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Series Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

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 Perfected (from Goodreads):

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows… and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving… and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Kiera Cass’ Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

breakdown

Series: Perfected Trilogy
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
# of Books: 3 (Perfected, Tarnished, Unraveled)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2014 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (Perfected); Netgalley–eARC

Tarnished & Unraveled were provided via NetGalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I initially had this series as a pass after reading a few mixed reviews. But then I saw the audiobook at my library and decided to give it a second chance. I was intrigued by the concept and I seem to have great success listening to dystopian YA worlds (The Lone City Trilogy for example) so why not?

The Concept / The World:

The idea that girls are bred as pets for wealthy people is an interesting and unique dystopian spin. I’ve read books where girls are bred for surrogates (The Jewel) or girls are sent off to marry older men to repopulate the world (Wither) but nothing of this variety before.

What’s the purpose? Why has society come to this?

Unfortunately, we don’t really explore this too much, especially in Perfected (Book #1). I think we get one line in Perfected that gives us the history of why they started breeding girls (or at least where the idea originated from). So in that respect, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to learn more.

However, I find the sequels do a better job or highlighting the various issues of having “pets”. The focus shifts to questions about what makes someone human and allusions to owning humans (ie slavery). It gets more of a social conscience as the story progresses and that definitely appealed to me as a reader.

The Plot:

I’d have a hard time telling you the exact plot for Perfected  (Book 1) because there isn’t too much of one. The synopsis is a touch misleading because the kidnapping aspects seems like it would be the main plot-point but it isn’t. It’s a crucial moment in the novel but it isn’t the main story.

Perfected is mostly about Ella losing her naivety about the world. She’s been at her “kennel” for 16 years and told the world is a certain way. But as she lives in the real world, her ideology changes and she grows as a person. It isn’t terribly exciting but I did find myself entertained nonetheless. I love good character progression and Ella–though she makes some mistakes–is endearing in her efforts.

Compared to the first novel, the sequels (Tarnished and Unraveled) have much better pacing and are constantly introducing new elements into the plot. I didn’t find myself getting bored or lost in the mundane everyday life of a pet. Ella gets tested and she has some hard decisions to make and I loved watching that journey.

The Characters:

Like I said, Ella is naive but given the circumstances of her life up until the start of Perfected, it makes sense. I think people might forget that a little. She’s the very definition of sheltered and so she has a child-like approach to the world. I found as the story progressed, she evolved and the gears started turning for her a little more. She broke out of that shell and I liked that. Sure, she makes some silly mistakes but I find she is constantly learning and evolving as a character and you can’t ask for much more than that.

I also really liked some of the side characters as well, especially as the series progressed. There’s one character who completely captivated me with her story and I think she provides a nice complement to Ella with her someone jaded personality and approach.

The Romance:

Truthfully, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance between Ella and Penn. It’s one of those situations where they connected over one thing (music) and the rest is developed “off-camera” away from the reader. It’s cute but it just seemed fluffy to me. But it is a good catalyst for driving the plot forward, especially in the sequels. It isn’t a huge focus moving forward so I appreciated that and I even appreciated the sweet moments later on.

My Audiobook Experience for Perfected (#1):

I was only able to read Perfected as an audiobook and I’m glad I did. I think getting Ella’s tone of voice as she narrated her story helped me understand her character a lot more. I could understand her struggles and developed sympathy for her character which allowed me to enjoy the story more. Having that voice in my head as I read the print versions of the sequels helped me establish her character as well.

Series Rating: 4/5

Perfected 3/5 | Tarnished 4/5 | Unraveled 4/5

overall

Despite a slower start in Book #1, I found this series grew exponentially as the sequels evolved. It’s an intriguing concept and world and I think if you take the time to establish everything in the first novel, you’ll appreciate the great sequels.

Read if You Like: light dystopian, romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, action

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Series Review: Maybe by Ella Miles

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 Maybe Yes (from Goodreads):

Her future is already set, all she has to do is marry a complete stranger.

Kinsley Felton has everything. Money, a loving family, and a modeling career. She graduates from Yale in just days, but unlike a typical college student she doesn’t have to spend hours looking for a job when she graduates. Kinsley will inherit the multi-billion dollar gaming and hospitality company her great-grandfather started. The only problem is she has to do everything her family asks for in order to get that money. That includes marrying a man of her family’s choosing. That’s not a problem since Kinsley has been following her family’s orders all her life. Until a phone call from her grandfather changes everything.

Will she marry the man her family chooses or will she decide her own future?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Dark Romance 2017
Series: Maybe

There is a spin-off series called Definitely.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Maybe Yes, Maybe Never, Maybe Always)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: getting hot (Kink: mild in Maybe Always)
Point of View: First Person, Single (Maybe Yes), Alternating (Maybe Never onwards)
Publication Dates: March – July 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Amazon freebie box set)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found out about Maybe Yes but I marked it on my TBR around the time it was first published in March 2016. And then I really lucked out when the trilogy boxset was listed as a freebie read on Amazon in February 2017. It’s not often that a book I mark as a TBR gets a reduced price let alone the entire series is marked as free so I immediately grabbed a copy.

This was a romance right up my alley! I like to read about unorthodox relationships in my romances–I find they keep things interesting between the usually romantic fare. And the “arranged relationship” trope is one of my faves as well. So to find one that seemed to combine both was awesome! However, I was hesitant that I wouldn’t like Kinsley’s character (I don’t like indecisive heroines) but went in with an open mind and was really excited to start this series when I pulled it from my TBR jar for my #ShelfLove Challenge!

The Concept:

The disclaimer for this series actually supremely helpful in preparing the reader for what to expect. Because the story we get in Maybe Yes (book 1) is nothing like the story we get in Maybe Always (book 3).

Warning: Three book series. Contains hot sex, a female that finds her strength, and dark pasts that turn very dark as the series progresses. Only for those that love dirty romances, edge of your seat suspense, twists, and a little bit of darkness.

That first part about a “female that finds her strength” is key when it comes to meeting Kinsley for the first time. She’s a naive girl who has her whole life controlled by her family–and for some unknown reason–so it makes her seem like she isn’t the brightest girl on the planet. But that also provides the perfect opportunity for character growth. More on that below. My point is, thanks to that disclaimer, I was able to have some patience with her character in that first book. I was able to get some understanding for why the situation is what it is.

The same thing goes for the “dark pasts” aspect. This isn’t just a story about a girl deciding if her arranged marriage will work for her–there is so much more going on and this story goes in a direction I never expected. It’s not your everyday contemporary romance (despite how the synopsis for book 1 reads) and that’s what I loved about it.

The Plot:

Like I said, this book always had me guessing! The plot is never what it seems and the twists are fabulous! I was absolutely hooked on this story and easily could have read all three books in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way.

But like the disclaimer said, this series moves in a direction you probably aren’t expecting when you pick up Maybe Yes. It has an edge of danger to it that I think some readers might not enjoy if they prefer their lighter romances that focus on the sexy times and everyday dramatics. There’s nothing “everyday” about this series at all.

The Characters:

The Kinsley we have in book 1 is by no means the Kinsley we get in book 3. Her character progression was fabulous to read. She truly gains her independence and learns that she is more than the beauty her family has told her to bank on her entire life. And what I really loved is that she doesn’t become co-dependent on her romantic interest either. You could have easily removed his role and you would still get this strong heroine at the end.

This series is really about Kinsley becoming her own woman but you need a strong partner as well. I’m not going to name her romantic interest because I think it is a slight spoiler; but I will say that I really loved his character and the role he plays. He was a great partner for Kinsley’s journey because he has one he has to complete as well.

The Romance:

While this happens pretty fast and doesn’t seem like it has too much depth to it, I think it’s easy for the reader to see why these two would work together. Like I said above, they were a great partnership and had fantastic chemistry to boot!

Series Rating: 4/5

Maybe Yes 4/5 | Maybe Never 4/5 | Maybe Always 4/5

overall

Take the disclaimer to heart. If you don’t like suspense or darker romances (like the ones in my similar reads section below), avoid this! But if you want a story that is always twisting with a heroine that truly grows as the story progresses, check it out!

Read if You Like: dark romances, suspense, danger
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, want a lighter read

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ARC Audio Review: Man Hands (#1) by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

ARC Audio Review: I share my review of an audio release:

Man Hands Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Man Hands (from Goodreads):

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2018 Audiobook
Series: Man Hands
Author: Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby
# of Books: 2 (Man Hands, Man Card)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: I think
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: AudioBoom–Audiobook (via Audible)

thoughts

Please Note: This is just a review of Book #1, Man Hands!

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Of course the cover caught my attention but the synopsis had me going YES PLEASE! I’m all for humourous books and now that I’ve discovered my love of romance audiobooks, this seemed like a great one to try next!

The Plot:

I really wasn’t sure what the plot was going to be given the synopsis but this book surprised me in the best way. These two find themselves in some crazy situations and hilarity ensues. But it also has its touching moments as well where these two connect on that deeper level I love to see.

The Characters:

It helps that the leads are who they are; this story wouldn’t be the same without them. Brynn is a bit of an oddball but still utterly charming. I loved watching her rebuild her confidence after her divorce and discovering her own self-worth as the story progressed. And Tom is a great complement to her character as he too has to rebuild his confidence in the romance department.

The Romance:

Watching them fight (but never really succeeding) their fabulous connection made for an epic read. Seriously. I’ve never laughed so hard during a sex scene before while still finding the entire thing to be sexy. Their chemistry is palpable and their inner monologue about the other person had me swooning throughout. These two are just the cutest!

My Audiobook Experience:

Like I said before, I had so much fun listening to this book! The narrators totally made it this awesome experience because I honestly don’t think I would have enjoyed the humour as much otherwise. Erin Mallon as Brynn managed to capture this quirky character and bring her to life in a very humourous way. She made me love Brynn instantly as soon as her inner monologue started. And Luke Daniels as Tom is perfection! He sounds exactly like I’d expect a manly TV handy man to sound–like a sexy Ron Swanson (which is something I thought I’d never say) but it totally works for this book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next duo’s story! Their scenes together in Man Hands had me dying for more so I’m very excited to read their story!

Series Rating: 5/5

Man Hands 5/5 | Man Card TBA

overall

I had an absolute BLAST listening to this audiobook! This book was this wicked combination of sweet, sexy and absolutely hilarious. I honestly don’t think I have laughed so much while reading book in a long time.

Read if You Like: quirky humour, sexy reads, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike slapstick comedy, dislike crude language

similarreads

  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Cocktail Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • You’ve Got Fail by Celia Ahren
  • The Score by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus Series #2)

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Series Review: Breakaway by L P Dover

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 Hard Stick (from Goodreads):

He carries a big stick. And he’s not afraid to use it.

On the ice, I’m Kellan Carter, powerhouse enforcer for the Charlotte Strikers. Off the ice, I’m just a regular guy. The last thing I want is to get mobbed by a bunch of groupies who are only after me for my fame and money. My ideal woman knows how to enjoy a little good, clean fun—and maybe some not-so-clean fun too. That’s the kind of girl I’d never let go.

When Kristen Robinson, the gorgeous, down-to-earth bartender I’ve been crushing on, agrees to let me take her out, I’m thrilled. We have an amazing night together, culminating in the most electrifying kiss of my life—and that’s it. Kristen tells me we can’t see each other again, but I know that kiss meant as much to her as it did to me. What I don’t know is that Kristen has a dangerous secret. . . .

I’ve proved to Kristen that she can trust me with her body and her heart. But when her past comes back to haunt her, I need to prove that she can trust me with her life. And I might have to get my hands dirty after all.

breakdown

Series: Breakaway
Author: L P Dover
# of Books: 3 (Hard Stick, Blocked, Playmaker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes – I think
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Hard Stick, Blocked); Netgalley (Playmaker)

Only Book #3 Playmaker was provided for review purposes.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a living embodiment of the Canadian stereotype that we like live hockey. While I might not watch the NHL every week, I watch every international tournament and won’t say no to watching a game in person.

So it’s no surprise my love of hockey has translated to my reading preferences as well. I’m a sucker for a hockey sports romance and when I read the synopsis for Playmaker, I just had to read it. When I discovered there were two other books (and they sounded good too!) I bought copies for my Kindle and dove right in!

The World:

I’ve never read an L P Dover novel before but she has a LOT of titles out there. If you are a fan of her work, I think you will enjoy some of the cameos that happen in Hard Stick (#1) from previous series. I love when authors integrate series together like this!

The Plot:

One thing I really liked about these series is that each book has a different take on the romance novel. It’s easy to do with series that are a collection of standalones but very few authors make each novel so different from each other; they usually stick to the same tone and tropes. However, this series has a different flavour to each novel. Hard Stick is a romantic suspense; Blocked is more your classic “off-limits” romance; and Playmaker is a second chance story. It just made everything seem unique and fresh when I picked up the next novel.

However, I did find that the same rushed plot was in all the novels (though not as much in Playmaker #3). Conflict is revolved with a snap of the fingers it seems and that stifled some of the character and plot development that could have occurred.

The Characters:

I liked the fact that all our leads have their own unique personalities. I didn’t feel like I was reading carbon copies throughout the series.

I have to give a shoutout to Maddox who is the lead in Playmaker (#3) because he has the best development of anyone in the series. I didn’t have the greatest impression of him in Hard Stick (#1) but he very quickly redeemed himself in Playmaker. I love a “bad-boy-gone-good” story and his was awesome.

The Romance:

I had the same issues with the romance as I did with the plot: it happens very quickly. All the relationships were very insta-love to me and seemed rushed. We don’t get to see that deeper connection with the characters and that stopped me from seeing these relationships as anything but lust-driven.

Series Rating: 3/5

Hard Stick 3/5 | Blocked 3/5 | Playmaker 3.5/5

overall

If you are looking for some quick sports romances that feature some hot hockey players, check this out!

Read if You Like: sports romances, quick reads
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love

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Novella Serial Review: Pulse by Deborah Bladon

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Pulse (from Goodreads):

Jessica Roth dumped her boyfriend, moved to New York and wanted desperately to start her new life off with a bang – a literal mind-blowing, soul-shaking night of pure, raw, memory making sex.

She thought her one time chance encounter with attorney, Nathan Moore, in a hotel room would become a jumping point for her exciting, single and adventurous life in the city.

One night turned into two, into four, and into more – always at the same place, always at the same time – no last names, no personal details, and absolutely no complications.

What Jessica doesn’t count on is that in Nathan’s world boundaries are made to be pushed.

He wanted her in ways he promised he never would. She wanted him in ways she couldn’t admit.

When their lives ultimately collide outside the walls of the hotel room, Jessica is forced to face the truth about the only man who has ever made her pulse race and her body ache with unadulterated pleasure.

breakdown

Series: Pulse

Part of a larger universe. Full reading order found here.

Author: Deborah Bladon
# of Parts: 4

There is a companion novella (#4.5) called Impulse

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May – September 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I tend to enjoy stories where the leads expectantly fall in love. I just love watching those feelings develop and seeing the sexual tension burning between them. And I’m always on the lookout for solid romance serials so this seemed like a no brainer for me.

The Plot:

What I really enjoyed about this serial is that it kept me guessing in terms of the dramatics. While I knew that there were going to be twists, I rarely guessed them right which is such a treat for me as a reader.

I also liked that it had a good balance between the sexy times, the character development and the plot. These are slightly longer novellas (~80 pages in each) so you do get that extra time to develop everything as opposed to the ~20 page novellas out there. And while there are plenty of sex scenes, I didn’t feel like I was only reading those.

The Characters:

I had a bit of an up and down with these two.

First, Jessica was a good heroine though near the end she started to run a little hot and cold. It was hard to keep track of her actions and thoughts because she seemed to be all over the place. Which made sense given some of the plot developments but sometimes it just seemed unnecessary.

As for Nathan, I really liked him in the first part. He had this great mysterious vibe to him that was alluring as a reader. But then he turned borderline abusive to me. He was suddenly very controlling and demanding–more so than the “typical” alpha male you see in erotica. I didn’t like how Jessica conformed to that either. In part 3, he seems to shy away from that attitude so it made it easier for me to read but it did diminish my like of him.

The Romance:

These two have a great chemistry that is there from the start. And despite the fact that things move fast, I really did like the emotional connection these two had. It isn’t totally apparent at the start but with the series as a whole, you could see why these two are a great match.

Details on Impulse (#4.5):

Impulse is a “companion sequel” to the Pulse series, told from Nathan’s POV. It’s about the total length of all 4 parts together and definitely a solid story.

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

I thoroughly enjoyed this serialized romance. It has passion, great drama and is definitely addicting!

Read if You Like: serialized romances, quick reads, good twists
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, quick romances
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Novella Serial Review: Chase by Cassia Leo

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Chase (from Goodreads):

Larissa Jacobs’ financial debt is climbing after a failed attempt at becoming the next big thing in Hollywood–and now her roommate has asked her to come up with the rent by the end of the weekend or she’ll be out on the street. But her roommate soon takes pity on her and offers to help her get a job working with him for an escort service. Larissa’s first client is Senator Chase Underwood: gorgeous, married, and the current presidential candidate. Will his penchant for sexual domination destroy his prospects of world domination?

breakdown

Series: Chase

Part of the broader Power Players Series (Luke Series & Knox Series)

Author: Cassia Leo
# of Parts: 4 (Chase, Disclosure, Exposure, Closure)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August – November 2012
Source & Format: Own–Kindle

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cassia Leo is one of those authors I have a lot of books by but haven’t really read. Despite being really excited for her Luke Series, I ended up DNFing it. So I was a little hesitant to start this one but the premise was really intriguing and it was only a total of 80 pages…

The Plot:

There isn’t too much of a plot besides Chase and Larissa trying to figure out how they can be together–and that isn’t overly complicated either. The pages consist of sexy times, Larissa pining for Chase and Chase promising they will be together before he departs. Rinse and repeat.

But the ending? While I expected it, I just didn’t like the far-fetched nature of it all.

The Characters:

When you have a series of this length, it’s hard to get to know these characters on a deeper level. But they work for this story. Could they have been elaborated on? For sure but they did the job well here.

The Romance:

They meet once, kiss and Chase decides he has to risk everything for a girl he essentially hooks-up with in a limo after 5 minutes of meeting. It’s classic over the top, insta-love at its “finest”–and I wasn’t really a fan.

Series Rating: 2/5

overall

If you want a super quick read of insta-love or love the idea of a presidental canditate falling for an escort, give it a try. Otherwise, pass!

Read if You Like: serialized novellas, erotica
Avoid if You: want a little more substance to your erotica

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Series Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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 Prisoner of Night and Fog (from Goodreads):

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

breakdown

Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
# of Books: 2 (Prisoner of Night and Fog, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2014 – 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series crossed my radar one day when I was blog-hopping. I’m not sure what blog specifically (this was before I started keeping notes) but I do think this series has been on quite a few over the years.

Anyways, the concept was really what drew me in and that’s why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge this year.

The Concept:

I’ve only read a few books set in WWII but what I really liked about this book was that it was set before the war started. When it comes to Hitler, I feel like we often focus on what he did during the war (and rightfully so) but not too much on how we got to that point. It’s a fascinating view point and provides quite a bit of insight on why WWII began. I will admit, I looked up a lot of things on Wikipedia to learn more and see how it this story was woven with history.

But that doesn’t mean this series is an easy read. Prisoner of Night and Fog opens with Gretchen’s brother beating a Jewish man simply for being a Jew and the narrator explains the ideology for his actions. And it’s hard to stomach as a reader–not only because it seems so “normal” but also because you know it is only going to get worse.

The Plot:

A Prisoner of Night and Fog started a little slowly as it established the setting and the circumstances Gretchen finds herself in. But once Gretchen starts her investigation, it really picks up. I love a good conspiracy theory and this one delivered. It gave this story a dangerous edge that kept the tensions high and me eager to see what would happen next.

And those tensions continue to be high in the aftermath of a Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. This one had a tone of suspense throughout that had me desparately wanting to know what would happen next. Trying to piece together how the current events of this novel lead to the start of WWII was such a refreshingly unique experience for me as a reader.

The Characters:

I thought Gretchen had tremendous growth as a character throughout this series. She transforms from a naive and gullible girl into a crafty and caring woman who can see the bigger picture of what is happening around her. I was definitely rooting for her and grew attached to her as a character.

And the rest of the characters do their jobs flawlessly.

The Romance:

I wasn’t going into this book expecting some epic romance and that definitely isn’t what we get. It does its job by keeping things simple and not distracting from the main plot of the story; rather, it enhances the various tensions in the book. It provides some context for the world Gretchen finds herself in but I never felt like this series was a romance set in dangerous times–it’s a story about dangerous times that features a romance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved the audiobook! Heather Wilds is the narrator and she is just fabulous. The accents were perfect, she didn’t sound ridiculous when she did the male voices (one of my biggest peeves) and she conveyed the right tone at all times. And while it was really hard to listen to some of the violence and ideology, I think that just made the book have a bigger impact on me as a reader.

I will say though that a certain character’s name was pronounced one way in the first book and then another in the second. It threw me for a bit but it doesn’t really matter. I just thought it was a little weird.

Series Rating: 4/5

Prisoner of Night and Fog 4/5 | Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke 4/5

overall

If you love historical novels that are lighter on the romance and seamlessly weaves history into its narrative, pick this one up!

Read if You Like: historical novels, WWII settings
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with violence or discrimination

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DNF Series Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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 Magonia (from Goodreads):
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

breakdown

Series: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
# of Books: 2 (Magonia, Aerie)

There may be a novella that is released.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2015 – October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Magonia at 19% (Page 60 of 309; Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it’s obvious the cover is what had me picking up this book. I mean, it’s gorgeous and in person you can easily see all the details on the feather and it’s beautiful.

The synopsis immediately brought the Worldwalker Trilogy to mind: a girl who is (physically) just scraping by in this world due to some immunological reaction to the air around her. But that seems to be the only similarity. Regardless, it’s an intriguing concept and I was curious to see what was really happening.

What I Liked:

–Aza is Pretty Jaded/Cynical–

You have to be in the right mood for a cynical/jaded character and I happened to be when I started this story. I enjoyed Aza’s attitude about life. Her humour is slightly on the darker side which I find funny but I know that is off-putting for other readers.

But I understood her stoic mood. She’s been having a rough go of things and it’s easy to see that her attitude is her coping mechanism. Not everyone would be happy if they have a medical condition that no one can seem to pin-point, so it works for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Plot Development–

This is the main reason why I DNF’d it: I just felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere.

While I liked Aza’s narration style, it did wear on me a bit. I swear, the first 3 chapters were her just moaning on about her circumstances. And while that is necessary to establish her character and to see what sets her apart from the rest of earth, it just got monotonous to me. I felt like we were repeating the same notion over and over and not getting any further in the plot.

I could see the inklings of the plot emerging through when I stopped reading. We were starting to get some context for what the ship might be, but by that point I was over it.

In a book that is 300 pages, I want the plot to start before the 20% mark to make it worth my while.

Will I Finish It?

No. No matter how beautiful that cover is, I have no plans to finish this series. I even read the synopsis for Aerie (because I had taken it out from the library as well to binge the series) and it sounded even duller to me.

Series Rating: DNF

Magonia DNF | Aerie N/A

overall

If you like slower moving stories with unique worlds and characters, this is probably the series for you. Otherwise, there are better Sci Fi and Fantasy combo novels out there.

Read if You Like: slow stories
Avoid if You: dislike jaded heroines
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Series Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

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 Leviathan (from Goodreads):

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

breakdown

Series: Leviathan Trilogy
Author: Scott Westerfeld
# of Books: 3 (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2009 – January 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore anything Steampunk so I marked Leviathan on my TBR years ago but never got around to it. Like most “I’ve been meaning to read this forever” novels I’ve read this year, I started this series because I needed a new audiobook to listen to for my commute to work. This series was available and so I instantly downloaded it and dove in.

I was looking forward to learning about the setting (I’ve never read a Steampunk that takes place during WWI before) and I wanted a fast-paced adventure to keep my attention.

The Concept / The World:

I’ve totally fallen in love with this world in every aspect. It’s so rich and well researched that you can’t help but be enthralled by it.

One of my favourite aspects of steampunk is that no world is the same as another and I’ve never encountered a world like this. The scientist in me, particularly one who studied biological science, adores the blend of biology and mechanics in this trilogy. Most steampunk novels focus on the mechanical revolution and inventions so it was refreshing to see the biological evolution front and center. And using that clash to amp up the danger of the world was brilliant.

But I also liked the alternate history aspect as well. Parts of this story are rooted in actual historical events but other moments are elaborated to allow the story to go down a different path. The afterwards in each novel where Westerfeld explains how he crafted the world is just plain awesome.

The Plot:

I found Leviathan slower than I anticipated. I blame the synopsis a bit on this one because it gave me the impression that Alek and Deryn would meet sooner rather than later and have an adventure together. But the fact of the matter is that they have two completely separate storylines for half of the novel and I really craved that interaction. I wanted more high impact action and to see the chemistry of the characters interacting. So that first half was a little tougher for me to get through but I enjoyed watching the world grow and develop in the mean time.

Behemoth was more what I thought Leviathan was going to be. It always seemed to be moving and there was great character development and moments.

Which in turn, makes Goliath seem a little slower in comparison but it has some much needed character resolution.

The Characters:

It’s easy to love Deryn as a character I think.  Her spirit, drive and loyalty are things that make a great heroine in an adventure novel. Her motto is definitely: anything a boy can do, I can do better. Gotta love that.

Alek has tremendous growth throughout the series. He really embraces everything that is thrown his way and that was a lot of fun to watch.

The Romance:

The definition of slow burn I think. I almost wonder though if I would have appreciated it more if the relationship was kept as platonic? Regardless, it plays such a small role here that it shouldn’t be your main motivation for reading this.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was read by Alan Cumming who is an actor I’m very familiar with and I have to say he did a great job. The accents were great and he did the female voices very well. It was a fabulous performance and I highly recommend the audiobook.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3/5

Leviathan 3.5/5 | Behemoth 3/5 | Goliath 3/5

overall

This book had a bit of a younger feel to it so I might have enjoyed it more 5 years ago but it’s cleverly crafted and impressive for readers of any age!

Read if You Like: alternate histories, WWI setting, steampunk
Avoid if You: dislike adventure
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DNF Series Review: Youngblood by Liz Reinhardt

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 Fall Guy (from Goodreads):

Evan Lennox is going nowhere fast. She’s living with her grandparents after her parents bailed on her, she got kicked out of her posh private school, her ex-boyfriend proved to be the biggest sleaze imaginable, her former best friend is a back-stabber, and her current best friend is stuck in backwoods NJ. To top it all off, one teeny, tiny fire she lit to burn some memories of her ex goes a little out of control and winds up igniting a good piece of a very powerful family’s pecan orchard.

Evan lands her pampered behind in court and gets sentenced to community service. Which she knows she deserves. But the hard labor and humiliation may be her undoing.

Until she meets Winchester Youngblood on the site.

Everything about him is tricky, confusing, not at all what it seems, and so sexy, Evan can’t resist pulling closer. But every step she takes to get to know him gives her more of a reason to back up and put him as far out of life as she possibly can. Because Winch is one hundred percent complicated, and Evan isn’t looking for that. At all. She needs to meet a nice, responsible guy, not share searing kisses with the charming hustler she met after they both got sentenced in court.

But Winch is so much more than what he seems, and Evan finds out that she’s falling hard for the guy everyone underestimates and writes off. And Winch realizes that Evan is the one person who’s ever challenged him to ask for more out of his life, and her courage inspires him to try to be the person she sees when she looks at him. With every single odd stacked against them, Evan and Winch need to find out whether they have what it takes to fall for each other.

breakdown

Series: Youngblood

This is a spinoff of the Brenna Blixen Series.

Author: Liz Reinhardt
# of Books: 2 (Fall Guy, Perfectly Unmatched)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September – December 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Fall Guy at 17% (Middle of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I came across this one years ago. I bought The Fall Guy in September 2013, around the time I became interested in the New Adult genre and was getting my hands on anything in the genre so I can assume that is the reason why.

What drew me to this title is the concept of these two meeting in community service after committing crimes. I like romances that start in different ways and I hadn’t come across something like this before.

What I Liked:

–Alternating POVs–

I like my romances to have alternating POVs because it provides better character development. It gives you insight into both characters and allows you to get a better understanding of who they are.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Set in High School–

I thought this was going to take place in college, not while Evan was still in high school. I kinda missed the “kicked out of her private school” part of the synopsis so it threw me for a loop when in the next chapter she talks about going to school. And while Evan is in high school, I think Winch is actually in his 20s. Which is fine but it rubbed me the wrong way because he acts like he is in high school sometimes. He just lacked that much needed maturity.

And you know when high schoolers start acting like they are privileged 30 year olds? Totally got those vibes here and it makes everything seem so over the top.

–I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you Tug of War–

I’m all for sexual tension but this was a little too much for me. They were constantly eyeballing each other’s body parts and getting ready for sexy times between tiny bouts of banter. Then, when they would try to progress further, one of them would pull away knowing that they shouldn’t let this relationship develop any further.

I read some other reviews while contemplating whether or not to continue and lots of people stated this was something that continues for the rest of the novel. I don’t mind back and forth for a small portion of the novel, but the entire thing, it’s just too repetitive for me.

Will I Finish It?

Never mind the fact that I can’t get the second novel through any eBook store in Canada, but this one just isn’t for me any more. So I will not be finishing it.

Series Rating: DNF

Fall Guy DNF | Perfectly Unmatched N/A

overall

If you like over the top YA/NA contemporaries, this is a good one for you!

Read if You Like: soap operas, lifestyles of rich
Avoid if You: want more depth to your romances
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