Three Little Words (Review)

Title: Three Little Words

Author: Sarah N. Harvey

Publication Year: 2012

Pages: 224

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Sixteen-year-old Sid barely remembers his birth mother and has no idea who his father was. Raised on an idyllic island by loving foster parents, Sid would be content to stay there forever, drawing, riding his bike, hanging out with his friend Chloe and helping out with Fariza, a newly arrived foster child. But when a stranger named Phil arrives on the island with disturbing news about his birth family — including a troubled younger brother — Sid leaves all that is familiar to help find the sibling he didn’t know existed.

What he discovers is a family fractured by mental illness, but also united by strong bonds of love and compassion. As Sid searches for his brother, gets to know his grandmother, and worries about meeting his biological mother, he realizes that there will never be a simple answer to the question, Am I my brother’s keeper?

Right from the beginning, this book had me hooked. Maybe it was the way that the narrator, Sid, talked – candidly, with a hint of jadedness but not so much so as to be offputting. And once he started introducing the other characters, and their relationship with each other, I started to like him even more.

Once the real conflict came, when Sid realized that his birth mother was still around and that he had a biological half-brother, I started to get worried a bit. Would this turn into one of those books where a teenager finds his bio-family and suddenly finds them more interesting than the foster family that raised him? But, thankfully, my fears went unfounded. Sid’s internal dialogue ensured that the reader understood his close bond with his foster parents and that his reasons for helping his bio-family were more noble than just searching out a woman who had abandoned him so many years before.

All of the characters in Three Little Words captivated me, and I truly believe that Harvey did a great job of telling this story. I hope that you’ll think the same.


Deadly (Review)

Title: Deadly

Author: Sarah N. Harvey

Publication Year: 2013

Pages: 128

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Amy and Eric are the perfect couple. Popular, good-looking, happy. But after they are seen quarreling at a party, Amy disappears and Eric is the number-one suspect. Amy wakes up alone in a windowless, all-white room. She has no idea how she got there, or who put her there. All she knows is that she has to get out. Eric wakes up to news of Amy’s disappearance — and a visit from the police. All he knows is that he didn’t do it, and that he has to find Amy.

As Amy tries to figure out a way to escape, she must also follow the instructions in a bizarre letter from her kidnapper. And as Eric tries to figure out where Amy is and who took her, he discovers that the past has a way of coming back and biting you in the butt.

This book was creepier than I expected.

I liked the way that the narrative structure jumped back and forth between Amy and Eric’s points of view. I don’t think that I would have enjoyed the book as much if I only got to see the story from one perspective or another. It was a fairly simple plot, and so it needed that extra element of something to keep me interested.

Because of the way the book was written, I think this would be a particularly good book for reluctant or low-level adolescent readers. The premise is interesting and realistic enough to grab their attention, and there isn’t so much description and internal reflection going on that they would lose their motivation to read it. It’s a short, quick book to read, and the author has written it in a very simple, straightforward style that I think lots of teens who normally don’t read much would enjoy.


Last Sacrifice (Review)

Title: Last Sacrifice

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 608

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice.

The Queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same. Now, with Rose awaiting wrongful execution and Lissa in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and to question those they thought they could trust. . . .

But what if true freedom means sacrificing the most important thing of all?

Each other.

(This is the sixth and final book in the series, after Vampire AcademyFrostbiteShadow KissBlood Promise, and Spirit Bound.)

There were things about this book that I liked, and things that I really kinda didn’t.

I liked the focus on the mystery of who had killed the Queen, moving away from the somewhat melodramatic issues that had started to take over the story before this point. It was kind of nice to have a plot point with a sense of possibilities and not being sure about what would happen, because until now, it had started to get a bit predictable. I also, for the most part, liked the focus on some new and different characters: for example, I really liked the Keepers, seeing a different side to how vampires and dhampirs might live if they chose not to accept the royalty system.

In some ways, I didn’t like the shift towards more of Sydney. I still found her a bit annoying in this book, though I realize that she was being fleshed out a bit more for the shift to the next “series” within the universe. I have to admit that I didn’t actually start to like her much until I read Bloodlines.

Overall, though, I think that Last Sacrifice was a pretty strong ending for the series. I’m glad that the main characters are continuing on – although in a diminished capacity – in the Bloodlines parallel series, because otherwise I’d have been sad that their story was over so quickly. So definitely, if you enjoyed the Vampire Academy series, then you need to go on and start the one that centers around Sydney and Adrian as well. You’ll love them equally.


Spirit Bound (Review)

Title: Spirit Bound

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 496

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s – and to her best friend, Lissa. It is at long last graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows 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 now he is hunting her. And this time he won’t rest until Rose joins him . . .forever.

(This is the fifth book in the series, after Vampire AcademyFrostbiteShadow Kiss, and Blood Promise.)

In following the subplot of Dimitri having turned intro Strigoi, keeping Rose hostage while trying to convince her to “awaken” with him, and her eventual escape, Spirit Bound does a really great job of keeping up the adrenaline level. Even after giving a short time lapse before the beginning of the novel, the intensity of the relationship between Dimitri and Rose manages to stay high. Higher, even, given the personal notes he’s now been sending her at school, letting her know that she’ll be coming for him.

Most of the book maintains this high action level, keeping the reader kind of on their toes, since you never quite know what’s going to happen next. Several smaller plotlines are followed through from earlier books – like busting out Dashkov to find his spirit-wielding brother in a crazy attempt to re-create a fairy tale story – and it felt like all the foreshadowing from the rest of the series finally came together to create a more cohesive whole. The grim reality of Dimitri’s new self has finally come to bear, rather than the wishful thinking Rose had in the previous book, thinking that he could still be himself in there somewhere, and it feels almost like a million things are happening all at once.

By the end of Spirit Bound, I actually kind of wanted to smack some sense into some of the characters, particularly Dimitri. Some of the way things came together seemed too pat, too perfect, but at the same time, enough drama kept flying at the main characters to keep things moving. Just as one thing finally goes right, another two fall to the wayside. And by the end of it all, everything was perfectly set up for the final book. As I did with most of this series, I just went straight from finishing Spirit Bound into reading Last Sacrifice: I had to know how it ended. And by the time you finish reading this book, you’ll feel the same way.


Blood Promise (Review)

Title: Blood Promise

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 512

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

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 person she loves most?

(This is the fourth book in the series, after Vampire AcademyFrostbite, and Shadow Kiss.)

After the events of the first half of the series, Blood Promise really takes on a different feel to it. For one, most of the book takes place off campus, away from school. Rose goes looking for Dimitri all through Siberia, trying to find him to kill him instead of letting him live on as a Strigoi. While that’s happening, things at St. Vlad’s go on without her, and her only contact with anyone is being able to slip into Lissa’s mind and Adrian occasionally slipping into her dreams.

There’s a good chunk of the book where Rose has found Dimitri’s family and is staying with them, unsure about whether she can truly go after Dimitri and kill him. She knows that’s what he would want, but isn’t sure whether she should go on to do this. At first, I really liked this section: it was nice to get to know more about his backstory and the people he loves, as well as getting to see what it’s “really” like in a dhampire community. But it kind of got old for me a little before she finally headed out. It was almost like Mead had finally disproven all of the bad things she’d set up as a “blood whore” rumours throughout the series, only to turn around and show that really, that’s how it is, after all. I don’t know. It was hard to reconcile the two sides of things, and I was glad that she didn’t end up staying there.

The next lengthy section, where Dimitri has her captive, was difficult to read. On the one hand, it seemed completely realistic that Rose would hesitate when seeing Dimitri as a Strigoi for the first time, and he could take her captive. But, if he was really changed so much, as is suggested by the end, why does he keep her alive that long? It doesn’t completely make sense. It was still an interesting twist, though, so I suppose that mission was accomplished.

Ultimately, I really liked Blood Promise. It went beyond the kind of everything-weirdly-revolves-around-an-American-boarding-school thing and into a more realistic concept of their lives continuing to exist outside of backwoods Montana, which was nice. Plus it introduced some new and important characters, which I really rather enjoyed. As a turning point to the series, it works, and by the time I was finished, I was really looking forward to continuing.


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