Year archives: 2017

Fresh Fridays: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Frostblood Saga

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Frosblood (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

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Series: Frostblood Saga
Author: Elly Blake
# of Books: 3 (Frostblood, Fireblood, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Fireblood is to be published in September 2017
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Since 2015, I’ve been devouring any YA fantasy novels that I can get my hands on. They’ve replaced my dystopian obsession (which had replaced my paranormal YA obsession). So, I think it goes without saying that I am a little picky about my fantasies and what I want to see in them.

World-building is a big one. Recently, I’ve found newer series to be lacking that in particular. I don’t want to be thrown into a world and having to figure it out on my own. I also want a heroine or hero I can root for. I don’t need them to be perfect or all powerful, I just want them win me over to their side. And of course, a little romance never hurt anyone. Unless it becomes an unnecessary love triangle: nobody wins with those.

What I Liked:

–The Worldbuilding!–

I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels lately that have something to be desired when it comes to the worldbuilding–but that isn’t the case with Frostblood. I loved that the world was straight-forward but complex all at the same time. Ice vs fire is a battle that is so simple but has a lot of play with it, and that’s what Blake does here.

It takes the time to explain the history of the world and how the magic/powers work, which I greatly appreciate. It also adds a unique flare to the world as well. While readers will probably see parallels to other YA fantasies, this one still had its own refreshing take on the genre that made it so much fun to read.

–Ruby–

I really, really liked her as a heroine. She’s got this sassy, independent side to her that you can’t help but love and root for. Her passion and drive to control her own destiny is exactly what I want to read about in a heroine.

But she also has her flaws and her weaknesses and that makes her a well-rounded heroine who can only grow as this series continues.

–The Pacing–

This novel always felt like it was building. While some of the events might be seen as minor, they all contribute to the plot overall. Whether that was establishing character relationships, giving background on the world or leading to the ultimate plot climax, this story kept me on my toes.

–The Romance–

While not a huge aspect of the novel, it was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The banter between Ruby and Arcus was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

It really isn’t that big of a deal but I did think the story was going to focus more on this “king’s tournament”. So I was expecting a lot of physical action. But truthfully, that particular aspect doesn’t start until past the halfway point.

And in the end, I much preferred the story we get instead building up to that point. There was plenty of action even if it wasn’t of the variety I was necessarily expecting.

In short: don’t expect this book to be about a heroine fighting her way to the top in a tournament, there is so much more at play!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a solid start to a series! I’m not sure what exactly the future will hold but I’m excited to see more of these characters!

My Rating: 5/5

Frostblood 5/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

From the sassy lead to the rich world, this is a fantasy series that will surely entertain!

Read if You Like: fantasy, sassy leads
Avoid if You: dislike action/violence, want more romance
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Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Releases I Failed to Get My Hands On

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Is a weekly meme feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers post their Top 10 List for an assigned topic! I will not be participating every week, but I will occasionally take a shot at it! You can always find these lists (past, present and original) on my Riffle Page!
This Week’s Topic:

Top Ten 2016 Releases I Failed at Getting my Hands On

Last year, my focus was all about getting updating older reviews and reading those books that have been lingering on my Kobo for far too long. But while my attention was elsewhere, I completely ignored some 2016 titles I had ever intention of reading at the start of the year.

So, I’ve listed 5 brand new releases as well as 5 series sequels I had every intention of reading but never got a chance to.

(In no particular order):


What books did you accidentally shun in 2016?

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Leave a Link to your TTT in the comments below!

Single Sundays: Porn Star by Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone

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 Porn Star (from Goodreads):
You know me.

Come on, you know you do.

Maybe you pretend you don’t. Maybe you clear your browser history religiously. Maybe you pretend to be aghast whenever someone even mentions the word porn in your presence.

But the truth is that you do know me.

Everybody knows Logan O’Toole, world famous porn star.

Except then Devi Dare pops into my world, and pretty soon I’m doing things that aren’t like me—like texting her with flirty banter and creating an entire web porn series just so I can get to star in her bed. Again. And again.

With Devi, my entire universe shifts, and the more time I spend with her, the more I realize that Logan O’Toole isn’t the guy I thought he was.

So maybe I’m not the guy you thought I was either.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Laurelin Paige)
Author: Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I read anything by Laurelin Paige. She writes some of my favourite contemporary romances. The drama is amazing, the characters are strong yet flawed and I simply get addicted to any story she writes.

So I was more than curious when I saw this title. A porn star falling in love? It’s something I would probably shy away from if it was anyone other than Paige writing it. I knew she would write a compelling, well thought out novel.

The Concept:

These ladies have done their research! They’ve managed to capture the modern porn industry in a way that is real and not fantasy or idealistic. They touch on a lot of the current issues that are plaguing actors in pornography like actor consent and piracy. It really grounds these characters and their stories, making the reader feel like this could actually happen in real life.

The Plot:

This is just as much a love story as it is a character building story. Basically, it is everything I love about New Adult. I want to see these characters battle their demons while falling in love. Is it an easy path? Hell no! And that’s what makes this journey so enjoyable as a reader.

The Characters:

I LOVED THESE TWO!

Logan was cocky yet heartwarming. He was so adorable, intelligent and passionate; I instantly fell in love with him. But he also shows great growth as a character. It was awesome to watch his journey unfold.

Devi–what a confident woman! I loved how comfortable she was with her body and how she presents herself to the world. Honestly, we need more leads like her in novels. Yes, she has her flaws but her confidence is inspiring.

The Romance:

This is a very sex-positive story (if you couldn’t have guessed from the title). Notably, I like the focus it gives on sex in a relationship. I think some stories add the heat as a “fan-service” as sorts; like an expected feature to show character chemistry. But here, it is an integral part of the story and heavily influences the romance. Are these two really in love with each other or are they in love with the personas they are on screen? It’s a fascinating question and one that is asked throughout the novel.

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My Rating: 5/5

overall

I was really impressed with the overall approach of this novel. It delivers an awesome, entertaining romance while providing a deeper theme. However, if you don’t like books with lots of sexy times, this one will probably turn you off. But I encourage everyone to give it a try because it is a league of its own.

Read if You Like: sex-positive novels, romance, new adult
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with the idea of porn

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Series Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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

Caraval Series

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Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 3 (Caraval, Legendary, Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Finale, will be published May 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC  | Thank you so much Jamie!!!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

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–July 2, 2018– Book #2: Legendary

It feels like I’ve been waiting for forever for this book (and then when I had it I had to wait for my mom to finish my copy) but it came and it was not a disappointment. Every time I picked this book up, I was sucked back into this amazing world. The pacing in this book was fantastic–you would never think it was the 2nd book in a trilogy with the way it reads. I also loved the plot and how it was always evolving in one way or another. The romance had me swooning as well.

I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up in the finale!

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Legendary 4.5/5 | Finale TBR

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2017

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2016 was all about reading smarter, not harder.

In 2017, I’m getting a touch more flexible with what I read.

In 2015 I really looked at my reading habits and decided I didn’t like them. I felt bogged down by all the library holds I had coming in on a regular basis and was requesting far too many books. As a mood reader, it was detrimental to my reading experience. I went through so many reading slumps in 2015 it was insane. I disliked the idea that reading was a chore when it served as my primary stress reliever. In order to get to the bottom of it all, I chronicled my reading habits and what changes I was going to make in my Tackling the TBR posts and from there, I was able to come up with a game plan for 2016.

I shared my 2016 Reading Plan in my SERIESous Tips: Avoiding the Chore of Reading post and I really liked that approach. By limiting my library and review requests, I had a lot more flexibility to read the books I wanted, when I wanted to. I hadn’t truly been able to do that in years and I can’t even describe how awesome it was to pick up a book just because I wanted to as opposed to needing to.

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This was my reading plan for 2016. I created categories that each had their own targets or limits. It was great for keeping track of review requests so that I wasn’t overloading myself with ARC reviews each month as they came in.

But this plan did have its holes and I learned some really important lessons:

  1. Restricting series/novels to a particular month is hard when you rely on library books!
    • You can’t really control the availability all that much and it will screw up your plans!
  2. Stick to the “review request” limit!
    • I had a hard time passing up some blogging tours and the like…lesson learned!
  3. Put less books on hold and focus on what is already available!
    • Why wait 3 weeks when you could start something in 2 minutes?
  4. I LOVED that I was burning through my Kobo library!
    • It was great to read books I had bought over the years!
  5. Go with the flow!
    • With fewer deadlines, that meant I could read whatever tickled my fancy at the time.

2017 is a year of really big changes for me.

My post-secondary education is finally finished and I will be entering the working world as a “real adult”. I really don’t know what life is going to bring–I might be working nonstop or not at all–but nevertheless, I know that will drastically affect my reading!

Which is why I want to keep everything flexible!

And so, I created a new reading “plan” to guide me into this new year:

readinglist2017

The highlights:

  1. TBR Picks – purchased novels on my Kobo/Kindle/bookshelf
    • I lowered this to 2 just because I don’t think I will be reading as many books as last year
    • This is a part of my Shelf Love Challenge 2017
  2. Library Wishlist – aka 5 Year 5 Book Challenge
    • this is a personal challenge of mine to read 25 of my most anticipated reads of the last 5 years
    • instead of planning all the titles out at the start of the year, I will decide what titles will be for each month on a monthly basis, pending library availability/etc.
  3. Classics
    • I joined a Jane Austen book club on Goodreads that will go until April 2017
    • I really want to get some more classics under my belt now that I don’t have English class anymore
  4. Netgalley
    • This is all about not hitting that “request” button too many times!
  5. RiRi/Tours
    • I love helping new authors get that exposure by reviewing their titles, I just don’t want to feel “forced” to read something because I said “yes” to too many people
  6. Library Holds
    • Again, I just want to focus more on what is already available to read now and reserves those holds for books with really long wait times

I’m sure that this plan will be modified along the way once I start working; but I really think it’s structured enough to give me direction but not so rigid that I’m stuck with a certain path. I accomplished a lot this past year in terms of my reading and finding that balance and I want to keep that momentum going forward.

Do you create a yearly plan or do you just go with the flow?

What are some of your 2017 reading goals?

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Quarterly Review: Fall 2016 + 2016 Summary

October – December, 2016

The last quarter of 2016 was an interesting one:

  • I read more books than I anticipated but I DNF’d more books than ever before.
  • Contemplated whether or not I was going to keep my blog as self-hosted
    • which I am for another year at least
  • Changed my theme once again (and am SO happy I did!).
  • I become a Reading Advisory Expert on Riffle Books (check out their Book Expert personal recommendation system!)

By December I was ready for a fresh reading year. I started hunting for challenges in November and found some I’m excited to begin. I also started planning how I wanted to Tackle my TBR this year. I loved my reading plan for 2016 so I wanted to improve it and make sure it worked with my goals for 2017 (which you can find some of below).

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Total for Quarter: 63 of Books Read + 3 of Novellas Read

BREAKDOWN: October November December
Nonfiction  –  –  –
Standalones
(ARCs)
1 1 (ARCs) 2
1 (ARCs)
TBR Items  2 5 6
Audiobooks  – 3  –
New Series Started
(ARCs)
6 (ARCs) 1
2 (ARCs)
3
1 (ARCs)
Series Start to End 2 1 1 (ARCs)
Finished Previous Series  – 4 2
Sequels Read
(ARCs)
 5 4 3
DNF’d
(ARCs)
 – 1
1 (ARCs)
4
1 (ARCs)

~*~*~*~

Favourite Reads

Masquerade (Games, #3) The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor, #1) The Matchmaker's Replacement (Wingmen Inc., #2) All The Ways You Saved Me (Love Unplugged, #1) Caraval The Wall of Winnipeg and Me The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2) Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1) More Than Friends (Friends, #2) Ruined (Ruined, #1) Sacked (Gridiron, #1) Did I Mention I Miss You? Avoiding Commitment (Avoiding, #1) Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

★★★★★

Least Favourite Reads

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3) Addicted to You (Port Lucia #1) Predestined (Existence Trilogy, #2) Heart & Soul (Lost & Found, #5)

★★

*Note: If the review is available, click on the cover! However, due to the nature of my blog (ie I review whole series) it often takes me a few weeks to publish a full review (pending book availability) so look forward to seeing some of these reviews in the upcoming weeks/months if there is no link available!

Check out my favourite (and not so favourite) reads of 2016:

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Too many good deals to pass up! So I didn’t list all my purchases but my Christmas present to myself was the paperback boxset of The Mortal Instruments:

SO PRETTY!

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I thought it would be fun to keep track of my reading progress from my Kobo this year. While I do own a Kindle now, I mostly use my Kobo for everyday reading. One of my goals in 2016 was to increase the % of finished novels on my Kobo with my various challenges.

Normally I do a month by month comparison but I wanted to see what my totals were like at the end of the year to the start:

  • Stats as of February 10, 2016
    • % Of Library Complete: 16%
    • # of Books Finished: 434
    • # of Total Reading Hours: 1739
  • Stats as of January 1, 2017
    • Total % Of Library Complete: 20%
    • Total # of Books Finished: 523
    • Total # of Reading Hours: 2107

A jump of 4% might not seem like much in theory I do have close to 1000 books/documents on my Kobo so I did make a good dent in it. And, I do have a Kindle and have been taking out more physical books from my library so my reading isn’t exclusive to my Kobo.

posted reviews

This is for the entire 2016 year:

Most Viewed 2016 Post

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Make Me Read It Readathon 2016

Most Viewed 2016 Review

 Nero (Made Men, #1)

Series Review: Made Men

Most Viewed Post

Throwdown Thursday: Crossfire vs Fifty Shades

Most Viewed Review

Release Me (Stark Trilogy, #1)

Stark Trilogy

View this year’s archives for more posts and reviews!

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My 8 most recently updated posts:

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2016

The following is my year end totals for all my challenges:

365 Days of YA Challenge: 0/1 Seasonal; 0/2 Monthly;  2/4 Weekly; 3/10 Daily books
Goodreads Challenge: 260/175 books added
Rock My TBR Challenge: 8/12 months + 5/6 of Priority + 80/48 books
Book Blogger Organization Challenge: Completed all but 1 (Update Guides)
Commenting 365 Challenge: 129 Blogs visited

View my Progress Here!

2017

View my Challenge Announcement Post

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: to read select books from the last 5 years (view books)
#Shelflove Challenge: want to read 41-50 books from my TBR
Classics: hope is to read 1 per month
Judged by Cover: this is just to read random books from my library, no set goal

View my Progress Here!

2016 RESOLUTIONS:

This was a Top Ten Tuesday post I did last year. I tried my best to get as many of these done and had some mild success.

  1. Clean up blog post tags  –> WIN
  2. Tweet at least 6 times a week (excluding post publishing tweets) –> FAIL
  3. Update Series Recaps on monthly basis –> WIN
  4. Visit 365 Blogs and comment (see my Challenge page for 2016) –> FAIL
  5. Be more proactive about cross posting reviews to Goodreads/Riffle/etc –> WIN
  6. Read 1 Netgalley book a month –> WIN
  7. Read more books from my TBR (see my Rock my TBR Challenge Page) –> WIN
  8. Publish my “Trilogy Termination Blitz” reviews –> FAIL (but progress made!)
  9. Have no more than 5 books on hold at the library –> BIG WIN
  10. Do not start a new series by an author I have unread novels from –> WIN (I think)

I also have a few bucket list items:

  1. Participate in 2 Readathons –> Just One
  2. Participate in 3 Twitter Chats –> WIN
  3. Read 2 Classic Novels –> FAIL

My only resolution for 2017 is to reduce the # of books I purchase in a year. Only if they are on sale will I get the books.

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

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  • Brand new theme!
  • Updated old reviews with current format

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  • Updating old Guides
  • Kobo vs Kindle eReaders

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I suppose Bruno Mars 24K Magic was my holiday jam.

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

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