Thursday, November 21, 2013

Title: The Fiery Heart
Author: Richelle Mead
Narrator:  Emily Shaffer, Alden Ford
Series: Bloodlines, book #4
Length:  12 hrs 4 mins
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: November 19, 2013
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

Man, knowing how Richelle Mead likes to leave a reader hanging, I really should have opted to read this series when it was complete, like I did with Vampire Academy.  Honestly, though, with that series, I waited because I wasn't sure it was for me, and then I think Audible offered it up in one of their $4.95 sales, and well, I can't pass up a deal like that.  But now I love those characters and Bloodlines was just coming out and I couldn't help but start the spin-off series.  And look where it's gotten me:  agonizing over yet another gut-punch of a cliffhanger, fearing the worst and knowing Mead still has two books with which to torture me.

I know a lot of readers haven't connected with Sydney like they did Rose, but I don't have that problem. Sydney and I both have a Type A personality, and I think that helps me relate to her better.  I understand her neuroses, her need to compartmentalize, organize, analyze and anything else that ends in the -ize/-yze suffix. Having said that, though, I think Sydney has really shown some character growth as this series has progressed.  She's virtually hang-up free when it comes to the dhampir and Moroi, and she's reevaluating everything she's learned from her Alchemist brethren.  The biggest kicker, though, is that she's allowed herself to fall in love with one of her supposed enemies.

I love where the Sydrian relationship is going.  I was so afraid that Mead would allow Sydney to fight her impulses until the bitter end, so I was pleasantly surprised by that ending in The Indigo Spell.  It left my heart all aflutter, and The Fiery Heart stoked those flames of love for these star-crossed lovers.  Maybe Adrian didn't have to overcome years of social prejudices like Sydney in order for them to be together, but he has his own demons to fight.  And his willingness to do so for Sydney really proves how much his own character has improved since the days when he was trying to woo Rose.

While Sydney is practicing her magic and attempting to discover ways to circumvent the Alchemists, Adrian is working on his art and doing his best to use "spirit" only sparingly.  Both support each other's ventures, though in the end, it's these very things that cause them problems in the end.  Using one but not the other leads them into some precarious situations, and they run the risk of others finding out the many secrets they've been harboring.

And now that Sydney's younger sister Zoe is on the scene, that risk is even higher.  I must say, I rather detested Zoe. There were moments when I thought she might turn out alright, that she wasn't going to do that thing that I thought she was going to do, but then she turned a 180 and was back to being the darling Alchemist that Sydney had once been. Seeing both girls interact with their father was kind of heartbreaking because it showed how far Sydney had come and just how far Zoe still has to go to become even remotely redeemable.  If that's even possible.

The rest of the gang is all here, and their storylines are still playing out.  For awhile there, it seemed like everyone might get a happy ending in this installment, but then I remembered that this was only the fourth book in a planned six-book series, and reality came crashing back in on me.  It's not the worst cliffhanger I've read.  It's not even the worst I've read from Mead, but the book ended abruptly and left something major unresolved.  So, obviously I immediately went and read the summary for Silver Shadows, which I'd been putting off for fear of spoilers.  (Yeah, I still don't recommend reading it until you're done with this newest release.)  I'm hopeful about where the story is headed, but I'm also fearful due to some of the wording in book five's synopsis.

Something I was never fearful of was the dual point-of-view in this book.  I kind of already felt like I'd been in Adrian's head, so giving him his own perspective in this fourth book seemed like a good move.  And it worked really well.  It was easy to discern who was speaking because Adrian's sardonic humor shone through at every turn and it was perfectly matched with Sydney's succinct manner of speaking.  Since the narrative was told from two perspectives, there was an additional voice on the audio for Adrian.  It's always just been Emily Shaffer since book four of the Vampire Academy series, and I think she's always done a phenomenal job.  But I always prefer to have a male narrator when the situation warrants, as in this case. Alden Ford's performance as Adrian is great, though after years of Emily Shaffer reading him with a slightly British accent, it's kind of hard to not hear it this time around.  And she so obviously dropped it, or rather, transferred it to the new Guardian Neil, since he actually does have an accent in the book.  I honestly don't know where she got the accent for Adrian because I don't think it was ever mentioned in the book, but it did make him sound like the playboy royal he was always portrayed as.

All in all, I think The Fiery Heart was a solid addition to the series and added some much-needed tension to the storyline. There's still not a lot of action in this book, but if it helps -- and it does, trust me -- there were plenty of sexy times to make up for the lack of action.  Adding Adrian's perspective into this book had the added benefit of making this more Adrian's story than anything else, but I'm not complaining.  It was entertaining to watch his love, his lust, and his struggles through his own eyes for a change.  I hope he continues to have a narrative in the forthcoming books -- and based on the summary for Silver Shadows, it sounds like he does.

Oh, one last thing.  Can we talk about the covers?  How kind of hideous they are?  Why do they insist on putting models on the covers of this series?  Can't they do something more symbolic?  Also, they changed the female model to the one who does the trailers, didn't they?  Blech.  I don't like her in the book trailers...and I definitely don't want her gracing the covers of the books.  And is it me, or does Adrian get less hot with each new cover?  These covers have just gotten worse and worse.  At least the stuff on the inside doesn't match, though, I suppose.

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3)The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)

About the author:

Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.

Find Richelle:

Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreads


  1. We have the EXACT same thoughts on this book. I wanted to strangle Zoe and did not buy Sydney's attempts to make us sympathize with her. I've loved seeing Sydney's growth in the series and especially Adrian's in this book. The dual narration was perfect even in print. Mead made their voices so unique.

    I am so so nervous about the next book and especially that Adrian is going to regress big time!! Those 'new temptations' freak me out. Hopefully we'll eventually see him step it up and be the hero. I also read VA close together in a week so waiting months for book 5 and then more time for 6 will be killer. However I have been anticipating this cliffy for several books now.

    RE the covers. I never like when huge faces are put on books. These are particularly terrible. Honestly, I couldn't tell if the Sydne model was different or just her hair, but you're right, I think it's a new person??

    1. Also, I love how you defended Sydney! I'm way more like her too. Tho I did love the fire that was in Rose.

  2. Awesome review! I haven't had the opportunity to read the book yet, but I will ASAP. I agree with you on the covers. The one of The Silver Shadows is absolutely horrid.

  3. I am loving the whole series. The story is so engaging that I am engrossed in their world. Looking forward to the next book in this series!

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