Category «Series Reviews»

Spin-off Saturdays: Darkness Rising Series by Kelley Armstrong

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 Darkness Series is a spin-off of the Darkest Powers

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Author
Series: Darkness Rising Trilogy
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 3 (The Gathering, The Calling, The Rising)

This is a spinoff of the Darkest Powers Trilogy.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Action, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 2011 – April 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook & Paperback

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WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, The Darkest Powers, this review may have spoilers!

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**This post was originally posted as a review of the first two books of the series. It has now been updated to include the last publication in the series.**

My Expectations:

Because I loved, Darkest Powers Trilogy, this spin-off series was a must read for me. That also meant I was going in with high expectations.

My Review of The Gathering and The Calling:

Unfortunately the first book, The Gathering didn’t quite meet my hopes. I found it a little predictable and a little lackluster in plot. It does pickup plot-wise near the end (and book 2, The Calling continues with this faster pace) but for the most part I was a little bored with it. I also didn’t really like Maya. I really tried to like her (and at the start it seemed promising) but she seemed very petty and selfish to me so I had a hard time liking her character. However, if there is one thing this book does well, it is establishing the setting and circumstances for the next book.

I enjoyed The Calling a lot more than book 1. In this book, the plots begin to unfold and there is a lot more action to be found. We also get to learn more about the other characters in the series, so there is a little less focus on Maya, which in my opinion is a bonus.

How Does it Compare to the Original Series?

This series is very similar to Darkest Powers Trilogy and rightfully so as it is the sequel series (I mean, even look at the titles and you can see a pattern between the two). Both involve a group of teens learning about their true heritage and what that means for them in the world they find themselves in. Of course there are different plot stories, but the main progression of the novels follow a similar path. For those hoping for a direct sequel to Chloe and company, as you can probably tell, this isn’t it. The two series are loosely connected but the Darkest Powers Trilogy plays a huge role in the plot development of this series.

updates

–August 7, 2017– Book #: The Rising

I will admit, it took me far longer than it should have to pick up this finale. But thanks to my Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge, I got around to this final novel.

Even though it has been nearly 4 years since I read this trilogy, I was immediately thrown back in. There was enough info at the start to get me up to pace and feel like I literally just read The Calling last week.

This book was good and definitely a solid finale. It was nice to see how this series intersects with The Darkest Powers and I felt like I was able to get closure with both series because of that.

I still found myself irritated by Maya at times and some of her friends. They just aren’t as likeable as Chloe & co. to me. They come across as entitled and slightly petty (and they are because of the circumstances of their situation so its understandable). So I found myself getting frustrated at the romantic developments of this series. (Let’s just say my “team” didn’t win).

Series Rating: 4/5

The Gathering 4/5 | The Calling 4/5 | The Rising 4/5

overall

Not as good as the Darkest Powers series, but a solid sequel that is unique in its own right. I recommend that you read the Darkest Powers before you read this series, but you can probably make do on your own without doing so.

similarreads
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Powers Trilogy, #1)

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED the Darkest Powers SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS may have SPOILERS!

Synopsis for The Gathering (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn’t know much about her background – the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip – but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town – from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend’s hidden talent for “feeling” out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya’s biological parents and it’s easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

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Series Review: The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Authors
Series: Darkest Powers Trilogy
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 3 (The Summoning, The Awakening, The Reckoning)

There are also some short novellas that take place between these books. Details here
There is a “spin-off” series called The Darkness Rising

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Action, Magic, Suspense
Heat Rating: cold

Thoughts:

I picked up this book for two reasons: 1 is that Kelley Armstrong actually lives a few towns over from me so I was intrigued that a huge author was based just around the corner from me and 2 is that the plot really grabbed my attention.

NOTE: It has been a really long time since I read these books and the reason I am doing so now is because the spin-off series, The Darkness Rising, has just released the last book of the trilogy. I don’t like writing about the spin-off series when I don’t have a review of the original, SO consider yourself warned that this review will be really brief and most likely vague.

I definitely plan on rereading these books because I really enjoyed them! I also think that the writing style and story are both something that I will enjoy even when I am older. Although the series is targeted for young adults, there is nothing about the writing that is juvenile that would turn me off of rereading these when I am older. I have since read a few more of Armstrong’s adult novels and I find that the writing is very similar in all her books–it’s just the plots that are changed to her audience. Fun Fact: Most of Kelley Armstrong’s books take place within the same paranormal universe (even her adult ones!)–so while you don’t have to read all the books to get what is going on, if you do read them, you will see little connections here and there!

Now, for the books themselves. The Summoning starts off a little slow but really builds. At the end of book 1 we have found ourselves at the top of a hill and from that point on, the book is just rolling non-stop action, mystery and suspense. There is never a dull moment in The Awakening or The Reckoning and I finished both books within two days each. The only bummer part was waiting a year for the next book to be published.

As for the characters, I really liked all of them. Chloe was great. I admired her and she just seemed so real to me in her reactions to the circumstances thrown at her. As the books progress you get to watch her grow into a strong, more confident girl. One thing I think sets this series apart from The Darkness Rising series is that the teens who take center focus (ie. Chloe’s friends) don’t know each other right from the start. There is some tension between them and I liked watching the dynamics shift between them as they learn to trust each other and become friends. (FYI: In the Darkness Rising Trilogy, all the characters have been a part of the same friend circle for years).

Conclusion:

I know my review above doesn’t tell too much about the series, but it really is worth a read! It’s hard to talk about the series without giving everything away! If you are looking for a fresh paranormal read that doesn’t focus on vampires, PICK THESE BOOKS UP!

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rising Trilogy, #1 — spin-off series)

Synopsis for The Summoning (from Goodreads):
My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost – and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? it’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House…before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

Series Review: Cross my Heart by Sasha Gould

Series: Cross my Heart
Author: Sasha Gould
# of Books: 2 (Cross my Heart, Heart of Glass)
Complete?: Not sure if there will be a third book
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Venice, Mystery, Historical
Heat Rating: cold

Thoughts:

I read the first book, Cross my Heart, as soon as it came out but before I started the second book, I decided to reread it because I couldn’t remember what exactly had happened.

I have to say that book 1 Cross my Heart was enjoyable. The mystery element is a nice feature and I find I don’t often read books that are mostly a mystery plot so it was a nice change. As you can see from my overuse of the word “nice” that’s all I can really think to summarize the book as: it was a “nice” easy and quick read. While I think there is enough going on plot-wise, it still felt like something was missing from the book. I don’t know what it is but I think it is just missing that little something that would make it a 5/5. Perhaps it was a little rushed in how the plot progressed? But I’m not sure if that was really it. I also think the romance is a little lackluster–I don’t really get their connection so I would have appreciated a little more romance there.

Laura starts off very naïve in book 1–and rightfully so as she has been in a convent for the last 6 years. I find one of the key differences between Cross my Heart and Heart of Glass is that she fully matures into a stronger, intelligent and independent person. There is obvious growth to her character and I really like the Laura we get in book 2.

Heart of Glass I think is a lot better overall than Cross my Heart (and my rating of 3/5 for Cross my Heart vs 5/5 for Heart of Glass on Goodreads, attests to this). In this book there is that something that was missing in the first book and I really enjoyed it a lot more. Which surprised me considering I didn’t see what could possibly take place in the sequel but I was proven wrong. There is a lot more going on in this book and I had a hard time putting it down. It wasn’t predictable and I was constantly re-evaluating my theories about what was actually happening.

Another thing I liked about book 2 was the lack of description. In the first one, I found I got a little bored of the description of the setting and the dresses, etc. In book 2, I didn’t get that so much. Also, if you are worried that these books will have complicated renaissance era speech or writing style–have no fear! These books read very much like a contemporary novel–which has its pros/cons depending on what you expect to get from a historical novel.

One thing I like about this series is that each book wraps up nicely within itself. There are obvious threads that will be present in the next book, but as I reader I am satisfied with how each book ended. But, that being said, if there is a third novel, I will be reading it–I just hope it can be as great as Heart of Glass.

Conclusion:

Cross my Heart wasn’t the greatest novel I have ever read, but it sets up for an awesome sequel in Heart of Glass which should not be missed! So spend the few hours it takes to read Cross my Heart just so you can enjoy Heart of Glass!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Venom by Fiona Paul (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1) and The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Synopsis for Cross my Heart (from Goodreads):
Venice, 1585.

When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura’s father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice’s fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura’s prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister’s death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust

Series Review: Games by Nyrae Dawn

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

Charade by Nyrae Dawn | Games Series

 

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Games
Author: Nyrae Dawn
# of Books: 3 (Charade, Façade, Masquerade)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2012 – January 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

I was really excited to read this book. Despite my hate of predictable books, I really enjoy romance books where people accidentally fall in love while “playing a game.” Weird, I know, but I think in the New Adult genre when this happens you really see the connection between the two people (in most cases!). It’s not just the sex or physical attraction between them because they actually talk to and get to know each other and from there, love develops. It makes the relationship that touch more realistic to me and let’s me enjoy the story that much more.

This book started off on shaky ground initially for me because it seemed to me that it was going to be a little “high school-y”. The drama between Cheyenne and her ex-boyfriend could have been really juvenile–and to a degree it was–but once you get past that (just a few chapters in) it starts to get deeper into the characters and their past and becomes much more mature. (Also, no love triangle!)

The story with Colt’s mom broke my heart. I did cry because it was very well done and made you feel what Colt was feeling. I really liked Colt because he was relatable and understandable. You could clearly see why he was struggling. Same with Cheyenne’s story. She started off a little weak in her convictions but she really grows into a strong, independent woman. Everything was well connected and I really enjoyed that.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about this book only that I didn’t like how quickly they switched from a fake relationship of holding hands to “friends-with-benefits”. It just seemed a little out of character for Cheyenne given her background story but it’s not an absolute deal breaker for me–and given the circumstances they find themselves in, I let it slide.

To end on a positive note: one thing I really liked about this book is that Colt and Cheyenne’s story ends in Charade. The next book is about Colt’s friend Adrian who appears throughout the book enough that I am excited to see what his story is.

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–May 24, 2014– Book #2: Façade

This was such a refreshing read for me!

I really liked the story and I loved the characters! I simply devoured it and I really didn’t know how everything was going to go down. I loved the moments we get with characters of the past and I really fell in love with the new set as well.

I’m super excited for Masquerade and can’t wait to finally read it!

–November 19, 2016– Book #3: Masquerade

Gah! Nyrae Dawn has made me believe in soulmates with these two!

This is what I want to see in a romance: two people who compliment each other so well that is is simply a blast to watch them fall for each other!

Yes, they had great physical chemistry; the sexual tension was off the charts from the start. But at the same time, it was a slow burn type of romance. One that took its time and made it 100% believable.

And the character development! Perfection! Watching these two come to terms with their pasts was a beautiful thing to see. You don’t get any unnecessary drama in this plot at all. It sticks to the story of two people finding love when they never thought they could.

This book was just awesome! Exactly what I wanted and what I needed to read.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Charade 4/5 | Facade 4/5 | Masquerade 5/5

overall

This is one of those character centered series that you will fall in love with. It’s amazing how quickly you get attached to them. I definitely shed some tears in each of these novels! It’s a great series for anyone who doesn’t want all the unnecessary, soap-opera-esque drama New Adult stories often have.

Read if You Like: character development, new adult romances
Avoid if You: want lots of drama

similarreads

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Synopsis for Charade (from Goodreads):
Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection.

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom’s dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it’s what he wants too.

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne’s past isn’t what she thought? Soon they’re trading one charade for another—losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only thing they have that feels real.

Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

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Series Review: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

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

book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for City of Bones (from Goodreads):

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #5; Sad to See Go Series 2014
Series: The Mortal Instruments
Author: Cassandra Clare
# of Books: 6 (Full List Here)

The Prequel Series is the Infernal Devices Trilogy; There will be a sequel series released in 2016 (The Dark Artifices); There is also a spin-off series, The Bane Chronicles — More Info on all here

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Action, Magic, Romance, Paranormal
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2007 – May 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!

thoughts

I had a friend in high school who was really into this series but I didn’t actually decide to read the series until first year university. This worked to my advantage because by this time, the first three books of the series had been released and I didn’t have to wait for them to be released. Which was FANTASTIC because these books are a non-stop train of awesome and you want to stay on board for as long as possible!

No, in all seriousness, I really enjoyed these books and they were hard to put down!

The series was originally supposed to be a trilogy and you can see that in the first three books. There is a definite story arc that builds in City of Bones and City of Ashes and concludes in City of Glass. City of Fallen Angels was intended to be a spin-off of sorts but it actually begins a new arc for all the characters in the previous books. The story isn’t as strong as the first 3 books but by no means is it weak! Clare does a fantastic job of creating a probable storyline using the events of the previous 3 books in the last 3 books so fans will really enjoy books 4-6.

There is literally something for everyone in these books. There are creative and constantly twisting plots that will draw you into this story. Because the POV (though it is 3rd person) shifts amongst multiple characters there are multiple plots going on. However, it is really easy to follow what is going on. However, I recommend that you get as many of the books as possible when you start to read because you will want the next novel ASAP.

The cast of characters in this series is also amazing. There are characters you love and love to hate. There are relationships to cheer for and ones that make you cringe. There are awesome bromances and friendships–so let’s just say the characters really make this series and they a big reason this series is so addicting.

Why people might not like this series?

If you don’t like paranormal creatures (ie. vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc.) you won’t like what is going on here. The characters would also be another reason. As I said before, there are some you love to hate. I don’t particularly like Clary–my like of her fluctuates depending on what she is doing in the novel–but if you find you don’t like a character, that can be a big turn off for a book and I get that. My argument would be that you don’t like everyone in everyday life so you can tolerate those characters and focus on the ones you do like (like Alec :P).

The other argument I see people make is that it takes storylines from other series, therefore it isn’t original. Yes, it has similar stories from other books/movies/etc. but what doesn’t nowadays? When you study major English works you quickly discover that a vast majority use text references to other works–and you know what, there are actually admired and respected for the link! I would love to argue this point but to sum it up it is my opinion that Cassandra Clare has blended various story elements together to create a fantastic world with fascinating characters and plots! This world may not be for everyone but it works for me and I love it!

updates

–August 2, 2014– Book #6: City of Heavenly Fire

I just finished reading the last book of the series, City of Heavenly Fire and what a roller coaster that has been! As a huge fan of this series I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. Out of the last three novels in the series, this one was by far the best. It had the perfect blend of a fast, interesting plot but enough “character moments” (basically fan service but not the dirty kind) to satisfy longstanding fans of the series. Overall, I’m really impressed with how this last half of the series concluded and can’t wait for the next spinoff–The Dark Artifices–to begin. (And in case your wondering, we do get to meet the next set of characters for the next series and it really sets up an interesting stage for their time here).

When To Read the Infernal Devices?

I just want to say a quick word about the Infernal Devices Series and when you should read it. I read it right when it came out, which is when the first 3 books of the Mortal Instruments had been published and I continued to read them as they came out. This worked out well I would say because the prequel series is directly linked to the events of the last half (3 books) of the Mortal Instruments. So while you can read the Infernal Devices before you even read Mortal Instruments, I would almost wait until you read City of Glass to start it. But definitely read it before the last book, City of Fallen Angels or else you won’t appreciate some of the scenes and events we get because you aren’t familiar with certain characters and stories.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is one of the best series I have ever read. While reading I’ve felt every possible emotion. I’ve cried, shrieked for joy and threatened to toss the book across the room throughout this series. I’m so addicted to this series it’s crazy. The only negative thing I have to say is that I hate waiting for the next one 😛 (But if it means that I have to wait for awesomeness then that is what I will do)! Give it a shot if you like paranormal action series, but if you don’t enjoy the first one, City of Bones, you won’t enjoy the rest of the series so it would be my advice for you to stop.

similarreads
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices, #1)
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey Series, #1)

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Series Review: Young Love by Amanda Heath

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

This Beautiful Thing | Young Love Series

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Series: Young Love
Author: Amanda Heath
# of Books: 4 (This Beautiful Thing, Fire in Her Eyes, Norma Jean, Wrong Kind of Love)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Drama, Romance, Forbidden Love
Heat Rating: really warm

Thoughts on This Beautiful Thing:

Disclaimer: I stopped reading this series after This Beautiful Thing. Find out why below…

I nearly put this book down after the first chapter (which is 3 pages on my Kobo) for three main reasons:

  1. the characters
  2. the story
  3. the writing itself.

Let’s start with the characters. The book alternates between Teagan and Delcan first person POV. When I read Teagan’s POV, I feel like I am killing brain cells. She is not what I enjoy in a leading lady and if she was a person in my real life, I would avoid her at all costs. I’m not even sure how to describe what it is that irks me about her. She is just one of those characters I can’t stand. I guess it’s because she seems to be a bit of a drama queen and lacks logic in her actions. She gets angry without hearing the full story and assumes something else and then goes, “you’re right I never thought of it like that, I’m sorry”. She flips sides like a coin and it’s not something I enjoy in my characters. Delcan’s POV is slightly better to read so I enjoy the break that happens when I read his story.

Which brings me to the story. It’s stereotypical and because the characters are very immature it comes across as juvenile. It felt like I was reading a story about high school seniors from 90210 and not about college students because all the issues were really petty. The best way I can think to describe the story is as a soap-opera–which I don’t mind watching on TV, but I don’t enjoy reading about it. It takes things to extreme levels–levels that don’t need to be reached in order to make this story enjoyable.

I think the reason this book came across as juvenile is due to the writing. It’s not the best writing I have had to read and (this sounds awful but) it seems to me like a teenager wrote this after watching too many soap-operas. And there were A TON of grammatical and spelling errors. When I read eBooks, I let the occasional typo slide by–I mean it happens–but these are obvious mistakes that everyone learns in grade school (“to” instead of “two”; “its” instead of “it’s”; no commas; using the completely wrong word; etc.). (Which is a problem I see with eBooks as anyone can self-publish books and sell them online without getting someone to edit it). I think part of the reason I only continued to read this book was to see how many errors I could find (FYI, I lost count). Needless to say, the constant errors really turned me off this book.

The next book in the series, Wrong Kind of Love features a new set of characters as the leads but are characters we are introduced to in This Beautiful Thing. I don’t think I am going to pick this one up because it seems to be about a love triangle. I already hate love triangles and I’m not a fan of the first book so it just seems like a no-brainer to avoid book 2 at all costs. Not even the many hints near the end of this book will tempt me to see what actually goes down in the sequel.

Conclusion:

This is one of the worst books I have read all year. I’m glad I only spent a dollar on it, otherwise, I would be getting a refund. It had an interesting concept but failed to deliver.

Rating: 1/5

Similar Reads:

Synopsis for This Beautiful Thing (from Goodreads):
Teagan Harper doesn’t have much experience with guys. Her twin brothers have made sure of that. Until one night at a college party she gives them the slip, finding herself in the arms of the most amazing guy she has ever met. Now she’s on a mission to find him since she ran from his bed. And forgot to ask his name…

Declan Sage has had control over his entire life. But that is all about to change when the girl who ran out of his bed turns his life upside down. She is about to throw that control out the window. But he’s pretty sure that’s a good thing seeing as she stole his heart…

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Series Review: The Sullivans by Bella Andre

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

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Synopsis for The Look of Love (from Goodreads):
Chloe Peterson is having a bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. And when her car skids off the side of a wet country road straight into a ditch, she’s convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?

As a successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women, and whenever he’s home in San Francisco, one of his seven siblings is usually up for causing a little fun trouble. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is—until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, but he quickly realizes she has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love—and protect—her, but will she let him?

Chloe vows never to make the mistake of trusting a man again. Only, with every loving look Chase gives her—and every sinfully sweet caress—as the attraction between them sparks and sizzles, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the only exception. And although Chase didn’t realize his life was going to change forever in an instant, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether…for Chloe’s heart.

breakdown
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Top Family Series
Series: The Sullivans; The San Francisco Sullivans

There are spin-off series: Seattle Sullivans & New York Sullivans & Summer Lake

Author: Bella Andre
# of Books: 10 (Full Reading Order Here)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Families, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

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Please Note: This is an ongoing series review as I have not read all the books in the series.

I decided to read this series after I got the 3rd one, Can’t Help Falling in Love for free from a Kobo promotion last year. Because it was the 3rd one, I decided to read the first two in order to not lose out on the history (though you can totally read these books in any order without it taking anything away from the current story).

I nearly stopped reading The Look of Love because it was everything I hate in a romance: instant love-at-first-sight romance and that irks me to no end. I love fiction because it isn’t real life but I don’t like love at first sight–to me it’s just lust and physical attraction and I like my romances to be slightly realistic. It also didn’t help that I didn’t care for Chase or Chloe so it was a battle to read. The only reason I finished was because it was extremely short so it wasn’t a huge waste of my time.

Within the last few chapters of book 1, I decided I wasn’t going to continue with the series. I had the free book 3 but it was just going to sit on my Kobo at no loss to me. But then, I finished the 1st book and guess what? It ends in a pretty steep cliff-hanger about a character I actually enjoyed so I decided to pick up From This Moment On because I really wanted to see where it went. Damn.

Luckily, From This Moment On was significantly better in my opinion than The Look of Love. I liked the relationship that develops between Marcus and his lady. Unlike Chloe and Chase, they realise that their relationship was more physical initially but I feel like they actually got to know each other on a deeper level than just sex. It was a cute, quick read and you meet more of the Sullivan family so I decided to stick with it.

From then on, the rest of the books get better! I think part of it has to do with the fact that you are slowly introduced to the rest of the Sullivan clan as you read along and you get attached to the secondary characters and want to see what happens to them. The other reason is that the next book picks up directly where the previous book left off so it’s like you are reading one long, continuous story.

My favourites of the series so far have been Book 2 (From This Moment On); Book 3 (Can’t Help Falling in Love); Book 4 (I Only Have Eyes for You); and Book 6 (Let me be the One).

One thing I find with Bella Andre’s writing is that she tends to have subplots (by this I mean storylines that aren’t the romantic relationship) that build throughout the story and then end suddenly (conclude within 5 pages). I find it can be a bit of a let down because as I am reading I think more is going to happen with this plot and then it doesn’t. Not all the books in the series have this but some do.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I still have to read the last 3 in the series. From what I have read, The Way you Look Tonight is about a Sullivan cousin and not any of the siblings we see throughout the first 7 books. The last book is about the sibling’s parents so I am really excited to read that this fall!

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a super quick romantic read that is heavy on the romance and not much on anything else, pick these books up. If you didn’t enjoy The Look of Love give From This Moment On a chance because the rest of the series is much better in its delivery.

Read if You Like: quick reads, family stories
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love, want more depth

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Spin-off Saturdays: Starling Series by Lesley Livingston

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:

Starling Trilogy is a spin-off of the Wondrous Strange Trilogy

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Authors
Series: Starling Trilogy
Author: Lesley Livingston
# of Books: 3 (Starling, Descendant, Transcendent)

This is a spinoff of the Wondrous Strange Series.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Norse Legends, Action, Romance, Mythology
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

Lesley Livingston is one of my must-read authors: I love her work. Her stories always have a fabulous blend of action, romance and awesome background stories of legends or older stories. When I heard that she was writing a spin-off from the Wondrous Strange Series (an all time favourite series of mine), I grabbed a copy as soon as I was able.

I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. Mason was a kick-ass heroine and her family story was super interesting. Fennrys wasn’t one of my favourite characters from the Wondrous Strange series but he really grew on me in this one. Like most characters who are in the original series, you often judge them through the eyes of another character. But when the perspective shifts to them in a new series (or even a later book) you really appreciate them as a character.

There was a lot going on in this book so it was never a dull moment! There are a few twists here and there so it wasn’t predictable (BONUS!). I also loved the Norse god mythology in this. It’s something that isn’t as popular in young adult books so it was a nice change from faeries and vampires.

I recommend that you make note of details in this book as it will pay off in seeing why things are happening and they will no doubt influence the rest of the books in the series.

Updated (Dec 7/13): Descendant was absolutely fantastic! What I love about it most is that it doesn’t fall into clichés and I really like Mason. While she may be love sick for Fennrys, it doesn’t weaken her in any way. This book had great plot twists and really builds up for the climax. Super excited to see how this all ends!

Updated (Jan 6/15): I won’t lie, I was a little lost when I started reading Transcendent. Despite my pretty thorough synopsis notes, I still had a hard time grasping everything initially–that`s what happens when you read a sequel book one year later! However, I quickly got into the swing of the things to get enough of the major plot points. But I do know that I would haven enjoyed this final book a lot more if I read it right after Descendant just because all the little things would have been fresh in my mind. All and all, a solid way to end the series and exactly what I was expecting and hoping for! A great series from beginning to end!

Conclusion:

Starling is quite different from Wondrous Strange because of the use of Norse legends instead of the Shakespearian faeries. It is still written in similar style but the characters and plots are completely different. It’s a nice change but fans of the first series will like this one I’m sure. You also don’t have to read the Wondrous Strange Series first, but it will help set some context for this series.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (Wondrous Strange Trilogy); Stork by Wendy Delsol (Stork Trilogy)

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WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED THE Wondrous Strange Trilogy THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS HAS SPOILERS!

Synopsis for Starling (from Goodreads):
Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name–the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason’s world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn’s identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason’s family–with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods–is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston’s epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

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Series Review: Crash by Nicole Williams

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: A top New Adult Read
Series: Crash Trilogy
Author: Nicole Williams
# of Books: 3 (Crash, Clash, Crush)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Sports, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Crash & Clash: warm ; Crush: Really Warm

Thoughts:

This series will forever hold a special place in my heart as it is the first New Adult read I have ever picked up and I credit it with introducing me to the genre. It’s a great series and a great way to get a feel for the New Adult genre but without all the sex that seems to accompany some books in the genre (there isn’t very much in the first two books).

I went into Crash with very low expectations. It was my plan when I started it to finish it ASAP so I could start another book but I quickly got into the story and finished it super quickly anyways 😛 I think the book summary for Crash is a little deceiving (it’s posted at the end of the blog post FYI). I went into this book thinking it was going to be your typical bad boy-good girl relationship but it wasn’t. I also thought it was going to focus more on Lucy’s dancing but it doesn’t–which is a good thing in my opinion, dance isn’t really my thing to read about. There isn’t a ridiculous plot that the characters go through, it’s more focused on how their pasts effect their futures but that is what I liked about the story.

Throughout the series, I had a love-hate relationship with Jude and Lucy, the main characters.

I’ll start with Jude. You could tell her adored Lucy so I liked that. In Crash, he reminded a lot of a young Christian Grey minus the need to dominate his woman (ie no BDSM). He is very possessive which is really attractive and I know that makes girls swoon but it is also scary because it could have been too much. Actually, at some points in the book I felt like the relationship bordered on unhealthy (it’s actually alluded to in later books which I thought was ironic). My mind often drifted to another book I had read this year, The Taming by Teresa Toten, where a teen relationship turns into an abusive one. I really feared that this was going to happen here but I’m glad it didn’t.

I think part of the reason it didn’t border on unhealthy was because of Lucy–which is why I liked her. She was a strong character who was also independent and intelligent enough to realize when Jude needed to turn it down a notch. She freely expresses her thoughts on his actions and makes sure she is heard by him as well. Though sometimes I found her to be a little contradictory in what she said/did so that caused me to like her a little less as the books went on. But to her credit, she does grow considerably as the series progresses so that is nice to see.

Which is another thing I like about this series: it’s relatable to its readers. A majority of what Lucy and Jude go through, especially once they reach college, is something that a majority of young adults go through. The series was definitely a more realistic New Adult series than what I am used to reading which is refreshing.

Clash was great. I read it in a day–which sucked because I had to wait 4 months for Crush. Crush was great also. I always get worried with romance trilogies that follow the same two characters because often times the story gets dragged out and the last book ends up being disappointing. I am happy to say that wasn’t the case here. Crush was a fantastic end to the series.

Conclusion:

For those just starting out in the New Adult world, this is a great bridge to reach there! For those who want a less “sex-focused” New adult read, grab this! Or if you just want to read about a couple growing individually while within a relationship, check this out!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: The Perfect Game (Perfect Game Series) by J. Sterling

Synopsis for Crash (from Goodreads):
Jude Ryder and Lucy Larson are this generation’s Romeo and Juliet: Explosive. Sizzling. Tragic.

A steamy summer encounter with bad boy Jude means trouble for Lucy. Her sights are set on becoming a ballerina, and she won’t let anything get in her way . . . except Jude.

He’s got a rap sheet, dangerous mood swings, and a name that’s been sighed, shouted, and cursed by who knows how many girls.

Jude’s a cancer, the kind of guy who’s fated to ruin the lives of girls like Lucy—and he tells her so.

But as rumors run rampant and reputations are destroyed, Lucy’s not listening to Jude’s warning. Is tragedy waiting in the wings? This racy romance is hot, hot, hot!

Series Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #7 of Favourite Series List
Series: Wondrous Strange Trilogy

The spin-off series is called Starling that takes place after these novels

Author: Lesley Livingston
# of Books: 3 (Wondrous Strange, Darklight, Tempestuous)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Faeries, Shakespeare, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool

Thoughts:

This series is one that I could reread again and again–I actually borrowed all the books from the library and then decided to buy them all because I enjoyed them so much. It was with this series that Lesley Livingston became a must-read author for me.

If you have read some of my other reviews, you know that I am a Shakespeare nut. Anything with his name and I am there; so to pick up this book was a no brainer. I also enjoy books with Faeries (ie. The Wicked Lovely Series which is another personal favourite series) so I was intrigued to how Faeries would be portrayed in this book (as they tend to vary in series). It seemed like an awesome combo so I was excited to begin.

Obviously, I am happy to say that this series did not disappoint! It has everything I enjoy in a series, like action, romance, plot twists and great characters. Each book in the series has a great, solid story. Unlike some series that have weaker books in order to progress, I found that these books built upon each other to reach a final climax. I was never bored with the series because there is enough going on to grab your attention.

I really liked Kelley as the heroine. She was strong, independent and most importantly intelligent. She wasn’t catty or whiney and if she didn’t like something she made ever effort to change it herself. Sonny was fantastic too. A totally swoon worthy hero and I liked the relationship that develops between them. Both characters were consistent in their delivery throughout the series (ie. they didn’t do a 180 in the second book to become a different character) which is a huge bonus for me.

Although Shakespeare plays a big role in the background information of the story, it isn’t necessary to know A Midsummer Night’s Dream by heart to get a feel for the book or understand what is going on. Livingston weaves all her story elements together so well that it’s easy to follow. I really appreciate her ability to weave and create worlds and it’s what makes her work so enjoyable in my opinion.

Conclusion:

A great paranormal young adult read for those who like unpredictable stories. Romance isn’t the primary focus of this novel but neither is Shakespeare. It is mostly a book about Faeries and the Otherworld. I highly recommend getting all three books at once when you plan to read as there is details in earlier books that it is nice to remember when you read the next one.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (The Wicked Lovely Series) and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey Saga) and Starling by Lesley Livingston

Synopsis for Wondrous Strange (from Goodreads):
17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn’t believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theatre, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: onstage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks… In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley’s off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye.