My guilty pleasure reads

Everyone is ashamed of certain books they like. I tend to hide mine and read them at home because if I read them say on a bus, I feel embarrased and I don’t want other people to know I read these kinds of books. In conversations I usually (always) “forget” to mention them because I feel like people would judge me for it, saying “but you are so smart and you read so much, how can you possibly like those sorts of books?” Well, I DO! And I’m done hiding it. So without a further ado here is the list of my guilty pleasure books which I LOVE to read:

  • the Benedicts series by Joss Stirling
  • romance novels, especially authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn
  • some YA fantasy literature, for example the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

My ultimate favourite guilty pleasure read has to be Joss Stirling’s series about savants, people with extraordinary abilities. Her books are a mixture of romance, YA, crime, science-fiction, adventure and I LOVE THEM. Not all of the book in the series, but especially the first three and the last one (there are six books in total). They are easy to read and funny and I just get this warm feeling in my stomach when I pick them up.

The books revolve around a family of seven sons, the Benedicts, who all have special abilities and they are trying to find their soulfinders a.k.a. soulmates. Despite the fact there are seven of them, each one has a distinct personality and I love how the auhor describes the family relationships, they are so welcoming and warm. Their family is probably one of my favourite fictional families.

In between more “serious” reads I like to occasionally indulge myself by reading a romance novel. My favourite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts (her old novels, Chesapeake Bay Saga, Born in Trilogy, Dream Trilogy) when it comes to contemporary novels and then there are Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn for historical romance. I know, I know these aren’t exactly literary giantesses but I love picking up their novels once in a while because they allow me to simply relax and enjoy the ride because I know everything will be all right in the end.

And my last guilty pleasure books are some YA series. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading YA but I am more picky about which ones I read than I used to be and so I don’t just read anything with a title YA on it. There is some quality YA out there but there is also some pretty average one available to read and when I’m not in the right mood to deal with more serious matters, I pick up the latter one.

For example Vampire Academy is one of these easy breezy books and when I read them, my brain just shuts off and I can read the books with no emotional involvement whatsoever. I’m sorry to say this if you’re a fan of VA but the series is pretty shallow when it comes to emotional complexity. I have yet to read the Bloodlines series (though I doubt I’ll even pick it up) but what I remember most about reading VA is that they are easy to read in one day but when you finish them you can’t really remember what was it that you just read. That’s why I started rereading them and guess what I found out: the reason I didn’t remember what happens in them is because NOTHING HAPPENS.

So these are my guilty pleasure reads (not so guilty anymore though), what are yours? I’d love to find out so please leave a comment below and we can compare our choices.

 

Advertisements

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

IMG_20171106_194001_392

There is something wrong with Rose Hathaway; dark thoughts start to haunt her. She is mad at her best friend Lissa for having the freedom to love whomever she chooses while she has to hide her true feelings for Dimitri. Adrian is at Saint Vladimir’s Academy, learning to master spirit with Lissa while keeping an eye on Rose. Rose is seeing ghosts, well, a ghost, her friend Mason, who was killed a few weeks ago and after visiting the royal court where a trial is being held for Victor Dashkov, the visions get worse. Her relationship with Dimitri is getting more intense until it finally, finally reaches a climax. But then… everything changes.

This book is so intense it basically steals your attention, if not at the beginning, then definitely at the end. The final hundred pages are just filled with action and suspense (sounds familiar? Yeah, it’s like that in every VA novel). Rose and Dimitri are falling more and more in love with each other and I just love how they work together and try to hide their feelings but it’s not really working. They are such a great couple and I desperately want them to be together. But then the ending happens and you’re just left there staring at the pages, wondering how this could ever have happened.

The tone of the book is much more serious and darker compared to the first two novels. Rose isn’t a reckless teenager anymore, she’s grown up but the darkness is starting to plague her. We finally learn more about what it means to be shadow-kissed. I found Lissa to be super annoying (once again), especially at the end, I just dislike her privilege life style, her options and the fact that Rose always has to think of her first. Her relationship with Christian is basically the only reason why I sort of like her.

Adrian, ah, I love his character and really hope he’ll get to live his happy ending with someone, just not Rose. Dimitri is the one for her, everyone can see that. The romance was truly great in this book (I wonder why) which is why the ending leaves such a sour taste in your mouth. There is some character development, with Rose especially, but also with Dimitri, who is starting to open up.

The writing style is sort of improving, but still isn’t the best, not by a long shot. The pace of the book is a bit faster, though the major things happen in the second part of the book. The cheesy bits didn’t bother me as much (though the sex scene was just awful) but what I absolutely hated was how the author kept summarising the events of the previous two books. I mean, this is the third part in the series, obviously I didn’t start with this one, I’ve read the first two so I know what happened okay, can you please stop reminding us? I kept rolling my eyes at these parts. Overall I say the series is improving but it’s a bit difficult to read all six books in a row, I need a break before I start the next three.

“Even I make mistakes.” I put on my brash, overconfident face. “I know it’s hard to believe—kind of surprises me myself—but I guess it has to happen. It’s probably some kind of karmic way to balance out the universe. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair to have one person so full of awesomeness.”

Richelle Mead, Shadow Kiss

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

IMG_20171103_195433_437

The second part in the Vampire Academy series takes us further along the path of Rose Hathaway. Her life is anything but easy; her gorgeous mentor Dimitri is spending way too much time with his “friend” Tasha; she is constantly getting pulled into Lissa’s head while she and Christian do naughty things; Mason, one of her friends is crushing on her and to top things off her mother comes to stay at St. Vladimir’s Academy due to the increasing number of strigoi’s attacks on the moroi.

Yes, Rose’s life is hectic and confusing and that doesn’t change when the academy takes them on a ski trip. In the cosy and luxurious cabin in the mountains another character is introduced; the rich and handsome prince Adrian Ivashkov. Rose is sort of (but not really) juggling three potential love interests and the atmosphere in the moroi and dhampir community grows tenser by the day. Finally a shocking ending to the book changes everything and Rose is suddenly forced to grow up.

This novel was in a way better than the first book since we already know the characters and their individual stories but I wasn’t that convinced by it. For me, the book (the entire series to be honest) lacks a certain depth and the simplistic writing style doesn’t help. Sure, I read it pretty fast but nothing really stayed with me. I was engaged enough that I wanted to see where the story was going but my heart wasn’t really in it.

Rose however, continues to be awesome, mainly because she can take care of herself and doesn’t wait around for men to save her. She knows how to fight, always puts Lissa first and she manages to resist Adrian’s charm. Though I feel like her life revolves around boys way too much, there is some character development regarding her relationship with her mother. Lissa is starting to bother me a lot, I kind of hate her princess role but Christian is amazing in this book, especially in the end.

While the series is worth a read, it lacks the emotional depth and real action. Not a lot goes on in the book until the final hundred pages. Rose and Dimitri are great together but her confusion with Mason and Adrian was just too much (I love Adrian by the way, but feel like Rose and Dimitri are perfect for each other). I will read the entire series again but after that I don’t think I’ll pick it up again any time soon.

You can’t force love, I realized. It’s there or it isn’t. If it’s not there, you’ve got to be able to admit it. If it is there, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to protect the ones you love.

Richelle Mead, Frostbite

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

IMG_20171102_192814_456

The first book of six, Vampire Academy introduces us to the mysteries lives of vampires and their protectors; there are the good guys a.k.a. the moroi and the bad guys called the strigoi whose only aim is to kill. The moroi have their own guardians called the dhampir who are half human and half vampire which makes them stronger than humans but still not as powerful as the strigoi. The story follows Lissa Dragomir, a moroi princess, and her soon-to-be guardian Rose Hathaway. They were both in a car accident that killed Lissa’s family but they managed to survive since Lissa healed Rose and in so created a special bond between them. Soon after the accident, the girls escaped St. Vladimir’s Academy and lived amongst humans.

Now however, they have to return since the academy’s guardians track them down and forcefully take them back to school where they aren’t exactly greeted like heroes. Rose has issues with her training since she missed so much of it and at the same time she has to dodge accusations of being Lissa’s feeder (which she was because they had no other choice) and Lissa challenges her powers and navigates her way through the school’s elite. There is some boy drama as well. Lissa falls for the solitary, outlawed Christian Ozera while Rose has to fight her attraction towards her mentor Dimitri Belikov. Danger creeps in and they have to fight for their lives, stand up to unlikely enemies, fight off overwhelming charms and finally find their way back to each other.

As a former Twilight fan I quite enjoy books on vampires, as long as they are not too violent or too sappy (Twilight). Rose is such a great main protagonist, she is basically a badass who can fight evil vampires and doesn’t care about what other people think. Yes, she is unpredictable and spontaneous which she often regrets, yet she is strong and fragile at the same time. It makes her so real and relatable and that really draws you in. Lissa is also an interesting character because she seems so perfect on the outside but she has severe mental health issues. I also like the men in the book (Dimitri *sigh*) because come on, you have to have romance in YA literature! The progression of Rose and Dimitri’s love was so sweet but bitter at the same time. I am so rooting for them. Lissa and Christian are great too, but I prefer the main couple.

Though I quite enjoyed reading this novel, it has it faults. The first is the writing style which is very simple, easy to read and at times a bit too frank. This makes the book a quick read but I don’t mean that in a complimenting way. Also, I found the plot twist to be a bit too simple, there could be more mystery to it, to the overall story in fact. It just has so much potential, this book, but I feel like it keeps staying on the surface, not going in deep, despite some pretty serious and complicated themes.  It’s a fun read but that’s about it. No hidden messages in there.

 

Lissa and I had been friends ever since kindergarten, when our teacher had paired us up together for writing lessons. Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d—or rather, I’d—responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at out teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target.
Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since.

Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy