Year archives: 2017

Monthly Inventory: September 2017

September 2017

This was a weird month.

In terms of reading: This wasn’t a very good month, but I always knew that would be the case. I spent half of the month on a much deserved vacation that had me reading only a couple pages every few days. I made up for some of that time on my many flights but it was nice just to see the world and not worry about getting books finished. However, I did pledge to only read sequels for the Month of September and in that respect, I did succeed. AND, I completed my Goodreads goal for the year which means the rest of the year is just a bonus for me.

In terms of blogging: While on vacation, my blog went down and I didn’t even know it! It seem to be a problem with my host who was moving servers so my site was down for a couple of days. I did have some scheduled posts though so be sure to check out my blog feed to see if you missed one!


Total for September 2017: 10 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read

Last September: 23 Books Read + 3 Novellas

September 2017’s DNFs: 0 Books

Standout Read (★★★★★)

Black City Trilogy

I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to finish this series! What a phenomenal series (I gave every book a 5/5 which is quite the achievement!). This series always delivered and the finale was no different.

Biggest Let Down (★★ )

A Wicked Thing #2

I should have DNF’d this novel way before the 30% mark but my curiosity got the better of me. One of the slowest novels I have ever had to endure. I swear, 90% of this book was just rehashing things we had already discussed in the previous novel OR, even worse, in the previous chapter.


I thought it would be fun to keep track of my reading progress on my Kobo every month. While I do own a Kindle now, I mostly use my Kobo for everyday reading. As per my #ShelfLove Challenge, I really want to increase the Total % of Library Complete by the end of the year.

As of:

October 9, 2017

August 31, 2017

Total % of Library Complete



Total # of Books Finished



Total # of Reading Hours



Don’t ask me how I lost 4 finished books in the last month. This new Kobo update is really killing my stats!


Previously posted series reviews that got updates:


You can always get the full details on all my challenges on my dedicated page but here is a quick update:

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: Took September off

October’s 5Y5B picks: The LoopMaid of Secrets

Goodreads Challenge: Completed as of September 6
#ShelfLove Challenge: 0 TBR Items added

Judge By the Cover Challenge: None
Classics Challenge: None

View my Challenge Progress Here!


In February, I brought back my Tackling the TBR feature and announced my plan to get my Goodreads TBR down to 500 books. Here are my current standings:

  • Current TBR Shelf: 612 books
  • TBR Shelf at end of August: 606 books
  • Initial Number in February: 1205 books


November is Catch-Up!

I’ve really let my personal challenges fall to they wayside. But with my hours at work being reduced and no other commitments, I’m really going to use November to catch-up on series and novels I’ve let fall through the cracks. I really want my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge to be complete (or mostly complete) by 2018 and I would love to see a change in the percentage of my Kobo library that is finished. And it would be a fantastic bonus if I could get my TBR on Goodreads to be much closer to the 500 mark that I so desire.

What were your biggest reading or personal accomplishments of the past month?
Leave a comment below!

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Single Sundays: None of the Above by I W Gregorio

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for None of the Above (from Goodreads):

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex… and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?


Author: I W Gregorio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It seemed to me that 2015 was the year of “must-read” YA contemporaries. I marked off quite a few as TBR that year thanks to rave reviews from fellow bloggers. Not my usually genre but buzz can do that.

I was drawn to None of the Above for the intersex aspect. As someone who studied science–particularly health sciences–I know what it means to be intersex medically speaking but what does it mean as an everyday person? I was eager to explore that with this book.

The Plot:

As you might have expected, you follow Kristin’s journey from “normal” teenager to learning she is intersex and what that means for her going forward. It’s a heartbreaking journey at times because this girl really does go through a lot. (Truthfully, I lost a little hope in humanity with some of the things people say and do to her).

But there really isn’t much else to the plot. Which is fine because I like the focus on Kristin coming to terms with her diagnosis and becoming comfortable–I mean that’s why I picked up the book.

I do have one peeve with the plot that I have to get off my chest and it’s a spoiler so proceed with caution before opening it.


When Josh assaults Kristin at the club after he realizes she is intersex, I didn’t like that she doesn’t report the assault. I understand that she just got comfortable with other people knowing about her condition but her reasoning that “it being on file will stop him from doing it again” is such bullshit. He will do it again because he thinks he can get away with it. I really wish she would have reported it because it sets a precedence that it’s ok to defend yourself by filing charges but not following through. You aren’t being a hero by letting it slide.


The Characters:

Truthfully, I wasn’t a big Kristin fan. I can appreciate her journey and how she does grow up from the situation but she was a little too…stereotypical? (Not sure if that is the right word. Maybe cliche?). She’s your classic teenage girl who focuses on popularity, keeping her hot boyfriend and college. And those aren’t bad things necessarily–I just feel like she didn’t evolve from that.

While Kristin learns to accept her condition, her character growth remains pretty stifled. I really wanted her to have this big epiphany that there is more to life than high school and a good-looking boyfriend and she doesn’t really have that.

The Romance:

I’m a little torn on this. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t a huge focus. On the other hand, I don’t like how it is used as a validation that Kristin is a girl because a boy likes her. (Maybe I’m reading too much into it?)

I get that Kristin worries she won’t have that relationship because she isn’t a “true” girl. The difference between gender and sexual orientation is something that is unfortunately linked together. It’s something she struggles with and it does add to her story in a positive way. I just feel like she didn’t think she was complete until she got that “love” from a boy despite the great support from Gwen and her dad.

The Audiobook Version:

This was really well done. One of the nice things about listening to contemporary audiobooks is the emotions they convey. It’s like listening to someone tell you their life story and it’s so easy to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5


While the subject matter of None of the Above is superb, it does sometimes slip into the typical flow of YA contemporaries instead of keeping its focus elsewhere. However, it is an eyeopening read that I recommend to everyone.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: (honestly, this is a book everyone should read)


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Series Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Every Day (from Goodreads):

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.


Series: Every Day Trilogy
Author: David Levithan
# of Books: 3 (Every Day, Another Day, Someday)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Six Days Before

Book Order: Companion (Another Day), Chronological Sequel (Someday)
Complete?: No, Someday, will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

David Levithan writes one of my all time favourite novels, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. But despite that, I’ve never read any other title by him.

Every Day is a book I’ve seen floating around over the years so it caught my eye when I was browsing new audiobook series to read. I immediately loved the concept and was excited to see what would happen in this story.

The Concept:

This is such a cool idea for a story and I’ve never read anything like this before. I like the feeling that there is something bigger happening in this world and there is a bit of a mystery to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get elaborated on too much (this is more of a romance with extenuating circumstances than the other way around).

What’s cool is that this story had me thinking about ethics and morality and what it means to live your life. It had me thinking about how we treat and view others, especially when we focus on outward appearance.

The Plot of Every Day:

As I said above, this is a romance that has some extreme circumstances. Finding out why A moves from body to body, or how, takes a back seat to A’s obsession with Rhiannon and being with her. Which is fine, but as you’ll read below, I kinda wanted more.

The Characters in Every Day:

I really didn’t empathize or sympathize with A by the end of Every Day. A does some pretty silly things without truly thinking about the consequences and that annoyed me. By the end, it seemed like A didn’t matter what he did to those other lives so long as he got to be with Rhiannon and I just didn’t agree with that.

Rhiannon is also a bit of a dud if you ask me. I never grew to like her character but I think part of the reason is that she is never elaborated on other than as the object of A’s affections. She also does some pretty questionable things (in my opinion) but I did appreciate her candor near the end of the story.

The Romance in Every Day:

I was not sold on this; which really sucked because this is definitely the whole premise of this story. I just didn’t see the connection between these two. They share one day and they start this all-consuming romance that just irked me.

It also seemed to me that Rhiannon was trading one unhealthy relationship for another–never a good thing.

Why I Won’t Be Reading Another Day:

Another Day is Rhiannon’s companion novel and seeing as I didn’t love her, I’m not going to listen to 9 hours of her drab inner monologue. It also doesn’t look like it is going to answer some of my burning questions in terms of A’s life so I’ll just wait for the third novel.

My Expectations For the Rest of the Series:

I still have a lot of questions about why A changes from body to body so I hope we get those!

Series Rating: 3/5

Every Day 3/5 | Another Day N/A | Someday TBR


A very cool concept that unfortunately gets overshadowed by an angsty teenaged love.

Read if You Like:  YA contemporary, teen romances, magical realism
Avoid if You: want more of a fantasy/mystery plot



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Series Review: The Lone City by Amy Ewing

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for The Jewel (from Goodreads):

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.


Series: The Lone City Trilogy
Author: Amy Ewing
# of Books: 3 (The Jewel, The White Rose, The Black City)

There are some short stories. Full reading order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This is one of those series that would pop up on occasion for me. Mostly anytime when I reviewed any of the books from The Selection Series or browsed my library’s eBook collection. I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what the series was about until I decided to pick it up as an audiobook series and read the synopsis.

I also wasn’t sure what to expect but I have a few standards that I like all my dystopian novels to have: an intriguing world, a heroine I can tolerate and an actual plotline.

The Concept / The World:

Although the concept is very similar to other dystopian novels (especially The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) I’ve encountered in the past, I definitely got sucked into the world. I just love high society books and all the scandals of the haves vs the have-nots. Ewing does a great job of establishing the society here and why everything is as it is. There are a ton of secrets so you don’t know who you can and can’t trust and it just makes the entire story addicting.

The Plot:

You aren’t going to find the action-packed plotlines of The Hunger Games here but you are going to get more of a dramatic plot than The Selection Series ever provides. Meaning there is more than just a forbidden romance at play here.

It helps that this world is so intricate in its structure. Like most caste system stories, it’s the haves vs the have nots and that creates a tense atmosphere of danger and intrigue. The risks are high and you never doubt that for a moment thanks to the antics of the upper classes.

However, I did find the pacing to be off at times. For example, The Jewel starts off with a bang because you are thrown into this super interesting world. Getting acquainted with it and watching Violet navigate this was exciting to read until it reached a lull. The introduction of the romance (just past the 50% mark) really slowed down the plot since the romance becomes the larger focus and the rest of the intrigue takes a backseat. Thankfully it picks up again at the end.

The same can be said about The White Rose which suffers from the typical Book 2 of a Trilogy Slump. It was terribly slow even though important developments do happen–especially near the end.

The Black City, book 3, keeps the pacing strong at the start but wanes a little again in the middle. I was a little disappointed by some of the big “twists” but it was a solid ending to the series as a whole.

The Characters:

I went through a bit of a rocky relationship with Violet. In The Jewel, I liked her as a heroine more so than others I’ve encountered in this type of dystopian story. She didn’t drive me insane though I did roll my eyes many a times at some of her comments. (Often during the romantic scenes because I really wasn’t feeling that aspects). I think I was able to forgive some of her naivety because she really is kept in the dark due to her position/role in society. Of course she is going to react impulsively and not really think things through all the time.

And that’s the case as the series progresses. She doesn’t make the wisest decisions–she fails to see the bigger picture at times and that drove me a little nuts.

But I did like a lot of the side characters and I liked that it was easy to hate the villains.

The Romance:

This was a huge disappointment truthfully. I’m all for forbidden romances but this one just bored me. Their connection just seemed very superficial to me and it definitely borders on insta-love. I just wanted a little more substance here. I can’t help but feel that Garnet (the son of the Duchess who bought Violet) would have been a more intriguing love interest for her rather than Ash (who is a little dull despite all the efforts to make him compelling).

The Novellas:

I read both Garnet’s Story (#1.2) and The House of Stone (1.5) right after I read The Jewel. Garnet’s Story in particular does a good job bridging The Jewel and The White Rose and since I loved him as a character, it was great to get that insight. Raven is also a strong character so it was nice to fill in some of the gaps about her story. I opted not to pick up the other short stories.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was the first series I had read exclusively through an audiobook and I think it was a great choice. As I’ve often said in my other audiobook reviews, audiobooks do a great job of conveying emotions I wouldn’t have necessarily felt while reading. I also think it helped me understand Violet a little more. It’s so easy when you read words to interpret them one way instead of another. And I think by having someone speak Violet’s words and convey the emotions she is feeling, it helped me get what Violet’s motivations were–cooling my irritation with her.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Jewel 3.5/5 | The White Rose 3/5 | The Black City 3/5


I’m a particularly hard critic on my dystopian novels but this one was solid from start to end even if it didn’t feel like that at times. While some things were predictable, others wowed me and had me wanting to know more. It’s addicting albeit slow at times but I think readers who enjoy high society dystopian novels will enjoy this.

Read if You Like: high society, dystopian
Avoid if You: want physical action




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Novella Serial Saturdays: Luke by Cassia Leo

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:


Synopsis for Mirror (from Goodreads):

From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a hot new romance packed with emotion and suspense.

At twenty-eight, Luke Maxwell is the hottest eligible bachelor in America and the billionaire CEO of Maxwell Computers. When Brina Kingston is hired by Luke’s competitor as a corporate spy, Brina successfully works her way into a position as Luke Maxwell’s new executive assistant. What Brina doesn’t expect is to find herself in a compromising position in his bed.

Brina thinks she has the savvy to see past Luke’s cunning intellect and extract the trade secrets she was hired to acquire. But she soon finds herself falling for his charms and risking the most important assignment of her career and, possibly, the greatest relationship of her life.


Series: Luke
Author: Cassia Leo
# of Parts: 7 (All Parts Listed Here)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (Alternating later on)
Publication Date: December 2012 – September 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Disclaimer: I only read Mirror, Memory and Linked (#3) before I decided not to continue with this series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I got the first part as a freebie on Amazon and later got the complete series as a freebie as well. I really enjoy series where one lead is “deceiving” the other (but falls in love) and so that aspect is what drew me to this serial.

When I needed a easy going, somewhat lighter (and shorter) story during my exams, I opted to pick this serial up.

What I Liked:

I’m going to be honest and say not much.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Espionage Concept is Lacking–

My main motivation for picking this up was the undercover assignment. I just love the tension it brings about. But it never really goes anywhere and it seems to resolve by the 4th installment.


Bleh, it was insta-love at its finest. Three minutes after meeting, they’re having sex. Three days after they meet, they’re saying I love you. I guess the sex is that good.

–No Plot–

Was there one? It was hard to tell at times. All the inklings were there, they just didn’t get elaborated on.

Each installment (that I read) went like this:

  1. Reminder of why she is there (get company secrets)
  2. Luke does something sweet (ex. holds her hand)
  3. They have sex
  4. She talks about her brother
  5. She feels guilt for her deception

Will I Finish It?

Nope. It sounds like some of the later installments jump a few years ahead but that doesn’t win my interest over.

Series Rating: 2/5


If you like romances quick and don’t need too much to them, this is a great serial for you.

Read if You Like: erotica serials, want more suspense
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love, dislike serials

  • Heated by Maya Banks (Most Wanted Trilogy #2)


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SERIESous Tips: How to Start Scheduling Your Posts

Last year, I posted a Tips Post about Scheduling Posts. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the most helpful post ever: I mostly focused on why scheduling works for me and how I keep track of my schedule. Not a lot of sage advice.

I schedule everything well in advance–months usually–and I love it! It makes everything so much easier for me as a blogger. And when I tell people that, I get a lot of questions of “how do you schedule so far in advance”?

So I wanted to create a post with some tips/ideas on how I think you can get started. You don’t need to do all of these but I think one or two can get you on the right track!

Tip #1: Not Posting Everyday

This is just a personal preference for me but there is no way I could create enough content to post everyday (props to those that do!). Part of the reason has to do with Tip #2 below but the other reason is that I like time between my posts. I try to have at least 1 day between posts, ideally two.

One reason is that I don’t check my blog everyday for some reason or another. In turn, that means I only get to browse my subscription feed a couple times a week. When I do browse the feed, I see posts from the last 2-3 days anyways so I don’t see the need for me to post everyday to make sure people see my posts. Again, this is just a personal preference and I know everyone has a different thought of this!

Idea: Keep a calendar of when you plan to post! That way you can see what you are posting and when.

Tip #2: Schedule Certain Posts on Specific Days

This is the main reason why I’m able to schedule so many posts in advance. When I created my blog 4 years ago, I knew I wanted to focus mainly on book series. But I also knew that I wanted to post standalone and new series reviews–just not all the time. And so, I created Single Sundays & Fresh Fridays respectively. That means I only post standalone reviews on Sundays (unless it’s a promotional post) and I try to alternate them every other week. So, if I write 4 standalone reviews in a month, I have posts for almost 2 months (4 posts for 8 weeks). Pretty Sweet!

Idea: Weekly memes are a great way to get some day-specific posts or create your own feature that is weekday specific!

Tip #3: Spend a Day Writing Posts

I know that’s hard to do for some people but one of the reasons I schedule so many posts is that I get these spurts of inspiration and just churn out the posts. I then use my don’t-post-everyday & day-specific guidelines to schedule them throughout the upcoming weeks. I consider it an investment of sorts that pays off later when I go away on vacation (like I did with this post) or am going through a reading slump and I don’t have to worry about posting.

Idea: If you are a lengthy writer, try breaking the post up into segments or separate posts  (and post over a couple of days) to get more content!

Tip #4: Write Posts on Your Hiatus

People go on hiatuses for many reasons. I went on a lengthy one my first year of blogging simply because I didn’t have enough material to be posting consistently. So while on hiatus, I would write posts and schedule them for after my slated return. My reasoning: no one was expecting new posts during that time I was away so I didn’t need to use my newly crafted post immediately.

I know that this can be hard to do depending on your motivation for the hiatus, but this could even be a week randomly in a month where you focus solely on writing posts and not publishing them right away.

Tip #5: Draft, Draft Draft!

The drafting feature on WordPress is my favourite! Rarely do I have enough time to compose a post from start to finish. But I can often spare an hour or less everyday working on something for my blog.

I also like having those drafts started so when I do feel inspired to blog/write, I can just finish something I already started instead of creating something from scratch.

Pro-Tip: Make sure you leave notes to yourself so you can pick up where you left off! It’s easy to forget your train of thought if you write something over days instead of in one setting.

Tip #6: Get Comfortable with Blogging a Week (or more) Ahead

One of the downsides to scheduling posts is that you don’t get that instant gratification from publishing something you just wrote. That post you were so excited to share won’t be out there for days (or more) and it’s hard to contain your excitement sometimes.

For me, it doesn’t help that I have such a crappy memory either. So when that post I wrote two months ago finally publishes, I’m not entirely sure what I wrote. BUT, that gives me a great excuse to read over my post with a fresh set of eyes. I catch a TON of typos and mistakes when I do. Sure, it sucks that I already shared it but I like revisiting those posts and reliving the idea all over again.

My point though with this tip is that you have to focus on the week(s) ahead and not just the current week. That can be a hard change to get used to but it’s worth it. Especially when you can’t guarantee that you will have the time to create fresh content that week.

Pro-Tip: Instead of focusing on my posts for the current week (because they are already done), I instead get to spend more time blog hopping and doing site maintenance when I check on my blog.

Scheduling blog posts is an adjustment that needs to happen over time. Like any habit, you have to do what works best for you and that can mean you have to try a few techniques out before you find one that is perfect for you.

I hope that you find some of these tips helpful 🙂

Anything I Missed? Do You Schedule Your Posts?

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Series Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Black City (from Goodreads):

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-old Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2012
Series: Black City Trilogy
Author: Elizabeth Richards
# of Books: 3 (Black City, Phoenix, Wings)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2012 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover, eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I learned about Black City when it was first released. I think I was browsing new titles at my library and came across it. Regardless, I devoured the book in one sitting–when I should have been studying for exams–and loved it! I remember when twist after twist happened, I emerged from my room telling my roommates how AWESOME this book was.

So why did I wait 5 years to read Phoenix? I don’t have a good answer. I was dying to read it, taking note of the publication date and waiting and waiting. And I think life and school just got in the way and this book went to the wayside. That’s why I made this series a part of my Make Me Read It Readathon for August 2017.

The Concept / The World:

Gah, I adore this world! I love a good vampire story and dystopian fiction is my kryptonite. So the two of them together? Magic. (Or some might call it “Urban Fantasy”) Not a lot of series can do this well (Darkness Before Dawn for example) but this one is the standard for me. It has a rich world, a complex political situation (swoon!) and a setting that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The Plot:

This series has everything I want in a plot. It’s engaging, action-packed and has just the right dose of romance. And the TWISTS! They always got to me. This series always kept me guessing.

Everything just builds so well. Phoenix (book 2) is the perfect example of that. Usually, Book 2s in Trilogies are a little slumpy but this one was not! Definitely not. It was addicting from start to finish and one of the strongest sequels I’ve ever read.

And the grand finale was fabulous! It wraps everything up beautifully and never had a dull moment. AMAZING!

The Characters:

I loved Ash and Natalie. They each have such a compelling story and character background. I couldn’t help but want them to succeed in everything they tried.

But the rest of the cast is phenomenal as well. You have the people you love to hate; the ones who surprise you and the ones who just make the story that little bit stronger. It’s a rich world that is only enhanced by its rich cast.

The Romance:

It’s perfect! You see why they are drawn to each other despite their differences. I was a fan from the start.

Series Rating: 5/5

Black City 5/5 | Phoenix 4.5/5 | Wings 5/5


Why aren’t more people talking about this series?!?!? I just love the cast, the amazingly heart-pounding plot line and the passionate romance. It has everything I want in a paranormal dystopian (urban fantasy) series!

Read if You Like: vampires, paranormal dystopian, urban fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike action, paranormal



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DNF Series Review: Bannon and Clare by Lilith Saintcrow

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for The Iron Wyrm Affair (from Goodreads):

Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.

The game is afoot…


Series: Bannon and Clare
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
# of Books: 3 (The Iron Wyrm Affair, The Red Plague Affair, The Ripper Affair)

There is a novella #1.5 called The Damnation Affair

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Historical, Mystery
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating (?)
Publication Dates: August 2012 – August 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Iron Wyrm Affair at 13% (Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure this one crossed my radar but I’ve had it earmarked to read for YEARS–ever since I bought my Kobo. I put off buying the first novel simply because I was cheap but when I saw that my library had it this past year, I thought it was the perfect pick for my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge.

I was looking forward to a fun and intriguing setting–a magical, almost steampunk based London–and a mystery homage to Sherlock Holmes. Let the games begin!

What I Liked:

I didn’t get that far into the novel to really find something I liked.

What I Didn’t Like:

–What the hell is a Mentath and Why do They Have to Register?–

The world building leaves something to be desired, unfortunately. I detest stories that assume I know everything already instead of telling me and this one didn’t give me the impression that I was going to learn anytime soon.

I have no idea what a mentath (what one of the leads) is or why they have to be registered. If it was mentioned in the first 2 chapters, I completely missed it both times I reread them. The only thing that made sense was the role of the Shield–and that was the only thing I learned.

–What is Even Happening?–

Unfortunately, I had a really hard time following what was happening here. Other reviews mention the difficulty reading it but I found everything flowed nicely–it just didn’t tell you anything important. You know when your eyes follow the words but nothing absorbed? That’s what was happening to me as I read it.

I even started over a second time in the middle of the day to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It didn’t help at all.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read some reviews on Goodreads when trying to decide to continue or not and I am satisfied that I stopped myself from getting invested.

Series Rating: DNF


If you have the patience for world-building and character development and like creative takes on history, this might be worth your time!

Read if You Like: alternate Londons, urban fantasies
Avoid if You: like worldbuilding

  • The Iron Duke by Meljean Brooks (The Iron Seas Series #1)


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DNF Series Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Bright Young Things (from Goodreads):

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star….

Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for…and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of THE LUXE comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.


Series: Bright Young Things
Author: Anna Godbersen
# of Books: 3 (Bright Young Things, Beautiful Days, The Lucky Ones)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: October 2010 – November 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Bright Young Things at 72%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read The Flappers Trilogy years ago, I devoured them! Like most people, I’m fascinated by the 1920s culture. It seems like it was a decade unlike any other and I love exploring that further. After I finished that series, I put Bright Young Things on my TBR because it looked to be a very similar series: multiple leads, girls trying to navigate society and a dash of romance.

Like most things on my TBR, it took me years to get back to this series. Godbersen’s The Luxe Series has also been on my TBR forever and I had every intention of reading it first since it’s billed as a “historical Gossip Girl”. But when I was looking for a new audiobook series to start, this one popped first and I decided to try it first.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Obviously I like the decade and this story hits all the necessary requirements. You’ve got independent girls, aspiring actresses/singers, mobsters and prohibition. Oh, and don’t forget the forbidden romance.

But that was all I did enjoy in this book.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Leads–

I could probably rant for DAYS on why these girls are just plain awful but I’ll try to keep it short and logical.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it either: these girls seemed like complete idiots to me. And I get it, Cordelia and Letty are supposed to be the naive young girls from the country trying to make it in the big city on their own. That’s the premise of the story and I can forgive that. But they literally lack any intelligence. Sames goes for the “big city girl” Astrid. The elevator just doesn’t reach the top floor for any of these girls.

It doesn’t help that they are all very selfish girls either. They all think the universe should revolve around them (and I truthfully think Letty does believe it revolves around her) and so they act like it does. They don’t give any thought about the impact their actions with have on anyone and that drove me bananas!

*Spoiler* Case and Point

When Letty learns that Cordelia ran away from Ohio to find her lost father, Letty is completely flabbergasted that Cordelia’s motives to go to NYC weren’t to start Letty’s singing career. I mean, obviously Cordelia would spend all her savings on Letty’s music career and not on escaping her forcefully arranged marriage. That would be the same conclusion I would draw too if my best friend told me minutes before the wedding I knew she didn’t want that we were running away to NYC…dumbass Letty


I know that I am a hard person to please and the lack of logic and/or impulsive/thoughtless character actions in novels is one of the reasons I am particularly choosey when it comes to my YA reads because teenagers don’t always make the best decisions. But if that character evolves from that, I’m all for it and often enjoy the novel.

One of the reasons I enjoy novels with multiple character POVs is that if I don’t enjoy one character’s POV, I can usually latch on to (at least) another to keep me reading. And because I couldn’t stand any of these girls, I didn’t find that with this novel.

–The Lack of a Plot–

And when you detest the leads, you count on the plot to keep you interested but there really isn’t much of one here. Unfortunately, this is a very character driven story. You really are just following these girls through their mundane lives of bad decisions and selfish actions. It’s very boring to read/listen to.

Why Wait so Long to DNF it then Lauren? You were 72% done!

Truthfully, I should have put this book down when Cordelia reveals her plan to Letty about going to NYC in Chapter 1. See, she tells Letty maybe 8 hours before the train leaves (moments before Cordelia’s wedding–which she goes also goes through with too!) that they are going to run away that night. Letty agrees, not even thinking about logistics (ie money, living, etc) because she thinks Cordelia is doing this all for her. (Again, read my previous section above for the vanity of this girls and the spoiler for Letty’s thought process).

But see, I forgave them that because you wouldn’t have a story otherwise and you need some catalyst to get the story going.

The straw that broke it for me–at 72% into the novel–were these two particular scenes. One featured Letty and the other was Astrid and I finally realized this wasn’t going to get any better. That’s when I decided that I wasn’t going to torture myself for another 2 hours of audiobook, let alone 2 more books (though truthfully, I had already decided I wasn’t going to finish the series before this point), watching these girls act like complete morons. They weren’t going to get any better as characters and I knew that if I ended it now before that cliffhanger every other review mentioned that happens in the end, I wouldn’t be compelled to pick up the sequels.

Spoilers: In case you want to know what the scenes were

Letty earlier in the novel goes on this date with a guy (Grayson? Gary? I think it started with a G) and for some reason they end up witnessing this old many killing his racing greyhounds. The boy (I’m going to call him G) she is with ends up saving the 2nd dog–at Letty’s insistence!–and they continue on. Later on, Letty waiting for some big-shot music guy to show up for this date and G shows up at the same time wanting to (for some unfathomable reason to me) ask her out again. But Letty doesn’t bother giving him the time of day because she wants to launch her music career. Ugh. But the scene that really did me in was the scene where Astrid uses her mom’s much younger boy toy against her mom to make her jealous because she is petty like that. Who in their right mind tries to make their mom jealous over a boy? I like drama but that is just too much.


Will I Finish It?

Hell no! I read through some spoilers and am super glad with my choice to let this one go.

Audiobook Experience:

I will say that I did enjoy the audiobook production. Emily Bauer had the perfect voice and tone for narrating this book. She made it really easy to listen to even when the characters were being total fools.

Though I will say, I did struggle at the start with the Third Person POV. Because you don’t get page breaks in the audiobook, I had a hard time keeping track of who was the focus at the time. The shifts between characters wasn’t always apparent to me. And truthfully, I couldn’t keep straight who was Letty and who was Cordelia at the start either because we shift view points so much. But once I got into it a little more and the characters are expanded upon a bit, it gets better.

Series Rating: DNF

Bright Young Things 2/5 | Beautiful Days DNF | The Lucky Ones DNF



I’m going to make a Downton Abbey reference here so bare with me.  Astrid and Cordelia reminded me a lot of Lady Mary Crawley: they want their independence and will damn well do it however they pleases no matter the consequences or impact on others. And Letty reminded me of the whiny Lady Edith from the first two seasons who never seems to get what she wants and makes terrible choices as a result. Only Letty never grows up like Edith does. But the worst part is that there is no Lady Sybil to root for.

Read if You Like: flappers, don’t mind naive & silly leads
Avoid if You: can’t stand selfish characters

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Single Sundays: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Standalone 2017
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, GLBT, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was EVERYWHERE in 2015. Honestly, you couldn’t escape it. But I was really excited to read it because it sounded a lot like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Will Grayson, Will Grayson–two of my all time favourite novels. And I don’t been just because all three share GLBT themes. This book promised to be filled with wit, hilarity and a touching story about being comfortable with who you are.

I was so close to adding this to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge but opted to choose another series for the 2015 picks. But when I was browsing audiobooks to listen to, this one popped up and I knew it was the perfect choice.

The Narration/Audiobook Experience:

I have no doubt in my mind that I enjoyed this book 20x more as an audiobook than if I had read the paper copy. Oh, I would have enjoyed the written novel for sure but the range of emotions I felt reading this were all thanks to the audiobook.

It’s a totally different experience when you hear Simon’s narration aloud. The narrator does a fabulous job conveying the emotions Simon is feeling with his tone and delivery. It’s fabulous! I felt like it was my BFF telling me his experience and not just reading a book aloud. I could spend a whole post gushing about the wonderful experience I had listening to the audiobook.

The Plot:

For a contemporary novel, this had great pacing. I sometimes find contemporary novels get caught up in the mundane moments of everyday life but that is never the case here.

You get those moments with Blue and Simon that have you swooning and sighing thanks to the emails. (More on that in the Romance Section.) The mystery of who Blue was had me spewing all sorts of theories as I read and I couldn’t wait for the big reveal.

But you also have those moments with Simon’s character growth. Whether that’s through interactions with his family, friends or events at school–this story never had a dull moment. And I think part of that reason is Simon’s narration.

The Characters:

Wow, I haven’t loved a character as much as I have loved Simon in a long time! Not only is he hilarious and extremely witty–seriously, he had me in stitches!–he is also extremely endearing as a hero.

He just came across as so real to me. Sometimes it’s hard to connect to the humanity of a character in contemporaries–or at least for me–but I never had that problem here. He shares his fears and flaws but also learns from them. Watching his confidence blossom was so rewarding for me as a reader.

And the rest of the cast is also fabulous. Special shout-out to Simon’s parents who reminded me of the role parents should have in a YA contemporary series.

The Romance:

Swoon! I loved this! Simon gushing about his crush melted my heart. It just felt so real to me! Watching two people share their vulnerabilities and falling in love with them was so great.

My Rating: 5/5


I found a new favourite! This is definitely worthy of sitting beside my all time faves, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Absolute perfection.

Read if You Like: humour, coming of age, GLBT
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries


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