reading this book lying in a field wildflowers or something. I know it sounds goofy, but it's true. The pages of this novella are simply bursting with feeling, which is exactly what our young protagonist is doing. One of my favorite quotes:

"Oh, gentle feelings, soft sounds, the goodness and the gradual stilling of a soul that has been moved; the melting happiness of the first tender, touching joys of love - where are you? Where are you?"

Because this book is written about a sixteen-year-old boy's First Love, it's practically raw emotion, all the time. When Vladimir's heart aches for the lovely Zinaida, you can feel it. You can feel his despair when SPOILER he finds out that the one Zinaida truly loves is his own father. END SPOILER You can clearly sense his undying devotion to his love.

Speaking of our protagonist, Vladimir stole my heart. SO incredibly romantic... and so devoted, undyingly. He would do anything for his love. Call me what you will (love-sick fool!), but I'd take Vladimir anyday.

The scenery is breathtaking. I have NEVER wanted to visit Russia, but this book made me want visit Russia and to stroll aimlessly through the Russian countryside. Prefferably with Mr. Vladimir. ; )

Don't be discouraged by the fact that this book was written in 1860. It is simply written and easily understandable. And it is truly a beautiful read.



Watch the trailer for Lover's Prayer here (but read the book before you watch the movie!):

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2)

Happy Monday everyone! Hope everyone's summer is going well!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey in which we bloggers share what we have read in the past week, and what we're currently tearing through this week.

Last Week I Read:

Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguié

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Currently I'm Reading:

First Love by Ivan Turgenev

Coming Up:

Everlasting by Angie Frasier

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead


Y.A. Sci Fi / Fantasy / Horror (489 pgs.)


After a long and heartbreaking journey to Siberia, Dimitri's birthplace, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's--and to her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. It's graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives outside of the academy's cold iron gates to finally begin. But even with the intrigue and excitement of court life looming, Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri. He's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance, and now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he has silenced her... forever.

But Rose can't forget what she learned on her journey--whispers of a magic too impossible and terrifying to comprehend. A magic inextricably tied to Lissa that could hold the answer to all of Rose's prayers, but not without devastating consequences. Now Rose will have to decide what--and who--matters most to her. And in the end, is true love really worth the price?


Let me just put this out here right now... THIS REVIEW IS GOING TO BE INFESTED WITH MONUMENTAL SPOILERS. Moving on.

Rose's epic journey continues in the fifth installment of one of my favorite vapire series, Vampire Academy. In this episode Rose breaks into a high security prison, rescues Dimitri, and is mistankenly condemned for the murder of Queen Tatiana, just to name a few things.

In order to bring back Dimitri from being undead, Rose found out in the last book, Blood Promise, that she would need to consult Victor Dashkov's half-brother Robert Doru. The only person who knows where Robert is is his half-brother, of course, Victor. And in order to get him to talk, Rose has to break him out of Tarasov, a supposedly high security Moroi prison.

Richelle Mead wrote the prison break as being decidedly easy for the three teenagers who accomplished it (Rose, Lissa, and Eddie), and with little severe consequences to follow. For me, it was kind of unbelievable that these three could accomplish all that and get away, but hey, it is fiction after all. Believablitiy is kind of stretched in this book.

After breaking Victor out of jail, the foursome head to Sin City, that's right, Las Vegas. And... to the Luxor!! I used to stay in this hotel all the time when I was a kid and me and my family wen on family vacations to Vegas. I was so excited that Richelle Mead picked this hotel!!

But back on topic. After Victor contacts his brother and persuades him to come to the Luxor, Rose and Lissa subsequently learn that the way to bring back a Strigoi is to stake him/her with a stake infused with spirit. And here's the catch: the staking has do be done by a spirit user themself.

So, of course, Rose becomes conflicted. She wants to bring Dimitri back, but she doesn't want to risk her friend's life. She spies in on Lissa a couple of times practicing staking Strigoi and is furious, but it's like "Yeah, Rose, save it, we all know you really want her to be practicing."

Anyway, Lissa and Christian end up being captured by Dimitri, which leads to Lissa's staking and bringing Dimitri back from the dead. I cried so hard at this part! They brought him back!

Which brings me to my next point... Richelle Mead's writing just makes ya feel. It's like I can feel every single emotion that Rose is feeling, and it's all because of Mead's brilliant writing. I enjoy this element so much in her books... it never gets old.

But Dimitri and Rose didn't get the happy ending I was pining for, and it's easy to see why. Dimitri is (naturally) ashamed of all of the things he did when he was Strigoi, especially of all the things he did to Rose. He claims that he is incapable of loving anyone anymore, and tells Rose "Love fades. Mine has." which completely broke my heart. The interludes where Rose is verbally sparring with Dimitri, desperately trying to bring him back, were BEAUTIFULLY written. However much I wanted them to be instantly happy and Dimitri to turn right back into what he was before, I understand he has a lot of baggage, and that's what Rose eventually has to come to terms with too.

This was a REALLY great read. I was litterally shouting "No!" as I came to the last pages. I just couldn't bear to have it end, and I CAN'T WAIT for the next book! It basically ended on the biggest cliff hanger EVER!


4.5 ****/*

Friday, June 25, 2010

Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguié


Y.A. Fiction / Fairytale Retelling (198 pgs.)


Seventeen years ago, a fisherman rescued a child from the sea. He and his wife raised the girl, Pearl, as their own daughter, never allowing themselves to wonder where she came from.

Pearl grows into an unusual young woman. As the other girls her age find husbands, Pearl has only one friend. One very special, secret companion: Prince James.

But their friendship is shaken when a conspiracy against the royal family combines with an evil enchantment from beneath the sea. Now, when Pearl and James need each other most, bewitching magic and Pearl's mysterious past threaten to tear them apart forever.


Pearl, a seventeen-year-old outcast and fisherman's daughter, finds herself rather awkward with extremely long legs and brilliantly silver hair. Her secret confidante and long-time best friend, Prince James of Aster, insists there is magic in the world, and that Pearl may be more special then she ever gave herself credit for.

Realizing these two have feelings for each other, and helped along by pressure from their respective parents to marry quickly, Prince James tries to propose to Pearl in a sailboat out at sea, but everything goes awry. Their boat springs a leak, and Pearl and Prince James are forced to abandon ship. Pearl makes it to shore, but Prince James, while jumping off of the boat, renders himself unconscious. Prince James is saved by two unlikely beings... a mermaid named Faye (a.k.a. the Little Mermaid), and her brother Kale.

Now here's the tricky part. Turns out that Pearl, who was formerly a mermaid princess known as Adriana, was captured by the Sea Witch when she was little and turned into a human against her will. Adriana (Pearl) and Kale had been betrothed since birth, and he has been searching for her endlessly since her dissapearance. Naturally, when he sees that it's his beloved Adriana in the boat with Prince James, he goes after her, bargaining his sight for a pair of human legs from the Sea Witch.

But I don't want to write the whole book out here for you.

This novel was a fish out of water... in a not-so-good way. The one word that comes to mind througout this novel? Dry. Dry, dry, dry. Really, really skimpy on the emotion. I found myself continually asking, What makes me care about these characters? And, unfortunately, the book couldn't give me the answer.

I really, REALLY didn't like that at the beginning of some of the chapters, a little portion of the wedding ceremony between Robert and Pearl was given away. When I actually got to the wedding scene, it was very anti-climactic, because I'd been getting snippets of it ever since Chapter 1!

I guess author Debbie Viguié really liked writing her characters constantly having chills running up and down their spines, 'cause I swear there was an instant of it on every page, it seemed. That little premonition thing got really old, really quick.

I was also dissapointed at the ending. Super anti-climactic. SPOILER Pearl decides to return to the sea with her beloved Kale. True, she realizes this is what she was destined to be all along, but it's like she doesn't have one shred of emotion left for her foster parents, Mary and Finneas. It's like "Oh hey mom and dad! I'm going to be a mermaid now, separate from you. Thanks for seventeen years of being the only parents I never knew. See ya!" END SPOILER Once again, just going back to the whole DRYNESS thing!

The only part I really liked about this book was the twist that Debbie Viguié put on the story the Little Mermaid. Next to Beauty and the Beast, this is my favorite fairytale. Her interpretation of the tale sort of made up for everything else, which is why I'm giving this book a 2.5 * instead of something lower.


2.5 **/*

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead


Y.A. Sci Fi / Fantasy / Horror (503 pgs.)


Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from the Strigoi: the fiercest vampires--the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

Guardian Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same. The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse.

But only one victim matters... Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa--her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess--or dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to fo to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?


In this latest installment of the Vampire Academy series, rose travels to Siberia, her love Dimitri's homeland, to try and track down his newly-"awakened" self and kill him. Along the way, she encounters Dimitri's family, the Belikovs, another fellow spirit user and her shadow-kissed guardian, and--ultimately--her father, Abe Mazur. (Sorry for the spoiler).

This was a really really great book. In my eyes, the lesser-known Vampire Academy series far outshines the immensely-popular Twilight novels. The characters are written better, the plot is more exciting, and--unlike the Twilight series--its pages aren't positively dripping with teen angst. Sure it's poignant, and there are some angsty moments, but the characters are written maturely enough to acknowledge their own angst and move on.

That brings me to the main reason why I like these novels: the characters. Rose, our main protagonist, is really just a great gal. She kicks but and takes names, with an attitude to match. Her dialogue is always exciting; never, ever boring (*cough*Bella*cough*). Lissa, Rose's best friend and protectee, fills the role of emotions that Rose sometimes doesn't. She serves the purpose of, well, emotional relief (hey, I just coined a new term!).

Richelle Mead's villains are always exciting. She always has some new sidestory for each installment that's always brilliant and creative. In this novel, our villain happens to be a fellow spirit user in disguise, who hopes to turn Lissa into one of her bonded minions. I always love getting to the ends of these novels, cause I always know there's a brilliantly-written battle waiting for me.

Rose's whole encounter with Dimitri after she finally finds him was also well written. We all knew it would happen at some point, but on a personal level, their enounter together definitley did not go down like I had expected. Once again, Richelle Mead's brilliant creativity at work.

All in all, a really great read. Possibly my favorite vampire series for young adults. I do warn that if you start with this installment, you will probably be thoroughly confused at what's going on... I finished this one in two (ish?) days. Couldn't put it down. I'm already on the next one!


4.5 ****/*

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (1)

Happy Monday to everyone! What a glorious one it is indeed! The longest day of summer! Make use of those extra daylight hours while you still can.

Whate Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that I decided I'd like to participate in. We bloggers all share what we have read in the past week, and what we're currently tearing through this week.

Last Week I Read:

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Currently I'm Reading:

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Coming Up:

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Book Haul: Borders

The contents of my recent book haul at Borders on Sunday, and a short synopsis of each. Enjoy! I'm looking forward to reviewing these lovely titles.

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead (Genre: Y.A. Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror)

How far will Rose go to keep her promise? The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir's academy was the deadliest ever in the school's history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them... including Dimitri. He'd rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa--the one she has sworn to protect no matter what--and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the one she loves most?

First Love by Ivan Turgenev (Genre: Fiction / Classic Literature)

One of Russian literature's most renowned love stories -- a vivid and sensitive account of adolescent love, wherein the sixteen year old protagonist falls in love with the beautiful but older woman next door, plunging him into a whirlwind of changing emotions that are heightened by her capriciousness, and leading to a truly heart-rending revalation.

Everlasting by Angie Frasier (Genre: Y.A. Historical Fiction)

Sailing aboard her father's ship is all Camille Rowen ever wanted. But as a lady in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set. On her last voyage before she must marry a man she doesn't love, Camille learns about a life-changing secret in Australia.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beastly by Alex Flinn


Young Adult Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling


A beast. Not quite wolf or gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature withfangs, claws, and hairs springing from every pore. I am a walking monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. And I'll stay this way forever--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turne me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, the perfect looks, the perfect girl, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly... beastly.


Kyle Kingsbury, your typical blond, rich, top o' the foodchain highschool stereotype, embarks on a whirlwind adventure as he lives out the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Accompanied by his real-life beauty, Lindy, a demure semi-nerdy gal, Kyle overcomes his true ugliness on the inside with the help of his blind tutor, Will, and his maid-in-disguise Magda.

I really enjoyed this novel. I thought Alex Flinn did a really stellar job in reinventing one of my absolute favorite fairy tales. No butchering at all, which was really nice.

This novel relies heavily on dialogue to move, and thank goodness that Mrs. Flinn knows how to write it well! Conversations and themes flow easily into one another, which was really a plus. I enjoyed how Flinn used the dialogue to really show her characters maturing and growing to become the characters we know and love.

I also enjoyed how Mrs. Flinn put her own spin on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. She even comments on one part of the story, the part where Beauty's father agrees to give her over to the Beast, which I found really interesting:

"As a writer, I write about what disturbs me, and what disturbed me about many versions of Beauty and the Beast was that beloved as Beauty was said to be, in each case, her father gives her over willingly to the Beast, in order to save his own life." --Alex Flinn

In this story, Beauty's (Lindy's) father is a hard core druggie who the Beast (Kyle) catches prowling in his green house. In order to save his own hide and stop the Beast from calling the cops, Beauty's father offers her very willingly to the Beast, without thinking twice. I liked the way Alex Flinn wrote this important plot point, and gave it a really memorable modern twist. Flinn made it really believable that a druggie father would definiltely give up his own daughter to save his own arse.

All in all, this book was a really great read. And an easy read, too (I think I finished it in about 2 days). Didn't have quite the "amazing" factor that I know Beauty and the Beast for, but still a great spin on such a beloved tale!

P.S. Be sure to read this before you see it IN THEATERS (that's right!) starting July 30th!! I've included a link to the trailer below! Looks really good.



Watch the trailer here:

Don't bother with the movie. It's really awful. Nothing like the book unfortunately.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


Classic English Literature, Fiction.


'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' Thus memorably begins Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, definitely one of the world's most popular novels. P&P, as it is sometimes so amiably nicknamed, follows the story of a young woman, Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who is impelled constantly by her mother to marry rich, as she confounds and charms the arrogant, prejudiced, and wealthy Mr. Darcy. Set in regency England, this story is the classic tale of love at all costs.


I thought a review of this novel would be an excellent way to start off my blog! What can I say that hasn't already been said by so many others? Pride and Prejudice is just simply the best. Jane Austen's incredible wit and amazing character development really truly never gets old. I absolutely adore the whole Mr. Collins visit, and Mr. Bennet's many witty quips to save the day: "From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.--Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

The emotion in this novel practically springs from the pages of this book, and really seeps into you, making you really care about the characters. On a personal level, I can see some of myself in Elizabeth Bennet, P&P's main protagonist, and she is probably one of my favorite literary heroines of all time. And what's not to like about the handsome, brooding, regency heartthrob known as Mr. Darcy? Can anyone say super history crush?

My favorite part of this novel is the confrontation between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth concerning Mr. Darcy's offer of marriage. Jane Austen wrote this with such eloquence on Elizabeth's part, it never ceases to amaze me. Lizzy's character just shines so bright in this part, as she tells Lady Catherine off, and I can't wait till the end every time I reread it... just simply a wow moment.

All in all, one of the best reads of all time. Gripping story, lovely characters, incredible charm. Get ready to enhance your reading level by a bazillion points, though; it can be pretty wordy at times (in the best of ways). First timers to the wonderful Ms. Austen might find it semi-challenging.

(P.S. After you're done reading this amazing novel, be sure to watch both the Keira Knightley version and the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice! Both are excellent.)


5 *****


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