The Vampire Academy Series, books 1-3 by Richelle Mead

Summary of Vampire Academy: Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous 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; she is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's--but their world is fraught with danger both inside and out of the Academy's iron gates. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through

this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...

My review: I picked up the first in this series and enjoyed exploring the world, but I didn't connect much with the main character, Rose. There was enough going on to make me come back for Frostbite, and it vastly exceeded expectations. I quickly saw how much Rose had grown since the events of Vampire Academy, and found her increasingly likeable--and I was drawn entirely into the story. I love exploring the world of Moroi and dhampirs, and it's explained in such a way that I understood everything easily, even though the world is as complex as the characters. Also a boon to this series is the way Mead recaps. It's quick and easy, and never bogs the story down. I loved every minute of Shadow Kiss and wish August would hurry up and get here--I want to hang out with Rose more!