Tag «fantasy»

Series Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Raven Boys (from Goodreads):

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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Series: The Raven Boys

There is a companion series in the works.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
# of Books: 4 (The Raven Boys; The Dream Thieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Raven King)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: September 2012 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover & eBook

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Dream Thieves (Book 2) at 32%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I couldn’t escape this series if I tried. It’s consistently raved about in the blogosphere and I just had to add it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge even though I didn’t love her Wolves of Mercy Falls Series. But the concept was intriguing (perhaps a replacement for the void the Beautiful Creatures Series has left all these years) and all the talk had me eager to see what the hype was for.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery of the World–

The mystery of the world had me intrigued from the start of The Raven Boys. It kept me reading trying to figure out what is actually at play in this world. That intrigue reminded me a lot of the rich world of the Beautiful Creatures and definitely made me a fan of this new world.

However, will say that I did struggle with the magic/supernatural elements of the world at times. Part of the reason I was so interesting in reading was that I wanted to better understand what was actually happening! I think this is just a me thing (I was reading The Raven Boys on a road trip so I was easily distracted).

–The Friendship of the Boys–

Unlike The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series, I actually liked all of the leads here!

First, the brotherhood of the boys is fantastic! It’s nice to see such strong male relationships be the focus of the story as opposed to the romantic relationship between a boy and girl. They are all so interesting and unique and they truly make this story.

Blue is also a strong character as well. Again, I was never irritated by her or her actions so it made it easy to read her story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Plot is so Slow!–

While the mystery of the world kept me reading, I found the plot itself to be rather slow. The beginning and end had a lot of great twists and developments but I found everything just stayed stagnant in the middle. Especially in The Dream Thieves (#2). I quickly lost interest in the nonexistent plot developments; my mind wasn’t stimulated to keep reading (even reading the complete recap on Recaptains bored me).

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis in terms of Romance–

I thought the synopsis for The Raven Boys was grossly misleading with respect to the romance. It made it seem (to me) that that story was going to be focused on Gansey and Blue fighting an inevitable love and that is far from the case.

The romance is such a minor, minor aspect to the plot (at least in the first book) so don’t expect a page consuming romance here…or at least right away. (Given the spoilers I read, I guess there are some major developments near the end of the series that will appease people).

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I was actually reminded of my experience reading The Darkest Minds where I toughed it out because the twists near the end and struggled through the rest of the series. I don’t want to do that again, so I am going to leave it all here and walk away.

Series Rating: DNF

The Raven Boys 3.5/5 | The Dream Thieves DNF | Blue Lily, Lily Blue N/A | The Raven King N/A

overall

I’m definitely in the minority here but this series was just not for me. It’s a slower novel that focuses more on the characters progressing through their lives as they navigate the mysterious world around them.

Read if You Like: slower stories, magic, psychics
Avoid if You: want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: Powerful (The Realm of Harcilor #1) by S N Lemoing

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Realm of Harcilor Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Powerful (from Goodreads):

For twelve years, the power has been usurped at the Realm of Harcilor.

Cyr, an erudite, and his adopted son, Kaaz, have formed a secret school.

Indeed, in this world, some people were born endowed with magical abilities : the Silarens.

However, it is not that easy to detect your own powers.

They will soon be joined by a mysterious young woman who will provide them with valuable information.

When Litar – the most powerful being of the realm – goes away for two months, they finally foresee the opportunity to act.

Can they win their freedom back? Will they make the right choices?

breakdown

Series: The Realm of Harcilor
Author: S N Lemoing
# of Books: 1+ (Powerful, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you S N Lemoing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Powerful at 18% (Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

High fantasy was the “it” genre for me last year. I absolutely love all the elements that make up this genre: from the romance to the magic to the politics, it has everything I love. Which is why I was eager to take S N Lemoing on her offer to read her newly translated Powerful. It promised to be a true fantasy with a more YA feel and had a focus on diverse characters and prominent female roles. That sounded fantastic!

What I Liked:

–Feels like an Adult Fantasy but in the YA Genre–

When I was reading this, I got Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones type vibes. Those are big shoes to fill but what I mean is that those novels are what I call true fantasy novels. They focus on the world building with detailed descriptions and a 360 degree view of the world and all its players. With that, you are introduced to a lot of characters and their stories. Romance takes a back seat and the politics of the world become the larger focus.

It’s an entirely different feel from the usual high fantasy novels I read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt Overwhelmed–

That being said, I felt very overwhelmed by everything that was relayed in those first few chapters. In an effort to set up the world, a lot of information is provided and I had a hard time putting it all together. We get introduced to so many different characters (and their relationships) that I had a hard time remembering what characters were doing what and their importance to the situations brewing.

My Rating: DNF

Powerful DNF | Book 2 TBP

overall

I’m really not used to reading these detailed fantasy type novels. It’s rich in detail, has a complex world and lots of character stories to become invested in. Which is why I think those more experienced with the fantasy world (like Lord of the Rings and the like) will absolutely love this YA fantasy.

Read if You Like: fantasy, lots of characters, detailed novels
Avoid if You: are easily overwhelmed

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Fresh Fridays: Three Dark Crowns (#1) by Kendare Blake

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Three Dark Crowns Series

book3 book4

Other books in the series:

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.

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Series: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
# of Books: 4 (Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Crown, book 3, book 4)

There is a prequel novella, The Young Queens.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, One Dark Crown will be published in September 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

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 pain plot point. When in fact, what we get is the building up to that moment when the girls will have to fight it out. 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 series 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 Crown will be. So I am very excited to read what happens next.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Three Dark Crowns 4/5 | One Dark Crown TBP

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

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  • 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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Blog Tour: Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne

Synopsis for Breakwater (from Goodreads):

A red tide is rising.

As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancé murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads. Jade learns too late that the choices she makes ripple further than she’d ever imagined. And as she fights against the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers danger lurking in every canal, imperiling her family and shattering the ocean’s fragile peace.

Can the city’s divisions be mended before the upwelling of hate rips apart everything Jade loves?

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Breakwater
Author: Catherine Jones Payne
# of Books: 1+ (Breakwater, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble  /  Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been going through a bit of a mermaid withdrawal since I finished Jennifer Donnelly’s Waterfire Saga last year. I particularly liked that series because it had strong female characters and the world was fantastic. So I was eager to find another story to get lost in and this one looked promising!

The World:

One of my favourite aspects of an underwater world is when the author uses our everyday expressions and “water-ize” them. It’s the little things like “What the Depths!” (instead of “What the Hell!”) or “I’m not going to float here all day” that get you integrated into the world as a reader. It also shows all the effort the author puts into creating their world by looking at those “tiny” details. This one does this flawlessly and I loved watching it come to life as I read.

The Plot:

This book definitely has a slower plot line to it than I was anticipating and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This story is all about doing the right thing even when other’s tell you not to. It’s more talking and reasoning than physically kicking bum, like so many other stories out there that have the clash between races/social hierarchy as their main plot. Most of the time, those stories require actually fighting back to make a change. So I found it really refreshing here that Jade tries to create a positive impact by speaking the truth and fighting for ideals through actions.

As a reader, you get caught up in the flow of the novel and it is easy to read even if it isn’t your typical action packed fantasy novel.

The Characters:

Jade lives in a bubble at the start of the book so it was nice when it burst and she got a dose of the real world. Once that bubble burst, she’s able to grow as a character…but not as much as I wanted. See, the problem is that Jade is a classic case of “Lead Heroine Sacrifice Syndrome“–meaning she thinks she alone can save the world by sacrificing herself. Like I said above, I can appreciate her efforts to change her world but I can’t believe how dense she is to the situation at hand. Her naivety (which is understandable given the fact that she is treated special by practically everyone) is a little tiring to read.

The Romance:

While I liked that this wasn’t a huge part of the story, I can’t help but think that it was bit of a missed opportunity. You are kind of told that there is this connection  instead of being shown it. So I didn’t really get behind the romance as much as I had hoped.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The last 15% of this book does a lot to set up a sequel and I’m eager to see what is in store.

My Rating: 3/5

overall
If you want a fantasy novel that isn’t action based, this is a great one for you! Especially if you love mermaids.

Read if You Like: mermaids, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more physical action
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Series Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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

The Crown’s Game Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Crown’s Game (from Goodreads):

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

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Series: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
# of Books: 2 (The Crown’s Game, The Crown’s Fate)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book EVERYWHERE last year, and so the hype (and curiosity) was inevitable. But it was also on my radar because it is set in Imperial Russia–the kryptonite of book settings for me. I LOVE that setting and I try and read any book that uses this time period.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Like I said, Imperial Russia is one of my favourite book settings and this one was pretty perfect. You could tell that Evelyn Skye had done her research before writing this book. She really brought this setting to life in nearly every aspect: clothing, royalty, perception of magic. It hit all the marks.

–Multiple POV–

I LOVE having multiple POVs in my novels. It just gives you a full-circle view of the world I think and adds dimension to the plot and world. This one succeeds in that. It kept the story moving, added suspense to the plot and just gave you more insight into the characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard Time Picturing Magic Scenes–

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t in the best headspace to start reading this book. I was studying for my licensing exams and was a little pre-occupied in my brain. So maybe take the next two paragraphs with a grain of salt and read another review to get another perspective.

For a third person POV, this book flowed wonderfully. It’s easy to get lost in the 3rd person narration when pronouns are used liberally; but I never found that to be the case here.

What I did struggle with is the scenes where magic is described. I had a hard time visualizing it. I think I missed the part about the purpose of the Enchanter and how the Game works so I didn’t get why these two were doing what they were doing when it was their turn. Again, I think I just wasn’t in the right place to read this.

–The Romance–

While I don’t enjoy the aspect of a love triangle in any book, that isn’t my sole issue here. My issue: the insta-love. I can forgive Vika and Nikola’s insta-connection because of the magic. That makes sense. But love? Stretching it a little. And Pasha hardly interacts with Vika before he is swooning at her feet. I just wanted a stronger romance here or at the very least, pick a team to root for and I never did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There was a rush of things that happened at the end and so I’m excited to see what will happen next. There’s so much potential moving forward.

updates

–June 25, 2017– Book #2: The Crown’s Fate

I think I might be in the minority but I fully believe that this book was better than the first one. I found the plot to be much more engaging and interesting than it was in The Crown’s Game. Despite some slight monotony in the middle of the book with one plot aspect, I found that this story always kept moving and developing in a way that was rather addicting to read. I was flying through the pages.

The character development was also great. When you have essentially 3 key players to keep tabs on, one or more will inevitable fall to the wayside in terms of growth. But I felt like everyone had a great story to tell and I’m glad we got to see them all.

This series is still missing that something to make me give it a 5/5 though.  And truthfully, I was leaning more towards a 3.5/5 rating for this particular book because I did find the middle of the novel to be a little stale. But I really liked how everything was brought together in the latter half of the novel and I did feel like this was a much stronger showing on Evelyn Skye’s part. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her in terms of her writing and I’ll be keeping an eye on what she writes next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Crown’s Game 3.5/5 | The Crown’s Fate 4/5

overall

I enjoyed myself while reading this novel, I just wasn’t blown away. (Maybe the hype monster killed this one for me?) It’s a solid series and definitely worth a read if you love alternate history with a dash of magic!

Read if You Like: fantasy, Imperial Russia, alternate history
Avoid if You: dislike magic, want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: Ruined (#1) by Amy Tintera

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Ruined Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined (from Goodreads):
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Ruined, Avenged, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Avenged, will be published in May 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

But this novel also promised to have a slightly darker edge to it; or at least, I hoped it would. Not that I like to have a lot of violence in my novels, but I do enjoy novels with action and the grittier scenes that happen from physical confrontations. It adds another layer of risk to the story.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this novel just after its release, but I still really wanted to read it. So I avoided reading too much into any other reviews so that I could go into this fresh…and I sure am glad I did!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

This book always kept moving! Whether it was romantic developments or character scenes or action scenes, I never had a dull moment while reading this.

Honestly, if I could have stayed in bed all day to read this, I totally would have!

–The Romance–

Like I said, I’m a sucker for this trope of characters falling in love with their enemies. So this was one of my favourite aspects. These two were a perfect match in my eyes and I like the character growth that is a result of their relationship.

A lot of people will probably struggle with this trope–especially with these two and all that happens between them–but I don’t think it overshadows the story too much. You still have a lot of great plot development outside of the romance even if it is often the main focus of the plot.

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

I like books that aren’t afraid to take risks. If that means killing off a character or two, that’s ok. It makes the story that touch more unpredictable and keeps me excited to see what will happen next because there are no restraints.

I also like that there seems to be true villains here. Evil characters are often water-downed but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s in store.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

I’m one of those readers who likes things spelled out for her, especially when I’m starting a new series.

When it comes to the term “ruined” I honestly had no idea what that meant when I first started reading. I knew these people had “powers” but it was never clearly explained. Or if it was, I totally missed it. Sure, it was easy to understand it once I got a grasp of their abilities but I hate when things are told as if you should already know what it all means. 

I also would have loved a map of the world! While it was pretty easy to orient it, I just think it would be neat to see.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There were so many interesting plot developments at the end of Ruined that I can’t wait to see what is in store. I’m hoping for a touch more world-building and maybe a dash more politics; but otherwise, if Avenged sticks to the same foundations as Ruined, it’ll be great!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

While this story does borrow characteristics and tropes common to the genre, (I think many readers will draw parallels to other novels) I still had a lot of fun with this story. It still felt fresh to me and it definitely has its own unique quirks to make it stand out on its own.

Read if You Like: in love with the enemy romances
Avoid if You: want stronger world-building

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Series Review: Ravenspire by C J Redwine

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

Ravenspire Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Shadow Queen (from Goodreads):

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

breakdown

Series: Ravenspire
Author: C J Redwine
# of Books: 4 (The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, The Traitor Prince, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Traitor Prince will be published February 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Redwine’s Defiance Trilogy for its strong characters and thrilling plotline, so I was eagerly awaiting her next series. Not only did The Shadow Queen have an awesome cover but I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling and I knew Redwine would do a great job.

This book was one of my top TBR picks of 2016, but some not so favourable reviews scared me away from grabbing it right away. But when I reread the synopsis in December 2016, I just knew I had to give it a shot.

What I Liked:

–The World–

The premise in this series is that each kingdom is going to get its own retelling and I could not be more excited for that! Each kingdom is so unique and has its own little quirks so I can’t wait to uncover them.

The world itself is easy to understand and easy to visualize. Redwine doesn’t drone on about the setting but she doesn’t bypass it either. She finds that right balance to get you acquainted with the kingdoms without boring you.

–The Characters–

I’m not sure how many people watch ABC’s Once Upon a Time but Lorelai reminded me a lot of Snow (and not just because they are Snow White). She’s a kickass lead with a heart of gold but she also has her own flaws. I like that she isn’t perfect and I like that she isn’t defenceless and requires a “prince” to save her from her troubles. And the same can be said about Kol–he isn’t some flawless character either.

The cast as a whole was a lot of fun. It was easy to root for the good guys and despise the bad guys (you always need a good villain). They were all so likeable to me and that made me want to read more about their story. And there were some heartwarming moments as well.

–The Loose Retelling–

I like that this story wasn’t so focused on the retelling. That it isn’t a cut and dry Snow White story. It follows its own path and borrows some key features of the Snow White fairy tale along the way. It’s very reminiscent of The Lunar Chronicles in that respect where the fairy tale serves as the base but the plot goes its own way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Was that little bit too long–

Somewhere around the latter half of the book, I started to get a little bored. Which was weird because things were happening–it wasn’t like the characters were just sitting around waiting; there was plenty of action. I think I just wanted to get to the climax that little bit sooner. One plot device in particular seemed like it was just regurgitated in a slightly different way after it had been resolved and that really slowed down the story for me.

Otherwise, the pacing was great and the story kept my attention.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I’m excited to explore more of these kingdoms. I’m super glad that this story isn’t going to be dragged out across multiple volumes.

updates

–April 13, 2017– Book #2: The Wish Granter

I was really curious to see how the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale would be brought to life in The Wish Granter and I wasn’t disappointed. While the fairy tale itself is pretty classic, Redwine had some great creative twists.

The first being that Teague is fae–such a simple thing but one that is perfect. Faerie characters are known for their deception and tricky deals with others; perfect for a Rumpelstiltskin character. It also helps that he is a pretty evil dude that you can’t help but hate (in that great way you can detest a villain).

As for the heroes–I really loved Ari. It’s nice to have a strong heroine who isn’t strong because she can physically kick ass. Ari is intelligent, compassionate and you can’t help but root for her. She also has great character growth throughout the story. Sebastian was much of the same. I really liked how he evolved as a character throughout.

And the romance was just adorable. One of my new favorite couples. They just had great chemistry in all aspects and I loved every scene they had together.

My Rating: 4/5

The Shadow Queen 4/5 | The Wish Granter 4/5

overall

With any fairy tale retelling, you’re going to get comparisons and similar plot lines. (The source material is the same of course) But Redwine does a good job of creating an entertaining read that has its own unique twists on a story that has been done again and again.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, subtle romance, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike magic use
similarreads

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Caraval (#1) by Stephanie Garber

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Caraval Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 1+ (Caraval, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC  | Thank you so much Jamie!!!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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 Escape from Witchwood Hollow (from Goodreads):
Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

breakdown

Author: Jordan Elizabeth
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Magic, Witches, Suspense
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2014
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Jordan Elizabeth!

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually enjoy witch-based stories, though there have been notable exceptions in the past. But what intrigued me about Escape from Witchwood Hollow was the mystery of Witchwood. Who is the witch? What is her hold on the town of Arnn? What happened in the past?

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the flashbacks to the past. I love layers to my story, and by alternating POVs that’s exactly what happens. It was fun trying to take everything in and put it all together to figure out what is happening in Arnn.

The Plot:

Despite the alternating POVs keeping the plot moving, I did find the book to be terribly slow at the start. Not a lot is happening besides Honoria trying to learn about her new school and town. Which is why I appreciated the other POVs because it gave me something to be interested in while building the story.

And once everything comes together and the mystery comes to light, this book is great. I love when I can’t really figure out the plot until the big reveal and that’s what happened in this book.

The Characters:

I feel like the characters take a bit of a backseat because the forest is really the focus of this story. While I felt like these characters are developed enough to contribute to the story, I didn’t become particularly attached to any of them.

Honoria was a bit of a dud but I warmed up to her as the story continued.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance in this story! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a YA novel where romance isn’t a main focus of the story so I enjoyed the break!

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really liked how everything came together in this story. The slower pace of this novel isn’t my preferred style but this book was a refreshing Young Adult Fantasy nonetheless!

Read if You Like: slower paced stories; lack romance; mystery
Avoid if You: want romance, dislike slower stories

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Series Review: Newsoul by 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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Incarnate (from Goodreads):
New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Heart

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Biggest Disappointment 2016
Series: Incarnate Trilogy
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Incarnate, Asunder, Infinite)

There is a novella #2.5 Phoenix Overture

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2012 – January 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Last year, I started Jodi Meadow’s Orphan Queen Series and it was one of my favourites of 2015. Her Incarnate Trilogy had been on my radar thanks to their beautiful, eye-catching covers but I didn’t get inspired to pick them up until after I finished The Mirror King, the finale to The Orphan Queen Series. I think it is fair to say I was in a bit of a book-hangover and thought another Jodi Meadows series could be the cure.

So I went to check what the waitlist was like at my library and saw that all the eBooks were available for checkout simultaneously–it was just a sign I had to listen to and so I picked these novels up!

The Concept / The World:

Reincarnation is a concept I haven’t really read about in a long time. The last series that really focused on this was the Immortal Series by Alyson Noel for me. Instead, I’ve been reading more novels focusing on alternate dimensions.

It’s an interesting concept that meets a cool fantasy twist with the appearance of dragons, centaurs and sylphs. Unfortunately, not much is done with these elements until the 3rd book (and by then I wasn’t really a fan of its execution), but it gives the world a unique flare that intrigued me.

The Plot:

Incarnate felt like it had no plot whatsoever–I literally just think time passed as Ana explored the new city and her relationship with Sam. But even then, I felt like nothing happened. The romance is subdued and predictable–your typical young adult fodder. The plot is so slow, I contemplated DNFing the book multiple times. Sure, there is a little bit of world-building to the story as the pages go by but I just wanted it to GO somewhere.  And it does get more interesting near the end when a major event happens, paving the way for Asunder.

Asunder has more of a mystery feel to it and starts much stronger than its inaugural novel. Now, Ana actually does something about the problems of her situation and the world. I started to get drawn into the world and the plot. Because there actually was a plot! But it started to lose me near the end; I felt like it was waiting to long to make its move. However, I much preferred Asunder to Incarnate.

Infinite gets some more physical action but didn’t impress me any more than the rest of the series. I actually would have DNF’d it if it wasn’t the last book–and by this point I just wanted to see how everything would wrap up. Even the use of the fantasy elements didn’t keep my attention. It was just too late to make me a fan of this series.

The Characters:

Ana is duller than an unsharpened pencil if you ask me. Even being an outcast didn’t help give her much of a personality. Part of the issue is that I understand why she is on the boring side: she is an outcast and has been raised her entire life to believe she is nothing. So it is fitting that she has a subdued personality. She does start to grow as the series does but she isn’t anything new nor anyone who inspires me to follow her story closely.

It’s the same sort of situation with the other characters. Given the state of their world (which is more apparent in the 2nd and 3rd books) it makes sense that these characters fit molds and see no issue with breaking out of them. I felt like everyone was subdued–even though I knew why–and I just didn’t “connect” with anyone.

The Romance:

Nothing new or exciting here. It actually got a little bit nauseating as I pressed on through the series. Though it was refreshing not having everyone in love with the heroine for once.

The Novella:

Definitely read the Phoenix Overture AFTER book 2, Asunder. It will spoil most of Asunder for you as it elaborates on the “big reveal”. The novella is well done and I does a good job of building upon the momentum of Book 2. It isn’t necessary to read but I highly recommend it if you are able to get your hands on a copy.

Series Rating: 3/5

Incarnate 3/5 | Asunder 3/5 | Infinite 2/5

overall

If you don’t enjoy Incarnate, I highly recommend that you do not pick up the rest of the series. All the books have the same slow plot mixed with some cheesy romance and dull characters. I’m glad I picked up Orphan Queen before I read this series because it would have made me super hesitant to pick it up.

Read if You Like: slow stories, fantasy
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike slow stories

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