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: Insignia by S J Kincaid

DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

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 Insignia (from Goodreads):

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . .

breakdown

Series: Insignia
Author: S J Kincaid
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella, #1.5, Allies

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – October 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Insignia (#1) at 51% (middle of Chapter 14). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read (and simply ADORED) Kincaid’s The Diabolic in the summer of 2018, I was eager to check out her other works. This was the other series my library had and they had it available in audio (which is how I read The Diabolic) so it seemed like a good sign!

The synopsis doesn’t give much away but it sounded interesting enough and so I dove in immediately after DNFing another SciFi novel that just wasn’t working for me.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I really loved the entire concept of this story. Society is so advanced that we don’t use humans to physically fight wars; instead, they use machines to do it remotely. When I went through my anime phase in high school, Gundam SEED was my first and favourite show and they used mechas to fight; so the concept here gave me some great nostalgia.

And the simulations the kids do for training were creative and entertaining to read about.

–Despite the War and Premise, It Had a Lighter Tone–

I find most of my YA novels have a darker tone to them lately. I think part of that goes hand in hand with me growing up and where my interests lie when it comes to book. However, I enjoyed the lighter tone this novel had. Sure, Tom’s life isn’t easy and he is being recruited to fight in a war. But there isn’t murder behind every chapter or villains who will do anything at any cost. (I hope that makes sense). It’s got a more upbeat tone to it as Tom tries to navigate his new life and undergoes most challenges a 14 year old boy does in a futuristic setting.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of an Overarching Plot–

I should clarify that there are some overarching plots in this story. You’ve got Tom’s rivalry with Medusa and breached files for example. But I just kept waiting for this “big” reveal to get the plot really started. See I was halfway through and in some ways I felt like we just kept rehashing the same things over and over. I needed a little more to the plot besides Tom navigating school.

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the first Divergent book where you watch Tris train and find her way in her new faction. But where that book succeeds is in the inklings letting you know that something bigger is happening and as that gets revealed, you get more invested in the story. I didn’t get that sense that that would be the case here.

–I Felt a Little Old Reading This–

I’m a firm believer that you can read any book of any genre at any age; that YA and middle grade novels are not just for the targeted marketing audience. However, I do believe that there are some books you just might not enjoy if you read them when you are not  a part of the intended audience. That’s the case here.

I firmly believe if I read this book when I was in high school (ie when it first came out), this review would be completely different (namely, I would have finished the book). But as it stands now in my life, I didn’t really care for (what is petty to me now) issues that were plaguing Tom’s life like popularity and physical appearance. I crave something a little more cerebral than that when reading.

My Audiobook Experience:

Other than the wickedly long length of the audio version (it’s like 15.5 hours!) it’s a very well done production. I thought the narrator did a great job with the story.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. Perhaps the text version would be quicker for me to read but the sequel’s synopsis didn’t really interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Insignia  DNF | [Allies N/A] | Vortex N/A | Catalyst N/A

overall

Perfect for fans of books in the Teen or younger YA genres! I’ve never read the Ender’s Game but what I do know makes me think this recommendation holds true.

Read if You Like: science fiction, dystopian
Avoid if You: like older (age-wise) YA titles

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Series Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Series Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

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 Something Strange and Deadly (from Goodreads):

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

breakdown

Series: Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy
Author: Susan Dennard
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 A Dawn Most Wicked

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Zombies, Romance, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – July 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook, Audiobook (Darkness)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Book #2) at 18%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series initially crossed me radar. I think the covers drew me in as did the titles. I had it marked to read for a very long time which is why I selected it for my 2017 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as an entry for 2012.

I really enjoy historical paranormal reads in the YA genre so I was hoping this series would be another to add to my list of favourites. I had read Dennard’s Truthwitch prior to picking up Something Strange and Deadly so I knew to expect a great world but perhaps one that didn’t have the best worldbuilding (ie easy to understand). But I do enjoy the flow her writing has so I was optimistic I would enjoy this one.

The Concept / The World:

For me, the world building was lacking in some ways. (Not surprising given my previous Dennard experience). I would have liked more background on why the dead are suddenly rising. Now, I’ll admit, I probably wasn’t in the best head-space when I picked up Book 1 so maybe it is explained well and I just missed it. I’ve had that happen before… -.-

However, in terms of understanding how to fight the dead and the various roles of the Spirit-Hunters, that’s explained well enough. I found the concepts that relate directly to the plot and character actions were well established and easy to follow.

Is it Steampunk?

I wouldn’t say so. It has steampunk elements but it’s more of a paranormal read. Scientific technologies do play a role but they don’t have enough of one to make me classify this as steampunk. I actually didn’t think people did until I saw the tags on Goodreads and saw people calling this steampunk. Hence my need to bring it up.

Where This Series Excels:

I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of A Darkness Strange and Deadly. Trying to figure out how everything was connected (if it even was) kept me intrigued and pushing forward. You get that suspense in the sequel as well after everything plays out and that aspect is intriguing.

Where This Series Declines:

I liked Eleanor enough but there was something that stopped me from loving her outright. She wasn’t overly impressive to me despite her good heart and her “I can do it” attitude.

I also despised the romance. It felt very forced to me in A Darkness Strange and Deadly. I seemed like it developed out of nothing and that stopped me from getting fully on board. I actually thought she had better chemistry with another character than the one she’s supposed to…never a good thing!

Why I Stopped Reading #2, A Darkness Strange and Lovely:

I think I’ve just been too far removed from this series (it’s been about a year since I read the first one) and I just can’t motivate myself to care about this story. I don’t really remember things and even the rehash doesn’t bring me to care.

Series Rating: DNF

A Darkness Strange and Deadly  3.5/5| A Darkness Strange and Lovely DNF | Strange Ever After N/A

overall

If I read this the year it came out, I probably would have adored it. It has the right materials but they just didn’t get used well enough to impress me.

Read if You Like: zombies, historical YA
Avoid if You: want a purely steampunk novel

similarreads

  • The Gathering Storm by Robin Brydes (Katerina Trilogy #1)
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Fresh Fridays: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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

Debutantes Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Little White Lies (from Goodreads):

“I’m not saying this is Sawyer’s fault,” the prim and proper one said delicately. “But.”

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

breakdown

Series: Debutantes
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Deadly Little Scandals, will be released November 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had a hit (Every Other Day) and a miss (Raised by Wolves) experience with Jennifer Lynn Barnes. But the premise of Little White Lies captured my attention when I read Jen @ Jen Ryland‘s ARC review of the novel. So when I needed a new audiobook to read, this one immediately popped out and I instantly downloaded it.

What I Liked:

–The Drama–

There are a lot of layers to this story so I never had a dull moment while I was reading. Between the antics of the other debutantes and the mystery of Sawyer’s father, it was a fun, thrilling read.

–The Lack of a Romance–

While I am a romance addict, it was great to not have a story focused on a boy. Instead, the focus shifted to female friendships and family dynamics–something that often gets left behind when the romance gets the spotlight.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Certain Things Were Predictable–

It was easy for me to figure out certain aspects of the story BUT I have to say that there were some unexpected twists that took things to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

From the accents to the snark: I’d highly recommend the audiobook!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We’ve only scratched the surface so I can’t wait to see what happens next.

My Rating: 4/5

Little White Lies 4/5 | Deadly Little Scandals TBP

overall

This was just a fun, addicting read that kept me guessing and hooked from start to finish.

Read if You Like: Pretty Little Liars
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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 Game of Love and Death (from Goodreads):

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

breakdown

Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (via Hoopla)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobook selections at my local library, the cover of this title immediately drew my attention in. I had never heard of the book before, but I liked the premise a lot when I read it. So, I added it to my TBR and actually added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2019 as a pick for the year 2015.

The Concept / The World:

I love the idea of fate or some greater beings controlling our everyday lives. It’s a cool premise to explore in a story and one that is done flawlessly here. Death and Love are compelling characters and their motives reflect that.

I love historical fiction set in this era; it’s so culturally rich and the issues people face are so basic and genuine. It adds this layer to the story that would be lost if it didn’t take place in this time-frame.

The Plot:

I think what I liked best about this story is that despite the larger premise (a game controlled by Love and Death), it’s a human story without all the over the top theatrics. It’s achingly real and heartfelt. The essence is a timeless story, though it is enhanced by the setting.

I’ll admit that the resolution of the game was a little lost on me. Well, one aspect was at least. The flashbacks (not that there are too many) also had me a little lost because I was listening to the audio and am not the best at remembering dates when they are said aloud.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed all the characters stories–Love, Death, Flora, Henry, Ethan–just intriguing characters and stories. They truly are the heart and soul of this story. I loved getting all the different POVs and I was never overwhelmed by them either.

The Romance:

You aren’t getting copious scenes of stolen moments or kisses but it’s a romance at its core. It’s like a slow burn romance with an edge of suspense with the “will they or won’t they” vibes the story entices.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production is beautiful. The choice to actually sing the songs just brings everything to life and perfectly captures the emotion of the songs.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

It’s not your everyday story or romance but there is something compelling about this story. I highly recommend the audiobook version!

Read if You Like: thought provoking novels, classic romances
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction, want a contemporary romance

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Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Isle of the Lost (from Goodreads):

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

breakdown

Series: The Descendants
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 to be Released
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Disney
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Isle of the Lost, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love anything to do with Disney so I was super excited by the premise of this series. The offspring of classic Disney characters all together in one place? Very cool. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Melissa de la Cruz’s works in the past so I couldn’t wait to see how she would weave this unique world.

What I Liked:

–The World–

Without a doubt, the coolest part of this story was the world it was set in. I loved watching the next generation of classic fairy tale characters come to life. All the kids have some of the characteristics of their famous parents but also had their own unique spin which was a treat.

Everything felt original and fresh. I couldn’t get enough of the creativity; it was superb!

What I Didn’t Like:

–That It was Middle Grade–

I’m not one of those people who thinks people should read books for their marketed demographic (ie adults can’t read YA, etc) but I’ve never had great luck with MG titles as an adult. I think I like my stories to be grittier and less predictable and you don’t necessarily get that with an MG title like this one.

–The Plot–

This ties in with the MG genre because most of the “drama” we get is junior high in nature. While it was creative (they are villains after all), I just felt like the plot was a little aimless at times. We do get the overarching plot towards the end of the novel but by then it was too late for me to feel invested in this series.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I really do love the idea of this series but I’m not sure I would be able to be invested in future instalments. I might check out the movie though!

My Rating: DNF

The Isle of the Lost  3/5| Return to the Isle of the Lost N/A| Rise of the Isle of the Lost  N/A| Book 4 TBP

overall

Readers who enjoy middle grade or absolutely LOVE anything Disney will love this!

Read if You Like: Disney, retellings, fairy tales
Avoid if You: dislike middle grade, want darker/grittier plots

similarreads

  • Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Beau Rivage Series #1)
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn (Beastly Chronicles #1)

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Series Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Series Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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 Crazy Rich Asians (from Goodreads):

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

breakdown

Series: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Family, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: June 2013 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I remember when Crazy Rich Asians (the novel) came out; it was around the same time I got my very first eReader. But it didn’t sound like something I would enjoy so I passed on it despite the buzz. Fast forward to 2018 when it was the movie of the summer and I decided to give the novel a shot based on the recommendation of a family friend after watching.

The Concept / The World:

I think we all have an idea of what the filthy rich do with their money…but it’s nothing like what is described here. These characters take money, privilege and family to a whole other level! So everything comes across as over the top and that just amplifies every aspect of the story throughout the series.

I’ll admit, I know the basics of high end couture and the like so I wasn’t totally lost. However, I did get a little bored with all the descriptions of it all at times. But I loved the insights into culture and the like.

The Plot:

There’s just something about the drama of rich people’s everyday lives that is so fascinating to uncover. I found for the first half of the series, we get lost in the flow of everyday life. Yes, there are some dramatic twists along the way but they are few and far between the pages. (I mean there is certainly drama–and it’s over the top–but no reveal is truly revolutionary with the exception of Book #2).

Think of these books as tomes of local gossip…only the local gossip is from groups of elite around the world with a lot of money.

The Characters:

There are a lot of characters to follow but for the most part, it’s easy to keep track of them all. I think it helps that I watched the movie first so that I can put names to faces as I read.

Some characters get more airtime than others depending on the novels. The character development is there but it’s much slower because it takes place across all three of the books.

The Romance:

While it isn’t as big as a deal as the movie has you believe, we get enough of a taste of various relationships to satisfy the romantic in me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I highly recommend the audiobooks because they do a great job bringing all the characters to life. I also think it makes it easier to keep track of everyone because they all have their own distinct voice.

Series Rating: 3/5

Crazy Rich Asians 3/5 | China Rich Girlfriend 3/5| Rich People Problems  3/5

overall

I think those expecting more of a romance novel (like the rom-com movie) might be disappointed in the lack of romance here. I also think that not everyone will enjoy the theatrics of the characters and the somewhat mundane plot. However, it is definitely entertaining in its own way if you know what to expect.

Read if You Like: gossip, lives of the rich and famous
Avoid if You: want more romance

similarreads

  • Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot (Queen of Babble Series #1)
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic Series #1)

 

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Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stalking Jack the Ripper (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

breakdown

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
# of Books: 4 (Full List Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be released September 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2016 – September 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw Stalking Jack the Ripper a few months before its release while visiting Stephanie @ In Wonderland’s Make Me Read It Readathon voting page. I loved the cover and so I checked out the synopsis and immediately added it to my TBR.

I love murder mystery crime shows though it’s a genre I don’t often explore in my books. I also have this somewhat inexplicable, never-ending interest in the Jack the Ripper case; so I was curious to see how it would be woven into a fictional story. But the biggest expectation I had was Audrey herself. As a scientist myself, I couldn’t wait to read about a heroine who seems to shatter every expectation society has for her by pursuing her scientific passions.

The Concept:

All these novels feature famous crime and/or folklore stories in one way or another. And it’s very obvious when you read them that Kerri Maniscalco has done her research. Everything is rich and seamlessly woven together; it makes it a pure joy to explore as a reader.

In particular, the use of scientific and forensic methods really impressed me. It’s very accurate to the time-frame and it makes you appreciate how far we have come in terms of scientific advancements when it comes to solving crimes. It reminded me a lot of the use of forensic sciences in Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Plot:

It’s hard to write a good mystery story but these ones are super well done. You get enough clues (and red herrings) along the way to keep you interested and engaged in the story. But there is also a good percentage of time dedicated to character development–which is always really important in a series that follows the same characters.

I will say though that I thought the mystery for Stalking Jack the Ripper was very obvious so that impacted my reading experience. However, the mystery of Hunting Prince Dracula was much stronger and had a solution I hadn’t guessed at right away. And the same could be said for Escaping From Houdini.

The Characters:

I really loved Audrey and Thomas in all the books. Audrey is a strong lead heroine. Not only is she very intelligent but she also has this passionate drive that keeps her pushing through even when times get tough. But she also has her flaws and I loved how she took those one and constantly challenged herself to be better.

Thomas–oh boy do I love Thomas! He is everything I love in a charming jerk of a genius. He’s got that Sherlock Holmes’ “I’m better than everyone” attitude that is so hard to resist.

But together, these two are unstoppable. They have this great banter–like every good partnership should have–and they really bring each other to the next level. All their scenes together truly amplifies this series.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge aspect of the story but you get just enough to keep you wanting more but not overly disappointed that you aren’t getting more because the plotline is so engaging. But I mean, I wouldn’t have been disappointed to get a few more scenes 😛

My Audiobook Experience:

I really went back and forth on whether of not to read the audiobook or the eBook but I’m really glad I opted for the audiobook in the end. I loved the posh accents–it really reminded me that we were in London or wherever else the adventure takes us. But, like I say with all audiobooks, I get a much better read on the emotions of it all and I love that. It truly brought the characters to life in a way that I might have missed out on if I read a printed version.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next adventure and to see how this series will wrap up!

updates

–October 14, 2019– Book #4: Capturing the Devil

Without a doubt: this was the best way to wrap up this series! I loved how the focus was on Audrey’s relationship for most of the book (though that is also why it’s a 4.5/5 because we almost spent too much time on that–though I hate to complain about that because I love those two together so much). Regardless, I love how this tied all the previous novels together and wrapped up every lose end you could imagine while being engaging.

Series Rating: 4/5

Stalking Jack the Ripper 3.5/5 | Hunting Prince Dracula 4/5 | Escaping from Houdini 4.5/5 | Capturing the Devil 5/5

overall

With a rich setting and utterly charming characters, this murder mystery series will hook you in!

Read if You Like: historical, mysteries, partnerships
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike murder mysteries

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Fresh Fridays: These Rebel Waves (Steam Raiders) by Sara Raasch

Fresh Fridays: These Rebel Waves (Steam Raiders) by Sara Raasch

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

Steam Raiders Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for These Rebel Waves (from Goodreads):

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

breakdown

Series: Steam Raiders
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, These Divided Shores to be published August 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: August 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been looking forward to Sara Raasch’s next work ever since I finished the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy. And this new series sounded like something I would love. Pirates, magic, deception, a kickass heroine? Those were just many of the reasons why I added this series as a pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge.

What I Liked:

–Lu and Vex’s Chemistry–

I loved the tension between these two from the moment they meet. Both deny any true feelings but there is something palpable whenever they are together. In a lot of ways, they reminded me of June and Day from the Legend Series where the odds against them to ever meet but when they do, something magical happens. Their banter was top-notch!

–Magic, Science and Religion–

I enjoyed the concept of this series a lot when it comes to the magic properties of plants. It’s a cool fantasy spin on real world concepts like the clashing of science and religion.

–The Politics–

I loved the political dilemma of this series and how all our leads are stuck in the middle of it all. It added a great air of tension.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lagged a Little in the Middle–

I was really invested for the first half of the story (though a lot of info is thrown at you) and then just past the middle, the excitement died for me a little. I’m not sure what it was that made it seem that way. Perhaps the physical action just simmered out a bit.

We do get some great twists at the end (though one I thought was super obvious) that have me eager to see how it’ll all wrap up.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio version was very engaging considering it is told in third person. I often struggle with third person audio stories but not here. It was very well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see how things will come together in the finale now that some major truths have been uncovered!

My Rating: 3/5

These Rebel Waves 3/5 | These Divided Shores TBP

overall

I’m waiting to see how things will wrap up because there are some great leads to build the sequel on!

Read if You Like: following multiple leads, fantasy with politics
Avoid if You: want lots of action, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Ask Me Anything by Molly E Lee

Single Sundays: Ask Me Anything by Molly E Lee

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 Ask Me Anything (from Goodreads):

I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

But Wilmont Academy’s been living in the Dark Ages when it comes to sex ed, and someone had to take matters into her own hands. Well, I’m a kick-ass coder, so I created a totally anonymous, totally untraceable blog where teens can come to get real, honest, nothing-is-off-limits sex advice.

And holy hell, the site went viral—and we’re talking way beyond Wilmont—overnight. Who knew this town was so hard up?

Except now the school administration is trying to shut me down, and they’ve forced Dean—my coding crush, aka the hottest guy in school—to try to uncover who I am. If he discovers my secret, I’ll lose him forever. And thousands of teens who need real advice won’t have anyone to turn to.

Ask me anything…except how to make things right.

breakdown

Author: Molly E Lee
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Entangled Teen!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not usually one for YA contemporaries but Molly E Lee is a notable exception. And the premise of the novel? FANTASTIC!

The Concept / The World:

It would have been great if the novel focused more on what the blog was about but I don’t think that was this story’s intended purpose. It’s more a coming of age story in modern times (ie the internet and social media) emphasizing the disconnect between generations when it comes to sexuality and sexual education.

Sexual education in the school curriculum is a hot topic where I live right now and I liked the real world conflict the blog highlighted.

The Plot:

After reading the synopsis, I definitely thought the flow of the plot would be different. I thought we’d have more of a cat and mouse game with Amber and Dean but that isn’t the case. It’s more like her keeping something from him while they evolve their own personal relationship. So once I got over that, I could appreciate the plot here.

I do think the first half was slower. The last quarter was great, lots of development. And we got more into the blog (and what it is trying to accomplish) than the coming of age aspect. (Which is great, don’t get me wrong!).

The Characters:

I liked our leads a lot. Amber is a great heroine. I loved her vulnerability as that allowed for some fabulous character growth. Dean’s a sweetie who says some charming things. His growth wasn’t as strong but he is a solid character. At times, I thought his storyline was a little melodramatic but it grounds itself near the end.

The Romance:

I went in thinking their romance was going to be perhaps more antagonistic than it was but I really did love the sweeter romance that we got. Molly E Lee writes the cutest book boyfriends and Dean is no exception.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you’re looking for a YA novel that has drama, a dose of reality, a charming romance and intriguing characters, look no further!

Read if You Like: coming of age, contemporaries
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Series Review: Red Winter by Annette Marie

Series Review: Red Winter by Annette Marie

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 Red Winter (from Goodreads):

Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess-and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command-whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate-but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Canadian Author
Series: Red Winter Trilogy
Author: Annette Marie
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I finished Book 1: Red Winter but have opted not to pick up the sequels at this time. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobooks at my library, the covers for this series immediately grabbed my attention. They are positively gorgeous! And then I read the synopsis and knew I had to read this series!

I was obsessed with anime when I was in high school and that in turn lead to an interest in Japanese culture and mythology. Red Winter looked like it would have a great world and I hoped for lots of action and so I was excited to get started!

What I Liked:

–The World–

The world building here is great! Everything described in this story came to mind so easily for me. I felt like I was watching an anime. I loved the various creatures and the hierarchy of the deities. It’s a very thought out, rich world for the setting.

–Emi’s Character Growth–

Emi is very naive when the novel starts and understandably so. She’s been told her destiny for so long that she has accepted that as her fate. So she seems a little dull at the start, but when she starts to question everything she knows, she begins to evolve as a character. The Emi we end with in Red Winter is not the one we started with and I love to see that evolution in my books.

–Shiro–

When I think of a kitsune (fox) shapeshifter, Shiro is exactly what I picture. His confidence and swagger was a lot of fun to read about. His interactions with the sheltered Emi at the start were funny and charming. He always brought a smile to my face when he was in a scene.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slow Start–

I found the first 25% of this book to be pretty dry. It’s mostly Emi reflecting on her new life at the shrine and how a past event still affects her. I started to contemplate DNFing it at around this time but a review I read on Goodreads mentioned that the first quarter is slower. So I pressed on hoping for the best.

It does pick up around the 35% mark when some new info comes to light and Emi gets a bit of motivation to learn more about her destiny. But then my issue was:

–Simple Plot–

I like a lot happening in my fantasy novels. I like plots happening in the background while characters fight the main issue. I like lots of physical action or political intrigue to keep me interested.

For the most part, this book had a pretty linear progression. It would tackle one issue at a time. As we got closer to the end, the little tidbits of future plotlines started to be laid out and I got a better idea of where the sequels were going to go. So the last quarter of the book was great! But up until that point, my interest had waned.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think my mistake with this novel was picking up the audiobook version. Now, that isn’t to say that the audiobook is bad. Far from it! The narration is wonderful. All the characters had distinct voices and there was so much emotion and expression in the delivery. I did struggle with the “whispering”/quieter characters. The main narrator had such a strong voice but then would drop the volume for a quieter character and I constantly had to adjust the volume back and forth.

My mistake was choosing that as the format to read this story. I’m a visual learner and I do better seeing various terms than hearing them. To me, they all sound the same after awhile. I found myself getting lost in the various creatures/roles of people because I couldn’t remember what they all were. I know the physical versions of these novels have a glossary (something that obviously is lacking in the audiobook) and I would have benefited greatly from that I think.

Will I Finish It?

I’ve been going back and forth on this one. I really love the idea of this story and I adore the world. I know that I don’t want to listen to the audiobooks for the sequels but I noticed the Kindle editions are on Kindle Unlimited so when I do my KU binge, I might throw these novels in to see how this series wraps up! But for now:

Series Rating: DNF

Red Winter 3/5 | Dark Tempest N/A | Immortal Fire N/A

overall

This series gets a lot of glowing reviews on Goodreads so be sure to read some of them if this sounds like something you would enjoy. For me, I think this would have been more enjoyable if I had read the physical book (though the audio production is fantastic!) and made use of the glossary for terms. I also just needed a little more from the plot even though I loved the world and enjoyed its characters.

Read if You Like: urban fantasy, Japanese mythology/culture
Avoid if You: are impatient for action, don’t like slower starts

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