Tag «has novellas»

Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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 The Forbidden Wish (from Goodreads):

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

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Author: Jessica Khoury

There is a prequel novella on Wattpad: #0.5 The Jinni

Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My all time favourite Disney movie is Aladdin. The music is great, the animation is superb, the Genie is one of a kind, Jasmine is kickass and Aladdin is a street rat who grows up along the way. So I was very excited for a retellling where things were a little different than that.

The Concept / The World:

So before I start any retelling of a story that has been done by Disney I try my best to clear all my preconceived notions. It’s easy to forget that the Disney version isn’t always the “true” version because it usually the most well known. Disney has taken some artistic licence to great a story to appeal to its audience and that’s what authors do too.

I liked this world we get here a lot. It’s rich in politics and turmoil. You’ve got some villains and magic so that gives a bit of a darker edge to the story. Jessica Khoury’s writing prose is lush and has a great flow (honestly, if you like Renee Ahdied’s writing you’ll love hers!) so it’s a pleasure to read (or in my case, listen to).

I really enjoyed the rich history of the Jinni and the everyday people. And Zahra’s backstory was also great.

The Plot:

I’ll admit I probably wasn’t in the best headspace when I started this book so I might have just missed some key sentences while listening to the audiobook. BUT, some of the logic for the dramatic events escaped me so I had a hard time fully understanding what was happening and why.

I will say that all of the events that I thought would be “big deals” didn’t have as large of an impact as I expected but perhaps my focus was on the wrong devices.

The Characters:

While I enjoyed Zahra’s lush history as a Jinni, I found her to be kinda bland as a character. I know why–she’s been trapped in her lamp for centuries, lamenting over past mistakes–but I still wanted a larger than life character.

Aladdin was about as thrilling as a wet blanket and had the personality of one too. I found him to be super underdeveloped and shallow. Not the charming clever street rat I wanted him to be.

Caspida really stole the show for me. I could have easily read a whole book about her, she was fascinating!

The Romance:

People (other readers) rave about this but I was seriously underwhelmed. Besides a physical attraction and being within a certain radius of each other (seriously, while Aladdin had her lamp, Zahra couldn’t be a specific distance away from him) I didn’t get the love between these two at all! Not even the forbidden nature of a jinni and a human could get me interested.

When to Read The Novella?

I didn’t read the novella but it is noted that there are some minor spoilers in it if you do decide to read it first. So perhaps, read it second.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Leave your ideas at the door and go in with a fresh mind.

Read if You Like: retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance
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Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

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 Cruel Prince (from Goodreads):

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Top Pick 2018
Series: The Folk of the Air
Author: Holly Black
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 The Lost Sisters

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Queen of Nothing will be released January 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Faeries, Action, Politics, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I honestly thought I wrote a review for The Cruel Prince when I read it last year…but I guess not! The hype was so big for this book that I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve always heard great things about Holly Black but none of her stories in the past have interested me. But FAERIES?! They are my favourite fantasy creature of all time. I love their backstabbing and tricks and uniqueness. So this was a no brainer for me.

The Concept / The World:

I ADORE anything with faeries and this world certainly set the bar. I haven’t read such a rich faerie world since I finished Wicked Lovely years ago. I loved the Courts; I loved the different type of faeries; but most of all, I loved the deviousness of the faerie world. I love how you never know who to trust or what the deals truly mean. And even knowing that deception is around every corner, I still found myself shocked by the events that unfold.

The Plot:

I was fully enthralled by the plot from the very start of The Cruel Prince. It was a weird addiction though because I really didn’t think much was happening drama-wise for the longest time. But there is just something so compelling about Jude’s drive to make her mark in the Court.

But when it came to The Cruel King: non-stop developments from start to finish. If it wasn’t one thing brewing it was another and I couldn’t get enough! Jude’s story is exactly what I crave from a Faerie story.

The Characters:

I really love Jude as a lead. She is exactly what I want my human protagonist to be in a world of Faerie. She’s cunning and strong–definitely able to hold her own–but she also has this vulnerability to her that makes her endearing…and human, much to her dismay. At times, The Cruel Prince read like a coming of age story because she has some great character growth.

And Cardan! Le SIGH! He is the ideal faerie prince for me. I love how I can never get a read on him. He’s mysterious and swoon-worthy; endlessly frustrating but charming. I positively adored his scenes with Jude.

The Romance:

When I started The Cruel Prince, I really thought it was going to be more of a romance focus (I don’t know why but most faerie stories are) but I’m glad it’s only a small component of the story. It does a great job of enriching the story without distracting for the various dramatic plotlines.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 The Lost Sisters:

How cool is it that this is in an audiobook! I was going to read the eBook when I saw my library had the audio version. Rarely are novellas in audiobooks.

I read this after I finished Book #2–mostly because I forgot this existed. I’m glad I did though. Not that it gives away anything but I kinda liked having this person’s motives unknown to me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I LOVED the audiobooks. Caitlin Kelly does an amazing job bringing Jude to life and I think it definitely impacted my reading experience in a super positive way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I cannot wait to see how all of this wraps up!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Cruel Prince 4.5/5 | [The Lost Sisters 4/5] | The Cruel Prince 5/5 | The Queen of Nothing ?/5

overall

If you love the dark world of faeries (or want to dive in head first), there is a reason people can’t stop talking about this series!

Read if You Like: faeries, lots of twists, drama
Avoid if You: want more romance focused

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Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

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 Forget Me Not (from Goodreads):

I fell in love with a boy a long time ago.

I was only a small girl. Scared and frightened, I was taken from my home and held against my will. His father hurt me, but he protected me and kept me safe as best he could.

Until I left him.

I ran the first chance I got and even though I knew he wasn’t behind me, I didn’t stop. The branches lashed out at me, punishing me for leaving him in the hands of a monster.

I’ve never felt such guilt in my life.

Although I survived, the boy was never found. I prayed for him to be safe. I dreamed he’d be alright and come back to me. Even as a young girl I knew I loved him, but I betrayed him.

Twenty years later, all my wishes came true.

But the boy came back a man. With a grip strong enough to keep me close and a look in his eyes that warned me to never dare leave him again. I was his to keep after all.

Twenty years after leaving one hell, I entered another. Our tale was only just getting started.

It’s dark and twisted.

But that doesn’t make it any less of what it is.

A love story. Our love story.

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Author: Willow Winters
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Psychological
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Do you subscribe to author newsletters? You really should if you don’t; you can get a ton of freebie reads by authors in the same genre every month. I wasn’t a frequent subscriber until recently and I’m so glad that I started! This book was a freebie for the month of April 2018 for Melissa Foster subscribers.

I’m an absolute sucker for dark romances; and while this one seemed extremely similar to Monica Murphy’s Never Tear Us Apart, it also promised to forge its own path.

The Concept:

Like I said above, the concept was similar to other reads given the synopsis but it quickly transformed into its own unique story. We don’t spend a lot of time in the past–which has its pros and cons in terms of development–so it has second chance romance vibe to it for the most part, with a psychological edge.

The Plot:

I think anyone who has read a psychological-rooted dark romance can figure out the one big aspect of this plot early on; I figured it out fairly early on. But I’m not sure if that was the intention either. By knowing the aspect early on it does give the story a different feel to it. It’s hard to say.

This book started well for me but my enjoyment started to wane by the halfway point. Part of the reason was that I figured out the twist so that anticipation was lost on me. The other reason is that I felt like the development (both plot and character) was lacking. I felt like we regurgitated the same scenes over and over which got to be a little tiring instead of taking this story to the next level.

The Characters:

I saw so much potential in these characters but they felt a little underdone to me. Robin started strong but I felt like she lost part of herself in the plot and her character never recovered. Jay on the otherhand does get some strengthen moments later on in the book but for the most part it was stifled until the end.

The Romance:

I wasn’t really sold on this one sadly. I think if we spent a little more time highlighting their shared past I would have had an easier time understanding their love. Otherwise, it seemed like their connection was based on proximity and a shared event.

When to Read the Prequel Novella, Something to Remember:

This was included at the start of my version of the novel so I really didn’t have a choice about when to read it. You can safely read this before–it doesn’t give much away and only one chapter is repeated word for word in the actual novel so it isn’t straight up recycling material. I think in some ways it helps you to understand why these two bonded during their shared experience before you get reintroduced to them.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This isn’t the best dark romance I’ve ever read but it does have one of the more unique approaches I’ve encountered.

Read if You Like: dark romances, psychological
Avoid if You: want stronger development

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Series Review: Truth or Lies by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Taken by Lies (Truth or Lies #1) by Ella Miles

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

book2 book3 book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Taken by Lies (from Goodreads):

At 16 I was taken.
Kidnapped by a boy I thought I could love.
Then he sold me as if I were property.
For three years I endured.
Beatings.
Torture.
Pain.
I never broke.
I was strong, determined, resilient.
But then one day it happened…I broke.
Setting me free.
I should have run away, found a new life, and started over.
Instead, I returned.
To find the man who sold me.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, 2019 Fave
Series: Truth or Lies

There is a Spin-Off Series: Sinful Truths (#1)

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

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**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:

Ella Miles is my go-to author for dark contemporary romances. She just writes thrilling, steamy and more often than not twisted romance; and she never fails to surprise me with her great plots. So when I saw this New Adult series was her next project, I was super excited!

What I Liked:

–Great Chemistry Between the Leads–

I already adored the relationship between Kie and Enzo thanks to the novella (more about that below) but I loved every interaction these two had. There’s so much tension and unspoken feelings between them that I lived for their scenes together!

–The Slow Reveal of the Past–

I don’t want to give much away but if you’ve ever read Ella Miles before you know that she leaves little tidbits throughout her novels as you reach the climax. If I wasn’t already hooked on the romance, I was totally invested in learning more about what happened between the events of Lured by Lies and Taken by Lies.

–Enzo–

Don’t get me wrong, Kie is also great but I want to give a special shout out to Enzo. I’m not one who enjoys overly alpha heroes–even in dark romances–but Enzo is quickly becoming a favourite of mine! Yes, he has alpha tendencies but he also has this great vulnerability that we get from time to time that had me totally gone for his character.

What I Didn’t Like:

I have to wait for the sequels! I just want to binge this series!

When to Read the Novella: Lured by Lies (#0.5):

One thing I love about Ella Miles is that she often writes prequel novellas for her stories so you can get a little taste of what is to come. Lured by Lies provides that little bit of context for the history between the two characters who are our leads. It just brings an edge of anticipation for what’s to come next and I think it immensely increased my enjoyment of Taken by Lies since I had already fallen for the characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

So excited for what’s to come!

updates

–May 2, 2019– Book #2: Betrayed by Truths

Gah!!!! I’m so in love with this series so far!

I love the tension between Kai and Enzo! Their attraction to each other just leaps off the pages. Enzo makes me swoon whenever he looks at her. I adore his character so much. He is unlike any alpha hero I’ve ever read. And I love how Kai is his match in every way. They are easily one of my favourite romance couples of all time.

And the drama! So addicting. There have been so many great twists along the way that I couldn’t put this book down!

Bingeworthy!

–June 2, 2019– Book #3: Trapped by Lies

Just like the previous novels I was sucked right in. This instalment has a larger focus on character development–and not just on our two leads either–which is great. It makes these already complex leads even more intriguing by adding these additional layers to their characters. And it was great to get more insight into the other characters that are constantly shifting the narrative of this story.

Compared to the rest of the series so far, I felt like this story was slower in the middle. It picks up again near the end as it sets the stage for the rest of the series. We’ve got some interesting developments on the way and I can’t wait to see what tests Kai and Enzo have to pass next.

–July 10, 2019– Book #4: Stolen by Truths

I literally dropped my Kindle in shock. Ella Miles never fails to surprise me, especially when I thought I had things figured out. Very curious to see what happens next!

–August 11, 2019– Book #5: Possessed by Lies

The best way to describe this book is as a roller coaster. So many highs and lows for all the characters involved. It was just a great blending of action, romance, plot and character development. Again, just when I think I have things figured out, we get more curveballs thrown our way. What a story Ella Miles is weaving for us!

My Rating: 4.5/5

[Lured by Lies 4/5] |Taken by Lies 5/5 | Betrayed by Truths 5/5 | Trapped by Lies 4/5 | Stolen by Truths 4.5/5 | Possessed by Lies 5/5

overall

One of Ella Miles’ best dark contemporary stories! It’s deliciously dark and addicting!

Read if You Like: dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike alpha males, dislike mature subject matter
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Series Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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 Cage (from Goodreads):

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures, all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer appears—a handsome young guard called Cassian—they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

breakdown

Series: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella (#0.5) called The Caretaker

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: ARC Paperback (The Cage); Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually got a paperback copy of the ARC of The Cage from Lola @ Hit Or Miss Books as a part of her giveaway three years ago. I loved the concept so I was very interested in reading it but never managed to actually get to it. Which is why I picked it as a 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 pick for the year 2015; especially since the series was now complete!

The Concept / The World:

I love stories where an unlikely group of people find themselves together in a dire situation. Will they band together or will they tear each other apart? Will their secrets be exposed? It just adds to the suspense of the novel and keeps you wondering what will happen next.

When it comes to The Cage (#1), this was one of those books where I loved the concept more than the actual execution. The overall idea of why these characters find themselves in this weirdly crafted world kept my attention but the stuff in between (like romance) caused it to wane. This definitely changed in the sequel novels where I found the attention stayed on the overall plot (ie why they have been captured by the alien species and what they are going to do about it).

As for the world itself, it’s easy to grasp and definitely intriguing in its own way.

The Plot:

The plot of The Cage was very slow for me. I found the mystery of why these 6 were being kept in a cage pushed me to keep reading. But at the same time, I thought some of the other elements were repetitive. Cora in particular seems to cycle through the same plot line (attempt escape, talk to the Caretaker, repeat) and she is the character we follow for a majority of the novel. The other characters get their own POVs which was a refreshing change; however, we know all the other characters secrets early on so their POVs weren’t overly enthralling. There are some good twists near the end though.

And I thought the sequels did a good job of building on that momentum at the end of the first book. The narrative of the novels shifts away from the romances and the petty stuff and instead hones in on the bigger plot of the story: saving humanity. I really enjoyed the pacing of The Hunt and the various twists we got along the way. The Gauntlet has the same great pacing; my only reason for a slightly lower rating is my dislike of some of the plot resolutions (or at least how they are resolved).

The Characters:

I really struggled to like the characters in The Cage (#1). They all seemed a little bland to me. I wasn’t a Cora fan in the slightest though I understood her desire to escape. But I never really got the logic behind the other characters’ motivations (except Rolf) and actions. We also don’t spend a lot of time getting to know them because Cora’s chapters outweigh them, so I never really grew attached.

So in the sequel novels I found them to be the right pieces to move the story forward but I never really “connected” to any of them.

The Romance:

I did NOT see the attraction between Cassian and Cora whatsoever. Well, I guess I get Cassian’s fascination in a way but not Cora’s. The love triangle that ensues is painful to watch. Thankfully it gets toned down in the sequel novels so it isn’t a huge part of the plot moving forward.

The rest of the romances served their purposes. There was one couple in particular I was rooting to see happen so I liked that.

My Audiobook Experience (The Hunt [#2] & The Gauntlet [#3]):

I LOVED the audio version–it almost makes me wish I read the first book as an audio. The narrator does a great job giving everyone a unique voice with unique tones and accents. It was just a blast to listen to!

When to Read the Novella, The Caretaker?

I read it after I completed the series mostly because I forgot it existed 😛 You can read it for free here and I would definitely read it AFTER you’ve read The Cage because it definitely gives away some of the plot twists (plus, it’ll will give you more context if you already know the scenes).

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Cage 3/5| The Hunt 4/5 | The Gauntlet 3.5/5

overall

Despite a really rough start with The Cage, I truly to end up enjoying this series. Once we move away from the petty character moments, we do get an intriguing and unique fast-paced story about humanity’s survival in the later two sequels.

Read if You Like: dystopian science fiction, romance
Avoid if You: need fast paced plot ASAP

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Series Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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 Wolf by Wolf (from Goodreads):

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2017
Series: Wolf by Wolf Duology
Author: Ryan Graudin
# of Books: 2 (Wolf by Wolf, Blood for Blood)

There are two novellas: #1.5 Iron to Iron and #1.6 Storm After Storm

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate History, Adventure, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: October 2015 – November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook & eBook (Iron to Iron)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first learned about this series on Twitter when promotions for the sequel were happening. I had never heard of it prior to that but my interest was piqued when I read the synopsis. Add to that the rave reviews everyone seemed to have for Wolf by Wolf and I was intrigued! I love stories about alternate history and this one featured a period of time I had actually studied in school so I was excited to see what would happen.

I’ve read one book by Graudin prior to this: All That Glows. It’s actually one of the first reviews I ever wrote for my blog. The book itself was entertaining but it was lacking for me in the grand scheme. So I was curious to see how an author would make the jump from faerie romance to an alternate history about WWII.

The Concept / The World:

Alternate history usually explores the possibility of “what if this didn’t happen?” and I like seeing the ideas that authors construct to tell their story. This series is a great example of what a well researched and thought-out alternate history novel is. The building of the world and the situations the characters find themselves in automatically deserves a 5/5 in my mind. It’s simply fabulous.

What I did struggle with was the fantasy element to this story. Truthfully, I didn’t know there was one when I picked the book up and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize it until well after the 50% mark on the audiobook. What I’m talking about is in the spoiler box below (and it really isn’t a spoiler but it’s not in the synopsis so I like to keep that hidden). But it is a fantasy twist that had me going, “why would you do that” until I read the Author’s Note in Wolf by Wolf and it made sense. I’m not sure if this book would be better or worse without that element, it’s hard to say. But I do appreciate how it adds to the overall themes of the novel and I completely understand why it is done this way.

Fantasy Element in Wolf by Wolf

It’s embarassing but I didn’t know Yael could literally transform into other people. I think I totally missed the sentence where this is described when I was listening to the audiobook or I just didn’t understand the subtext when I was listening (as opposed to reading the words).

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The Plot:

The whole idea of the race is an interesting plot device. I liked how it was used as a way to highlight Yael’s journey of self-discovery as she completes her mission. It emphasizes the high risk of what she is trying to do while simultaneously building this alternate world.

However, I also found that this dragged the plot a bit in Wolf by Wolf. I don’t enjoy adventure stories and this reads like one in Wolf by Wolf. And while lots of things happen along they way, I found myself wanting to be at the climax sooner because I wanted to see what the fallout would be and what would happen next.

In comparison, I was much more engaged in the plot for Blood For Blood. It just seemed like a more well-rounded novel. You get moments of character history & growth, a little dash of romance and the plot always seemed to be moving. I never found that it lulled and it had me eager (but dreading because I’d really grown to like these characters) the ending.

The Characters:

Yael is a great lead for this story. She’s a girl bent on revenge but she’s also a girl with a conscience and I loved how she often struggles with what she has been tasked to do. It makes her human and keeps her from becoming this detached heroine. Being a total kickass character doesn’t mean you can’t show emotions or empathy and I liked that Yael–while completely driven by her mission–has these moments of reflection and vulnerability.

Wolf by Wolf definitely focuses more on Yael which is why I enjoyed the moments we get in Blood for Blood more where we learn more about the other characters. Getting those backgrounds really helps you understand the motives of everyone involved. I truly grew attached to these characters by the time Blood for Blood wrapped up.

The Romance:

I’m glad that the romance never overshadows the bigger plot of this story. It compliments the story well and is used as a solid plot device when the time arises.

When to Read the Novellas:

Both novellas should be read after Wolf by Wolf but they aren’t necessary for the sequel either.

I only read Iron to Iron and I am SO glad that I did. Luka was one of those characters I didn’t entirely appreciate as a reader in Wolf by Wolf but I completely fell in love with him after reading the novella. It was great to get that context about what happened in the past and what motivates him to do what he does. I enjoyed Blood for Blood a lot more because I truly understood his character more after reading the novella.

My Audiobook Experience:

I listened to both novels as an audiobook and I’m really glad that I did. The narration was fabulous! The accents were great and everyone had a unique voice. I love audiobooks because they convey so much emotion and the wit often shines a little more and that was totally the case here.

Series Rating: 5/5

Wolf by Wolf  4.5/5| [Iron to Iron  5/5] | [Storm After Storm  N/A] | Blood for Blood  5/5

overall

I can see why this book series gets all the hype it does. Without a doubt, this is probably the best alternate history series I’ve encountered. It’s so layered and complex in its message and delivery that as a reader you can’t help but appreciate it. Highly recommend!

Read if You Like: alternate history, stories set around WWII
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike alternate history

similarreads

 

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Series Review: Cruel by K A Linde

Synopsis for Cruel Money (from Goodreads):

She was supposed to be a one night stand.

A way to sate my sexual appetite.

I let her glimpse the man I am. The face that I hide behind my carefully cultivated life. But she ripped open that divide—and there’s no going back.

Now, she’s here. In my city.

I don’t care that I’m Manhattan royalty and she’s the help.

Only that she’s living in my summer home. With me.

And I want more.

book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Cruel
Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a FREE prequel novella: #0.5 One Cruel Night

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes, Spin-off novel in works titled The Lying Season
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 22, 2019 – July 16, 2019
Source & Format: Inkslinger PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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:

When I want a romance with a wicked twist along the way, K A Linde is my go to author. She never fails to surprise me when it comes to the drama of her romances. The romance is steamy and the drama is high–just what I like!

I was excited for this new series because it seemed like something I would love. Forbidden romance. NYC. Paris. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–Natalie–

I’ll be the first to say that I had to slowly warm up to Natalie a bit. I think her anger at the start made her seem abrupt and perhaps a little rude? But as the story progressed I really loved how she grew a backbone and become confident in herself. She doesn’t become this dependent heroine, rather she really does achieve independence so I was definitely on board with that!

–The Side Characters–

As I often am with these types of stories, I immediately got sucked into the lives of the side characters. I really hope we can elaborate more on their romances and shared histories in future novels.

Cruel Intentions meets Gossip Girl

Without a doubt, Cruel Intentions has one of my all time favourite romance tropes at the heart of it (playboy falls hard for his target) but I also adore (weird I know) the manipulation of the characters. Which is where the Gossip Girl comparisons come in. I associate the Upper East Side with high drama and backstabbing frenemies and a whole lot of angst. That’s all definitely here.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wish-Washy Penn–

Don’t get me wrong, I had a major crush on Penn. He’s charming and everything I like in my playboy heroes so I was a fan. But I had the hardest time getting a read on him. Just when I think I had him figured out, he’d do something that just seemed out of character for me. I suppose part of that is the point of the story (you don’t really know his true intentions) but it just made his character lack some stability as a character (if you get what I’m saying).

–It Seemed a Little Tame?–

I came in expecting a lot of drama and I don’t think I got as much as I wanted. Sure, the story is super angsty and there is lots of Upper East Side Drama like you expect. But everything just seemed a little more toned down than I’m used to. But I could definitely sense that things were building by the end of the novel so I’m thinking bigger things are to come!

When to Read #0.5 One Cruel Night:

I would highly recommend that you read the novella before you read #1 Cruel Money. I found that novella really highlighted Natalie and Penn’s relationship and gave me a foundation that was lacking at the start of the novel for me when it comes to the romance. It gives you their history but doesn’t give any of the big secrets away either. Plus, the novella is super great; I wish it was longer!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Things are ramping up and I can’t wait to see how all this will unfold!

How it Crosses Over with the Wright Brothers Series:

My understanding since that is one of the few K A Linde series I haven’t read (yet), that Penn and Katherine are featured as the friends of the leads in that series. You can definitely read one series without the other.

updates

–May 1, 2019– Book #2: Cruel Fortune

You can read my full review of book 2 here!

–June 14, 2019– Book #3: Cruel Legacy

You can read my full review of book 3 here!

My Rating: 3.5/5

[One Cruel Night 4/5] | Cruel Money 3.5/5 | Cruel Fortune 3.5/5 | Cruel Legacy 3/5

overall
This is perfect for fans of Cruel Intentions and angsty romance reads!

Read if You Like: Cruel Intentions, the Upper East Side
Avoid if You: dislike angsty, billionaire romances

similarreads

  • Little Black Book by Tabatha Vargo (Little Black Book Series #1)
  • I Bet You by Isla Madden-Mills (The Hook-Up Series #2)
  • Fair Game by Monica Murphy (The Rules Series #1)

 


K A Linde

K.A. Linde is the USA Today bestselling author of the Avoiding Series, Wrights, and more than thirty other novels. She has a Masters degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, binge-watching Supernatural, traveling, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super-adorable puppies.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

 

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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DNF Series Review: By You by Kelly Harper

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 8: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined by You (from Goodreads):

Can one summer change your life?

Maggie Simpson has one summer left before college starts. And the last place she wants to spend it is in Green Falls, TX with her mother’s family. She was annoyed when her mother announced the change of plans at the last moment, but as she reconnects with her cousin Sarah, she realizes a summer away might be exactly what she needs.

Maggie decides to find a summer job to keep herself occupied, and to help pay for college. She is ecstatic when Scottie gives her a job at a local watering hole, The Hill Country Saloon, to find a band to headline the annual Battle of the Bands competition.

One night, Maggie meets sexy and mysterious Haden, and he agrees to help her find a band for the competition. As Maggie and Haden work side by side, secrets are unleashed that make Maggie question everything she thought she knew about Haden, and the reason for her summer in Green Falls.
Secrets, so powerful, that her life may never be the same.

breakdown

Series: By You; Maggie & Haden
Author: Kelly Harper
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are also novellas.

Book Order: Chronological (Ruined by You & Saved By You) & Connected (Finding You & Undone by You)
Complete?: There are plans for a 4th book but no release date.
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2013 – ??
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Ruined by You at 30%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A classic case of I dunno how I learned about this series but I bought it shortly after its release.

Or course, I didn’t get around to reading it until a few years later when I pulled it out for my #ShelfLove Challenge 2017. I had a pretty good idea of what Haden’s secret was going to be but I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the trip to Green Falls would be. So I was looking forward to uncovering those…

What I Liked:

–Battle of the Bands Premise–

I thought this was a fun situation to put the two leads in. I’m a sucker for musicians in my New Adult novels so this was right up my alley. I liked that it was a goal they had to work towards and not just a circumstance in the background (I hope that makes sense!).

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maggie’s a Little Angsty–

Ruined by You is actually one of those novels that straddles the YA-NA line but I ended up grouping it as NA because the premise is much more NA. Anyways, it has that angsty-ness that is common in YA.

Maggie is obviously upset that she has to spend her entire summer away from the place she calls home–and I get that. But I just didn’t like her attitude as a whole.

–Very Slow–

I found Ruined by You to be really slow. I was 30% of the way through and Haden and Maggie had met maybe 3 times and those were fairly brief. I also found that not much else was happening with Maggie. Honestly, I think more was happening with Sarah (who is the lead in Finding You). The band search hadn’t started; the romance wasn’t taking off like I wanted it to; and no inklings of secrets were on the horizon. I just needed a little more to stimulate my interests.

Will I Finish It?

No. I’ve read so many great NA novels with these elements that take it to that next level and this just wasn’t one of them for me.

Series Rating: DNF

overall

I think this would be a great intro to NA novel for those who like a slower story. If you have patience to big reveals, check it out!

Read if You Like: YA/NA novels, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike quick romances
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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Words by Georgina Guthrie

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 5: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Weight of Words (from Goodreads):

Aubrey Price is in the final months of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. Bright, witty, and fiercely independent, Aubrey works part-time for the college dean and has her sights set on graduating with distinction. When she meets Dean Grant’s son, Daniel, the TA in her senior Shakespearean studies course, a shared love of the Bard’s works and an instant mutual attraction draw Aubrey and Daniel together. Unfortunately, a strict anti-fraternizing policy–made more perilous by a black mark on Daniel’s record–keeps them apart.

Against this academic backdrop, Aubrey and Daniel navigate their way through a steamy courtship, their forbidden romance aided, abetted, and sometimes thwarted by a colorful cast of friends, family, and classmates.

breakdown

Series: Words
Author: Georgina Guthrie
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #3.5 The Record of my Heart

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Weight of Words (Book #1) at 29% (Start of Chapter 12). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was SUPER DUPER excited to start this series. It combined three of my favourite things: New Adult romance, Shakespeare and it’s set in Canada. Finding books set in Canada is hard and finding one set in an area I’m very familiar with is even rarer. And it integrates Shakespeare? Be still my heart!

What I Liked:

–Shakespeare–

I loved that each chapter had a quote from some work of Shakespeare and how it related to that chapter in some way or another. I also had some great reminiscing about the Shakespeare course I took in University. I mean, I didn’t have a good looking TA in the class but reading this reminded me how fun studying Shakespeare can be.

–The Setting–

While I never went to The University of Toronto (their my alma mater’s arch-rivals), I did live close to the campus when I lived in The Six. So I definitely knew some of the buildings and areas mentioned in the novel. It was really awesome to have a complete picture of the setting throughout the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–An Unbearably Slow Plot Line–

I was 30% into the novel and absolutely nothing of significance had happened. I mean that. These two had talked a handful of times and if you didn’t tell me they were into each other, I wouldn’t have known. Well, besides the fact that Aubrey lamented on and on about how hot Daniel was. I’m talking pages and pages of inner monologue. And that was in between moments of her hot and cold reactions towards her roommate. Snooze!

–Zero Chemistry–

It wasn’t hard to figure out that Aubrey was attracted to Daniel but I never felt the tension between them. If you are going to sell me on a forbidden romance, you have to give me the tension. I get that even if Daniel is interested, he has to play oblivious for a little while (and there are other circumstances). I love a slow burn romance but I felt zero chemistry between them. Even with their “witty” banter in the classroom I felt zero heat between them.

The first half of the novel is Aubrey’s POV and the second half is Daniel’s but I never made it that far. Perhaps having Daniel’s POV and thoughts earlier on would have helped establish that connection between them but I’m not sure.

–Aubrey is One Petty Girl–

Being inside Aubrey’s head frustrated me to no end. If she was in her first year of university, I could have forgiven her somewhat immature tendencies. But she was well into her forth year and did not impress me with her attitude or actions.

It was her actions towards her roommate that convinced me to stop reading this novel. I hated how she treated him and did so knowingly because of her infatuation with Daniel (who had showed zero interest in her BTW). Just ick!

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read the synopsis for the next novel and noticed that this is going to be one long, dragged out romance and my interest just isn’t there.

Twilight Fanfiction?

This story started as Twilight fanfiction–something I didn’t know until I had decided to DNF the novel. It definitely has been reworked and edited and I might not have noticed. But once I realized that I saw the connections and parallels.

I’m not saying this as a negative thing about the book. I’ve read quite a few stories that have originated as fanfiction for Twilight and have enjoyed them. I just thought it was an interest fact about the series!

When to Read the Novella?

From what I researched about the novella it’s just some bonus content from Daniel’s POV from throughout the trilogy. So I think it is best to read it after you finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: DNF

The Weight of Words DNF | Better Deeds Than Words N/A | The Truest of Words N/A | [The Record of my Heart N/A]

overall

While there was a lot of positive attributes to this story, the characters and lack of chemistry between the leads killed this one for me. If you enjoy long romance stories that span several novels, check this out!

Read if You Like: Twilight fanfiction, slow romances, romance spanning multiple novels
Avoid if You: dislike immature characters, want more romantic tension

similarreads

  • Someone to Love by Addison Moore (Someone to Love Series #1)
  • Shame by Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin Trilogy #1)
  • After Math by Denise Grover Swank (Off the Subject Series #1)

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

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DNF Series Review: Breathe by Rachel Brookes

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 3: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Just Breathe (from Goodreads):

For Savannah Rae, living life without her parents was unimaginable. But being blamed for her first love’s suicide? That destroyed every part of who she was.

Gone were the days of innocence, happiness, and dreams. Now her days simply meant attempting to survive. In her mind, her only means for that was replacing her grief with men, booze and the fast life. And for five years, it worked.

When an opportunity to leave the nightmares of her past in Australia opens up, she takes it. Los Angeles beckons – with hopes of late nights, new beginnings, and the promise of a string of endless men to distract her, she can’t wait to dive in.

One thing she didn’t count on was meeting her match.

In the eyes of outsiders, Tate Connors has it all; the ultimate LA bachelor who is content with his lifestyle of wild nights, women and one night stands. He’s Mr. Unpredictable with looks that could destroy any woman with one glance.

The craziness of Los Angeles throws them into the chaotic path of each other. Savannah becomes the perfect game, and Tate becomes the ultimate prey. Lines are crossed, emotions are smashed, and the idea of who they truly are begins to be tangled.

However, one thing will become clear.

They are more alike than either one could ever have imagined.

breakdown

Series: Breathe Duology
Author: Rachel Brookes
# of Books: 2 (Just Breathe, Breathe Again)

There is a #1.5 companion novella called Breathless.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2013 – March 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Just Breathe at 36%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As per my usual routine, I’m not sure how I found out about this series but I bought Just Breathe in December 2014 so I’m assuming I grabbed it during a holiday sale. I will say that the suicide plotline with Savannah’s ex-boyfriend is what drew me in. I was curious to learn why she felt it was her fault as well as to see the impact it had on her moving forward.

What I Liked:

–Savannah’s Situation–

Like I said above, Savannah’s past relationship was refreshing to me in the sense that it was something I had never encountered before. I’ve read stories about leads with deceased girl/boyfriends but not through suicide. It was interesting for me to see how it altered her relationships going forward and how she lives with the burden of guilt she feels for her “role” in it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard to Like the Leads–

I can get over jaded leads–Savannah is a great example of one–but I found Savannah to be rather dull. She didn’t inspire any emotions from me (if that makes sense). I just didn’t get that bond with her as a character.

Tate also seemed like a walking cliché. I think hope there was supposed to be depth to his character but I don’t think I was going to learn about it anytime soon.

–Blah Romance–

Savannah and Tate are two characters that are extremely set in their ways. They’ve lived the “one-and-done” lifestyle for years and it’s ingrained in them.

So why is it that eyes meeting across the room and one bout of really great sex 5 days later has them completely upending their entire life philosophy?

Sorry, that just doesn’t work for me. I think I just wanted more resistance. I wanted this story to be about them slowly breaking down those walls and realizing that when you meet the right person, it just works. I wanted to peel back those layers.

But since I wasn’t interested in their characters, this quick romance simply flopped for me.

Will I Finish It?

No. When I saw that the sequel novel dealt with these two directly (and not another set of leads), I quickly bowed out. I don’t want to invest myself in a series I’m just not feeling.

Series Rating: DNF

Just Breathe DNF | Breathe Again N/A

overall

Nothing about this story felt new or refreshing to me. It’s nothing I haven’t encountered before and I wasn’t connecting to these leads.

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, jaded characters
Avoid if You: want something refreshing
similarreads

  • Shame by Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin Trilogy #3)
  • Just a Little Kiss by Renita Pizzitola (Crush Trilogy #3)
  • Undone by R E Hunter (Disclosure Series #1)

readingchallenges

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

Thanks for joining me on my first (hopefully) annual DNF December Review Blitz! That’s all I have for this year!

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