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DNF Series Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

DNF Series Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 2: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Born of Illusion (from Goodreads):

Anna Van Housen has a secret.

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

breakdown

Series: Born of Illusion
Author: Teri Brown
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #1.5 Born of Corruption

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2013 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**Disclaimer: I stopped reading Born of Illusion at 41% (start of Chapter 14) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I kinda forgot I had this series on my TBR to be honest. It wasn’t listed on my Goodreads one but I had marked it for my library Wishlist and when I needed another 2013 pick for my 2018 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge, this seemed like the perfect fit.

I’ve been dying for another great Flapper read since I read The Flappers. And add to this the idea of magic and Houdini? I’m so there!

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

There is just something so addicting to me about the 1920s era of history. You’ve got the clash of mystisicim and industry/science; the lavish lifestyles and the hidden ones. It’s just a rich setting that immediately draws me in.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Basic Approach–

There isn’t anything WOW about this book. Yes, Anna’s powers and situation with her mother are interesting but if you strip that away it isn’t anything new. I was 41% of the way in and we had repeated the same stuff over and over and it just frankly wasn’t interesting.

–Recycling the Same Sentiments–

And if we weren’t redoing the same plot, we were rehashing the same feelings.

This mostly has to do with the romance and the setup for a love triangle. While I understand why she might be drawn to the two boys, I didn’t need to be reminded of the same three things again and again.

The same thing goes with her relationship with her mother. I get that it’s a tough one (her mom is certainly no peach), but like move on? Or shift the focus slightly because I get the idea that things are rough between them already.

Will I Finish It?

Nope.

My Rating: DNF

Born of Illusion DNF | [Born of Corruption N/A] | Born of Deception N/A

overall

Even the Great Houdini couldn’t make me enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: 1920s setting, magic
Avoid if You: want a more complex plot

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

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Single Sundays: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

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

Synopsis for Velvet Undercover (from Goodreads):

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

breakdown

Author: Teri Brown
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Thriller, Espionage, WWI
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good espionage story and I’ve read some great ones set in WWI. I’m not sure how this one crossed my radar (I’ve noted it was from another blog but this was before I noted the blogs–doh!) but I was excited to see how this would unfold.

The Concept / The World:

I loved how each chapter started by defining an espionage term. Quite a few I knew but others I hadn’t so that was a great way to get into the story. Sam isn’t just playing spy here. The stakes are high and it is a matter of life and death for her.
It doesn’t dwell too much on the history of the time, just enough to give you the importance of the situation and help you identify the point of time. However, I wasn’t reading this for the history necessarily. I was more interested in the spy elements so it wasn’t a major issue for me.

The Plot:

I enjoyed the suspense of Sam’s mission. There were so many unknowns that it kept me hooked. The story just gets more convoluted as you go. However, we never dwell too long on anything. Which has its advantages and disadvantages. It isn’t an overly complicated spy story but it also just scratches the surface of the potential story it could have. So while it kept my attention, I craved more.
I also thought that identity of her target was super predictable. I had guessed it pretty early on and while I did waver slightly as the story evolves, I was proven right. That being said, there were a few twists that I didn’t expect so that impressed me.

The Characters:

I liked Sam as a lead. She’s smart yet flawed and it was interesting to see how she evolved as a spy and character.
I also liked how everyone has their own mystery to them that only gets uncovered as you read more about them. It added a little suspense to the story because you weren’t sure who you could and couldn’t trust.

The Romance:

Definitely the weakest part of the story due to its superficial nature. Given the “forbidden” nature  of it, it could have had more tension. It isn’t a huge aspect to the story but it plays enough of a role to interfere with the plot at times.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Despite some of its flaws, this story is definitely enjoyable! It’s fast and always evolving so readers will no doubt be entertained though they might crave a little more.

Read if You Like: espionage novels, women in WWI
Avoid if You: a true espionage thriller
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