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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.

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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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Series Review: Dance of Elements by A M Deese

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

Synopsis for Ignited (from Goodreads):

A NOBLE DAUGHTER.

A FORMER SLAVE.

SCORCHED EARTH AND DANGEROUS GAMES.

“Jura imagined it sounded like rain.”

Juggling death is nothing new for seventeen-year-old Jura, daughter of the First of the Thirteen, successive rulers of the Republic of the Sand Sea. However, when a blood chain ensnares her father, she is thrust into the seat of power and forced to rule her elders.

“To Tylak, water had never tasted sweeter.”

Jura must track down her father’s assassin and balance a country on the verge of collapse. To find the Prince of Shadows and uncover the truth, Jura puts her trust in Tylak, a former slave accused of stealing from the Everflame—a man she once condemned to death.

In a world where water is currency and enemies lurk around every corner, Jura will use her wits or risk igniting a world war.

breakdown

Series: Dance of Elements
Author: A M Deese
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 27, 2018 — ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC; NetGalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Radiant Crown Publishing // Google Play

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thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love books with political intrigue and this one seemed like it would have that in spades. The whole idea that a young girl has to play a political game while trying to save her father’s life had me interested in seeing what would happen next.

What I Liked

–The World / Concept–

I loved the many layers to this world. First, you have the whole political system which is so cutthroat and devious that I couldn’t help but devour it. Next you have the class system that separates the peoples and creates its own conflict. Add the currency of water, throw in people with special abilities and dragons and you’ve got yourself a pretty epic world to get lost in.

–Multiple POVs–

I love books where we follow multiple leads because it provides a wider, full coverage view of the world. Having all the character POVs we do here does a great job of moving the plot forward and revealing those little tidbits that have you craving more.

–Game of Thrones Vibes–

One of my favourite things about Game of Thrones is the political intrigue. You don’t know who you can trust, there are supernatural elements at play and you never know who is going to live. There are so many players that something is always evolving and I felt like this book captured that same suspense as GOT, just in a YA kind of way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It is a Little Overwhelming At the Start–

When it comes to the world, Everything is explained well so I was never lost in that respect. Where I did get a little lost was keeping all the things straight at the start. A lot of information is thrown at you and trying to remember everyone’s roles overwhelmed me a little. But as you get deeper into the world it gets easier to follow.

–Slower Start–

I found that this book took a while to get its footing. Part of that reason is that we switch POVs a lot in the first few chapters in order to establish all the key players and drama. It takes time to build up the various plotlines but once they get there, you really do become sucked into the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I had a pretty good idea of what was actually happening in the book, there’s a great unexpected twist that really shook things up for me. Now that the world is familiar and I know most of the key players, I’m hoping the sequel can take that great momentum and build on it.

updates

–October 7, 2019– Book #2: Submerged

This wasn’t entirely the sequel I wanted but it was the sequel the story needed for the future of the series.

Much like the first book in this series, there is a lot of information being brought forth and it was a little overwhelming for me. I love multiple POVs in a novel but I thought the constant flip-flopping here stopped me from fully immersing myself in each characters’ story, especially the new character POVs. I would just get into it and then we’d be moving on to the next.

But all these little character asides are needed to build up the various subplots that have been started. That’s why I think this is one of those sequel novels that serves as a bridge more than one that is action packed or filled with shocking twists. There are definitely some great revelations along the way but I thought the plot was pretty baseline as it weaved the web for the future.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Ignited 3.5/5| Submerged 2.5/5

overall
If you enjoy fantasies with a lot going on and lots of characters, this is a great one. The action is in the politics and suspense and not of the physical variety but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Read if You Like: political intrigue, books with multiple POVs
Avoid if You: want more action, faster start

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A M Deesse

Alexis Marrero Deese isan avid reader of young adult and fantasy. Her favorite authors include Brandon Sanderson, Jaqueline Carey, and Orson Scott Card. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and a sun tan she misses dearly since her move to northern Georgia. She has a passion for cooking, spends entirely too much time on Pinterest, and is a self-proclaimed dog training expert to her family’s legion of dogs.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Series Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

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

Empress of a Thousand Skies Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Empress of a Thousand Skies (from Goodreads):

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

breakdown

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
# of Books: 2 (Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood of a Thousand Stars)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating & Multiple
Publication Date: February 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

**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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. I marked it on my wishlist at my local library simply because I love the cover. The synopsis was intriguing enough but it seems like every plot in a science fiction novel lately has had a similar premise (I get why though: race and class divides are a part of the science fiction backbone so of course there are similarities) so I wasn’t overly eager to read this. Add to that the somewhat mixed reviews on Goodreads and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Note on Empress of a Thousand Skies Synopsis:

What I’m about to say may be considered by some to be a spoiler but I actually think it is better labeled as a warning because it is important to know what you are getting into and what type of story to prepare yourself for. So read this section if you want a little guidance for the type of story you are picking up or avoid and continue down to the next section.

My Little Warning!

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding

When you read those lines from the synopsis, you think the plot will be Rhee and her accused killer meeting and proceeding to save the world together. The key word there being “together”, implying that they actually get introduced to each other. That is not the case.

The best way to describe this story is as two parallel stories that contribute to the overall plot of the world. Maybe there is some suspense in wondering if they will ever meet but for me, knowing that they weren’t going to meet helped me starve off some of the disappointment of discovering that they won’t…yet.

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What I Liked:

–The Plot is Always Moving–

I don’t like stagnant plot lines and this one never felt like it got stuck or dwelled too long on one thing or another. I think it helps that we get both Aly and Rhee’s POVs too since you get that back and forth plot development. New secrets and alliances are constantly being revealed so something is always grabbing your attention. It helps to build the story and subsequently the finale.

–Not Afraid to Take Risks–

Not that you need to kill off characters to keep a story going but I like the suspense that happens when you aren’t sure who is safe and who isn’t. The action scenes we get here–while sometimes few and far between–had me paying attention because who knows what could happen next!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

While there were definitely plot twists that surprised me, I think the one big twist in this novel was super obvious. So that dampened the reading experience a touch but I still found myself interested in what would happen next.

–Slightly Lackluster Ending–

Because of the obvious plot twist, the ending was definitely lackluster in my opinion. I really needed something big to happen to “wow” me to take my experience to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

For a third person POV narration, I had a very easy time following what was happening. The narrator kept my attention and she was really expressive which helps. I think I would have liked a male narrator to do Aly’s parts simply to remind me when I stopped mid-chapter who the POV was following. Otherwise, it was a solid narration.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I wasn’t wowed with this novel, I did enjoy it. I’m curious to see what will happen in the finale and how everything weaves together.

updates

–March 26, 2018– Book #2: Blood of a Thousand Stars

This was a great sequel and finale! I definitely enjoyed this more than the first one! I found it was more unpredictable than the first one so I liked the anticipation that brought. It also has great pacing. The story and characters are always moving and I loved the weaving of the various narratives together.

My Rating: 3/5

Empress of a Thousand Skies 3/5 | Blood of a Thousand Stars 4/5

overall

While not a standout novel in its genre, this series will definitely keep readers interest throughout with its great pacing and solid worldbuilding.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building
Avoid if You: dislike slower stories, want more romance

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Blog Tour: West (History Interrupted #1) by Lizzy Ford

Synopsis for West (from Goodreads):

If you could change history, would you?

College graduate Josephine “Josie” Jackson answers ‘yes’ to the question on a survey while visiting an Old West tourist trap. The next morning, she wakes up in Indian Territory in the 1840s, where she’s given a mission to complete before she can return to her time: to reset history by finding and stopping the man responsible for a horrific massacre.

It seems easy enough, until she discovers that three other women have been sent back to the same time period. When Josie uncovers what happened to them, she realizes the chances of her getting out of the past alive are not good.

To survive, she’ll have to trust the very man she’s there to stop, someone who has every reason to distrust her and only one reason to help her – to prove he’s not the monster she claims he’ll become.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

Series: History Interupted
Author: Lizzy Ford
# of Books: 3 (West, East, North)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?:  Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Time Travel, Romance, Adventure, Historical
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2014 – July 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Productions–Audiobook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This year, now that I commute nearly 2 hours (roundtrip) to work, I’ve fully jumped on the bandwagon for audiobooks. I love them! It’s great feeling like I’m accomplishing something during my drive besides getting to work. So I’m really excited to be doing my first audiobook blog tour!

I was drawn to West for a number of reasons but the main two were (1) time travel and (2) new adult genre! While I mostly read New Adult Contemporary Romances, I’m always looking out for other non-contemporary NA reads. And time travel?! One of my favourites to explore because I love the delicious tension that it brings.

What I Liked:

–The Suspense–

There are a lot of things at play in this story and I love how everything weaves together. You’ve got Josie’s mission to stop a massacre; the rivals trying to stop her; the mystery of the other time travelling girls; Josie navigating the life she has taken over and her learning why she was the one picked.

It may seems like a lot but this novel does a great job of balancing out everything, taking it one step at a time. The way it builds kept my full attention. I loved trying to decipher what was happening and why. And not knowing which characters I could trust and not trust adds this layer of suspense that had me wanting to delve deeper into the story.

–New Adult Based–

Nearly all the time travel novels I’ve read over the years have been YA based–and there is nothing wrong with that! –but it’s nice to read about a heroine closer to my own age. Josie is that touch more mature and not as malleable as a heroine you is a few years younger. 

What I Disliked:

–More Romance Focused than Anticipated–

This isn’t to say that I had a problem with the romance itself. It’s a touch more insta-connection than I like personally but that goes with the time travel territory (ie, I expected it). And I did get the allure of the main love interest and why Josie is drawn to him. So that isn’t what I’m talking about herr.

What I’m getting at is that a majority of the novel seemed to be geared more towards this budding relationship than the various issues at hand. The romance is weaved nicely throughout the other mysteries but I felt like I listened more to descriptions of the Sheriff’s abs than I anticipated when I picked this novel up.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’ll admit, this started a little rough me. I found the delivery to be a little slow and perhaps a little choppy in turn. It might have also been due to the setting of the novel (ie everyone has a slower drawl to their speech). But once I bumped up the speed to 1.25X, everything went a lot smoother. Everything just flowed that little bit better.

Lillian does a good job of making each character have a distinct voice and she does a great job in particular with the male voices–it was never awkward which I find can be when you have a lone female narrator. She gives all the characters from that time period the appropriate accent which helps set the tone and setting for the novel in a way I probably wouldn’t have had if I had just picked up the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

WOW! A lot of stuff went down in the last few chapters and I have so many unanswered questions that I really need answers to!

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My Rating: 3.5/5

West 3.5/5 | East TBA| North TBA

overall
If you love a time travelling novel that keeps you guessing until the end, this one’s for you!

Read if You Like: time travelling adventures, romance
Avoid if You: dislike romance, dislike new adult
similarreads

  • Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston (Never Trilogy #1)
  • A Million Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird Trilogy #1)


Lizzy Ford (Author)

I breathe stories. I dream them. If it were possible, I’d eat them, too. (I’m pretty sure they’d taste like cotton candy.) I can’t escape them – they’re everywhere! Which is why I write! I was born to bring the crazy worlds and people in my mind to life, and I love sharing them with as many people as I can.

I’m also the bestselling, award winning, internationally acclaimed author of over sixty titles and counting. I write speculative fiction in multiple subgenres of romance and fantasy, contemporary fiction, books for both teens and adults, and just about anything else I feel like writing. If I can imagine it, I can write it!

I live in the desert of southern Arizona with a pack of spoiled dogs and Tubbs, the Godfather cat who rules them all.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Lillian Yves (Narrator)

Lillian Yves grew up in Oklahoma, went to school in NYC and now lives in Southern California. She considers herself from the East, West and somewhere in the middle. She is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC for Musical Theater. She adores acting and performing so much that she teaches an after school program for the local school system. She got her start working in audio books when she narrated her own novel, Yonder- A Southern Haunting and shortly after the release of Yonder she was contacted by Warren Adler (The War of the Roses) to narrate two novels for him and after entering the world of narration, she has never looked back. She performs on most weekends and does play readings through out the Los Angeles area. Her main hobbies include her husband and her cats. She loves to hear from listeners.

Narrator Links: Facebook

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Series Review: The Ladies Janies by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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

book3

Synopsis for My Lady Jane (from Goodreads):
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

breakdown

Series: My Ladies Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane, My Calamity Jane)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; Audiobook (Plain)

thoughts

**This post was originally published 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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This novel was everywhere in 2016! And I’ll admit, I didn’t know much else about it other than it was a retelling of Lady Jane Grey who was somehow connected to the British throne and it was supposed to be funny. I’ve also read series by all three of these authors in the past and enjoyed them. Sounded like a winning combination to me!

So I went in without reading any other reviews in order to not raise my expectations too high. I was hoping for a fun and entertaining read–and if I learned something about the British Monarchy, bonus!

The Concept / The World:

Years ago, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and really enjoyed it. So I am completely open to magic/supernatural changes to a classic story or history. But I really wasn’t expecting the animal shifter storyline we got here. It took me a long to time get comfortable with it.

I also think part of the problem was that I’m not entirely familiar with English History. It was a similar problem to when I picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer–I don’t know American history and so I couldn’t make the little connections between the parody and actual history and that diminished my reading experience.

I really didn’t know who Jane Grey was before I picked this up.  So I read Wikipedia a lot to find out who all the players were and what actually happened in history just so I knew what the authors were trying to do.

Once I made the connections between history and this fictitious story, I started to appreciate it a lot more. The writing here is smart. The conflict between shifters and nonshifters here and its parallel to the religious conflicts of Jane Grey’s time (for example) is fantastic. It’s those little things that make this story interesting to read overall.

The Plot:

I really found the first half of this book to be slow–so slow that I almost contemplated DNFing. Yes, I did love the humour but the animal shifting really threw me off and I wasn’t sure if I liked how the story was progressing. But once I got familiar with the history and got comfortable with the world, I started to enjoy it a lot more.

Plus, I really wanted to know how it was going to end!

And I have to say, that once I got to the halfway point, it really started to pick up. It got a hell of a lot more exciting and I started to get won over by the characters and the plot.

The Characters:

What I liked about this story was that it was told from Edward, Jane and Gifford’s POVs. Not only do you get to learn more about these characters through their POVs, but I find multiple POVs help keep the story moving even when it doesn’t feel like it is.

All of these characters have their little quirks which makes the narration a lot of fun to read. So even when the plot was slow to get somewhere, the characters kept me entertained.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge part of the story but it is pretty cute. The romantic in me was happy with the little spurts we got throughout the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see what will happen next and what these ladies have in store.

updates

–January 4, 2019– Book #2: My Plain Jane

So I can say with absolute certainty that this second novel was much, much better than the first–for me at least. I really enjoyed the plot and approach this story had. It was a fun satire of sorts on the classic gothic novel and the literature lover in me really enjoyed that. While I’ve never read Jane Eyre (shame on me I know), I know enough of the story to truly appreciate the parallels the authors have created here. I also think listening to this as an audiobook vastly improved my overall experience because the humour and sarcasm were much more apparent.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

My Lady Jane 3.5/5  |  My Plain Jane 4/5  |  My Calamity Jane TBR

overall

I’m in the minority with this series I think because I know a lot of people who LOVE this novel. If you go into it knowing that it doesn’t take itself seriously and has magical elements to it, you’ll enjoy this a lot more. I also highly recommend the audiobooks if you are someone who struggles with humour in novels.

Read if You Like: humour, historical novels, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike parodies, want a serious retelling

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Single Sundays: Draw Play by Tia Lewis

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 Draw Play (from Goodreads):
Jake:
I can’t believe my coach assigned me a tutor. I’m all that on the field and between the sheets — who cares about my stupid grades?

But Claire doesn’t treat me like I’m dumb. When we’re not busy fighting, she actually encourages me. And with those sexy curves of hers, I know just how to thank her.

Claire:
I hate football players, but I need the money. Jake is just as cocky and arrogant as the worst of them … but his touch sets me on fire.

I have to believe he’s different, that he won’t use me and break my heart. Because I can’t stop wanting him. I just hope I survive the ride.

breakdown

Author: Tia Lewis
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Source & Format: Own (Kindle)–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was really excited when I saw this as a freebie on Amazon: I’m a sucker for the “in love with the tutor” trope. Add to that, I was looking for a story where a “popular” guy goes for the “nerdy” girl. I wanted some great sexual tension but a sweet romance as well.

The Plot:

What I liked about this story is that both of these characters have self-esteem issues. Claire is worried about her appearance (mostly her size) and how others tend to use her only for her brains; Jake’s academic abilities are overshadowed by his athleticism and good looks. They don’t see themselves as anything other than how people treat them and so they have a lot of growth and learning to do.

When it comes to the plot though, it follows your typical routine formula. They reluctantly meet, they exchange insults, they start to see the other person for who they truly are…and I think you know how the rest goes. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was exactly what I wanted to read at the time. I wanted a cute, quick and sweet romance that I would enjoy reading in one sitting.

The Characters:

Claire was a little overdramatic and I hate to say that because she does have a sad past that does warrant her reactions. There was a lot of potential there but it kind-of fell flat by her irrational actions. I just didn’t warm up to her as much as I had hoped.

I thought Jake had the best character growth. A lot of that is thanks to Claire and her ability to see him as a person and not a commodity. And in turn, he helps her with her self-confidence. I really enjoyed that aspect of their relationship. I like when romances aid in personal character growth.

The Romance:

This was more of a slow burn romance than I anticipated. And for the longest time, I didn’t see how these two would ever fall for each other. They were constantly at each other’s throats. It takes them a while to reach the point that is described in the synopsis I think.

But I really did warm up to these two as a couple and could see why they were drawn to each other.

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My Rating: 3/5

overall

While it personally lacks that little bit of polish, this is a super cute NA sports romance that focuses on getting to know the person, not just getting into their pants.

Read if You Like: sports romances, in love with the tutor trope
Avoid if You: want more plot twists

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Series Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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

Three Dark Crowns Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Three Dark Crowns (from Goodreads):

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

breakdown

Series: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are 3 prequel novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

**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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my TBR for YEARS but have never managed to pick it up. But when I saw this book on Stephanie @ In Wonderland‘s Make Me Read It Readathon options, I was more than intrigued.

The simple cover and that dangerous synopsis sounded AMAZING! I love stories with a darker edge to them and what is more sinister than 3 sisters having to duke it out to become queen? The answer: nothing. Well, maybe brothers having to battle it out.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world we got here. It was easy to follow but is pretty complex and interesting. I never got lost in how the world or political system operated which was nice. The girls have such unique powers–it isn’t just straight magic and differing abilities in that respect–so that was really refreshing for me as a reader.

–The Strong Female Characters–

I’m not just talking about the sisters here; I’m talking about the world as a whole. One of the really cool aspects of this series is the matriarchal society. Women are the rulers and decision makers for the entire populace. It isn’t young women being carted off to the potential King to get married: it’s the young men to the potential Queen. It isn’t the men who decide what the triplets will do, it’s the women.

–Game of Thrones Political Vibe–

Essentially, this story is about 3 different groups competing to be the ruler of the entire world. Sound familiar? It’s basically the premise of every “kill to get the throne” novel but it really reminded me of Game of Thrones. All these people are trying to propel who they think deserves to be the Queen by whatever means necessary. There really is no holding back here and I enjoyed that a lot. I hate books that can’t take those risks.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s a really, really slow start when you expected something else–

I went into this novel thinking I was going to be getting action right away. Not the case. At all.

Instead, we get long chapters establishing the 3 girls in their current homes and communities. And yes, it was nice to establish the setting and all the players involved in the game, but I wanted action and I wanted it ASAP.

In fact, I feel a little let down by the synopsis. It made me think this battle for power was going to be the main plot point. When in fact, what we get is the building up to that moment when the girls will have to fight it out. In other words, we wait a long time for “the night the sisters turn sixteen”.

But once I got over the fact that the plot I thought we were getting wasn’t actually the plot, I started to enjoy the novel more for what is truly was.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book ended with a bang which made the struggle at the start worth it. I feel like what I expected this novel to be, is what One Dark Throne will be. So I am very excited to read what happens next.

updates

–October 22, 2017– Book #2: One Dark Throne

THIS is what I thought the first book would be! It was nonstop in action and intrigue and kept my full attention. I loved all the turns the plot took; it always kept me guessing and eager to see what would happen next. This series was originally supposed to be a duology but you would never know that based on how this novel is crafted. There are a lot of places this plot could still go.

The only thing holding me back from a 5/5 is that there wasn’t a big “wow” moment for me. It’s a solid novel–a fantastic book 2–but it didn’t amaze me.

–October 2, 2018– Book #3: Two Dark Reigns

The vast majority of this felt like filler to me but I could see that it was building. And what an ending!? I can’t wait to see how this all wrapped up given the various twists and revelations at the end. What a ride!

 

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My Rating: 4/5

Three Dark Crowns 4/5 | One Dark Throne 4/5 | Two Dark Reigns 4/5

overall

If you know what to expect going into this, you’ll probably enjoy yourself a lot more than I did at the start. But if you want a strong world with a promising story, you’ll love this!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

  • Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (Age of Legends Trilogy #1)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass Series #1)

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Series Review: Underwood District by Greta Stone

Synopsis for Cry Wolf (from Goodreads):

Peter is a kitsune. Chaos follows him wherever he goes. Good intentions, bad intentions—it doesn’t matter. Even mimicking the howl of a friend he hasn’t seen in over a decade turns out to have disastrous consequences.

The wolf doesn’t have a name. For now, he goes by Luca. He has no past, and as an escaped slave, if he can’t stay hidden in the shadows, he’ll have no future. When someone steals his howl, he’s drawn to investigate, and ends up saddled with a mouthy fox who insists they used to be friends once upon a time.

Petty problems and a dubious reunion are pushed aside the longer they’re stranded together. The Underwood is a dangerous place.

They have two choices: work together or die.

Join Greta Stone in a dark paranormal MM romance retelling of Aesop’s fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and David P. Mannix’s classic novel, The Fox and the Hound.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Underwood District
Author: Greta Stone
# of Books: 2

Mating Season is classified as #1.5

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance (MM), Retelling, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to Cry Wolf for 3 reasons:

  1. Adult Paranormal Story
  2. Retellings of well known stories that aren’t always retold
  3. MM Romance

I’ve realized I’ve outgrown YA paranormal stories but I do so love the idea of them. That’s why I thought this would be a great one to get me back into the genre with its retelling and romance.

What I Liked:

–The World is Well Thought Out–

I really enjoyed the depth this world had to it. You can tell Greta Stone has invested a significant portion of her time crafting this detailed world because it has so many different layers to it. The weaving of various fairy tales and nursery rhymes is very well done and will have readers going “hey, I recognize that story!”–in a good way of course.

–Slow Burn Romance–

One reason I typically avoid any werewolf story is the insta-love that often accompanies the romance. You know the type where “instincts” call the two together to mate for no reason other than some unspoken tie. So colour me happy when that wasn’t the case here. This is classic slow burning romance that has an enemies to lovers flare to it that makes the romance all that much sweeter.

–Rebuilding the Past–

It was cool trying to uncover the past these two leads shared together. I think it helped to foster that budding relationship between them because they have this shared connection from the past–meaning there is more substance to the relationship than physical attraction.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Almost too Much is Happening at Once–

Truthfully, I had a very hard time getting into this because so much is happening at the start. A rare statement from me who usually dings books for not having enough action in their plotlines. The writing is a little overly descriptive at times and because it is told from a third person POV, I got a little lost in all the pronouns. For a while I couldn’t keep straight who Peter was and who Luca was in terms of their character back stories. **(Though, to be fair, I was also working the night shift and was very over tired while reading this so that could totally be a me thing)** This does get better as you read and start to get accustomed to the flow of the writing but it was a slow start for me. I’m sure those who are more acquainted with the paranormal/urban fantasy world will have no issue.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I don’t know what is next for this series but I’m curious to see what story will be crafted next.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

Cry Wolf 3/5 | [Mating Season] N/A

overall
Those who are readily familiar with the adult paranormal and urban fantasy genres will gobble this up with no issue. You have lots of action, a slow burn romance and a suspenseful rebuilding the past story that will no doubt seize your attention.

Read if You Like: urban fantasy, paranormal retellings
Avoid if You: dislike third person POV, want more erotica based romance
similarreads

  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld Series #1)


Greta Stone

Greta is the unruly offspring of a tiger and a dragon. She spends most of her time reading, stalking her favorite musicians, and harassing other authors with pranks.

Underwood District Series (MM Romance/UF)
Cry Wolf – Book 1
Cry Wolf: Mating Season – Book 1.5

Take a Tour of New Gotham: www.brimstonepub.com

Sign up for GRETA STONE’S MAILING LIST and receive access to a bonus adventure featuring Peter and Luca.(Their fates might be changed forever.)

Copy and paste to join my newsletter: tinyurl.com/l99rh6m

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Single Sundays: Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

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 Follow Me Down (from Goodreads):

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

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Author: Sherri Smith
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adult mystery/thrillers are my latest obsession. I’ve tried to get my hands on as many as I can so I was really excited when this one crossed my radar. Lead returns home to her small town to solve a murder involving her brother? Thrillers were made for this.

The Plot:

Despite the intrigue, the first 30% of this novel was dreadfully slow. The focus shifts towards Mia as a character and shies away from the murder investigation–not what I wanted to read about truthfully. I felt like it stayed there a little too long and made the story dry. But once it got over that hump, it was a thrilling read.

The mystery itself was great. Not everything is what it seems and I really had no idea what the solution to it all was. It made the slower first half worth it in the end.

The Characters:

Mia reminded me a lot of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. She’s that unreliable narrator that is just on the edge of sobriety so it leads to some questionable events and circumstances. Her heart is in the right place but her actions aren’t always the wisest. It does make for an “on-the-edge” of your seat ride though.

The Romance:

Not really the focus here but it did bring an interesting layer to the story. But I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a “romance” either.

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My Rating: 3/5

overall

While this story suffers from a long exposition, the mystery itself will have you guessing to the very end!

Read if You Like: mystery/thrillers, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more romantic suspense
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Series Review: Unknown by Wendy Higgins

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

Unknown Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Unknown (from Goodreads):

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

breakdown

Series: Unknown
Author: Wendy Higgins
# of Books: 3 (Unknown, Unrest, Undone)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Non-Contemporary, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Undone)
Publication Date: August 2016 – December 2017
Source & Format: Read It and Review It–eARC  |  Thank you Wendy Higgins!

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thoughts

**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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Sweet Trilogy is one of my all time favourite fallen angel series. I loved the dark and dangerous world Higgins created. Although it was labeled as a YA series, it definitely had a more mature vibe to it that I adored. So I was pretty excited to see she was taking on the New Adult genre with this particular piece.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery–

Ok, I have no idea what the hell is happening here and I LOVE IT!

This is the good kind of WTF: the type that keeps you in the dark until that moment of the big reveal–but you still know what is actually happening to the characters around you. Meaning this novel isn’t confusing to read, it just leaves you waiting in anticipation for the “unknown”. Fantastic.

–Amber’s Family–

Because the first half of the book really focuses on establishing Amber and her family’s lives, you really, really get invested into these characters. I loved their family dynamic and their relationships.

–The Romance–

There is just the right amount of romance here in this book. But what I really liked was the suspense it brought. You know, a lot of the time the “forbidden” relationships between a girl and her brother’s BFF are terribly predictable. It’s obvious that they’ve secretly loved each other for years yada yada. Not so much the case here. So I really enjoyed watching everything unfold for this aspect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Pacing–

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think I just had my own preconceived notions about what the actual plot of the story was going to be. I thought the aftermath of the bombings was going to be the main focus of the novel–and that isn’t totally the case. The bombings don’t happen until the 50% mark.

Instead this book takes its time by setting up Amber’s life and relationships–not the action packed novel I expected. However, as you can see from above, I rather enjoyed that part of the novel in the end. The pacing is still great and never lags so I wasn’t bored by this shift; I just wasn’t expecting it. I liked how invested I became in the characters and truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have been if we had just jumped right into the action.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When we finally get to the action, this book was addicting to read. I have so many unanswered questions and theories that I can’t wait to uncover in the sequel. Is it here yet?

updates

–December 13, 2017– Book #2: Unrest

This started off pretty slow but I expected that given the ending of the last book. The first half is very much about survival and I found that it dragged a bit. It does provide great opportunity for character growth though and it’s interesting to see how these characters react when the world is literally falling to ruins around them.

The second half picks up though. The romances get a little more show time (finally! Though I adored the slow burn anticipation of it all). We also get some great plot development. While I had my guesses, a lot surprised me too. I found the whole situation fascinating and I was craving more. I like that this series always keeps me on my toes.

Can’t wait to see how it all wraps up!

–December 17, 2017– Book #3: Undone

This one fell a little flat for me for a few reasons.

Having the dual POVs helped immensely in terms of keeping the story moving. However, the lack of character development from either leads dampened the charm of the previous two novels where character growth takes center stage.

I was slightly disappointed by how easily everything wrapped up. I hate when things fall into place too easily which is what happened here. It’s a little odd in a way that that is the case given the extreme journey these characters have had until this point. Yet I felt like they never got tested as much in this novel. In one way, it’s nice to have such a solid conclusion to the characters and their stories; in another, I wish they had to fight a little more to reach it.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Unknown 4/5 | Unrest 3/5 | Undone 3/5

overall

For those who enjoy stories that take their time and focus on the characters, check this out. It’s a nice alternative to all the contemporary NA reads out there. However, don’t expect a ton of action as each novel takes its time to build its momentum.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, post-apocalypse
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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