Tag «Heat: Cool»

Heat Rating – this is rating the sexual content of the book
Cold / Cool – maybe a chaste kiss; no descriptions
Warm – sexual references; a little description
Really Warm / Toastysexual references; described; no more than 3 scenes
Hot – a sexual scene is mentioned and described fully (4+)
Steamy/Smokin’ – sex scenes in all their glory and in numerous quantities
*Spicy YA* – the sexual content is more descriptive than your usual YA fare

DNF Series Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

DNF Series Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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 Girls of Paper and Fire (from Goodreads):

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

breakdown

Series: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book #3 will be published in 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Girls of Paper and Fire (#1) at 41% (middle of Chapter 15) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was definitely the cover that drew me to this book but the synopsis was intriguing. I was hesitant though because it is published by James Patterson’s publishing group and I’ve had both great success (Stalking Jack the Ripper) and great failure (Gunslinger Girl) with the YA titles in the past.

What I Liked:

–Reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha–

The story style here reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha. There isn’t a main drama driving the plot forward; rather we watch this young girl navigate this foreign world she never thought she’d be a part of.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Monumental Had Happened–

Honestly, I felt like we regurgitated the same things every other chapter. Lei learns something that she needs to do as a Paper Girl. She describes everything in sight in incredible detail. She gossips in her inner monologue about the other girls. Laments about her family/old life. Repeats it all again.

I wanted scenes with the King. I wanted petty pranks with the other girls. I wanted a forbidden angsty romance. I wanted court politics. I wanted Rebellion. I didn’t get that. And I know that those things take time, but even the promise of them seemed to be lacking despite how far into the novel I was.

I suppose you’d say this is more character driven but I was nearly halfway through the book and Lei was only starting to show signs of evolution.

–Romance Was Slow to Start–

I think the tag this book often gets for genres is a big giveaway about who Lei falls in love with. But if I hadn’t seen that tag, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you at all who this all consuming lover would be.

Here are some of the thoughts I wrote on Goodreads:

October 31, 2019 –

39.0% “I cheated and read some reviews about the forbidden romance because nothing seems to be happening (though my suspicion was right about who she will fall in love with).” (Audiobook Edition)

October 30, 2019 –

35.0% “I feel like I’ve dedicated too much time to this now give up…one more shot tomorrow” (Audiobook Edition)

October 29, 2019 –

27.0% “Something exciting better happen soon or else this might be the end of this book for me” (Audiobook Edition)

If you list a book with Forbidden Romance, you better drive that idea home for me. I wasn’t feeling it at all even if the idea in theory was something I loved.

Will I Finish It?

Not at all. I even read the synopsis for the sequel and I still couldn’t get excited for it.

My Audiobook Experience:

I have nothing critical to say about the audiobook. It was an easy listen.

Series Rating: DNF

Girls of Paper and Fire DNF | Girls of Storm and Shadow N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

If you like fantasy novels that are more character driven and take the everyday approach, this is a great series for you.

Read if You Like: character driven fantasies
Avoid if You: want more action
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Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

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 What’s Left of Me (from Goodreads):

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

breakdown

Series: The Hybrid Chronicles
Author: Kat Zhang
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2012 – September 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I’ve moved this series on and off of my TBR numerous times over the years. But the faces on the covers stare back at me every time I browse my library’s eBooks, enticing me to have another peek. It wasn’t until I was looking at available audiobooks that I decided to revisit the series. I loved the idea of the story (the scientist in me thought “neato!”) and it has been such a long time since I read a straight up dystopian novel that I immediately checked it out.

The Concept / The World:

The whole idea that there are two people within one body just fascinates me.  And I love the layer it brings to the character development. I think in any other novel or plot-hook, Eva would be a slightly boring character. But her struggle to find her independence while maintaining her relationship with Addie–all while sharing a body–makes her character development unique and more complex than other heroines in some dystopian stories.

The Plot:

What’s Left of Me (#1) is pretty formulaic for anyone who has ever read a dystopian novel before. And because I’ve been around the block a time or too, nothing is overly shocking or overly eventful. But again, the concept is what kept me hooked.

I felt that way throughout the series truthfully. There weren’t any big twists or revelations that had me going “WOW”. But there is a bit of an unreliable narrator thing going on with Eva so it kept my attention.

The Characters:

Like I said above, the hybrid concept amplifies the characters in a way. Eva goes through a different identity crisis than any other dystopian heroine I’ve ever encountered. It was super interesting to watch her grow and come into her own. In the same breath, she wasn’t anything overly new either but she worked for the story.

The Romance:

It was pretty refreshing that this is a subtle aspect to the plot. I think it enhances the dilemma of the concept though in some ways I wish it was utilized a little more.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m glad I opted for the audio version. I think it just amplified the emotions of the characters more than me reading  the text would.

Series Rating: 3/5

What’s Left of Me 3/5 | Once We Were 3/5 | Echoes of Us 3/5

overall

If you’ve read many dystopian novels before, you might find this a little underwhelming. But I think the concept is fresh and that will keep readers invested.

Read if You Like: dystopian novels
Avoid if You: want more complex plot

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Spin-off Saturdays: Lorien Legacies Reborn Series by Pittacus Lore

Spin-off Saturdays: Lorien Legacies Reborn Series by Pittacus Lore

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Lorien Legacies Reborn Series is a spin-off of the Lorien Legacies Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2019 Fave
Series: The Lorien Legacies Reborn

This is a spinoff of the Lorien Legacies Series.

Author: Pittacus Lore
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 2017 – June 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’m always happy to return the world of Lorien so when this spin-off series was announced, I was stoked. I couldn’t wait to see old friends and maybe get some of those lingering questions answered.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

You can read all about my experience with the first book of the original series, I am Number Four, here — but the short version is that the first book didn’t impress me all that much. It was slow and not as action packed as I wanted but by the end, I could see the bigger picture and I was willing to give the sequel a shot. And I’m so glad I did!

This spin-off series doesn’t start slow at all. It dives into the action and sets the stakes high pretty quickly. Perhaps that’s because most readers are going in already knowing how the world works and what state it is in since they read the original series. You don’t have to spend so much time establishing everything; I’m not sure what it would be like if you’ve never read the original series but I feel like there is enough world-building that you’d get up to speed quickly.

But this had everything you like in a solid spin-off. A new set of characters that captivate you; the return of old favourites; action; romance; and the resolutions to some of those open-ended questions from the original series.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Truthfully, the final book (Return to Zero) in the series wasn’t my favourite. The book spent so much time building up that the climax seemed a little lacklustre given how it resolves itself. And while I appreciate the extended epilogues, I found myself wanting a little more than I got. I could have used a fourth book.

My Audiobook Experience:

While the original series was one of the first novels I ever read as an eBook, I wanted to try the audiobook version this time around.

It was a great choice! Despite only having one narrator for a multiple POV story, everyone had their own distinct voice. I also think it allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the new cast of characters because of how their reactions and emotions were conveyed through voice. The series has great character growth despite the numerous new characters we are introduced to in such a short span (3 novels compared to the original series’ 7) and I think the audio version helped me connect with them better.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Generation One 5/5 | Fugitive Six 4.5/5 | Return to Zero 4/5

overall

It was great to return to one of my all-time favourite worlds. This was a solid spin-off that had its own voice all the while echoing and honouring its source material perfectly.

Read if You Like: world-building, aliens, YA Science Fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike science fiction

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Generation One (from Goodreads):

The first book in a pulse-pounding new series that’s set in the world of the #1 New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series. The war may be over—but for the next generation, the battle has just begun!

It has been over a year since the invasion of Earth was thwarted in Pittacus Lore’s United as One. But in order to win, our alien allies known as the Garde unleashed their Loric energy that spread throughout the globe. Now human teenagers have begun to develop incredible powers of their own, known as Legacies.

To help these incredible and potentially dangerous individuals—and put the world at ease—the Garde have created an academy where they can train this new generation to control their powers and hopefully one day help mankind. But not everyone thinks that’s the best use of their talents. And the teens may need to use their Legacies sooner than they ever imagined.

Perfect for fans of Marvel’s X-Men and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, this epic new series follows a diverse cast of teens as they struggle to hone their abilities and decide what, if anything, they should do with them. As a spin-off of the bestselling I Am Number Four series, those familiar with the original books and newcomers alike will devour this fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi adventure.

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Series Review: Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

Series Review: Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

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 This Savage Song (from Goodreads):

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

breakdown

Series: Monsters of Verity
Author: Victoria Schwab
# of Books: 2 (This Savage Song, Our Dark Duet)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2016 – June 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I opted not to pick up the finale, Our Dark Duet. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I felt like you couldn’t escape this series when it first came out in 2016. Schwab is one of those highly toted authors in the blogging community and after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I understand why. She creates really cool worlds and intriguing stories. But I didn’t have a stellar experience with A Gathering of Shadows (I found it to be dreadfully slow until the last half of the book) so I wasn’t sure about this series.

When I saw my library had the audiobook copies of both books, I decided to make it the next series I read via audio. I was looking forward to it but I was also hesitant after reading some mediocre reviews from some trusted bloggers I follow. But I went in with an open mind and hoped the outcome would be positive.

The Concept / The World:

Alright, the concept here is super duper cool. The idea that these actual monsters have come to life because of people’s actions is really neat. It’s such a unique world and gives this series an interesting spin.

But I felt a little lost in it as well. I mean, I got the politics of the world. That was easy to figure out. What I struggled with was the various monster types. Now this might have been a result of listening to it via audio–I often struggle with remembering terms when I don’t physically see them–but it’s hard to say.

The Plot:

Given my experience with 2 other Schwab novels, I knew that this story was going to take a while to build up. I’ve always noted how slow it takes to get to whatever has been listed in the synopsis with her novels.

In this case, I was at the 56% (approximately) mark when the “failed assassination attempt” occurs. Now, perhaps I just read the synopsis wrong, emphasizing the wrong aspect. But for me, when something is listed in the synopsis, I expect it to happen well before the 50%–usually closer to the 20% because that’s what I expect the novel to be about. So to say I was a little disappointed in the plot for this story is a bit of an understatement.

As a result, the pacing for this just seemed off to me. When I was a quarter of the way through, I contemplated DNFing it because it wasn’t holding my attention. I felt like nothing was happening. But I stuck with it, figuring my crappy mood was to blame. And things did pick up a bit after that but never to the levels I was expecting.

Once the plot got to its climax, I did find everything to be interesting. However, I thought the twist was terribly predictable. I had figured out what was going to happen before we even reached the assassination attempt that sets everything into motion. It just seemed so obvious to me. So in that respect, I found it to be very disappointing.

The Characters:

I think the hype people give these two dampened my potential to love August and Kate. To me, they were almost cliche in their delivery. I get why they are presented as they are: it’s the whole dynamic of the story that’s listed in the first two lines of the synopsis. So it works for the story.

It’s just that I never fell in love with them. They never become real to me in the way that I expected them to after reading how people just adored everything they did. And it surprised me because I find when I listen to audiobooks, I find it much easier to empathize and connect with characters because I am hearing their voices and emotion aloud.

The Romance:

I did find it nice that the romance isn’t the focus of this story. It’s hard to find an urban fantasy or a YA paranormal story that doesn’t become consumed by the romance between the leads.

Why I Won’t Be Picking Up Our Dark Duet:

Because I wasn’t overly impressed with the first novel, I didn’t want to read the second. Things wrap-up enough here that I am satisfied with leaving the story as is and moving on to other novels.

My Audiobook Experience:

As I said above, perhaps the audiobook dampened my world-building experience. It’s hard to say. But I did enjoy the audiobook production. For only having one narrator and a female one at that for a dual POV, it’s great. I think it worked well that I listened to this instead of reading it because I probably would have lost interest in the text a lot earlier.

Series Rating: DNF

This Savage Song 2/5 | Our Dark Duet N/A

overall

Get a second opinion on this one. I think fans of Schwab’s writing style (slowly building, often wordy prose) will love this. But if you’re looking for a quick YA urban fantasy that doesn’t focus on romance, look elsewhere because it takes a while to reach its peak.

Read if You Like: long books, slow building
Avoid if You: dislike urban fantasy, want lots of action

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DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 14: 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:

Synopsis for Heartless (from Goodreads):

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

breakdown

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Origin Story, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Heartless at 39%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I fell in love with Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I was eager to see what else she could write. While I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan, I’ve always been intrigued by the Queen of Hearts so I was more than curious to learn about her origins.

What I Liked:

–It Made Me Hungry–

Cath just wants to be a baker and I could see why: she comes up with some wonderful pastries. I have never felt so hungry reading a book before! Normally I wouldn’t want to eat anything in Wonderland but I’d make an exception for Cath’s baked goods!

–A Flawless Recreation of Wonderland–

Like I said above, Alice in Wonderland doesn’t do much for me as a story–it’s a little too weird for me. However, Meyer easily transports you back there as a reader. All those key elements (and I’m sure a few little details only true Wonderland fans could pick up) are there and it’s like having the story brought to life around you once again.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wonderland World-Building It’s Elaborated On–

However, in the same breath I want a little more explanation for why things are like they are in Wonderland. I know that this is an origin story about the Queen of Hearts so that’s what the focus will be on but why do lemon trees grow out of dreams? Why do certain foods shrink you? I’d have liked some logically background on the very illogical world of Wonderland.

–Aimless Plot–

One of the greatest weaknesses of an origin story (for me as a reader at least), is that they are rather mundane in the narration. You kinda go through the motions of the lead character’s everyday life and slowly you start to see how they transform into their iconic persona. But compared to their legend, the backstory can be a little undramatic and not as exciting as you want it to be.

I think about the story Blackhearts–the origin story of Blackbeard. Now I found that there wasn’t much to the plot there when it came to dramatics but I really loved the characters and their development so I didn’t mind as much. Here, I just found Cath to be a very boring character and the Queen of Hearts should be anything but.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook is a great production. I never got lost in the narration and I loved how everyone had a unique voice. It is a fabulous listen.

Will I Finish It?:

Nope. The only thing that could have kept me reading was the romance and it wasn’t really working for me either.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This was a miss for me. But I think if you enjoy the world of Wonderland and like origin stories, you’ll probably enjoy this!

Read if You Like: origin stories, longer stories, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike Alice in Wonderland

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Series Review: Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

Series Review: Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 9: 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 Love Me Never (from Goodreads):

Don’t love your enemy. Declare war on him.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

breakdown

Series: Lovely Vicious
Author: Sara Wolf
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2013 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love hate to love you stories but I have a soft spot for ones that are set in high school because it has the promise for a lot of angst. But I really find one that doesn’t get on my nerves. Anyways, I bought the inaugural book years ago and despite numerous opportunities to remove it from my TBR, the synopsis always sucked me back in.

What I Liked:

–Isis’s Self Esteem Issues–

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Isis as a character. She actually grated on my nerves a bit. But I did appreciate her struggles with self-esteem. It just gave her character some complexity and helped me to understand some of her actions.

–The Mystery of Jack–

While Jack does get his own POV chapters, he doesn’t have near as many as Isis so he’s a bit of an enigma to figure out. I loved the little peeks we got into his mind.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Immaturity–

I’ll be the first to say that Isis was a bit of an odd-duck at times. Sometimes she would have these great retorts and comebacks for the various situations she found herself in and then other times, her actions came from way out there. It made her come across as a little dim and it just made her seem super immature as the story progressed. I can handle a little teenaged angst but this was just melodrama.

–The Romance–

I mostly read this because I love the whole “enemies who secretly like each other” trope but I was really disappointed in the execution. For one, I didn’t feel the chemistry between them. I think part of the reason was that I had a hard time getting a read on Jack because we get so little time in his head. But I really didn’t think the two of them interacted all that much as a whole.

My other issue was with Jack and his “white knight” complex. It just seemed like he was trading one unhealthy relationship for another because I didn’t see the connection between them.

Why I Won’t be Continuing With the Series:

Despite the cliffhanger at the end, I was over this series by the halfway point of the first book. I’m just not invested enough into these characters to see what happens next.

Series Rating: DNF

Love Me Never 2/5 | Forget Me Always  N/A | Remember Me Forever N/A

overall

This was just a miss for me. I think if this came out when I was in high school, I would have enjoyed it. I think you will either love or hate this book.

Read if You Like: quirky yet angsty teen leads
Avoid if You: dislike teenage drama

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Series Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London

Series Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London

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 Darkness Before Dawn (from Goodreads):
Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what’s left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it’s up to me—as the newest delegate for humanity—to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it’s safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.

breakdown

Series: Darkness Before Dawn
Author: J.A. London
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2012 – June 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: After completing the first novel, I have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

My Expectations:

In the height of the YA vampire craze, this series crossed my radar. I mean, those covers are gorgeous (even if they look like they belong to the Fallen Series)! I briefly started the first book but wasn’t able to finish it before it had to be returned to my library but I managed to get it soon after and pick up where I left off.

I probably should have just left it unfinished. Here’s why:

The Concept / The World:

You could almost label this book as “Teen” simply because of the drama we get for the first half of the book. It’s that petty high school drama of “who is dating who”, Dawn dealing with her boyfriend, mean girls, etc.

From the synopsis I expected some gritty, dark drama about vampires and maybe throw in some grizzly vampire blood sucking or death scenes. And the sad part is that this book could definitely have this darker direction because J.A. London has created a world that could go to that level. Instead they (because it is a mother-son author duo) decides to focus on trivial things and that just didn’t work for me.

The Plot:

With about a third to go, the plot actually turns into something interesting that can get your attention. It’s almost too little too late by that point. Which is a shame because readers probably stopped reading way before this point–and I was nearly one of them.

The Characters:

Dawn wasn’t a thrilling heroine to follow around either; I found her to be a dull character. The worst part: I was completely indifferent to her as a character because she wasn’t overly angsty or anything so I couldn’t bring myself to dislike or hate her–instead I found myself indifferent to her.

I really loved Victor though and I wish he was more predominate or even had narration parts because his character actually interested me.

Will I Finish It?:

Despite the mediocre start, I was willing to give book #2 a shot given the way things were going. I also noticed that the sequels were much smaller in size as well so they wouldn’t be big time investments. But it’s been over 4 years since I read the first book and I haven’t thought about this series besides the time I did a big TBR purge. So, no, I will not be finishing this series at all.

Series Rating: DNF

Darkness Before Dawn 3/5 | Blood-Kissed Sky N/A | After Daybreak N/A

overall

Perfect for YA Vampire fans who like the lighter reads; but those craving darker stories will need to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA vampire stories
Avoid if You: want darker paranormal reads

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DNF Series Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

DNF Series Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Born of Illusion (from Goodreads):

Anna Van Housen has a secret.

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

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

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

breakdown

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

There is a novella: #1.5 Born of Corruption

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

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–Basic Approach–

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

–Recycling the Same Sentiments–

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

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

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

Will I Finish It?

Nope.

My Rating: DNF

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

overall

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

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

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Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Synopsis for Realm of Knights (from Goodreads):

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Knights of the Realm
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released in December 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (7hrs & 58mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover drew me in, it was the synopsis that sold me. I loved the idea of exploring a character like Reid who has played the role of the opposite gender for all her life. Immediately, I thought about Disney’s Mulan and how she dresses as a man to save her family; challenging gender stereotypes along the way. And I loved the concept of this secret order of knights.

What I Liked:

–Reid’s Identity Struggle–

Reid’s struggle between living as a man versus a woman was an interesting dynamic to watch a character go through. The privileges of a man coupled with the expectations of women in the society here was an interesting lens to see everything through. And that is only heighten by the fact that Reid shifts between her two identities throughout the novel. It provides some fantastic character moments and a deeper layer to this novel.

–The Lack of Romance–

I’m a hopeless romantic and so I crave copious amounts of romance in my novels but I loved the lack of one here. Sure, there are some flirtations and attractions between characters but we completely avoided some cliches along the way and that was uber refreshing.

–Continuously Built–

Everything just builds up in this novel. We learn all these bits and pieces at a time and by then end, we see how everything comes together for the sequels. It really made the book flow nicely from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Needed a Little “Umph”–

I wanted a little more from the plot but I’m not sure what. Perhaps more physical action? There are a lot of subtle twists along the way and I never found myself being bored so I’m not sure what was lacking for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

Highly recommend the audiobook! This was such an easy listen that time literally flew by. The accents were great and everyone had their own voice. Sometimes I struggle with third person narration but this was incredibly easy to follow.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m dying for the sequel! I just need to know what happens right now!

My Rating: 4/5

Realm of Knights 3.5/5 | Shadow Knights TBP| Hidden Knights TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mulan, knights, realm politics
Avoid if You: want a romance

similarreads

  • Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist Series #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)


Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three kids, one weimaraner, and a tortoise. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and lives in the San Diego area.
Jennifer is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel (2013), winner of the Kindle Book Awards (2018), a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards (2014), and a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2014).
Publishers Marketplace listed Jennifer as one of the best-selling indie authors in June 2017. She has also been ranked among the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pintrest

Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 35 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.

Narrator Links: Website

Realm of Knights Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

Book Tour Organised by:

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Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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 To Kill a Kingdom (from Goodreads):

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

breakdown

Author: Alexandra Christo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Pirates, Mermaids, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book everywhere prior to its release but it was a review I read by Alyssa @ The Eater of Books that convinced me to give this book a try. I love pirate/mermaid/siren stories; especially ones with promises of forbidden love so I was eager to read this and so I quickly added it as a 2018 pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge.

The Concept / The World:

I really loved the hierarchy of the sea world. It was nice to have the distinction between sirens, merman and mermaids. And the pirate crew is everything you want them to be.

I suppose you could say that this is a loose adaption of The Little Mermaid since there are a lot of parallels. But it really isn’t the light-hearted tale you expect if you only know the Disney version. I think this story manages to carve out its own distinct voice.

The Plot:

I found the plot to be terribly slow. Truthfully, I would have DNF’d it but I was enraptured by Elian’s crew and the promise of a good pirate heist. And the book does pick up in the last third, but I was also a little over it by then. It takes a long time to get things in motion and I felt like, at times, there was more describing and travelling than doing (if that makes any sense).

The Characters:

Lira’s character development is great. I think part of the reason for that is that we spend so much time watching her in her own kingdom fighting with her mother’s rule over her. She definitely isn’t the same character at the end of the story.

Elian is the charming pirate through and through. But I didn’t find anything new to his character that I haven’t seen before. Truthfully, I enjoyed the scenes with his crew a lot more than his scenes with Lira. There was just better chemistry there.

The Romance:

The romance was probably the most disappointing aspect for me. Perhaps I read too much into it in the synopsis but it just fell flat to me. A forbidden romance between enemies (even if one person doesn’t know that’s what it is) should be charged and brimming with tension. Not so much here. I didn’t get many romantic vibes from them at all. It’s a shame because they did have some moments of good banter between them but it just didn’t get built upon enough.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I think those who enjoy adventure novels with a larger focus on character redemption stories will enjoy this. But if you’re looking for an action packed pirate romance (a la Daughter of the Pirate King), you might want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: loose adaptions of fairy tales, adventure, pirates
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike darker stories

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