Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Harry Potter Day! Let's Talk About Vampires!

Today is Harry Potter Day. Everyone is celebrating, including me. I've just started re-reading the series for the umpteenth time and I couldn't be happier visiting all my old friends. That being said, since I am writing on Harry Potter Day, you probably think I'm going to talk about Harry Potter. Well, you would be wrong.

I want to go back in time to October 5, 2005 when a little book, you've probably never heard of was published. It's called Twilight, and who am I kidding, I know you've heard of it because for better or worse it completely changed how we look at a specific genre. Don't worry, I'm not here to talk about Twilight either.

I'll admit, I was a die hard Twi-hard back in the day. I didn't over-analyze everything about the books. I just got caught up in reading the story, regardless of its flaws. As Twilight grew, very smart people who did over-analyze the book started reporting on the huge problems with the morals of the plot and characters. I had no choice but to rearrange my opinions of the books. Today, I am no longer a Twi-hard and while I understand ethically why they are terrible books for children to read, I still enjoy them. They are still sitting on my shelf, and every once in a while, I pick them up again.

Like I said, this isn't about Twilight, this is about what happened because of Twilight. After Twilight there came a giant increase in books about paranormal romance. I know the genre existed pre-Twilight, but I'm almost certain it was only post-Twilight that it had it's own section in Barnes and Noble.

This is not a dinky sized section either.

So once the Twilight phenomena happened I would say readers of the genre were split down the middle. Half the people were like "Twilight has no substance, therefore this genre has no substance and is not worth my time." The other half were like "OMG! SEXY VAMPIRE BOOKS! MUST READ ALL THE THINGS!" I fell into the first group. I was wary of delving into books of the same genre and being disappointed at reading "another Twilight" where the leading lady has no spine or free will and stalking your girlfriend is considered adorable.

Christmas break 2011(Maybe 2010?): I went to my friend Kelsy's house and was borrowing some books to take back to college with me. She handed me several including one called Vampire Academy. I looked at it, then looked at Kelsy with an arched eyebrow. "I don't know. After Twilight, I'm just not so sure." "Trust me," was all she said. So I took it. Kelsy is very wise.

I read a few other books before I got around to reading Vampire Academy. After the first book, I immediately ran to the library for the rest of them. I read all 2688 pages in a week. It's safe to say that not much homework was accomplished during this time.

I fell in love with this series and its author, Richelle Mead. I started to tell all my reading friends about it and encouraging everyone I knew to read it. As far as I know, no one has listened. This is surprising to me. I'll be honest, I haven't been so in love with a series since Harry Potter. (Okay, maybe The Hunger Games, but since then, nothing!) Richelle Mead is a fantastic writer and she knows how to draw you in and leave you begging for more...usually with an UNBEARABLE cliffhangers. Nothing has ever been, nor will ever be like Harry Potter, but there are incredible books out there that are, dare I say it, just as wonderful as Harry Potter! BLASPHEMY, I know...

Vampire Academy has a devoted following, but it is small. It is one of my deepest wishes for this fandom to grow and thrive and become a household name, just like Harry Potter. I love it that much. I know there isn't an entire new world created to blow our minds, but there is a lot to love. We've got a kick-ass heroine, a hunky love interest, plenty of drama and intrigue, an ongoing battle between good and evil, the universal struggle of right versus wrong, and everything in between.

While there are many things about Richelle's books that I love, the best thing has to be her characters. Whether they are vampire, Alchemist, or dhampir they are all so wonderfully human. By that I mean, they have strengths and flaws that make them real. Every single character has a unique personality. They are not carbon copies of other fictional characters. They fit into no stereotypical mold. I love each of them individually and unconditionally for who they are. 

One thing I have learned about Richelle Mead is that she gets better with every book she writes. In my humble opinion she is like J.K. Rowling in that way. (Except Casual Vacancy, which I absolutely hated.) The first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I thought it was good, but not exceptional. I fell in love with the series on the next book. When I read Vampire Academy, it was a similar experience. I liked it, but it wasn't till Shadow Kiss that I fell in love. J.K. Rowling gave us a few bonus books for Harry Potter fans. Richelle Mead gave us an entire new spin-off series! For the win!

The Bloodlines series lives in the same world with many of the same characters, but told from a different viewpoint. Rose and Sydney are very different narrators and you get to experience the world of Vampire Academy through new eyes in this series. It's wonderful! Silver Shadows just came out two days ago and it went above and beyond all my expectations! There is one more book in the Bloodlines series called The Ruby Circle which comes out in February 2015.

Richelle Mead loves this world and these characters and it shows in her writing, as well as the fact that she can't seem to stop writing about them! This is great news for fans. There is nothing confirmed on this, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was another spin-off series following Bloodlines. Richelle has never denied that it could happen when the subject was brought up. That would be so AWESOME!

As with any book these days, you almost undoubtedly, have to talk about it in comparison with its movie. Vampire Academy is no different. When I first heard that there was going to be a movie, I was overjoyed. When I saw the first trailer, I was underjoyed. You know what they say:

Or in this case, the movie's poor advertising campaign. The movie itself wasn't that bad. Yes there were things I would have done differently, but overall I actually liked it. The problem was that it didn't appeal to a new audience. This is a problem if we ever want to see a Frostbite movie. There is talk that it could happen, but Vampire Academy didn't do too hot so it's up to the fans to rally for the next installment. Who knows what will happen? I hope they continue the series and the films get better and better. I mean, look at the first Twilight movie versus the last. Huge difference!

A similar problem is happening with the graphic novels. The third novel came out at the end of last year, but depending on sales, we may not get to see the rest of the series in graphic novel form. That would be a shame because they are absolutely STUNNING! I love them and I hope they continue to make them because I want a full set!


Every reader has a special book(s) that they love dearly and want the whole world to love with them. These are mine. While I adore Harry Potter and love coming back to that world and those characters, I feel exactly the same way about Vampire Academy. If you love to read and enjoy a great book with complex characters, lots of witty quips, daring action, a plot full of twists and turns, and a love that never dies then I highly recommend checking out the world of Vampire Academy. I promise you, you won't regret it.

P.S. This is me meeting Richelle Mead and getting all my books signed! It was a pretty amazing night! :)

P.P.S. I'm sorry this post is so long, but I'm really passionate about these books and I just want you all to give them a shot, because I think you might love them too!

Have you read VA? What did you think? Are you going to check them out now that you know about them? What is your book(s) that you want the whole world to know about? Leave answers in the comments!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Living the Dream???

I want to apologize for being so inactive on this blog recently. I'm not going to lie to you and say that I've been too busy, because I haven't. That's actually the problem. I have been in California now for over three months and it still doesn't feel like I live here. I sleep here, I eat here, I work here, but I don't LIVE here. Probably because I am not really living.

I knew moving to a new place and not knowing a soul would be difficult. I don't think I was prepared for just how difficult it has been. It's a lot different when you move away for school. In that case you are forced into a social environment which makes it easier to make friends. It becomes much more difficult when the only place you interact with people is at your job.

I have been trying to create a life here in California. I have gone church shopping. I have joined Meetup groups. I have done what I can. Somehow it's not enough. I love going to work because it means I'm not stuck in my bedroom watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or goofing around on the internet. The only time I get out of the house is when my room becomes so unbearable, I decide to see a movie by myself. And I think one of the most depressing sentences has to be "party of one" when going out to dinner.

I am dying to get out of my house and explore California, but I don't want to do it by myself. I am out of ideas on how to meet people and make friends. I keep praying that God will help me make a life here, but as each day passes my hope grows dimmer and dimmer.

It's even difficult for me to do things I love, like reading and art. It's like I literally don't have enough energy in me to do more than stare at a computer screen all day. Wow. Maybe I should be on medication.

I am a social being with social needs and I could use any suggestions you have to give me. I know in my heart that things will get better, I just wish they would get better sooner, rather than later. I have good days, and I have bad days. I guess today is a bad day and I just want to say that the blogging is probably going to be sparse until I can turn things around and get my spirits up.

Suggestions, advice, prayers, and good vibes are all welcome. Thanks for listening.