Category «Series Reviews»

Fresh Fridays: Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand

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:

Empirium Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Furyborn (from Goodreads):

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Empirium
Author: Claire Legrand
# of Books: 3 (Furyborn, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 22, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks for granting my wish Sourcebooks Fire!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had requested a review copy on Netgalley but was declined. So imagine my surprise when a week later, I get an email saying my wish was granted to get an advance copy! YAY!

I was really eager to get my hands on this book for many reasons. One, I loved the concept of two girls centuries apart tied together by some prophecy. Two, I loved that these girls were kick-butt, fierce fighters. Three, I loved the cover. Four, I needed a new fantasy series in my life.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to get my hands on this book even though I had a copy wayyy in advance. I’ve never let a book go that long on Netgalley in my life. But other early reviews had me scared to pick this up as they were rather polarizing and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I did pick it up.

What I Liked:

–Rielle’s Backstory–

The Rielle we meet in the prologue is nothing like the Rielle we meet in the first chapter of her POV. So how did she evolve to be that way? What happens during the trials to get to this point? That had me eager to find out more and pressed me to keep reading.

(Though read more below to find out why this also backfires as the same time)

–Sex Positive–

I know that sex in YA is a controversial topic to some degree but I really liked how sex positive this story was. You’ll see this book touted as having a bi-sexual lead but that wasn’t overly apparent to me (I think there is like one line that alludes to some flirting with another girl?). Nevertheless, any book that can weave that in seamlessly is a winner.

What I did like was that these characters have sex and talk about it and how to have it safely. You don’t see that a lot in YA. Yes, the sex scenes are more descriptive than your usual YA material but it alludes more to the act than actually describing it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of World-Building–

For the first 20% of this book, I contemplated DNFing it. I just felt so lost in everything that was happening. Like what where these powers Rielle had? How does this world even work? Are there actually angels? I just didn’t know how anything functioned in this world. I felt like I picked up Book 2 in a series where I am expected to already know the basics.

However, once the actual plot of the novel starts, I found myself forgetting about how the world worked and concentrating on the drama that was unfolding. Sure enough, things do start to get explained to you so I found myself getting more comfortable with what was happening.

–Lack of Suspense Thanks to the Prologue–

It’s the last line of the synopsis, “the shocking connections between them” that had me curious. I love that type of suspense where you know there is something bigger going on but it doesn’t reveal itself until later. But in this case, we know the big connection between the two by the end of the prologue…talk about a buzz kill! Perhaps it isn’t said outright but it doesn’t take much to put two and two together. So I found that dampened some of my excitement moving forward.

It’s the same situation with Rielle and her trials. Given the nature of this story (one told in the past and one in the future), you generally know how Rielle’s story goes (especially when you start with the Prologue) and so that anticipation of wondering what will happen in each trial becomes a bit of a mute point.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I finished this book, I decided I was going to be on the fence about picking up the sequel (meaning I was going to wait and read the synopsis for Book 2 before I decided). But as I was writing my review, I downgraded my rating from a 3, to a 2.5 and then to a 2 because I didn’t have too many positive things to say. And I also felt satisfied in terms closure with these characters. My major questions were answered and I have a good idea of where things are going and it just doesn’t interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Furyborn 2/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

The lack of world-building at the start of the story followed by some very obvious clues early on can make this story duller than it should be at times. But, it very slowly lays down the foundation for some potentially intriguing sequels if things are done differently in the future.

Read if You Like: alternating POVs, good characters that go “bad”
Avoid if You: need strong world-building early on, want more suspense

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Series Review: Clayton Falls by Alyssa Rose Ivy

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Derailed (from Goodreads):

When you’re lost, sometimes the only place you can go is home.

Broken over the death of her fiancé, Molly leaves law school to return to her childhood home in North Carolina. Expecting to lay low until she can figure out what else to do with her life, she finds herself in the arms of her high school sweetheart, the boy who represents everything from the past she tried to leave behind.

Looking for an escape, she instead finds a way back to the girl she almost forgot existed and a future she never dreamed possible.

breakdown

Series: Clayton Falls
Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy
# of Books: 4 (Derailed, Veer, Wrecked, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: There is a Book 4 planned but no release date
Genre: Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Derailed); Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Derailed as a freebie one day on Amazon in 2013. I think I somehow knew that the “hero” was in a band because I always thought of it as a “band” novel–even though that is far from the case. I enjoy second chance stories for the most part and I thought this one had an interesting premise. I even picked up the boxset a few years later (2016) for a good price because I assumed I would want to read the sequels.

Like most books, I don’t get to them right away. If you check my activity on Goodreads, you’ll see that I moved Derailed (Book 1) on and off my “TBR” a total of 4 times over the span of 5 years. It was on my “pass” shelf until I drew the title from my TBR jar in January 2018 as a part of my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2018. So I did my best to go in with an open mind and started the book.

Why I DNF’d Derailed at 42%–but kept progressing through the series:

So I did end up DNFing Derailed at 42% (just at the start of Chapter 10) for a few reasons. The main one was that this story was not catching my attention. The romance didn’t seem to have any substance to it (I felt like they were just nostalgic for each other and the feelings they shared)–and I was 42% of the way there! And there was a bit of a love triangle which didn’t help. I also didn’t like Molly as a lead. She was so boring to read about yet she was pretty melodramatic. I just found that I couldn’t get a good read on her character.

After I DNF’d it, I went on to read the synopsis for the next two books (since I already owned them) and saw that the leads were some characters that did capture my attention so I decided to give them a shot.

The Plot:

I found it took me awhile to get into all the books. We get these weird meetings between the leads–where they seem to blow the tiniest things out of proportions in an attempt to add “tension” to the relationships–and then we slowly uncover who they are as people. The endings all seemed a little rushed to me in the sense that things I would have liked to have seen early on to provide depth are neatly wrapped up in a chapter or two. It gave the books a lopsided feel to them in that regard.

For me, a lot of the dialogue between the characters came across as stiff and I feel like a majority of the chapters are dialogue. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I found that the lack of inner monologue resulted in the drama being escalated rather quickly and in a more melodramatic fashion than I anticipated.

The Characters:

Besides not liking the leads in Book 1 (Derailed), I did like the rest of the cast. One of the nice things about this series is that it does take place in a small town so you see a majority of the same characters throughout the series.

Once we delve a little deeper into the characters, I found the stories became more enjoyable. With Book 2 (Veer) that was the case entirely. When you start to understand their actions and feelings based on their past it makes it easier to like them as characters.

However, I found the character development to be very underwhelming throughout the series. I felt like we only scratched the surface of these extremely complicated characters. It’s not enough to simply list their troubled pasts–you have to do something with that. And I feel like this series never does anything with the foundations it lays down.

The Romance:

Again, I think the romances suffer from the underdevelopment the rest of the series does. All these characters fall hard and fast; and any conflict is quickly resolved in a neat fashion. So while I could see the basic/initial draw they each had to each other, I wanted to see more conversations and moments of growth with the romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I think the premise for the 4th book is cute, after the ups and downs I’ve had with this series, it’s going to be a hard pass.

Series Rating: 2/5

Derailed DNF | Veer 3/5 | Derailed 2/5

overall

I craved more from each of these novels. But if you are looking for a straightforward, lighter romance that doesn’t feature in-depth sex scenes, this would be a good series for you.

Read if You Like: lighter reads, second chance stories, small town settings
Avoid if You: want more character development, want erotica

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Blog Tour: You Promised Me Forever by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for You Promised Me Forever (from Goodreads):

I’ve got it all, they say. I’m the starting quarterback for the best NFL team in the league. I’m rich. I’m famous. I can have any woman I want, any time I want.

Yeah, I’ve got everything—except for the one who got away. How do you move on from loving the same girl since you were in the seventh grade? She promised me forever. Until forever got too hard and at nineteen, she dumped me.

By text message.

Now she’s walked back into my life. Just as beautiful. Just as sweet. Just as smart. More grown up and incredibly sexy…
We’re older now. Supposedly wiser. This time, I’m going to fight for what I want, no matter how hard it gets.

This time, I’m going to make her mine.

Forever.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Forever Yours

You Promised Me Forever features leads from the Friends Series

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 1+ (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Nothing Without You, is to be published March 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 29, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo / B & N / iBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had NO IDEA that Monica Murphy was planning to revisit Jordan and Amanda’s story from the Friends Series. I even read the synopsis for You Promised Me Forever and had no stinking clue it was them! I’ll admit, I was craving a little more ever since we finished that series with Forever. Well, I’m always craving more Tuttle to be honest. I think he is one of my ultimate book boyfriends.

What I Liked:

–Maturity–

To give Amanda and Jordan some credit, I thought they were the most mature of the couples in the Friends Series but it was nice to them a little bit older and wiser. Compared to the previous novels, their communication alone has improved so it was nice to see them think and act–and not vice versa. They definitely had their moments though when I felt like I was reading about them back in high school (instead of 6 years later) but for the most part, I liked the more mature feel this book had.

This book brings a dash of reality to their relationship I think. It’s a test for them both to see what they want out of life and a partner and I just loved watching them explore that together.

–Jordan–

#cuddlewithTuttle — need I say more?

In all seriousness though, I loved seeing the more vulnerable side of him this story brought out.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Wanted More of the Friends Cast to Appear!–

As I said before, I still had a lot of unanswered questions about the finale of the Friends Series. What happened to so and so? Are those two still together? While I definitely got some insights in this book, I wouldn’t mind a few more in the future….

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see what Nothing Without You will be like since it a part of the 7 book Kristen Proby Crossover Collection. I think that whole project is a really cool idea and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

As for the rest of the Forever Yours Series, there are definitely a few characters I hope to see get their HEAs (Cannon, I’m looking at you!).

My Rating: 5/5

You Promised Me Forever 5/5 | [Nothing Without You TBA]

overall
Fans that have been with Amanda and Jordan from the start will devour this novel. But those new to their story will no doubt get sucked into the adorableness that is their romance.

Read if You Like: second chance romances
Avoid if You: want erotica

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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo / B & N / iBooks

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Spin-off Saturdays: Found Duet by Laurelin Paige

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Found Duet is a spin-off of the Fixed Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Found Duet

This is a spinoff of the Fixed Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Free Me, Find Me)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, Fixed this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was super excited for Gwen’s story after I finished the original Fixed Trilogy years ago. There was a lot of mystery to her character and her past and I couldn’t wait to uncover it all. Of course, I didn’t read this book until years later and I so I specifically forgot why I was so excited to read her story.

However, it didn’t take me long to reemerge myself into the Fixed universe once again. I didn’t realize that Free Me takes place about a year before we meet Gwen in the Fixed Series so that took some adjusting. But once I got the timeline sorted, I enjoyed learning more about her character.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

One of the things I loved the most about the original series is its great character development. You’ve got complex characters who literally evolve before your eyes as you read. Even with the male characters lacking a POV and being somewhat of a mystery, they have this great depth to them that really adds to the story.

As for the plot, you still have those fabulous hidden secrets and twists along the way. It’s easy to get sucked into the drama and suspense of these stories. You can tell these series are well thought out and planned in advance thanks to its delivery.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Book 2, Find Me, was terribly slow for the first half. It just didn’t have any significant drama or character development to keep my full attention. It definitely picks up though in the latter half of the novel and I really enjoyed that.

When to Read This?

I actually read Chandler (Fixed #5) before I read this and it does have some spoilers about this series. So my reading order recommendation would be:

Fixed #1 (Fixed on You) thru #4 (Hudson), Free Me, Find Me, Chandler (Fixed #5), Fixed Forever (#6)

Series Rating: 4/5

Free Me 4/5 | Find Me 3.5/5

overall

I think fans of the original series will love getting Gwen’s story and returning to the world. Those new to the world but like their romances with a little suspense will enjoy this series as well.

Read if You Like: romances with lots of sex scenes, character development
Avoid if You: don’t like erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free Me (from Goodreads):

I wasn’t supposed to be working the night I met JC.

Before him, I’d been content with the daily grind, managing one of NYC’s top nightclubs. So what if my life didn’t have a happily ever after? I didn’t believe in that anyway.

Then JC showed up.

Sexy, rich and smooth-talking, JC is nothing more than a distraction. I’m not interested in a night-in-shining latex so it’s easy to push the playboy away. Or it is until my life spins unexpectedly out-of-control. Then he’s there for me, offering a new method of survival, one based on following primal urges and desires that requires me to abandon my constant need for control.

His no-strings-attached lessons obliterate my carefully built walls. And as I discover freedom, I start to feel things for him that I shouldn’t. Things that make me fear for my newly vulnerable heart. Because JC has secrets of his own, and his secrets don’t want to set him free.

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Series Review: Never by Monica Murphy

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Never Tear Us Apart (from Goodreads):

A long time ago, when I was fifteen and a completely different person, I saved a girl’s life. I spent only a handful of hours with her, but somehow, we connected—and I’ve never been the same. No one understands what we went through. No one knows what it’s like to be us. We survived, yet I don’t feel like I’m really living—until now. Eight years later, I find her. I want to make her mine. I need to make her mine. But she’ll hate me forever when she finds out who I really am.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Never
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (Never Tear Us Apart, Never Let Me Go)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – May 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to read this as I’m a huge Monica Murphy fan. I’ve had great success with her New Adult titles and this was one I’ve kept my eye on for awhile. I thought the concept was intriguing as I love unorthodox love stories–even the ones that are a little darker in nature.

The Concept:

Lots of readers will likely struggle with some of the subject matter. It isn’t overly descriptive but you definitely understand everything that happens to Katie when she was a child.  Having that back and forth from the past to present helps establish everything for these characters. Some of the scenes broke my heart.

Take Monica’s Author’s Note at the start of the novel to heart and don’t pick this book up if you don’t want to read some of its sensitive subject matter.

The Plot:

This series is all about Will and Katie learning how to move on from their past into the future. It’s a very character driven story and I liked the tone it took. You don’t get caught up in petty drama because these two have serious obstacles to overcome.

I fell in love with Monica’s works after reading One Week Girlfriend and this novel’s tone really reminded me of that series. The focus is on broken characters and a romance that seems unconventional to everyone but the pair involved (and the reader thanks to the inner monologue). It just makes for a great and addicting story.

The Characters:

These two absolutely tugged on my heartstrings with their individual stories. This book almost reads as a coming of age in the sense that these two really find themselves throughout this series. They truly grow before your eyes and you can’t ask for more as a reader.

The Romance:

These two have great chemistry from the start. Both are tentative about romance but they know there is something so strong between them.

wanted to see more communication in the first book–I wasn’t totally sold that they were a good match despite the physical chemistry and the shared past. But the second book really works out those other details and establishes that these two are able to see the person beside the tragedy and the amazing person they are underneath in spite of everything.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Never Tear Us Apart  4.5/5 | Never Let You Go 4.5/5

overall

This is a great story about overcoming your past to embrace your future. I think some people with struggle with the sensitive subject matter of the first novel but for those who enjoy darker, unorthodox relationships, this is a great one!

Read if You Like: dark romance, character driven romances
Avoid if You: are sensitive to subject matter regarding children

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DNF Series Review: Captive of a Commoner by C J Pastore

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Captive of a Commoner (from Goodreads):

Can love penetrate an abusive past and defeat unwarranted guilt?

Alicia Cesare has a lot to celebrate. A recent Parsons School of Design graduate and recipient of a fashion design award, she embarks to Europe on a quest for independence and recognition. Instead, she finds trouble and mayhem and must accept the help of ex Marine and real estate magnate, Chase Reardon, the only man she’s ever desired. Problem is he barely knew she existed. That is about to change.
Like a lit match to a firework, rash innocence ignites fierce overprotectiveness and a sizzling romance develops, but Chase is a haunted man. Scarred by an abusive past and stalked by the vengeful head of the Russian drug cartel, he struggles to follow his heart while safeguarding those he loves. When Alicia is unwittingly thrust into his web of relentless violence, Chase is determined—at any cost—to protect her from his past.
As each new sexual awakening binds her closer to him, Alicia is convinced she must help the love of her life defeat the ghosts of his past. It will prove to be an unyielding test of courage and stamina.

breakdown

Series: Captive of a Commoner
Author: C J Pastore
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 is to be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you C J Pastore!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Captive of a Commoner (Book #1) at 18% (start of Chapter 8). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good drama-filled adult erotica series. It’s a genre that gets overlooked thanks to the 50 Shades Fandom but as a reader, it’s one I enjoy thanks to the edge of danger/suspense and passionate romances it features. So when I was asked if I wanted to read Captive of a Commoner (which is geared for fans of Sylvia Day and E L James), I said yes.

What I Liked:

–Both Had Mysterious Pasts–

I like uncovering mysteries and secrets about my lead characters. Alicia has something in her past that haunts her and it’s alluded to many times–so I wanted to figure out more. But Chase takes the cake when it comes to mysterious. Thanks to the opening prologue I know his past was no cake-walk and the synopsis hints that it might have some dangerous consequences in store. It all just brings some suspense to the story.

–The Setting–

Most of this takes place in Europe so I loved visiting all these beautiful countries—even if it was only in my head!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Flash Backs to the Past–

Now this may have been a problem with my formatting on my eReader but I often had a hard time differentiating the past and present within a chapter. We kinda jump all over the place. One minute your reading about Alicia doing something in the “now” and then suddenly you flashback to some related story from her past. And that’s fine–it does add to the mystery of the characters a bit–but I just found I would get so lost in the past that when we returned to the present, I forgot completely what we were even doing there.

–Why Did Alicia Even Like Chase?–

I just wasn’t feeling the chemistry between these two. I have no idea why Alicia even liked Chase. I assumed it was based on physical attraction because I think they interacted all of 2 times prior to the start of the main plotline. I just didn’t see the draw between them besides great sex.

Will I Finish It?

No, I’ve read the synopsis for the sequel and where it is going is somewhere I have no interest in visiting.

My Rating: DNF

Captive of a Commoner DNF | Apart N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

This just wasn’t for me. I think those who likes lots of drama and steam will enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: contemporary erotica romances, sexy times
Avoid if You: want deeper romantic connections

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Fresh Fridays: Warcross (#1) by Marie Lu

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:

Warcross Duology

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Warcross (from Goodreads):

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 2 (Warcross, Wildcard)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wildcard, to be published September 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After reading (and positively adoring) the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, I always make an effort to read her books when they come out. While I enjoyed The Young Elites Trilogy, I found that I enjoyed the concept behind it more than the actual story.

So I was a little apprehensive when it came to Warcross. As someone who has played a few Massive Multiplayer Games, I was definitely curious to see what this world was all about. But the synopsis didn’t give much away in terms of the type of story it would be and reviews from other bloggers had me going in with slightly lowered expectations.

But if anyone can surprise me, it’s Marie Lu.

What I Liked:

–Emika–

What a great heroine she is! I just loved her tech savvy-ness and drive. She thinks outside the box and gives everything her all and how can you not love that in a heroine?

–The Games in the Tournament–

I LOVED the actions scenes where Emika is in the game with her team. Perhaps it was just the fact that I could hear the enthusiasm and expressions of the narrator as she read the scenes in the audiobook, but they were enthralling to say the least. It was reminiscent of those scenes in some of my favourite books like Red Rising and The Hunger Games.

–The Romance–

I don’t want to give much away but I thought it was super cute and definitely impacts the plot in a way that not every romance does.

–Not Overly Predictable–

While I had the identity of  Zero figured out, I was definitely wrong about what was actually happening which was a great twist!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I always find it hard to tell when I listen to audiobooks to determine if it’s actually the narrator’s style/delivery that impacts the pacing of the book or the actual writing itself. (Some narrator’s talk at a slower speed plus reading something out-loud takes longer than reading it with your eyes.  So most audiobooks take twice as long to listen to as they would to read). I do know that I sped up the delivery to 1.5X because I found her cadence to be on the slower side (my default is usually 1.25X).

But I did find it took us a while to get into the thick of things. Not that we spend too much time following Emika’s life before the tournament but the first half definitely lacks the suspense of the latter half.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t WAIT to see how all of this is going to play out! This series went in a direction I didn’t anticipate so I’m really curious about what Marie Lu has up her sleeve.

My Rating: 4/5

Warcross  4/5| Wildcard TBP

overall

You don’t have to be a fan of video games to get hooked into this page turner!

Read if You Like: stories set in the future, video games, action
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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Series Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Wicked Thing (from Goodreads):

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

breakdown

Series: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
# of Books: 2 (A Wicked Thing, A Kingdom of Ashes)
Book Order: Chronologocal
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2015 – 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I’ve said many times before, my favourite fairy tale princess is Sleeping Beauty. Why? I’m not sure because her damsel in distress situation is one I don’t enjoy (I hate when the heroine has to wait for a hero to save her). I think it’s because I love the Disney movie and its beautiful animation.

But in the same breath, I love seeing what other authors will do with the story in various retellings. So I was curious to see what this one was all about; in particular, the focus on HEA.

The Concept / The World:

What I really enjoyed about this story was that it focused on what happens after Aurora wakes up. She finds herself in a world she doesn’t know and one where she is a pawn in schemes she doesn’t fully understand. Watching her navigate this new political world and coming to grips with the fact that everyone she has ever known is dead, was an interesting take. I don’t think it was used to its full advantage but it was an element at play.

And like I say with most retellings: forget the Disney version! You’ll always end up a little disappointed because the Disney version is just a retelling of the origin story and not the source material.

The Plot:

Have you ever read a book where everything seems to be happening around the lead and the lead just seems to sit there and take it? That’s how I felt for 90% of A Wicked Thing. Aurora did absolutely nothing and I get why. She is literally in a world where she knows no one and it’s not like anyone is telling her what is happening either. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t know what is going on yourself. But it was just frustrating as a reader because she’d get these little moments of courage and then they would fizzle out.

This story needed something else to keep it going. I feel like so much time is wasted in both novels rehashing everything we’ve previously encountered. With so many people wanting things from Aurora, it should be a more suspenseful read than it actually is. But it takes Aurora nearly the entire 2 novels to finally get the backbone to do something and by then it is far to late to keep me invested.

The Dialogue:

When I contemplated DNFing A Wicked Thing, I read a few reviews on Goodreads and quite a few mentioned the dialogue. I definitely see where they are coming from after reading this. One of the contributing factors is that they don’t use contractions in the narration. It’s just not the way we talk (I mean look at how many I’ve used in this review so far) so it comes across as stiff.

But Aurora isn’t saying anything inspiring or profound either. No one is. So everything comes across as flat and it does dampen the reading experience at times.

The Characters:

Aurora was extremely dull. Like I said, I get why she lacks the confidence–I would act the same way if I woke up 100 years in the future. But I wish she gained the confidence a hell of a lot earlier than the 90% in A Wicked Thing.

The rest of the cast is kinda “meh”. I didn’t gravitate towards anyone but I think that’s because we don’t get to delve deeper into anyone’s character.

The Romance:

Three love interests is wayyyyy too much for me. And when you have an uninspiring heroine like Aurora, it’s hard to get the appeal of her for the potential suitors. I guess you can say I never picked a “team” to cheer for.

However, I will say that I like that the romance wasn’t the sole focus of this series. Other things are at play and this series could have easily been about Aurora and her “true love” and not the world she lives in.

My Audiobook Experience:

I don’t have anything against the audiobook production because you can only do so much when your source material isn’t fabulous. However, I will say that I found the dialogue delivery to be super slow. See, I’m not one to speed up the audiobook but I had to with a Kingdom of Ashes because it had a glacial pace. I first bumped it up to 1.25X and then 1.5X and the crazy thing is that the dialogue sounded much more natural at this faster pace! It was so much easier to listen to and stopped the awkwardness of the narration.

Series Rating: 2/5

A Wicked Thing 2.5/5 | A Kingdom of Ashes  2/5

overall

I’m still in search of that great Sleeping Beauty retelling. This one was terribly dull and too basic for my tastes.

Read if You Like: sleeping beauty, slow stories
Avoid if You: want action, want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire #1) by Heidi McLaughlin

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:

Vegas Billionaire Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stripped Bare (from Goodreads):

They don’t call it the Strip for nothing. . . .

In this sinfully sexy Las Vegas romance from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, a man who has it all reunites with a woman who takes it all off.

Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

breakdown

Series: Vegas Billionaire
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
# of Books: 1+ (Stripped Bare, Book 2)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be announced
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across Stripped Bare on Netgalley but I never had a chance to request it. But when I saw it was at my library, I decided to check it out. I love unorthodox love stories and the idea of a single mom stripper reuniting with a one-night stand in Vegas? I couldn’t wait to see what was in store!

What I Liked:

–The Plot–

As expected, given the circumstances of how these two meet, this story has some drama. But what I really liked is that it never goes over the top. It’s dramatic enough to give this story some drive but not enough that had me rolling my eyes or being frustrated by the unnecessary flare. I thought everything had an adequate amount of time to fester and resolve so I was very fulfilled in that respect.

–Easy Read–

I really got into this story. The pages just turn so easily and I found myself entertained start to finish.

–That Their Past Wasn’t Glorified–

While these two have a shared past, I liked that it wasn’t glorified into being this ultimate love story. It’s pitched as a bit of a missed moment for both so I it was a nice approach to the “second chance” romance.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Physical Chemistry than Emotional–

These two have a great chemistry but its more physical than emotional. I really felt like these two didn’t talk to each other besides vocal sexy times. So the relationship fell a little flat for me. Having the duel POV helped a lot because we do get to see the inner thoughts of our leads but I still needed more from them to totally convince me these two were falling in love with each other and not just the sex.

–Super Obvious Plot Twist–

I had the one twist figured out before I even started this book. It just seemed very obvious to me. I will admit, I did second guess myself for a chapter or two but I still knew in my gut I was right. Perhaps the twist is supposed to be that noticeable–if it is, it gives this story a different tone. But I found it to be underwhelming overall as nothing else really surprised me in this novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea who the next novel(s) will be about. I know I have a few characters in mind that I would like to know more about but I guess we have to play the waiting game!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Stripped Bare 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

While this one had its cliche and obvious moments, I was still entertained by the premise and enjoyed the drama that played out.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexy chemistry
Avoid if You: want more emotional connection, want more surpises

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Series Review: The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Inventor’s Secret (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

breakdown

Series: The Inventor’s Secret Trilogy
Author: Andrea Cremer
# of Books: 3 (The Inventor’s Secret, The Conjurer’s Riddle, The Turncoat’s Gambit)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Alternate History, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2014 – November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this series when my library added the second book and my eye was immediately drawn to the cover. I noticed that it was by Andrea Cremer, who wrote the series Nightshade–a series that I didn’t totally love but still enjoyed. She’s a good writer–I just hated the heroine and love interest in that particular series. But this was a steampunk series which is the ultimate kryptonite for me and so I marked it on my wishlist.

I then forgot about this series until I was browsing audiobooks to read and decided this would make for a great audiobook adventure!

The Concept / The World:

I absolutely adored the alternate history aspect of this novel. A world where the American Revolution never succeeded? What a concept! It gives this world a rich background and a unique setting that captured my full attention.

The only downside of this world is that the Steampunk elements never really take off and shine. Honestly, if I didn’t read the “steampunk” tag on Goodreads, I wouldn’t have necessarily labeled The Inventor’s Secret as steampunk. There are some token elements but they play such a minor role that they could easily be written off as a product of the alternate history aspect rather than steampunk. The steampunk does become a little more apparent in the later books but not enough for someone looking for a true steampunk epic.

The Plot:

I will admit, I had no idea what the plot for this series would be. I thought it would be more of a steampunk adventure (I mean you have a group of exile teens living in the catacombs so obviously there is something bigger at play) but that isn’t the case. For one thing, there is a lot more talking than physical action and there is more of a focus on the romance than not (especially in The Inventor’s Secret). It gives this story a lighter feel that I still found to be entertaining just not overly grand.

I also found The Inventor’s Secret to be terribly predictable. None of the “big” twists surprised me because I could see them a mile away. Nonetheless, I was still interested in seeing how everything would play out. The final book, The Turncoat’s Gambit has a few unexpected twists so that was great.

I think the biggest problem with this series is that nothing ever gets elaborated on. Whether that is an attempt to create some mysticism or suspense, I don’t know but it doesn’t really accomplish anything. We get these inklings of bigger issues but it just seems like Charlotte and company just take everything in stride without necessarily delving deeper.

The Characters:

I really loved the cast of characters here! While Charlotte is a little forgettable/dull in The Inventor’s Secret, I could see the potential early on for her development/growth. So I was eager to see her become this respectable heroine and watch her journey. And she does grow up and get a little smarter as the series goes on which is nice to see.

The rest of the cast plays their roles well. I found myself drawn to the various side characters and their relationships. You just really connect with this somewhat ragtag team of teens as they try to navigate this dangerous and intriguing world.

The Romance:

This played a larger role than I anticipated in The Inventor’s Secret given the synopsis but once I started reading, I knew it would be a bigger focus. It’s a bit of a love triangle at the start but I like that it isn’t the sole focus as the series progresses. Other things are at play during the romantic moments of the first book and those take more of the center stage later. And you have all the subplot romances as well so there is always something brewing.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m so glad I picked this up as an audiobook! The narration is fabulous and it felt like you were listening to a TV show. It was super easy to visualize things and I always love it when a narrator gives each character a unique voice.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Inventor’s Secret 3.5/5 | The Conjurer’s Riddle 3/5 | The Turncoat’s Gambit 4/5

overall

The plot isn’t anything groundbreaking but it’s entertaining and always had my full attention. I enjoyed the adventure this group of people takes in this super cool world.

Read if You Like: like romance, alternate history setting
Avoid if You: want a steampunk adventure

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