Year archives: 2019

Year’s Reads in Review – Top Picks for 2019

For me, 2019 was a year of new challenges.

When I was coming up with my Reading Plan for 2019, I was pretty optimistic about how my reading year would go. I was moving closer to work so I figured the 2 hours I’d save by not driving would result in me reading more books. (Spoiler: It didn’t!) And so, I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 200 Books. I know that is a high number for some, but I’ve been easily surpassing that number for the last 5 years so I figured it was a good target. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.)

I am disappointed that I didn’t complete my Goodreads Challenge for the year but I did accomplish a lot of other achievements. Most of the books I read were titles I already owned as I actively tried to reduce the number of titles I get through ARCs and from the library. I didn’t DNF a single book until May which is pretty great! I was super close to finishing my 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge (just 3 books shy!). And I wrapped up a lot of series I had on the go thanks to my Sequel-Focused Months. So all in all, it was a pretty good year.

> > Check out which books I read this past year HERE!

As always, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top picks (and not so great) from the various categories that I read this past year. Most categories deal with books published only this past calendar year (2019) but there are some noted exceptions. Click on the cover to read my review of the book/series–if available! Lots of these won’t have reviews until early next year.

Without further ado:

(Books are in no particular order; click on cover for review if available)

– Novels that were first published in 2019 –

Rivalry (Slay Quartet, #1) Consumed by Truths (Truth or Lies #6)

– Series that were first published in 2019 –

Hate the Game

– Series that were first published in 2019 –

Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

– Novels that were first published in 2019 –

The Hummingbird Dagger by Cindy Anstey

– Series that ended in 2019 –

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #4) Return to Zero (Lorien Legacies: Reborn #3) Rebel (Legend, #4)

– A series sequel book published in 2019 –

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)

– Novels I read in 2019 that were hyped by the community & met expectations –

Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1) The Chase (Briar U, #1)

– Best audiobooks I listened to in 2019 (not necessarily their publication year) –

Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove, #5; Castles Ever After, #4) Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1) Mister Romance (Masters of Love, #1)

– Favourite New Adult Series Read in 2019 –

More Than Music (Chasing the Dream, #1) Boomerang (Boomerang, #1) Paper Princess (The Royals, #1) The Chase (Briar U, #1)

– Best standalones I read in 2019 –

xo, Zach Say You'll Remember Me

– Favourite YA Series I read in 2019 –

Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles, #2) Seven Black Diamonds (Seven Black Diamonds, #1) Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1)

-Favourite Young Adult Standalone Read in 2019 –

The Good Girl's Guide to Being Bad

– Books published in 2019 that I DNF’d –

Professor with Benefits (Beta Brothers #3) The Game Changer (Cleat Chasers, #2)

– Books I gave 2 Stars or Less to in 2019 –

 The Pact Mr. Prescott Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6) Love Me Never (Lovely Vicious #1)Midnight Jewel (The Glittering Court, #2)

– Books that I enjoyed more than I expected! –

Pan (Neverland, #1) Paper Princess (The Royals, #1) Hate F*@k: Part 1 (The Horus Group, #1)

Have a fabulous 2020!

Do we share any titles? Agree or Disagree?

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Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

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 Dirty Headlines (from Goodreads):

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.

breakdown

Author: L J Shen
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Office Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few books marked on my TBR by L J Shen but when the opportunity to review this one came up, I figured it was the best one to start with. Why? It checked off a lot of my favourite romance tropes in the synopsis alone. Workplace romance after an awkward first encounter. Hate to Love You/Enemies to Lovers. Playboy lead. So I was ready to dive in.

The Plot:

To be fair to this book, I probably started reading it at a bad time in my life. I had a lot of things going on when I started this so I wasn’t able to read it as much as I wanted. But I also think the fact that it took me nearly 2 months to read (when I usually finish a book in 3 days) shows how not into this book I was. (Usually, when I’m in stressful times I read a book in one go but not the case here).

As for the plot, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t the drama that killed it for me. If anything, it’s what propelled me to keep going when I wanted to DNF it numerous times. It’s angsty and almost soap opera-esque because it is a little over the top but that’s exactly what I want from a story set in a News Room.

The Characters:

Despite all of Celian’s playboy, asshole-ish characteristics, he failed to charm me. I think because I didn’t find his falling for Jude to be realistic (more on the romance below). Sure, he can talk dirty (perhaps one of the best dirty-talkers I’ve ever encountered in a book), but I just didn’t get won over by his antics.

And Jude…well she was a huge disappointment as well. Talk about wish-washy in terms of her convictions. The poor girl is all over the place. One minute claiming she’s unlovable but in the next sentence uttering that she wants a relationship with the guy. Why? She’s also extremely quirky and that doesn’t usually work for me. I guess it was a sign when she kept talking about her Chucks (the shoe I loath most in this world) that we just weren’t going to be friends.

The Romance:

This is by far the biggest factor in my lower rating: I just did NOT see the chemistry between these two. Yes, they seem to have fantastic sex together but besides lust and a good romp, what was keeping them together? I really don’t know. Their quirky tendencies? I think this goes hand in hand with their character profiles and how I failed to get a solid read on who they were as people. Because if I don’t understand them as individuals, how can I appreciate them as a pair together?

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Lots of other people seem to love this book but besides the drama, there wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, office romances, enemies to lovers
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera drama

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Burn, Rewrite or Reread Tag – 2019 Edition

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Burn, Rewrite, Reread Tag 2019

Last year, I made doing this tag a part of my annual wrap-up traditions. I just love the idea of highlighting some of the titles I read this year that wouldn’t necessarily make my Year’s Reads in Review list. I read a lot of books in a year and I’ll admit that I forget about some. But doing this recap helps remind me of the various books I spent time on this year.

Here’s a recap of what you are supposed to do:

The Rules:

-Randomly choose 3 books.

-For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread.

-Repeat until you completed three (I do 5) rounds

To get the books for each batch, I used a random number generator to pull titles from my “Books Read in 2019” excel file. This includes any DNF’d titles and if a number repeated itself (or landed on a heading), I reran the generator until I got a fresh title.

Round 1

Cruel Fortune (Cruel, #2) Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1) Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)

Burn: This one was hard to pick because I actually liked Cruel Fortune the best out of the trilogy. It was a refreshing sequel for a romance series that follows the same leads. However, the series as a whole never lived up to my expectations, thus the burn.

Rewrite: A classic case of great idea, poor execution is how I’d sum up my experience with Girls of Paper and Fire. I’d speed up the romance, cut out the redundant first half and add some more politic intrigue to keep this story at a strong pace.

Reread: I have to great More than Music for getting me out of a major reading slump. I loved the romance, the chemistry and the plot! I just devoured this book!

Round 2

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1) Tempest (Tempest, #1) Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove, #5; Castles Ever After, #4)

Burn: I feel bad burning What’s Left of Me because I did enjoy it. I love the concept of the hybrids but where it fell short was differentiating itself from other novels in the genre.

Rewrite: Oh the things I would do to make Tempest more of what I wanted it to be. I’d change up the romance, make the plot more dramatic and thrilling and shorten it just a touch.

Reread: Do You Want to Start a Scandal not only wrapped up two of my favourite series by Tessa Dare, but it was also my first audiobook by her…and certainly not my last.

Round 3

Leopold - Part Two (Royal Heartbreaker, #2) The Hummingbird Dagger Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3)

Burn: While Part One ended on a promising note, Leopold Part Two was basically a regurgitation of the events of the first book and melodrama.

Rewrite: I really enjoyed the mystery of The Hummingbird Dagger but I did note in my review that I wanted more from the characters in terms of development.

Reread: I adored this series but Escaping from Houdini was the first one where I gave a full 5 stars. I just loved everything about this book!

Round 4

Hate F*@k: Part 1 (The Horus Group, #1) On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls, #3) Stolen by Truths by Ella Miles

Burn: This is one of the rounds where I actually gave all three books 5 star reviews. So my decision to burn Hate F*@k mostly stems from the idea that the rest of the series went downhill from here for me.

Rewrite: I adored On Thin Ice. I thought it was a great way to wrap up the Juniper Falls Series. My only note from my review was that I wish Brooke’s character development got a little more screen time so that’s what I am going to “rewrite”.

Reread: I can vividly remember getting to the end of Stolen by Truths and being so shocked, my Kindle fell out of my hands. I can’t wait to one day reread that series and see all the little inklings along the way.

Round 5

Fallen Heir (The Royals, #4) For Lila, Forever Surviving Ice (Burying Water, #4)

Burn: I was so excited for Easton’s story in Fallen Heir but wound up majorly disappointed. The romance just didn’t work for me and the drama just got to be a little much.

Rewrite: I think I read For Lila, Forever in one sitting (or close to). The only thing I’d change is strengthening the romance connection so it doesn’t seem to insta-love.

Reread: Surviving Ice was a solid conclusion to the series and I loved Ivy’s character so much!


What would you Burn, Rewrite and Reread from 2019?

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DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 14: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Heartless (from Goodreads):

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

breakdown

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Origin Story, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Heartless at 39%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I fell in love with Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I was eager to see what else she could write. While I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan, I’ve always been intrigued by the Queen of Hearts so I was more than curious to learn about her origins.

What I Liked:

–It Made Me Hungry–

Cath just wants to be a baker and I could see why: she comes up with some wonderful pastries. I have never felt so hungry reading a book before! Normally I wouldn’t want to eat anything in Wonderland but I’d make an exception for Cath’s baked goods!

–A Flawless Recreation of Wonderland–

Like I said above, Alice in Wonderland doesn’t do much for me as a story–it’s a little too weird for me. However, Meyer easily transports you back there as a reader. All those key elements (and I’m sure a few little details only true Wonderland fans could pick up) are there and it’s like having the story brought to life around you once again.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wonderland World-Building It’s Elaborated On–

However, in the same breath I want a little more explanation for why things are like they are in Wonderland. I know that this is an origin story about the Queen of Hearts so that’s what the focus will be on but why do lemon trees grow out of dreams? Why do certain foods shrink you? I’d have liked some logically background on the very illogical world of Wonderland.

–Aimless Plot–

One of the greatest weaknesses of an origin story (for me as a reader at least), is that they are rather mundane in the narration. You kinda go through the motions of the lead character’s everyday life and slowly you start to see how they transform into their iconic persona. But compared to their legend, the backstory can be a little undramatic and not as exciting as you want it to be.

I think about the story Blackhearts–the origin story of Blackbeard. Now I found that there wasn’t much to the plot there when it came to dramatics but I really loved the characters and their development so I didn’t mind as much. Here, I just found Cath to be a very boring character and the Queen of Hearts should be anything but.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook is a great production. I never got lost in the narration and I loved how everyone had a unique voice. It is a fabulous listen.

Will I Finish It?:

Nope. The only thing that could have kept me reading was the romance and it wasn’t really working for me either.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This was a miss for me. But I think if you enjoy the world of Wonderland and like origin stories, you’ll probably enjoy this!

Read if You Like: origin stories, longer stories, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike Alice in Wonderland

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Have you read this? Should I return to finish it? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 13: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (from Goodreads):

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

breakdown

Series: Rise of the Empress
Author: Julie C Dao
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (#1) at 52% (Chapter 22) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually tried to read this book earlier last year as an eBook but knew immediately that I wasn’t in the right mind frame to start it. That’s why I made it a selection for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge. I’m obsessed with Asian folklore and I find very few books seem to have it (though more and more do lately!) so when I do find it, I’m so on-board. This one I stumbled upon randomly at my library but I was looking forward to it once I read the synopsis!

What I Liked:

–The Idea of the Prophecy–

When I first started reading this story, I actually thought Xifeng was Snow White and her aunt was the Evil Queen. But that’s not the case at all. I really loved the idea of a prophecy as the driving motivation for Xifeng and the questions it stirs up. Are all these things really happening because it is her destiny? Or are they happening because she makes them happen in order to fulfill her destiny? It made me think about things in a grand scheme and I love when a book can do that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Character Driven–

Normally I wouldn’t complain about a Character Driven story. In fact, it was kinda nice to have a heroine who isn’t physically strong and who has to rely on her wit and cunning in order to accomplish things. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that isn’t plagued with battle scenes.

But I just didn’t like Xifeng at all and that makes it hard to follow a story that is just about her and her life.

It’s a tough line I think because she is going to become a villain. Now I don’t need a villain with redeemable qualities; I like them evil. But Xifeng is simply boring. I guess that’s part of her charm that she rises from nothing to be something but it was a dull journey to get there. I thought once she got to court the politics of the kingdom would draw me in but it was far too mundane (and cliche) for my enjoyment.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think I got further into this book because I listened to the audiobook. The narrator has a great voice that makes the minutes roll by, even if it is a third person narration. I had the same problem with Red Winter when I listened to it as an audiobook and that was the traditional names. To my untrained ear, a lot of the terms and names sound super similar so I sometimes got characters mixed up.

Will I Finish It?

If I wasn’t reading the audiobook, I probably would have toughed out the last half of the novel by skimming it. But since the audiobook had 5 hours left and I felt myself zoning out, I decided to leave it there.

I read the reviews for the read of the series and people who had a similar experience to me in book one had it repeated in the sequels. So I’m happy with my decision not to continue.

My Rating: DNF

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns DNF | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix N/A | Song of the Crimson Flower N/A

overall

If you are looking for a fantasy novel that isn’t brimming with battle scenes and you like watching the underdog achieve greatness, no matter the expense, you might enjoy this retelling.

Read if You Like: Asian folklore, fairy tale re imaginings, villains
Avoid if You: dislike character driven stories, want action

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway

DNF Series Review: Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 12: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tattoo Thief (from Goodreads):

22-year-old Beryl doesn’t know why Gavin Slater trashed his penthouse, abandoned his dog and fled the country. But as his house sitter, she must pick up the pieces for the front man of the white-hot rock band Tattoo Thief.

When ultra-responsible Beryl confronts the reckless rock star, she wants to know more than just what to do with his mess. Why is he running? What’s he searching for? And is he responsible for the death of his muse?

New York newbie Beryl must find her footing in Gavin’s crazy world of the ultra-wealthy to discover her own direction and what can bring him back.

Steamy, sassy and tender, Tattoo Thief is a story of breaking from a comfort zone to find a second chance.

breakdown

Series: Tattoo Thief
Author: Heidi Joy Tretheway
# of Books: 4  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected & Companion

Book #3, Revenge Bound, is a Companion to Book #1

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 to September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Tattoo Thief at 22% (start of Chapter 15) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar. All I know is that I picked up the first book as a freebie and I probably did that because I love rockstar romances. It was a pick for my Make Me Read It Readathon 2018 but it didn’t get that many votes, so I didn’t get to it right away.

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

There was something refreshing about the approach of this story. I didn’t really take the synopsis literally but Beryl is trying to bring back Gavin back home as he searches for whatever has him lost. That means they communicate through email and texts for the first introduction. So I kinda liked the slow burn approach to their romance and how it wasn’t necessarily based on some physical attraction from across the room.

And I liked the mystery of why Gavin has fled–it kept me interested.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Slow Burn–

I think we were only introduced to Gavin maybe two chapters before I stopped reading–which is a little too late I think for a romance novel. Perhaps if I came into this story expecting a coming of age story with a dash of romance (instead of a contemporary romance novel), I wouldn’t have minded so much.

But I kinda wanted the sexual tension to be there and give me some anticipation. But their texts back and forth did nothing for me.

–Plot was a Little Monotonous–

While I was cool with learning what Beryl’s new job was, I didn’t necessarily want to go to work with her every day and watch her be super judgy about all her clients. Beryl is quirky but he’s a little rude with some of her insights. She honestly makes it her mission to snoop and discover every clients tick…but I want to read a romance not learn useless info about some character who never makes an appearance.

–Beryl Forgiving Her Friend So Easily–

I also don’t understand how she so easily forgives her flaky friend at the start of the novel. I could see how you might rekindle the friendship (everyone makes mistakes) but I would have liked to have seen more conflict arise from that whole scenario.

Will I Finish the Series?:

No. Considering that flaky friend gets her own story later on, that’s a hard no.

Series Rating: DNF

Tattoo Thief DNF | Tyler & Stella N/A | Revenge Bound N/A | Say It Louder N/A

overall

Lots of reviews call this a fast-paced story but it certainly takes a while to go anywhere…

Read if You Like: slow burn stories, coming of age
Avoid if You: want romance from the start

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty

DNF Series Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 11: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for City of Brass (from Goodreads):

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

breakdown

Series: Daevabad Trilogy
Author: S A Chakraborty
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Empire of Gold, will be published in 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading City of Brass (#1) at 34% and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This title first caught my eye when browsing my library’s ebook catalogue but it was a review by Uma @ Books. Bags. Burgers that had me convinced to give the lengthy first novel a try. I loved the idea as a con-artist heroine who gets thrust into the deadly world of politics and magic. So I added it to my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge and opted to try the audiobook.

What I Liked:

–Nahri’s Day Job–

The opening scene with Nahri scamming a man out of his money was great! I loved watching her character scheme. I could have read many chapters about her cons and schemes.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Ali’s POV–

Sometimes I miss things when I listen to an audiobook and I definitely missed the POV change to Ali’s character the first time it happened. I didn’t even know his character existed let alone had a POV after reading the synopsis many times. It just threw me for a loop that I never really recovered from because I was lost in what was happening and why his POV was even relevant.

–Slow Moving Plot–

I was a third of the way through and I could count the significant number of events on one hand. It was just so boring to listen to in terms of content.

I think part of my problem was Nahri and Ali’s plots seemed to be mutual exclusive to each other and I couldn’t figure out how they would intersect at all. And I didn’t have the patience to see if they would.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read some other reviews from readers who experienced similar sentiments at the start who said it wasn’t worth it in the end for them to continue.

My Audiobook Experience:

At first, I was deterred from listening to this as an audiobook since it clocks in at 24 hours in length. In my experience, any audiobook close to 15 hours loses my interest. However, I wanted to give it a shot and since I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X, I figured it wouldn’t be quite as long.

While the narration was enjoyable, I think that having two different narrators for the main POVs would have helped distinguish the character voices. Because there were times when I would stop and forget who I was following. I also missed the first time we jumped POV because it’s just the same person reading.

Series Rating: DNF

The City of Brass DNF |The Kingdom of Copper N/A | The Empire of Gold N/A

overall

I think if you enjoy longer stories that take their time to build and you are super into the written prose, this is a series you will no doubt devour.

Read if You Like: long novels, slow building
Avoid if You: have a short attention span

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DNF Series Review: Kingdom on Fire by Jessica Cluess

DNF Series Review: Kingdom on Fire by Jessica Cluess

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 10: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Shadow Bright and Burning (from Goodreads):

I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

breakdown

Series: Kingdoms on Fire
Author: Jessica Cluess
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2016 – October 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

**Disclaimer: I stopped reading A Shadow Bright and Burning at 26% (start of Chapter 7) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie: I picked this series because the covers are gorgeous. I’m hit or miss with magic based series because I struggle with the logic of it all. But this sounded promising so I added it to my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge.

What I Liked:

–Gender Magic–

I liked the idea that men use one type of magic and women use another. It’s a cool spin on the typical magic I’ve come across in fantasy novels lately (which is usually elemental).

What I Didn’t Like:

–World Building–

This left something to be desired because most of what I knew about the world was from the synopsis beforehand. While it gets mentioned in the book, I felt like Henri was almost scatterbrained while she explained the hierarchies so I got a little lost.

–Lack of Spark–

Henri is a bit of a Special Snowflake Mary Sue. She was a little dull to read about. Didn’t help that every man she meets is in love with her (and she is completely oblivious).

I had hoped that there would be some good banter between Henri and the troop of boys she meets but the dialogue all felt a touch forced for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I liked the accent and it was an enjoyable listen.

Will I Finish the Series?:

No. I feel like I’ve read this before…

Series Rating: DNF

A Shadow Bright and Burning DNF | A Poison Dark and Drowning N/A | A Sorrow Fierce and Falling N/A

overall

Honestly, everyone just blended together and it couldn’t hold my attention.

Read if You Like: magic, slower starts
Avoid if You: Mary Sue characters

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Series Review: Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

Series Review: Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 9: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Love Me Never (from Goodreads):

Don’t love your enemy. Declare war on him.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

breakdown

Series: Lovely Vicious
Author: Sara Wolf
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2013 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love hate to love you stories but I have a soft spot for ones that are set in high school because it has the promise for a lot of angst. But I really find one that doesn’t get on my nerves. Anyways, I bought the inaugural book years ago and despite numerous opportunities to remove it from my TBR, the synopsis always sucked me back in.

What I Liked:

–Isis’s Self Esteem Issues–

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Isis as a character. She actually grated on my nerves a bit. But I did appreciate her struggles with self-esteem. It just gave her character some complexity and helped me to understand some of her actions.

–The Mystery of Jack–

While Jack does get his own POV chapters, he doesn’t have near as many as Isis so he’s a bit of an enigma to figure out. I loved the little peeks we got into his mind.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Immaturity–

I’ll be the first to say that Isis was a bit of an odd-duck at times. Sometimes she would have these great retorts and comebacks for the various situations she found herself in and then other times, her actions came from way out there. It made her come across as a little dim and it just made her seem super immature as the story progressed. I can handle a little teenaged angst but this was just melodrama.

–The Romance–

I mostly read this because I love the whole “enemies who secretly like each other” trope but I was really disappointed in the execution. For one, I didn’t feel the chemistry between them. I think part of the reason was that I had a hard time getting a read on Jack because we get so little time in his head. But I really didn’t think the two of them interacted all that much as a whole.

My other issue was with Jack and his “white knight” complex. It just seemed like he was trading one unhealthy relationship for another because I didn’t see the connection between them.

Why I Won’t be Continuing With the Series:

Despite the cliffhanger at the end, I was over this series by the halfway point of the first book. I’m just not invested enough into these characters to see what happens next.

Series Rating: DNF

Love Me Never 2/5 | Forget Me Always  N/A | Remember Me Forever N/A

overall

This was just a miss for me. I think if this came out when I was in high school, I would have enjoyed it. I think you will either love or hate this book.

Read if You Like: quirky yet angsty teen leads
Avoid if You: dislike teenage drama

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DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 8: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Top Choice (from Goodreads):

“…THE HANDMAID’S TALE MEETS MAGIC MIKE”

As a future leader of the female-led regime her ancestors fought hard to establish, Alice Kearns is no stranger to pressure. Being the best in a society where women are expected to be high-achieving is the only option her powerful mother has ever accepted for her. But fortunately, as of her eighteenth birthday, Ali has a place to blow off steam: she’s finally allowed into the Choice Clubs.

Filled with an enticing mix of music, drinks and gorgeous guys, the Choice Clubs were founded to ensure that smart girls wouldn’t get distracted in their real lives by anything as trivial as a shallow crush or a pretty face. Choice guys are fun, flirty, and the perfect eye candy, but Ali would never dream of actually falling for one—until she meets Tag.

Tag McPhail is Top Choice. With his mischievous grin and a body to die for, he is exactly the kind of boy that Ali’s mother believes needs to be kept contained. But after he kisses Ali at the Choice Club, she suddenly sees him everywhere—and she’s surprised to learn that there’s more to him than his perfect looks. Tag is sweeter, funnier, and smarter than Ali ever expected… and, she soon discovers, he’s also dangerous. Because Tag leads a double life: when he’s not working at the clubs, he’s part of a rebel group trying to overturn the girl power society that the women in Ali’s family worked so hard to put in place.

Getting closer to Tag upends everything Ali thought she knew. But will she betray everything she was raised to protect for a guy she’s not even sure she can trust?

breakdown

Author: Sophie McAloon
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating:  unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 16, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Top Choice at 23% (Start of Chapter 7). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

How can you not read a book with the tagline “Handmaiden’s Tale meets Magic Mike”? I was so intrigued when the review opportunity for this crossed my inbox that I had to break my request rules and attempt to secure myself a copy.

What I Liked:

–The Matriarchal Society–

I love books that challenge our everyday ideals and dystopian novels are a great way to do that as they often exploit an aspect of our society. Here, we get a world ruled by women and only the educated can vote in elections. It’s an interesting concept as we currently live in a world where women are constantly fighting for equality in all aspects of life around the world.

Which is why I wish it was elaborated on more…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World Building–

With a premise like this, you need solid world building and this one lacked it for me. I didn’t get why everyone had “Cards” or what “Top Choice” was or why society had even evolved in this direction in the first place. So I struggled to understand what the setting was and why the characters were acting a certain way because of it.

It was one of those situations that the more I read, the less I understood and the more questions I had.

–The Romance–

Again, I struggled with this because I didn’t understand where these lovey feelings came from. I understand Alice’s interest in Tag given their first few encounters as he is rather mysterious but they didn’t interact enough for me to understand where her love-driven feelings were coming from.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While I’m curious about the world and the like, the other reviews I read gave me the impression I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the novel.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This one had a very cool concept but the execution just wasn’t at the level I wanted (or expected) it to be.

Read if You Like: like romance focused dystopian novels
Avoid if You: need strong world-building

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